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Friday, February 26, 2021

Red-breasted Nuthatches have reached the Gulf Coast!

 Cute Red-breasted Nuthatches are still at my feeders in SW NH. Even though they can breed in NH, I saw an influx here in late summer. Red-breasted Nuthatches are part of this big "irruptive" year, especially for finches, that's going on now caused by food shortages in northern areas. Many Red-breasted Nuthatches have moved out of their year round range down to the far southern edges of their non-breeding range, as shown in light purple on this eBird map for Feb. Make sure and submit your eBird reports for this species, so more can be learned about the distribution of this little nuthatch.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Bald Eagle Attacked by Red-shouldered Hawk

Several years ago this young Bald Eagle (2nd yr.) was sitting in a large tree near our Sanibel, FL backyard, minding its own business.

When all of a sudden this Red-shouldered Hawk flies right at it, and the Bald Eagle opens its wings

and decides to get out of there. The Red-shouldered Hawk is about to attack it.

Looks like a mid-air collision. The Bald Eagle continued to fly off and the Red-shouldered Hawk left. This Red-shouldered Hawk is nesting near where the eagle was sitting and it decided it was not going to tolerate the eagle, at least not today. Lucky I had my camera nearby.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Indigo Bunting Cheeriness

Bright cheeriness helps on a gray, icy, day here in NH. Beautiful birds can lift your spirits. Indigo Bunting, male.
 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Nature is Healing



Sometimes when life is full of difficult times, as we are in now, it's just good to focus on the wonderful things in nature. This Snowy Egret may be portraying how some of you feel and just want to escape to the peacefulness of the sleeping White Pelicans, with one eye always watching. Nature is healing. Embrace it.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Northern Harriers still here!

Northern Harriers are still here, I saw one here several days ago (adult male "gray ghost") rare for my area of NH, but harriers are still being reported from coastal areas. (My photos are of female in center, and young birds, from my book, Stokes Essential Pocket Guide to Birds)

 

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Birding Is A Big Tent

Birding is a big tent. Finding rare birds rates high on the Richter scale of excitement. The more rare the bird the more exciting, such as finding a first Western Hemisphere record (remember the Red-footed Falcon, Martha’s Vineyard, Aug., 2004, I do). Huge areas of birding involve searching for and recording rare birds. Are we hard-wired to seek rare birds? Yes, there is a “novelty center” of the brain (substantia nigra/ventral segmental area) that responds to completely new things. Those new things activate our midbrain area increasing our dopamine levels which make us want to go exploring in search of a reward. 

But there are other ways that people interact with birds. Sometimes it is devotion to a single species, such as a woman I knew who was all things bluebird. She taught and led conservation efforts, had her home decorated with bluebirds on tea towels, wallpaper, dinnerware and coffee mugs. She even had dinner with bluebirds, sitting at one end of her picnic table while the Eastern Bluebirds feasted on mealworms at the other end. 

Statistics tell us that there are 45 million birdwatchers in the U.S. and the majority of them relate to birds in their backyards and at their feeders. Other research says that just being able to see birds on a daily basis from your windows or neighborhood reduces depression, anxiety and stress, so no wonder the bird feeding hobby is booming during this pandemic. Some people do bird feeding in a big way with large numbers of feeders attracting a big diversity of birds. Then there are others like the man I once met in the bird aisle of a store. He had a large bag of cheap seed, full of seeds like milo that have been shown not to attract the widest variety of birds. I tried to politely engage him and educate him about getting more bird diversity with quality seed. He really didn’t want to hear it and maybe the seed he was buying was what he could afford. I don’t even think he knew or particularly cared what species he was attracting. And I though to myself, you know that’s OK. He is where he is and in his own way gets pleasure. 

So birding is a big tent. All are welcome. The point is that all in the tent have a connection to birds. That connection is a force, whether it is a glowing ember or roaring fire. That force is what can lead to people to value and conserve birds, saving the birds, the planet, and ultimately ourselves.