Razorbills and Common Murres: Birding Machias Seal Island

Razorbill

Razorbills and Common Murres were among the penguin-like birds that were observed on our trip to Machias Seal Island, along with the Atlantic Puffin. All of these species are Alcids. Razorbills and Murres look very similar with their black and white coloring, but the Razorbills have a very thick, blunt bill with a white line going back towards the front of the eye. They spend their lives at sea, coming to rocky coasts and cliffs only to nest. They are great divers, able to dive up to 120 meters, dining […]

Atlantic Puffins on Machias Seal Island

Atlantic Puffin

Seeing Atlantic Puffins was the principle reason for wanting to go birding in Maine this Spring. Getting there by boat can be iffy, depending on the fog and the wind. When the seas are too rough to land on Machias Seal Island, one of three islands where Puffins nest, they can at least be observed from a rocking boat. My friends and I were on a Road Scholar trip called “Chickadees, Grouse, Puffins and More: A Birder’s Dream in Down East Maine.” Of course we hoped for getting our bins […]

Warblers! Parade through the Puddles

Yellow Warbler

Early to mid-May is a warbler frenzy, both for the warblers migrating through the area and for the photographer who wants to catch these little jewels on camera. So what do you do when you are at Presque Isle for less than 24 hours, the light is horrible, the leaves are out, and it’s threatening to rain? The first day yielded few visible warblers, so I went to my secret spot which had a couple of inviting mud puddles, sat down at the edge of the trail at a respectful […]

Harlequin Ducks at Barnegat Lighthouse, New Jersey

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Ducks are a feast for the eyes with all those stripes, spots, and exotic coloring going on! If you really want to see them though, it may require a trip in winter  to Barnegat Lighthouse, New Jersey, and a treacherous walk along the giant rocks that make up the almost mile-long jetty. This year and last, however, the ducks were still hanging out there in late March and early April, so even though there was a blustery cold wind off the ocean, at least there was no ice to contend […]

Baltimore Orioles come to oranges–sometimes!

Baltimore Oriole

For years, I have attempted to attract Baltimore Orioles to oranges during migration. I would see them in the yard, but they turned up their noses, er, beaks, at the expensive gift that I put out for them. Finally, last year, not one, but several came to sample the small Clementines that I put out on the deck for them! I figured using Clementines would be a cheaper way to go, rather than using up an orange at a dollar a piece. I sliced off the very top of the […]

Common Loon

Common Loon

In their breeding plumage, Common loons are the elegant black and white tuxedo-clad birds of the northern lakes and the oceans. They sport a dagger-like bill and a red eye, white stripes on the neck and spots on the back, making for a handsome sight.  Their tremulo calls and yodels have been called “the laugh of the deeply insane,” as it is eerily unique and seldom forgotten. While watching this handsome loon at the lake at Montour Preserve, I witnessed an immature Bald Eagle harassing him, diving low over the […]

Crazy Geese! The Sky is Falling!

Canada Goose

While watching Canada Geese come into a private pond, I couldn’t believe my eyes! They assumed all kinds of crazy positions, even upside down, and fell to the water helter-skelter. I’m not sure why the geese did this, but perhaps it’s a way to slow themselves down and put them over the water for a gentle landing. Anyway, it was great fun to watch!

A Dog and his Deer: Best Buds

Dog and Fawn

We’ve all seen commercials and videos recently of interesting animal buddies, but today was the first time I witnessed a doggie/deer combo myself. Although I frequent this back road often, looking for birds, I’ve never seen a dog running around loose. And this one was accompanied by a young deer. They sauntered down the middle of the road, checking out a mailbox, the dog sniffing the post and the deer licking the rusty latch. Next they stop for a little affection, sniffing and giving little animal kisses. Awww!! After sealing […]

Pine Siskins

Pine Siskin

Siskins are Sassy! Their needle-sharp beaks and quick movements are good for two things: for eating you out of house and home, and for fighting off each other and their rivals at the thistle feeder. Not seen every year, these finches have an irruption year when food is scarce in the north where they usually winter. When they do show up, they come in big numbers and can easily go through 25-pound bags of “black gold” or thistle seed, although they will eat sunflower seeds also. Besides their high-pitched twittering, Pine […]

How do birds find enough to eat in the winter? The Horned Lark Story

Horned Lark

How do birds find enough to eat in the winter? They are very resourceful, even though there may be a thick blanket of snow on the ground.  Discovering how Horned Larks find food in the winter is both entertaining and amazing. They are ground nesters and foragers, thus a good example of adapting to the environment in difficult winters. All about Birds says this about Horned Larks: Look carefully at a bare, brown field, especially in winter, and you may be surprised to see it crawling with little brown shapes. When they […]