Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Monday, September 24, 2012

{BIRD NOTES} ~ September 24, 2012

Bird Notes

Hawk Watch, Putney Mountain, Putney, Vermont, USA

Daily Raptor Counts: Sep 21, 2012


Species                                     Day's Count        Month Total      Season Total

------------------ ----------- -------------- --------------

Black Vulture                0              0              0

Turkey Vulture               0              0              0

Osprey                       6             95             96

Bald Eagle                   1             54             57

Northern Harrier             1             26             28

Sharp-shinned Hawk          11            436            440

Cooper's Hawk                4             36             36

Northern Goshawk             1              7              7

Red-shouldered Hawk          1              7              7

Broad-winged Hawk         1252           5923           5934

Red-tailed Hawk              0              1              1

Rough-legged Hawk            0              0              0

Golden Eagle                 0              1              1

American Kestrel             4            128            142

Merlin                       0             12             12

Peregrine Falcon             0              4              4

Unknown Accipiter            0              0              0

Unknown Buteo                0              0              0

Unknown Falcon               0              0              0

Unknown Eagle                0              0              0

Unknown Raptor               0              0              0

Total:                    1281           6730           6765

----------------------------------------------------------------Observation start time: 08:30:00

Observation end   time: 17:00:00

Total observation time: 8.5 hours


Official Counter:        Marshall Wheelock


Observers:        Alma Beals, Chris Petrak, Don Clark,

                   Joyce and Norbert Grohoski


Report Submitted by: John Anderson (




Site Description:

The Putney Mountain Hawk Watch is located on the summit of Putney Mountain.

It is a prominent N - S ridge at an elevation of 1660 ft.  The mountain has

excellent views NW, W, S, E and NE. Typical flight path comes from the NE

in the Connecticut River Valley and heads SW into the West River Valley.


BIRDHAWK is sponsored by HMANA. 

Info, list guidelines:




Harrier Over I-91 (9/20)

The first bird seen as I crossed into Vermont from Massachusetts this morning was a Northern Harrier flying over I-91.  It's the first I've seen in Vermont.
---Roy Zartarian (Connecticut birder)







The theme this winter is that each finch species will use a different strategy to deal with the widespread tree seed crop failure in the Northeast. It will be a quiet winter in the eastern North Woods. See individual species forecasts for details. Both coniferous and hardwood tree seed crops are generally poor from northeastern Ontario extending eastward across Quebec to Newfoundland south through the Maritime Provinces, New York and New England States. Within the Northeast there are pockets of good crops. Cone crops are much better in the Hudson Bay Lowlands and northwestern Ontario west to Alberta, Northwest Territories and Yukon. Three irruptive non finch passerines whose movements are linked to finches are also discussed.

 PINE GROSBEAK: A good flight is expected into southern Ontario because the mountain ash berry crop is variable in the boreal forest. Many berries are hard with low moisture content because of the drought. The European mountain-ash and ornamental crabapple crops are poor to fair in southern Ontario so these crops won’t last long. Grosbeaks will be attracted to the usually abundant Buckthorn berries and to bird feeders offering black oil sunflower seeds to the south.


PURPLE FINCH: Most Purple Finches will migrate south of Ontario this fall because both coniferous and deciduous hardwood seed crops are very low this year in the Northeast. Purple Finch numbers dropped significantly in recent decades as spruce budworm outbreaks subsided and currently a moderate population decline continues in the province.

 RED CROSSBILL: Red Crossbills comprise at least 10 “types” in North America. Each type probably represents a separate or newly evolving species. Most types are normally impossible to identify in the field without recordings of their flight calls. Matt Young of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports that there is currently a large early irruption of Type 3 Red Crossbills (smallest billed type) from the west into eastern North America..

 WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL: With very poor spruce cone crops in the Northeast, most White-winged Crossbills will likely stay this winter in the Hudson Bay Lowlands, northwestern Ontario and western Canada where spruce cone crops are generally very good.. Wandering birds may show up throughout the Northeast.

 COMMON REDPOLL: There should be a good southward flight because the white birch seed crop is poor to fair across the north. Watch for redpolls on birches and in weedy fields and at bird feeders offering nyger (preferred) and black oil sunflower seeds. Check flocks for the rare “Greater” Common Redpoll (subspecies rostrata) from the High Arctic. It is reliably identified by its larger size, darker and browner colour, longer/thicker bill and longer tail in direct comparison to “Southern” Common Redpolls (nominate flammea subspecies).

      Note: The notion of a “biennial periodicity” that redpolls irrupt south every second winter is not supported by records in Atlantic Canada (Erskine and McManus 2003). The authors concluded that "irregular abundance but near-annual occurrence" of redpolls in the Atlantic Provinces is a better explanation than a two year cycle.


HOARY REDPOLL: Check redpoll flocks for Hoary Redpolls. There are two subspecies. Most Hoaries seen in southern Canada and northern United States are “Southern” Hoary Redpolls (subspecies exilipes). “Hornemann’s” Hoary Redpoll (nominate subspecies hornemanni) from the High Arctic was previously regarded as a great rarity in southern Canada and the northern United States. In recent decades a number have been confirmed by photographs. Hornemann’s is most reliably identified by its larger size in direct comparison to flammea Common Redpoll or exilipes Hoary Redpoll.
 Caution: White birds loom larger than life among darker birds and size illusions are frequent.

Bohemian Waxwing © Hilke Breder

BOHEMIAN WAXWING: Expect a flight this winter because the mountain ash berry crop in the boreal forest was affected by drought. Even though some areas have large crops, many berries are hard with low moisture content.  Farther south Bohemians will be attracted to the usually abundant buckthorn berries because European mountain ash and ornamental crabapple crops are generally low and of poor quality.


PINE SISKIN: Some siskins currently in the Northeast should move south this fall and winter because cone crops are poor. However, siskins are an opportunistic nomad wandering east and west continent-wide in search of cone crops. Most siskins will probably winter in northwestern Ontario and western Canada where cone crops are generally very good. Major southward irruptions                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
 occur when cone crops fail across most of North America.

This spectacular grosbeak is ABA’s Bird of the Year in 2012. We can expect some at feeders in central Ontario and probably elsewhere in the Northeast because coniferous and hardwood tree seed supplies are low. Highest breeding densities are found in areas with spruce budworm outbreaks. The larvae are eaten by adults and fed to young. Current populations are much lower than several decades ago when budworm outbreaks were much larger and more widespread.

Acknowledgements: I thank the staff of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and others whose reports allow me to make annual forecasts.
 ---Ron Pittaway
 Ontario Field Ornithologist
 Minden, Ontario
 19 September 2012




Al Merritt

W. Brattleboro, VT




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