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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Purple Finches are on the Move, Watch for Them!

                                                    Purple Finch, male 
Purple Finch, female 
House Finch, male looks similar to Purple Finch, male
 I'm excited that it's getting really finchy here in eastern MA! Finally, Purple Finches are coming through, had two males yesterday, a female the day before and a male and female today, plus Pine Siskin yesterday. The last photo is a male House Finch. Notice the difference with the male Purple Finch who is suffused all over with a more raspberry red and has little flank streaking, whereas the male House Finch has red on head, breast and rump, heavily streaked flanks and a shorter more curved bill. We have a special section in the new The Stokes Guide to Finches of the United States and Canada (pub. Sept. 17, 2024, available for preorder now on amazon and more) on telling the confusing red finches apart.

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Much of the East Under Severe Weather Threat.

"Severe" (fill in the blank; tornadoes, snow, wind, sleet, rain, flooding) seems to be the new norm as much of the eastern part of the country is under weather threats today and tomorrow.
Stay safe, hunker down and fill feeders beforehand.


Saturday, March 30, 2024


                                      HAPPY EASTER COTTONTAIL!!

                                              ENJOY YOUR EASTER

Thursday, March 21, 2024


If you came to this blog post because you were expecting answers about why you are not seeing goldfinches in any year, here is the answer.
Goldfinches are erratic about where they occur. They move around in winter depending on food sources. They may not appear in winter, spring, summer or fall in areas where they were previously. So at any time of year you may not be seeing them when you saw them before.
In addition, Goldfinches breeding range includes most of the northern two thirds of the country and into Canada. In winter, they leave the northernmost part of that range and are found in the rest of the U.S. including down into the South. Thus do not expect to see them in the far northern area of their range in winter, or the most southern part of their range in summer. Goldfinches change color in winter from their breeding yellow plumage to a brown-gray.
The best way to attract goldfinches is to keep feeders full of hulled sunflower, one of their favorites, or you can use thistle (nyjer) seed, make sure it is fresh. I have a new book coming out this fall, Sept. 17, 2024, The Stokes Guide to Finches of the United States and Canada. It includes everything about American Goldfinches and all the other finches; ID, breeding, food, migrations, conservation, and more. You can Pre-Order it now HERE!

Tuesday, March 19, 2024



Happy First Day of Spring! Early arrivals that have been spotted, Tree Swallows and Eastern Phoebe. These insect eaters will have to contend with the roller coaster weather in New England, warm, sunny, and windy today, then next week rain, cold, and even possibly a snow shower. They are a welcome sign that things are moving forward, bring on the other migrants!

Wednesday, March 06, 2024

Hummingbirds are Coming!!


Believe it or not, hummingbirds have already started arriving in the southern part of the U.S. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been spotted in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, so time to get the hummingbird feeders up in those areas. If you're in the northern parts of the country, it seems like a long time before hummingbirds will be enthralling you. These photos may help you dream about it. You can track their progress and see other people's spring hummer sightings at

Saturday, March 02, 2024



THE STOKES GUIDE TO FINCHES OF THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA                                         By Lillian Stokes and Matthew A. Young 


Learn all you need to know about identifying and attracting finches with this comprehensive, gloriously colorful new STOKES guide.
(Pub. date 9/17/24)

With The Stokes Guide to Finches of the United States and Canada, you can gain expert knowledge on these beautiful birds and bring them into your own yard. This fully illustrated guide tells you all you need to know about attracting, identifying, observing, and protecting finches.
This book includes:

- Complete life histories including breeding behavior, food, habitat, range, migration, and conservation. 

- Detailed identification information with beautiful photos of males, females, immatures, breeding and winter plumages, subspecies, songs, and calls. 

- A special section on endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper finches, plus other rare and vagrant finches 

- How to attract and garden for finches with the right feeders, seed, and plantings 

- The most complete and up-to-date range maps, including maps of core occurrence and irruption ranges for all red crossbill call types, which have never before been published in a book 

- Scientific studies on finch migrations and conservation 

- More than 345 stunning full-color photographs and over 50 range maps covering 43 species 

- Spectrograms of crossbills calls and innovative charts of their food preferences 

- Engaging creative essays, unique to any guide, introducing each main breeding 


“This finch guide, the latest in the remarkably long series of Stokes books for birders, breaks new ground in how seamlessly it melds field guide expectations with cutting edge ornithology, all focused on a charismatic group of birds.  Brilliantly conceived, magnificently illustrated, and full of information that any birder would devour, it would not surprise me if this unique guide earns the rank of top bird book of 2024. My opinion.”                                 

John Kricher, author of Peterson Reference Guide to Bird Behavior and The New Neotropical Companion

" WOW! This gorgeously illustrated, rigorously researched, beautifully written field guide is ground-breaking! This is THE most comprehensive and engrossing book I have ever read on these fascinating, flashy, important birds. It really knocks my sox off! No nature lover should be without it.” 

Sy Montgomery, author of Birdology and The Hummingbirds’ Gift

“The Stokes Guide to Finches of the United States and Canada resets the bar as a template for future avian monographs and it compiles for the ages a tour de force of what is known about finches and Hawaiian honeycreepers.  The authors’ linguistic mastery, creative formatting of comprehensive text, engaging use of high-quality color graphics and photographs, and thoughtfully chosen anecdotal imagery make this book both a pleasure to read and a delightful compendium of information about these handsome, often song-worthy, and frequently itinerant passerines.  Lillian Stokes and Matt Young have made a spectacular contribution to North American ornithology.” 

Wayne R. Petersen, Massachusetts Audubon Director Important Bird Area (IBA) Program

 “From backyard feeders to remote wilderness peaks, finches are among the most fascinating birds in every setting, the more we learn about them, the more remarkable they become. In this new volume — detailed, accurate, and beautifully illustrated, like every Stokes guide — Lillian Stokes, a gifted communicator about the natural world, joins forces with finch expert Matthew Young to provide an essential reference for everyone curious about birds.” 

Kenn Kaufman, author of The Birds That Audubon Missed

“More than just a Guide to Finches, this cutting-edge book provides guidance for better living through birds. This book is so magical, I spent an entire morning savoring the read, experiencing and reliving the sheer joy of the finches I've encountered in my years of noticing them. To me, this book embodies so much hope and joy, but along with those emotions, a bridge between our personal well-being and bird identification- something so important in truly getting to know the birds. Also striking is that this book is for everyone - from novice to expert, bundled in an incredible layout of sections and a gallery of images that are dynamic and engaging. Well done!!”                                                                                                             
Holly Merker, co-author of Ornitherapy for Your Mind Body and Soul, and founder of the Mindful Birding Network

“Birds of a feather? Perhaps more of a seed-seeking beak shape or propensity to show up here, there, and then disappear, marks the birds in this wonderfully unique guide. As many of us spend our winters waiting on evening grosbeaks to finally show up, Lillian Stokes and Matt Young illuminate the familiar backyard residents, rare endemics and irruptive visitors that bird adorers will come to know better. Although some of the rarer species passing through might only give quick glimpses, the artfully novel Quick Takes in the Stokes Guide to Finches will make the watching worth the waiting!”                                                                  

J Drew Lanham is an ornithologist-birder, award-winning writer-conservationist, and author of Sparrow Envy - A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts. 

 "Everything a finch guide should have and so much more! Great photos and useful ID tips, in-depth information, nuanced range maps, tips for feeding them safely, and important information about conservation. I particularly love that they included the Hawaiian honeycreepers to spotlight their plight. And Lillian Stokes’s and Matt Young’s accounts of personal encounters with finches enlighten and inspire. A fun, in-depth dive into a wonderful family." 

Laura Erickson, author and producer of the "For the Birds" podcast and blog

 Who knew that the finches, that most-familiar group of backyard feeder birds, hid such mystery and exciting discovery among their noisy, colorful flocks? Lillian Stokes and Matt Young are the perfect knowledgeable guides and their wonderfully informative book lays bare many of the secrets that finches have long kept. 

Scott Weidensaul, author of A World on the Wing.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Special Little Owl


Burrowing Owls are special little owls that live in underground burrows they dig or in a burrow they take over from a prairie dog, ground squirrel, or tortoise. They live in much of the West and in Florida in grasslands, deserts, bare lots, and other open habitats. They hunt insects and rodents. Unfortunately, their numbers are declining due to human destruction of their habitat and declining food sources. Enjoy them but don't disturb them.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Cardinal thinking of spring


This beautiful male cardinal was waiting his turn at the feeder but he had other thoughts in mind. Yesterday I saw him mate-feed a female! It's too early for breeding yet here in New England.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Great Backyard Bird Count Feb. 16-19th

 A global event, The Great Backyard Bird Count is coming your way Feb. 16-19th. It's easy, all you have to do is count the birds at your favorite locations. In as little as 15 minutes notice the birds around you. Identify them, count them, and submit them to help scientists better understand and protect birds around the world. If you already use eBird or Merlin, your submissions over the 4 days count towards GBBC. Learn more here,

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Friday, February 02, 2024

Happy Groundhog Day! Early Spring Predicted!


Our Groundhog, maybe still asleep in its underground burrow today. But Punxsutawney Phil, the "official" weather forecasting Groundhog was trotted out on TV this morning to predict if we would have an early spring. He said, Yes, since he didn't see his shadow, we will have an early spring.

Here is a poem from Phil's website in 2007

El Nino has caused high winds, heavy snow, ice and freezing temperatures in the west.
Here in the East with much mild winter weather we have been blessed.

Global warming has caused a great debate.
This mild winter makes it seem just great.

On this Groundhog Day we think of one thing.
Will we have winter or will we have spring?

On Gobbler's Knob I see no shadow today.
I predict that early spring is on the way.

According to this website, the Groundhog legend began:

In 1887, a spirited group of groundhog hunters from Punxsutawney dubbed themselves "The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club." One member of the club was an editor of Punxsutawney's newspaper. Using his editorial clout, he proclaimed Punxsutawney Phil, the local groundhog, to be the one and only official weather prognosticating groundhog. He issued this proclamation on, appropriately enough, Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil's fame began to spread, and newspapers from around the globe began to report Punxsutawney Phil's Groundhog Day predictions. Today, 20,000 fans come to Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day to experience this unique—and fun—tradition.

Happy Groundhog day. Hope Phil's prediction comes true.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Evening Grosbeaks Need Your Help They Are in Decline!

How you can help Evening Grosbeaks! Their population has dropped 92% since 1970. If you see any banded Evening Grosbeaks at your feeder please report it to the US Bird Banding Lab at USGS Bird Banding Lab and email avian ecologist David Yeany at
All banded Evening Grosbeaks will have an aluminum leg band, plus up to 3 colored bands. It's important to determine the sex of the bird and record the location of each band – whether a band is positioned on the upper or lower areas of the right leg or left leg – along with each band’s color. You will also provide the date and location (the address or GPS coordinates) of the observation. Even reports of partial band combinations can be useful, and documentary photos are best!
The Evening Grosbeak Road to Recovery project is color banding and putting satellite and radio transmitters on Evening Grosbeaks to track their movements and help discover the causes of their decline. Read more here,

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Golden-winged Warbler ABA bird of the year!

 The American Birding Association just announced its bird of the year is a Golden-winged Warbler,

"Gorgeous, threatened, prone to producing interesting hybrid combinations with Blue-winged Warblers: the Golden-winged Warbler is a birder favorite, whether encountered as an expected breeder, an uncommon migrant, or an electrifying vagrant. Golden-winged Warbler is also the first warbler selected as the ABA Bird of the Year."