Red Crossbill (Google file)
A tragic earthquake and now an equally devastating aftershock in Haiti has killed and distressed hundreds of thousands of Haitians. Relief efforts are underway through numerous organizations. If you'd like to help, it's easy to donate through the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org
Red Crossbills at Marlboro College
The crossbills (apparently a male and female) were close to the Science Bldg. at the College. There is a dirt road that sweeps around the campus and ends up there. There were bits of the sand/salt mixture that seemed to have their attention. With the approach of my car, they flew up into a small tree. I stopped, turned off the engine, and waited. She fluttered back down; he sat where he was. Against the snow, I could see the end of her crossed bill (one forgets how big the whole bill is). Perfect field marks, including her yellow rump. He was brick red.
I did get to see the hummer film (Thursday). I had seen the saber-billed job in Ecuador at 11,000 feet. There's a reserve up there and a guy rides a bike out the several miles and fills the feeders. Hummers and other nectar feeders galore. The other one from that habitat was the little guy with the puffy white leggings (just a few frames of it). It was also fun to see the stuff from the Chiricahuas and to consider the idea that black chins might nest near a Cooper's hawk. (The last time I was in Cave Creek, I saw one with a huge, bulging crop.)
Having grown up with Anna's hummers, it was great to get the low down on the sound at the bottom of the dive. I had always assumed that it was vocal.
Thanks for the heads up on the hummers!
---Bob Engel, Marlboro, VT
Hummers on TV
Thanks for the heads up on the Hummingbird program. We really enjoyed it, and are looking forward to the return of our Hummingbirds in a few months!
---Nori Howe, W. Brattleboro, VT
A Thank You Note
Al, Chris' program (Birds of the Rio Grande Valley) turned out to be a wonderful treat tonight.
This must be the year for Snow Buntings! You probably saw that I had 150-200 yesterday in Hadley. It was really interesting to read of all the recent sightings up your way. Thanks for keeping me in the Vermont loop, Al. Happy New Year and Good Birding!
---Nancy Eaton, Enfield, CT
Vernon Buntings & Longspurs
I returned to the cornfield east of Stebbins Rd in Vernon this morning(1/18) to see if the Lapland Longspurs were still around. There was a flock of ~400+ Snow Buntings, a flock of ~ 150 Horned Larks, and 2 Lapland Longspurs associating with the Horned Larks. Beautiful day!
---Dave Johnston, W. Brattleboro, VT
We have lots of birds coming to our feeders down here in Sussex, NJ, including two Carolina Wrens who seem to enjoy the black oiled sunflower seeds as well as the peanut butter suet. Beautiful little birds. Be well.
---Molly, Martin & Michael King, Sussex, NJ
Dorset Dove Roost
HI Al ... I read your notes from time to time. My wife Calista, reads them all the time ... Anyway, she thought you might enjoy a blog post I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Here's the link...
--Dan Mosheim, Dorset, VT
Yesterday morning we heard a male White-breasted Nuthatch sing, a tiny sign of spring. Their courtship begins very early and on January mornings look for the male to begin his courtship singing of "werwerwerwer" as he bows down with each note. The female arrives soon and they go off together, keeping in contact with their little "ip-ip" calls. They roost separately in tree holes at night and may even sleep in a bird house. In spring they nest in an existing hole in a tree.
White-breasted Nuthatches, found across much of the country, are best known for their habit of storing food in bark crevices and their amazing ability to move headfirst down trees. The birds often move along trunks and branches in a jerking, zigzag motion looking like little windup toys. You can follow their behavior throughout the year for they stay together in pairs on a range of 25-45 acres, claiming a smaller portion of this for a breeding territory.
Attract them to your bird feeders with suet and sunflower seeds, which they may carry away and store, or wedge in a crevice and hack open. You may have several pairs of nuthatches at your feeder, as their winter ranges can overlap.
---Don & Lillian Stokes Newsletter
West Brattleboro Sharpie
A flock of wintering Robins was foraging in a scattered pile of dead maple leaves in a roadside field along Abbott Road on Sunday. I could see them flipping leaves as I approached the spot. They spied me too and a few flew up into the low branches of the maple. Soon the whole flock of about 20 birds flew up and scattered in all directions. I lowered my binoculars and just sat and watched as they flew to distant trees along the hedgerow. Then to my surprise I saw the cause of the sudden evacuation, it was not me after all, but a handsome adult male Sharp-shinned Hawk that had landed on a low snag not 20 feet away. He sat with head cocked to one side looking down at the abandoned leaves. It had spotted those red-breasted thrushes too. I raised my binoculars again and focused on this magnificent creature dressed in his finest silver-gray jacket with horizontally striped, reddish-brown crew neck and bright yellow stockings. He hopped one branch closer and just stared at me with those piercing red eyes . . . and then in a blink of an eye he was gone.
On Mather Road another small flock of Robins was observed feeding on rose hips in a roadside floribunda tangle. No accipiters here to harass them, only a territorial Mockingbird that at this moment was absent from its guard post.
Power Canal Birds
A stop at the power canal in Turner Falls, MA was fairly uneventful except for a few Canada Geese, several Mute Swans, the usual gull species, a lone female Common Goldeneye and 3 Belted Kingfishers.
At the Turner Falls Rod and Gun Club we found 4 Bluebirds enjoying a cache of rose hips.
Please keep us abreast of what birds you are seeing, whether at home or on a trip in or out of the Windham County area.
W. Brattleboro, VT
Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society
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