Category Archives: Birds
With the unseasonable low temperatures, the hummingbird exodus from the north will soon follow. Keep your feeders full of sugar water to help sustain the southward migrants on their long journey to winter destinations.
Hummingbird Feeder Recipe: 1 Cup water to 1/4 Cup pure granulated sugar. Do not add red food coloring or substitute honey for sugar. Replenish frequently, especially during warm weather.
In the dim light of daybreak at first glance I thought the diminutive duck was somehow related to the female mallard. Both were inconspicuous and camouflaged amongst the cattails. Mrs. Mallard was preening and standing on one leg, a thing birds do to regulate their body temperature, and Mystery Duck was actively diving all around her. As the light grew brighter with the rising sun it was easy to see that they weren’t at all akin; Mystery Duck’s bill was shorter and chunkier when compared to the Mallard’s bill, Mystery was half her size, and its perky cotton white tail feathers were unmissable. The Mallard flew off eventually and our Mystery then traveled away, deeply diving and then reemerging some distance further, staying close to the shoreline and always well hidden.
Side-by-side comparison: Pied-billed Grebe, left, female Mallard, right.
The Pied-billed Grebe is rarely seen breeding in Massachusetts any longer and is listed as endangered in nearly every New England state. Rhode Island considers the Pied-billed extirpated (locally extinct). The reason for their decline is low breeding numbers and wetland degradation. Their feathers are thick and soft and were used to make hats and earmuffs during the 19th century. Wantonly hunted to near extinction, Pied-billed Grebes never fully recovered in our region. As wetlands have given way to development, the Pied-billed Grebe’s numbers continue to decline dramatically. They are extremely sensitive to human disturbances, and, too, are less likely to be seen as it is a nocturnal bird, traveling mostly during the night.
A fun fact about the marsh-nesting Pie-billed is that both male and female contribute to building what at first appears to be a floating nest in vegetation, near open water. The nest is actually a platform anchored to plant stalks.
I wonder if this Pied-billed is a fall migrant or if on Niles Pond, Pied-billed Grebes were nesting this season. Has anyone else documented or seen a Pied-billed Grebe at Niles Pond during the past few months?
Niles Pond is Ideal Pied-billed Grebe Habitat
See more photos and audio links here ~
* * *
The Ukeladies are learning Harvest Moon–I’d forgotten about this beautiful song and the fairly recent video, released by Neil Young in 2012, is so very sweet.
An ironic place for some seagulls to snack on lobster legs, isn’t it?
Brazen little buggers sat right on top of our live lobsters to dine on some of their cousins. Well, I can’t really prove that they’re actual cousins…but, you know what I mean.
I can almost hear the lobsters in the crate….”Enough already. I can’t take it. STOP! Why are you doing this? What more do you want from me?”
At the Waterfront Festival I bought an Edible Birdhouse/feeder. This bird feeder has the seeds all around the house. When the seeds are gone you can put peanut butter on the house and put more seeds on the peanut butter. The Woodpeckers are really loving their new feeder and here is photo of a Chickadee waiting and a Nuthatch enjoying their treats.
For more information please follow the following link.
Fishing gear at Milk Island. Milk Island’s a cormorant and blackback seagull nesting ground. Lots of of fishing gear washes up on its lengthy gravel bar running north towards Rockport. By August adult blackbacks start cannibalizing their young – grabbing fledglings by the neck and drowning them, dragging them ashore to pull them apart.
The charming note posted below was in my inbox today. I thought Fred would enjoy, as would our GMG readers find interesting.
Dear Madame Butterfly,
(You may recognize my name as an infrequent commenter on
GMG. More importantly, I am an FOF, Friend of Fred Bodin, although he NEVER invited me to his gallery soires !!!!!)
I always read your GMG posts and enjoy and learn from them.
I have a plant that comes up in my back yard and grows to a height of 5 or 6 feet. This week it fell down. Do you know what it is? Can I cut it up safely and dispose of it? Should I throw it over the fence in the back and let wildlife eat the berries?
Any help, thanks,
Allen, as an FOF and FOB, of course you are invited to ALL GMG soirées. I hope you’ll come to the mug-up this Saturday morning at E.J.’s new summer gallery on Rocky Neck. I am planning to go, but will not get there until closer to 11:00. I look forward to meeting you!
American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is what you have growing in your backyard. Pokeweed possesses nearly as many common names as the birds that find nourishment from its fruit, including pokeberry, Virginia poke, inkberry, ink weed, bear’s grape, American spinach, and American nightshade. The American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, and Pileated Woodpeckers are some of the birds that dine on the fruits of pokeberry. Many mammals such as Red Fox, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, White-footed Mouse, and Black Bear eat the berries, too.
Pokeweed can grow to ten feet, with an equally as long taproot as is it is tall in height. It typically grows in disturbed areas, pastures, roadsides, fencerows, open woods, and woodland borders. All parts of the plant are toxic to people and livestock, and especially to children. The root is the most toxic and the berries the least. It is not recommended to add to you compost. If you have children visiting your garden, I would suggest that you talk to them about the plant’s toxicity, and only throw it over you fence if beyond your fence is part of your property. To control a plant, cut below the root crown. An older plant may have a ten foot taproot, which would be very difficult to dig up.
Images courtesy wiki commons.
This little turkey family seemed so vulnerable. Although blending well with the surrounding vegetation, the hen was disabled. She was only able to half walk, half hop. Despite her injury, she kept close watch over the babies as they foraged. I was especially surprised that no Tom came charging to protect the flock, which has been my experience with past turkey encounters.
For the Chief, and anyone who wants a quick and easy reference on how to tell the difference between the Snowy and Great Egrets, both white and both often times found feeding in the marsh and tide pools together. The Great Egret is greater in size and has a bright yellow bill, with black legs and black feet. The smaller Snowy Egret has the opposite markings, with unmistakeable cadmium yellow feet and a black bill.
Snowy Egret and Great Egret
In the above photo taken this morning, the egrets were too far away for my camera’s lens to get a really clear picture however, when cropped, you can see a side-by-side comparison. The Snowy Egret, with black bill and bright yellow feet, is flying in the background and the Great Egret, with black feet and yellow bill, is perched.
More posts about Great Egret and Snowy Egrets:
Lights! Camera! Nature! Movies by kids ages 7-12 @ Cape Ann Community Cinema Tomorrow (SAT 7/12) NOON-2pm
From Cape Ann TV’s Lisa Smith:
Here is one of the movies being screened “Telephone Island”:
Welcome to Telephone Island a magical island off the coast of Gloucester, Ma and it is filled with fascinating animals. This movie was made in the Spring-Summer of 2014 by a student in the Kestrel Foundation’s Lights, Camera, Nature program. The program is led by Jessica Kagle and made in co-operation with Cape Ann TV where the students edited their movies. Screening of this movie and the others made in the spring program will be at the Cape Ann Community Cinema on Main St. in Gloucester, Sat., July 12, 2014 at noon to 2pm along with NOVA’s “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies”.
We are so fortunate in Gloucester to have not one, but two, terrific garden centers, Wolf Hill and Goose Cove Gardens (and Corliss Brothers in Ipswich isn’t too far off the beaten track, either). Barbara and her team at Goose Cove are phenomenal as is the team at Wolf Hill–Kate, Joe, Ben, Dave, Jake, and all the guys. Both Wolf Hill and Goose Cove take wonderful care of the wildlife that makes their home in the very inviting environment of their nurseries. Last year Kate kept me well supplied in butterfly eggs, which had been deposited on Wolf Hill plants, and whenever I shop at either garden center, a frequent topic of conversation is the robins because they oftentimes build their nests smack dab in the middle of a plant, or group of plants, that are for sale. Robins especially like to nest in hanging flower baskets. This year was no exception. Today when at Wolf Hill I spied a mama robin zooming away from a balled and burlapped tree. The nest was at eye level! I ran and got my cameras but filmed for only a moment because both parents found it highly disturbing. The babies were hungry, with wide gaping greedy mouths, and it was clear my presence was keeping them from their breakfasts. As soon as I turned away, the parents resumed feeding the babies.