May 18, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 08 January 2009 13:02
From all over Connecticut and southeastern New York come reports that Pine Siskins are descending on the area. Some winters these birds of the northlands appear only occasionally and other times, they show up in vast numbers — as far south as northern Florida. It appears that this may be a good year for seeing siskins.
Don Morgan tells the Connecticut birding hotline, “Having spent a good deal of time at the Lighthouse Point Hawk Watch [in New Haven] this fall, I witnessed the amazing flights of Siskins coming through. The official count was 23,400, but I think the real number that went through the area was probably several times that high.”
He adds that at his home in Coventry, he had a large flock last week that “seems to have been a harbinger of things to come as Siskins are suddenly being reported in numbers from many areas of the state (and Rhode Island, too). I am still seeing up to a 15 or so at a time at my feeders, but not the original mob.”
Adds Greg Hanisek of Waterbury, “I would say these are definitely a new wave of siskins from the boreal regions, a huge area that does support astounding numbers of birds. Just do some quick figuring sometime on what percentage of North America Canada represents. There’s a lot of habitat up there.
“It’s not unusual for irruptions of boreal species to occur well into winter,” he said. “The birds are nomadic in search of food and can make a move anytime a supply in a given area runs out.”
Pine Siskins are little finches, closely related to goldfinches. Many birders love their canary-like songs that periodically include distinctive long ascending whistle notes. (To hear no fewer than 105 recordings of Pine Siskins — or tens of thousands of recordings of other birds — visit the Macaulay Library site at Cornell Lab of Ornithology, animalbehaviorarchive.org.)
Males have touches of yellow on the wings. They feed in the wild on tree seeds, but like thistle (niger) seed as well as black oil sunflower seeds from feeders. According to at least one authority, they are also drawn to highway salt and can be seen picking at sand alongside roads.
For many people, photographing birds can be more fun than watching them. However, getting good pictures can be challenging, especially when you are shooting in the wild.
For shutterbugs who shoot birds, Sean Sime will offer a talk called “Demystifying Bird Photography: Pointers and Pitfalls” Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 p.m. at Katonah Memorial House, 71 Bedford Road, Katonah.
“Like bird watching, bird photography has enjoyed a tremendous increase in interest in recent years,” said Helle Raheem of Bedford Audubon Society, which is sponsoring the free program. “In this lecture, you can learn from a pro and help improve your skills, as Sean Sime shares his methods and provides tips for taking stunning photos of birds.”
Mr. Sime earned a master’s degree in photojournalism and documentary photography at the International Center for Photography in New York, where he lives. He has traveled around the world, providing photo documentation for UNICEF in Africa and photographing endangered species in South America. His work has appeared in many publications including Life Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, North American Birds, and Birder’s World.
For more information on the talk, visit bedfordaudubon.org or call 914-232-1999.
Demystifying Bird Photography: Pointers and Pitfalls, with Photographer Sean Sime, Wednesday, Jan. 14, 7:30 p.m., free, Bedford Audubon, at Katonah Memorial House, 71 Bedford Road, Katonah, bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999.
On Feathered Wings, trip to photo exhibit at American Museum of Natural History, Saturday, Jan. 17, all day, $75/$85, Connecticut Audubon, 860-767-0660, pwood @ ctaudubon.org
Winter Walk in the Meadowlands of New Jersey, with Biologist and Naturalist Michael Newhouse and Bedford Audubon Society Director John Askildsen, Saturday, Jan. 17, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., carpool from Bylane Farm, 35 Todd Road, Katonah, bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999.
Nature Hike at Croton Point Park, Croton-on-Hudson with Bedford Audubon Society Naturalist Tait Johansson, Thursday, Jan. 22, 9 to 11:30 a.m., carpool from Bylane Farm, 35 Todd Road, Katonah or join the group at Croton Point Park at 9:30, bedfordaudubon.org, 914-232-1999.
Birding Sachuest Point and Rhode Island Coast, with Andrew Griswold, Harlequins and other winter ducks, etc, Wednesday, Jan. 28, all day, $55/$65, Connecticut Audubon, 860-767-0660, pwood @ ctaudubon.org
Bird walks with Luke Tiller, mostly Saturdays at 8 a.m., $10 each; to register, www. sunrisebirding. com/ walks.htm; 203-981-9924, luke.tiller @ gmail.com.
First Sundays, birding at Greenwich Point with Meredith Sampson of Wild Wings, and other guides, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, meet at the second concession stand, 203-637-9822.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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