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Friday, September 22, 2017
  • Coastal Bluebirds -
    You may have heard the old expression "a blue bird day." Well, when I researched its origins, I discovered that it is quite unrelated to bluebirds. The term came from downhill skiers to describe a perfectly sunny beautiful day following . . .
  • Seen any good birds?-
    Encountering fellow birders in the field, a typical greeting is "Seen anything good?" That, of course, depends on your personal definition of what constitutes a "good" bird and your own expectations for the day. A Blue Jay is a . . .
  • Pine Grosbeaks -
    True to earlier prognostications, this fall season is shaping up as an irruptive finch winter. Watchers are already encountering troupes of Evening Grosbeaks, Redpolls, White-winged and Red Crossbills and scattered Bohemian . . .
  • Red-tailed Hawk -
    If you have ever driven past a large, bulky hawk perched on a roadside utility line or field fencepost, you may have spotted a Red-tailed. As the fall calendar advances, the odds increase that the hawk in question is a Red-tailed. . . .
  • Another Annual Finch Forecast -
    Long-range forecasting is risky business, especially when birds are involved. Each fall Ontario biologist Ron Pittaway issues a winter finch forecast for eastern Canada and, by extension, the nearby tier of northern states. To survive the . . .
  • Maine's sparrow -
    Pulling out of my driveway at dawn, I notice dozens of small birds flitting low through my headlight beams; they are all sparrows. Fall is a good time to watch for migrating sparrows around edges of fields and weedy roadways. . . .
  • Phalaropes -
    It's no secret that I enjoy shorebirds. In the past 15 years or so, I have observed 30 different species feeding or roosting at Weskeag Marsh in South Thomaston. The "rarest" discovery was probably a second-year male Ruff . . .
  • September's Shorebirds -
    The span of fall bird migration extends across several months. Migration is predictable in many ways but is often an untidy process that provides some unexpected bird sightings along the way. Warbler and sparrow movements . . .
  • Headin' offshore -
    After several false starts (prohibitive heavy fog or high seas on previous tries) I took a whale watch cruise out of Bar Harbor in late July. The prospect of seeing bus-sized leviathans was appealing enough, but I was equally interested . . .
  • An Osprey Walks into a Bar, Sits Down and Orders a Drink -
    I get occasional phone calls about birds. On August 5 around 7:30 p.m., Katie Syrett phoned from Owls Head. "This is going to sound strange," she said, "but I have an osprey sitting on my porch. It's just standing here staring at me" . . .
  • Loon Surveys -
    In mid-July I accompanied my friend Mark DiGirolamo during his loon monitoring studies for the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI), which is funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This work involves surveys of adult and . . .
  • Whip-poor-wills: Chasing a Memory
    As a child, I remember the haunting nighttime calls of distant whip-poorwills outside my open bedroom window. Those melancholy sounds stuck in my head and came to signify summer evenings. With the passage of years . . .
  • Piping Plover -
    Some years ago I visited Plymouth Beach in Massachusetts. There I viewed Plymouth Rock - barely enough turf for a big-footed person to safely step ashore. Then I hiked the two-mile beach and found the vocal colony of nesting . . .
  • Chestnut-sided Warblers -
    If you happen to recognize this bird's snappy accented song, you can drive along most any secondary roadway in midcoast Maine in June and hear dozens of Chestnut-sided Warblers. Turn off your car radio and roll down the windows . . .
  • Sora -
    Here's a quick brain teaser: Name a 6- to 8-inch bird with a flexible rib cage that can compress its body laterally to a thickness of less than one inch. By looking at this week's photo, you'll soon discover that the bird in question . . .
  • River Silhouettes -
    Due to my lifelong interest in birds, I own a modest collection of bird guides and scientific volumes. Modern bird guides have definitely evolved and, some would say, improved through the decades. I cut my birding teeth on . . .
  • Three Early Warblers -
    For many Maine bird watchers, spring is personified by the arrival of two dozen or so species of wood warblers. Adorned in their brightest breeding plumage, these small active creatures have been aptly described as feathered . . .
  • The Kinglet Clan -
    With the onset of spring migration, Maine bird watchers will encounter groups of incoming birds of all shapes and sizes. The larger species will be easy to spot -soaring turkey vultures, vees of Canada geese and sky-waves of double-crested . . .
  • Birding by Ear -
    This week's column begins at the office of a Middletown, Connecticut, audiologist in late March. My former high school comrade John Coggins had invited me for a weekend birding trip and to attend the annual conference of the . . .
  • Night Owls -
    Well, I did it again - spent a sleepless night traveling the byways between Somerville and Palermo on the owl-calling circuit. For a decade now, I've volunteered with the Maine Owl Monitoring Program. This statewide study is . . .
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