Pileated Woodpecker excavating next hole

I was extremely fortunate today when I followed a Pileated Woodpecker with my binoculars as he landed on the trunk of a very large tree. He scooted down the trunk and all at once disappeared into a hole! I then watched him for the next few minutes as he tossed wood chips out of the hole. He clearly is in the process of excavating a nest hole! These photos are very blurry and zoomed in 18x, but he is quite far back in the woods and I did not want to creep up to the edge of the woods and spook him.

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American Crows building a nest, plus a few other goodies

I am REALLY excited that I just discovered a pair of American Crows building a nest in our back woods. One crow flew over the yard with sticks in its mouth, and I watched as it landed in the “V” of a tree in the back. I was happily surprised to see that it was building a nest. The sticks were deposited, and the crow flew off but soon returned with more sticks. Then the second crow flew in. Here are a few photos that were taken at 18x zoom and then cropped. They are quite far back in the woods:

A few weekends ago, I was able to snap a few photos of the Goldfinches at our feeders showing how they are starting to molt:

And finally, GROUNDHOG alert!!

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Celery Farm Redhead and other ducks

Bob and I visited The Celery Farm on Saturday, hoping to see Ralph the Redhead duck, who has been hanging around for more than a month. Success! What a beauty he is. He gave us some very nice looks, sometimes floating and resting with his head tucked in and other times actively swimming around (click any photo to bring you to the entire album – all photos by Bob Perry):

Ralph the Redhead, Celery Farm, November 21, 2015.  ALL PHOTOS BY BOB PERRY.IMG_8948.JPGIMG_8947.JPG

We also got magnificent looks at some Northern Shovelers:

Male Northern ShovelerIMG_8987.JPGFemale Northern Shoveler

Other ducks we saw included Hooded Mergansers, American Black Ducks, a single female Ruddy Duck, as well as American Wigeons and Mallards, pictured below:Two male American Wigeon with a Shoveler in the backBeautiful Mallards

We also watched a Downy Woodpecker going nuts, pecking away at a bunch of tree trunks:IMG_9083.JPGCheck out the wood chip flying away as the Downy pecks at the branch!Bye!

There are more photos within the album, so click on any photo to bring you to them. Enjoy!

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Purple Finches at the feeders

About a week ago, I had some beautiful visitors – 5 Purple Finches! In the morning I only noticed a male and female pair at the feeders. But in the late afternoon while I was sitting outside, all 5 flew into a tree near me. There were 3 females and 2 males. After one gave a little chip, they all took off out of the yard for the night! Here are a few photos:

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Banding birds at Sandy Hook

Today on our bird walk at Sandy Hook led by Scott Barnes, we stopped by the banding station to see what birds they had captured in the mist nets. We saw them band, measure, and weigh the following birds: adult male, young male, and female Common Yellowthroats, a House Wren, and a Gray Catbird. Here is one photo of each bird, but you can click on any photo that will bring you to the entire album:

Male Common Yellowthroat at the banding station at Sandy Hook, May 22, 2015Young male Common Yellowthroat having its feathers/wings measured. Note the fainter black eye mask than the previous adult maleWhat a cute little face she hasHouse Wren being bandedGray Catbird - a beauty

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Pileated in yard / Mergansers & Eagles at Wanaque Reservoir

This afternoon Bob and I were very excited to find a female Pileated Woodpecker in our Ringwood yard. Bob immediately got his camera and was able to get some cool photos. It was interesting to watch her getting sap from holes in the trees, and we heard her knocking loudly on the wood, sending bark flying all around. She darted from tree to tree for quite a while. (Click on any photo to bring you to the full album. All photos by Bob Perry.)

Female Pileated Woodpecker in the yard - Ringwood - November 23, 2014 (all photo taken by Bob Perry)Getting sap from the already existing holes in the treeLifting her wing

We went over to Wanaque Reservoir around 1 pm, because yesterday I had noticed a whole bunch of ducks sitting on the water. They were still there today, and all of them except one bird were Common Mergansers – easily 300, but that’s a conservative estimate. The exception was a lone male Hooded Merganser associating with the Commons. Suddenly, the ducks started to take flight and make alarm sounds, and we watched 2 immature Bald Eagles who had been perched nearby start to terrorize the ducks. After all the birds were up, more came flying overhead from farther up the reservoir, along with 12 Mallards. The eagles made a big show but never ended up catching anything:

First immature Bald Eagle, scaring up the ducks

Five of approximately 300 Common Mergansers on Wanaque Reservoir being scared up by 2 Bald Eagles

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Goodbye Englewood, hello Ringwood: a tribute to my yard

I began birding 10 years ago in Englewood, NJ. I discovered the Great Backyard Bird Count online and walked down my street trying to count birds, only to discover I literally could not even ID a House Sparrow. For some reason that I still cannot explain or describe, I became hooked on birds, and I have never looked back. So I can actually say that a House Sparrow got me into bird watching!

We just moved to Ringwood, NJ, which is so wonderful already, and I’m thrilled. But I leave my Englewood yard with a very heavy heart and much sadness for all my “regular” yard birds, like Mr. and Mrs. Led-belly (who just recently had another successful nest this year, producing a probable female baby), Boyd and Betty the Robins, the Downy Woodpeckers, the 15 or so Blue Jays, the Cardinals, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, ¬†and so many more. My yard has produced 85 species over the past 10 years that I am aware of. Who knows what else has flown through when I was not there? 85 species is pretty amazing for a small plot of land (50 feet by 150 feet) in a very suburban neighborhood directly across from Route 4. Some of the more unusual/exciting birds I’ve seen there are Monk Parakeet, Common Nighthawk, Bald Eagle, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Common Raven, Winter Wren, Golden- and Ruby-crowned Kinglets (both were life birds on the same day!), Hermit Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Clay-colored Sparrow, Field Sparrow, American Tree Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Indigo Bunting, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, and warblers of the following flavors: Tennessee, Blackpoll, Black-throated Green, Black & White, Pine, Palm, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Redstart, and Common Yellowthroat.

Three of four Monk Parakeets in the yard on June 4, 2011Pine Siskin 2/14/09 for the Great Backyard Bird Count

Below is a list complied from eBird (which I started using over 10 years ago from the day I began bird watching) of my complete yard list, including breeding birds and life birds in my yard. So far the Ringwood yard has been exceptional, producing my most-wanted yard bird – Pileated Woodpecker – just this morning, and we have other birds here I’ve never seen in Englewood, like Red-eyed Vireo and Great-crested Flycatcher. But there will always be a special place in my heart for my little beautiful yard in Englewood. My list is here:

YARD LIST (compiled from eBird)

Asterisk (*) at end of entry = yard or close surrounding area breeder.

Date at end of entry in bold = life bird.

Row #,Species,Count,Location,S/P,Date

1,Canada Goose,22,YARD LIST,US-NJ,24 Feb 2004

2,Mallard,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,29 May 2006

3,Wild Turkey,6,YARD LIST,US-NJ,08 Aug 2010*

4,Great Blue Heron,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,15 Mar 2010

5,Great Egret,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,18 May 2005,

6,Black-crowned Night-Heron,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,16 Jul 2006

7,Black Vulture,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,31 Dec 2013

8,Turkey Vulture,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,10 Dec 2006

9,Osprey,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,08 Apr 2014

10,Sharp-shinned Hawk,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,17 Apr 2004

11,Cooper’s Hawk,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,31 Dec 2004

12,Bald Eagle,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Nov 2008

13,Broad-winged Hawk,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,15 Sep 2010

14,Red-tailed Hawk,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,14 Nov 2004

15,Ring-billed Gull,20,YARD LIST,US-NJ,27 Feb 2004

16,Herring Gull,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,19 Mar 2011

17,Rock Pigeon,23,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Feb 2004

18,Mourning Dove,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,26 Feb 2004*

19,Common Nighthawk,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,30 Aug 2013

20,Chimney Swift,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,17 Aug 2005

21,Belted Kingfisher,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,26 Oct 2010

22,Red-headed Woodpecker,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,27 Feb 2004

23,Red-bellied Woodpecker,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,08 Mar 2004*

24,Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,02 Oct 2005

25,Downy Woodpecker,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,25 Apr 2004*

26,Hairy Woodpecker,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,15 Jan 2005*

27,Northern Flicker,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,24 Apr 2004*

28,Monk Parakeet,10,YARD LIST,US-NJ,27 Oct 2008

29,Eastern Phoebe,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,21 Oct 2006

30,Blue Jay,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,25 Feb 2004*

31,American Crow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,26 Feb 2004

32,Fish Crow,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,09 Apr 2011

33,Common Raven,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,25 Apr 2013

34,Tree Swallow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,21 May 2005

35,Barn Swallow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,14 Jun 2009

36,Black-capped Chickadee,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Feb 2004

37,Tufted Titmouse,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,08 Mar 2004

38,Red-breasted Nuthatch,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,27 Oct 2007

39,White-breasted Nuthatch,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Feb 2004

40,Brown Creeper,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,06 Nov 2011

41,House Wren,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,16 Jun 2007

42,Winter Wren,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,15 Oct 2009

43,Carolina Wren,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,01 Oct 2006*

44,Golden-crowned Kinglet,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Oct 2005

45,Ruby-crowned Kinglet,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Oct 2005 (NOTE: both Kinglets as life birds on same day!)

46,Hermit Thrush,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,05 Nov 2006

47,American Robin,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,01 Mar 2004*

48,Gray Catbird,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,01 May 2004*

49,Brown Thrasher,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,25 Sep 2007

50,Northern Mockingbird,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,10 Apr 2004

51,European Starling,7,YARD LIST,US-NJ,18 Feb 2004*

52,Cedar Waxwing,8,YARD LIST,US-NJ,10 Jun 2010

53,Black-and-white Warbler,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 May 2004

54,Tennessee Warbler,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,07 Oct 2011

55,Common Yellowthroat,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,29 Sep 2006

56,American Redstart,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,04 May 2010

57,Yellow Warbler,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,01 May 2012

58,Blackpoll Warbler,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,17 May 2012

59,Palm Warbler,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,05 Nov 2005

60,Pine Warbler,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,28 Mar 2010

61,Yellow-rumped Warbler,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,21 Oct 2006

62,Black-throated Green Warbler,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,04 Oct 2009

63,Eastern Towhee,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Apr 2004

64,American Tree Sparrow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,01 Jan 2011

65,Chipping Sparrow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,09 Apr 2004

66,Clay-colored Sparrow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,21 Oct 2012

67,Field Sparrow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,16 Oct 2012

68,Fox Sparrow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,12 Nov 2005

69,Song Sparrow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Feb 2004

70,White-throated Sparrow,5,YARD LIST,US-NJ,21 Feb 2004

71,White-crowned Sparrow,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,30 Oct 2010

72,Dark-eyed Junco,20,YARD LIST,US-NJ,21 Feb 2004

73,Northern Cardinal,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,18 Feb 2004*

74,Rose-breasted Grosbeak,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,23 Apr 2009

75,Indigo Bunting,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,06 Nov 2010

76,Red-winged Blackbird,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,29 Apr 2004*

77,Rusty Blackbird,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,26 Feb 2010

78,Common Grackle,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,17 Apr 2004*

79,Brown-headed Cowbird,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,29 Apr 2004*

80,Baltimore Oriole,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,04 Aug 2005*

81,House Finch,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,18 Jul 2004*

82,Purple Finch,1,YARD LIST,US-NJ,23 Nov 2007

83,Pine Siskin,3,YARD LIST,US-NJ,18 Jan 2009

84,American Goldfinch,2,YARD LIST,US-NJ,11 Dec 2004*

85,House Sparrow,15,YARD LIST,US-NJ,22 Feb 2004*

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Catbird nest, and new yard babies

Bob and I discovered the location of the Gray Catbird nest in the yard today! Bob noticed one of the birds grab a little twig and saw it fly into a large shrub. I scouted the shrub with my binoculars and finally was able to see the nest well camouflaged. I thought it might be located here because I could hear the bird singing in the morning from around this area, but it was hard to verify (click on each photo to enlarge and for explanatory caption):

Gray Catbird nest - closeup but zoomed in at 18X, so I was approximately 25 feet away from nest. The nest was actually quite deep/long, like a "V" shape.Zoomed out a bit to show perspective in shrubs - notice the red balloon and red string to see where nest is. We discovered where the nest was located when we saw one of the birds take a twig and fly to this shrub.Fully zoomed out. The nest is in top left of large shrub behind our pear treeZoomed all the way back in for another photo

We also have a new baby Robin and a baby Groundhog in the yard:

New baby Robin in the yard! May 31, 2014

New little Baby Jesus the Groundhog, May 31, 2014

Click on each photo above to see photos of and interactions with their parents. More baby photos to come shortly!

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Injured Black Vulture in yard, and Snowy the albino House Sparrow

This morning when I went out to fill the water bowls with warm water for the birds, I startled a HUGE vulture sitting on the ground in my neighbor’s yard. Thanks to some input and ID help from the JerseyBirds list, it’s confirmed as a BLACK VULTURE. It looks like a big chunk of its tail and/or wing feathers is missing from its rear. I tried to slowly approach to see if it would let me capture it to take it somewhere for help, but it definitely can fly low to the ground for short distances and wouldn’t let me near. Poor thing. Click this to see all 4 photos:

Injured Vulture (young Turkey Vulture?) in yard Dec. 31, 2013

On a lighter note, we have had a partially albino House Sparrow in the yard for a few months now. We named it Snowy and it looks kind of like a Snow Bunting. Click this photo for more pics:

Snowy the albino House Sparrow

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Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the yard on November 28!

I am SO glad I just happened to look out my window, because I noticed quick little movement in my evergreen tree next to my window. The bird was moving like a Kinglet, but I didn’t think I would see one at this late a date. I grabbed my binoculars and immediately saw the bright ruby crown flashing through the evergreen needles. I couldn’t believe it. The bird foraged in the interior of the tree and was not easy to see, but I decided to grab my camera and try for photos. The only shots I could get were these 2 horrible pictures, but hopefully they at least document the bird:

Blob of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in the yard on November 28, 2013RC Kinglet in yard

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