Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 10

North Pond Herons
We stopped by North Pond today (7/4) to check on the two families of Great Blue Herons that are nesting there in the mini-rookery. When we were there in May the chicks were barely visible. Just their fuzzy heads were showing above the top of the stick nest. Today each pair of chicks was standing on the nests edge exercising their wings. When the parent of one pair returned to feed them, one of the chicks grabbed its beak in its own beak and pulled it down to receive the regurgitated food. The second chick swung its beak toward the parent and whacked it on the side of the head. There was evidently none left for that little fellow and the parent flew off to find more food. Boy, those youngsters play rough.

Great Blue Heron chick in nest at North Pond.

Fledged Wrens
The twittering, scolding and constant flying in and out of the wren house has stopped. The young wrens took their first flight out into the world yesterday at day-break. It is so quiet now that it has left us feeling like we went deaf. It is amazing what good parents they were as they shuttled food and carried away fecal sacs day after day after day. Good luck you noisy creatures.

Guilford Red-bellies
No, nobody from Guilford got sunburned. I'm talking about the Red-bellied Woodpecker. It is a relatively new species to Vermont, spreading farther and farther north from the southern states. They now appear regularly on the Vermont Christmas Counts and Breeding Bird lists.
John Kristensen has been reporting them coming to his feeder in Guilford for a few years now. It wasn't until last Saturday (7/1) that he saw what he believed to be an immature R-B visiting his feeder and that they were always early morning visitors. So, we checked out his feeders a few times in early morn and found the male and female nearby, but no immature. Finally this morning's visit paid off. We saw the adult female fly in to a tree with the young at her side begging for food. They both flew away. In about 15 minutes the immature showed up again by itself and flew directly to the bird feeder filled with corn and proceeded to gorge itself. Thanks to
the persistence of John, it gave us a confirmed breeding for that block of the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas!
John just called to say that he now saw two immatures. One has a small red spot on its nape and the other, the one that we saw, did not. So that is doubly good!

Al Merritt
W. Brattleboro

July 6

Bird Notes

South Newfane Nesters
In response to your recent request for young birds around the feeders, we've had many in our yard in the last couple of weeks.

Common grackles were the first, followed by downy woodpeckers - either several families or the youngsters from one just won't give up on their demands to be fed. Suet is a great draw for the woodpeckers and their young. Hairy woodpeckers have been around as well.

We've heard yellow-bellied sapsuckers with young and had at the feeders purple finch, white-breasted nuthatch, red-breasted nuthatch, a single young cardinal, chipping sparrow and song sparrow. Crows have been in the neighborhood, and Of course robins and phoebes. All with young.

Through the bedroom window we hear in the morning common yellowthroat, chestnut-sided warbler, and American redstart, as well as the tell-tale feeding sounds of these species.

Mustn't forget gray catbird.

Susan James and Nissa Petrak went up Stratton for atlassing two days ago and memorably confirmed Swainson's Thrush and Blackpoll Warblers. Plus we've had the usual woodland species with young in that area.

In Williamsville, a Broad-winged Hawk is feeding young in the nest. I watched a tug of war between two chicks yesterday over the last remains of whatever it was that mom was feeding them. The bigger chick, already showing some signs of its juvenile feathers, won the tugging match and swallowed the bloody scraps in one big gulp.

Broad-winged Hawk nesting in Williamsville.

I'll put a few pictures of the Broad-winged on my blog soon.

Chris Petrak
South Newfane, VT
Tails of Birding -

South of the Border
My niece just attended her high school reunion in Mexico. A colleague senther a list of the birds he saw there in two afternoons of birding, and I thought you might be interested to see it. ---Jean Pett, W. Brattleboro

Here is the list that Jean sent. Most of the bird names will not look familiar unless you have been below the border chasing birds. But, maybe it will whet your appetite for a birding trip there.

Brown Booby
Brown Pelican
Magnificent Frigatebird
Snowy Egret
Green Heron
Roseate Spoonbill
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Common Black Hawk
West Mexican Chachalaca
Red-billed Pigeon
White-winged Dove
Inca Dove
Squirrel Cuckoo
Lesser Ground-cuckoo
Groove-billed Ani
Cinnamon Hummingbird
Citreoline Trogon
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet
Nutting's Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Social Flycatcher
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Grey-breasted Martin
White-throated Magpie-Jay
Rufous-naped Wren
White-bellied Wren
Rufous-backed Robin
Yellow-green Vireo
Northern Cardinal
Blue Bunting
Orange-breasted Bunting
White-collared Seedeater
Great-tailed Grackle
Streaked-backed Oriole
Yellow-winged Cacique

NOTE: If you wish to see what these birds look like, click on this link:
Then click on IMAGES and type in the name of the bird.

What birds are you getting at your feeders and around your neighborhood?
Have you made any birding trips lately?
Please share your experiences with us.

Al Merritt
Chipmunk Crossing
W. Brattleboro, VT

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Early June

On Golden Pond?
Early this afternoon, June 12th, as I was walking toward South Pond in Marlboro, I heard (Common) Loons calling. Sure enough, there was a pair on the pond when I arrived about 12:30. A summer resident said this was the first and only day she'd heard or seen them.
---Anne Wheelock, W. Brattleboro

Nesting Birds
On June 3rd I had a bonanza birding walk. I found the Baltimore Oriole nest I had been trying to find, and it was right off of our driveway. We have several Orioles. Does anyone know what the territory size would be of one
nesting pair? Then, while trying to find the singing Yellow-rumped Warbler, I accidentally found a pair of Downy Woodpeckers going in and out of their nest hole. Two days later they were taking food into the hole. Then I went in search of the Red-tailed Hawk nest a neighbor had told us about. It was on the edge of a big hay field in a big tree (Ash maybe). I took up my scope and got great looks at a big baby who probably is a week or two away from fledging. Mom was unhappy I was interested and called from a nearby
tree, so I left. We also have a Phoebe nesting on the back porch and a pair of Barn Swallows nesting on the front porch.---Susan James, Guilford

Somerset Birds
Today(6/14) I birded from 9:00 to 11:30 along Forest Rt. 77 and 71. These roads go past Somerset Reservoir and also connect to Kelly Stand Road. For warblers I had: Nashville, Parula, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Redstart, Ovenbird, Yellow-throat and Canada Warbler. The area was alive with bird song the entire time I was there! There were also several Swainson's Thrushes singing.
---Taj Schottland, Putney

An Unusual Bird Bath
Our window flower boxes had not yet been planted when the House Wrens came to Chipmunk Crossing. The potting soil in them was from last year and was far enough under the eaves so as not to have accumulated any moisture. One of the wrens chose the box under our dining room window in which to take a dust bath. Dust rising from the spot got our attention and when I peeked into the box the little wren appeared to be in ecstasy rolling and flapping in the powdery soil. It stopped and flew to the nearby willow where it sat and preened its feathers for a few seconds before returning for another go 'round. For three days, during all that rain, it made a stop at the window box and repeated the ritual. We haven't seen a repeat performance since the weather warmed and the sun broke through. The pair instead is busy with chores in and around their new quarters, a small birdhouse we put up in the hopes of enticing the Chickadees to nest.

Al Merritt
Chipmunk Crossing
W. Brattleboro, VT

Of Wrens and Herons
I went for a walk behind our beaver ponds yesterday, while that strange yellow light was in the sky. I flushed three Wood Ducks from one of the ponds, but the highlight came up in a boggy area in the woods. Hopping
around on the deadfall were four tiny balls of fuzz that turned out to be fledgling Winter Wrens. Soon enough, one of the parental units came along and fed one of them a nice, juicy green caterpillar. And, on a belated-news note, a week or so ago I was up in the apple
orchard, and what should I see in the top of an apple tree but a pair of Green Herons. I'm guessing they've set up shop down in the beaver pond, but the orchard seemed a bit of an odd place for them to hang out.
---Ned Pokras, West Brattleboro

The Escapee Rule
If you have seen the bird before, it's an escapee. If it's a lifer, it's wild.
---Bob Newman

Not Always Birds
Sightings don't always have to be of birds to hold your interest around the feeders. This past week we had a visit, on 3 consecutive days, from an elegant Red Fox. Its light reddish-brown coat was clean and fluffy even
though everything was dripping wet from the soaking rain. It sported black feet and socks and had the tell-tale white tip to the tail. He spent most of his visit sniffing the ground around the scattered bird seed. On his last
visit his interest turned to watching the birds fly in and out of the overhead bird feeders. I don't think it had much experience in the sport of birdwatching, because with every pass of a bird, it ducked and shied away.
It finally lost interest and walked slowly away to find a new sport like sniffing under the grass and pouncing feet first into the next grass clump. Its unsuccessful pouncing led him up over the hill and out of sight into the

Al Merritt
Chipmunk Crossing
W. Brattleboro

Of Phalaropes and Warblers
We went to Kent Pond about 10 days ago and we got a great look at the two male Red Phalaropes* near the boat launch. Then we drove to the dam side of the pond and the female was hanging out there. We also saw a flock of White-winged Scoters near the center of the lake. Wonderful! Incidentally, at nearby Gifford Woods we had some nice warblers that day.
*It is quite remarkable to find the Red Phalaropes inland since they are an ocean species that is rarely seen inland. Recent nor'easters have pushed them to interior locations to be spotted by alert birders throughout New

Birds seen in and around Wardsboro lately:
Magnolia Warbler
Black and White W.
Blackburnian W.
Yellow-rumped W.
Common Yellowthroat
Black throated Green W.
Black throated Blue W.
American Redstart
Wood Thrush
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Indigo Bunting
B. Oriole
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Evening Grosbeak
---Mitch Harrison

We were saddened to learn of the demise of Vermont's first (wild) Bald Eagle chick. We have yet to learn all the details, but will pass that information along if and when it becomes available.

Paul and Mary Miller, from Vernon, reported seeing a pair of Louisiana Waterthrush on Broad Brook Road this afternoon(6/1).

Burt Tepfer has a Black-billed cuckoo calling around his property in Putney.

Yesterday, while standing in the parking lot at "Wally World", we watched 10 Turkey Vultures circling over Wantastiquet Mountain. Below the kettle and
directly overhead was a mature Bald Eagle lazily turning on the thermals. What a stunning sight against that blue sky.

Birding in New York State's Catskills
We have just returned from a two week stay in the Catskills of New York where we spent a few days birding and also participated in a "Big Day" count
with the Edgar A. Mearns Bird Club of Orange County, NY. The club's combined total for the designated 24 hour period (5p.m. Friday to 5p.m. Saturday) was
150 species. Our particular group, which consisted of Barb and I and a friend from Virginia, totaled 93 species including 14 species of warblers. Thunderstorms and an extended period of rain on Friday hampered us somewhat,
but didn't dampen our spirits. At the "count down" on Saturday eve, we all enjoyed the exquisite pot
luck supper before sharing the day's species totals and the exchange of any exotic findings. The Mourning Warbler was only heard, not seen, by our
group, but still had to be considered for our "best" bird category. Of course the colorful Wood Warblers are always splendid in their spring finery and must also be considered since we only see them for such a short period of time. But, regardless of the bad weather and some common species that we missed, any day that you go birding and tic off 93 species, has to be a good day.

Al Merritt
W. Brattleboro