Archive for April, 2013

Ruby-crowned Kinglet male 5/1/13


Not much bigger than a hummingbird, Kinglets are tiny, and the Ruby-crowned ones are just now arriving during bud burst. Only the males sport the ruby crown which you can just make out in this pic, but on occasion they’ll lift those feathers to a more impressive fiery crest. Other times of year you won’t even see a hint of red among the olive and gray feathering. They do have wing bars and white eye-rings, and these little birds almost never hold still. Their song is also a little one but it has a fierce quality, starting out as a repetitive buzz that grows into a burbling twitter. Fetched at Fort Foster.


House Finch male 4/30/13


House Finches aren’t native to New England but were introduced from the Southwestern states in the 1940s as “Hollywood Finches” and have since become year-round residents over much of the lower 48, parts of southern Canada, and all of the Hawaiian Islands. They’ve sent the Purple Finch into serious decline in the Northeast as they compete for similar habitat, but in turn they’ve been displaced by the even more invasive House Sparrow. I believe much of their success is owed to the popularity of bird feeding, as that’s where you’ll most commonly find this bird. It’s interesting how birders are okay with some invasive species but not others, so while House Sparrows and European Starlings are almost universally vilified by birdlovers, almost nobody complains about the raspberry red House Finch male and its drabber mate.



Great Egret 4/29/13


Great Egrets are almost as big as a Great Blue Heron and are becoming more common in northern New England. They’re considerably larger than Snowy Egrets and their spear-like bill is a yellow orange. Note the bright  green lores which is the sign of a breeding adult. Depending on the species, white herons from other parts of the world sport different colored skin between the eyes and bill during the breeding season. Great Egrets nest in trees, often with other heron species, and usually surrounded by swamp or on an island away from tree climbing predators like raccoons.


Tree Swallow 4/26/13


Tree Swallows are the first of the swallows to arrive back in New England for the breeding season, after wintering in Mexico or Central America. This one is checking out the nest boxes along the salt marshes behind Seabrook Beach which are particularly colorful this year. They are an iridescent dark blue above and all white below, with long wings and short notched tails. Some say females tend to be a bit greener but I’ve found that difficult to notice, though some breeding females are first year birds and not yet iridescent at all which you can easily spot. They like open country to catch small insects on the wing, and invariably nest near open water. 


Greater Yellowlegs 4/25/13


The loud and descending “pew pew pew pew.” The flashing white rump you only see in flight. And those bright yellow shanks to prance about the muck in. Yellowlegs are just now starting to arrive in numbers, and all the other shorebirds heading for the arctic won’t be far behind. These 2 were from a group of 7 stalking the edge of a tidal mudflat for something to stab at. Henry’s Pool, Hampton Beach.


Palm Warbler 4/24/13


Palm Warblers are typically one of the earliest of the wood warblers to migrate through southern Maine on their way to the bogs and muskegs of central and eastern Canada. They come in 2 forms with the eastern birds, like the one above, having bright yellow undersides and flanks streaked with rusty red, while birds from the western part of the range the yellow undersides are whitish with dull streaking. Both have the rusty red caps and a habit of bobbing their tails and in each subspecies the sexes are alike. Their song is a repetitive trill. Fetched at Great Bay NWR.


Bohemian Waxwings 4/23/13


Yesterday I took a ride up Mt. Agamenticus thinking I might find a kettle of migrating Broad-winged Hawks to photograph. Unfortunately the Broad-wings didn’t materialize, but a group of about 35 Bohemeian Waxwiungs did—and I can hardly complain about that! These are rarer, chubbier, more colorful, and somewhat louder than their Cedar Waxwing cousins. Probably the best quick field mark for them is the cinnamon colored undertails which the Cedars lack completely.


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