My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Chirps and Cheeps Bird Blog

A Birder's Blog About Birding in Western New York

Dickcissel!

Published October 16, 2014
Tags: Life List Happenings, Dickcissel

A Dickcissel was found by Bob McGuire in Tompkins County in a co-op garden plot sponsored by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. When I heard about it (thank you, Tim!), it took me all of about half a minute to decide to go for it, in spite of the long drive.  This would be a life bird and it's been on my Wish List for a few years now.

After I arrived at the garden plot, I watched, scoped, walked, pished, and searched for this coveted bird - but alas, no luck.  Finally, after a couple of hours, and many, many sparrows later, two other birders arrived and hope was rekindled: more eyes - a better chance.

Sure enough, as Brad Walker and I were looking at a beautiful White-crowned Sparrow, Brad noticed a sparrow-like bird fly over that exhibited some yellow on her breast. It was the Dickcissel! She set down on a fence not too far away and, after Brad patiently lead my stubborn eyes to her perch, Gary, Brad, and I got some fantastic looks. Wow! I was thrilled to see this beautiful bird.

The Dickcissel used to be more commonly found in farm areas in the Northeast, but for some reason, probably habitat loss, it has become a bird that inhabits the weed patches and the grain and hay fields of the Midwest. Every now and then though, before migrating to the tropics, an occasional Dickcissel shows up in the Northeast in the fall - luckily for us!

Other birds seen while hunting for the Dickcissel were: White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Song Sparrow (MANY), Savannah Sparrow, House Sparrow, Common Raven (spotted by Gary), a Red-tailed Hawk, Rusty Blackbird (spotted by Jay), and two large kettles of Turkey Vultures, numbering well over a hundred, combined.

During the Dickcissel's short perch, I was able to get a few photos of her that I'm adding below...
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Dickcissel (female)
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Dickcissel
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Dickcissel
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Dickcissel


Merlin, Kinglets, and Yellow-rumpeds at Tifft

Published October 13, 2014
Tags: Parks and Preserves, Merlin, Pied-billed Grebe, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco

There were a few surprises at Tifft this afternoon. I knew some migrant movements had taken place by the new birds I found in my woods, so I quickly wrapped up my work for the day and headed over to Tifft to see what might be going on there.

Yellow-rumped Warblers were numerous near the first wooden bridge and I enjoyed watching them flit from tree to tree. There were a few Ruby-crowned Kinglets that were mixed in with the flock too.  And nearby, was a lone junco foraging on the ground. At first glance, I thought it might be an Oregon (subspecies of the Dark-eyed Junco). When I examined the photos later on, though, I was pretty sure it was just a darker female.

Moving further in to the preserve, I found more Yellow-rumped Warblers and a single warbler that I wasn't able to ID. I hate when that happens! After I gave up the chase for that unknown warbler, I came upon Dennis Gralak who took me to a Merlin he had been watching. He thought it had just come in and was weary from its travels. He said he watched it being harassed by crows and I witnessed that same thing later on when I found it again as I was leaving the preserve. The Merlin allowed us some great views while it rested near the boardwalk.

Around the entire preserve, I counted 66 American Coots - that was a big surprise. And I had the fun experience of watching a Snapping Turtle make its way back to the water. It was rather prehistoric looking, slow moving, and BIG!  Big claws on those massive feet too!

I also saw a few Golden-crowned Kinglets and had a nice view of a Hermit Thrush. I've been skunked by thrushes lately, so I was very happy to see this guy! A little later, as I was leaving, I heard the mobbing sound of crows - and yes, that poor, fatigued Merlin was getting harassed again. It must have found a secluded spot because the din soon calmed down and I wished the Merlin a peaceful night...
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Merlin
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Merlin getting mobbed by Crows
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Merlin
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Dark-eyed Junco (the Oregon subspecies or just a darker female?)
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Hermit Thrush
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Golden-crowned Kinglet
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Golden-crowned Kinglet
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Ruby-crowned Kinglet
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Yellow-rumped Warbler
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Yellow-rumped Warbler
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Yellow-rumped Warbler
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Pied-billed Grebe
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Snapping Turtle making its way slowly back to the water


BOS Count at Beaver Meadow

Published October 11, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Northern Mockingbird, American Wigeon, Hermit Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Warbler, Golden-crowned Warbler, Purple Finch

The BOS (Buffalo Ornithological Society) was conducting a count this weekend and I helped cover a couple of spots at Beaver Meadow. It was a beautiful morning and I wish I could have stayed the day.

The early morning pond area was "alive" with bird songs everywhere.  I was delighted to hear an Eastern Towhee singing his spring song, "drink your teeeaaa", along with some Song Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and kinglets.

I noticed some movement in a viney-berry spot and found a silent Hermit Thrush indulging on the berries. I haven't been doing too well with thrushes lately, so it was a nice find.

Another nice find along Fox Trail was a coupe of other warblers, a Nashville and a Magnolia who appeared to be foraging together.

Other birds seen were: American Wigeon, Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Purple Finch, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, and Blue-headed Vireo.
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Hermit Thrush
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American Wigeon with Canada Geese
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Purple Finch
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Yellow-rumped Warbler
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Ruby-crowned Kinglet
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Ruby-crowned Kinglet
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Ruby-crowned Kinglet
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Golden-crowned Kinglet
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Magnolia Warbler
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Magnolia Warbler
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Northern Mockingbird seen on a recent excursion to Onondaga County on a failed attempt to find a Dickcissel
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Northern Mockingbird