Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1.28.15 Bird Nerd Moment - Juno has passed
South Yarmouth, MA

Thank you utility companies!  We did not lose power throughout the wild blizzard that Juno was!  Though the birds don't have the luxury of a warm home, their survival tactics saw them through the snow, wind and freezing temperatures.  Digging ourselves out also allowed for more sightings of flying friends all over our yard.  We all have our priorities, and naturally, I dug out trails so I could fill the seed feeder and the suet feeder.  Normally the feeder is about 6 feet off the ground... but after the drifting of the snow, there was less than two feet between the top of the snow and the bottom of the feeder.  WHAT A STORM!  Of course, I felt the need to photo-document.  I'm obsessed.  Hope it is warm where you are, whether it's in your cozy house or in a tropical destination if you're lucky!  (double click photos to enlarge)

My List:
House Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
Song Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Blue Jay
Mourning Dove

The space between the feeder and the snowdrift is less than two feet.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrows


Path to the feeder

Song Sparrrow

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets at the Cape Cod Musem of Natural History: 
2/10 at 9:30am $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

1.27.15 Bird Nerd Moment - Blizzard watch
South Yarmouth, MA

Howling winds, freezing temperatures and drifting snow are not the optimal weather conditions for birds or any wildlife, yet somehow they find a way.  It does help that if you feed birds, you fill that feeder and suet cake holder as needed in the hopes it gives them nourishment to get them through.  I watched several species through my windows, but tried not to stay too long for each viewing.  I knew that if I could see them, they could see me, and I didn't want to over stress them.  The birds were absolutely using certain areas for shelter from the storm, and there were several species visiting both our seed feeder and our suet feeder.  It's remarkable what they're able to endure.  It really is life and death for them... but there they were, eating and huddling, and fluffing up.  Watching the birds through the windows, even when you're concerned about your own family and hoping to not lose power, can make a storm interesting from a new perspective. These photos are less than great! They are taken through both window & screen. (double click photos to enlarge)

My list through the storm:

Dark-eyed Junco
Mourning Dove
Song Sparrow
House Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Black-capped Chickadee

Dark-eyed Junco

House Sparrow (male)

Song Sparrow

Mourning Dove
Krejci, another avid bird watcher in our home.

Happy Birding!





1.27.15  Bird Nerd Moment - South Yarmouth
Blizzard on Cape Cod (and much of Massachusetts)

I was recently asked by my friend Laura about what the birds do in times of extreme cold weather.  First of all, it makes me happy that she cares about the birds, like so many of us do!  My initial answer was to find shelter and huddle together, for species that can handle that.  Not all species of birds will flock for safety, but that is one of their safety measures. There is safety in numbers.  Birds also use camouflage as often as possible, to avoid being detected.  Movement is an great use of energy, flight in particular.  They need to conserve as much energy as possible on body heat to avoid hypothermia.  Eating as much as possible and relying on their fat supplies can make a huge difference in their survival.  They also fluff up their feathers to warm their bodies.  No matter which combination of tactics used as a creature of nature, luck certainly can play a role.  Finding shelter throughout a blizzard can be key to a bird's survival, as is the case for much wildlife.  

I kept checking the feeder I had filled on Monday, along with the suet.  Several species of birds visited our yard on Monday before the storm. (double click photos below to enlarge)

My List:
European Starling
Blue Jay
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Song Sparrow
House Sparrow
Carolina Wren
Dark-eyed Junco
White-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Cardinal


European Starling

Black-capped Chickadee

Song Sparrow

Carolina Wren

Northern Cardinal (female)

Carolina Wren

White-breasted Nuthatch with Safflower seed in beak

White-breasted Nuthatch

Here comes the storm... (named Juno)

1.27.15 - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History - Tuesday Tweets
Brewster, MA

Due to the blizzard Tuesday Tweets will be cancelled for today.  The feeders have been filled and the suet cakes are stocked.  I hope the birds huddle together safely during this storm. 

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 2.10.15 $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Birding!



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

1.13.15 - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History - Tuesday Tweets
John Wing Trail, Museum Trail, Lee Baldwin Trail - Brewster, MA

Brave, crazy, or merely sticking to the bird nerd mentality... I did lead a Tuesday Tweets bird walk this morning.  Flurries continued throughout the hour due to the ocean effect (I believe they call it) and the northerly winds that didn't seem to let up the entire hour.  It's dangerous for birds to be out in that weather for a few important reasons.  Flight requires enormous amounts of energy.  When the wind and temperature are working against you, sometimes it's best just to be still.  We had a few feathery customers and were rewarded at the end with a very nice view of a small Red-tailed Hawk, probably male, judging by the smaller form. Thank You Susan for your dedication!  See you again soon I hope!  (double click photos for larger images)

Our List:
Northern Cardinal
Black-capped Chickadee
American Crow
Song Sparrow
Red-tailed Hawk
American Robin
Carolina Wren
Blustery over the salt marsh

Entrance to Beech Forest on Lee Baldwin Trail

Stashed pitch pine cones

Who did this?  Squirrels?  It was quite a stash, or cache...
Red-tailed Hawk ( I did not get a good view)

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 1.27.15 @ 9:30am $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Birding!

Monday, January 12, 2015

1.12.15 - Cape Cod Bird Nerd Class - Ms.Hitzenbuhler's Environmental Science Class
Barnstable High School - Hyannis MA

It's been a LOOONG time since I was in high school and visiting any high school still gives me a bit of the nostalgic butterflies in the tummy.  I was fortunate and had an excellent experience at Framingham North High School... in the 80's!!!  Visiting Barnstable High School is an eye-opening experience for me, and thanks to Ms.Hitzenbuhler, I get to visit her Environmental Science Class three times this academic year to bring ornithology to her classroom, which means bringing her students - OUTSIDE!  

There was an impending rain storm on the way, which made me concerned about our potential sightings.  We were not disappointed though.  Our list is included below as well as some photos.  A rare moment happened as we were headed back inside.  One of the students discovered a dead bird on the ground.  Sad.  Yes of course sad, but in the same respect, I knew I had a teaching moment suddenly available to me.  I scooped up the dead bird, and identified it as a Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Not all birds' names can necessarily help in identification and the Red-bellied is exactly that.  YES - it has a red belly, but it also has red on its head and some around it's bill and near the top of the breast.  But, woodpeckers normally perch with their bellies right up against a tree trunk - so you cannot usually see that red bellly!  We were able to really take in the beauty of this bird's feathers. I pointed out the lizard like skin on their feet, as well as the unique shape (zygodactyl, X-shaped) of their feet.  This anatomy in woodpecker's feet along with the rudder-like tail enable their specific movements and perching ability on tree trunks and branches.

What's also notable about this particular visit, is that english is a second language for each of these students I am so lucky to get to spend time with.  I was able to speak a bit of my broken espanol to them, which they definitely seemed amused by... I should take a refresher spanish class!  It was a most memorable and special hour I spent with these students.  I look forward to seeing them again!  Gracias Carlos!  Thank you SO MUCH for your photos. (double click photos to enlarge)
Our List:
European Starling
Herring Gull
American Crow
Canada Goose
Northern Flicker
Downy Woodpecker
Blue Jay
American Robin
Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased)

European Starling on Osprey platform nest

European Starlings

Downy Woodpeckers

Northern Flicker

Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased) (*CARLOS)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased) showing spectacular plumage
(*CARLOS)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (deceased) showing zygodactyl feet (*CARLOS)

I look forward to visiting Barnstable High School in the spring!  Keep track of your bird sightings and you'll be amazed at what you can see everyday when you are on the lookout for birds!
Happy Birding!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12.16.14 - Cape Cod Museum of Natural History - Tuesday Tweets
John Wing Trail - Brewster, MA

"Off to the bay!" was our motivation today.  What a treat to have the earth so calm without any wind.  The peaceful weather has a calming affect on hikers I feel because I did NOT want to wrap up this walk.  It helped to not have the wind biting us, or the birds!  My photos are less than fantastic, and slightly blurry due to distance - which is why I didn't even attempt to get the Common Eider - he was too far out, and hmmm... solitary.  We got a nice in-flight glimpse of a Red-breasted Merganser female as she flapped madly out of Quivett Creek and onto the bay.  The colors that surrounded us, muted as they were, made me feel as though we were surrounded by a simple serene canvas.  Tuesday Tweets lifts my mood no matter how the day begins.  Photo credits to Rick as listed. (double click photos to enlarge)

Our List:
American Crow
American Robin
Northern Cardinal
Dark-eyed Junco
Blue Jay
Northern Flicker
Black-capped Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Song Sparrow
American Black Duck
Herring Gull
Common Eider
Canada Goose
Brant
Red-breasted Merganser (female)

Phragmites

American Black Ducks

Herring Gull

Canada Geese on Cape Cod Bay

Brant

Herring Gull - blurry but looks like a painting to me

Another view of Cape Cod Bay from the John Wing Trail

House Sparrow (male)

Next opportunity for Tuesday Tweets: 1.13.15 $2Members/$4Non-members
Happy Holidays and Happy Birding!