May 25, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 17 March 2011 13:50
Spring is nearing and the warm-weather birds are beginning to arrive.
“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,” writes Ellen Burns of Ridgefield.
“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 ... Didn’t seem to be eating — fortunately — just enjoying the first non-snow covered ground since Christmas.”
This is the time of year when we get many reports of flocks of robins being seen in yards. Lynn Mullen of Ridgefield, for instance, spotted around 40 in her back yard the other day, and I saw a bunch in a yard early Sunday morning.
As faithful readers know, we have some robins year-round — they form flocks in the fall and spend the winter in swamps and wetlands, eating berries and seeds. At this time of year, they are doubtless hungry for fresh meat — arising worms and grubs, for instance — and with the snow off the lawns, they are foraging our yards.
Some robins seem smarter than others, and do head south for the winter. So there are also flocks of northward-moving robins, perhaps settling in or maybe just passing through.
Pretty soon, the flocks will break up into mating pairs as nesting season arrives. Flocks of the robins’ cousins, the Eastern Bluebird, should have already broken up and pairs should be searching for and setting up nests.
Matt Robey of Redding had Common Redpolls at his tube feeder March 4, eating cracked sunflower seeds. “There were a couple in the company of goldfinch and Pine Siskins. It’s the first time I’ve seen a redpoll so this was exciting!”
Allen Welby of Ridgefield, who got the shot of the hawk, had about 20 Common Redpolls at his feeder on Old Sib Road Saturday, March 12. “A nice change from the usual fare,” he said.
Redpolls descend from the Arctic in some winters, but are not regularly seen. Odds are, these are heading north by now, or will be soon.
“My daughter and I were walking down our driveway after an “inspection tour” of broken branches,” reports Pat Sidas of Wilton, after a recent storm. “Zita picked up a medium-sized branch that had fallen near a stand of hemlocks and tossed it into the underbrush under the trees.
“What we did not know was, our owl was asleep in the trees. Well, we woke him up with the sound of the dead branch hitting the tree he was perched on. Wow. He flew up, eyes wide open, into a neighboring deciduous tree, and gave us a really annoyed look! We got a good look at him/her — must have been 24 inches tall. Once he got his bearings, he flew off into the woods, where we lost sight of him.
“We figure he/she lives around our house as we regularly hear a call, especially at dusk. He has a plentiful supply of chipmunks and mice, I am sure!”
Family Bird Watch, winter birds, bird feeding and first returning migrants, All ages. Saturday, March 19, 1 to 2 p.m., Greenwich Audubon, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, greenwich.audubon.org, RSVP to 203-869-5272 x221.
Woodcock Watch, one of the rites of spring, Saturday, March 19, 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., Greenwich Audubon, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, greenwich.audubon.org, RSVP to 203-869-5272 x221.
Birdscaping, native plants to attract and support native birds, with Michael Corcoran, Tuesday, March 22, 6:30 p.m., $5, Connecticut Audubon, at Birdcraft Museum, Unquowa Road, Fairfield; 203-259-0416, ctaudubon.org.
Bird Watching Basics, introduction to ornithology and the tools/skills used in bird study, Saturday, March 26, 9:30 to noon, $12, Greenwich Audubon, 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, greenwich.audubon.org, 203-869-5272 x230.
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
Spring Migration Bird Walks, Saturdays, April 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, May 7, 21, 28, from 7 to 8:45 a.m., free, Audubon Greenwich, meet in parking area on 613 Riversville Road; greenwich.audubon.org, 203-869-5272.
“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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