An apology and then a post…

Wow! How summer flies (really no pun intended), and it has really been going by quickly. The store has been very busy the past 5 weeks or so, and it has been impossible to put in a post lately. So here goes.

After a long break where we had taken our seed feeders down due to the visits of a very persistent black bear, we just started puttiing out feeders for the day and have narrowed it down to some seed on our platform feeder and a full finch feeder.

It is nice to have the birds back, especially the American goldfinches - the males decked out in their summer gold and the females just starting to return after fledging the babies. Their song has been nice to hear.

Had a mixed seed tube feeder up for a few days, but with no baffle on the pole the chipmuncks were having a field day. However it was interesting to watch our neighborhood male cardinal try and get the seed out of this feeder. We’ve told people for so long that they really don’t like using perches on the tube feeders, and this one particular male certainly TRIED to make an exception. He practically hung  upside-down on the perches to get seed out, but he did it.  Very interesting to watch.

I have also seen a hairy woodpecker trying to figure out the finch feeder along with a bunch of chipping sparrows, including a lot of juveniles. Also a bunch of baby chickadees have been showing up too.

Can’t wait to get everything back up again.

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A visit to D.C.

Far too often we forget to take the time to pay attention to what is all around us. Never was that made more clear to me than my recent visit to Washington, D.C.

From literally the time we bought our house here in Vermont, we’ve had bird feeders up. It really was one of the first things I wanted to do. And the variety of birds we’ve seen at our feeders and in our yard has been amazing.

So a few weeks back, when our friend Thom posted that he spotted a Baltimore Oriole in their tree behind their house in D.C., I was anxious to see what I would find when I went to visit.

First, and foremost - (other than European Starlings and House Sparrows, which are a given) the number of northern cardinals was AMAZING. On virtually every block you could hear and most of the time see, at least one male singing. And catbirds… all over the place. I wish I could have spent more time actively looking for birds but it was clear that I had missed out on a great bird watching experience during the 6 years I lived in Washington. Not to mention what I could have seen had I taken the time to do a bird walk through Central Park in New York City.

Lesson learned, and won’t be forgotten. There are all kinds of wild birds in every place we live. Take the time, a good pair of binoculars, and go find them!

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Even on a cloudy day…

While most of the time, it’s a bit easier to spot birds when the the sky is clear and movement up in the trees is more visible, but sometimes a cloudy morning can help. That was the case today, when I finally got a great, great view of not only the male, but the male and female Scarlet Tanagers that I’ve been hearing every morning and night for the past two weeks.

This morning however, when I heard the S. Tanager’s song coming from an oak right across the road, where  I typically have heard it, the gray sky outlined the scarlet red perfectly. And he gave me a good 5-10 minute look while he sang, and this time, a female was flying in the trees around him.

So, clear or cloudy, don’t forget to look for the wildlife right out your front door.

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Summer Songs

When we started coming up to Vermont on a regular basis, one of the sounds of summer I always looked forward to hearing when we got here was the song of the wood thrush and the hermit thrush.

For me these are the songs that really tell you warm weather is coming and/or here to stay for awhile. Living here full time means we get to hear their songs every day. I would love to be able to see them singing, but they are pretty good at blending in with the backgroud as you can see by their picture.

Have a great summer and enjoy the front and back half of the 4th of July weekend!

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Babies, Babies, Babies

Over the past week or so, it’s been a lot of fun listening to many customers come in and talk about the various fledging chicks they have been seeing. While the first clutch of bluebirds have been out for awhile (and take a look at this great bluebird family photo that a customer brought in on Saturday, June 24th), there have been lots of reports of babies getting their wings (pun intended)

A couple of our own experiences. Driving into work the other day, I had a mother Ruffed Grouse herding her chicks across the street right outside of town. As I slowly drove by, she gave me a full display, and was not too happy that I was passing this close to her chicks.

We also have a family of chickadees that took over one of our bluebird boxes with 3 or 4 chicks. They are so tiny it’s hard to tell how many are there, but we’ll check in on them this week to see how they are doing.

If you have any great baby bird stories or photos, please send them in!

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Bird Walk #2

With the help of local birding expert Ruth Stewart we had a great morning last Tuesday on the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas walk that we did here locally. The morning was a bit slow, but we did get a great look at a black-throated green warbler. A first real look for John, and my second.

Later in the morning, walking through a meadow right next to a pond, it was very difficult to keep up with the birds that surrounded us, but Ruth was calling them out by call, then view.

Among the ones we saw– yellow warbler, eastern meadowlark, cedar waxwing (a first seeing out in the field for both of us), tree swallows, belted kingfishers, canada goose, and for me… the coolest looking bird, the bobolink. Very accurately described by Ruth as a big bumble bee when seen from a distance.

Later in the day, John and I were walking along a marsh/bog and saw another first for us — an eastern kingbird. The motherload came for John a bit earlier in the day when we dropped my Jeep off for a quick repair. He finally got to see what he began to refer to as the mythological Baltimore Oriole. Well, there were at least 4 males flying around, calling, and oddly enough not even a half-mile from our house, where we have yet to have one visit our feeders.  That’s birding!

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See us at Hildene

The Bird Place is excited to be one of the vendors at the annual Uncommon Garden Market at Hildene, here in Manchester this weekend. It will be an exciting weekend, as Hildene (the summer home of Robert Todd Lincoln - only son of Abraham Lincoln to survive to adulthood who then went on to become chariman of the Pullman Car company) will be unveiling the restored gardens. Should be beautiful.

If you would like to know more about Hildene, then just click HERE>>

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Our own small birdwalk

We took a drive up the mountains this past Tuesday, just to see how well we could do on our own looking for birds. We did pretty well, though there were several that we saw but just could not identify. Practice makes perfect, so we’ll keep trying.

John had been suspicious about seeing any warblers, but we got two good views warblers that he can now count as life birds. First one was a blackburnian. A beautiful bird that I actually saw earlier in the spring, right off of our deck. The second was walking down a nice wooded trail where we spotted a black-throated blue. Many other birds were sighted, including John’s first view of a male wood duck, but all in all a very successful day.

We also heard many more than we saw, and frankly one of the hardest things to do is get the binoculars located to the spot where one second previous, you saw activity in the trees. Again, I’m sure with practice we’ll get better. In an event, it was a really nice morning activity.

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Helping out the VBBA

And what would the VBBA be you ask?  Well I could tell you all about it, but it would be a lot easier to just point you in the right direction. So I’ll do that instead… just CLICK HERE!

Essential, VINS is conducting a new breeding bird atlas since it has been 25 years since the first. I had the pleasure of accompanying Ruth Stewart and Jack Leonard on the survey, and since this year has been my first year in going on on wild bird walks, I had 3 life birds on this walk alone.

The Baltimore Oriole - very cool to see naturally on a walk

The Belted Kingfisher - much bigger in flight than I had imagined, but right over a river, as should be expected.

American Redstarts - several pair and the males were just beautiful.

Amazing what you see if you just look!

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“The butterflies of the songbird world”

This is a quote from one of the birding magazines I get here at the store. And just one of the reasons I haven’t been able to write a post. I’ve been spending time looking for these “butterflies” otherwise known as wood warblers, and have been fascinated by what I’ve been seeing. High up in the forest canopy, warblers spend their summers here eating insects and raising their young. While many continue on north up to the boreal forest in Canada, we do have quite a selection of warblers that stay here. I’ll write about some of what I’ve been seeing in upcoming posts.

The other reason is that once again, we’ve been getting some new merchandise for the store, and I’m working to get it properly displayed here in the store, and shortly, online as well. Some beautiful gifts, new feeders and lots of great new water gardening features for birding!

Keep your eyes on the site, and let me know if you’ve seen any wood warblers. They’re a challenge to find, but a great reward once you do!

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