On April Fools Day we were surprised to see a 4′ tall Sandhill Crane in the field south of our house. The birds are mostly slate gray colored, with some tan/brownish feathers on their sides and underside, and a red crown on their head around their eyes. When they fly, they keep their necks and legs extended. Within the last few decades, Sandhill Cranes have greatly expanded their nesting range and numbers. It’s been a record year for migrating sandhill cranes at the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. “This year we had the highest number of sandhill cranes ever reported during a fall migration – 256. Recently they have become an occasional breeder in Upstate NY including Tupper Lake. Sandhill Cranes nesting in north migrate long distances. The cranes come to mid-continent to rest and refuel – beginning in late February through early April.
I saw a birding contest sponsored by the DEC with the challenge being to identify at least 10 birds from a list of birds common to NYS. We were just able to identify 10 from their list, but decided to list birds we commonly see from our house. We came up with a list of 53 local birds that we see regularly.
Baltimore Oriole, Blue Bird, Blue Jay, Bob Link, Brown Thrush, Canada Goose, Cardinal, Cat Bird, Chickadee, Common Yellow Throat, Crow, Downy Woodpecker, Evening Grosbeak, Grackle, Great Blue Heron, Hairy Woodpecker, House Finch, House Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Junco, Kestrel, Killdeer, King Fisher, Mallard Duck, Meadow Lark, Mourning Dove, Northern Harrier, Orchard Oriole, Oven Bird, Pee Wee, Phoebe, Pileated Woodpecker, Pine Siskins, Purple Finch, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Red Tailed Hawk, Red Winged Blackbird, Robin, Rose Breasted Grosbeak, Rose Breasted Nut Hatch, Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Ruffed Grouse, Snipe, Starling, Tree Swallow, Turkey, Turkey Vulture, Veery, White Breasted Nuthatch, White Crown Sparrow, White Throated Sparrow, Wood Thrush, Yellow Finch
For the third year in a row Kathryn volunteered to do bird banding at the Crown Point station. She overcame flu-like symptoms prior to leaving and ended up staying in a hotel rather than camping with the pop-up camper. Below she is handling an Indigo Bunting.
Ruby Throated Hummingbird laying on it’s back.
Kathryn took the pop up camper up to Port Henry and volunteered at the Crown Point Bird Banding Station for a few days. She said “I’ve been pecked and clawed and pooped on. I saw up close and personal birds I’m familiar with, birds I’ve never seen before and even one I had never heard of. I’ve “picked,” banded, measured, and determined sex and age. The birds were amazing. The people were helpful and patient, interesting and easy to be with. I learned a lot and had a blast at Crown Point Bird Banding station.”
For Christmas I got Kathryn a gift certificate for her and a friend to go birding in the Adirondacks with Joan Collins at Adirondack Avian Expeditions. Joan Collins is a New York State licensed bird guide, bird walk leader, writer, and speaker on ornithology topics. She has led walks and made presentations for many organizations including Audubon, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the New York State Ornithological Association. Joan also belongs to the ranks of the intrepid Adirondack 46ers (having climbed all 46 peaks in the Adirondacks over 4,000 feet). Joan is a serious ear-birder and is fascinated by bird vocalizations/sounds. Bird behavior, migration, and the history of North American Ornithology are among the many topics that interest Joan. She enjoys bushwhacking and camping in the Adirondack wilderness year-round.
Kathryn had a wonderful day birding with long-time friend Jane Moon, guided by Joan Collins of Adirondack Avian Expeditions although Kathryn was still sick with a stomach bug. She and Jane stayed at the Adirondack Hotel in Long Lake….old and quaint. The heat was off (old steam radiators) so Jane asked them to turn it on. Kathryn was messing around with the kindle and heard the radiators – really loud! – and thought “That noise will be hard to sleep through!” A few minutes later the windows look fogged so she got up….steam billowing out of the bathroom. Went downstairs to tell the clerk (fortunately it happened at 9:03 because they all leave at 930) and by the time we got back to the room, steam clouds are flowing into the hall. Apparently there was something wrong with the steam radiators! But she had a nice steam bath for a few minutes. Got moved but didn’t sleep well (had eaten a small supper but was still sick so had cramps all night).
The group got an early start Tuesday but it was darn cold and she got a bit hypothermic. It warmed up by 10:30 and was much more comfortable although the black flies came out but they weren’t really biting. She saw a lot of birds – 62 species by visiting locations in Newcomb, Minerva, Long Lake, and Tupper Lake . While the goal seemed to have been seeing as many black backed woodpeckers, grey jays and boreal chickadees as possible, we also saw a broad winged hawk feeding his mate, eagle, sand hill crane, kinglets, evening grosbeaks, a zillion warblers including pine, palm, nashville, yellow rumped, yellow, blackburnian, and of course all the usual back yard birds.