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Friday, November 29, 2013

Bald Eagle & Stokes Booksigning Dec.1, Peterborough, NH 2-4 pm Toadstool Bookstore

Bald Eagle 

Lillian and Don

The Stokes Field Guide to Birds of North America, and the regional editions, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Eastern and Western Regions

We will be doing a book signing this Sunday, Dec. 1st, 2-4 pm, at the Toadstool Bookstore, Peterborough, NH. Come do your Christmas shopping and get a signed Stokes Field Guide! We would love to see you! Other local authors will be there too.

Birds are so special. We got a Thanksgiving surprise when, just after our guests arrived, our Corgi, Abby, went to the glass sliding door and looked up and started barking. We were all treated to the sight of 4 Bald Eagles (one adult and 3 sub-adults) flying over our mountain view. So much to be thankful for, including our bird-watcher dog, Abby, and also Bald Eagles!

If you are reading this blog post and cannot make the book signing, then be sure to take advantage of all the Black Friday sales and shop online for our new field guides,

Buy Now, click The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Eastern Region,

Buy Now, click, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Western Region

Buy Now, click, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Turkeys

Wild Turkey

These Wild Turkeys are headed in the right direction.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

About Wild Turkeys:

* Wild Turkeys populations were once in decline but turkeys were reintroduced and have recovered and now Wild Turkeys occur in every state (but not Alaska) and in parts of Canada.

* Wild Turkeys live in forests and eat berries, buds, seeds, insects and nuts, especially acorns. They can scratch the ground to find food. They may come to bird seed under feeders.

* Wild Turkeys roam together in flocks in search of food. You may see them along roadsides and in fields and crossing roads.

* In spring, male turkeys perform courtship displays in fields. They fan their tails, puff up and strut and give their familiar gobbling calls. The female raises the young chicks, who can follow the female after hatching and soon can find food on their own.  Females and young form into groups and roam together.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Snow Buntings Are Coming Your Way, Be On The Lookout

Snow Bunting in flight

Snow Buntings are now showing up in NH and other northern areas so watch for them in your area. To see where they have been spotted go to this ebird map. Photographed a few years ago with my Canon 1D Mark II (I now have a 1D Mark IV), and my Canon 300mm f 4 lens with a 1.4 teleconverter. When I photographed them it made me think about what it might be like to be a member of this Snow Bunting flock. There's safety in numbers. The bold pattern of the wings may help flock members keep close visual contact in flight. Interestingly, when the birds land and fold their wings, the buffy, brownish body plumage makes them rather camouflaged against the brown grass, another help with predator avoidance.

Snow Buntings breed in Alaska and the Arctic on tundra and rocky slopes. They winter across much of the upper one-third of the U.S, and southern Canada on weedy fields and shores. In summer, the buffy feather edges wear off, revealing the breeding plumage which is more black-and-white 
especially in males. 

Snow Buntings make interesting calls and learning their calls can alert you to their presence and help in identification You can become a much better birder if you know the songs and calls of birds. To help you we have the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, CDs (recordings by Lang Elliott and Kevin Colver) which come as The Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs CDs eastern region, western region, or combined together in a boxed set. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Help Bluebirds in Winter!

We still have Eastern Bluebirds visiting us occasionally and even checking out some of their nesting boxes from this past breeding season. They even grab a snack of the dried mealworms. They usually move on when the weather gets really bad.

Bluebirds may sometimes remain in some northern areas in winter, much to people's surprise. Here's some tips for bluebird enthusiasts, on how to help bluebirds survive in winter.

1. Bluebirds can roost together in bird houses to keep warm. Insulate your bird houses by closing off all cracks, drainage holes, etc., with some sort of insulating material so less drafts and cold get into the bird house. Just leave the entrance hole open. Face bird houses away from prevailing winter winds.

2. Bluebirds mainly eat fruit and berries in winter. Plant your property with an abundance of crabapples and native, berry-producing shrubs such as viburnums and hollies (like winterberry holly). Place these berry plantings in sunny, protected areas, blocked from winter winds. The bluebirds will have a warm place to eat and use less precious energy.

3. Some bluebirds will come to food such as, hulled sunflower, suet, dried mealworms, and some of the many "bluebird meal mixtures" or nuggets. Generally most bluebirds do not learn to do this. You can certainly try putting out these foods, but your best bet is to have lots of berries planted in your yard.

4. Bluebirds like water (may help with processing the berries) and will visit bird baths and heated bird baths. In general, when it is very severely cold, some people think it is a risk for birds to bathe. Holding off on the water, or placing sticks over the bird bath to only allow birds to drink, not bathe, may be a good idea in this situation. Many birds will eat snow in winter to get water.

Most bluebirds move out of the northernmost areas of their range in winter. Even ones that may linger eventually move on, once their berry sources are depleted or ice-covered. For bluebirds, and many birds, there is a trade-off of staying more north in order to be first to claim prime breeding territories, yet risking survival due to bad weather. Some of these tips may help them survive and you feel you're helping them. Bluebirds are truly beloved.

For more complete information see Stokes Bluebird Book.

For the very latest identification information and range maps on all three species of North American Bluebirds; Eastern Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird and Western Bluebird, see our new best-seller, The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America and the new regional editions, The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Western Regions.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Cardinal Portrait

"Our" male Cardinal in late afternoon light as he perched near the feeder, waiting his turn. His feathers are beautiful and fresh after his end of breeding season molt. He has raised two broods. Now he can relax and just focus on enduring the winter.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Calliope Hummingbird in NH, 1st State Record

Calliope Hummingbird is one of the smallest breeding birds in the U.S.

This male Calliope took a wrong turn from its usual migration route and wound up in NH

The celebrity bird of the moment here is a a little Calliope Hummingbird, male, a bird from the Northwest who in has strayed far from its usual range and migration route. He is coming to a feeder in Manchester, NH at the home of some very gracious birders who have been wonderful hosts to the hummingbird as well as the many birders who have shown up to view this hummingbird, a lifer for many!
This is not the first time a Calliope Hummingbird has shown up in New England and there are records from other eastern states also. Calliopes have recently been reported from MA and NJ. It seems like more and more out-of-range hummingbirds are showing up in the East in fall at feeders. No one knows exactly why this occurs. Some birds' internal compasses may just direct them east instead of south. Over time that species may have a range expansion if those individuals survive and have offspring. Other people think that having more hummingbird feeders available and hardy plants in a human altered landscape may make it possible for some of these hummingbirds to be in the East in fall and winter.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Short-eared Owl in NH!

Recently we saw a Short-eared Owl migrating over Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in Peterborough, NH, a first record for that site. It was migrating during the day and popped up above the mountain in the midst of some ravens. Much excitement at seeing the first one there and it was a thrill.

The Short-eared Owl is one of my favorite owls. This medium-sized owl lives in open habitats, such as tundra, grasslands, fields, marshes, prairies and savannas, where it hunts small mammals. It breeds mostly in the far North and parts of the West and can be seen in winter in many parts of the country.

All the photos above, except the small bottom photo which is of the owl over Pack Monadnock, are of a Short-eared Owl I saw on Christmas several years ago in the marshes of Salisbury Beach, MA. This owl mostly hunts at night, sometimes during the day. I was lucky it was out and gave me photo ops. This owl flies erratically, like a moth, and courses low over the ground. Photographing it in flight was a challenge (as usual!) I was thrilled to get some photos.

One of the wonderful things I love about capturing a bird in a photo, is that you get to keep and cherish that moment. You can look at it again and again, re-experiencing the adventure and share it, as I have done today, with others.