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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.
4/1/21 – 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.