Bryan's Posts About Birdwatching

Monhegan Migration Report No. 5: Life and Death in Flight

Here on Monhegan Island, the north winds deliver us migrating songbirds, and the raptors take them away.

Monhegan Migration Report No. 4: Summer Weather and Summer Tanagers

Three Merlins and three Sharp-shinned Hawks chased Northern Flickers in open warfare this morning, a natural event each fall on Monhegan.

Warblers: Revealed and Redefined

Warblers are a force of nature, like gravity or sex or chocolate, like a Schubert piano trio or shooting the moon in hearts. Once you’ve enjoyed warblers, you only want more warblers. And there is no better time than now for warblers here in northern New England.

Spring Migration: The Surge Begins

The Black-billed Cuckoo beat its caterpillars senseless this morning before swallowing them whole. The Scarlet Tanagers sang for us in full-frontal view. And an Eastern Bluebird warbled from the top of a white pine. Another morning of spring migration.

Why the American Robin is a Badass Bird

Hardly denizens of the suburban front lawns, American Robins conquer territory with a blend of moxie and manifest destiny, kind of like another American species we know all too well.

Merlins: Murder, Mayhem and Magnificence Now Flying Near You

Like a cross between a cruise missile and a T-Rex, they are flying and killing machines. For more than a week, particularly here in Montpelier, they’ve been flying and killing over Vermont. And at this moment, most of you are probably not too far from a Merlin. Here’s how to find one.

Bald Eagle (and Dead Fish) Alert

Get yourself to the fertile intersection of ice and water (and dead fish) here in Vermont. You’ll probably find Bald Eagles, maybe lots of them. During this time of thaw, eagles sometimes gather where water meets ice in Vermont’s Champlain Lowlands (and elsewhere). I’ve got map to guide you.

A Blackpoll Warbler’s Daring Trans-Atlantic Flight

Two wings and a prayer carry a Blackpoll Warbler on a remarkable journey to South America each autumn. Well, actually, two wings and the audacity to pull off one of the most amazing feats of migration on the planet: a non-stop, trans-Atlantic flight lasting up to three days.

After only speculating about this amazing journey for decades, my colleagues at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies today announced the proof. Blackpoll Warblers fitted with miniature tracking devices took off from points in either Nova Scotia or the northeastern U.S. and flew south over the Atlantic, with no safe place to land, until reaching Caribbean islands roughly 1,600 miles away.

A Shrike Kills a Chickadee (We’ve Got the Video)

Murder and mayhem in Cabot, Vermont. Here we see a Northern Shrike re-attacking a Black-capped Chickadee, which it had earlier killed and left dangling at the gallows on Sunday, February 8.

We Hope To See You (Fully Clothed) Friday in Montpelier

Ruth and I look forward to seeing folks in Montpelier this Friday night for our contribution to the North Branch Nature Center’s Naturalist Journeys lecture series.

Getting Gulls – Lesson One: Your Neighbors

Gulls are nothing if not resourceful and entertaining (unless you’re a southern right whale or a White-crowned Sparrow over Lake Erie). So, with our rainbow warblers long gone for the tropics, and with the vernal serenade still months away, you gotta get with gulls. Here’s your first lesson.

The Crazy Stuff Birds Eat

For many of us who watch their behavior, birds are what they eat — or at least are predictable in their diets: Kingfishers catch fish. Hummingbirds drink nectar. Robins eat earthworms. Flycatchers catch flies. Except when they don’t.