Archive for June, 2013

Bobolink male 7/1/13


If you’ve never heard a Bobolink sing, you’re in for a wonder. It’s a rich babble of tinkling mechanical notes which sounds a lot like R2D2 from Star Wars. Females are a more golden tan color with dark streaking, and not long after the breeding season the males molt and take on plumage much like the females. Bobolinks are blackbirds that nest in grasslands and hayfields, but there aren’t nearly as many Bobolinks as there used to be, and not just because there are fewer grasslands and hayfields than there used to be. Their decline in reproductive success has a more direct and gruesome cause with modern hay-mowing happening earlier than it used to.


Common Raven 6/30/13


Earlier this spring I watched a pair of ravens work on a nest in some tall pines at the north end of the runway at Pease, but later they seemed to abandon it, at least I didn’t see them around it anymore, but now they’re hanging around the area again and  wnder if it wasn’t a backup nest like some birds build for a second brood.


Savannah Sparrow 6/29/13


This bird is catching a breeze in the mid-day heat on one of the fences surrounding the runways at the Pease Tradeport. With their streaky breasts and central dark spot, Savannah Sparrows look much like a bleached out Song Sparrow. But note the yellow eyebrows which the darker Song Sparrows lack, and other sparrows with yellow eyebrows like the White-throated and Seaside Sparrows, don’t have the finely streaked breast.


Great Blue Heron rookery 6/28/13


I can’t help but think of Dr Seuss anytime I come across a heron rookery. This one, off of Durham Point Road, has about 10 separate nests in tall snags surrounded by water, and each nest has a brood of 2 to 4 youngsters hunkered down against yesterday’s rain.  It won’t be long before they fledge and disperse into the wider world.


Glossy Ibis 6/27/13


Glossy Ibis are old world wading birds thought to have come to South America naturally by way of Africa in the 1800s and spread northward from there. New England populations winter south of the Carolinas but after the breeding season immature and adult birds become quite nomadic. They are somewhat related to the herons and will often nest and roost communally with them. I found this and several others prancing around the salt marshes  behind Seawall Beach in midcoast Maine with a few Snowy Egrets. This one is in breeding plumage, nonbreeding birds are much duller.


Blackburnian Warbler 6/26/13


On the slopes of the Cape Breton highlands these fiery throated little birds are quite common, being especially fond of spruce forests where they glean spiders and other small insects from the needles. Females and immatures are similarly marked but their throats are more yellow than orange. The male’s song is a thin whistle “suwee, suwee, suwee, suwee,” sounding a bit like a windup toy.


Northern Flicker 6/25/13


Northern Flickers are probably my favorite of all the woodpeckers in the northeast—big, colorful, and with a loud striking call that can send you right back to the Jurassic. Unlike most other woodpeckers in these parts, they are migratory summer-only birds and they forage on the ground for the ants. This pair is courting and haven’t been around long enough for her to be brooding eggs just yet—the bird above is the female, note the black teardrop mustache in the male below. I like this shot for showing off the yellow shafts of their wing and tail feathers, which doesn’t often appear in photographs unless you catch one flying. Oldtimers call them Yellowhammers.


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