Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Redpolls are coming! The Redpolls are here!

Photos by Bernie, words by Maeve

Several weeks back, we posted Northern Birds On Their Way! This is an irruption year, when several species that usually stay in Canada all year were expected to show up in Vermont, driven here by poor cone and seed crops in the north. 

For the past week, we've been enjoying a good-sized flock of one of these species! Common Redpolls have descended en masse, over 50 at a time, twittering in all the trees, flitting about from feeder to feeder, covering parts of the back yard.

The males of these uncommonly adorable birds have dark red on the tops of their heads and rosy pink on their breasts. Females also have the little red "polls". 

Adult males are greatly outnumbered in "our" flock. We've got mostly adult females and immature males, birds hatched in 2020. Many males apparently stay in Canada to guard their chosen breeding territories.

The big and busy redpoll flock sometimes keeps us from noticing other visitors: 

House Finch

Tree Sparrow

Red-breasted Nuthatch - another irruption specialty!

Tufted Titmouse

White-breasted Nuthatch

Black-capped Chickadee

And a few more redpolls, just because they're so darned cute! 
Photos by Bernie, words by Maeve

        The Redpolls are probably surprised if not bewildered after traveling from their deep Northern lands of Canada, to Vermont, to then find sunflower seeds in Christmas (Balsam) trees.

Emailed Comments
Thank SO much for sharing your photos - now and every time! But especially this week. I really need to remember this joy of Redpolls.
Thanks for all you do to create community!

Thank you for sharing. Beautiful photos on your blog!

Very timely!  We saw a pair at our feeder this afternoon and had to key them out.  We live in Westford near the Common.

We have seen them too over here on Creekside Rd!  So darn cute! 

Yes the red polls were at my feeder today also. I was so happy to see them. Happy watching. Patty 

Nice photos, Maeve! Thanks for sharing that. I also have yet to find a redpoll that I would call a Hoary, but I keep looking! Despite seeing many flocks of redpolls around here, we've only had one solitary bird visit our feeder briefly, and it didn't stick around. But we'll keep hoping.
Dave G.. Cornwall

Thanks for posting this -- now I know I wasn't imagining the flock I saw at my house a couple of days ago!  First I saw a pair of what I was pretty sure were Redpolls, under my front porch feeders.  Haven't seen one in decades.  Then while walking my dog I heard tremendous twittering and looked up to see at least 40 birds in the tops of a row of birch trees.  Besides the lovely sound, I was struck by the way many of them seemed to be hanging upside down from the smallest twigs.  I could have watched them for ages.  I was so far away that I couldn't identify them with any certainty, but everything about them made me feel they were not one of our usual birds.  I tried to sneak closer but they took off, wheeling around several times in a very dramatic fashion, and then took off in the direction of your house.  It was really thrilling.  

Objectively described, the Redpoll is very similar to a House Finch, but in person they had a very different look.  They seem whiter, with a delicate watercolor wash of pale pink.  Really adorable, and I hope I'll see them again.


Monday, December 14, 2020

Jericho Take Count Dec 19-20 : Christmas Birds

Jericho & nearby towns 
Take Count 
reports from residents


From the Morse Family

Hey Bernie-

Here's our family's data.  Thank you for championing this event and being so kindly and inviting.  Give Maeve our best too!  These are the birds that we saw in Jericho and recorded over both the 19th & 20th per your guidelines.  Let me know if you have any questions:

5 Dark-eyed juncos
4 Black-capped chickadees
2 White-breasted nuthatches
2 Tufted titmice
1 Downy woodpecker
7 American crows
1 Barred owl
2 Northern cardinals
1 Blue heron

My 6-year old granddaughter, a Daisy Scout from NYC who sold 500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies last year and LOVES the great outdoors, and I discovered a bird's nest on the ground that must have blown down out of a tree over night.  Not sure if you might be able to identify what species of bird made this nest?  Attaching a photo of Ruthie and the nest beside the trailhead sign to her path...

and also the Barred owl-  my wife Maura and I were surprised by the wingspan when it suddenly flew off. 

[Measurements from Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
Both Sexes
Length: 16.9-19.7 in (43-50 cm)
Weight: 16.6-37.0 oz (470-1050 g)
Wingspan: 39.0-43.3 in (99-110 cm)]

Steeplebush birders:

Our son Joe Morse
His wife Aryn Morse
Their 10-year old son Kieran Morse
Their 6-year old daughter Ruthie Morse 
(all four on loan from NYC for about 1 month)
My wife Maura Morse

Best regards and Happy holidays!
Michael Morse

 PS, I got excited this morning when I heard what I thought was a pileated woodpecker down our road...  It turned out to be a Suncommon work crew installing solar panels on our neighbor's roof!

Barred Owl photos and comments from Jim Carroll of Jericho

What is fascinating is that it is actually looking the other way, turned its head 180 degrees. It was hunting there 4 an hour or more. I just love the natural phenomenon of how does a 180-degree head turn still have a 100 % feather match up. 

It comes around and is very self-confident. I have been trying to get a pic of the Hawks. No luck yet.

They are so magnificent. ~Jim Carroll

                            Looking North
Looking East

 Looking West


From Bert of Jericho
Recently at our bird feeder, we have seen:
up to 30 mourning doves
6 blue jays
male Pileated woodpecker
3 Downy woodpecker
2 Hairy woodpecker
dozen chickadee's (of different types)
4 - 6 juncos /starlings
male & female cardinal

From Angelike of Jericho

 I had expected to see more, but here's what I came up with at our homes in the Foothills Devt, Jericho on Dec. 19/20. 

3 Cardinals
1 Bluejay
3 American Crows
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 chickadee

The blog posts look great with what everyone else found this weekend!

Angelike Contis 


From Louanne of Jericho

Bernie and Maeve,

Nice spotting of a Black-tipped Tail Weasel.  Yesterday, I saw a Red Fox, but it was in 
Williston on my CBC route which I'll bird tomorrow,

I was home in Jericho all day and watched my feeders.  Not a lot of activity and I 
didn't report it to eBird.

Here are the sightings: 
2 Downy Woodpeckers, 1 m, 1 f
2 Hairy Woodpeckers, 1 m, 1 f
2 Blue Jays
1 American Crow - flyover
8 Black-capped Chickadees  (seen at one time)
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 White-breasted Nuthatch
1 American Goldfinch
2 Cardinals, 1 m, 1 f

Thanks for doing this and the tabulations.


From Bob of Jericho

I saw a flock of 20 pine grosbeaks in two places, Jeri hill apts, and river road by the school. Also, hairy and downy, tree sparrow, b c chickadees, crow, blue jay, m. Dove, pigeon, junco, cardinal. Missed turkey and nuthatch, which are usual suspects. 

Bob Weber
                             From Andrea of Westford

We had lots of birds, as usual, but we had an owl & a pileated woodpecker that’s been hanging around for the last couple of weeks. 
 Here is the owl :)
Andrea Sprague


Bernie and Maeve observed the following on Dec 19-20 in the backyard.
1 Northern Cardinal 
6 Black-Capped Chickadee
7 Mourning Dove
9 House Finch
2 American Goldfinch
7 Blue Jay
3 Dark-Eyed Junco
2 White-Breasted Nuthatch
1 Tree Sparrow
2 Tufted Titmouse
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Hairy Woodpecker
& 1 Ermine

Bird Count Captures surprise visitor

While watching and counting birds, Bernie spotted a small white creature, about 7 to 13 inches long with a black-tipped tail - coming out from under the snow. I did not get a photo - she sure moves about quickly. But you can see the same kind of creature I spotted by watching this youtube. So cute! 

Here are some of the birds Maeve and I have observed in our backyard in November this year. 

White-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker

Note the black flecks in the outer tail feathers of the Downy Woodpecker (photo above). Bill is about half the length of the head.

Note the outer tail feathers of the Hairy Woodpecker photo below) are pure white. Bill is almost as long as the head.

 Hairy Woodpecker

Red-breasted Nuthatch 
(They seem to particularly like unsalted peanuts)

White-breasted Nuthatch 
(They also seem to particularly like unsalted peanuts)

Black-capped Chickadee

Blue Jay

House Finch

Covid Haircut

Mark the dates: Dec 19 & 20 and send Bernie your counts, photos, comments after Take Count Day(s).

Bernie & Maeve

"We put our minds together as one and thank all the birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them the gift of beautiful songs. Each morning they greet the day and with their songs remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader and to watch over the world. To all the Birds, from the smallest to the largest, we send our joyful greetings and thanks.
 Now our minds are one."
From Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer


Dec 19-20 Jericho 
and surrounding towns Bird Count

Last year a group of us joined ranks for a first trial run of a Jericho/Underhill Christmas Bird CountThe Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, performed annually in the early Northern-hemisphere winter by volunteer birdwatchers and administered by the National Audubon Society.

There will not be an official CBC in Jericho this year. However, we are inviting you all to join us in observing and recording birds in Jericho/Underhill - be it in your backyard or elsewhere in either town for an unofficial Jericho/Underhill 'Take Count' on December 19 & 20. Then send us a list and (optional) photos as well as anything you would like to share about your bird count experience. We will publish the results on this blog. 

Here are the guidelines.
  1. Observe birds anywhere in Jericho or Underhill any time on December 19 and 20 or either of the two days.
  2. Record the highest count seen at any one time for each species observed. For example, if at 10 AM on Dec 19 you see 3 chickadees and 1 Blue Jay, then at 11 AM you see 2 chickadees, and on Dec 20 at 4pm you see 1 chickadee and 2 Blue Jays - Record 3 chickadees, and 2 Blue Jays for the count. Same way with any other species that you see.
  3. Send your highest at-one-time count for each species. Note which town (Jericho or Underhill) each was observed in, and your name, to Bernie.paquette@yahoo.com. 
  4. Optional: Send in photo(s) of any birds observed during the two days.
  5. Optional: Tell us your Take Count two-day experience, bird story, or comments so that we can share with others.
  6. We will post the counts, photos, stories, comments on a blog post.
Will you Take the Count for Jericho or Underhill? We hope you will join in the count and share your observations, and of course, enjoy time watching our avian neighbors. 

 by Bernie