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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Black-bellied Plover and other shorebirds still coming through NH!


Black-bellied Plovers and other shorebirds are still migrating through NH. Look for them at the coast and also inland water areas with exposed shorelines and flats.

Friday, October 08, 2021

Pine Grosbeak Beauty

It's Finch Friday. Today's finch is a Pine Grosbeak, male. These beautiful birds live in the boreal forest and western mountains of North America, irrupting south in years of food shortage. Then you might see them in parking lots eating crabapples in winter (where I photographed this one).


Thursday, October 07, 2021

October Big Day, Global Bird Weekend, is here!

This weekend. Sat. Oct. 9th is October Big Day! All you have to do is count birds wherever you are, even at your feeders and submit your list to eBird. You will also be part of the Global Bird Weekend where thousands of birders across the globe participate, read more here,
Have fun!!


Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Yellow-rumped Warblers a.k.a. "butterbutts"


Yellow-rumped Warblers are one of the commonest migrating fall warblers. Just saw this one on my deck in NH. Also know as "butterbutts," these photos show you why.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021



by Lillian Q. Stokes and Matthew A. Young

The complete guide to North America’s finches, including a special section on Hawaiian Finches. A publishing first! Coming to you in 2023, published by Little, Brown and Company.

Birding is booming, and the legendary finch superflight of 2020-2021 made finches more popular than ever. From finch fanatics to fledgling finch fans, from goldfinches to crossbills, Stokes Guide to the Finches of North America finally gives birders and some of America’s favorite birds their due–a guide to all things finch! 

This authoritative guide will include beautiful photos; detailed identification information on each finch species' plumages, subspecies, and voice; the latest range maps; complete information on all aspects of the lives of North American finches; rare and vagrant species of finches; special section on Hawaiian finches, the honeycreepers, one of the most endangered groups of finches; the latest scientific studies; extensive information on finch irruptions, conservation, research, attracting finches and much more. Authoritative, fun, and accessible, this guide will appeal to novice through advanced birders and capture the spirit and personality of this amazing group of birds. Stay tuned for exciting updates!

Lillian Q. Stokes is an award-winning author and nature photographer who coauthored 35 Stokes Guides on birds and nature, including Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, which have sold over 5 million copies. She was the host and producer of the first PBS national birding tv shows. Lillian was captivated by Red Crossbills which she studied during the legendary 2020-2021 finch superflight, and she was moved to tell their story and the story of their finch relatives. 

Matthew A. Young is a nationally recognized finch and Red Crossbill expert and founder and president of the Finch Research Network. Matt got hooked on Red Crossbills as a young birder at Yellowstone Falls when Red Crossbills descended over him. He’s worked in the social work field with special needs adolescents for almost 10 years and worked at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology across 15+ years, where he was an Audio Engineer on several audio guides and Merlin packs. He’s written finch species accounts for breeding bird atlases and Birds of the World and has published several papers about the Red Crossbill vocal complex. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

Winter Finch Forecast Goes Live, Sunday, Sept. 26th


Remember the historic finch superflight of 2020-2021, in which all 8 species of irruptive finches left the boreal, and millions of birders experienced this, including many of you? Well, big finch happenings are coming soon. The Winter Finch Forecast comes out this Sunday, Sept. 26th and you can listen to it live at 2 pm as Tyler Hoar and Matthew Young discuss the forecast on Badgerland Birding go here
If you check the reminder box they will send you a notice.
The 8 irruptive finch species were, Pine Grosbeak (shown here in my photo) Red Crossbill, White-winged Crossbill, Common Redpoll, Hoary Redpoll, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Evening Grosbeak.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Finches are Coming, the Winter Finch Forecast is Out Sept. 26th!


The finches are coming! Which ones, when, and how many? Stay tuned because the famous Winter Finch Forecast will tell you soon, it comes out Sunday, Sept. 26th. Get notified by subscribing here, on the Finch Research Network site.

Gone Hawkwatching, It's Prime Time for Raptors


Gone hawkwatching. At Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory now and have seen over 1,000 raptors - big kettles of broadwings plus eagles, Ospreys, harrier, sharpies, redtails. More keep coming. It’s a good day.
Update, as of Sept. 22, 2021, 6,793 raptors were seen at Pack during the month of Sept.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Learn Hawks, Get 20% discount off Cornell's Bird Academy Hawk ID Course Now!


Hawk migration is starting, can you ID them? Get ready by taking this special Cornell Bird Academy course and get all the raptors at your fingertips! 

Click link Better Birder: Hawk and Raptor Identification and get a 20% discount! Use this BAStokes21 code at check out to receive the discount. One use per customer.

This comprehensive self-paced course covers all 34 species found in the continental U.S. and Canada, with Dr. Kevin McGowan as your friendly guide.

  • * Discover raptor diversity—from vultures and eagles to falcons      
  • * Learn ID shortcuts with Kevin's Keys to ID videos and diagrams
  • * Build field skills with the powerful SnapID practice tool

  • Note: just type the code into the coupon code box in the cart at checkout, and don’t forget to click ‘apply’! You’ll see the lower price reflected in the “Cart Totals” box before clicking “Proceed to Checkout.”  

Or, use the same discount code BAStokes21 for any other of the Cornell Bird Academy Courses
Sign up here,

Gardening for Birds

Warbler Identification

Nature Journaling and Field Sketching

Bird Photography with Melissa Groo

How to Identify Bird Song

Feeder Birds: Identification and Behavior

Comprehensive Bird Biology

Bird Behavior

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

American Goldfinch Nest and Birding Serendipity Magic!


Me and Ignacio
Phil and Ignacio
American Goldfinch female on nest
Male goldfinch feeding female
Nesting habitat American Goldfinches

Ok, sometimes birding is just serendipity magic. I am studying American Goldfinches (more on that later) and wanted to see a nest. So Phil Brown (NH Audubon awesome birder) was birding with Ignacio Oreamuno (Costa Rican bird guide who owns a bird-friendly coffee plantation, was drinking coffee and wearing Stokes DLS binoculars) and a goldfinch flies right in front of them and goes to a nest. Phil texts me. I fly over there, and we have a great time watching Mrs. Goldfinch incubating. Female American Goldfinches sit on the nest almost continuously until the nestlings are about 4 days old and she is fed regurgitated seeds by the male. That's about 24,480 minutes of sitting!! Breeding is a highly cooperative venture between the male and the female; she protects the nest by continuously sitting, he provides all the food to her and nestlings. After day 4, the nestlings are fed by both parents. Oh, and did I mention an Olive-sided Flycatcher showed up and distracted us? Serendipity? Or meant to be?
Note: All nest photos were taken at a distance with a long telephoto superzoom camera at 2000 mm. Nikon P950. It is highly important not to disturb nests.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Gardening For Finches, Leave the Seeds!!


Gardening for finches – plant it and they will come! American Goldfinches love the seeds of composite flowers like these Purple Coneflowers. Provide a finch feast by resisting the urge to "tidy up" your garden and leave the seed heads of flowers. The new crop of crabapples will feed Pine Grosbeaks this fall and winter. Plant varieties of crabapple that keep their fruits through winter. Prairiefire (Malus x 'Prairiefire') is a good choice. Your reward? Your garden becomes a magnet of beauty and uplift to your spirit in seeing these beautiful finches.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Baby, Baby, Noisy American Goldfinches, Cute but...

 In the world of American Goldfinches now, fledglings wave wings and make their headache-producing, incessant, fledgling calls, whether or not a parent is near. I think their parents have had it, saw a male recently just fly away from a begging youngster. Eventually the young will have to fend for themselves and a few have already found the feeders. Fall will come, adults will molt into their subtle brown-gray LL Bean parkas (their feathers actually will be denser), finches will flock and some will migrate, depending on where they live. Enjoy their beauty now.

Nighthawk Watch Party, 831 Nighthawks, Wow!!

Annual Nighthawk Watch Party last night on our deck. 831 individual Common Nighthawks were detected, but the actual count was more like 760 since you need to figure in some birds flew north then south again. Big thanks to the ace counting team of Steve Lamonde, Phil Brown, and Henry Walters (the last two being hawk migration counters at Pack Monadnock Raptor Migration Observatory). I was too busy being the host to count, lol. So what could be better than a party with good friends (all fully vaccinated)? Well, that same party while just an amazing number of incredible birds flew right over our heads!! Thanks to all who participated!


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Rare Birds! Limpkin in IL, Roseate in MA!


Continuing with the theme of Florida coming north, the ABA rare bird alert recently noted a Limpkin near Hennepin, IL, and another one in Maryland for a 7th state record. MA had its first state record of a young Roseate Spoonbill and there was another roseate in CT, making number 5 for that state. I just love those roseates! You can check the ABA rare bird alert site for updates. Rare birds are exciting fun for birders, although maybe not as much fun for the rare birds who are often immature birds that must fend for themselves in new situations. On the other hand, the built-in ability for at least some members of a species to explore new areas can be an advantage if that species needs to colonize new terrain because their usual habitats have been destroyed. (my photos are from another time in FL)

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Magnificent Frigatebird, 1st State Record NH!!


Update: The frigatebird was seen this morning at the Isles of Shoals on the Maine side. People are booking trips out there.
Evidentlly, if you are in the northeast, you don't have to go to FL or the South anymore, it will come to you. Besides Roseate Spoonbills, a Magnificent Frigatebird was in NH recently and is likely still wandering around. This is a first state record for NH!! This impressive tropical seabird spends most of its time soaring effortlessly. Named frigatebird or sometimes "man-o-war bird" because it pirates food from other birds, harassing them until they regurgitate their meal. Males have red throat pouches, inflated during courtship, females and young birds have areas of white. Who knows what birds the hurricane may bring, Stay safe!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Shorebirds are migrating now!!

On the move, Semipalmated Sandpiper. The end of August is prime time for migrating shorebirds. Visit your nearest shorebird hotspots, such as coastal wildlife refuges to witness this wonderful treat. Oh, and bring your camera!


Monday, August 16, 2021

Lark Sparrow, Rare Bird in NH!!


Lark Sparrow was recently found in eastern NH evidently, its Mapquest app was not working. This is a bird that breeds in the midwest and western areas of the country. The later part of August can produce some nice rarities as most birds are post-breeding and on the move, sometimes in the wrong direction. This was a life bird for some NH birders (cool thing if you're birder, it's the first time in your life you see a species then you do a happy dance). I photographed this one on the NH coast in 2014. When you are out birding, expect the unexpected and study your field guide for what could show up. Chance favors the prepared mind.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Puffin Love

Who doesn't love Atlantic Puffins. This is the time of year they are breeding on rocky islands. We saw these on Machias Seal Island, only accessible by boat,


Saturday, July 10, 2021

American Goldfinch, Cool Finch Stuff


Cool finch stuff - This male American Goldfinch was recently sunbathing with spread feathers, on the head of an antique goose statue in my garden. When he then finished and preened, you can see his spread feathers and that just the tips of the body feathers are yellow. He's not in molt this time of year. The feathers usually overlap and he looks all yellow. The color is the result of the carotenoid pigments (from plant food) in the feather tips reflecting the yellow and ultraviolet light and absorbing light in the blue wavelengths. Memo to male goldfinches – eat your veggies! Female American Goldfinches prefer the brightest yellow males, the bright yellow a sign of the male's nutritional fitness and ability to get food. Knowing the amazing adaptations below the surface of this common finch adds to their mystery and the richness of your experience with them.

Friday, July 02, 2021

Living in a Deeper Current, the Power of Nature

A poet/nature lover friend said to me yesterday, “you’ve always been living in a deeper current.” I reflected on what that might mean for me. For example, I don’t just see goldfinches as pretty yellow feeder birds, I see the males now in full butter plumage doing amazing roller coaster flight displays accompanied by their (sounds like) “potato-chip” flight call over their territory, intent in the genetic survival race of producing more goldfinches. I see a composite flower as a big shopping mall. The petals (ray flowers) are the advertising budget to attract the pollinator shoppers to the hundreds of individual flowers encircled, which bloom from the outside in. I photograph and celebrate each full moon to embrace its energy and place myself outside to know the night creatures (fireflies, bullfrogs, bats, moths, foxes) at a time when our ancestors would have been sound asleep. I see nature as a connecting gateway for health, spirituality, and a bonding opportunity for humans who are now blinded to their destructive effect called climate change. Then there are the Red Crossbills who recruited me, but that’s a story for another day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Luna Moth, Goddess of the Moon!

 Luna moth, goddess of the moon. I saw this beautiful moth last night on our porch because I went outside to close the car windows since it was raining. Named by Linnaeus in 1758 after the Roman moon goddess, Luna, because the moth’s hindwing spots reminded him of the moon. This one is a female, told by shape of antennae. She doesn’t eat, will live for a week, and mate. The long tails confuse the echolocation of predator bats. Very cool!

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Going Cuckoo


Cuckoos are secretive, eat lots of caterpillars and are mostly heard not seen. Black-billed Cuckoos breed in forest habitats across much of the upper two-thirds of the U.S. from MT east and into southern Canada. Listen for their low pitched cu cu cu cu call. Tell them from the similar Yellow-billed Cuckoo by their black bill and red-eye ring. Yellow-billed Cuckoo has a yellow lower mandible and yellowish eye-ring and its breeding range extends across much of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. Look for them now!

The Secret Lives of Red-eyed Vireos


Red-eyed Vireos are abundant in about the eastern two-thirds of the country and much of Canada. The male sings almost constantly, even after getting a mate.
From Stokes Guide to Bird Behavior, Vol. 1,
"At some point, he will stop singing and you will notice an immediate change in the female's behavior. She begins to look in all directions, move about on the nest, and may even give one of her calls. In a minute or two, she flies off to meet the male and is either fed by him or feeds on her own. After about five minutes the male will be singing from the treetops again and, possibly without your even noticing, the female will have come back to the nest and resumed incubating. From this will be clear to you that the male's song is being closely listened to by the female and is a continual aural contact that helps the pair coordinate this phase of their lives." This is an intimate look into the secret life of Red-eyed Vireos. We wrote our behavior guides to create holistic birding, in which you go beyond mere identification and get a deeper appreciation and respect for the amazing lives of birds. (Always observe nests from a safe distance so as not to disturb birds.) Listen to the song of a Red-eyed Vireo here, I guarantee you will hear it if you are in their range.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

10 Tips Tips to Help Bids in Hot Weather!

Birds need water to drink,

and bathe.

"Hey, where's the towel and the frozen daiquiris?"

Orange halves are a refreshing treat in warm weather for this Gray Catbird.

An extra roof cools off the bird house above and below.

This baby American Robin cooled off the only way it knows how by panting. Birds have no sweat glands and so cool themselves by rapid respiration with their mouths open.
I used the mister setting on the hose to cool off the robin nest by misting the air and foliage above.

Hummingbird Feeder with shade roof.

The weather has been crazy, ranging from one extreme to another. Here in NH we just had 90-degree summer weather, now it has cooled off a little. Much more hot weather is coming as we go into summer. So when the temperature climbs, here are some tips to keep your feathered buddies cool:

1. Birdbaths, birdbaths, birdbaths! Birds need water to bathe and drink in hot weather so buy a birdbath. You can even use any wide flat container for a birdbath, such as the lid of a trash can or a large saucer that is used under a flowerpot.

2. Choose a birdbath that is shallow and has a non-slip surface. Small birds do not like to bathe in deeper water. You can add flat rocks to a birdbath that is too deep in order to create a shallow ledge for small birds to land on to drink and bathe.

3. Add a dripper, bubbler, or to your birdbath. The sound of moving water will be a magnet for the birds and alert them to the presence of a water source.

4. Keep the water in your birdbath cool by adding ice cubes several times a day, or refilling the birdbath with a hose. You can also put out refreshing treats like cold orange halves which many birds, such as orioles and Gray Catbirds, will enjoy.

5. Birds will feel safer if the birdbath is placed in a more open area so no predators can hide nearby. Provide a stake or branch placed in the ground near the birdbath, if no landing places exist near it, so birds have a place to wait their turn at the bath.

6. Air condition your birdhouses by adding a second roof for shade. We nail on a piece of plywood, using long nails and only nailing them partway into the original roof. This leaves an air space between the two roofs of about an inch. The second roof shades the first roof plus the airspace between the roofs acts as an insulator, keeping the birdhouse cooler. In some cases, we have just shaded the roof of a birdhouse with piece of cardboard.

7. Misters are coolers. Misters can be bought to attach to a birdbath or clip to shrubs near a bath. They spray a fine mist that birds can fly through, or rub against the wet shrubbery. Hummingbirds will often fly through misters or even a garden sprinkler.

8. Use a mister on a hose. Our hose has a mist setting on the nozzle. We have misted the foliage and area above a robin nest to cool off the babies in extreme heat.

9. Think Shade. Birds will seek out shady areas and lie low in the worst heat of the day. If you do not have shade on your property plant some shade trees and big shrubs. Place bird feeders in a shady area during summer.

10. Shade hummingbird feeders. Place them in shade. Some feeders, such as our Stokes Select Jubilee Hummingbird Feeder, pictured above, comes with its own shade/rain roof, including an ant moat on the roof. You can also buy baffle-type shields and hang them above a feeder. Don't forget to change your hummingbird nectar solution every 2 days in really hot weather.

And tips for you....

Stay out of the sun and heat in the middle of the day, wear a hat and sunscreen when you do go out, and, at the end of the day, after you have taken care of the birds, relax in a shady place, get out your binos and The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern or Western Region, watch your birds and have a cold beer, daiquiri, margarita, or some Prosecco,,,aaahhh!