Thursday, July 24, 2014

Summer Birding Had Me a Blast

I am writing this during a busy summer.  Summer is a great time to bird and be in nature.  The better challenge might be funding a time that isn't so great to be outside and exploring.  But it's summer and I find myself focusing on the  birds that are around now.  Namely breeding birds.   There are a few vagrants around but most time is supreme finding critters that are sticking around with their nests.  . 

A nasty of barn swallows at a local park.   These barn swallows were ready to pop out of their nest.  Literally. Mom and dad asking with the other parents and adults keep close eyes I  these youngsters.  They are ready to buzz and defend against any and all who approach.  Birds will protect their nest and it is important to recognize this behavior to protect the bird.

Can you find the American Avocet in the Picture? (C) Not my Photo!

A Double Crested Coromorant in Central Park

What's your favorite part about summer birding?  Post it below!  Until the next time, get out and go birding!

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Finding a Clapper Rail

Ever go walking along a trail and see something just so amazing you have to stop and appreciate it?  Just the other day, my wife and I were on our way to work and we made a quick detour at a state park that is known for being a great place to hear but also see Clapper Rails.  Rails are awesome and hard to see birds.  They like to hide in tall marsh grass and they walk very slowly and carefully.  They can even walk on matted reeds that can make their way into and around marshes.

But back to our incident.  As we walked back to our car, we passed an open stream in the marsh.  In the open stream we found ourselves a Clapper Rail.  But as you can see from the video, it just wasn't a Clapper Rail...

You ever have an encounter like that?  Post it in the comments below.  Until the next time, get outside and go birding!

Link to Wild Bird Wednesday - Link Here

Clapper Rail at All About Birds - Link Here

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Non-Birding Post: Butterflies and Moths!

I don't know my bugs as well as I should.  You can see the evidence of this below.  Butterflies and Moths are awesome bugs.  While I am definitely still learning my bugs, I am definitely getting better all the time.  I picked up Kenn Kaufman's Nature Guide to New England (Link here) and started looking through the guide.  Identifying Butterflies and Moths can be challenging.  They flutter like hummingbirds and kinglets!  In fact there's even a hummingbird moth!  They have a wind range of colors and habitats.  I am going to endeavor to try and learn my butterflies and moths.

I've included a website that I will use along with other books and documents

Any tips about identifying Butterflies?

A Red Admiral

A Mourning Cloak

A Moth... Not sure

Here's some more info from the Brain Scoop:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Goshawks in the Forest

At an undisclosed location, I was taken by a birding friend to see a nest.  This wasn't just an ordinary nest.  This was the best of a Northern Goshawk. Northern Goshawks are becoming harder and harder to find in southern New England. For one, they need large tracks of forested land to survive and they are very territorial. As southern New England went through various stages of its recent history, namely Agricultural, Industrial, Urban, and Suburban, our forests were cut and processed to satisfy the different space and energy needs. This meant that the Northern Goshawk had to go elsewhere to get the land and space it needed. Some have returned despite the continuing challenges of forested spaces around the region. 

 My friend was lucky enough to know of a nest and inspired me along for the ride to see the nest and the birds. Approaching the nest is a careful endeavor. Goshawks are territorial about all the creatures in their space and well chase of people and all sorts of birds and animals. We approached carefully. The Goshawks had chased several Pele already and we didn't want to stress the bird and the nest site. We barely made one bird sitting on the nest. After deciding not to stress them out any more, we began to gather to walk out of the forest. Then the other Goshawk returned. We heard it first. Then sawed it flying through ths trees. The Goshawk was circling us. We continued our walk and the Goshawk took to a perch to make sure we left. We honored the request and hoped or visit hadn't stressed the birds too much. 

 Enjoy the pictures. Until the next time, get outside and go birding !  

A Warning about approaching the nest

The Nest

An Angry Parent Goshawk Approaches

After Flying around and Vocalizing, Goshawk Watches us leave

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday - Link here

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ruby Throated Entry

Put 2 paper clips in your hand.  This is the weight of your average Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.  Hummingbirds are pretty incredible birds.  But I don't have to tell you that.  You know how amazing they are.  The Hummers that zip around our gardens and parks spend their winter in Mexico and Central America.  How they make back and forth between their breeding grounds and their wintering grounds is a true feat of nature.  I was lucky enough to hear a UConn Grad Student in the Ornithology Department present on his findings regarding Hummes and their evolution.  There's a link below to his findings and they are extraordinary!

The talk focused on their tongues and beaks as tools to maximize their consumption of nectar.  In fact, most of the hummingbird seems to be geared towards getting the maximum amount of nectar.  Their flying agility is unparalleled but they are themselves very rigid.  Males leave females to care for the brood all on their own.  Females will build their nests near raptor nests to maximize protection.  Its worth nothing here that only 1 raptor is known to enjoy hunting and eating hummers, the Bat Falcon of South America.  Hummers are truly amazing animals!

What's your favorite Hummer experience?  Share in the comments below.  Until the next time, get outside and go birding!

Nature's Magic In The Air Documentary - Link here

UConn's Work on Hummingbirds- Link here

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at All About Birds - Link here

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Vultures and Vultures

Vultures get a bad rap.  Scavengers usually do.  I remember an uproar when people suggested that the Tyrannosaurus Rex might have been a scavenger.  People were unwilling to believe that the biggest raptor could have been a scavenger.  Their evidence was not without merit.  The T-Rex had the largest olfactory nerve center in the fossil record.  2nd biggest is the turkey vulture.  And some of the largest flying birds today are scavengers of some sort, Eurasian Black Vulture, Andean Vulture to name a few.

But back to today's vultures.  I've included some pictures of the 2 Vultures living here in Southern New England.  The Turkey Vulture and the Black Vulture.  Both are fairly visible around here and common.  The Black Vulture has only become common in the past decade or so.   Whether that's a product of climate change or not, that's up for debate.  Their sensory prowess is definitely up for debate as even JJ Audubon was know to experiment with sense smell.  So think about vultures next time you see them in the sky, you are in good company!

Until the next time, go outside and bird!

A Turkey Vulture perched up high

A Close Up of a Turkey Vulture

A Black Vulture soaring in the sky

Wild Bird Wednesday - link here