Category Archives: Birds

GLOSSY IBIS FLOCK IN MAGNOLIA

Glossy Ibis Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015JPGThank you to the wonderful Anderson Family for sharing their Glossy Ibis sighting. After Chris’s super tip, I easily found them foraging in the fields several mornings in a row. I think there are anywhere between 20 to 30 members to the flock. They don’t allow you to get very close. Someone with a a 300-400mm lens may be able to take much better close ups. Nonetheless, they are fun to watch. I imagine since they are here at the end of June, the ibis may be nesting.

Dear Readers, If you see the Glossy Ibis, can you please share the time and day of your sighting. I understand from Mass Audubon that they rarely breed in our region and it would be exciting if we sighted a breeding pair. Thank you!

And thank you once again to the Andersons who this past year have supplied us with Snow Goose, Brant Geese, Snowy Owl, and now Glossy Ibis tips!!!

Glossy Ibis in flight Gloucester Massachusetts  ©Kim Smith 2015JPG

BEAUTIFUL BABY SWAN GONE

Mute swan cygnet  Massachusetts  -1©Kim Smith 2015The beautiful single cygnet at Henry’s Pond has disappeared. Did anyone by chance see what happened?

Mute swan cygnet pen, female Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015May 28, 2015

Mute swan cygnet cob pen, female male Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015May 30th, male, or cob on the left, female pen on the right, cygnet tucked between the two

Mute swan cygnet -3  Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015June 7th, adeptly preening, or oiling its feathers.

Mute swan cygnet pen, female Massachusetts -2 ©Kim Smith 2015Anytime is nap time.

Mute swan cygnet pen, female Massachusetts -3 ©Kim Smith 2015June 12th early morning, last sighting.

 

 

Loblolly Cove ~ Red-winged Blackbird Habitat

Loblolly Cove Rockport Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Loblolly Cove, Rockport
Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts -4 ©Kim Smith 2015Male Red-winged Blackbird

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Eider Encounter

Finishing up filming cygnets and ducklings for the morning, I noticed a Great Blue heron swoop onto the shore. I got my gear back out and headed over to where it appeared to have landed along the rocky coastline. With eyes peeled for the heron I nearly tripped over the female Common Eider. Literally. Oval-shaped and seemingly immobile, the eider looked just like another rock on the beach. She didn’t budge while I kneeled down on the sand and photographed and filmed her, cameras positioned no more than a foot away. I only stayed close for a few moments and then moved further away and watched for awhile as she thoroughly oiled her feathers. She didn’t appear to be injured. Concerned as I was that she could easily become a coyote’s breakfast if she wasn’t able to fly, still I thought it best to leave her be. As I returned to my car and turned for one last look, she was flying straight up, helicopter fashion, and then forward towards the sea.

Female Common Eider Rockport Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

 Female Common Eider

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Milkweed Seedpod ©Kim Smith 2014

Stars of the Marsh

Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015Heard at nearly every New England marsh, one can’t help but notice the beautiful and seemingly never ending song of the male Red-winged Blackbird. From sunrise to sunset he’s calling to his girl. Early this spring I set out to record the sounds of the marsh for my Monarch film. The male Red-winged Blackbirds are the stars of the marsh and while capturing their vocalizations, I also was also able to capture footage of their fascinating behaviors.Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts -5 ©Kim Smith 2015

 Male Red-winged Blackbirds Perching on Cattails (and Eating the Seed Heads, Too)

You’ll see many more males because they perch on higher ground, at the top of the cattails, phragmites, scrubby shrubs, phone lines, and treetops. They are defending their territory through song and a showy display of red and yellow wing bars. The males too, often swoop to the edge of the pond’s shoreline and peck at the sand.

Female Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts  -3©Kim Smith 2015

Plain Jane Female ~ What’s All the Fuss About!

The female Red-winged Blackbird, with her more subdued feathers of brown and beige, typically stays closer to the ground, building her nest and eating insects.Female and Male Red-winged Blackbird Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

Female Red-winged Blackbird in the foreground with male in the background. As you can see in the photo, the female looks like a large dark sparrow.

Loblolly Cove ©Kim Smith 2015Loblolly Cove ~ Red-winged Blackbird Superhighway

Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly,Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

See More Photos Here Read more

Day Three Filming the Ducklings

Mallard Duck Family ©Kim Smith 2015I’m a bit sad to write that all but one of the ducklings that I have been filming has survived. He stays very close to Mama Mallard and Pa is never too far away. Today I filmed two different Mallard families, one with three ducklings and the other with five. I hope they have a better survival rate.

Mallard Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015Mallard Duckling Grooming ©Kim  Smith 2015Sleeping Mallard Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015Nap Time

Day 2 Filming the Duckling Family

Mallard Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015The Mallard Duck family that I have been filming during the early morning hours this past week is allowing me to get very close, venturing to within two feet from where I am tucked in amongst the reeds by the water’s edge. The ducklings mirror the parent’s every action and they are are especially adorable learning how to oil their feathers. Although the female attempts to stay close, and the male is always hovering nearby, one is becoming increasingly independent, a little too independent if you ask me. I can’t get over the ducklings vulnerability–its a miracle any survive to adulthood.

Female Mallard and Ducklings ©Kim Smith 2015

The mixed flock of ducks is comprised mostly of Mallards, with several pairs of American Black Ducks mixed in. A single pair of Blue-winged Teals was spotted for several days.

Blue-winged Teal adult male breeding ©Kim Smith 2015

Blue-winged Teal Adult Male Breeding Plummage

American Black Duck ©Kim smith 2015American Black Duck

Look What Andrea Holbrook Captured ~ A GLOSSY IBIS IN GLOUCESTER!

 

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Andrea writes, “OK , because of where I work — Gloucester — and amazing bird photos posted by friends — that would be you Kimberley Caruso and Kim Smith — I find myself stopping to shoot shorebirds with a camera. Spotted Thursday morning at Grant Circle, a glossy ibis and two snowy egrets. Not great photos but I had never seen a glossy ibis before!”

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Thank you so much Andrea for sharing your photos of the stunning Glossy Ibis. It’s breeding range in the Western Hemisphere is quite narrow and I would love, love to capture this species on film. Keeping my eyes peeled thanks to you!

From the Mass Audubon website, “In Ancient Egypt, ibises were venerated as sacred birds. They were believed to have a connection to the deity Thoth, the wise scribe and lorekeeper of the Egyptian pantheon. While Glossy Ibises are not literate, they are marvelous travelers. The Western Hemisphere population of this species represents a fairly recent arrival to the New World, believed to be descendants of birds who flew from Africa to South America in the early nineteenth century (Davis & Kricher 2000). Read More Here

 

NO GEESE ALLOWED!

Don’t mess with Mama Swan!

Mute Swan attacking ©Kim Smith 2015

Mute Swans are extraordinarily powerful birds and I have seen them turn on a dime, especially at this time of year when the cygnets are beginning to hatch. The above Canadian Goose tried to make a landing but was immediately rebuffed, in no uncertain terms. Several times since, I have observed geese circling overhead, but as soon as the swan is seen, they immediately change course.

Make Way for Ducklings

Mallard Duckilngs ©Kim Smith 2015JPG I was standing so still while filming yesterday morning that I don’t think the female mallard was at first aware of my presence. What a wonderful treat to see she and the ducklings emerge from the reeds growing along the water’s edge. They are amazingly fast and adeptly darted through the water and across the beach, as though they had been born months earlier. I was getting a tremendous cramp and had to stand quickly, which was mama mallard’s cue to chide the ducklings back into the tall grass.

Mallard female Duckling ©Kim Smith 2015Female Mallard and Duckilng -1 ©Kim Smith 2015

Ducks, Geese, Egrets and Herons enjoying the Long Weekend

Walking through the Coolidge Reservation and around Clarke Pond is always interesting and fun especially at this time of the year.  There were many ducks and birds enjoying their environment.  To find out more information on the Coolidge Reservation please click on the following link.

http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/northeast-ma/coolidge-reservation.html

GREEN HERON!

Green Heron Massachusetts Cape Ann ©Kim Smith 2015Male Green Heron

What mystery bird, new to my eyes, was I seeing as it cautiously appeared from the knot of tall reeds? Its neck extended like a heron’s, but was smaller in size than even the Black-crowned Night Heron. I caught a glimpse and then waited for movement, and then waited, and then waited some more when the furtive bird at last flew into a tangle of trees where its shape was unfortunately barely distinguishable. I took a few photos knowing they would be far too grainy to post, thinking nonetheless that a photo would be at least useful for a bird id. Suddenly the mystery bird took flight to the far end of the pond, landing at the water’s edge. I stealthily made my way over and for a few moments had a clear view through the emerging grass and cattails and was able to both film and photograph.

The neck of the male Green Heron is a striking chestnut color and the wing backs are a gorgeous velvety deep greenish-blue gray. As usual, the female’s plumage is more subduedly colored. Green Herons begin to arrive in Massachusetts in May, where they will stay through the summer, dispersing southward in September. The heron’s population is concentrated around inland wetlands and coastal marshes.

From reading several species accounts, the Green Heron’s claim to fame is that it is one of the few animals that utilizes tools to capture prey. It will float a stick or bread crust on the water’s surface to lure small fish, tadpoles, and crayfish. Wouldn’t that be amazing to film! Green Heron’s also eat small snakes, earthworms, and insects.

Green Heron Cape Ann Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2015

 

The Uncommonly Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2015

Male Common Yellowthroat fluffing and drying feathers after his many baths.

Splashing, and then dashing to a nearby tree, splashing and dashing again, and then returning for yet a third bath, this little male Common Yellowthroat seemed to relish in the fresh water at our birdbath. His more subduedly colored mate stayed well hidden and close to the ground and I was thrilled to see them both. This sweet pair of warblers have been in our garden for several days now and perhaps they’ll build their nest here!

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -1 ©Kim Smith 2015Common Yellowthroats were at one time common however, their numbers have been steadily decreasing since the 1960s. Throughout the yellowthroat’s range they are suffering from habitat degradation and loss. Because they live in wetlands and eat primarily insects they, like countless wild creatures, are adversely affected by pesticides and poor water quality.Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2015

Mass Audubon Recommends: Don’t Feed Ducks and Geese

Female Mallard Duck Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2013

Female Mallard Duck

From the Mass Audubon website:

Don’t Feed the Ducks

Giving food to ducks and geese (waterfowl) can create many problems for birds and the environment, and both Mass Audubon and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) discourage it. The notion that waterfowl cannot survive without human intervention is false. Ducks and geese have survived for thousands of years without handouts and will continue to do so if left alone.

In 1973, H.W. Heusmann, a waterfowl biologist with the MDFW, conducted a study at six parks in Massachusetts between mid-August and mid-September. The data gathered during the 28-day period showed that 38,500 people fed 7,800 pounds of food to ducks, which roughly translates to 6,550 loaves of bread. Besides bread, the birds consumed crackers, donuts, pastry, popcorn, potato chips, pretzels, cookies, cereal, peanuts, and lettuce—a diet most people wouldn’t allow their children or pets to eat on a daily basis!

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Them?

  • Feeding attracts large concentrations of waterfowl to areas that can’t naturally support such numbers. Left on their own, ducks and geese will occupy areas that provide sufficient natural food. As they deplete food in one location, they fly to new feeding areas, often miles away. Mallards in Boston and the surrounding suburbs will readily relocate as far as Cape Cod to find open water and food.
  • Artificial feeding encourages unnaturally large flocks to gather in one place where the competition for food can cause unnecessary stress.  This may weaken the birds and make them more susceptible to disease.  Also, birds crowded into these areas are defecating in the same location where they’re feeding.
  • Alternatively, artificial feeding may allow frail birds to survive, reproduce, and diminish the species as a whole. (Mortality is normally high in bird populations; it’s a natural mechanism, important in maintaining populations that the environment can support.)
  • Feeding may encourage species of waterfowl not normally found in the area to concentrate. This can lead to an increased incidence of hybridization, which can eventually weaken the gene pool in certain species. This is a rising problem in Mallard and black duck populations in Massachusetts.
  • Deposits of fecal matter can affect water quality and compromise human health. Children can also come into contact with droppings left on the surrounding landscape. Also, birds crowded into these areas are often defecating in the same location where they’re feeding.

Winter Survivors

Ducks and geese are well suited to survive New England winters. Their feathers provide air pockets that stabilize body temperature and control heat loss. When birds fluff their feathers, they are merely increasing the air space and insulation. Waterfowl sitting with puffed feathers on a frozen pond are perfectly fine and do not need our help.

Birds and the Law

All birds are protected by federal laws under the “Migratory Bird Act of 1918,” as well as by Massachusetts state laws. Learn more about birds and the law.

Please, Please, Please Don’t Feed Our Beautiful Wild Creatures Crappy Junk Food

Mute Swan Cygnus olor ©Kim Smith 2015

Mute Swan

Early Sunday morning was spent filming along the water’s edge. It was a gorgeous scene and I observed dozens of different species of wildlife foraging for seaweed, seagrass, seed heads, and sundry other native plants and grasses.

I left for a moment to go back to my car to change a camera lens and when I returned, there was an old woman throwing crackers at the ducks and the shoreline was littered with the unmistakeable bright orange of CHEETOS. Seriously??? First denying she had dumped the Cheetos, she stared mutely when I suggested that it is really not a good idea to feed our beautiful water birds junk food. Wildlife face challenges enough adapting to climate change and habitat destruction; it’s just plain common sense not to feed them garbage. She had her dog with her and I wanted to ask if she fed her dog junk food, too.

Cheetos ©Kim Smith 20153

A bounty of food for wildlife, at this time of year especially, grows naturally along the shores, marshes, and meadows of Cape Ann. If you are interested in feeding a particular avian species, find out what is safe and healthy. For example, the best food for ducks such as mallards are those that provide nutrients, minerals, and vitamins and they include cracked corn, wheat or similar whole grains, chopped lettuce, spinach, and mealworms. The absolute worst and most unhealthy are bread, chips, crackers, popcorn, and it should go without saying, Cheetos.

 

 

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