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Archive for January, 2012

Over the past several weeks many people have come into the store expressing concern that they have no finches in their yard.  They have a thistle/nyjer feeder filled with fresh seed, but no birds come and the seed level doesn’t go down.  Previously they would attract flocks of finches that devoured the seed.  “What’s wrong?” they ask.

 I should point out that during the same period of time other customers indicate that they continue to attract finches.  And the numbers from the annual Christmas Bird Count do not show any decline in the population of finches.  So why are they not coming to some feeders?

 After some research, I reached the following possible explanation:  during December and January there is an abundance of natural seed available.  But in a normal winter it may be covered with snow and ice.  This winter has been so mild that birds can easily find the natural seeds. 

 And birds tend to be “local-vores” preferring fresh, locally grown food.  So this year they are getting more food at their local green market (your neighborhood) as opposed to eating store-bought food.

 That is just my theory.

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Have you noticed that Cardinals tend to be the last birds to visit your feeder every day?  Just at dusk, when all the other species have nestled into their evening roosts, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal quietly come to your feeder, or more often to the ground under the feeder.  They grab a quick bite and then retire to their evening roost.

 Why are they always late eaters?  No one knows for sure.  Some speculate that they are naturally shy, don’t like to draw attention, or they simply prefer not to eat with the crowd.  Or maybe, like me, they just like a snack before bedtime.

See if the Cardinal’s late eating tendency holds true in your yard.  Check your feeder at dusk or twilight and notice if the Cardinals show up.

 They are also among the first birds to feed in the morning, just after dawn.  But most people are not awake early enough to notice that.

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Have you ever seen a majestic eagle soar over your head.  Mark your calendar:  the 8th Annual Hudson River EagleFest is scheduled for Saturday Feb 4th.   The Journal News listed the EagleFest as one of the “Must Do” activities of 2012.

This great event which takes place at Croton Point Park is a great opportunity to see Bald Eagles flying free in Westchester.  There will be 8 Eagle watching sights along the Hudson River staffed by knowledgeable birders armed with powerful spotting scopes to answer questions and give you close-up views of eagles.  Last year there were over 100 eagles in the area.

In addition to the eagle watching sites, two theaters will provide a variety of  in-door programs and presentations including Live Hawk Shows, Eagle natural history programs, and I will be doing a talk at 1:30PM on “how to choose the right binoculars for you”.   I will also lead a birdwalk at 9:00AM.  There are a variety of programs and activities for children and adults.  It is an excellent outing for the whole family.  Costs range from free to minimal.  There are programs from 9:00AM until 3:00PM. 

Plan to attend.  Call Teatown Reservation for more details call (914) 762-2912

I hope to see you there.

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I used to think that life would get easier as I got older.  Well, it doesn’t.  For several reasons, 2011 was my worst year in memory.  So I eagerly anticipated the change-over to 2012.  New year, better things.

It started well.  I lead a large group to my favorite winter birding spot – Greenwich Point Park, a large peninsula jutting into Long Island Sound.  Varied habitat and skillful landscape combined with a lovely waterfront setting are ideal for people and birds.  This year beautiful weather further enhanced the mourning – temps in the 50s, plus clear sunny skies and no wind.

We amassed a goodly number of species to kick-start everyone’s 2012 Year List.  But the true highlight was a close-up view of a Great Horned Owl about 20 feet up in a tree.  I can still feel his large, bright yellow eyes staring back at me.

A good start for what I hope will be a good year.  My favorite part of the day, though, was not a bird sighting, but a good feeling.  Hundreds of people filled the park, people just enjoying a pleasant winter day in a natural settings.  Lots of families and dogs.   We even met another birding group with over 30 birders.  As we left the park around noon, people were continuing to pour into the park.  The line of cars entering was at least a ¼ mile long. 

Somehow it was comforting to know that in this highly commercialized, high-tech world there are still so many people who seek to enjoy the simple pleasures of nature.  Even in an upscale area like Greenwich.

Maybe 2012 will be a good year after all.

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The Bronx-Westchester section of the Annual Christmas Bird Count covers much of lower Westchester plus the northern portion of the Bronx.  This year the count recorded 115 species, which is about average.

 Highlights included:

a GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE on the Van Cortlandt golf course,

a EURASIAN WIGEON on Premium Mill Pond in Larchmont,

a female BARROW’S GOLDENEYE off City Island,

55 NORTHERN GANNETS,

8 GREAT EGRETS,

7 BLACK VULTURES,

8 BALD EAGLES

9 RED-SHOULDERED HAWKS,

a CLAPPER RAIL,

a VIRGINIA RAIL,

7 RAZORBILLS,

4 COMMON RAVENS,

2 MARSH WRENS, 2 HOUSE WRENS, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER,

PALM WARBLER, CHIPPING SPARROW, and SALTMARSH SPARROW.

 

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