Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Week

I'll make this post just like the week was SHORT and SWEET!  Only three days of birding but a decent total of 22 birds.  The feeders were fairly quiet for the week with only 7 species. 

The Wild Turkey says: "Happy Thanksgiving"

11/19 - 11/21: Northern Cardinal, Song Sparrow (f), White-throated Sparrow (f), Black-capped Chickadee (f), Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Rock Pigeon, European Starling, House Finch (f), American Goldfinch (f), Wild Turkey, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, FOX SPARROW (f), American Robin, Dark-eyed Junco (f), Cedar Waxwing, Northern Mockingbird, Turkey Vulture, and Red-shouldered Hawk.    (f)= seen at the bird feeder

Northern Mockingbird

 We have a new mammal on campus, a Norway Rat.  The rat has also been enjoying the bird feeders but not for long.  Curious that with the addition of the rat, there has been a visible reduction of bird activity at the feeders.  Is it coincidence? 

Norway Rat

Darn you Squirrels!

11/12 - 11/16

Anyone who does NOT have a bird feeder knows that squirrels are cute little rodents, whose antics are entertaining to watch.  Anyone WITH bird feeders know that squirrels are the enemy in fuzzy pajamas.  I decided the other day to make my own bird feeder and see if the birds would like it. 

Feeder- post squirrel devastation
This feeder was created using a 20 oz soda bottle, a dead pen, part of a dunkin donut iced coffee cup, some picture wire, and a washer.  I used hot glue to hold some things in place and had a brand new homemade bird feeder.  Within an hour of being out a Black-capped Chickadee had already taken a seed.  The feeder lasted exactly one week.  The squirrels, surely mad that they couldn't sit on the feeder and enjoy the seed, decided to throw it on the ground and gnaw at the bottle to get to every last seed.  Time for another soda.

Of note, almost 50% of the birds seen last week on campus were seen on the feeders in the courtyard.  Either the only birds that are around are usign the feeder or I've been hiding from the cold.  Here is the moderate list of birds for the week, 21 in total.

Feeder Birds
1. White-throated Sparrow
2. Fox Sparrow (FOS- first of the season)
3. Dark-eyed Junco (huge casualties this week)
4. Downy Woodpecker
5. Northern Flicker (eating thistle?)
6. Black-capped Chickadee
7. Blue Jay
8. Mourning Dove
9. House Finch
10. American Goldfinch

Non-feeder Birds
1. Northern Cardinal
2. American Crow
3. Rock Pigeon
4. European Starling
5. Canada Goose
6. Wild Turkey
7. Herring Gull
8. American Robin
9. Red-tailed Hawk
10. Cedar Waxwing
11. Tree Sparrow (FOS)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Birds? What birds?

Tree felled by the storm.
Another week of busy-ness out here at West Campus and just some odd schedules.  The months ahead will be interesting as Sue might not be contributing to the WC blog but may have to do a post or two about things downtown.  I had an unplanned short birding session due to a fire alarm but it was chilly and started to snow so birds were scarce.  We did have a decent movement of raptors heading south earlier in the week but over all the week ended quiet.  The bird feeders are up and running (except for a stolen one), all our data is being recorded and added to the New Haven Bird Clubs winter feeder survey. 

Male sachem skipper- a new late date for the state of CT

OK So here are the birds... let's organize them by color this week. 

Black-capped Chickadee
Rock Pigeon
Dark-eyed Junco
Blue-headed Vireo
White-breasted Nuthatch
Cooper's Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk

Downy Woodpecker (ok they're black and white)
American Crow
Fish Crow
Brown-headed Cowbird
Common Grackle

Mourning Dove
European Starling
Wild Turkey

White or Yellow
American Goldfinch
Herring Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Cedar Waxwing
Eastern Phoebe

Reddish-brown or Brown with red
Song Sparrow
House Finch
American Robin
Red-tailed Hawk
Hermit Thrush
Red-shouldered Hawk
Purple Finch

White-throated Sparrow
House Sparrow
Canada Goose
Chipping Sparrow

Blue Jay

Cedar Waxwing- where is our Bohemian?

Of course these color categories are pretty arbitrary.  Most people might think of the Accipiters (Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks) as brown and they are as young birds but at this point in migration the juveniles have mostly all moved through and the adults with grayish-blue backs are predominant.  Purple and House Finch females are really just brown and white.  Birds like Cedar Waxwings are filled with gradations and splashes of waxy colors.  Now that species are limited, it's time to pick out the little details.  Especially since by looking at the details we might find something really exciting. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Between the last post and this one we've had an extreme weather event concurrent with an extremely focused work project, hence not a lot of good birding going on.  Hurricane Sandy closed Yale University for two days, with rain, high winds and the resultant power outages. Low-lying areas along the Connecticut shoreline were inundated with a salty and debris-strewn storm surge as the hurricane's effects lasted through two high tide cycles, and coincided with a nearly full moon.

Die-hard birders all staked out their favorite corner of shoreline, to watch for storm-tossed seabirds, and reported back to those of us who opted to hunker down indoors instead.  Yale graduate student Jake Musser (based at West Campus) shares his storm-birding experience here:

While hurricanes cause disruption in our lives, they also impact many animals.  In particular, pelagic birds – those that spend much of their lives on the open sea – can be displaced great distances and even entrained within the powerful cyclone.  On Tuesday, as the storm was calming down, I spent the day with a few birding friends on the coast observing thousands of storm-blown birds exiting the sound.  Our sightings included many shearwaters, jaegers, and storm-petrels, birds never typically seen in Long Island Sound.  Many of these species are currently migrating south along the open ocean and were displaced into the sound by the storm.  However, we also found a Sooty Tern.  The typical range of this tropical species extends only as close as the southern gulf stream (i.e. off the coast of the Carolinas).  The individual we observed likely got entrained within the cyclone for a very long distance.  Interestingly, this species is one classically known to get entrained within hurricanes as they seem unwilling to ever land, even when given the chance by a large piece of driftwood or the sight of land.
West Campus bird list for the two-week period between October 22nd and November 2nd.

Red-tailed Hawk and Red-shouldered Hawk
Osprey and Turkey Vulture
Coopers Hawk and American Kestrel

Common Raven and American Crow
Fish Crow and Blue Jay

Finchy things:
American Goldfinch and Pine Siskin
House Finch and Northern Cardinal

Sparrowy things:
Song Sparrow and White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned and Chipping Sparrows
Dark-eyed Junco and House Sparrow

More little birds:
Black-capped Chickadee and Eastern Phoebe
Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets
Brown Creeper and Winter Wren
Yellow-rumped Warbler and Northern Parula

Some non-passerines:
Mourning Dove and Rock Pigeon
Northern Flicker and Downy Woodpecker
Herring and Ring-billed Gulls
Killdeer and Canada Goose
Wild Turkey

And some more mid-sized birds:
American Robin and Hermit Thrush
Northern Mockingbird and Cedar Waxwing
European Starling and Red-winged Blackbird
Brown-headed Cowbird and Common Grackle
Scarlet Tanager