Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Happy Couple again

I apologize for the lack of posts lately.  I have been spending a lot of my free time which, is not much with two young kids, working on the upcoming Bald Eagle Watch program. As busy as I have been, the Red-Shouldered Hawk pair in my backyard has been busier.  I have seen one of them practically every day for a few weeks now.  Today, they both showed up to perch together for a little while before the male headed out to probably catch some breakfast.  He is on the top with the more reddish head and smaller size.

Here is an older picture of the two trying to stay warm on a cold winter day.

Here is a more recent one from a week ago.  It never gets old watching and photographing this beautiful pair.  Happy Birding and Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 11/4

A Hawk and His Shadow

Happy first Friday of November!  This week, I went a little artsy.  This is the male Red-shouldered Hawk in my yard perched in the sun.  It didn't last for long but his shadow was cast on the tree behind him.  His coloring goes perfect with the foliage right now.  Don't you think? Have a great weekend and enjoy the fall weather!  Happy Birding!

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Squirrels and Hawks Part 3

Well, the Grey Squirrels are at it again. It's like a moth to a flame.  It is just baffling to me why they harass the Red-Shouldered Hawks so much.  Is it just pure curiosity? Or some sort of smell?  Or some sort defense mechanism like mobbing that birds use?  Whatever it is, it has made for some interesting photos.  

The death stare didn't work.

Finally, after being repeatedly harassed, the female Red-Shouldered Hawk flew off to another tree to get some peace.

 If you missed the first two parts, click here for part one and click here for part 2.   Happy Birding!

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Bird Walk and Some Luck

Last Sunday, I took a walk at the Papscanee Island Nature Preserve.  I have been there a few times and it is a great place to look for birds.  It has woods, fields and beach area on the Hudson River which, all give different chances to see a number of birds.

I had been walking around for awhile and hadn't seen much of anything for birds.  The highlights up to then were some Yellow-rumped Warblers and some White-throated Sparrows in a brushy area by the Hudson River.  After watching them for a little while and not having any success getting a decent photo, I headed down the trail to head back to my car.  I came around a bend in the trail and saw this...

The light wasn't great since it was early and cloudy too but this male(I believe) Bald Eagle sat there for a little until it took off and I was able to snap(first photo) one decent flight shot before he was gone.

Happy Birding and to those lucky encounters with our feathered friends!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 10/14

Hairy Woodpecker

Happy Friday! The leaves are changing and the weather is getting chillier here in Capital Region of New York.  This female Hairy Woodpecker was pecking at the wood knots in my deck.  There must be little insects of some sort living in there. 

Here is a shot of her working on one of the knots.

Yes, you got caught!  I have seen a lot more woodpecker activity lately.  Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, and of course the Hairy Woodpeckers are all active in my yard.  Have a great weekend and enjoy the fall colors!

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Monday, October 10, 2016

New Visitor to My Backyard

Yellow-rumped Warbler

This weekend, I had some unexpected visitors to my backyard.  I have seen these little guys at parks and reserves but never in my yard.  The Yellow-rumped Warbler or Myrtle Warbler in the East is versatile warbler.  They are able to eat a number of different things including the fruit of Bayberries and Wax Myrtles.  The wax on these fruit are undigestible for most birds.  This allows them to stay further north than most of the other warblers.  While most of the other warblers have headed south,  these guys are still around in Upstate New York.  

Yellow rump where they get their name.

My yard doesn't have a ton of fruit right now but the Yellow-rumped Warbler appears to be eating maybe ants or insects in the lawn.  My lawn took a beating this summer with the lack of rain.  I have a number of dead spots and these guys were foraging in those areas.

                                                                               Here is one forging in my lawn.  

It was fun weekend watching about 8 of these guys and hopefully they'll be back.  Happy Birding!  Have you had any unusual visitors lately in your yard?  Tell us about it in the comments or Facebook page or on Twitter.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 9/23

Black-capped Chickadee and Some More 

Happy Friday and the start of fall!  This chickadee came to visit our deck a few weeks ago.  He was fluffing his feathers when I got this shot.  Here are a few other recent visitors to my yard.   

Here is some "Fur" on Friday!  This mom and her fawn have been visiting my yard a lot lately.  

Stick bugs are just so cool!  It is just so amazing how much they look like a stick.  Happy Birding and enjoy the first official fall weekend.

Don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.  

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Nature Walk

Lewis A. Swyer Preserve at Mill Creek

I recently made two visits to the Lewis A. Swyer Preserve in Stuyvesant, NY.  The preserve has a 1/2 mile boardwalk that starts on the side of route 9J and ends close to the Hudson River.  The Nature Conservancy owns the preserve and it is home to a rare freshwater tidal swamp.  

The boardwalk made the trek easy and also helps to protect the plant-life from being trampled.

On both of my trips, I was greeted by a doe and her fawn.  I believe it was the same two each time.  

A little ways down the trail on my second visit, I spotted a large Snapping Turtle sunning itself on a log.

The birds were numerous and very active on both visits like this Eastern Wood Pee-wee.  

There were many Catbirds "meowing" during both visits.  

Red-wing Blackbird perched near the Hudson River.  

Red-eyed Vireo( I think) foraging in the trees. 

A Song Sparrow(I think) perched near Mill Creek.  

 An Eastern Kingbird perched by the water.  

There is an observation tower at the end of the trail to get a good look of the Hudson River.  I heard Bald Eagles chattering nearby and I saw other water birds like gulls, herons, ducks flying near the Hudson River.  

A tugboat went by during one of my visits.  

A Double-crested Cormorant was taking a nap on a log on Mill Creek on my walk back.  He woke up to give me a good look of him.  

For more information on the Nature Conservancy and areas they protect like this preserve click here.   
Happy Birding and enjoy the great fall weather.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

A Little Known Mimic

The Blue Jay

Birds are famously known as mimics but most think of Macaws, Parrots, and Mockingbirds.  Another one might be in your backyard and you didn't even know it.  The Blue Jay is part of crow family and like it's big cousin, it also is a pretty good mimic.  The Blue Jays in my yard have tricked me a number of times and their favorite mimic call is...

The Red-shouldered Hawks are their favorite mimic call in my yard.  They have caught me a number of times looking for a hawk when I see a flash of blue in the direction of the call.  It makes a lot of sense for the Blue Jays to mimic very loud, territorial hawks that sounds the alarm if any other predators(including me) are in their territory.  Red-shouldered Hawks don't typically go after Blue Jays but other predators like Cooper's Hawk do.  So, It is probably a little trick to stay alive.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Could this be the same one?

I stopped by one of the Bald Eagle nests this weekend to see if there was any eagle activity.  I wasn't disappointed by what I found.  There was at least 4 juvenile/subadult eagles in the area fishing in the river and fighting with each other.   Included in the group was the above first year.   First-years Bald Eagle often get confused with Golden Eagles because of their almost all brown look.  The heavy bill of the Bald Eagle helps to identify them.  See my Which is Which? post for more and the Which is Which?-answers here.

Could this be the same eagle that I watched last season and fledged from the nearby nest?  It is tough to say(without a band) for sure but fledged Bald Eagles, even after the adults leave, often stay in the area for a time during the summer/fall.  Before reaching adulthood, young eagles are usually very nomadic.  Do you blame them?  They have this new skill of flying and they use it to travel a lot before settling down in adulthood.  I guess they have that in common with humans in their late teens and early twenties. 

Read more here and about the drama at this nest during the last breeding season.  Happy fall and birding!  Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.  


Friday, August 19, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 8/19

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Happy Friday!  August has been a busy month for me and my family so I haven't had much time to post.  I don't know why it took me so long to buy a hummingbird feeder but I finally bought one and almost instantly, we had two females visiting the feeder.  A male has now joined them as a frequent feeder.  My two boys have loved watching them and their amazing flying.  I was able to get these two shots of them.  I have lots of not so good ones as anyone who has tried to take pictures of these fast moving, small birds know.  

The Hummingbirds love to drink from the milkweed plants too.  Though, we haven't gotten any Monarchs this year just Swallowtails.  

I posted this picture on Twitter but I figured I would post it on the site too.  This is our garden friend, the Pickerel Frog.  While trying to ID this guy, I discovered it is the only native frog in the United States that is poisonous.  I never knew there was any poisonous frogs in the U.S. but, this little guy secretes poison out of it's skin that can irritate the skin and eyes.  

Have a great weekend and Happy Birding!  

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 8/5

Eastern Bluebird with a Friend

Happy Friday and first weekend of August!  The Eastern Bluebirds are back in my backyard eating some sort of bugs in my lawn.  He was joined by a Chipping Sparrow friend in this shot.  They are both very active today and foraging for bugs.  

Have a great weekend and enjoy the nice summer weather.  Happy Birding! Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.  

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 7/22

Turkey Vulture in Flight

Happy Friday!  This Turkey Vulture was circling near my house looking for something.  The Red-shouldered Hawk family was not very happy and they were sounding the alarm until the vulture finally left the area.

Enjoy the warm weather and your weekend!  Happy Birding!

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Feathers on Friday for 7/15

Scarlet Tanager

Happy Friday!  I was struggling to find a picture to post today and then this molting male Scarlet Tanager paid a visit to my yard.  What a striking bird! Have a great weekend and Happy Birding!

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