Archive for April, 2016

Hooded Merganser drake 4/25/16


Hooded Mergansers are moving inland to woody swamps and shallow ponds where they’ll nest in a tree cavity about 10 feet off the ground, much like Wood Ducks. But rather than dabble for vegetarian fare, Hoodies are fish-eating divers. When the drake gets excited, he lifts up his black and white crest and transforms into another bird altogether, and quite a dandy one. Females are drabber and rusty red-headed, but whose crests are also very expressive.


Red-winged Blackbird male 4/20/16


The salt marshes here are freshening with life, and other arrivals like Turkey Vultures, Killdeer, and Grackles have also made their appearance. Male Red-wings arrive on their territories ahead of the females which are just showing up now. This one was displaying and chasing other males for the prime perches behind the beach at Seapoint, hunching his back and throwing out his shoulders and scarlet epaulets while calling a lusty Konk-a-reeeee!


Brown Creeper 4/16/16


Brown creepers can be found all over North America, well, except for the treeless parts. And while some migrate, most of their forest range supports year-round residents. If you sit in the woods quietly they become easier to spot. Typically you’ll only see them flying downward toward the bottoms of trunks, rather than across or upward. They land near the bottom and begin a spiral climb up the trunks searching for snacks, just the opposite of nuthatches who forage trunks from the top down. Their downcurving bills are perfect for poking around in barky crevices.


American Pipit 4/16/16


Pipits are drab songbirds of open country, they are like a slender sparrow in appearance but with some tail bobbing action. Most folks aren’t aware of them, and their shy habit and well-camouflaged plumage doesn’t exactly make them stand out. In New England they are migrants, traveling through early on their way to Arctic breeding grounds, and then south again late in the fall. They breed in the Arctic tundra of North America, as well Siberian Asia where they are called Buff-bellied Pipits. Sexes are alike.


Woods Duck drake 4/14/16


A hundred years ago Wood Ducks came close to extinction from overhunting and habitat destruction. They nest in tree cavities, though man-made nest boxes and the goodwill of duck lovers played a major role in their recovery since abandoned woodpecker nests the right size were scarce. They are one of the few ducks with claws on its webbed feet which allows them to perch in trees. Some folks call them Carolina Ducks.


Red-bellied Woodpecker female 4/13/16


It wasn’t many decades ago Red-bellied Woodpeckers couldn’t be found in New England, but now they’re well-established now and continuing to push northward. This one’s a female, which you can tell from her gray forehead, a male’s would be a continuous red from forehead to nape. The splash of red on the belly which gives them their name, isn’t often visible, but you can see a glimpse of it here.


Mountain Bluebird female 4/12/16


This little thrush lady is at least 2000 miles off course, having shown up at the end of the runway at Pease in Portsmouth. It’s a female Mountain Bluebird hanging out with 2 male Eastern Bluebirds near the entrance to the golf course. The 3 of them work the fences for insects. She isn’t as sky blue as the male, but you can tell her apart from Eastern Bluebird females by the lack of a white and reddish breast. Discovered by Jason Lambert.


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