Carson C. Waxwing Update, 09/17/20

So, I finally connected with Giselle from the Avian Wildlife Center to get an update on Carson, the Cedar Waxwing Fledgling. If you missed this story, you can scroll back to mid August or check here, here, and here to catch up.

Carson is doing well, but has not be released back into the wild yet. When I dropped him off at the center, his feather condition was less than perfect, so they are going to wait for Carson to molt before the release him/her. Carson was also tested for fecal parasites, which came back positive, but it has been treated.

So, now it’s a waiting game, once Carson molts he/she will be released. The good news is that the center is currently housing several other Cedar Waxwings, so Carson will be in good company for the release. Stay tuned… I’ll update again when I can.

I hope Carson gets released soon – I’m running out of photos!

Cedar Waxwing Fledgling Update, 08/21/20

I called the Avian Wildlife Center this morning to get an update on the Cedar Waxwing fledgling. I spoke with Giselle and so far it’s all good news. The bird is comfortable and eating well. In fact, the bird has begun eating on it’s own out of a bowl. Next step is to introduce fruit on the vine to allow the bird to practice eating more like in the wild. The bird is still begging for food, opening wide whenever food is being given, and it won’t be until this stops that the bird will be released. Also, Giselle never releases a single Cedar Waxwing. They are a social bird and she has found that they do much better with other CEWAs. Fortunately, there is another CEWA at the center, so if all goes well they will be released together. The two birds are not together yet as “my” fledgling still needs to have a stool sample tested for parasites. So far, so good. I’ve got my fingers crossed, I’m knocking wood, etcetera…

~What a little sweetie. Cedar Waxwing fledgling at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20.~

I also wanted to apologize for my delayed response to many of the comments on the last post. The site has been updated, and as with many updates, there have been some issues. For some reason it is not notifying me via email of new comments. I’ll try to work out that bug, until then I’ll try to check for comments more diligently.

Cedar Waxwing Update & Sunday Shots, 08/16/20

I went back to Beaver Pond first thing this morning. When I arrived, there was no sign of the fledgling Cedar Waxwing. But, after about 10 minutes, I heard the bird calling. Not long after that, as I walked with my scope horizontally on my shoulder, the bird came down and landed on the legs of the scope. It didn’t stay long, the legs were wet from the rain and the bird didn’t seem to like it.

~I’ve come to love this little dude. It’s amazing how small they are when seen in the hand. Cedar Waxwing fledgling at Beaver Pond, on its way to Avian Wildlife Center, 08/16/20.~

So, I got in touch with Giselle Smisko from the Avian Wildlife Center in Wantage NJ . I told her my story, and she believed that the bird had been cared for by someone as a nestling and was perhaps released too soon. She said that any typical fledgling would never go to a human but that nestlings will just open their mouth for anyone to receive food. We agreed that if I could capture the bird, I would bring it to her, so it would get the proper professional care it needs. *Important note: Giselle said never to feed a bird wet cat food – it’s not good for their digestive system. Dry food is okay, if moistened. High protein is best.*

~I had plenty of opportunity to photograph this bird, but really, I didn’t take advantage of it. Here’s one shot from Saturday, when I first arrived at Beaver Pond and saw the bird for the first time.~

Meanwhile, Bruce Nott and Karen Miller had arrived to search for shorebirds. The fledgling did not come to me the entire time they were there, but within 5 minutes of their departure, the bird flew down and landed on my scope. I worked it onto my fingers and was able to take it in my hand. I spoke with Giselle again to make arrangements and she said to feed it berries or grapes if I could. I went to the QuickChek once again, and bought some grapes. I broke up a couple of them into manageable sizes and fed the fledgling – it gobbled it up like it was going out of style! It was a really excellent experience. I had to kill a little time before Giselle would be able to take the bird; it was excruciating for me – I just wanted to get the birds into her hands. Eventually, I successfully dropped it off at the center. Giselle said the bird looked well and that its feathers were in good condition. I am able to call in and check on it, so I will. Fingers crossed all goes well. I also wanted to mention that Avian Wildlife Center is privately operated; it does not receive any funds from the government. Tax deductible donations are welcome; you can visit their website here.

~Great Blue Heron at Beaver Pond, 08/16/20.~
~Young Bald Eagle at Esopus Lighthouse Park in Ulster County, 08/15/20.~
~Soft photo of a Sandhill Crane flyover (fly through?) at the Liberty Loop, 0/10/20.~
~Not a great shot, but my first Great Egret of the year in Orange County, at Beaver Pond to be more precise. 08/16/20.~

Beaver Pond Craziness, 08/15/20

I certainly had an interesting afternoon and evening at Beaver Pond on Pines Hills Road in Chester. I went to try for shorebirds of course, but when I arrived there was a bird on the wires that, as I pulled up I wasn’t sure what it was. I got out of my car, and the bird flew down and landed on my car door – it was a Cedar Waxwing fledging. It only stayed for a moment and then went and perched in a small tree.

~iPhone shot of Cedar Waxwing fledgling in hand at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20. All pics in this post were taken with my iPhone.~

So, I went about my business of searching for shorebirds, and it was fairly productive with 5 species of shorebird present: Lesser Yellowlegs (4), Solitary Sandpiper (3), Least Sandpiper (2), Semipalmated Sandpiper (1), and Killdeer (6). But then, the fledging Cedar Waxwing flew across the road and landed on my scope; I put my hand up and he hopped onto my hand. The bird was begging for food the entire time, mouth wide open, neck straining. I didn’t have any food, so I walked over to my car, CEWA in hand, and poured some water into my free hand. The bird drank from the water three times and then flew back to the tree across the road.

~Cedar Waxwing fledgling perched on my scope at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20.~

The next time the bird came down, it landed directly on my arm. I worked it to my hand and again gave it water to drink from my cupped hand. It drank, but clearly the bird wanted to eat, not drink, and it flew across the street again, this time perching in a lower bush.

I continued to scan for shorebirds, but I was preoccupied by the fledging calling and calling from across the street. I looked online quickly and it looked like the general consensus was to leave fledgling birds be, that their parents were likely nearby and it amounted to kidnapping rather than saving. But, I’d been at the pond for nearly 3 hours at that point, and there was no sign of any adult birds. I didn’t want to “kidnap” the bird, so I ran to the QuickCheck and bought what I’d just read was one of the foods you can feed young birds: wet cat food. I also grabbed a coffee stirrer to feed with.

~Cedar Waxwing fledgling at Beaver Pond, 08/15/20.~

When I returned, the fledging was still in the bush, calling, calling, calling. I walked across the road to the bush and the bird came out to me mouth wide open. At first it was unsure of the cat food, but eventually it ate 3 large mouthsful and then moved up and further into the bush. It was the first time since I’d arrived that the bird wasn’t calling.

I’m going to go back and check on the bird first thing in the morning. I’m not sure exactly what my plan is; I’m going to do some additional research this evening and see what my options might be. Hopefully the adult(s) will have returned and all is well, but we shall see.

Memorial Day Weekend, 2020

The past couple of days I enjoyed getting out in the mornings; both days were birdy enough to keep it interesting. On Saturday I went to Port Jervis. Laurel Grove Cemetery was a bust, but Elks Brox had a good number of birds. It was mostly the usuals or birds I’ve already gotten this year, but I was able to pick up two new birds for the year: Swainson’s Thrush and Gray-cheeked Thrush. I’ve included shots of each below. See my Elks Brox report here.

~This made my day. Today at Goosepond Mountain, this Prairie Warbler landed right in front of me along the trail. It was overcast in the morning, which to me is the perfect light for this bird – any direct light and I just don’t like the way the yellow comes out, especially if the highlights get blown out.~

This morning I went to Goosepond Mountain in an effort to spend some time in my NYSBBA priority block. I was hoping to confirm any breeding species (I didn’t), but I particularly wanted to follow up on the Broad-winged Hawks I saw there a few weeks back (also a fail – unfortunately no sign of them). The highlight of my morning was hearing a WHITE-EYED VIREO just off the trail. The little bugger was stubborn though, and I never laid eyes on it. That’s the second WEVI I’ve heard but not seen this weekend! (The first was at Sterling Forest SP on Saturday). In spite of the above frustrations, it was actually a great walk with plenty of birds (45 species) and very few people.

~Scarlet Tanager female at Elks Brox on 05/24/20.~
~Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher at Goosepond Mountain this morning, 05/25/20. This spring I have located 4 BGGN nests – it’s interesting to see how the NYS Breeding Bird Atlas has changed my focus.~
~Male Bobolink at Knapp’s View, 05/25/20.~
~Gray-cheeked Thrush at Elks Brox, 05/24/20.~
~I have this as a Swainson’s Thrush. Elks Brox in Port Jervis, 05/24/20.~

A Good Morning, 05/16/20

I can’t imagine many other birders feel this way, but warblers stress me out. Every spring I worry that I’m not going to be at the right place, on the right day, at the right time, and poof all the migrating warblers will be gone. It’s never happened, I always get my share, but this is what I do. Fortunately, today I was in the right place at the right time. After a relatively uneventful visit to Pochuck Mountain early this morning, I headed to Laurel Grove Cemetery, where I met up with Linda Scrima.

~We had at least half a dozen Bay-breasted Warblers at Laurel Grove this morning. They spent most of their time in the shadows, but I caught this one in good light.~

In spite of our late(ish) arrival, the place was hopping. And the birds lingered into the late morning, an unusual occurence at this location. We had a total of 13 species of warbler, highlighted by several Cape May Warblers, at least six Bay-breasted Warblers, a couple of Blackburnian Warblers, at least a couple of Magnolia Warblers, and a single Canada Warbler. Other good birds included Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Least Flycatchers (2), and I got my first Eastern Kingbird of the year. We had a total of 42 species for the morning, and some decent photos to boot.

~Cape May Warbler at LGC, 05/16/20.~
~This was probably my favorite bird of the day: Canada Warbler at LGC, 05/16/20.~
~Not as flashy as the male, but still pretty in her own way, female Cape May Warbler at LGC 05/16/20.~
~American Robin amongst the headstones at LGC, 05/16/20.~
~Cape May Warbler at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/16/20.~
~Magnolia Warbler at Laurel Grove Cemetery, 05/16/20.~
~The disappointment of the day – in spite of ample opportunity, this is the best shot I got of a Blackburnian Warbler. So many blurry shots! Maybe next time.~

Pochuck Mountain, 05/10/20

After a pretty disappointing day of birding on Saturday, I was happy to have a pleasant and birdy walk at Pochuck Mountain State Park this morning. It was a sunny and cool morning, and had the place almost completely to myself; when I arrived there were no turkey hunter’s vehicles in the lot at all, my only contact with anyone was a single mountain biker on the trail briefly. I had a total of 31 species, which is just slightly above average for me at this location in early May. Highlights included 8 species of warbler (Ovenbird, Worm-eating, Nashville, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, and Black-throated Green), Yellow-throated Vireo, my first Baltimore Orioles of the year, and probably my best photo op of a Pileated Woodpecker to date.

~Pileated Woodpecker at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/10/20.~
~Chestnut-sided Warbler at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/10/20.~
~This is a bird I’ve struggled to get shots of – Black-throated Green Warbler at Pochuck Mountain SP, 05/10/20.~
~One more of the PIWO, with an ant on its bill. This bird was enjoying a nice snack, Pochuck Mountain, 05/10/20.~
~My yard continues to entertain. This week I watched Blue Jays build a nest in the tree right outside the window where I have my work computer set up. Also, two Wood Ducks roosted in the yard on Saturday night, I flushed them as I walked through the yard early Sunday morning. Here’s a Black-capped Chickadee in our crabapple tree.~

05/03/20: Backyard LINCOLN’S SPARROW!

This evening, Tricia and I were sitting on the back deck having a cocktail. Tricia stepped inside for something and I took the opportunity to check out a wren that was making a racket on the far side of one of the evergreens. I made my way around, but I couldn’t locate the bird until it flushed into the neighbor’s yard. Meanwhile, the wren was replaced with another bird – I got my bins on it and was very surprised to see it was a LINCOLN’S SPARROW!

~Beautiful bird! LINCOLN’S SPARROW, my yard, Goshen NY 05/03/20.~

I didn’t have my camera with me, so, barely moving a muscle I reached into my pocket and quietly called Tricia. Thankfully she answered immediately; I asked her to bring me my camera. I kept my eye on the bird while Tricia smoothly walked the camera out to me; the bird hadn’t moved an inch! I clicked away like mad, I was shaking from the excitement, so I knew there would be a lot of throwaways. The bird changed its perch one time before disappearing behind the evergreen and we never saw it again. Lincoln’s Sparrow in my back yard! I’m still floored by this!

~LINCOLN’S SPARROW, my yard, Goshen NY 05/03/20.~

A Good Morning at Goosepond Mountain, 05/02/20

In spite of a late start, I had an excellent morning of birding at Goosepond Mountain State Park. I walked for over 3 1/2 hours and it was quite productive. I had a total of 41 species, 12 of which were year birds for me. Highlights included: BLUE-HEADED VIREO, BLUE-WINGED WARBLER, BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER, BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, and BLACK-THROATED BLUE WARBLER. I also had a pair of Broad-winged Hawks, deep in the woods. On my way out, I had one with a fresh kill (chipmunk). On my way back I watched as the two birds copulated high in the trees. It was pretty cool.

~Yellow-rumped Warblers were quite numerous at Goosepond Mountain today, a conservative estimate would
~For as often as I hear this bird, I rarely get photographs. Carolina Wren at Goosepond Mountain, 05/02/20.~
~Blue-headed Vireo, Goosepond Mountain 05/02/20.~
~Broad-winged Hawk with chipmunk. Goosepond Mountain 05/02/20.~

I also had a couple of interesting yard birds this week. Who knew what I’ve been missing by going in to work every day? Working from home certainly has its advantages.

~I was sitting at my desk working and I caught a bird landing in one of our trees out of the corner of my eye. I was certainly surprised to see it was a Wood Duck!!! My yard, Goshen NY 04/27/20.~
~Tricia spied this Wood Thrush out our kitchen window and called me in. I grabbed my camera a got a few shots – all with its back to me – before the bird took off. My yard, Goshen NY 05/01/20.~

Sunday Shots, 09/15/19

On Saturday, I had my first day as official counter at Mt. Peter for the season. I’m cutting back a little this year and not doing every Saturday, so when the schedule came out in August and I saw I had the 14th of September, I was excited – primetime for Broad-winged Hawks! Little did I know then that conditions and weather would conspire against me to deliver my least productive day of counting at Mt. Pete ever. I had a paltry 2 (!) migrating raptors all day. It rained periodically. Even the local Red-tailed Hawks and vultures took the day off for the most part. On the positive side, I did have a Broad-winged Hawk perched in the parking lot when I arrived, as well as a nice mixed flock of warblers that worked the area all day (Yellow-rumped, Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, and American Redstart).

~It’s amazing to me how small these birds are when you see them up close like this. Broad-winged Hawk in the Mt. Peter parking area, 09/14/19.~
~Black-throated Green Warbler at Mt. Peter Hawkwatch, 09/14/19.~

On Sunday I went to the Winding Waters trail at Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge to try for warblers. I did alright, in spite of a late start, with 9 species of warbler:

  • Northern Waterthrush
  • Black-and-white Warbler
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • American Redstart
  • Northern Parula
  • Magnolia Warbler
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Black-throated Green Warbler
~American Redstart at Wallkill River NWR, 09/15/19.~
~Not a bird I photograph very often – Blue Jay at Wallkill River NWR, 09/15/19.~
~There were plenty of Common Yellowthroats on the trail this morning, Wallkill River NWR 09/15/19.~
~Pretty little bird: Black-and-White Warbler at Wallkill River NWR, 09/15/19.~

I also spend some time at Mt. Peter, where the birds were actually flying on Sunday. It wasn’t an amazing flight, but there were enough birds to keep it interesting. And I was able to get a Broad-winged Hawk in flight. All in all, not a bad weekend for birding in the OC.

~Broad-winged Hawk in flight, Mt. Peter Hawkwatch 09/15/19.~