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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Oranges for Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Orange therapy. It's always amazing to see which new birds use foods offered at Lillian's Bird Buffet. Move over orioles, this Red-bellied Woodpecker male loves the oranges. I have even seen Downy Woodpeckers eat the oranges.
I have robins and bluebirds eating suet as well as all the usual birds you would expect – woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, grackles, and starlings.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Offer Dog Fur For Birds!


Santa Chickadee. Offer it and they will build! I put Corgi fur, compliments of Abby and Andre, out in this suet basket as nest material for birds. While the chickadee photo is from another time, I just saw a titmouse go to the suet holder and take a big mouthful of fur and fly off into the woods. Birds like chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches nest in natural cavities or birdhouses and may include material like this fur in their nests. It brings me a lot of joy to offer birds things like bird seed, birdhouses, suet, oranges, bird baths, nesting materials, etc. which can make their lives easier. Win-win!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Prothonotary Warbler Golden Beauty!



 Prothonotary Warbler, a golden treasure in the greenery! Being more heard than seen now across a river from conservation land in Concord, MA. It is considered uncommon here because its breeding range is a bit south and across much of the country's eastern half. These photos were taken on Sanibel Island during migration. Prothonotary Warblers breed in cavities in standing dead trees along rivers and in forested wetlands. I remember once canoeing along a small swampy river in the New Jersey Pine Barrens and seeing multiple Prothonotary Warblers, like luminary candles along the edges, lighting our way.

Prothonotary Warblers have declining populations and are on the Partners in Flight Yellow Watch list. They are vulnerable to loss of forested wetlands on their breeding grounds and loss of mangroves on their wintering grounds.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Birding is a Big Tent, Mother's Day walk

American Redstart female
Warbling Vireo
American Redstart male

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

 I had a wonderful Mother's Day doing...birding of course!! I went with my awesome son and daughter-in-law to a wildlife area and we did what I might call 'integrated birding' or 'deep birding' a bridge between numbers stacking up listing birding and slower paced more 'mindful' birding. I think a lot about birding and how it is done and how to teach people about it. My goal is always to foster a deeper connection between people and birds.

Birding is a very big tent and all are welcome, no matter how you relate to birds. It is a continuum from the exciting big day type checklist agenda of seeing how many birds you can tally to what a friend of mine once called "bliss" birding, just being somewhere and seeing or listening to birds and not caring what they are, just being happy. All of this has merit, all of it can be rewarding to the participants.
We arrived at our area mid-day when birds can be quieter, and after checking off a few redstarts and orioles, we might have moved on. But my keen-eyed son spotted a darker, larger, not-moving bird obscured among the leaves. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was doing exactly what Yellow-billed Cuckoos do! The longer we stayed there the more we saw. While tuning into the redstarts we saw one with yellow sides and tail spots, the female American Redstart, then followed her as she foraged and the male sang nearby. A pair, likely going to breed there. Then we saw other male redstarts and began to get a sense of multiple redstarts dividing up breeding territories. Orioles sang from several places and we saw males and females (both males and females sing). A Warbling Vireo showed us views prompting my daughter-in-law (a more new birder) to be surprised at how plain it was, but such a “robin with a slide whistle” sound. A catbird kept up its constant singing which improvises and mostly mimics the sounds of other birds as do its cousins the Brown Thrasher and the Northern Mockingbird. In general, Gray Catbirds do not repeat syllables consecutively but repeat each once, Brown Thrasher tends to repeat syllables in pairs, and Northern Mockingbirds birds repeat after several times. Knowing this helps a birder distinguish them. A beautiful Scarlet Tanager sang from a treetop its “robin with a sore throat” scratchy song then moved on, possibly a migrant. Looking out over a bridge the breeze, kissed by the water, brought a gentle feel and aqua scent to our faces. Then a flash of melted butter caught our eye. A female Yellow Warbler was not just checked off then ignored, but followed. We realized she was at an Eastern tent caterpillar big web in the fork of a tree. Then she began to pull off some of the web and fly off. She will use this as “glue” to help her stick together her nest material, follow her and you will find the nest. We walked a short distance by the railroad track, and found a Magnolia Warbler working its way along feeding. We had to leave soon, had just started back to the parking lot when a loud hoot from a Barred Owl stopped us in our tracks! Then another Barred Owl answered from the distance with a higher-pitched voice, likely the female. Even though female Barred Owls are larger than males, their voice is higher pitched. Likely a pair with a nest nearby. We were about to get in the car when a Yellow-throated Vireo sang from a tall tree, cool! (I less commonly encounter them). Suddenly overhead two Red-tailed Hawks circled over us. We went to lunch, filled in our eBird checklist, and agreed we had a great time.
We had seen migrant and many breeding birds, each in its own special breeding habitat, and paused long enough to get a sense of where they were in their cycle, deepening our understanding of them and their lives. We had fun compiling our numbers list as well, satisfied we did a good job at finding and identifying all the birds. We had hardly moved beyond the parking lot, yet the longer we stayed the deeper our experience was. We had covered the spectrum of how to do birding. Yes, birding is a big tent, open to all and welcome to all. Come on in.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Orioles Have Arrived!!

 Just arrived here in MA two days ago! To attract Baltimore Orioles offer orange halves on a platform to feed hungry orioles when they arrive and before the trees have leafed out and insects are plentiful.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Bluebird of Happiness has arrived!!


I am happy because Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird are now nesting in a birdhouse I proved about 20 ft. from my condo. The wooden bluebird house, of the right dimensions and constructions for bluebirds (and no House Sparrows allowed), is on a pole with a predator guard. Build it and they will come, maintain it and they will thrive.

Choose happy!