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7/7/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – Just before the line of thunderstorms came through last night, Don and I were outside watching the clouds and we couldn’t believe how many American Crows were zooming by going west to east, maybe to their roost. It was getting pretty windy by then and most had their wings folded in so they looked like black bullets. There had to be over 40 birds. This morning, there were five Gray Catbirds in the yard, so I guess our yard pair’s chicks have fledged. The House Wrens built a nest in the Carolina Wren box so they have made 3 nests this year, yet I’ve heard no chicks peeping nor have I seen any fledglings so I’m assuming that their first clutch failed. We still have the Great-crested Flycatcher calling in the area.
6/26/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – This week has had the young Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and White-breasted Nuthatches chattering away in the trees around the yard. I haven’t seen them coming down to the feeders so they have kept their parents busy going back and forth. We had the Great-horned Owl screeching like crazy the other night and it must have been in one of the yard trees as it was quite loud. An American Robin has been singing almost non-stop during the day for 3 days now. Its calls are different from others and almost sounds like an Orchard Oriole, which is what I thought it was a first. Last week, during a visit at the Sussex end of Liberty Loop/Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge with Allison Orsi, the Pied-billed Grebes (5), Wood Ducks (11). and Common Gallinules (8) were all parading around with their youngsters in the south pond.
6/23/21 – Stokes SF & Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – At one of the overlooks going up to the Sunrise Mtn. pavilion, there was a Prairie Warbler perched in a dead tree, singing away. Later, while standing in the parking lot of the Steam Mill Camping Area in Stokes State Forest, Al Boyd and I saw an adult American Woodcock being followed by two chicks. They walked back into the vegetation, came out and took a drink at the spring pipe, and then went back into the vegetation. Here at home this past week, Brown-headed Cowbird & American Robin were added to the fledgling count. The young House Finches line up on the gutter overlooking the sunflower feeder. A Common Raven was very vocal flying over the house and I finally heard a Carolina Wren singing off in the distance. First I’ve heard around here in two months.
6/18/21 – Flanders (Bill McDaniel) – Saw a Great-crested Flycatcher in our yard. Started on our deck, and is still hanging around the house, but too elusive for pictures! Lifer for me.
6/18/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – This week has brought the first fledglings of Northern Cardinal and Red-bellied Woodpecker to the yard. The female Red-bellied had just fed the fledgling in the cedar tree where the suet feeder hangs, but it was moving around the tree, getting close to a Downy Woodpecker, maybe looking for it to feed it. Then a male Red-bellied flew into the tree, chasing the fledgling all around until it flew out of the tree. Maybe the fledgling was not from our usual pair? It just had a spot of red on the back of the head and was very gray in coloring. Of note this year: I haven’t seen any Tree Swallows or Eastern Kingbird and by this time the swallows are flying over the house and the kingbirds are chattering from the tree tops in the neighborhood. Both these species seem to be less common this year.
6/11/21 – Liberty Loop Trail, Wallkill River NWR (Russ Edwards) – two adult Sandhill Cranes with one immature being harassed by male Red-winged Blackbirds.
6/10-6/12/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – This past week, the yard has been visited by Great-crested Flycatcher & Baltimore Oriole along with the normal crew. We heard the fledgling Great Horned Owls calling in the neighborhood. You can hear them screeching as they are flying. In past years, they have been in our tree tops calling. I was surprised to hear a Brown Thrasher singing from the top of a cherry tree before it moved down the road. House Finches have once again populated the feeders, with a few fledglings joining the group, so it can be noisy. We also have a pair of Chipping Sparrows that hang out under the sunflower feeder. We had one male American Goldfinch show up at the thistle feeder after being absent since the end of April. I also heard a Carolina Wren calling in the distance. I haven’t seen nor heard one around here since March. The young red & gray squirrels have been very entertaining, with the reds chattering back & forth to each other when they think someone is getting to close to them. The gray has been eyeing the feeder and you can just see the little wheels going in its brain.
A walk in Hyper Humus on 6/10/21 with Debbie Bifulco & Allison Orsi produced Baltimore & Orchard Orioles, Song & Swamp Sparrows, Marsh Wren, Willow & Great-crested Flycatchers, Warbling, Red-eyed & Yellow-throated Vireos, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Eastern Phoebe, Ovenbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Turkey Vulture, Mute Swan, and a female Wood Duck with at least 9 ducklings. Today (6/12) at Hyper, I had 3 calling Willow Flycatchers & a squawking Green Heron in the top of a tree. The Swamp Sparrows and Marsh Wrens were very vocal and were singing while holding onto to the reeds.
5/20/21 – Wood Duck Trail, Wallkill River NWR (Karyn Cichocki) – Debbie Bifulco, Allison Orsi, Donna Traylor, and I walked the Wood Duck Trail in Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge. This is a nice, easy trail on County Rt 565 just off State Rt 23 in Wantage Twp. The trail is about 1.6 miles long, with benches along the way. We had Warbling, Red-eyed, & Yellow-throated Vireos, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, & American Redstart. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds were chattering at us because they had a nest in one of the woodpecker holes in a dead tree that was over the trail. We were quite surprised when we saw an immature White-crowned Sparrow on the trail and then later saw a mature bird. We also heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling. Here at home (Lafayette Twp) this week, the Great-crested Flycatcher has been joined by Warbling & Red-eyed Vireos singing in our neighbors’ yard. Yesterday, there was a Yellow Warbler calling out back, and this morning, I heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling.
5/19/21 – Winding Waters Trail, Wallkill River NWR in Orange County, NY (Allison Orsi) – If anyone is interested in seeing an Indigo Bunting, Winding Waters trail is the place to go. On my 2 mile walk around the loop, I saw at least 6 bright blue males, flying across the trail and perching in the sun for me, making me wish I had brought my camera. Two Eastern Kingbirds were taking diving baths in the river, which I have never seen. They both dove straight in, then splashed right out, then flew up into a tree to begin the preening and shaking. They did that 2 or 3 times. Exhausted from the heat (wishing I could take a diving bath in the river), I sat down on the bench overlooking the river near the fork in the trail. I looked straight up and watched a female Baltimore Oriole building her nest, hanging in a silver maple tree. I remember that, a few years ago, one built a nest right over the trail.
5/16/21 – Spring Migrants field trip to Sparta Mountain WMA (Matt Skalla, leader) – Seven of us birded at Ryker Lake, on both sides of the road around the Edison Monument, and at Mount Paul. 43 species were seen. Trip highlights included Chestnut-sided Warbler, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo heard by many, an American Redstart on her nest, and a pair of Northern Waterthrushes who were happy to be heard but did not want to be seen. Also had one eBird “rare” bird, a Ring-necked Duck who decided he wasn’t ready to continue his migration north yet.
5/15/21 Bird & Nature Walk at Dryden Kuser Natural Area (Karyn Cichocki, leader) – Lois Ferguson, Steve Fitzsimmons, Mike Livesey, Sandy McPhail, Bill & Connie Warren, and Bob & Kathy Wilson joined me for the Cedar Swamp Trail 1.5 mile loop in the Dryden Kuser Natural Area in High Point State Park. The group saw or heard only 25 species, but we were entertained by the squawking of several Common Ravens. Lois spotted two porcupines, which were sleeping in pine trees and were a first for several in the group. Another surprise was an immature Eastern Milk Snake that was warming itself on the concrete square at the trail parking lot. The attached picture has my car key next to it for size reference.
5/14-5/17/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – The single White-throated Sparrow that we had in the yard was last seen on 5/14/21. Yesterday (5/16/21), I heard a Great-crested Flycatcher calling and this morning it was joined by a Red-eyed Vireo. We have a pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds coming to the nectar feeder & the House Wrens have filled both nest boxes with sticks. It appears that the American Robin nest in our front cedar has failed. This is the first year we haven’t had Carolina Wrens building nests in the yard; I haven’t heard any singing in the neighborhood in weeks and haven’t heard any calling while out birding the past two weeks. I’m assuming that they are busy nesting and that is why they are silent now.
5/12/21 – Spring Migrants field trip to Hainesville WMA (Karyn Cichocki, leader) – Allison Orsi, Bob & Kathy Wilson, and Maureen Verbeek joined me to brave the cold winds blowing across the lake at the Hainesville Wildlife Management Area. Despite the cool temperatures and wind, we managed to get a total of 44 species.
5/11/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – I was quite surprised to look out and see a Red-breasted Nuthatch at our sunflower feeder.
5/9/21 – Spring Migrants field trip to Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Warren County (Karyn Cichocki, leader) – Joan Detyna, Steve Fitzsimmons, Sandy McPhail, Bill & Connie Warren, and Bob & Kathy Wilson joined me for the annual field trip to the Millbrook Village/Watergate area of the park. Because of the construction going on at Watergate, which is closed, we just walked south along Old Mine Road from the village to the power lines and back and then along the stream path that runs behind the village parking lot. We saw 53 species. What was surprising was the amount of White-throated Sparrows that were up in the trees flitting around like warblers. This behavior has been reported by various birders and we have all been surprised that they are still around in such numbers. The group also came upon a flock of American Goldfinches & 4 Pine Siskins were spotted with them. Another bird of note was Joan’s spotting of a Lincoln’s Sparrow, which was a life bird for me.
5/8/21 – Andover Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – Today, I joined Lois Ferguson for a walk along the new rail trail from Lake Iliff to Lake Aeroflex. We did hit some drizzle but the birds were moving and lower in the trees. Warblers included Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, Northern Parula, Prairie Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler. The highlights of the trip were good views of a male Bay-breasted Warbler and seeing, almost side-by-side, a Baltimore Oriole & Orchard Oriole in a tree. There were a pair of Osprey flying over Lake Aeroflex and Northern Rough-winged Swallows were flying over the planes at the airfield. We heard a Red-eyed Vireo and heard & saw several Warbling Vireos. Other birds of interest: Wood Thrush, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Scarlet Tanager, Eastern Kingbird, Northern Waterthrush, Wood Duck, & Double-crested Cormorant. Earlier, Lois had walked the full length of the Hillside Trail, which runs under Newton-Sparta Rd, and had a Dark-eyed Junco with some White-throated Sparrows.
5/8/21 – World Migratory Bird Day field trip (Sue Predl, leader) – Four of us birded Stokes State Forest for 4 1/2 hours between the rain drops. We saw or heard the following 22 species: Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Wood Thrush, Veery, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-and-White Warbler, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Oriole, Northern Parula, Blackburnian Warbler, Eastern Kingbird, American Redstart, Chipping Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Canada Goose, American Goldfinch, American Crow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, White-breasted Nuthatch, Black-throated Green Warbler, Eastern Towhee, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Flicker, Yellow Warbler, Brown-headed Cowbird, and Pileated Woodpecker.
5/7/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – When we first moved into our house here in Lafayette, we had hay fields across the street and next door. Wilson’s Snipes would do their aerobatics in the spring. Around the 15th of May, the Bobolinks would show up and nest in the field across the street. Walking the field perimeter during the summer, I would hear Swamp Sparrows & Grasshopper Sparrows calling. Since houses have gone up in these fields on 4 & 6 acre lots (Lafayette minimum acre zoning), the Wilson’s Snipe & Grasshopper Sparrow are gone. Each year, there would be a few more Bobolinks until we only had one which would call from the tops of the cedar trees along the property line across the street. This is the first year I haven’t heard Swamp Sparrow singing from the marsh area. Boy, was I surprised when I heard a Bobolink calling, and while walking down the street, I heard another, then saw them flying around the tops of the cedar trees: at least four males. It will be interesting to see if they stick around. At home base, we still have about five White-throated Sparrows. While birding around the county this past week, I’ve been surprised to see so many White-throats around and up in the trees, flitting around like warblers. I don’t recall looking at warblers and seeing so many White-throats at the same time.
5/6/21 – Fredon & Frelinghuysen Twps (Wade & Sharon Wander) – After decades of never having a Pileated Woodpecker come to a suet feeder, a local male has discovered the joy of an easy meal, and now visits several times a day, going to both real suet and one of the pre-made cakes. At Frelinghuysen Forest Preserve we came across a very cooperative White-crowned Sparrow.
5/6/21 – Dingmans Ferry, PA (Jack Padalino) – Had a female Evening Grosbeak at our feeders this morning.
5/4/21 – Hyper Humus (Allison Orsi et al) – Prothonotary Warbler, first spotted by Karyn Cichocki and Donna Traylor, photographed by Deb Bifulco (photos up on ebird)….ten steps into the Paulinskill Valley Trail from the Warbasse Junction parking lot at Hyper Humus. We were standing on the metal bridge over the water when we all watched it flitting about and singing, perhaps darting after another bird, at about 9:40am. If you would like to see pictures, Deb uploaded them onto the ebird list seen here: https://ebird.org/checklist/S87103223
We walked the whole loop through the marsh, also seeing an Osprey dive and catch a fish, then a Bald Eagle headed straight for it, chasing the Osprey as it twisted and dodged from the eagle. The eagle finally gave up and flew away, and the Osprey got to keep his fish. Other highlights included a Savannah Sparrow, lots of Yellow Warblers, Blue-winged Warblers, American Redstarts, Northern Parula, Black and White Warbler… and more! If you haven’t gotten out lately, now is the time!
5/3/21 – Allamuchy Mountain SP (Karyn Cichocki) – Today, a group met for a walk in the park along the road back to Deer Park Pond, which is closed to vehicle traffic. It was a bit quiet, with a bird seen or heard here & there. On the way back to the parking lot, probably after noon, we came upon a mini-fallout of warblers, including several Black & White, Black-throated Blue, & Black-throated Green Warblers, Cape May Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warbler, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Other warblers seen or heard: American Redstart, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Hooded Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, & Ovenbird, as well as Veery, Wood Thrush, Baltimore Oriole, & Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Several Great Blue Herons were seen flying over the park. Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Dove, Brown-headed Cowbird, Gray Catbird, White-throated Sparrow, Northern Cardinal, Black & Turkey Vultures, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Norther Flicker, American Robin, Blue Jay, Eastern Towhee, & Ruby-throated Hummingbird rounded out the group for a total of 39 species. Well worth a few raindrops.
5/2/21 – Wantage (Giselle Smisko) – Around 6 PM, the Barred Owls started calling: the male perched in our yard and the female answering from deeper in the swamp. The Gray Catbirds seem to be all over, singing and checking out the old nest that another bird (perhaps the American Robin nesting nearby) started to pull apart a couple of weeks ago. The Blue Jay flock of at least 15 birds is still refueling at the feeder. We had a Veery and a Baltimore Oriole in the yard. A few days ago, a Solitary Sandpiper was bobbing his tail while exploring our stream.
5/2/21 – Jefferson (Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore) – Gray Catbirds & Chipping Sparrows have returned to our yard and feeders. We haven’t seen Ruby-throated Hummingbirds yet.
5/2/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – I first heard and then saw a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak up in the oak tree and a second House Wren has joined the singing male.
5/1/21 – Hewitt (Russ Edwards) – Had my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird this evening.
5/1/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – Happy May Day: male & female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds showed up at our feeder. At dusk, I heard a White-crowned Sparrow singing and saw a Green Heron fly over the house.
4/29 & 4/30/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – (4/29) We had another Ruby-crowned Kinglet in our cedar trees. Last night, there was a Great Horned Owl calling from the big oak next to the house. The House Wren that has been calling from our neighbor’s yard has finally arrived in our yard and was singing above one of the nest boxes. (4/30) Gray Catbird has returned to the yard (my first sighting of one for the year), taking a bath and muttering to itself up in the trees. We still have at least six White-throated Sparrows, and another Mourning Dove has become a meal for one of the hunting birds (I’m assuming Cooper’s Hawk). Two males and one female American Goldfinch are on and off visitors. The hummingbird feeder is up but thus far no visitors. Although we haven’t had them in the yard for several weeks now, the Carolina Wrens are in the area and I’ve heard them calling from across the street. So far, no nest building in their nest box.
4/28/21 – Muckshaw Ponds Preserve (Dave Pasake & Sue Predl) – We got a couple of good looks at a Black-throated-blue Warbler, American Redstart, Blue-headed Vireo, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. We recommend this spot for birding; it is a nice hike along the outcroppings, loaded with many early spring wildflowers including columbine, wood anemone, saxifrage, hepatica, and others.
4/27/21 – Whittingham WMA (Dave Pasake & Sue Predl) – during our lunch break, we got some good looks at Yellow-rumped Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Blue-headed Vireo, and Green-winged Teal. Got to watch a Ruby-throated Hummingbird pester a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Had an Osprey, Wood Ducks, Mallards, and a Great Blue Heron at Big Spring. Great early afternoon for birds at this fine site.
4/25/21 – Annual Jim Zamos Memorial Hyper Humus Nature Walk (Sue Predl, leader) – Dave Pasake, Kathy & Bob Wilson, Michael Livesey, and I birded Hyper Humus beginning at Warbasse Junction & returning via the Sussex Branch trail from 8:30am – 1:10 pm; we saw 49 species. Great looks at two pair of Blue-winged Teal; saw an Osprey dive down and get a fish, and first-of-the-year looks at Eastern Towhee, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, & Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers. Also had nice looks at Swamp Sparrow and a very brief look at a Virginia Rail.
4/24/21 – Hyper Humus (Karyn Cichocki) – Because of the pending rain forecast for the 25th, I decided to go to Hyper Humus today and had a total of 36 species. I was surprised to not see Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Eastern Phoebe. But, I had my first-of-the-year Yellow Warbler sighting. Also seen were Palm Warbler and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. A female Northern Harrier flew over the reeds near pond 1 and there were Double-crested Cormorants in the back ponds along with the multitude of Mute Swans. I took the Sussex Branch Trail back to Warbasse Junction Rd and then back to the parking lot off Rte 94. On the trail, I came upon a flock of White-throated Sparrows: at least 20 foraging in the barberry and singing away, as was an Eastern Towhee. When I arrived home in Lafayette, there was an Eastern Phoebe calling.
4/23/21 – Hyper Humus (Lori Krieger) – This afternoon at Hyper Humus, saw a male Ruby-crowned Kinglet by the canal and a Yellow-rumped Warbler by Jim’s bench. Nice treat!
4/23/21 – Culvers Lake (Bob Cappuccio) – First Ruby-throated Hummingbird of the season was seen today. I had just returned from Florida and he was by the feeder site which I had not yet set up this spring. Shortly after putting out the feeder, he was back. The date ties a record for the earliest date at my yard in 61 years. A friend on Parsons Rd in Hampton Township also had several hummers this morning.
4/21/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – I heard the first House Wren of the year singing from our neighbor’s yard today. I was very surprised to see two Pine Siskins on our thistle feeder, joining the 2 males and 1 female that have been visiting the past two days. The single Chipping Sparrow that has been hanging around the yard now has a friend that has joined it. A Carolina Wren returned to the feeders after being absent for a couple of weeks.
4/19/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – Today between 5:00 – 6:45pm we had an incredible fall-out of Purple Finches. They were mostly in our cedar trees but also in some of the bushes, flitting around, making it hard to count, but I would say at least 20 birds. This is the most I’ve seen at one time. Also had a Brown Thrasher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and male Eastern Towhee. Maybe they were all coming in before the storms hit tonight.
4/14/21 – Lafayette & Wallkill River NWR (Karyn Cichocki) – We had a male American Goldfinch and a male & female Purple Finch at the feeders. The goldfinches have been absent in the yard for several weeks now. A walk at Wallkill River NWR from Owens Station to Liberty Loop produced 41 species. Double-crested Cormorant & Osprey were circling around the pond at the parking lot. We had groups of Song & Swamp Sparrows joined by a Field & Chipping Sparrow. Several Palm and Yellow-rumped Warblers were feeding in the trees, and one Palm came down onto the path in front of us. Rusty Blackbirds were with a group of Red-winged Blackbirds. American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged & Blue-winged Teal pairs joined the vocal Pied-billed Grebes, Common Gallinule, and American Coots. As for shorebirds, we only saw a lone Greater Yellowlegs. On the way back, we were surprised to see a few Dark-eyed Juncos along the trail. Other points of interest were seeing a pair of very large snapping turtles mating, a garter snake slithering off the trail, and a variety of frogs calling. It was a great day.
4/11/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – I noticed that there weren’t any Dark-eyed Juncos around and the number of White-throated Sparrows has decreased, although we still have a good number of them in the yard. The morning is a bit quieter when I put the feeders out as there aren’t as many of them singing. Today, we were treated to a show by two male Red-winged Blackbirds. They were both puffed up, their shoulder patches quite visible, then they would throw their heads back and sing. After a while, they joined together for a bit of an aerial scuffle. I looked to see if there was a female around but didn’t see one.
4/8/21 – Wantage Twp (Allison Orsi) – The first-of-the-season warblers showed up in my yard! Two Palm Warblers flitting about the pond — what a pleasant surprise — along with the pickerel frogs and spring peepers calling; it seems to be spring!
4/7/21 – “Woodcocks at Wallkill” field trip (Marianne Ofenloch leader) – Six club members joined me for the second SCBC field trip of the year. We had mostly clear skies, little wind, and comfortable temps as we enjoyed the setting sun and some bird watching together at Wallkill River Nat’l Wildlife Refuge. We saw &/or heard 26 species, including a gobbler (male turkey) calling from the direction of a farm, so we couldn’t confirm if it was a Wild Turkey or a domestic bird. Highlights included very active, calling Killdeer and a Northern Harrier skimming over the fields at Owens Station. We struck out in our quest for Timberdoodles (American Woodcocks), but were surprised and delighted to see and hear Wilson’s Snipe as they flew over and around us. Looking forward to more trips this spring.
4/7/21 – Stillwater Twp (Eileen Mahler) – 6:30 this morning and the skies were diffused with a soft pink, lighting trees at the crest of a hill a soft pink-orange. Then at 7:30, one by one, 16 Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers dropped to the ground to feed for a brief 10 minutes in the field…spring migration is speeding up.
4/7/21 – Hyper Humus & Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – The variety of ducks at Hyper Humus was down but there were still good views with a scope of both Green-winged & Blue-winged Teals. There were 3 Pied-billed Grebes swimming around together. The first-of-the-year Swamp Sparrow and Eastern Phoebe were heard calling, and a group of at least five Golden-crowned Kinglets were fun to watch feeding in a cedar tree. Other birds seen were adult & sub-adult Bald Eagle, male Northern Harrier, Fish & American Crows, and Common Raven. Also spotted were a garter snake and 3 northern brown snakes. Here at home, the Chipping Sparrows, as well as the Northern Flicker, have started calling, and this morning, I heard my first-of-the-year Brown Thrasher singing from our neighbor’s tree. The White-throated Sparrows are sporting pin heads as their spring feathers are coming in, which makes them quite funny-looking. A white egg, probably from the Mourning Dove nest, was found in pieces on the driveway.
4/5/21 – Wallkill River NWR (Russ Edwards) – Seen at Liberty Loop: Sandhill Crane (2), immature Bald Eagle (1), Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Red-winged Blackbird, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Turkey Vulture, Mallard, Great Blue Heron
4/1/21 – Culvers Lake (Lee & Terry McQuillin) – Even with crazy winds, waves, and snow showers, 3 Common Loons were swimming and diving like it was a sunny day.
3/31/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – This morning, I had a new overhead yard bird with a pair of Wood Ducks flying over the house with the female calling. She then circled around and came back over the house, calling the whole time. Heard the first of the year Northern Mockingbird singing from down the street, as well as the European Starling that makes an Eastern Meadowlark call. As we haven’t had Eastern Meadowlarks here in many years, I wonder if the calls are passed down through generations, or if where this bird hangs out during the winter there are Eastern Meadowlarks and it picks it up from them. We had our first “yellow” American Goldfinch, with his molt almost completely finished, joined by his girlfriend. I noticed that the Mourning Doves are trying again to have their nest in the branch fork in one of our cedar trees. They were in the same tree last year, but the fork they chose was too open and the nest fell, thankfully before eggs were laid. This one has more branches involved and looks a bit sturdier and has allowed for them to make more of a nest. I’ve included a picture of a male Red-winged Blackbird. There were several under the feeder yesterday and they were showing off their red epaulets. What I’ve been noticing about the males we’ve had in the yard this year is that they still have brown plumage on their backs. I had a discussion about this with Giselle, Debbie, Donna, and Allison and it was thought that these were probably 1st year males and that those males don’t show as must coloring on their wings. These birds, however, do have wonderful wing markings.
3/29/21 – Newton (Kathy Wilson) – While not a bird, it does fly. We had a red bat flying in our back yard catching bugs for an extended period late afternoon today. A treat.
3/29/21 – Newton (Eileen Mahler) – Today our FOY Chipping Sparrow showed up at our feeder! American Goldfinch are the most numerous of birds constantly at the feeders. In addition, we also have 2 Song Sparrows, several Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, and Downy Woodpeckers. White-throated Sparrows have not been seen lately.
3/29/21 – Oak Ridge (Alice Piatek) – We are also down to about 2 Dark-eyed Juncos. I agree with Karyn that the female Northern Cardinals are very attractive in their subtlety. We continue to have visiting White-throated Sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, and now a few American Robins. A bear took down our feeder and suet basket last week, the evening of the heavy rains. We decided to leave them out the one night because the mud was very slippery down the hill. We always take our feeders in for the night.
3/29/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – We are down to about five Dark-eyed Juncos left in the yard, but two days ago, the White-throated Sparrow numbers increased and many are in breeding plumage. Two male American Robins were having a go at each other with lots of aerial fighting going on. The male Northern Cardinals get all the ohs & ahs but the females are quite attractive. Yesterday, a female Northern Flicker spent a good deal of time poking in the grass on the front lawn. The picture shows the mud on her beak. We usually can tell when they are around as they dig in the space between the cement walkway looking for ants and other bugs. The eastern chipmunks have come out of hibernation and have joined the other vacuum cleaners under the feeder: the gray & red squirrels. We have been taking our feeders in for two weeks now, but there was evidence of a bear’s attempted intrusion the other night when I noticed that the deer netting & posts were bent over slightly. I’ve since taken it down as I don’t want it trashed.
3/29/21 – Wantage Twp (Patty Hefferan) – For several years, one of our neighbors and ourselves have put very realistic plastic swans on our lake to keep Canada Geese away. We brought in them during the winter. This morning, I looked out the kitchen window and saw two very real swans on our lake. Amazing!
3/26/21 – Culvers Lake & Dingmans Ferry, PA (Bradley White) – After the note from Fred Weber, I ventured down to Culvers Lake to look for the fine fall-out of waterfowl he discovered. I was not disappointed. Long-tailed Duck had always been one of my favorite species and I was able to count as many as 84! With them, I saw 4 Red-breasted Merganser. Elsewhere on the lake, I spotted about 50 scaup, though I was too busy enjoying the Long-tailed Ducks to worry about determining which species. I also saw 5 Horned Grebe far out in the center of the lake. Many thanks to Fred for the timely notification! I had my first-of-the-year Chipping Sparrow at my feeder this weekend and a lone Golden-crowned Kinglet flitting around the yard. Some years, they can be found at my house all winter, but this year they have been absent. In addition, I had my first Pine Warbler of the year visiting the suet feeder briefly.
3/26/21 – Culvers Lake (Fred Weber) – Hundreds of ducks. Bad shimmer from clubhouse, but I saw a few scaup, a male Redhead, about 40 Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Merganser with hundreds of Common Mergansers, & American Wigeon. Also about 30 Horned Grebes. South winds are bringing them in. Too bad it’s so warm, too much shimmer.
3/23/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – Originally, I thought that the immature bird that has been hunting in the yard was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, but yesterday it was on our backyard walkway for quite some time, allowing for a good photo shoot and to get it correctly identified as an immature Cooper’s Hawk. After a two week absence, our pair of Carolina Wrens are back and chattering away to each other. When I’m putting the feeders back out in the morning, they are joined in their singing by the American Robins, Northern Cardinals, and White-throated Sparrows. We have also had a male Eastern Bluebird calling. The Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers are having a drumming competition using the various trees in the yard. The Red-bellied will fly onto the gutter just above where the peanut feeder is hanging and drum on it, and that sound vibrates through the whole house. At Hyper Humus, the flocks of Ring-necked Ducks were reduced to a half dozen and there were about the same numbers of Green-winged Teal, Buffleheads and Common Mergansers, joined by 3 American Black Ducks. A pair of Pied-billed Grebes joined the numerous Canada Geese and Mute Swans. The Song Sparrow numbers are increasing and many were sitting in the tops of bushes, singing.
3/20/21 – Culvers Lake (Lee & Terry McQuillin) – The Bald Eagles are at it again. An adult caught a fish and landed on the ice to eat it, closely followed by a juvenile who stole it away. The adult wrangled it back and re-dropped it on the ice as another juvenile swooped in. There was some animated action when the first juvenile picked up the fish and took off, but dropped the fish into the lake. At that point the other two split up to sit at different spots on the ice. The second juvenile circled the other two a few times, and then took off in flight. The first juvenile stayed for a while, but the adult stayed for at least an hour.
3/19/21 – Culvers Lake (Lee & Terry McQuillin) – We continue to be entertained by the local Bald Eagles, both adult and juvenile. Yesterday, we watched an adult eat a scrap of food on the ice before flying off. This morning, we had two juveniles visiting the same spot on the ice within minutes of each other. The spot looks like open water, but is apparently very clear ice. Both eagles tried to peck and jump on the spot to get at something. One even tried a “skating” technique, sliding side to side like a speed skater. Alas, they both came up empty. Coinciding with the eagle activity was some vying for position from the Mute Swans. The migrating birds (at least 6 this morning) taunt our local pair by landing close by. “Papa” then chases them until the birds are a safe distance away from his “territory.” This can go on all day!
3/19/21 – Hampton Twp (Sue Predl & Dave Pasake) – Tonight, we walked along The Great Valley Trail and were treated to our first spring peepers, two Eastern Phoebes, a Hairy Woodpecker, and a half dozen or so American Woodcocks, peenting, and flying around us at dusk.
3/18/21 – Culvers Lake (Lee & Terry McQuillin) – We have seen Bald Eagles all day long. The big count was 5 juveniles and 1 adult. They alternate between flying and standing on the ice. Those on the ice have been practicing social skills…posturing, hopping, wing shaking, chatting, attempting to fish, etc.
3/17/21 – “Spring-ish Lakes Tour” (Marianne Ofenloch leader) – Five club members joined me for the first SCBC field trip of the year. Seasonal temps & lack of wind were helpful, though light mist & fogged optics sometimes made viewing a bit challenging. We spent most of our time in Swartswood State Park, viewing birds on both lakes from several locations. Highlights included 2 active immature Bald Eagles over Swartswood Lake, 3 Horned Grebes (2 in breeding plumage) close to the shore, and a small flock of 16 Cedar Waxwings near the park beach. After we had scope views of the Bald Eagle pair and other birds at Little Swartswood Lake, we took a short lunch break before heading to Paulinskill Lake & the SC Homestead pond (both fairly quiet). Culvers Lake is still mostly frozen, though the coming rain might change that. We saw &/or heard a total of 37 species & enjoyed a day in the field again.
3/16/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – This past week, we have had both the adult female Cooper’s Hawk and an immature Sharp-shinned Hawk, which I think is a male, hunting in the yard. When I put the feeders out the other morning, the Sharpie was flying through the rhododendron after one of the birds. I’ve also heard an Eastern Bluebird calling. An American Robin has been feeding on the front lawn the past couple of days and today we had 4 Song Sparrows and the first Chipping Sparrow of the year on the front lawn, feeding on grass seed. Although there are fewer birds under the backyard feeders, I still see the same number of White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos in the yard; they are just spread around.
3/15/21 – Culvers Lake (Lee & Terry McQuillin) – We had quite a show today! We were watching an otter playing on the ice (a rare treat). He dove in and caught a pretty good sized fish that he brought onto the ice to eat. Within seconds, a Bald Eagle dove down and snatched the fish away. The poor otter dove back in, but kept popping up to see if the eagle and his food were still there. A few minutes later, a very large juvenile Bald Eagle swooped down and had some action with the adult. They were, for no better word, wrestling. They were hopping and flapping their wings very aggressively, with the juvenile looking like it had the advantage. The fight stopped abruptly and the juvenile took off, leaving the adult to enjoy his snatched catch.
3/15/21 – Belvidere (Dave Pasake) – While out for a ride in Warren County, we stopped at Belvidere Boat Launch on Delaware River and were treated to our first sighting of Tree Swallows. At least 100 birds were in a large flock above the trees and river, perhaps hawking an invertebrate hatch. Behavior continued for the 15 minutes we spent at location. Spring is on its way!
3/15/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – This morning, I noticed something moving under a bush out in the corner of the backyard, which I thought was a woodchuck as it has a hole back there. When I put the bins on it, I saw that it was the female Cooper’s Hawk and that she was eating something. Later on, I checked it out and she did get the pheasant that we saw her go after the other day. I’m assuming this is a Ring-necked Pheasant but couldn’t tell.
3/14/21 – Search for Eagles trip (Jack Padalino leader) -The season’s final Brandwein Field Trip took place in the Delaware Valley Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. It was a clear sunny day, then partially cloudy, and at the confluence of the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers we had a snow squall. We began by watching feeder birds at PEEC where skeins of Canada Geese flew high above heading north. We counted a half dozen skeins of geese with a total of over 600 birds during the day. Nine participants, wearing face covering and social distancing, logged 146 miles in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Upper Delaware Scenic River from PEEC to the Bushkill Access and the trip’s conclusion at the headwaters of the Lackawaxen River. 31 species of birds were seen, including 16 Bald Eagles (12 adults and 4 juveniles,) 17 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Cooper’s Hawk, and 3 Common Ravens.
3/13/21 – Montague & Culvers Lake (Marianne Ofenloch) – The warm weather of the past week has been just one of the signs of spring beginning to increase in our area. I was thrilled to see snowdrops in bloom in an exposed patch of ground alongside the still-deep snowbanks in my yard. The numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows have been decreasing, while Common Grackles, American Robins, and (ugh) House Sparrows began to visit again. On Friday night after sunset, I saw and, surprisingly, heard a bat that was flying overhead in the Culvers Lake area. Looking forward to all the new season has to offer. Happy spring, everyone!
3/12/21 – Wallkill River NWR, Liberty Marsh (Karyn Cichocki) – Although a bit windy, Allison Orsi, Debbie Bifulco, and I had a nice walk on the trail this morning. We had 2 immature and 1 adult Bald Eagle flying amongst the many American Crows and Ring-billed Gulls. The water level is high and the ice is melting so the ducks are showing up and we had a nice variety – Mallard, American Black Duck, Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Common Merganser, & Hooded Mergansers. We could also hear the Ring-neckeds calling. We also saw a turtle sunning itself and heard the first spring peeper of the year and watched a muskrat feeding on the ice.
3/11/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – Around 5:30 this evening, a female Cooper’s Hawk was quite adventurous when she tried to catch a Ring-necked Pheasant. It actually hit the pheasant enough that feathers went flying and the pheasant went over the stone wall into our neighbor’s yard and the hawk flew up into the cedar tree along the stone wall. Then the pheasant back came over the stone wall only to have the hawk come at it again, and then they both went back over the stone wall into the neighbor’s yard and we lost sight of them. We had the first American Robins of the year in the yard tonight as well.
3/9/21 – Pike County, PA (Jack Padalino) – At 3:30pm, I was watching a female Bald Eagle at Route 209 at Zimmerman Flats. Above me to the west along the ridge was a large blackish brown bird with a bright white tail with a broad dark terminal band. The bird had large white wing patches at the base of its inner primary and secondary feathers. A Golden Eagle in February – March Spring migration. Most of these birds migrate in March. It was migrating along the ridge where updrafts were favorable during this 55 degree bright sunny day.
3/9/21 – Lafayette (Karyn Cichocki) – This morning, I heard the Red-winged Blackbirds calling from the marsh area down the street from our house. Although they have been in the yard, this is the first time they have been calling. Yesterday, the yard looked like a shot from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”. There were groups of American Crows in the tops of the trees in our yard and our neighbor’s yard and they were chatting to each other. It is very interesting to listen to crows having conversations with each other – they make all kinds of sounds.
3/7/21 – Search for Eagles trip (Jack Padalino leader) – The trip took place in the Delaware Valley from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. It was a cold, partly cloudy day with lots of snow on the ground. All roads were clear and navigable. We began by watching feeder birds including Hairy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Junco, Blue Jays, and Pileated Woodpecker among others. Six participants, wearing face covering and social distancing logged 144 miles in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Upper Delaware Scenic River from PEEC to the Bushkill Access and the trip’s conclusion at the headwaters of the Lackawaxen River. 33 species of birds were seen, including 15 Bald Eagles (10 adults and 5 juveniles), 12 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Cooper’s Hawk, 2 Common Ravens, and a Common Loon.
3/4/21 – various locations (Karyn Cichocki) – There were flocks of American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, and Cedar Waxwings along the parking lot embankment at Swartswood State Park. As I was leaving the park, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew across the road. Paulinskill Lake had Common & Hooded Mergansers, American Black Ducks, Bufflehead, Ring-necked & Wood Ducks, and Mallards along with lots of Canada Geese. Also spotted flying were two pairs of either Green-winged or Blue-winged Teal, but they were too far away for me to be able to make a positive ID. It is nice to see the ducks returning. The past few days here at home in Lafayette Twp, we have had increasing numbers of male Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, and Brown-headed Cowbirds. This morning we had our first female Red-winged Blackbird. About 100 American Crows have taken up residence in the tree line in back of our neighbor’s house across the street from us. There are several houses nearby and I’m sure they aren’t happy with the racket the crows are making, it is quite noisy in the early morning and evening.
2/24/21 – Newton (Giselle Smisko) – (night) Heard at least two Killdeer calling. Happy to hear the Red-winged Blackbirds calling from the swamp on the edge of our yard, Northern Cardinals singing, and a few Common Grackles have shown up at the feeder.
2/26/21 – Montague (Marianne Ofenloch) – One of the male Eastern Bluebirds returned to the mealworm cake feeder this morning…after I retrieved one of the two cakes that had fallen on the ground. The other cake was carried off by an annoyingly brilliant gray squirrel who finally figured out how to open the feeder door. The bushy-tailed thief has now figured out a way to eat from almost every feeder, regardless of baffles or other so-called squirrel guards and deterrents; it seems to ignore only the nyjer seed feeders. Bare ground is finally showing in the driveway…c’mon Spring!
2/24/21 – Wantage & Lafayette Twps (Karyn Cichocki) – I was traveling on Roy Rd. in Wantage and saw 2 immature and 1 adult White-crowned Sparrows. Here at home in Lafayette, spring is definitely in the air. The Red-bellied & Downy Woodpeckers have started drumming on the local trees and the Red-bellied has also used our gutter, which is really loud in the house. Early morning brings the song of the Northern Cardinal and I heard the sweet song of a Dark-eyed Junco, which is a slow trill similar to a Chipping Sparrow. The Tufted Titmice are happily singing their “cheer cheer”, and the Common Grackles and Red-wing Blackbirds are showing up under the feeders almost every day now. We are finally seeing patches of grass in the yard, and I’m sure once more is visible that American Robins will be showing up.
2/24/21 – Fredon Twp (Sharon & Wade Wander) – This Red-shouldered Hawk (a State Endangered local breeder) has been hanging around our Fredon Twp. yard ever since the deep snow more than 3 weeks ago made hunting small mammals almost impossible. It didn’t seem to be able to hunt birds successfully despite the scores of Dark-eyed Juncos and a big flock of mixed blackbirds that have been inundating our yard. But it must have been watching the Common Grackles and woodpeckers feasting on our beef suet, and today it made its move and cleaned out a full cage that lacked a top. We hope this new food source helps the bird make it through these tough times. Photo taken through a window and a few snowflakes.
2/19/21 – Montague Twp (Marianne Ofenloch) – More than 5 years ago, I installed a mealworm cake feeder in the hopes of attracting Eastern Bluebirds, who are known to eat mealworms and who have nested in my yard for many years. While the feeder has attracted a wide variety of birds, including sparrows, finches, woodpeckers, and even a Hermit Thrush that fed on the cakes throughout the fall & winter of 2017, the bluebirds never paid a visit…until the snowstorm on the 19th. What a delightful surprise to finally see their bright colors against the backdrop of snow and bark! They were visiting daily afterwards, though they often didn’t stay for more than an hour. Competition from Blue Jays and gray squirrels kept them moving. But on the 22nd, after a hawk (most likely a Cooper’s Hawk) nabbed a Mourning Dove in the same tree from which the feeder hangs, the bluebirds have not returned for a worm. Still, hope springs eternal…and they’re sure to be active at the nest box soon. Ice is melting, Spring is coming!
2/14/21 – Search for Eagles trip (Jack Padalino, leader) – The season’s third trip took place in the Delaware Valley from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The temperature at the start was 19 degrees and at the finish 30 degrees. It was a cloud covered gray day with 31 inches of snow on the ground; however, all roads were clear and navigable. We began by watching feeder birds including two Red-shouldered Hawks at PEEC, Hairy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Junco, Blue Jays, and Pileated Woodpecker among others. Total of 35 species of birds were seen on the trip. Nine participants, wearing face covering and social distancing, logged 141 miles in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Upper Delaware Scenic River from PEEC to the Bushkill Access and the trip’s conclusion at the headwaters of the Lackawaxen River.
2/14/21 – various locations (Don & Donna Traylor) – We took a driving tour of Sussex County this afternoon to see what was around. Phil Hardin Rd in Fredon Twp (near Springhouse Farm) had 44+ Horned Larks working the spread manure areas. Compton Rd in Wantage Twp had male and female Pileated Woodpeckers about 20 ft from the road (the image was taken with my point and shoot camera). 25+ Wild Turkeys were walking down Beemer Rd near the Ricker farm (also in Wantage). The feeders at the Cosh Farm on Sally Hardin Rd just up from Beemer Rd had a good mix of typical feeder birds including American Tree Sparrow. There were Dark-eyed Juncos along most roads trying to feed. There were many Red-tailed Hawks no matter where we were. The bonus was at Kuperus Meadows Farm on County Route 651 (Unionville Rd) in Wantage. There was a mixed flock of at least 120+ Horned Larks and 15+ Snow Buntings. They were at the manure spread close to the road (be careful pulling over).
2/14/21 – Montague Twp (Marianne Ofenloch) – A pair of House Finches visit the feeders once in a while and a lone American Goldfinch visits even less often; the Purple Finches continue to be absent. Dark-eyed Junco numbers seem to be decreasing again while Song Sparrows have increased to three. An eastern cottontail was spotted for the first time since the deep snowfall, moving in and out of what appears to be a hollow dug into the snow under the shrubs where the sparrows retreat when one of the two Cooper’s Hawks zoom into the yard. The ice jams in the gutters have begun to create huge icicles and have spread into the soffits as yet another snowfall is forecast for this week…but it was nice to hear the hope of spring being sung by Tufted Titmice and Black-capped Chickadees as I tried to chop away some of the ice. The days are lengthening, so there’s more time to see and hear birds, and the white stuff should melt eventually. Hope everyone enjoys some good birds and sunshine this week!
2/7/21 – Fredon Twp (Bob & Kathy Wilson) – We saw a Snow Bunting in our neighborhood in Fredon on Oak Tree Road today. One was recently reported on Phil Hardin Road recently which is nearby. I should also note that we also saw Eastern Bluebirds and a Red-tailed Hawk flying in our neighborhood, which we’ve also seen hanging around our yard being pestered by crows and ignored by all the other birds. We had hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and European Starlings at the feeders today along with the regulars. We had a record eight Northern Cardinals in our pussy willow by the feeders recently.
2/5/21 – Andover Twp (Deborah Bifulco) – Hubby and I had just started breakfast when I spotted a Common Redpoll at the feeders just outside the window. I nearly upended the table getting my camera and managed to get a few shots before they took off. There were three, all either females or immature birds, and seemed to be traveling with some American Goldfinches. Also had a big flock of 40-50 Common Grackles descend, followed by about 20 Red-winged Blackbirds and several Brown-headed Cowbirds. I’m up to five Song Sparrows and one little American Tree Sparrow at the feeders. The leucistic Dark-eyed Junco is still here as well as a piebald leucistic White-throated Sparrow. Otherwise, all the usual suspects.
2/5/21 – Frankford Twp (Fred Weber) – Adult White-crowned Sparrow, corner Meyer Rd. and Plains Rd., brushy thicket by barn yard. Frankford Plains area used to host 15-20 White-crowneds, whittled down to 1 or 2 in recent winters. They’re taking a hit from neonic pesticides because they’re attracted to agricultural areas during migration.
2/3/21 – Lafayette Twp etc. (Karyn Cichocki) – We also had an American Tree Sparrow along with the crowd of Mourning Doves, White-throated Sparrows, & Dark-eyed Juncos. The Song Sparrow count is up to 2 and American Goldfinches up to 3. We also have the DE Juncos going on to not only the thistle feeder successfully but also the peanut feeder. We had a female Brown-headed Cowbird. On my way to the Main Library next to the Homestead and back I saw large flocks of mixed blackbirds on various roads in Augusta and Lafayette.
2/3/21 – Oak Ridge (Alice Piatek) – We had plenty of visitors at our feeder and suet basket the last few days. Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, some European Starlings, Northern Cardinals, Mourning Doves, and Blue Jays. After a long lull in visitors, it was wonderful to see.
2/3/21 – Andover Twp (Deborah Bifulco) – Not surprisingly, my feeders have been flooded with birds for the last few days. Notable newcomers have been two American Tree Sparrows and 2 Song Sparrows. I also have had groups of 20 or more Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles. Smaller group of European Starlings and a handful of Brown-headed Cowbirds have been coming and going. Peak numbers of Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows numbering 30 or more each day.
The leucistic Dark-eyed Junco that showed up on 31 December is still a daily visitor in the yard, which answers a question I always had about whether the juncos in my yard in the winter are moving around or staying near our yard. One interesting thing that’s happened this winter is that several of the DE juncos have discovered the thistle feeders (including the leucistic bird) and often try to chase the American Goldfinches away (not usually successfully). I don’t ever recall seeing DE juncos eating thistle this much in prior years and it only appears to be a small number of individual birds who’ve developed a taste for it.
2/2/21 – Fredon Twp (Wade & Sharon Wander) – During the height of the storm, we saw an adult female Cooper’s Hawk feeding on a victim (probably a Common Grackle) in our back yard. It is a female because of its large size (compare it to the American Crow in the foreground). While it was feeding, most of the other birds returned, some within a few feet of the hawk. Photos were taken through a window and hundreds of snow flakes. More than 100 Dark-eyed Juncos and more than 20 White-throated Sparrows, many Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, 1 Song Sparrow, and the other usual suspects, but no Fox Sparrows or American Tree Sparrows, both of which used to be regular visitors following snowstorms.
2/1 & 2/2/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – During the snowstorm, there was a feeding frenzy. At one point, we had 5 male Northern Cardinals and 2 females, 1 Common Grackle, 1 male Red-winged Blackbird, 3 Brown-headed Cowbirds (2 males 1 female), 2 American Goldfinches along with the usual group of many Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Mourning Doves, House Sparrows, a couple of House Finches, and a lone White-breasted Nuthatch. The suet feeder was visited by both pairs of Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers. This morning, there are a few birds after I managed to shovel a path to the feeder & birdbath and throw out some mixed seed. But I was happy to see the Carolina Wren return to pick at the door frame and boot scraper.
1/30/21 – Annual Dr. S. Marie Kuhnen Memorial NJ North Coast Field Trip (Jack Padalino, leader) – One Sussex County Bird Club member joined me to enjoy the birding. We logged 289 miles from & to Ross’s Corner from 7:30 a.m. through 7:30 p.m., a 12-hr day. Temps ranged from 2 to 31 degrees Fahrenheit. Winds from the northwest were btwn 10-30 mph. The shore tour began at Manasquan Inlet’s south jetty Point Pleasant Beach where there was an abundance of Common Loons as well as a Long-tailed Ducks (Oldsquaw.) Notable among the 43 bird species observed were Razorbills, Black Scoter, as well as a Pacific Loon. Also seen: Red-throated Loon, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorants, many Mute Swans & Brant at Shark River, Canada Goose, 15 duck species – American Wigeon, Gadwall, Mallard, American Black Duck, Redhead, Greater & Lesser Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, many Common Eider, a King Eider, Black Scoters, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Merganser & many Hooded Mergansers, & Ruddy Duck. American Coot. Shorebirds: Purple Sandpiper & Sanderling. Five gulls: Great Black-backed, Bonaparte’s, Herring, Lesser Black-backed, & Ring-billed. Three Razorbills spotted from Manasquan inlet. Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, American & Fish Crows, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinal, European Starling, Song Sparrow, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle, House Finch, & House Sparrow. Look forward to next winter’s 2022 North Shore field trip.
1/29/21 – Fredon Twp (Wade & Sharon Wander) – Our main new visitors during this bitter cold have been Brown-headed Cowbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Common Grackles. We have had this male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker for most of the winter at suet and sunflower seeds, but his latest feeding favorite is a cake of dried mealworms and sunflower hearts. This is also a big hit with Downy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Juncos, Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens, and the occasional American Goldfinch. It was so popular that we had to put out 3 more cakes. Photo was taken through a window.
1/22/21 – Lafayette Twp (Karyn Cichocki) – Today we had 13 Mourning Doves joining the group of regulars under the feeder. The Cooper’s Hawk has been hanging around the yard so the birds have been a bit scarce this past week. Late this afternoon there was a Brown Creeper foraging on the various tree trunks in the front yard. I haven’t seen one in the yard in several years.
1/20/21 – Wawayanda State Park & Hewitt yard (Russ Edwards) – Belted Kingfisher at main road, bench overlooking wetlands (opposite campsite road). Red-breasted Nuthatch continues intermittently at feeders. Note: NJDEP is culling the wooded areas around campsites and old iron furnace in effort to control infestation of Emerald Ash Borer.
1/20/21 – Oak Ridge (Alice Piatek) – I discovered just this morning the possible reason we may have less birds. I saw several Tufted Titmice fly across the road and followed them by sight. Lo and behold a neighbor a few doors down has 3 feeders attached to the deck. One is the large squirrel buster feeder which I also have. Hmmmm.
1/14/21 – Wallkill River Nat’l Wildlife Refuge (Mike Tracy) – I took a walk at the Liberty Loop; saw a few Northern Harriers and a few Red-shouldered Hawks including a young bird that is very photo friendly; also saw a Rough-legged Hawk. Was a bit surprised to find an Eastern Phoebe in the section where the trail passes through the area with trees on both sides; it stayed high up in the trees.
1/14/21 – Newton; Lafayette & Frankford Twps (Karyn Cichocki) – Mourning Doves – although not uncommon birds, I’ve been seeing large flocks of them. Today, there were at least 100 on the high tension wires across from Kohls in Newton; last week, between 30-40 on the wires near the intersection of Warbasse Junction Rd. & Rt. 94 on two days that I went by there. Common Grackles – today, there was a flock of probably 1,000 birds feeding in the corn field on Augusta Hill Rd. just south of Rt. 206 in Augusta. Here at home in Lafayette, we had a Cooper’s Hawk come into the yard that was hopping around on the ground around the feeder and in the bushes around the feeder. There have been several times this past week when there was not a bird in sight nor were any chattering, so I figured something was around but didn’t spot anything up in the trees.
1/12/21 – SCMUA, Lafayette Twp (Fred Weber) – Immature Glaucous Gull (after almost 2 hours of looking) and adult Lesser Black-backed Gull. (Please follow guidelines for birding at SCMUA as posted elsewhere on this website.)
1/12/21 – Fredon Twp (Sharon & Wade Wander) – The red phase Eastern Screech-Owl is back in the tree cavity in Fredon Township that it occupied last year. Once or twice last year we saw a gray phase bird in the same cavity. We see or hear Red-shouldered Hawks from our yard in Fredon Township almost daily. For many years a pair nested in the forest fragment next to our house. After this photo was taken of one adult we woke the next morning to two sitting side-by-side in a large Sugar Maple about 70 feet from our front door.
1/12/21 – Montague Twp (Marianne Ofenloch) – Over the past week, the number of yard birds seems to have been decreasing, esp. in the afternoon. There’s no shortage of White-throated Sparrows or Black-capped Chickadees, but Dark-eyed Juncos and the various finches have been sparse at best. I thought perhaps the neighbor’s marauding cat could be the main reason, but over the last 2 days, an adult Cooper’s Hawk has been making attack runs in the yard in the late afternoon. A look out the window one minute yields the regulars feeding, and then a subsequent look is into an empty or near-empty yard, sometimes with a bird frozen in place on a branch. Within a few minutes — zoom! The raptor either speeds after a passerine or perches in the garden on the remains of a snapped young tree to survey the vegetation. Its eyes are too sharp for me to get a photo; even if I reach for the camera slowly, it notices and heads into the trees. Haven’t seen it succeed at a hunt yet, but it’s surely only a matter of time.
1/10/21 – Search for Eagles trip (Jack Padalino leader) – It was a pleasant sunny day that began with watching feeder birds including Hairy Woodpeckers, Dark-eyed Junco, Blue Jays, and Pileated Woodpecker among others. 16 participants, wearing face covering and social distancing logged 151 miles in the Delaware Water Gap Nat’l Rec. Area and Upper Delaware Scenic River from PEEC to the Bushkill Access and the trip’s conclusion at the headwaters of the Lackawaxen River. 31 species of birds were seen, including 24 Bald Eagles (BE), 8 Red-tailed Hawks, 1 Sharp-shinned Hawk, and 3 Common Ravens.
1/5/21 – Oak Ridge (Alice Piatek & Alan Gutmore) – For more than 3 weeks, we have had only a few of our usual visitors occasionally at our feeders: Dark-eyed Juncos, Black-capped Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, Northern Cardinals, White-throated Sparrows, White-breasted Nuthatches, woodpeckers, Blue Jays. We have 2 mixed seed feeders including black-oil sunflower seeds, suet, and thistle. Is anyone in the club experiencing a decrease in feeder visitors? Could there be a hawk in the area for more than 3 weeks? Could it be a cat? We do have occasional paw prints seen in the snow. Could it be environmental and habitat degradation? I have read that common species have been observed on the decline. We are concerned. It is very eerily quiet out there. It’s unsettling.
1/1/2021 – Frankford Twp (Don & Donna Traylor) – Great Horned Owl calling at 12:20 am; 14 more yard birds added to the growing yearly list including 20 Mourning Doves, 12 American Goldfinch, 15 House Finches, numerous Dark-eyed Juncos, Red-tailed Hawk, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, & Black-capped Chickadee (plus our mink in the stream). Swartswood Lake: American Wigeon, Ring-necked duck, scaup sp., Mallard, Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser, American Black Duck, Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, White-throated & Song Sparrows, Eastern Bluebirds, & a calling Red-shouldered Hawk. A mature Bald Eagle was at Little Swartswood and an immature at Swartswood. Culvers Lake: added Pied-billed Grebe & Mute Swan. Roy Road in Wantage: Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Red-shouldered Hawk. We finished the first day of the year with 41 species.