Through the Window: October Birds at the Feeders

If you’ve been to see us, you know that we record these birds on a whiteboard by the viewing window. The handwriting on the board is varied, as staff, volunteers, and even visitors will jot down the common name of birds they see. This month, against the final changes in foliage, we noted:

Brown Creeper, carved by Robert N. Spear, Jr.
Brown Creeper, wood carving by Robert N. Spear, Jr.
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Blue Jay
  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • American Goldfinch
  • White-crowned sparrow
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Purple Finch (male)
  • American Crow
  • Mourning Dove
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Brown Creeper
  • Fox Sparrow
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Song Sparrow
  • Rusty Blackbirds (unless they were Common Grackles?)

Through the Window: September Feeder Birds

Against the shifting foliage, we’ve seen many birds (some the last of the year, as they migrate southwards).  Nearby, we also observed a mammal of some note!

Birds:

  • Blue Jay
  • Grackle
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird (last male on 9/7/2010; last female on 9/14/2010)
  • Purple Finch
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • American Goldfinch
  • Mourning Dove
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak (still here 9/11/2010)
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • White-throated Sparrow (9/17/2010, 9/29/2010)
  • Easter Phoebe
  • Pileated Woodpecker — swooping over and museum
  • Song Sparrow
  • Bluebird (9/28, 11:30 a.m.)

Mammal:

  • Bobcat sighted by a cyclist on 9/20/2010 at 1:33 p.m., just north of museum parking lot on Sherman Hollow Road

And something you can’t actually see from the window, but must get up and walk to:

Autumn Flowers at the Birds of Vermont Museum
Autumn Flowers at the Birds of Vermont Museum. Photo taken in September 2005 in the field between the road and the pond.

Feeding hummingbirds in fall

I received a call today from a woman wondering what to do about hummingbirds. Two juvenile birds still come to her feeder, but she hasn’t seen the parents in some time. Should she take in the feeder? Is the food she provides keeping those young birds from migrating? Will they migrate without the parents? Are the parents still around, just not coming to her feeder?

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Female (woodcarving)
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Female (carved by Bob Spear)

I asked Bob Spear, since he’s got considerably more experience as a naturalist than I do–decades more.

“Leave it up,” he says. In fact, our hummingbird feeders are still up at the Museum and we saw a female ruby-throated hummingbird on Tuesday the 14th of September.  He tells us the males head south earlier than females and young ones, and he suspects that the female parent of the two juveniles is still nearby. Furthermore, migrating individuals from further north may stop at feeders on their way south (and in this week’s chilly rain, every bit helps). “It’s a myth,” he says, “that our feeders will keep them from migrating when it’s time for them to go.”

So enjoy your last glimpses of these little birds, glinting against the autumn leaves.

Through the Window: April birds and more

This was a seriously happenin’ month! Birds, mammals, amphibians. And yes, they were all seen through the windows of the museum. As always, these are roughly in the order we saw them.

Mourning Dove with nest, egg
Mourning Dove with nest, egg; carved by Robert N. Spear, Jr.
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Black-capped chickadee
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Red-winged blackbird (female, April 3)
  • Mourning Dove
  • Ruffed Grouse (April 1)
  • American Goldfinch
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Evening Grosbeak (April 3)
  • Eastern Phoebe (FOY, April 3)
  • Sapsucker (April 3, FOY)
  • Song Sparrow (April 6, FOY)
  • Chipping Sparrow (FOY, April 7)
  • Kestrel (April 6)
  • Northern Flicker (April 6)
  • Common Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird (FOY, April 10)
  • White-throated Sparrow (FOY, April 13)
  • American Robin (April 29)

For amphibians, we noted a wood frog on April 1 and a spotted salamander April 11. Wood frog eggs were noted in our little pond (the one near the viewing window) on April 3 and April 6).

We observed chipmunk, red squirrel, gray squirrel, a woodchuck (a.k.a. groundhog, on April 3) and, in a lucky moment, a bobcat on April 16.

The birds were recorded in our eBird record as well.

March Through the Window

We’ve seen these through the window in March, sometimes while passing by, and sometimes while directly observing for Feeder Watch. The ones we didn’t see last month are in bold.

  • American Crow
  • Wild Turkeys (20 on 3/16; 2 displaying Toms)
  • Blue Jays
  • Chickadees, Black-capped
  • Purple Finch
  • Evening Grosbeak
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Mourning Dove
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Fox Sparrow 3/26
  • Common Grackle 3/28
  • Red-winged Blackbird 3/20
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • Song Sparrow 3/23
  • Ruffed Grouse 3/25
  • Northern Cardinal 3/28
  • Red Squirrel
  • Gray Squirrel
  • Eastern Chipmunk

Signs of Spring

People have been noting on Twitter and on the radio various signs of spring. We like to look for changing bird plumage, ourselves.

The bright yellow shoulder feathers on the goldfinch are a sign of spring
Gold Signs of Spring

Sometimes there are just hints to start…

 

In our exhibits, the nesting birds are carved and painted in their breeding plumage; the wetland diorama birds are not. Come by and compare what you’ve seen to the carvings, and learn what to look for! We’re open by appointment until April 30th, then open for regular hours.

February at the Feeders

Noted through our viewing window in February (more or less in the order we saw them; the ones we didn’t see last month are in bold):

    Downy Woodpecker
    Downy Woodpecker

  • Blue Jays
  • Mourning Doves
  • Hairy Woodpeckers
  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Ruffed Grouse
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Wild Turkeys
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatches
  • Common Raven
  • White-breasted Nuthatches
  • Tufted Titmice
  • American Crow
  • Red Squirrels
  • Gray Squirrels

January Feeder Birds

Hairy Woodpecker via our FeederCam
Hairy Woodpecker via our FeederCam

At lunch, we like to eat while gazing out of the Viewing Window at the museum.  We keep an unofficial list of birds (mostly) seen at that time, jotting them down on a nearby whiteboard.  Here’s who we saw in January:

  • Downy Woodpeckers
  • Hairy Woodpeckers
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Blue Jays
  • White-breasted Nuthatches
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatches
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Mourning Doves
  • Wild Turkeys
  • Tufted Titmice
  • Red Squirrels
  • Gray Squirrels

You can see some of what we see with our FeederCam, too. We also participate in in Project FeederWatch, a more formal way to  collect and record bird data.

About Project FeederWatch

The Christmas Bird Count isn’t the only citizen science activity that the Museum does. We do Project Feeder Watch, too. It makes for a very pleasant lunchtime: good food and a viewing window (today we saw our first Wild Turkey and Tufted Titmouse of the month). Many of you with feeders at home or work can participate. You can sign up at any time. Here’s an overview from a recent Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s e-newsletter:

Project FeederWatch

The 2009-10 season of Project FeederWatch begins November 14, though you can sign up at any time. FeederWatchers keep track of their birds through the winter and report their tallies each week. This helps scientists track changes in winter bird populations from year to year.

To learn more and to sign up, visit the Project FeederWatch website. New participants receive a kit with a handbook, a bird-identification poster, calendar, and instruction booklet. There is a $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) to help cover the costs of materials and participant support. If you live in Canada, please visit our partner, Bird Studies Canada, or call (888) 448-2473.

Bear v. Feeders. Bear wins.

A 300 pound bear came by last week; only Bob saw it. It shook the bird feeder pole so hard that all the feeders fell down, and the bear destroyed them.

Today Bob dug a hole around the pole and we helped pour cement down the hole, two bags worth, and as soon as it sets up in a day or so, we will be able to leave the feeders out at night again.

Bob also made new hooks for the new feeders so that they are secure against vibration, in case the bear tries it again!

I just finished re-greasing the pole, so squirrels, raccoons, and bears beware!

—from a letter by Ingrid Riga, Curator,  to a sponsor of several of the carving exhibits