Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ospreys on cam

The Ospreys are back at the Coastal Center at Milford Point! The pair has already commenced nest building for the 2011 season. These enormously popular birds are a great sight to watch out the windows of the Coastal Center. However, you can enjoy them from home, too. If you go to this link it will take you directly to a live cam on the nest in the marsh at Milford Point. The viewing quality should be better than ever this year.

The infamous photo of the Osprey that Twan and I rescued last year

We asked them to please keep the camera clear and view unobstructed, as sometimes they get a bit overzealous in their construction. However, we will do our best to help them out with this task. If you want to get a sense of the history of the nest you can visit the Osprey cam page on our website here:

It takes a lot of time and money to maintain and operate this camera. If you want to help keep it running smoothly we would greatly appreciate your donations which can be made by clicking here. Thank you all so much for your support. I know the Ospreys are thankful, too.

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

Monday, March 28, 2011

Piping Plover Monitoring Program begins soon!

In spite of the unseasonably cold weather in recent days, the first Piping Plovers have already reached our shores and their breeding season will start shortly. These state and federally listed shorebirds have been the subject of a very successful volunteer monitoring program for many years. Due to the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Environmental Protection's Wildlife Division and many volunteers, Piping Plover numbers have increased greatly in past years. Breeding pairs are now reliably found in areas where they never nested before historically. However, the future nesting success of these threatened birds hinges entirely on the continuation of the volunteer monitoring program.

Piping Plover monitors work with USFWS and DEP to observe and collect data on nesting plovers and chicks on several beaches in Fairfield and New Haven counties. Piping Plover monitors also provide an important educational function when they interact with the public on the nesting beaches. Often people are unaware of the presence of these at-risk species on their favorite beach, which is not entirely surprising since these birds are generally relatively rare and also because they are extremely adept at making themselves hard to notice. Can you spot the nesting Piping Plover in the picture below?

This past Saturday, the USFWS and DEP provided the first training session for this year's Piping Plover Monitors at the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center in Milford Point, one of the premier nesting areas for these birds.

In the picture above, USFWS Refuge Manager Rick Potvin is explaining some of the logistics of working on Milford Point to his audience. Meanwhile, USFWS staff had placed two plastic eggs on the beach nearby to simulate a Piping Plover nest with its well-camouflaged eggs.

Ironically, DEP Wildlife Biologist Julie Victoria, who has been the driving force behind the successful protection of Piping Plovers in our state, was unaware of this and almost stepped on the eggs.

Luckily USFWS staff quickly deployed a wire screen exclosure to protect the eggs from further harm.

These exclosures are used during the breeding season to protect the nests encountered and reported by Plover Monitors.

This year, additional emphasis will be put on reporting, protecting and monitoring Least Tern nests as well. This state-listed species has had a poor track record for breeding success in the state lately and their nest site selection process is still poorly understood. Since least Terns often breed on the same beaches as Piping Plovers it is relatively easy to include them in the monitoring program as well.

If you are interested in participating in this citizen science program and becoming a Piping Plover monitor, please contact USFWS Refuge Biologist Kris Vagos ( or Park Ranger Shaun Roche ( for more information or for an enrollment form. You can also call the administrative office of the Stewart B. McKinney Wildife Refuge (860-399 2513) or contact Connecticut Audubon Society staff at Milford Point or Stratford Point.

All photos copyright Twan Leenders

Bafflin Sanctuary American Woodcock

One of the birds seen at our Bafflin Sanctuary today...

This American Woodcock was very cooperative. Much more to come this week on the conservation work, changes, and birds of the Connecticut Audubon Society Center at Pomfret.

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stratford Point recent photos

Here are a few photos of what has been going on at the always popular Stratford Point in the past week. I found this pile of feathers while walking the perimeter trail during a survey...

Any clue as to what they are? If you look
very closely you will be able to see bits of red and orange feathers, making it seem like these were from a Red-winged Blackbird. Perhaps a Peregrine Falcon grabbed a snack? Hmm...

It is the time of year for the Northern Gannet show. A few decades ago such a thing was unheard of. Our Senior Director of Science and Conservation, Milan Bull, was telling me about a sighting of two birds he had in Westport around that time that hardly anyone believed. Now they're almost common at some points of the year on the coast. These magnificent birds can be frequently seen soaring over Long Island Sound and plunge-diving into the water for their meals in March. They will even fly
over land at Stratford Point. Suffice it to say, you can get some amazing views of these birds there. They keep neglecting to do that while I am on the perimeter and have my camera ready, though...

Speaking of Mr. Bull, here he is with our friend Tom Sayers who kindly stopped by to help us ready the American Kestrel box he installed last fall. We have had a few of the species pass through, though none have shown interest in it yet. It is early enough in the season, and the next couple of weeks should tell us whether or not we will have a pair spending the spring and summer with us. Fingers crossed...

Lastly, here is a sign of spring despite the snow and cold, a White-crowned Sparrow. While there are some in the state in the winter, there have been none at Stratford Point, and we can assure you this was a migrant bird. It is going to be rough migration weather until we change the pattern, which may be in the first week of April. Slow but steady is the name of the game for now...

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spain tour - Osprey return

First, here is a message from Frank Gallo, Director of the Coastal Center at Milford Point:

I wanted to let everyone know that I'm running a Spain tour 26 September to 10 October, with a great Spanish guide. This will be our third tour together. This year, we'll be in Gibraltar to experience the incredible fall migration of storks (Black, & White), raptors, and many landbirds. There's a good chance for Eleonora's Falcon which takes advantage of the abundant food supply provided by the passing migration. We then travel to the Spanish Steppes in search of the rare Dupont's Lark (we have a great site for them), both Bustards, Black Wheatear, and a few of the more rare Eagles. On the way, we'll stop at a marsh complex that gives us a good chance for rarities such as White-headed Duck. Our tour continues into the incredibly beautiful Pyrenees Mountains where we have reliable sites for Lammergeyer and many other species, including a chance at Wallcreeper (rare, but we've seen it twice). Our Tour concludes in the Ebro Delta, below Barcelona, one of Spain's best shorebird and waterfowl areas. Spain is Europe's premier birding country, and its rich culture and delightful food and wine just add to the experience (wine is included with dinner!) We only need a few more folks for this trip to run. Time is tight, so if you're interested, please contact the Connecticut Audubon Societies Eco-travel office at 1-800-966-8747 as soon as possible. Full details are on our webpage at I'd love to show you the sights and I hope you can come along. If you know anyone that might be interested, please pass this information along. See you soon.

Speaking of Milford Point, Ospreys have been moving in to the area already this spring, and here are some distant late-evening photos of one near our Osprey cam nest platform from Lou Spero.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rainforest Project crew returns from Costa Rica

Connecticut Audubon Society staff members Frank Gallo and Twan Leenders recently returned from a two-week research stint in Costa Rica with students and staff from three Litchfield high schools. Stay tuned for more information and photographs on our findings!

Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus coronatus) -- Photo (c) Twan Leenders

Going Native to Restore Songbird Sanctuaries

Today we wanted to point you to another article, this time detailing a wonderful event that was hosted at our own Birdcraft Museum and sanctuary this past Tuesday. I mentioned it here in the blog on March 16. I am glad that so many people could attend and enjoy it as the issue of native plants is a vital one in regard to conservation. To get more information about the event, including some of the tips and information provided by our speaker, Michael Corcoran, check out this fantastic article on it:

Please remember to check our calendar frequently for events such as this and many more across the state suitable for both adults and children. You can find that here:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cats Are Birds' No. 1 Enemy

We wanted to share the following New York Times article with you:

It is titled, "Tweety Was Right: Cats Are a Bird’s No. 1 Enemy". The article discusses a study that took place in Washington D.C. suburbs on cats and fledgling Gray Catbirds. It states that "Nearly 80 percent of the birds were killed by predators, and cats were responsible for 47 percent of those deaths." That is obviously a very high percentage, but one that does not surprise me. I recently wrote a blog entry (click here to read it) with a long story about my cat. Near the end I mentioned, as the article does, that according to the American Bird Conservancy cats kill at the very least over 500 million birds in the United States each year. The actual total is likely much higher.

Any cat that is outside will kill wild birds, rodents, and more. I am not just a bird person. I can speak from a position of having been around cats my entire life, having owned many, trapped strays, followed and studied outdoor cats in the field, and so forth. They are nearly always sweet and lovable creatures, but they are still killers. It is their natural instinct. It is the responsibility of a cat owner to keep that cat in their home. Of course they want to go outside - my cat Toby tries to get out each and every day - but they need to be kept indoors if only for their own protection, let alone that of the birds and other wildlife.

Cats that are outside can be killed by vehicles or aggressive dogs, harmed by careless people or other cats, and are much more prone to disease. They can ingest deadly chemicals, acquire fleas and ticks quite easily, be injured or killed in falls or other accidents, and be eaten by predators like coyotes, bears, owls, and more. We have all seen beloved pets run down in the road, and I have seen dismembered cats and much more I will not detail while in the field. You do not want your cat leaving your home. If you love your cat, let alone care about or respect the natural world, you must keep it indoors. On the rare days when Toby has gotten out the door while I let my dog out I have run him down like his life depends on it - because it does. Making cats stay indoors at all times will give them much longer, healthier lives while sparing the lives of countless birds. It's win-win for conservation and cats.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring snow

I bet just as many people as birds were surprised to see white everywhere this morning as a minor spring snow fell in Connecticut. While it was not a big deal, especially after what we had from Boxing Day through early February, it was a psychological hit for those of us who revelled in the spring air last week. It is hard to believe it was 76 degrees on the Connecticut coast last Friday and less than 72 hours later everything is covered in white. Here are some of the totals from Fairfield County since no others have been reported as of yet:



Again, while not overly impressive, they are notable for March 21 when birds like Tree Swallows, Eastern Phoebes, Pine Warblers, Piping Plovers, and more have returned. Nearby areas in other states received up to three inches. Below is a clever American Robin choosing to eat pieces of suet that fall to the ground after woodpeckers peck away at it.

Many species are as far as nest building already. Numerous plants have begun to grow as well. I snapped this casual shot of these tiny signs of spring growing in the shade of a large tree trunk at Boothe Park in Stratford last week.

They were probably covered up, though most of these early patches of green can sustain a hit or two of freezing temperatures and a quick shot of snow.

We hope the early birds did not take too much of a hit. That is the risk they take in returning before others of their species to set up territory and begin the breeding season. Tomorrow's highs near 50 under sunny skies should get rid of any lingering snow and put us back on track for a wonderful spring.

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stratford Point - more Eurasian Wigeon(s)

There have been at least three or four Eurasian Wigeons at Stratford Point this winter. They have been seen on so many days I am starting to think they're a typical species and not a rare duck. I took a few photos of one that was hanging around late last week. None of the species had been here for a couple of weeks, so this may have been another bird, though who can be sure. You can see it here with a couple of American Wigeon and then among a group of ducks including more American Wigeon and Gadwall.

Considering these photos were taken with my point-and-shoot camera you can imagine the views with a scope. Stratford Point has become a busy place ahead of spring's arrival. Friday's high temperature of 76 at KBDR shattered the record of 68 in 1999 and made it the "birdiest" day of the season with songs of many species filling the incredibly warm air. Migrant raptors including a Northern Harrier and Sharp-shinned Hawk hunted the grasslands while other birds on the move like Dark-eyed Junco and Northern Flicker fed on the areas of lawn.

It is also time for the massive plankton feeding as thousands of migrant gulls feast on the tiny organisms. Several thousand gulls were seen off the seawall in Stratford this week, with other areas reporting high numbers as well. However, this feeding frenzy is not restricted to gulls, as Brant and many species of ducks (like hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks I saw this week) also take part in the meal. During one of these afternoons last week nearly all of the waterfowl and gull species were away from Stratford Point, but this lone Herring Gull was enjoying food without being pestered by other gulls. Here is a photo of it trying to down a starfish.

Certainly seems like that would be a much more satisfying meal, eh?

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

Thursday, March 17, 2011

American Woodcock dance

It is the time of year for American Woodcock display flights, and many have been reported across Connecticut. I spotted the bird in the photos below after it walked across a path in front of me in the Stratford Great Meadows IBA.

Wandering around but still watching me

Frozen in place

It continued away from me on foot to look for a snack, doing the little woodcock "dance" for several seconds before freezing, which you can see in this HD video.

American Woodcock from Connecticut Audubon Society.

Look at how well it blends in to the leaf litter environment. I always love seeing them in the middle of the day because of that walk, their beautiful colors, and huge eyes, which are always scanning in every direction for dangers like me. I flushed another bird a few minutes later, which is the usual way you find them in the daytime. Nevertheless, walk carefully and slowly and you may get lucky enough to encounter a woodcock in the manner I did.

Photos and video © Scott Kruitbosch

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Birdscaping - native plants for our native birds

Where: Birdcraft Museum, 314 Unquowa Road, Fairfield, CT 06824

When: Tuesday, March 22 at 6:30

Who and what: Michael Corcoran discusses birdscaping, ways in which our landscape choices can provide sanctuary to native songbirds and help restore our native plants. Michael will share some of the steps he took in creating a bird-friendly habitat, utilizing native plants, trees and shrubs on his property. He will provide tips on design and plant selection for making even the smallest of spaces more attractive to our native songbirds. With a simple understanding of how our native songbird and native plant communities are linked, he has provided safe haven for breeding birds and created a migratory "stop over" for birds during their seasonal movements. To date, he has 125 bird species on a 12 year "yard list". Free for members, $5 for non-members. To register or more information call 203-259-0416 ext 407.


How many birds do you have on your yard list? In my Stratford yard I have 130, with the best find being an extremely rare vagrant Purple Gallinule. You should really keep track of what you find in yours. This is another feature of eBird, by the way. You may be surprised how high a total you can get. Besides looking up to the sky more attend this discussion to see what else you can do to get birds to your yard.

Tsnuami impact on seabirds

First and foremost, all of our thoughts and prayers are with Japan and its people. The human cost and continuing disaster in the nation is a priority beyond any birds or other environmental damage. As a poli sci guy I have been paying nonstop attention to these horrifying human elements. However, since we are a conservation organization and focus on birds (and not nuclear physics), I wanted to call your attention to the following article on seabirds and the tsunami - you can find it here.

It details the impact the tsunami had on the Midway atoll. It ended up wiping away thousands of Laysan albatross nests, chicks, and adults. There are more of the species at Midway than anywhere else in the world, and unlike some similar species, they are not endangered. It also speaks of a petrel species and how the tsunami may have impacted it. The article includes some striking photos and some very interesting remarks as well. Here is hoping things finally take a turn for the better for the devastated nation of Japan and its people and all of the Pacific region.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gruesome discovery

I found these remains in an area where few people venture in the Stratford Great Meadows IBA last week. The photo is quite graphic, and I definitely advise anyone who cannot stomach such things to skip this entry. If you can take a CSI-like scene then have a look and see what you think it could be.

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Here they come

Take a look at this NWS image from an hour ago...

Yes, they are coming. Eastern Phoebes, Pine Warblers, Tree Swallows, and more are in those first noticeable batches of migrants. Keep an eye on the radar when we have west or south winds.

Image courtesy the National Weather Service

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Piping Plover volunteers needed

Piping Plover on Long Beach in Stratford

Do you have an interest in wildlife?
Do you enjoy walking along the beaches of Long Island Sound?
Can you spare at least two hours a month to help threatened birds in our state?

Please consider volunteering as a piping plover monitor for the US Fish and Wildlife Service!

For the last several years the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Connecticut Audubon, The Nature Conservancy and Milford Point/Stratford Great Meadows Friends Group have partnered to monitor beaches between West Haven and Stratford for piping plover. These migratory birds return to the Connecticut coast in March from their wintering grounds on the Gulf Coast and stay here up to five months. The nests of the piping plover are extremely susceptible to human disturbance, destruction by predators, and tidal wash outs. This annual volunteer monitoring program has made great strides over the years in enhancing the survival and productivity of plover in our state.

Volunteer monitors observe and record data for nesting piping plovers at one of four locations: Milford Point near the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center; Silver Sands State Park in Milford; Long Beach in Stratford; and Sandy Point in West Haven. The primary duties involve assisting the USFWS with observation and data collection for nesting piping plovers and educating the public. Volunteers work 2-hour shifts from April until the end of the breeding season (usually in August) and must donate a minimum of 2 hours per month.

If you are interested:
Please attend the training and orientation session held Saturday, March 26, 2011 from 9am to 12pm at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point.

The session will include piping plover natural history, the state of plovers in Connecticut, volunteer organization and logistics, reporting responsibilities, and beach training with simulated plovers and eggs.

For more information on the training session, directions to the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center, or to make reservations, please call USFWS Ranger Shaun Roche at (860) 399-2513 or email Reservations are suggested but not required.
Directions to and more information on the Coastal Center can also be found on our website here.

Photo © Scott Kruitbosch

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Connecticut State of the Birds 2011

In this entry I told you about the Connecticut State of the Birds 2011 press conference. It took place last Thursday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation and editor of the report delivered critical information on "Conserving our Forest Birds." The report includes strategies and solutions to curb forest fragmentation and end the negative trend of declining bird populations. CAS recommends revamping the state's strategies for acquiring land for conservation purposes to make the process more targeted and maximize bird, wildlife and natural resource conservation. Now that the report has been issued we can offer you a copy for viewing online, which you can read in full right here. If you become a member you will receive a copy among your many benefits. Additionally, if you wish to read past versions you can see them here.

As you can see, a Blackburnian Warbler is featured on the cover of the report. I shot this HD video of one last year during spring migration survey work in the Stratford Great Meadows Important Bird Area. This report hopes to aid the future of species such as this in Connecticut.

Blackburnian Warbler from Connecticut Audubon Society.

Video © Scott Kruitbosch

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March birding classes

Here are some upcoming birding classes at Milford Point. A complete listing of classes through June with be on our webpage shortly at They are very popular and highly recommended!

Instructor/Contact: Frank Gallo, Director
To register call Louise at 203-878-7440 x 502; E-mail: or for more information.

Sorting Out Bird Songs

Tuesday, March 22, 7-9
Thursday, April 7, 7-9 p.m.
Birdsong can be an incredible aid to finding and identifying birds. Instructor Frank Gallo, an avid student of birdsong, will introduce the basics of birding by ear, using sound resources, as well as the tips, tricks, and even pitfalls to indentifying birds by sound. Is that an oriole or a tanager singing? Could that be a hermit thrush calling or a catbird? Come find out, as we delve into the basics of birding by ear. Meet at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Fee: $35.

Birding for Beginners

Thursday, March 24, 7-9
Saturday, March 26, 9-11:30 a.m. (Field Trip)
Tuesday, March 29, 7-9 p.m.
Saturday, April 2, 9:00 -11:30 a.m. (Field Trip)
This introductory course gives students the basics for identifying birds on their own. Longtime instructor and expert birder Frank Gallo will teach you identification skills, as well as how to choose and use field guides and binoculars, and where to find birds locally during this fun and comprehensive course. The course culminates with a field trip to a local birding hot spot. No experience is necessary. Bring the Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds. (Field Guides are available for sale at the Coastal Center.) Meet at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Fee: $70

Friday, March 4, 2011

A few random photos

It feels like all I have been posting lately has been text, so here are a few quick random photos.

The first is from back on February 21 at Stratford Point. Look at how the powerful winds during a squall molded the snow around blades of grass.

Second, here is another Eurasian Wigeon at Stratford Point from a few days ago. It really is quite a rare bird though it does not feel that way this year.

Lastly, I did get an OK photo of the early American Oystercatcher I mentioned in the last post. I did not crop the photo much because it makes the bird's vivid color pop out against the brown and bare winter background.

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Wednesday Walk - American Oystercatcher

Yesterday I led the First Wednesday Walk for the New Haven Bird Club. On the first Wednesday of each month they organize a free and public bird walk in a variety of areas. This month it was my own Stratford, including the Stratford Great Meadows Important Bird Area and the CAS managed Stratford Point IBA. I definitely recommend joining them for a walk in April or May or whenever you can. We had 25 participants fight through bitterly cold wind to see 41 species, with the highlight (in my opinion at least!) being an early American Oystercatcher. The species is normally not seen back in Connecticut for another week or two. The healthy and happy individual was yet another example of birds returning earlier each spring.

I did not snap any photos of that bird, but here is a photo and a video of one at Stratford Point back in April of 2009. If you want more information on the species and their struggle in Connecticut check out the Connecticut Audubon Society State of the Birds 2008
report (in .pdf form).

American Oystercatcher from Connecticut Audubon Society.

Another highlight came while only Tina Green and I were left at Stratford Point. I spotted an American Kestrel soaring in from Long Island Sound, subsequently landing on a telephone pole on our property. It was a migrant making a pit stop. For crazed hawkwatchers like myself, it is hard to top seeing a raptor come in off the water and stop in front of you for a break on its journey north. Here is the full list of 41 species:

1. Brant
2. Canada Goose
3. Mute Swan
4. Gadwall
5. American Wigeon
6. American Black Duck
7. Mallard
8. Long-tailed Duck
9. Common Goldeneye
10. Hooded Merganser
11. Red-breasted Merganser
12. Common Loon
13. Northern Harrier
14. Red-tailed Hawk
15. American Kestrel
16. Peregrine Falcon
17. Killdeer
18. American Oystercatcher
19. Sanderling
20. Dunlin
21. American Woodcock
22. Ring-billed Gull
23. Herring Gull
24. Great Black-backed Gull
25. Rock Pigeon
26. Mourning Dove
27. Monk Parakeet
28. Downy Woodpecker
29. Blue Jay
30. American Crow
31. Black-capped Chickadee
32. Carolina Wren
33. American Robin
34. Northern Mockingbird
35. European Starling
36. Song Sparrow
37. Red-winged Blackbird
38. Common Grackle
39. Boat-tailed Grackle
40. House Finch
41. House Sparrow

Photo and video © Scott Kruitbosch

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Adult Nature History Lecture Series

Here is an announcement from the Director of the CAS Coastal Center at Milford Point, Frank Gallo:

Adult Nature History Lecture Series
At the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point

Join us each month at the Coastal Center as conservation and wildlife experts come in to share with you their knowledge on an array of topics. Pre-registration is required for all programs. No fee but donations are appreciated.

Osprey in Connecticut - Thursday, March 17th, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Join us as Julie Victoria, wildlife biologist for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, gives a lecture on one of the most fascinating birds of prey - the osprey. Did you know that fish make up to 99% of an osprey’s diet and they can dive from some 30-100 feet in order to catch their food? Therefore, the food-rich salt marsh habitat around the Coastal Center makes it the ideal place for osprey. With luck, we may spot one that has returned from its long journey back north.

Amphibians in Decline - Wednesday, April 6th, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Did you know that one-third of the world’s amphibian populations are in decline and that just in the last two decades alone 168 amphibian species have gone extinct? Come find out the causes for these staggering statistics as Connecticut Audubon Society conservation biologist Twan Leenders shares with you recently collected information from his trip to study amphibians in Costa Rica.

Horseshoe Crab Tagging and Lecture - Tuesday, May 31st, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Although usually overlooked, horseshoe crabs are one of the most remarkable creatures on our planet. Having changed little over the last 250 million years, these arthropods are frequent visitors to our shorelines. Come join Dr. Jennifer Mattei and Dr. Mark Beekey of Sacred Heart University as they teach you even more about these amazing creatures. The program will even conclude with a horseshoe crab tagging session out on the beach for those who are interested. Wear old sneakers or water shoes.

Bats - Tuesday, June 14th, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
With the 1,100 different type of bat species representing nearly 20% of all mammal species, these animals are definitely worth learning about! Join Christina Kocer and Jenny Dickson, wildlife biologists for the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, as they teach us about these incredible flying mammals.

Call Louise at 203-878-7440 to register.
Cost: Free (donations appreciated)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Crossley ID Guide

By now, I am sure you have heard something about The Crossley ID Guide by Richard Crossley. It is one of the most anticipated and spoken-of guides to come out in recent memory. He and the Princeton University Press were kind enough to provide us with a copy to review and put to use. I wanted to provide everyone with some feedback on my impressions of it after reading it, looking at every beautiful page, and utilizing it a few times already.

You can view some sample pages and more information on the book here:

Additionally, a companion website is here:

So as not to bore you with a lengthy dissection of what is an exciting, novel, and sizable guide, here are my impressions and thoughts:
• This is a big book. When I opened the box and pulled it out I was quite surprised how large it was. It is 7.5X10 inches with 544 pages. This makes it possible to feature over 10,000 color images.
• That is also why I am glad it is not called a field guide. This is a book meant for home or left in the car, as I often do with some of the best texts.
• There is a lot of information that is squeezed in around those photos.
• Look at that, alpha codes! That cracked me up. Alpha codes are four letter abbreviations of bird names. They are very helpful in survey work (we use them all the time), in communicating sightings quickly, etc. I have never seen them in a book like this before.
• Habitats are listed and sometimes described in field guides and other texts. In this book, they are the background of the photos of the birds. Examining the striking bird photos may make you miss them, but don’t - they are a vital part of the experience of each species. Birders often wonder where they can find this or that, and these are exceptionally helpful in depicting where to find a species and exactly how they will appear there. And by that I mean...
• The photos for each species are also meant to display common postures, positions, flight and movement, and so forth. It really gives you the feel of being in the field staring at it. The photos are not meant to simply show you what the bird looks like.
• Besides that, they allow you to have an understanding of how you will view a bird in the field. You are not going to see every species of bird from a uniform distance. Most often, you will not see something like a Greater Scaup a few feet in front of you as you would a Tufted Titmouse. You are going to see them from a distance, probably with a scope, and many birds are shown as if this were the case. Some people might not understand why the photos are often this way, but it is to make you understand and appreciate identification as close to life as it can be. Many of the duck pages reminded me of viewing birds off Stratford Point during our survey work.
• The photos also let you see a variety of field marks instead of the bird from only one angle or in particular light that prevents seeing key information.
• Comparing some species birders sometimes consider tricky ID separations seems silly with this guide. One example would be Redheads and Canvasbacks. They are on pages 62 and 63 of the guide, and examining them even for a minute would allow anyone to see the large differences between the species.
• The front of the book has a very cool section comparing bird sizes.
• Everything you will likely ever see in the east is included, all the way to an extreme rarity like Northern Lapwing.

There is so much to explore and look at in this book with all of the photos. It will definitely help birders of all experiences. You should not hesitate to pick it up, as it will be a helpful addition to your birding library.