Thursday, April 23, 2009


Meanwhile back at the Ravens nest things are progressing. The nestlings are rapidly growing in size. It's always amazed me at how fast the nestlings of all species of birds grow. It takes a constant supply of food for them to obtain such a rapid rate of growth.

I was happy to see that there were still 4 nestlings there. Ravens are one of the species that will sacrifice nestlings if there is not enough food for all. Doesn't seem to be an issue here.

Not a bad life that they have. Just sleep and preen until your parents show up with something to eat.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

4/22 Papscanee and 5-Rivers

I stopped over to the Papscanee Island Nature Preserve on the way home.

I was able to locate 4 Savannah Sparrows. This is one of the few spots in the area that a few of them will stay for the winter. In January there were a few still hanging around as one would expect. They eventually disappeared (as did most of the other sparrows) due to the fact that a couple of Merlins had taken control of the skies over Papscanee. Their numbers seem to be increasing now and it's great to hear them singing.

The next stop was a quick visit at 5-Rivers. I spotted a Palm Warbler foraging along one of the main paths.

Another was spotted in a Norway Spruce. A much more appropriate background as they are probably heading for the boreal forests of Canada to nest. A few also nest in the spruce forests and bogs of the northern U.S.. Unfortunately they just migrate through our area.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Even though spring migration has not kicked into high gear yet up here on the "hill", there is still plenty of bird activity to observe. Here are some highlights of the past week.

I found a pair of Long-eared Owls not far from my home in early March. I was out one evening doing some owling when I stopped at an area that looked like it might have some potential. I was standing in the dark, in a very quiet and desolate area, imitating the call of a long-eared when suddenly there was a loud crack about 30 feet above my head. It scared the hell out of me at first and when I looked up into the starlit night I could make out the silhouette of an owl circling above me. It gave me another wing clap and then flew into some nearby conifers. The bird started calling and then some other vocalizations started. It became apparent that there was another bird in the trees. I remembered reading that long-eared owls only give wing claps when they are defending a territory. I stopped by again the next night a dusk and watched one of the owls come out and hunt over a nearby field. I've stopped back quite a few times since then and I took the above picture early in the week at dusk. Not the best shot of one of the owls going out to hunt. Hopefully some better ones are to come.

A Fox Sparrow showed up at the feeders on the 12th. Nice to see some kind of migration going on.

Down at the Ravens nest things are progressing nicely.

There are actually four nestlings now and man are they hungry. The one that is not visible is quite a bit smaller than the others as it was hatched last. I like rooting for the underdog so I hope it makes it. The above picture was taken on 4/11.

This picture was taken on 4/15. Incredible how fast they are increasing in size. The adult birds are constantly in motion as they are hustling to find food to feed them.

I spotted this Ruffed Grouse on the state land near my house. It was feeding near some garbage that some inconsiderate dirt bag had dumped on the side of the road (unfortunately this is an all too common occurrence). When I took a look at the grouse I noticed there was a thin metal wire sticking out from it's neck. Then I noticed the small transmitter around it's neck and realized it was one of the grouse involved in the NYSDEC research project.

I stopped down at the Raven nest on 4/16 and was actually able to get a picture of one of the adults at the nest with the young.

This nest has been a great opportunity to watch these birds develop. It is situated so that one can actually see down into the nest instead of having to look up from the ground and only imagine what is going on.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


A Common Loon on Myosotis Lake today.

Another hungry mouth has shown up at the Raven nest.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I stopped downed to the Ravens' nest today to see if there were any more developments. The female was back on the nest and I had to wonder what was going on underneath her. One nestling already had shown itself and hopefully there will be more to come.

I left after a short while. At this point it's probably critical that she stays on the nest.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I stopped at the Ravens nest on the way home from work today. The female was not on the nest and I noticed that things looked different. The soft material that formed the cup of the nest had all been pushed to the front. "That's strange", I thought to myself as I looked things over. Had there been a problem? Did a predator somehow manage to get to the inaccessible location? Where was the female?

My imagination was running wild at this point.

After a while I got the answer I was looking for. One of the eggs had hatched! The nestling was already instinctively begging for food and the female must have been out searching for some. She finally returned, spotted me and I knew it was time to leave. Hopefully there will be more pink beaks pointing towards the sky in the days to come.

On the way home I spotted a Cooper's Hawk in the town of Berne.

Very brazen, just hanging out by the side of the road. Judging by the size it is probably a female.

Wilson's Snipe have returned to the fields at the Papscanee Preserve. Their cryptic coloring makes it hard to spot them until you look closely. I took these photos yesterday on the way home.

They can be found there each spring during migration.

The birds took to the air when one of the high-speed Amtrac trains went by. It made for some interesting photos as they circled around and returned to the field.