Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Thursday, September 21, 2006

BIRD NOTES ~~~~~ Sept. 21, 2006

Bird Notes

Hummers and Cooler Temps

There are a few important things to note about feeding hummers during cooler temperatures - having to do with stronger concentrations of sugar in the water and not using feeders with perches to prevent hummers from perching, gorging on cold sugar water, going into hypothermic shock, and literally dropping from the perch. If the hummers are not perched, the beating of their wings while they hover and feed keeps their body temperature up.

You could also bring your feeders in on cold nights and then rehang in the morning so that the solution will not become too cold.

Feeder Birds and Amphibians

This has been a really horrible birding summer for me. The heat made it really hard to enjoy the birds outside and if it wasn't the heat it was the bugs or rain. I've never been one to like seeing a raptor catching a bird, but realize this is a fact of life you must deal with if you have feeders in your yard.

After coming home one rainy evening from the hospital (I was involved in a motor vehicle accident), I heard a bird hit the window of the front door. I went to see if it was alive and saw that it was but looked a bit stunned. It was an immature Rose-breasted Grosbeak. I opened the door a bit to have a better look and a majestic Red-tailed Hawk landed on the porch to take advantage of the Grosbeaks' mishap. He was only about two feet away from me and when he saw me he nervously did a little side step and then flew away. I knew he would probably be back so I placed my umbrella over the still resting Grosbeak to shield him from the Hawks view. Some members of my family were telling me to let the Hawk have his evening meal; but I said “Not right on my porch under my watch. He has his pick most every week from the whole yard and that will have to do." The bird did recover and flew up in a Red Maple and sang a very pretty song.

I also spent many days of my summer burying dead birds. Not from hitting windows but from what looked like drowning in my home made pond. I checked the pond out more often this summer because of the heat, needing cleaning and finding dead birds. I thought I could save them if I found them in time. I asked my husband what he thought might be happening as he quickly rejected my theory that the water was higher because of the rain and they lost their footing while getting a drink. He said possibly a Raptor of some sort had picked them up for dinner and lost them in the water. I promptly rejected that by telling him that the Raptor would have come back for it. I was getting very upset every time I found another bird. These were Evening Grosbeaks, mostly females. Then one fine day I went to check the pond and there was a large Green Frog at the edge of the pond feasting on yet another one of my Evening Grosbeaks. I went to get a net and bucket to capture the Frog and got him on the first try as he was very cocky. He was the large one and he had to go. I was telling him this as I set him aside for my husband to take him to the stream that evening. I had suspected this once but everyone scoffed at that and said Evening Grosbeaks were too large. Later that evening my husband took him to the stream and told him things would be more on an equal footing there.

Things went along smoothly for a few days and I told the two small frogs that they could stay as long as they didn’t ambush any birds. Wrong!!!!!!!! I found a small Sparrow dead in the pond. Same marks around his neck. So that evening I began catching Frogs again for my husband to deal with. I got the two and soon discovered there were two more. Now I knew why I had no Spring Peepers anymore.

The pond is lots cleaner now and the birds enjoy getting their drinks from it, but the other day when I was just checking things out. Lo and Behold . . . there was a baby Frog that would just about fit in the palm of a baby's hand. I really don't think he can get a bird but soon, or next spring, he will join his family at the stream. He has this baby evil look on his face.

A bird did hit the window the other day and was dead. It was a lifer for me. An Orange-crowned Warbler (juvenile). For birds at the feeders I have Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatch, Juncos, Blue Jays, Hummers, Purple Finches, Chipping Sparrows, Goldfinches, Chickadees, and Red-breasted Nuthatches. I also had another lifer, a Scarlet Tanager, up in a tree singing.

I plan to have my husband set me up with a better bird feeding area that won't be as handy for the predators and to do more with my windows so they won't be hit as much (they're already covered in decals) and keep the Green Frog population down. Here's to live birds.!!!!! I'd like to retire my shovel, or use it for gardening. ---Yvonne Joslin, Joslin Hill Road, Off Lower Podunk (Don’t you love that "PODUNK") Road, Wardsboro, VT

Wheatears and unwise prognostications
This is in response to the reports of early N. Wheatears in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and even Florida.

Nova Scotia has had, so far, five N. Wheatears, matching prior fall totals for 1994 and 2001. But these have been earlier than almost all those of previous years. An early influx of wheatears in SW Newfoundland, as noted a couple of

weeks ago on the NF-NL bird-records site, may trace to intense northerly wind flow in late August that deflected birds bound for Europe (or for N Africa by Wheatears) southward from northern Nunavut or Greenland. Southwest

Newfoundland has also had at least Three Common Ringed Plovers to date.

Certainly it's worth scrutinizing Semipalmated Plovers more closely (NF-NL postings stress their paler back tones as an alert). Stretching it even more was a Wagtail-wish by someone on the NF-NL site. Maybe a little less outrageous was the thought that this winter might produce a Fieldfare or, even better, a Redwing on the East Coast. That may depend on the rowan berry (mountain ash, dogberry) crop in Newfoundland. If it's like that in Nova Scotia, which I can't remember seeing in such profusion, such goodies may never get here, and if they do, may not leave for points south.

So, a Heads-up for East Coast birders!

Cheers, Ian

Ian A. McLaren

Biology Department

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS Canada B3H 4J1

Fall migration is underway. 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

W. Brattleboro, VT


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