May 23, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 11 November 2010 14:07
I used to pontificate from time to time about how people never look up. We go for a walk around the neighborhood, in the woods or even on the beach, and our eyes are always looking ahead, or maybe down. In the process, we miss the many interesting creatures — mostly birds — that may be spotted in the trees or in the air.
Well, Jason Kessler of Ridgefield might say the same thing about condominium windows.
“As I was sitting at my desk before a window in my suburban condo,” Jason writes, “a burst of panicked chickadee made me look up just in time to see a juvenile Golden Eagle swooping down to grab something off the well-tended lawn, presumably a squirrel.
“I bolted for the door, but the action was over and the bird was gone. The entire episode took about half a second. Pretty darn thrilling.”Thrilling indeed. And very unusual. We might be tempted to suspect that Jason saw a hawk, not an eagle, in this busy suburban setting, right next to Ridgefield’s shopping center strip. But he is no amateur in the birding world: Jason filmed the documentary, Opposable Chums: The Guts and Glory at the World Series of Birding, which has been shown on PBS and which Pete Dunne, noted bird author and Audubon leader, has called “the best film I’ve ever seen about birding.”
Golden Eagles are quite uncommon here, and are more likely to be seen in the West. They summer in northern Canada. In the late autumn and winter, a few may be found near large bodies of water, like Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River, or the reservoirs in Westchester and Putnam County. On Halloween, one was spotted at Greenwich Audubon.
Incidentally, despite having huge six- to eight-foot wingspans, Golden Eagles are incredibly fast in their dives to catch prey: Ornithologists estimate they are moving at up to 150 mph!
Jason lives at Fox Hill, a 286-unit condominium complex that may be especially well situated for birding. To its east are woods, to its south are hundreds of acres of The Great Swamp — a state preserve, and to the west are a pond and a stream, the headwaters of the Norwalk River.
“My little shard of country also seems to be blessed with Kinglets, both Ruby- and Golden-crowned, and with Cedar Waxwings,” he adds.
So no matter where you live, don’t count yourself out for seeing some great birds. Just keep your eyes open — and keep your vision open-minded.
“Among the usual suspects under our tube feeder full of sunflower hearts, today we had a single male Eastern Red-eyed Towhee, sometimes called Rufus-sided Towhee,” reports Mike Tschebull of Darien. “We almost never see them.”
At least one Rufous Hummingbird — a West Coast species — has been spotted in Connecticut in October. These birds sometimes wander east instead of south during migration, one reason why some birders leave feeders up all fall. On Oct. 28, a female was seen repeatedly in Sterling, Conn., over by the Rhode Island border.
We may have more on the latest thinking about this phenomenon next week.
Speaking of hummingbirds, several people responded to the note in September about how to keep yellow jackets away from feeders. One of the simplest techniques came from Louise Foster of Weston, who said, “The way to keep wasps away from the hummingbird feeder is to spray, or rub, a cooking oil over the parts surrounding the nectar hole. The wasps cannot get, if you will, a ‘foothold’ — too slippery.”
Many readers will remember Ed Kanze, who penned more than 1,000 “All Things Natural” columns for our newspapers over some 20 years. Ed is still writing the column from his home in the Adirondacks, and just hit the 1,200th edition.
Fans of his writing — and his many spring bird walks at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation — may be interested to know Ed is leading a 21-day Australia and New Zealand tour for Smithsonian Adventures this winter. The trip leaves Jan. 29 and returns Feb. 19 and will include visits to the Great Barrier Reef, Alice Springs, Ayers Rock, Sydney, Christchurch, the New Zealand Alps (where the Lord of the Rings films were shot), and Auckland. Ed is the author of Notes From New Zealand (Henry Holt, 1992) and Kangaroo Dreaming: An Australian Wildlife Odyssey. He is widely traveled in both countries.
A few spots are left, Ed says. Details, prices, and registration information can be found at smithsonianjourneys.org or by calling 1-877-338-8687.
Project FeederWatch, how to be a citizen scientist with Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Saturday, Nov. 13, 1 to 2:30, Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich.audubon.org, 203-869-5272 x230
Birding at Read Sanctuary, trip to coastal sanctuary in Rye, N.Y., Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 to noon, Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich.audubon.org, 203-869-5272 x230
Kakapo Parrot Day, lecture & a film about the world’s rarest parrot species, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2 to 5 p.m., $10 donation, Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich.audubon.org, 203-869-5272 x239
Copyright 2010 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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