Sightings listed for the Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

{BIRD NOTES} ~ July 31, 2013


Bird Notes


Bear Facts

Today (7/29) as I approached the screen door to our back deck to go outside, I spotted a bear of medium size ambling across our backyard. It was heading up a little used path toward the top of the ridge where it disappeared into the heavy undergrowth. This is the first time, in the 30+ years that we have lived here, that we have ever had a visit from a bear the end of July.  So, if you live in West Brattleboro and you deem it safe to hang out your bird feeders  .  .  . DON”T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!



Teacher, Teacher Teacher!

We have a white pine tree that we have kept cut back so as to make it like a large bush. The thick foliage keeps it very shady and the ground beneath it is damp and cool with an ample amount of dropped pine needles. In the winter we use it as a ground feeding station because the snow doesn’t penetrate. The birds love it for cover and seem to feel safe there. Saturday morning I happened to see movement there from what appeared to be a brown bird with streaking down its front. With the help of my handy binoculars I made out an eye-ring. First thought was Swainson’s Thrush but as it turned it revealed a light tan streak on its crown. It’s an Ovenbird! We have heard it calling all Spring and into the summer but this was the first good look that we have had.


Feeding the Hummers

It seems as though these sleek little aero bats have nested somewhere nearby and are now bringing their youngsters to share in the sweet nectar at our hummer oasis. We have a large feeder hanging from the eaves so that it can easily be seen from our dining room table. It gives us great pleasure to watch the antics of these novice flyers testing their wings in vertical climbs, full speed in reverse and steep dives from their feeding perch, when their brothers and sisters launch mock attacks as they are sipping. The male parent gets in on it once in a while when he arrives to an empty feeder only to be buzzed by one or both of the youngsters who have been sitting on a secluded branch waiting for just such a moment.

           Our feeders need attention about once a week, which means cleaning and refilling with a new mix of nectar. At my sister’s home in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado it is a daily chore, as you can see by the photo of the line up of feeders on the railing of her deck. She informed us that she counted as many as 60 Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and 6 Rufous Hummers that wait for her to bring them fresh, sweet, sipping syrup each morning about sunrise.  Good grief that is nearly a full time job .  .  . and beginning at sunrise no less!


Broad-tailed Hummingbirds arriving for sunrise breakfast at Liberty Knoll, Red Feather Lakes, CO



Please share your birding news with us.

Any new migrants or nesters?

What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt


Thursday, July 25, 2013

{BIRD NOTES} ~ July 25, 2013


Bird Notes


Rufous-necked Wood-rail

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — There's a frenzy erupting in the birding world, and the Rufous-necked Wood-rail is to blame. Never before has there been a recorded sighting of a Rufous-necked wood-rail in the United States, but for the last two weeks one of the birds has been right at home among the cattails at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. Typically, the species is found along the coasts and in tropical forests in Central and South America, far from parched New Mexico.


Rufous-necked Wood-rail ~ (Google Images)


            The sighting has prompted emergency plane reservations and impromptu road trips reminiscent of "The Big Year," the comedy starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson that brought to life the annual competition among birders to identify the most species of birds in North America in a year's time. The difference here is that no one expected they would get to check the wood-rail off their list.
            It didn't take long for Jeffrey Gordon, president of the American Birding Association, and his wife to jump in their car and make the nearly seven-hour drive from Colorado to the southern New Mexico refuge. He said seeing the wood-rail was like being dealt a royal flush. "Rails kind of have a reputation for being secretive and staying out of sight," he said. "To see a big, colorful rail and to see it walking around out in the open is just really special. Then, you can add the dimension that it is not only far, but hundreds if not thousands of miles from where you would typically see it."
            The phones have been ringing off the hook at Bosque del Apache since the bird, about the size of a small chicken, was first spotted on the morning of July 7. Matt Daw, a member of the Bureau of Reclamation's southwestern willow flycatcher survey team, was getting video of a least bittern at the edge of the marsh when the wood-rail decided to interrupt. Daw was so startled that he turned off the camera after a few seconds.
"The bittern literally got photobombed. This thing came running out of the cattails and the camera kind of shakes. It's really kind of funny," said Aaron Mize, the refuge manager. "In the birding world, they're saying it's the best photobomb in history."
            Since then hundreds of birders have shown up at the refuge to get a glimpse and take the bird's picture. As the sun rises and sets each day, Mize said the boardwalk grows crowded with spectators wanting to see the bird strut out from behind the cattails and hunt for crayfish.
            One of the nation's premier bird-watching spots, the refuge attracts tens of thousands of people over the fall and winter months as throngs of snow geese and sandhill cranes migrate through the Rio Grande Valley. Now, Mize said it's hard to believe just one bird has captured all the attention in the offseason. "It's way cool. We have people flying into Albuquerque every day, from Florida, California, the East Coast," Mize said. "There are people coming in renting cars and driving down because it's such a neat and rare event." Legendary birder Sandy Komito was there last Wednesday to see the wood-rail. He holds the "big year" record for seeing or hearing the largest number of bird species in North America in a single year.
            Refuge officials also recalled the story of an Iowa man who flew into Denver, rented a car and drove down to see the wood-rail only to be disappointed. After driving back to Denver and turning in his rental, he got a phone call that the bird had reappeared. It was enough for him to change his flight, get another rental and drive back down.
            "Serious, serious lengths," Mize said when asked about the efforts by some to see the bird. "It's a great thing for birders to be able to check this bird off of their life list where otherwise they would have had to travel to Belize or Costa Rica or South America to see it," he said. The big question though is why New Mexico. Some theorize that it could be climate change, others point simply to the bird's wings.
"Birds, with their power of flight, do this kind of thing regularly and it's just one of the really cool delightful things about birding," Gordon said. "It's just like this super cool Christmas present when something like this turns up."




MERLIN ~ (Google Images)


Spofford Lake Falcons

A family of 6 MERLINS was reported from Spofford Lake in Chesterfield on July 17th.



Westminster Herons

The marsh at Allen Brothers in Westminster produced three Green Herons, a Kingbird and a Great Blue Heron. on 7/22. This is always a good marshy area to check out frequently.




Please share your birding news with us.

Any new migrants or nesters?

What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

FW: {BIRD NOTES} ~ July 17, 2013



Bird Notes


Brattleboro Whip-poor-will

A Whip-poor-will has been heard for several evenings along Wantastiquet Drive and seen on one occasion sitting on a fence while calling. We drove there last evening and listened for more than twenty minutes, but no luck. If you happen by there in the early darkness (its been reportedly calling at about 9:30) please let us know if you hear it. They are becoming almost as scarce as hens teeth.


WHIP-POOR-WILL © Google Images


Monthly Hildene Bird Walk

Here's our list from today's monthly birdwalk at Hildene here in Manchester. Notable were the numbers of Cedar Waxwings in virtually every part of the property. I'm sure this is an undercount, but they were flying all over the place. The wetland and meadow areas were nicely active including the American Bittern flyover and the outstanding perspective the brand new boardwalk in the marsh gave us! A beautiful addition to a beautiful place!   Our next walk is August 17th
LOCATION: Hildene - Lincoln Family Home, Bennington, VT, US
DATE: Jul 13, 2013 7:13 AM - 10:13 AM


American Bittern 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 2
Broad-winged Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Virginia Rail 1
Mourning Dove 3
Belted Kingfisher 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 5
Pileated Woodpecker 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee 1
Eastern Phoebe 3
Eastern Kingbird 7
Red-eyed Vireo 9
Blue Jay 1
American Crow 1
Tree Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 4
White-breasted Nuthatch 5
House Wren 6
Veery 3
Hermit Thrush 2
American Robin 2
Gray Catbird 1
European Starling 10
Cedar Waxwing 16
Ovenbird 5
Common Yellowthroat 11
Yellow Warbler 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 3
Song Sparrow 2
Swamp Sparrow 6
White-throated Sparrow 1
Scarlet Tanager 1
Indigo Bunting 4
Bobolink 2
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Cmmon Grackle 2
American Goldfinch 4

---Barbara Powers, Manchester, VT


Cuckoos In Marlboro

Cuckoos passing through in Marlboro: a Black-billed was very noisy for two days, and a Yellow-billed was here last evening. All immigrants are welcome here.

---Bob Engel, Marlboro, VT


Sora Rail in Vernon

My son found this Sora Rail nest in the marsh below our barn yesterday. Thought it might be of interest. He got a fairly good view of it as well as heard its call. It was annoyed because a cow was eating close to the nest. We have fenced around it so they shouldn't bother it again. I have seen rails there a couple of times in the past, but never a nest.

---Paul Miller, Vernon, VT


Sora Rail nest at Miller Farm in Vernon © Paul Miller








 MONDAY, JULY 29, 2013

This Field Trip will have two components. The first is a 5 hour birding cruise with Newburyport Whale Watch - departing at 10:00am.
After returning to port, Chris Petrak will lead a caravan to Plum Island for shorebirding in the Parker River NWR. (Chris may stay overnight in Newburyport and return to Plum Island the next morning. Check with him a few days in advance.)

          Here’s information from the Newburyport Whale Watch website: “Our Birding Trips run out to the Isle of Shoals and surrounding areas where the bird life is active. Each trip has a naturalist aboard from the Audubon Society at Joppa Flats. “We see many of the shore and seabirds of the Atlantic Coast during these special 5 hour trips. Our naturalist will point out many different variations of the various species and is more than willing to explain any sighting you might not be able to identify. “For any age, these trips will invite you into a world you won’t see from shore!”


Cost:  Adults - $48.00 *

          Senior Citizens 65+ - $43.00
          Kids 4-12 years - $33.00

Newburyport Whale Watch – On the Boardwalk

54 Merrimac St., Newburyport, MA 01950 ~~ 1-800-848-1111 ~~ Outside New England call 1-978-499-0832

Make reservations with the Whale Watch a few days in advance.  Contact Chris if you are planning to come and in case of any change in plans or weather issues, 802-348-6301 or
   Allow at least 3 hours for the drive from Brattleboro, parking, and to pick up tickets. Meet Chris Petrak on board. We will figure out Plum Island during the seabird cruise.





I hate to think about it, but it is that time of year again. The Swallows are starting to gather on the electric wires. Most are juveniles that have just received their “wings” and are following their parents lead by flying low over the ponds, lakes and grassy fields scooping up the summer crop of insects. The numbers on the wires will increase day by day until hundreds are counted waiting for that day when their leader says “let’s go” and they will be off to southern climes for the winter.



Nesting Phoebes

Our Phoebe pair have fledged young, which we believe is a second brood. Earlier this Spring they had built a very secure and sheltered nest on a small ledge of our log home just under the eaves on the south side. For the past two weeks they have been busy fluttering and diving through the air and snagging a myriad of flying insects to stuff in the mouths of the two hungry youngsters. They are out on their own now and we cannot tell the difference between the young and the old.







Please share your birding news with us.

Any new migrants or nesters?

What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt








Wednesday, July 03, 2013

{BIRD NOTES} ~ July 3, 2013



      Bird Notes



RE: Cecropia Moth

It turns out the Cecropia Moth (See photo June 18 Bird Notes)  was mating, there were 2 of them and they stayed there all day, just as the book said they would.  It was unbelievable to keep checking back and see them, the female had a larger abdomen and the male larger feather-like antennae and it was all very clear. 

---Carol Schnabel


RE: Where Are the Bobolinks?

Just a few notes on Bobolink nesting phenology that might be helpful.
This year, the rain has nailed a lot of our nests out at Shelburne Farms and we've had quite a few nests fail due to flooding or exposure.  In a typical year, we are just starting to see the first fledglings around 14 June, with a relatively rapid increase in fledglings out of the nest through around the 4th of July.  After that time, the rate of fledging begins to slow down, with most of the late fledges being a result of birds that are renesting after their first nests were destroyed by early cuts.  But, this year, we'll probably see a relatively greater proportion of nests fledge later in the season as Bobolinks have to contend with nests lost due to weather as well.
---Allan Strong


I Have Found the Bobolinks
I've got four Bobolinks in my yard, and this morning there were 16 in the field across the street. at Rogers Hill Rd.

---Ian Clark, West Newbury., VT


Strange Super Syrup Sipper at Chipmunk Crossing

Hollie Bowen spoke of having a Catbird visit her hummingbird feeder at the West Brattleboro Post Office.  Yesterday (6/23), we had an unusual visitor helping itself to the sugar solution at a hummer feeder in our yard . . . a male Downy Woodpecker.  He returned at least twice for seconds and thirds.



Eagle Over Herrick’s Cove

Bald Eagle flying north, nice & low over Williams River Bay with fish in his talons about 5 this p.m. (7/1)

---John Holme



S  P  E  C  I  A  L      P  R  O  G  R  A  M


"Backyard Bug Farming"


Monday, July 8, Brooks Library - 7:00 pm
Join Nate Erwin, entomologist, as he talks about his ongoing horticultural and

entomological efforts to establish a wide diversity of native insects in his back

(and front!) yard in suburban Alexandria, VA.


Sponsored by Southeastern Vermont Audubon Society

Admission is FREE and open to the public.




Please share your birding news with us.

Any new migrants or nesters?

What have you seen while on a trip?


Al Merritt



Have a Happy and Safe

Independence Day!