Monthly Archives: June 2015

Fledgling downies

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpeckers

Fledglings have been fluttering around, learning how to fly (easy) and how to land on things (harder).

As many as five at a time are coming in for suet, homemade suet dough, and sometimes peanuts.

Downy Woodpecker

Parents are still feeding the fledglings, if the fledglings can get close enough and chirp charmingly enough. But the babies can feed themselves too – especially when the food is so readily available.

Downy Woodpecker

Figuring it out.

Flickr photo album: Downy Woodpeckers all over the place

Saltmarsh pair


A Willet flapped and called noisily over my head on a walk near Rye Harbor a couple of days ago.


Piercing calls and distinctive wing markings make the otherwise subdued Willet one of our most conspicuous large shorebirds. Whether in mottled brown breeding plumage or gray winter colors, Willets in flight reveal a bold white and black stripe running the length of each wing.


The Willet pair may have been nesting in the marsh off Locke Road. They took turns strafing me.

From Cornell Lab of Ornithology “Cool Facts” on the Willet

Willets and other shorebirds were once a popular food. In his famous Birds of America accounts, John James Audubon wrote that Willet eggs were tasty and the young “grow rapidly, become fat and juicy, and by the time they are able to fly, afford excellent food.” By the early 1900s, Willets had almost vanished north of Virginia. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 banned market hunting and marked the start of the Willet’s comeback.

Bright day

Barn swallow

Little bird on a big boat, with a lot to say.

We were charmed by swooping, chattering Barn Swallows yesterday at Rock Harbor in Orleans, Mass. My husband and I took a day trip to Cape Cod to see some friends and favorite places.

Rock Harbor

Rock Harbor is near the crook in the flexed arm of the Cape, with a channel to Cape Cod Bay. Sport fishing charter boats come and go.

It was a perfect summer day. The colors of the water, the brightness of the light! The balmiest temps with the lightest and most pleasant of breezes. A good start to this summer.

barn swallow

Barn swallows were the small, swift essences of the bright day.

barn swallow

Hello, bird.

Red-bellied babies?

red-bellied woodpecker

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker in the platform feeder.

A pair of these medium-sized woodpeckers are taking turns at the platform feeder – which they prefer to the suet cage. I guess they would rather swing than cling.

I think they are feeding some nestlings.

red-bellied woodpecker

They are mostly eating the homemade suet dough and peanuts.

red-bellied woodpeckers

She flew off with a mouthful of suet dough and returned soon for more.

Cornell: Red-bellied Woodpeckers bring bright colors and entertaining action to bird feeders. If you live near any wooded patches, you may be able to attract them using feeders filled with suet (in winter), peanuts, and sometimes sunflower seeds. They’ve even been spotted drinking nectar from hummingbird feeders.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher visited the platform feeder shortly after I put out some homemade suet dough with blueberries yesterday around noon, in rain.

Great Crested Flycatcher

A large, assertive flycatcher with rich reddish-brown accents and a lemon-yellow belly, the Great Crested Flycatcher is a common bird of Eastern woodlands. Its habit of hunting high in the canopy means it’s not particularly conspicuous—until you learn its very distinctive call, an emphatic rising whistle. These flycatchers swoop after flying insects and may crash into foliage in pursuit of leaf-crawling prey.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatchers are large flycatchers with fairly long and lean proportions. Like many flycatchers they have a powerful build with broad shoulders and a large head. Despite its name, this bird’s crest is not especially prominent. The bill is fairly wide at the base and straight; the tail is fairly long.

Great Crested Flycatcher

This is the first time I have ever seen one of these flycatchers in my backyard… or anywhere. It posed in a few locations visible through the kitchen window.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatchers are sit-and-wait predators, sallying from high perches (usually near the tops of trees) after large insects, returning to the same or a nearby perch.

They winter in central and southern Florida, southern Mexico, Central America, and northwestern South America. And summer in the lovely New Hampshire Seacoast, among other places.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatchers prefer breeding territories in open broadleaf or mixed woodlands and at the edges of clearings rather than in dense forests. They avoid the northern coniferous (boreal) forests of Canada. Among woodlands, they favor edge habitats in second-growth forests, wooded hedgerows, isolated woody patches, and selectively cut forests over continuous, closed-canopy forests. Dead snags and dying trees are important sources of the cavities they need for nesting. They tolerate human presence and will search out cavities in old orchards and in woody urban areas like parks, cemeteries, and golf courses.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatchers eat mainly insects and other invertebrates, as well as small berries and other fruits. They eat butterflies and moths, beetles, grasshoppers and crickets, bugs, bees and wasps, flies, other insects, and spiders. These they’ll take from the air, the surfaces of leaves and branches, off the ground, from haystacks, from bark crevices, or from crannies in such human-made structures as fence posts and rails. Plant food includes small whole berries, the pits of which are regurgitated after the berries are eaten whole.

Great Crested Flycatcher

It’s a pretty bird, with a lemon-yellow belly.

Great Crested Flycatcher

I hope I see it again.

This is the 40th backyard bird I have seen, photographed and blogged about since I started this bird blog in May 2014.

Geese at a local golf course


Gosling at a golf course.

geese golf course

The goose family lives at Abenaki Country Club, on border of North Hampton and Rye. A lovely place to raise a family.


Four goslings in all. I almost walked right past them yesterday morning.


Gosling eating a prickly thing.


Geese by the water hazard.

canada goose

Vigilant goose dad.


Still downy not feathery.

goose and goslings

Time for paddling.


I read that the parents molt during breeding season. They will have grown new feathers, including flight feathers, by the time the goslings start to fly.

canada geese

Goose preschool outing.