May 22, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 10 March 2011 11:27
Last week’s report on the Great Backyard Bird Count inspired Frank McBrearity to send along a report as “an amateur observer” from New Canaan.
“We have had three or four birdfeeders in our backyard since the late 1980’s, and have become quite familiar with the regular gang and the occasional interloper from other parts,” Frank writes. “We see many Downy Woodpeckers, but we also have regular visits by the larger Hairy Woodpeckers in our area. Both birds feed at the feeders (hulled sunflower kernels) and the suet cakes in the winter.
“We see many Red-bellied Woodpeckers at the feeders and the suet cakes, but more recently the larger flicker has appeared at the suet cakes with some regularity. The flicker is a frequent visitor to our yard in the summer months, occasionally venturing to the sunflower seed feeder while in the yard.
“The Pileated Woodpecker has made a considerable racket in the upper reaches of the trees in our backyard in recent weeks. With the foliage gone, it is much easier to spot, even at a distance.
“The most interesting and entertaining birds now in our backyard are the pair of Carolina Wrens that find our terrace area particularly hospitable and nourishing, especially under the suet cakes. In recent years, the (a) pair has turned my wife’s winter planter box into their own ‘Wrens Rest,’ building an intricately hidden nest for their springtime brood. They are fascinating to watch as they weave this discreetly hidden home, and then tirelessly ferry food into the nest and debris away after the hatchlings arrive. Moreover, they are quite protective of their turf; aggressively chasing any chipmunk that dares to venture into their zone. With their boundless energy and male song repertoire they have unique appeal to me, rivaled only by the hummingbirds that arrive later in the summer.”
Correspondent Kevin Doyle, who spent last year photographing many Osprey along the coast, has turned his attention to Bald Eagles. All winter, he’s visited the shores of the Hudson River north and south of Bear Mountain, and photographed more than a dozen Bald and Golden Eagles that hang out on the ice.
This month, however, he’s focusing on a nesting pair of Bald Eagles at the Ashokan Reservoir near Kingston, N.Y., which produced the picture that accompanies this column. “There’s a nest here with a breeding pair, no eggs yet but hopefully soon, and if they have chicks this will be a great spot to see and photograph eagles until mid-August. The female has no fear of humans and allowed us to get within 15 feet. She only flew off after she gathered enough grass and went past me no more than 10 feet away. Talk about impressive.”
Our friends, Pat and Joe Warren, who operate Wild Birds Unlimited shops in Darien and Bedford Hills (wbu.com/darien), send along some interesting facts about the Tufted Titmouse:
* Tufted Titmice are one of just a few perching birds that can use their feet to hold seeds while they break them open.
* During the winter the Tufted Titmouse forages together with Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers and Brown Creepers.
* The Tufted Titmouse is apparently totally dominant over the Black-capped Chickadees within their territory. Chickadee survival rates often plummet after Titmice expand into their territory for the first time.
* Young Tufted Titmice often remain with their parents throughout their first winter.
* Sometimes, a young Tufted Titmouse will stay with its parents into the next nesting season and help its parents raise the next brood.
* Tufted Titmice select one seed from a feeder at a time. They shell it and hide the kernel within 130 feet of the feeder from which they obtained it.
* Tufted titmice typically cache seeds under loose bark (46% of cases), but they also used furrows and cracks along with broken and rotted areas of trees, as well as on the ground.
Ellen Burns of Ridgefield reports, “I was thrilled to hear, and then see, the first Red Winged Blackbirds of the season this week — the true harbinger of Spring (although they come with the grackles, who, unfortunately, mob the feeders). Early in the week I saw a Red-tailed Hawk eyeing the feeders, and on Friday we were visited by six Turkey Vultures in the yard.”
Annual Meeting, Connecticut Ornithological Association, including Dr. Alan Brush, on plumage chemistry and color; Dr. Daniel Klem on preventing bird-window collisions; Blair Nicula on storm-blown seabirds; Saturday, April 9, 8/9 to 4 p.m., $15/$20, Chapman Hall, Middlesex Community College, Middletown, ctbirding.org.
“First Sundays,” bird walks open to all ages and skills, at Greenwich Point, with Meredith Sampson, first Sunday of the month, through May, 9 a.m. sponsored by Wild Wings, Inc., Bruce Museum and Audubon Greenwich, 203-637-9822.
Copyright 2011 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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