The hard part is done - Now the fun part begins!

it’s been an incredible first half of the year for The Bird Place - Now The Vermont Bird Place & Sky Watch. We’ve moved into our new location - checked in all of our new merchandise and now we’re settling in planning for more events for the summer.

We apologize for not keeping this page up nearly as we should have, but that’s all about to change. We’ll update you on what’s new with the store, pictures and sharing customer stories on their backyard and field birding!

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Cardinal Songs

Spring must be coming. And to appreciate the season I encourage all of you to wake up early and step outside, especially if you have feeders up or live nearby someone who does.

This morning there was at least 3 northern cardinal males singing in the trees, or better said, trying to outsing each other. I also heard several tufted titmice as well, but the cardinals were going at it pretty consistently for a good hour. One of the males was in our oak tree and nicely lit by the morning sun. From the ground he looked like a big red berry on the tree!

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Feeder behavior

Day-to-day, when I’m watching birds at our feeders, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the behavior that some birds display. Since we received over a foot and half of snow this weekend, it has been interesting to watch the female northern cardinal search for seeds in the new snow cover.

The male seems to have no problem flying over to the tray on our large tube feeder but she is always more reluctant to do so, and with the snow cover, buries her head completely trying to get seeds. I have seen her up on the tray a couple of times, but more often than not she sticks to the ground as is typical of cardinal behavior.

Noticing the details of bird behavior is part of the fun. Take some time and watch how birds behave at your feeders.

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An Old Friend Returns

And we don’t mean winter, though it applies for that as well. Just as we started our day today we had a beautiful encounter with a Barred Owl right on our maple tree in the front yard. They’ve been calling a lot at night lately, as breeding season is getting under way, but we haven’t seen one in about 2 years. It was a beautiful sight on a snowy morning.

Also, many, many birds at the feeders, including more dark-eyed juncos and American goldfinches than we have ever had before at the feeders. Also have an American Tree Sparrow showing up with the juncos just about every day.

More snow, means more birds at the feeders, so we’re not complaining.

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Feeder Frenzy!

It was bound to happen. We complained about how warm it was, how we didn’t have any snow and where were all the birds?  Well, we should have known - wind chill today is about -20 degrees, about 6-7″ snow cover and the birds are all over the feeders!

We had been wondering where all of our American goldfinches had been and each morning and evening there are about 10-15 eating on virtually every feeder we have. In addition to bunches of black-capped chickadess, tufted titmice, nuthatches and dark-eyed juncos too many to count.

Our suet feeders also continue to be very active with our female red-bellied woodpecker showing up for a visual about every other day. I’m sure she’s there every day, we’re just not there to see it. With mating season quickly approaching, I’m hoping to see a male soon. It would be great to have a breeding pair to watch this upcoming spring!

And lastly, we finally got with our own program and now have a heater for our birdbath. Water is so important when it gets this cold and should be an essential element of any backyard habitat.

In any event, our little part of the world seems back to normal, with cold weather, snow on the ground, (5 ski days already in) and birds feeding at the feeder. I’m not sure the groundhog knew what he was talking about. Winter seems to be sticking around for awhile.

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Finally, Winter Arrives - and so do the birds!

While winter is really just about a month old technically speaking, it officially arrived this week, with cold weather the first part of the week, and a little bit of snow today, but at least it’s something. And the feeders have exploded with activity. Lots of American goldfinches, dark-eyed juncos, tufted titmouse, nuthatches, woodpeckers (including the red-bellied woodpecker for the second straight day), and lots and lots of chickadees. While I’m sure they don’t appreciate the cold, at least they have food and we get the enjoyment of watching. Seems like a fair trade.

Now I just have to figure out when I get to go skiing!

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A Christmas Eve Surprise!

While most of us wait from a surprise visit from Santa, I got another surprise as I headed into the store this Christmas Eve morning. Not far from our house, actually really, really close to our house, a male Eastern Bluebird flew right across the road ahead of me. I could tell it wasn’t a Blue Jay right away, but it was such as surprise, it took a bit of time to realize it was a bluebird.

We’ve had more and more reports of them over-wintering and while it has been pretty warm for December, it’s still unusual to see them so out in the open. In any event, it was a wonderful sighting and hopefully not the only one until next spring.

Merry Christmas and happy birding!

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Feeder News

With the holidays approaching it’s a bit difficult keeping up the blog. Good news is that the store (IMHO) has never looked better. We’ve got lots of great backyard birding stuff as well as some really fun garden items so if you get a chance, please stop by.

At the feeder, it’s pretty much been the typicals - lots and lots of black-capped chickadees, white and red-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmouse, one very persistent hairy woodpecker at the feeder and a bunch of downy and hairy woodpeckers at the suet feeders. I haven’t seen the red-bellied again, but I’m always looking!

I think we also experienced our second mourning dove casualty at the feeder. It happens so quickly, but either a sharp-shinned or Cooper’s hawk tried to take out a mourning dove. I think it was successful but not 100% certain. In any event, I could feel that something was up out at the feeder. Whenever the ONLY activity you see at the feeder is a group of mourning doves and not one single songbird there’s something fishy going on.

Usually that means a hawk or another predator is around. Each time this has happened, there is a twinge of guilt, but hawks are going to hunt other birds whether they’re at our feeder, or out in the meadow. It’s an impressive sight regardless and allows for a close-up on a raptor you don’t often get.

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A new visit from an old friend

Feeding wild birds is certainly not like owning a pet. We can’t be sure that from day-to-day that the birds we’re feeding are really the same birds every day. But nevertheless we tend to talk about MY chickadees, or MY nuthatches, and to some extent they probably are mostly the same birds… Soooooo….

I’m proud to say the MY MALE NORTHERN CARDINAL came back to the feeder yesterday night. He always seems to come right at dusk, so it was hard to see, but sure enough he was there. I haven’t seen him in the morning, but again, he might be getting there before I get up. It was exactly this time last year that he showed up and stayed around for about a month, before leaving and then returning in the spring…. at least I think he was the same one!  :)

Happy feeding and don’t forget to join Project FeederWatch if you can! Here is some more information if you’d like.

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Red-Bellied Surprise

A few days overdue, but on Saturday, as I was getting ready to go to the store, in addition to the mourning doves that were startled by me coming outside, there was a silhouette up in the trees that was about the size of a mourning dove, but acting like a woodpecker. I almost thought it was a Northern Flicker, but after a quick run to get my binos, it turned out to be a male red-bellied woodpecker.

While certainly not a rare bird, they are uncommon up here. They continue to expand their range north. In Manchester there was a report of a breeding pair this past summer, though no chicks were seen. Hopefully I’ll get to see more of him this winter!

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