Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It was a nice spring day so I decided to stop by 5-Rivers on the way home. There was not a cloud in the sky and this combined with calm winds gave the sun some spring warmth.

One of the first birds that I spotted was this White-winged Crossbill. It was just hanging out in a dead tree by the Beaver Pond, basking in the brillant sunshine. I thought it might be possible to get a little closer to get some nice pictures, when all of a sudden....

....an epic Canada Goose fight broke out nearby. This confrontatation was incredibly loud and brutal. It lasted quite a bit longer that most and in the end one of the combatants was left visibly injured. The crossbill flew off when the ruckus started and I continued on once it had died down.
The main reason I had stopped by today was to see if this bird was still there. I had found a Long-eared Owl in a stand of White Pine yesterday and sure enough it was in the same general area.
The bird was still quietly roosting and seemed to be doing very well. The Crows and Jays were not bothering it and judging by the amount of pellets in the immediate area, it was eating good and had been there a while. I contemplated whether I should let some folks know about this bird, but in the end I decided against it. After seeing the way that some of the Snowy Owls in our area had been treated this winter, I just couldn't do it. This would end even worse as the bird was on public property not far off a well traveled trail. I decided to let the bird enjoy it's seclusion and kept mum about it. It was the right thing to do.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

WEEKEND OF 3/21-3/22

Not a bad weekend. It's officially spring now and the weather seems to be cooperating. I spent the weekend birding close to home as there was quite a bit going on for this time of year.

As of Saturday the female Common Raven was still on the nest. The only time that I have seen her leave is on the rare occasion that the male is there perched next to her. The male Raven quickly spots me approaching and then takes off. She follows him only to return a short time later once I am out of sight. If she is there by herself, she never leaves and sits tight. It's a smart strategy as the nest blends in very well by itself and once someones attention is drawn to that area due to a bird flying away, its harder to spot an empty nest compared to one with the female sitting on it.

She remains motionless and silent, but that beady black eye keeps a close eye on me.

I stopped over to the Franklinton Vly on Sunday. Had a nice look a Gadwall that was there.

There was also a Bald Eagle there. Always great to see them.

Also spotted a Northern Shrike in the Town of Berne. It's getting near the end of their stay now and this could be last I'll see of them until next winter.

You know it's getting late for them when the Red-winged Blackbirds have arrived. The Shrike flew down next to a small pond and was hunting from a willow. A red-wing must have already set up a territory and seemed quite distressed by it's presence. The shrike completely ignored the blackbird and continued to hunt.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


We've almost made it to the first day of spring and the weather is really starting to cooperate. The days are becoming noticeably longer and the sun is getting a little bit of warmth to it.

As I was walking around I heard some soft tapping from above. A Red-breasted Nuthatch was working on this hole. This tree was right next to a stand of pines and the Nuthatch made a hasty retreat once it realized I was watching it.

An Eastern Chipmunk was also spotted sunning itself. Now that's a true sign of spring.

A small flock of Purple Finches was also found today. They had found a Crabapple tree
that still had some fruit on it. Probably an important find for them as there is not a lot of other food around this time of year.

They were completely silent as they worked on the dehydrated fruits.

I took a ride over to Schoharie county in the afternoon. While hiking through the state forest I realized that there was something else in the stand of Hemlock that I was in. There were 2 Barred Owls keeping a close eye on me. From the way that they were acting it was a male and female that were getting ready to nest. I was only able to get photos of what I believe was the male. The other bird stayed further back all the while making some interesting vocalizations.

The black, beady eyes of the Barred Owl give it a unique and as some would say, a mystical appearance. From my own experience they are the most aggressive species of owl in our area.

A Red-shouldered Hawk was also spotted. A pair usually nests in the state forest. Hopefully this one will be successful.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I was out watching the feeders a bit this morning and everything seemed to be normal, when this bird showed up.
Sharp-shinned Hawks are no strangers to "feeding" at bird feeders. This one was very bold and downright brazen. I was standing about 15 feet from it as it intently studied what was going on at the feeders.

After a short while the birds in the yard realized what was going on and flew for cover while sounding the alarm.

The hunter eventually took to the air and circled the yard a few times before heading back into the woods. I'm sure it will be back.

Golden-crowned Kinglets are always a lot of fun to try and get a picture of. The rarely sit still and this one was caught hopping between branches.

I stopped down to the Raven's nest. "Big Daddy" spotted me as I approached the ravine. He didn't seem very happy about me being there and put on quite a display. Hopefully he'll get a little more comfortable with me in the weeks to come. The female was still on the nest and I left rather quickly.

Turkey Vultures have returned to the area. They don't have the curb appeal of most birds, but you have to give them credit for being natures clean-up crew and they have certainly mastered the art of riding thermal updrafts.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Bald Eagle. Stately, impressive, noble and distinguished are just a few of the words that come to mind to describe this bird. This one was spotted in Westerlo today.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I stopped by the spot that the Common Ravens had built their nest. I came in from a different direction and was able to get a better look. The female was now on the nest today and appeared to be incubating the eggs. Incredible that they start this early and are able to keep the eggs warm as the temp tonight is forcast to be in the lower 20's. I didn't stay long and will return in a few days to check on the progress.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Winter finally seems to be loosening it's grip on the area. There are still plenty of Siskins and Redpolls at the feeder, but a few things caught my eye today that remind me that spring is right around the corner.

Still doing a brisk business at the thistle feeders. The Redpolls were a pleasant surprise this year and even bigger numbers should return next. I better start saving for thistle seed now.

American Kestrel numbers are also increasing as they slowly return to the higher and more windy elevations.

I stopped down to the ravine that is located on the state land not far from my house. I saw this Common Raven cruise by. The bird was silent and that's usually one way you can tell that they are up to something.

Ravens have nested in the ravine before, so I took a few minutes to scan the rock face on the other side. Sure enough, a nest had been built. Nothing elaborate for the construction, just a pile of sticks and some softer material on the top to form a cup. I didn't want to disturb them too much, so I left and made a note to check on them in a few days.

As I was driving home I spotted this Ruffed Grouse in full display on the side of the road. Some folks consider them just game birds that are kinda plain. I don't know, maybe it's just me but this bird looks very impressive as it struts it's stuff. The sad part of this situation is that this is how many grouse meet their demise. They get very territorial during mating season and will challenge anything including motor vehicles. If you'll notice, this bird was actually standing on the white line along the edge of a county road. When they are in this state of mind, they usually don't move out of the way of an approaching motor vehicle. This guy eventually settled down and returned to the woods before any vehicle approached.