I'm an avid birder and nature photographer wishing to share some of my sightings & images taken while out in the "wilds" of Cape Ann and surrounding New England countryside. More images can be found on my web site at New England Birds Plus Enjoy, Phil Brown

"Click" on any image below for a larger version....

Comments & Question - nebirdsplus@gmail.com

New England Birds Plus Images on SmugMug

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cliff Swallows - Newbury, MA - May 30, 2011

Seeing Cliff Swallows flying above one of the many small streams in Newbury caused me to stop and take a closer look. With the birds flying under the bridge I decided to look closer and found several quietly building their nests for this years batch of youngsters.

The brief video below shows the pair adding "real estate" to their soon to be completed nest.

One mouthful at a time they bring the mud to the nest, placing the current beak-full on top of the last. That's a lot of trips!

You can see the recent work outlined as darker mud in the image above. This nest just needs an entrance hole like the one shown below and it's ready for eggs.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Great Horned Owls - Mt Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA - May 22, 2011

A few more photos and two videos of both the young and adult Great Horned Owls that nested in the Mt Auburn Cemetery this spring. First a photo of one of the adults sitting in the Dell with a rabbit in it's talons, breakfast for the young owls?

A brief video showing the owl above and it's mate being mobbed by a dozen or so Crows as it watched the nest from a few hundred feet away.

An image of one of the young owlets sitting just outside of the nest as it preens.

and a brief video of the two young owlets with myself and several other photographers, birders and generla public chatting in the background.

Great Horned Owls - May 22, 2011 - Mt. Auburn Cemetery from Phil Brown on Vimeo.
A pair of young Great Horned Owls spent their days in a spike filled Hawthorne Tree. This was shot a few days prior to the leaving the nest. The 2nd owlet is at the end of the video, sitting 20' higher in the tree than it's sibling.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A stop this morning along J.B. Little Road in Groveland turned up a Common Moorhen calling alongside the road

Warblers and Others - May 22 and 23, 2011

Cherry Hill Reservoir in West Newbury had dozens of these curious Yellow Warblers chasing each other around it's brushy shores.

The restrooms at Hellcat were alive with warblers on the 23rd. This Chestnut-sided Warbler stopped just long enough for a quick shot.

An empidonax flycatcher, silent and moving slowly through the brush, added a bit of muted color to the scene.

and hanging around the parking lot at Hellcat was this Wild Turkey, as if waiting for hand outs it sat on the railings in the parking lot. Truly a face only a mother could love...:)

Salisbury Beach State Reservation had few birds but the Fox Kits were awfully cute.

Great Horned Owlets - May 22, 2011

A stop in Mt Auburn Cemetery this past Sunday found both of the young Great Horned Owls still hanging around nest tree. The photos below are of the owlet that was still staying close to the nest. It's sibling was 20' or so above it clamoring around the tree.

A parting shot of the owlet as it stretched it's wings.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bird-a-Thon 2011 - Plum Island Fallout - May 14, 2011

May again... must be time for the Massachusetts Audubon's Bird-a-Thon! 
It's annual fund raiser and day of great birding for the teams involved each year.

Our team, working with the MAS Joppa Flats Sanctuary, was comprised of Steve Grinley,
Margo Goetschkes, Joan (visiting from California), Linda Ferraresso and yours truly.

We started quite slowly at Crooked Pond in Boxford but managed to find the 
Louisiana Waterthrush and a Barred Owl among others. Our travels eventually 
lead us to Plum Island after several calls about the Yellow-throated Warbler 
and Clay-colored Sparrow being seen on the island.

Yellow-throated Warbler found by Bonnie and Bob Buxton at Hellcat. Way to go!!

The island was literally hoping with birds, with loads of warblers working their way north 
along the road. The Clay-colored Sparrow in the following images was feeding in
the small shrubs and on the ground at the Wardens.

Perched up along the road at the salt pans were several Scarlet Tanagers in their
striking spring finest. This male was at eye level, working the trees just off the road.

Friday, May 6, 2011

1st Screech Owl of May - Are Young Close Behind?

I'm hoping this is the first of several sightings of this Screech Owl over the next few weeks 
and that the young owlets make an appearance some time soon!

It could be a roosting male and this a one time thing... Time will tell....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hummers are BACK! and a Gray / Red Squirrel - May 05, 2011

An early female Ruby-throated Hummingbird at the feeder - April 30, 2011

One of several Baltimore Orioles just back for the breeding season

A red-tailed Gray Squirrel that's been visiting the yard. A 1st for me!

2011 State Of The Birds Report - Dept of the Interior

The full report is available at www.stateofthebirds.org.

U.S. Department of the Interior

AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS: Secretary Salazar Releases 2011 State of the Birds Report

Report Shows Public Lands and Waters Crucial to Birds; One Out of Four Birds Species on Public Land in Peril


Contact: Hugh Vickery, DOI (202) 208-6414
Alicia F. King, FWS (571) 214-3117

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman today released the 2011 State of the Birds Report, the nation’s first assessment of birds on lands and waters owned by the American people. The findings indicate tremendous potential for bird conservation: these publicly owned habitats support at least half of the entire U.S. distributions of more than 300 bird species.
The report concludes that America’s public lands and waters, ranging from national wildlife refuges to national parks to national forests, offer significant opportunities to halt or reverse the decline of many species. More than 1,000 bird species inhabit the U.S., 251 of which are federally threatened, endangered, or of conservation concern. The report provides a scientific tool to help public agencies identify the most significant conservation opportunities in each habitat.
“The State of the Birds report is a measurable indicator of how well we are fulfilling our shared role as stewards of our nation’s public lands and waters,” Salazar said. “Although we have made enormous progress in conserving habitat on public lands, we clearly have much more work to do. The good news is that because birds so extensively use public lands and waters as habitat, effective management and conservation efforts can make a significant difference in whether these species recover or slide towards extinction.”
“The 2011 State of the Birds report reflects significant achievement by public agencies and all of our long-standing partners in improving bird habitats,” said Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman. “The USDA programs are innovative and creative. Over the last two years, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has played a critical role in working cooperatively with landowners to conserve migratory birds in the Gulf of Mexico, sage grouse in the great plains, and others. The Forest Service has developed a draft Forest Planning rule that will ensure our National Forests support birds and other wildlife for decades to come.”
The report assessed the distribution of birds on nearly 850 million acres of public land and 3.5 million square miles of ocean. It relied on high-performance computing techniques to generate detailed bird distribution maps based on citizen-science data reported to eBird and information from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Protected Areas Database of the United States.
The report highlighted the wide variety of bird habitats on public lands. These include:
  • Aridlands: More than half of U.S. aridlands are publicly owned. Thirty-nine percent of aridland bird species are of conservation concern and more than 75 percent of species are declining.
  • Oceans and Coasts: All U.S. marine waters are publicly owned and are home to 86 ocean bird species and 173 coastal species. At least 39 percent of U.S. bird species restricted to ocean habitats are declining and almost half are of conservation concern, indicating severe stress in these ecosystems.
  • Forests: Public lands include some of the largest unfragmented blocks of forest, which are crucial for the long-term health of many bird species, including the endangered Kirtland’s warbler, which has 97 percent of its U.S. distribution on public lands.
  • Arctic and Alpine: Ninety percent of boreal forest, alpine, and arctic breeding bird species in Alaska rely on public lands for habitat, including 34 breeding shorebird species of high conservation concern. There are more public lands in Alaska than in the rest of the U.S. combined, offering huge potential to manage lands for conservation.
  • Islands: More birds are in danger of extinction in Hawaii than anywhere else in the U.S. Public lands in Hawaii support 73 percent of the distribution of declining forest birds. Among declining Hawaiian forest birds on Kauai, about 78 percent rely on state land. Four endangered species in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands are entirely dependent on federal lands.
  • Wetlands: Wetlands protection has provided the “gold standard” for bird conservation. On the whole, 39 species of hunted waterfowl have increased by more than 100 percent during the past 40 years as nearly 30 million acres of wetlands have been acquired and management practices have restored bird populations.
  • Grasslands: Grassland birds are among our nation’s fastest declining species, yet only a small amount – 13 percent -- of grassland is publicly owned and managed primarily for conservation. Forty-eight percent of grassland-breeding bird species are of conservation concern, including four with endangered populations.
The 2011 State of the Birds report is a collaborative effort as part of the U.S. North American Bird Conservation Initiative, involving federal and state wildlife agencies, and scientific and conservation organizations. These include the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the Bureau of Land Management, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Department of Defense, the National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service, the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
The full report is available at www.stateofthebirds.org.

Birders needed to assist with Citizen Science Project in Boston and the North Shore,­ June 2011

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Urban Ecology Institute are looking for 4-6 birders to conduct point counts in Boston, and 6-8 birders to conduct point counts in the North Shore. General locations in Boston include residential streets in Roxbury, Dorchester, East Boston and South Boston, and three urban parks: Franklin Park, Stoneybrook reservation, and the Arnold Arboretum. General locations in the North Shore include residential streets and conservation areas in Danvers, Ipswich, Burlington, and Woburn.

Our study is investigating regional bird diversity and how it varies at different levels of urbanization. Birding sites are located in residential parts of the city and towns, and in large urban parks and conservation areas. The point counts will be conducted during the month of June, 2011. Time commitment includes 2- 4 mornings, depending on interest.  (1-2 mornings in early June and 1-2 mornings in late June) and the schedule is relatively flexible.

Please contact Rachel Danford (rachelsdanford@gmail.com) if you are interested in volunteering for this exciting project. Please indicate which locations you prefer (Boston or North Shore or both), and level of commitment.

We conducted a pilot study in June 2010, focusing exclusively within Boston neighborhoods and three large urban parks. We documented a total of 37 species (20 species in the neighborhood sites and 26 species in the park sites). Highlights included an Eastern Kingbird nest building in a very urban residential site. For the urban parks, highlights included a number of Wood Thrushes, a Pine Warbler, Indigo Buntings, and Scarlet Tanagers.

If interested please contact Rachel Danford with your preferred location (Boston, North Shore, or both) and level of commitment.