The bird that was chosen as our national bird by the founding fathers gets people’s attention. In fact, the sight of one of these large, powerful raptors does more than attract attention - it excites people, even those who claim to have no interest in birds. Bald is a derivation of balde, an Old English word meaning white. The eagle was named for its white feathers, instead of a lack of feathers.
Winter is no fun for birds, despite the cheery note of a Carolina Wren. On this week's Bird Report, Vern Laux discusses the stresses birds face this time of year, and gives tips for helping birds survive. Consider a heated birdbath, keep the food coming - and maybe you'll be rewarded with a sighting of an Eastern Bluebird!
The future for birds, birders and life seems to renew each January. The allure of birds to birders, with their amazing physical adaptations, feathers, mastery of the air and stunning migrations to the ends of the earth are at once fascinating and mysterious.
The Cape and Islands Christmas Bird counts have been memorable with more species recorded and really “off the charts” numbers of rare birds including many some warbler species that should be in South America. The counts have been conducted in fairly good weather with light winds and some sunshine. The birding has been great with many new record high counts of birds and a stunning number of rare birds that quicken the pulse of birders around New England.
The week just passed had a remarkable assemblage of birds found on the Cape and Islands from across the taxonomic realm of birds found in New England. The first Christmas Bird Counts were conducted with the Outer Cape Count being conducted on December 14. Also on this day was the Newport R.I./Westport, MA. CBC and the Greater Boston Count. All counts enjoyed spectacular weather. The winds were light and variable with periods of sun and partial overcast-ideal and rare conditions for a Christmas Bird Count!
The weather has resembled a roller coaster ride over the past six weeks. After an all-too-early chilly snap pre-Thanksgiving that made us realize that winter was arriving very early, things warmed up a little. The following milder spell has, however, now skipped off south and we are seeing a return to chillier conditions. After a rain-drenched day yesterday, following brutal weather this past weekend-hopes and wishes, the prospects have dimmed for the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts, which start this weekend on December 14 with the Outer Cape CBC and proceed thru Jan 5. 2015.
There is a medium-sized gull that spends the winter in considerable numbers along the edges of the Continental shelf well over a hundred miles out to sea. Occasionally they occur in near-shore waters and they are occasionally abundant in winter in Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound. This pelagic gull is very long-winged and flies differently than its inshore relatives. It is quite at home on the storm-roiled waters of the North Atlantic in mid-winter, unlike so many other creatures, particularly anyone reading this.
The end of November is an exciting time of year on the Cape and Islands. From a birding perspective, the birding is exceptional - better than anywhere else in New England at this season. The possibility of some extralimital vagrant, the sheer numbers of birds still around that over winter here, and the lovely light and scenery of late autumn, all combine to make being on the Cape and Islands for Thanksgiving something to be truly grateful for.
The question that been coming my way since last spring was will the Snowy Owls that spent the winter in larger numbers than ever before in our area last winter return to spend another winter. Simple, straight forward question but not an easy one to answer. This historic incursion points out just how little we know about not only Snowy Owls but pretty much everything else as well.