What is a New England forager to do in January? Go birding, of course!
Each January 1st marks the start of a new year of birding. I set aside the previous year's bird list and begin anew. I see each species with fresh eyes, and the ever-present possibility for avian surprises nudges me to get outside in all but the most severe weather.
As of this morning, I've observed 87 species in 2015, including many unexpected ones (American Pipit, Bohemian Waxwing, Brown Thrasher, Eurasian Wigeon, Killdeer, King Eider, Rough-legged Hawk, Western Tanager, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker), and one major surprise (Gyrfalcon). Many of these birds were first found by other birders who shared their sightings via eBird or the Maine Birds forum. Thank you to those birders! The following photos were all taken this month. (To view them in full-size, click here.)
This year, in addition to roaming nearby towns for year birds, I've started most days off with a morning backyard bird sit (a type of Sit Spot Moon Challenge that I began on the new moon back in December and ended yesterday). From my backyard perch, I observed nearly 25 species of birds, including three types of hawks (Red-shouldered, Red-tailed and Cooper's), three types of finches (American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, and one fly-over Common Redpoll), four types of woodpeckers (Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, and Pileated), and a Common Raven.
One week into the challenge, it became clear that both a female Red-bellied Woodpecker (above) and a male Hairy Woodpecker (below) were spending their nights in my backyard (in side-by-side Necklace Poplars). Most mornings, I'd watch them peer out of their respective holes around 7am, and, somewhere between 7:05 and 7:45am, I'd watch one or both take flight to kick off the day. These two neighbors and all of the other winged ones of winter have helped me to kick off another great year of nature-based learning!
Top photo caption: Red-shouldered Hawk in Necklace Poplar on 1/11/15.