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bob_G

Winter birds

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My wife and I really enjoy feeding the birds. After disappearing to parts unknown, my cardinals have returned in force. Had a lonely pair hanging around since the summer. But in the last week I see flashes of red and orange flying all around the yard as the males and females chase each other.  They're on the feeders until dark each night.

Huge influx of eiders this year. Walked Charlie around 11pm the other night, and I could hear them gurgling on the Bell Rd mud flats so loud, you'd have thought they were on my front lawn.

Edited by bob_G

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My son and I were just discussing having finally seen bald eagles. We usually see them all winter around the Merrimack and Nashua rivers. We were guessing the lakes up north are finally freezing.

 

Alot of the crabapples and winterberries are still on the trees. The lack of snow cover means birds don't need those foods - or feeders - as much as a snowy winter. 

Robins and bluebirds in a crabapple tree means snow.

 

Not much for snowy owls this season apparently. I got blocked by the FB owl group so not sure, but between two of my boys, they have 4 failed searches between them.

 

The redtail pair at my work hasn't been hunting muskrat at ice openings this year. For one, there hasn't been ice. Without ice holes to concentrate the 'rats, they're probably harder to catch.

More importantly, with no snow cover, the bunnies don't have the same protection they usually get. I found 3 different bunny kill sites in one short hike.

Bunnies are probably the prefered choice. They hunt muskrat as needed.

 

Lots of coopers hawks pics in all the bird groups. Becoming a very common bird year round. I watch a pair that hunts pigeons and starlings at a cow farm down the street.

 

Crows are the ultimate winter bird. One of the few you hear calling on an icefishing trip. They seem to like snow. I watch them play in it and toss it around like kittens with string.

 

Sea gulls are the icefishermens' bird. They give us something to watch while we wait for flags, then steal our lunch when we run to one.

A few years ago there was a locally rare iceland gull at Comet pond that would pull up line from a tipup to get the shiner.

Winter birds.

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We haven't had nuthatches here for years. Now I have a couple pairs of red breasted and white breasted nuthatches. They visit the feeders from dawn to dusk.

After a two year hiatus, the Carolina wrens have returned. I think we lost them during the bad winter we had 2 years ago. 

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1 min ago, Running Ape said:

This has been a great winter for birds- stumbled into a flock of golden crowned kinglets, seen gannets, dovekies, and razorbills from shore. 

Been some cool ones. I don't chase rarities (except raptors) so I mainly enjoy them in the bird groups (that haven't banned me).

The dovekies and razorbills are popular. 

The winter finches have caused commotion too. People are driving around staring into peoples' yards trying to find bird feeders to the point the cops get called.

 

On the subject of chasing rarities, my son almost pulled the trigger on a trip to New York to see a gyrfalcon. I would have done that, although I detest being in those crowds. 

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My son took this at Plum Island. 

It's male perigrin falcon # 17/BD, born and banded in a tower in Manchester NH.

He and his mate spend a lot of time at Plum and are frequently photographed and band #s reported because they like to perch right at the bridge onto the island. 

Possibly the same bird I saw land on a mud bank in a failed effort to flush some ducks.

7451.jpeg

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4 hours ago, bob_G said:

My wife and I really enjoy feeding the birds. After disappearing to parts unknown, my cardinals have returned in force. Had a lonely pair hanging around since the summer. But in the last week I see flashes of red and orange flying all around the yard as the males and females chase each other.  They're on the feeders until dark each night.

Huge influx of eiders this year. Walked Charlie around 11pm the other night, and I could hear them gurgling on the Bell Rd mud flats so loud, you'd have thought they were on my front lawn.

It's been a fun year watching the feeder.

Besides the usual's, we've had a nice group of 6 Bluebirds daily as well as Evening Grosbeaks, Pine Siskens, and many Purple Finch's hanging around.

 

We try to keep the home bird watching fun and separate from ...... the list..... which is a bit more serious. :laugh:

Edited by Plug and teaser

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Im on the eastern side of central mass. We have a lot more turkeys around this fall and ive seen them weekly since mid dec. they were virtually no shows this past spring which is unusual.

 

Other relatively recent bird sightings before this latest cold snap were pileated woodpeckers in the woods, and flocks of cedar waxwings. Still seeing a few robins and the usual chickadees, titmice, juncos, jays, downies, and nuthatches. Havent seen a carolina wren in yrs. Some cardinals, but fewer than in past yrs.

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16 hours ago, mikez2 said:

My son and I were just discussing having finally seen bald eagles. We usually see them all winter around the Merrimack and Nashua rivers. We were guessing the lakes up north are finally freezing.

 

Alot of the crabapples and winterberries are still on the trees. The lack of snow cover means birds don't need those foods - or feeders - as much as a snowy winter. 

Robins and bluebirds in a crabapple tree means snow.

 

Not much for snowy owls this season apparently. I got blocked by the FB owl group so not sure, but between two of my boys, they have 4 failed searches between them.

 

The redtail pair at my work hasn't been hunting muskrat at ice openings this year. For one, there hasn't been ice. Without ice holes to concentrate the 'rats, they're probably harder to catch.

More importantly, with no snow cover, the bunnies don't have the same protection they usually get. I found 3 different bunny kill sites in one short hike.

Bunnies are probably the prefered choice. They hunt muskrat as needed.

 

Lots of coopers hawks pics in all the bird groups. Becoming a very common bird year round. I watch a pair that hunts pigeons and starlings at a cow farm down the street.

 

Crows are the ultimate winter bird. One of the few you hear calling on an icefishing trip. They seem to like snow. I watch them play in it and toss it around like kittens with string.

 

Sea gulls are the icefishermens' bird. They give us something to watch while we wait for flags, then steal our lunch when we run to one.

A few years ago there was a locally rare iceland gull at Comet pond that would pull up line from a tipup to get the shiner.

Winter birds.

Are bald eagles making a come back in our area? I've seen a few recently on the south shore. That's more than I've seen in decades.

 

Also, the red tails have been putting on quite the show for me recently. Screeching and chasing each other around the air. Very cool to watch. It's like watching fighter pilots chasing each other. I'm guessing it's breeding season?

Edited by JTR

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17 hours ago, bob_G said:

My wife and I really enjoy feeding the birds. After disappearing to parts unknown, my cardinals have returned in force. Had a lonely pair hanging around since the summer. But in the last week I see flashes of red and orange flying all around the yard as the males and females chase each other.  They're on the feeders until dark each night.

Huge influx of eiders this year. Walked Charlie around 11pm the other night, and I could hear them gurgling on the Bell Rd mud flats so loud, you'd have thought they were on my front lawn.

Hopefully the eiders really are making a come back. Hunting seasons were shortened after the populations were declining. I'm pretty sure that they were seeing birds die off mysteriously as well.

 

I pretty much quit hunting sea ducks. I'm a big proponent of eating everything you kill and its tough to find things to do with sea ducks. Unfortunately, I know guys that have no problem shooting them and throwing them away.

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Sea Duck, all you have to do is marinate them for two days..

 

 

Take the duck out of Marinate and throw the duck away and drink the wine. :laugh:

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46 mins ago, JTR said:

Are bald eagles making a come back in our area? I've seen a few recently on the south shore. That's more than I've seen in decades.

 

Also, the red tails have been putting on quite the show for me recently. Screeching and chasing each other around the air. Very cool to watch. It's like watching fighter pilots chasing each other. I'm guessing it's breeding season?

Eagles have come back really strong and nest in several places in Massachusetts. 

In central Ma we mostly see wintering birds which congregate along the Merrimack river but also follow the Nashua river between the Merrimack and Wachusett res. They tend to stop over in the area of the Oxbow NWR.

 

Redtails are our resident raptor. Life is so easy, they don't migrate or even leave a good neighborhood year round. There is a pair which nest somewhere near every one of you reading this. Probably a big white pine.

This is pre-breeding season. Another month before you see actual courtship. This time of year the pair will work together to drive off passing strangers or their own young to protect feeding/nesting areas.

 

The courtship of late Feb early March is when redtails put on a show.

Of course everyone is familiar with the soaring. You see em everywhere. 

 

You may see a hawk go into a long stoop and dive as if attacking prey only to have him zoom over the back of a perched female. Watch long enough and you'll see em mate.

 

Sometimes you will see him carry sticks to the nest symbolically adding to the nest to show what a good house keeper he is.

Other times you may see him carry prey to the nest even though it's not yet in use. He leaves it as a tempting gift for his mate.

 

BTW, if you see a redtail in feb carrying anything, stick or prey, you can easily follow him to the nest. They are not yet careful to stay hidden. Later, when she's on the nest and the trees are leafed out, they're so secretive they're much harder to find.

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