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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Gardening for Finches and Birds, Good for You, Good for Them!

American Goldfinch eating Purple Coneflower seeds

Plant Purple Coneflower, a perennial

Trumpet Honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirens, attracts hummingbirds

Layers of perennials, shrubs, and trees provide diversity that attracts birds

Prairiefire Crabapples attract oriole to their blossoms and Pine Grosbeaks, robins, and waxwings to their fruits

Bee Balm attracts hummingbirds

Sunflowers attract many bird species to their seeds

American Goldfinches eat the seeds of many flowers such as this Salvia "Lady in Red"

Gardening for finches and other birds, plant now! Gardening is not only healthy for you, a bird-friendly habitat is good for the birds. Studies have shown that gardening can make you happier and healthier. Garden centers are brimming now with plants you can add to your garden to attract beautiful finches and other birds. American Goldfinches love Purple Coneflower seeds, sunflower seeds, and the seedheads of many flowers. Plant crabapple trees, like these Prairiefire crabapples to attract orioles with their blossoms and Pine Grosbeaks, robins, and waxwings with their fruit. Trumpet Honeysuckle vine, Lonicera sempervirens, and Bee Balm attract many hummingbirds. Add these to your garden and you will be rewarded all year with happy birds.


Saturday, May 29, 2021

It's #FemaleBirdDay, May 29-31. You can participate!

Off to a good start counting female birds for #FemaleBirdDayBird this weekend, any day from May 29-31. Female Eastern Bluebird hunts from our deck in rain, at feeders are a female Downy Woodpecker (she has white and black on the back of the head, no red patch), and female American Goldfinch on right. This event is to gain scientific knowledge of female birds, who are less studied than males. You can participate here by counting female birds, use ID clues and behavior,

Started by a group of scientists and birders associated with the National Audubon Society, The Galbatross Project wants you to focus solely on females as you bird under your local shelter-in-place rules. Challenge yourself to use behavior, vocalizations, and other sex-specific clues to ID species. Then tell us about the techniques you used." Submit your findings and the techniques you used to identify female birds, here

They say, "As birders and ornithologists, we assume that many female birds are duller, quieter, and less behaviorally complex and interesting than their counterparts. But recent science has exposed the myth behind this idea...for example, female birdsong is both common and critical in evolution. Recent fieldwork has shown this to be true in passerines like Cerulean Warblers. But we still have a lot of work left to do to change the skew in birding and ornithological practice. Part of that includes growing our literacy around female birds—and that’s where this event comes in."

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Bobolinks Have Returned here in NH!

Bobolinks have returned to "Bobolink Farm" our 23 acre NH property. We had one early passing through and now a male is singing all day long in our hayfield waiting for a mate. I love their bubbly song. More Bobolinks may join him. We do not let our farmer cut our big hayfield until the end of August when all the Bobolinks have safely fledged. Bobolinks nest in hayfields which are often cut in June, wiping out their nests, adding to the declining population trend of this species. Listen to their sound here,

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Tiger Swallowtails are Flying Now!!

Buy Now! Stokes Beginner's Guide to Butterflies

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies are on the wing now in NH. I have seen several in the last 2 days. This beautiful butterfly overwinters as a pupa and emerges in spring. Its larval food is aspens, black cherry, tulip tree, sweet bay. Attract adults to your garden with flowers such as verbena, blue salvia, buddleia, and more.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Birding and Brunch Great Idea!


Yellow Warbler
Scarle Tanager
Phil Brown and Lillian
Common Yellowthroat

Don with birding group

Had a great time Saturday at the traditional Birding and Breakfast event sponsored by the town conservation commission here in NH. We saw 50 species of birds on beautiful lands. Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats were some of the most plentiful at this wetland area, while a Scarlet Tanager sang in the nearby woods. I assisted leader Phil Brown of NH Audubon to teach intermediate and new birders with things like learning the myriad of bird songs (learn the common birds near you first), spotting birds, using binoculars correctly, and how keying in on shape first (not colors) will fast forward your birding skills to the next level. This is a great time of year to visit beautiful and diverse birding habitats, as well as plant your own property to attract birds. Enjoy it!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Warbler Mania in NH Now!


Cape May Warbler

Yellow Warbler

American Redstart

Northern Parula

Cape May Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Warbler mania is going on in NH. Yesterday I saw many birds including Bay-breasted Warbler, Cape May Warbler (both spruce budworm specialists) American Redstart, lots of Northern Parulas, lots of Yellow Warblers, Chestnut-sided Warblers, and more. This is prime time for warbler migration here so get out this weekend and look! (photos from other times except for the distant Cape May Warbler, I was in an area where the birds were very high in the trees and obscured by leaves)

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Evening Grosbeaks, where are they?

Where are the Evening Grosbeaks now? Evening Grosbeaks are part of this historic 2020-2021 superflight irruption of winter finches and have been seen in big numbers in various places. Evening Grosbeak populations may have been fueled by the large spruce budworm outbreaks in the eastern boreal forest, the outbreaks made larger by lack of spraying for budworm control due to the Covid pandemic. Evening Grosbeaks thrive on the budworms during breeding, and once the budworms went dormant for winter, the grosbeaks fled south with the other irruptive finches. In the fall, there were day counts of 100s to 1300+ Evening Grosbeaks moving southwest along the Great Lakes shorelines in Ontario. This Evening Grosbeak irruption was one of the largest in several decades, and birds in the eastern part of the country made it as far south as Florida and Arkansas.
See the eBird map for Evening Grosbeak from October 2020-May 2021. They are returning through about mid-May into June to their breeding ranges, so watch for them at your sunflower feeders.
Once considered rare east of the Rockies and Mississippi River, Evening Grosbeak’s expanded their range in the early 1900s into eastern North America. This was aided by the large-scale planting of Box Elder trees, a favorite food, which holds seeds through winter, allowing the grosbeaks to winter and even breed. The peak of wintering Evening Grosbeaks was the 1940s to the mid-1980s, with significant declines since. In 2016, an Evening Grosbeak population trend assessment revealed a continent-wide decline of 92% since 1970 – the steepest among all land birds in the U.S. and Canada. This led to the national listing of the species as Special Concern in Canada (COSEWIC 2016).
A multi-year study, by David Yeany at the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program at the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is using new Motus tag tracking technology to better understand the migration ecology, and perhaps the decline, of Evening Grosbeaks. The tracking information is beginning to link winter populations of Evening Grosbeaks to breeding areas with active spruce budworm outbreaks in the boreal forest. So stay tuned, keep your feeders filled with sunflower, and you may see the return flight.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Hello Beautiful White-crowned Sparrow


Hello, migrant White-crowned Sparrow. Thanks for stopping by my feeders on your way north. (Nikon P950 at 2000mm)