Sunday, May 29, 2011

Osprey chicks

A friend of the Osprey at the Coastal Center at Milford Point sent us the following two photos taken while watching our live Osprey cam.

And tonight we received this photo showing three Osprey chicks!

We are so glad to see everything seems to be progressing well for our pair. Go check them out yourself - our Osprey page is located here:

This is the direct link to our Osprey cam:

As always, if you could help us with the maintenance and cost of providing this live feed we would greatly appreciate it. You can find more information on supporting Connecticut Audubon Society right here:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

History of Birdcraft Sanctuary

If you read our blog or are familiar with the Connecticut Audubon Society, you know about the Birdcraft Sanctuary and Museum. Founded in 1914, Birdcraft is the first private bird sanctuary in the United States. This six-acre site was originally created as a refuge to attract, harbor, and feed migratory and resident birds. It still serves this purpose today as an oasis of natural habitat adjacent to Interstate 95 and residential neighborhoods. Additionally, since 1979, Connecticut Audubon Society volunteers, licensed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, have operated a bird-banding station at Birdcraft. More than 18,000 birds have been mist-netted, documented, banded, and released unharmed.

While working on a master bird list for Birdcraft I came across the following publication that you can view online here:

It is The Story of Birdcraft Sanctuary by Mabel Osgood Wright. The Connecticut Audubon Society was founded in 1898 by Mrs. Wright, a pioneer in the American conservation movement. CAS received its first land donation in 1914 through the generosity of philanthropist Annie Burr Jennings of Fairfield. With Ms. Jenning’s gift of 10 acres, Mrs. Wright created Birdcraft Sanctuary, the first-of-its-kind songbird refuge in the nation, and literally laid the groundwork for Connecticut Audubon Society. Check out the short book at the link above by selecting a format on the left side of the page. You will learn so much about Birdcraft, the Connecticut Audubon Society, and conservation nearly a century ago.

Currently we have 190 species on that Birdcraft bird list with some amazing rarities. If you ever have data or information on any of our sanctuaries or centers, we would love for you to share it with us.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Judy Richardson: International Cooperation Award Recipient

Judy Richardson, master bird bander and Chairman of the Connecticut Audubon Society Fairfield Regional Board received an International Cooperation Award from the US Department of Agriculture for her significant contribution to the establishment of a Network of Bird Monitoring in Costa Rica. This 2011 Conservations Award is part of the “Wings Across the Americas” program which is a United States Forest Service program to conserve birds, bats, butterflies and dragonflies. Wings Across the Americas supports international conservation and uses Forest Services experience and expertise to improve bird conservation at home and abroad.

In Latin America, a big leap in the collection and sharing of data is found in the establishment of the Network of Bird Banders of Costa Rica. Richardson’s work with the San Vito Bird Club in the establishment of a network of bird monitoring in Costa Rica won her international recognition. The first of its kind in Latin America, the network has been a model for others in the region and facilitates cooperative research projects. Results are being used by bird researchers, land mangers and decision makers in Costa Rica and throughout the Americas for understanding resident and migratory species.

On a local level, here in the U.S., Richardson monitors birds through her bird banding efforts at the Connecticut Audubon Society’s Birdcraft Museum and Sanctuary in Fairfield. “Many of the birds that migrate to Costa Rica may actually pass through our Birdcraft sanctuary.” states Nelson North Connecticut Audubon Society, Director of Fairfield Operations, “Judy’s bird banding efforts at the Birdcraft are instrumental in the monitoring process. Her work here and in Costa Rica will continue to expand our comprehension of the biology and life histories of our birds, ultimately resulting in their improved conservation.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New England Big Day record!

"There's nothing better than standing knee-deep in a marsh in the fog at two minutes to midnight listening to a Least Bittern calling, unless it's joined by a screaming Barn Owl, and you've just broken the New England Big Day birding record, with 192 species! What a day."

The words of Coastal Center Director Frank Gallo on the topic of our Raven Luna-ticks amazing journey into history on Friday, May 20. Frank mentioned that the 190s were in their sights in this blog entry on the Connecticut Big Day Birding Challenge 2011. They did it, and that historic species total further helped fundraising efforts for the CAS Coastal Center. Look for a complete write-up on their crazy day soon. For now, here's a couple photos of the now-legendary tally sheet and an ecstatic team after an epic day across Connecticut.

Frank adds that it is not to late to pledge to help us reach our goal! We are still short and need your help. You can find the pledge form by clicking here and more information on it again in this blog post. We appreciate your support!

Monday, May 23, 2011

eBird gets better and better

I hope you are already using eBird for all of your bird sightings. Now the site is getting even easier to use and better for the birds. You can help their team beta test a new data entry system. If you visit this page you can read all about it:

This system makes entering your sightings a faster process as you now have one column to go down instead of groups of species. You can also add comments, sex, age, and other information for each species right as you go instead of doing it on another page. Users can change what they want to see or not - like subspecies - quite easily. The task of adding species to a checklist is much more refined, and so is confirming a rare bird. There are a lot of positive modifications.

However, the best change in my eyes is...breeding bird codes! You can now enter this data whenever, from wherever, and however you like. No longer will we have to simply write in the comments about finding a nest, a male singing on territory, or fledgling birds. You can record sorely needed information about critically important breeding species or the American Robin nest in your backyard. This is going to be a fantastic tool for conservation. Please try eBird today if you have not before and use it as much as possible. Things are only going to get better every year.

The direct link to the new submission page is here, but be aware sightings go directly to the eBird database (this is not a test!) and that it works best in browsers that are not Internet Explorer:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Olive-sided Flycatcher repeat

Today was an incredible day for migration in much of Connecticut. Birds were finally able to navigate into the state after two difficult and spotty weeks. I could go on and on about a bunch of nice sightings, but after a long and rewarding day in the field, I wanted to share a specific and awesome story. I found an Olive-sided Flycatcher on the railroad trail in the McKinney Refuge in Stratford late this morning. This is a tough species to find in migration, so records are scarce in most parts of the state. This was the second bird ever in Stratford and of course the Great Meadows Important Bird Area. It was cloudy at the time, but here are a couple of dark photos.

The cooler part? We found the first Stratford Olive-sided Flycatcher mere feet from that spot one year ago to the day. This is absolutely astounding to me. You can be sure I will be watching for one there next May 20th. I wonder if this was the same exact bird...

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Community Conservation Fund (Green Fund) Gets Boost from Environment Committee

Here is a message from our Senior Director of Science and Conservation and Conservation Advocate, Milan Bull:

The Environment Committee voted yesterday (5/17/11) to make significant changes to SB 1019 that effectively inserts the language of the Community Conservation Fund bill and replaces the onerous language in SB 1019. The former language of SB 1019 concerned changes in the DEP permitting process that reduced the time (by 1/2) allowed for DEP to process permits, allowing for automatic approval of projects without permits if the new time frame is not met. This language could have resulted in a significant loss of environmental protections.

The new SB 1019 allows municipalities (but does not require them) to place a fee on buyers of real estate, to be placed in a dedicated local “Conservation Fund.”

This fund would be used for conservation projects (open space, clean air, farmland and water projects), and also historic preservation and energy conservation projects. This aids many communities who currently must pay for these projects with property taxes that are already overburdening. SB 1019 would permit a maximum buyer fee of 1% of the real estate purchase price, with the first $150,000 waived to lessen the impact on affordable housing.

This could raise as much as $96 million for local conservation efforts, as well as generate thousands of jobs throughout the state with no increase to the state budget.

This is not a new state tax. Passage of the bill would generate no income unless and until communities decide to enact the legislation locally.

Co-chairs of the Environment Committee, Senator Meyer and Representative Roy, are to thank for changing this bill for the better.

Before this bill comes to a vote in the Senate, it will likely be assigned to the Planning and Development Committee.

Milford Point Whole Foods Fundraiser

Here is a quick message from the Director of the Coastal Center, Frank Gallo:

Whole Foods of Milford has generously offered to sponsor a fundraiser with proceeds to benefit the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. This Saturday, May 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., they will be selling a special lunch combo, consisting of gourmet hot dogs, chips, a soft drink, and chocolate for desert, for just $5 dollars. Every dollar earned will go to the Coastal Center, so why not head to the Milford Whole Foods, get in some shopping, and grab a hot dog for lunch to help us out! We really appreciate it!


The return of the Osprey party was a huge success, the Coastal Center's Big Day is coming up, and Yankee Magazine said it is the best birding adventure in the state - please help them again in this endeavor and thank you in advance!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May storm birds

A low pressure system is parked off our coast for the duration of the week, spinning constant northeast winds, rain, and thunderstorms our way. While it is undoubtedly hampering the landbird migration, it means shorebird and waterfowl birding is excellent. The northeast winds alone put some good birds in the air and water by Stratford Point early today including 4 Northern Gannet, 3 White-winged Scoter, a Surf Scoter, at least 9 Common Loon, and more.

Morning and afternoon thunderstorms and showers forced a whole bunch of other birds to the ground. While we usually have plenty of shorebirds at Stratford Point, this brought down one very nice not-usually-seen-in-spring species, a Red Knot! It also instantly dropped around 15 Semipalmated Plover, 2 Least Sandpiper, 1 Dunlin, and 1 Sanderling in the muddy upland area. It was only a matter of chance that we did not get something even more significant.

My find of the day was at a pond not far from my home, indicating how important it is to check every body of water, whether it is a tiny pool or a large reservoir, on days such as this. While walking up to it I saw a Solitary Sandpiper and a Greater Yellowlegs, already uncommon birds for the spot. After noticing a Green Heron relaxing in the vegetation I saw something behind it - what is that? A Least Bittern!

Least Bittern hanging out in the open

That is a very tough bird to find anywhere outside of a handful of locations in Connecticut, and seeing one in this neighborhood pond was amazing. It foraged and walked in the open 10 to 20 feet from me. I did not want to flush or bother it too much, but I do not think it would have cared if I walked right up to it. Perhaps it was dropped here while migrating along the Housatonic River (on the other side of the road from this pond). That is only speculation on my part. Unfortunately, it was also raining very hard most of the time while I observed it, and I managed only these few tough photos holding the camera under my jacket.

If only it was a step ahead...

Looking for a snack

The Green Heron

Tomorrow may bring the exact same conditions - check those ponds, pools, lakes, marshes, and anywhere on the shoreline for oddities and rarities. Good luck!

Photos © Scott Kruitbosch

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spring photos

Sometimes it's good to sit back and enjoy the beautiful birds we've seen this spring. Can you ID all of them? The image names all have the species in them so you can check yourself.

Photos 1-4 © Twan Leenders; photos 5-12 © Scott Kruitbosch

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yankee Magazine picks Milford Point

In the Best Adventures selections for Connecticut in 2011, Yankee Magazine chose the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point as the best birdwatching adventure. You can see it for yourself right here:

Additionally, here is a link to a Milford Patch article on the honor:

As always, you can check out our website for more information on the Coastal Center:

Here's a photo Frank Gallo, the Director of the Coastal Center, sent over:

Congratulations to the Coastal Center and thanks to Yankee Magazine!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Connecticut Big Day Birding Challenge 2011!

Connecticut Big Day Birding Challenge 2011!

Saturday, May 21
(rain date 5/22)

On Saturday, May 21, the Connecticut Audubon Raven Luna-ticks (Nick Bonomo, Patrick Dugan, Frank Gallo, Dave Tripp, and Fran Zygmont) will again attempt to break the Connecticut Big Day birding record of 186 species, to raise money for CAS’s Coastal Center at Milford Point. Our total last year of 185 species was just one bird away from tying…the 190s are now in our sights!

We invite you to help us achieve our ambitious goal of raising $10,000 this year. Every dollar you pledge will go directly to support CAS’s Coastal Center at Milford Point – truly one of the best birding destinations in the Northeast. We can’t do it without you, and we thank you for your generosity!

Pledge forms (in PDF form) are available by clicking here, or by contacting Frank Gallo at 203-878-7440 x 501.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Return of the Osprey party

Here is a message from the Director of the Coastal Center, Frank Gallo. We will have more from him and Milford Point later this week.

Our first annual Return of the Osprey Party was held on April 30 at the Coastal Center and was a great success. More than eighty people attended this wonderful evening to celebrate the return of our long-time Osprey pair to their next. Everyone enjoyed the live music by local artist Tim Rogers, great food, refreshments, and a wonderful selection of auction items.

Our heartfelt thanks go to our generous sponsor, Shoprite, for all their support, and to the many volunteers who did everything, from cook wonderful food, to help set up the event, and, of course, to the participants who came to celebrate with us. We couldn't have done it without you.

We're already gearing up for next year's event which will be even bigger. Anyone interested in helping with the event should contact either Frank Gallo or Louise Crocco at 203-878-7440, or by e-mail at and It's going to be a blast! Photos from this year's event can be seen below.

Some of the auction items

Frank Gallo and Harry Garafalo

A couple of happy auction winners!

The Federal Budget Affects Connecticut Bird Conservation

We decided to keep blogging here for now while we finish up our new blog on our brand new website ( because there are too many conservation issues and exciting birds to hold off on posting. We will keep you updated on it. For now, here is a message from our Senior Director of Science and Conservation and Conservation Advocate, Milan Bull.


The final FY2011 spending bill, enacted on 15 April, was devastating to bird-related conservation issues, but fortunately less drastic than in earlier proposed versions (e.g., H.R. 1).

Essential programs, such as the funding for the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA), the State Wildlife Grants, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) were initially recommended for elimination, or drastic reductions, in the original House-passed H.R.1. Instead, they were “only” drastically slashed, with some of these and similar programs receiving cuts of one-third the 2010 levels.

Consider these numbers:
The North American Wetlands Conservation Fund ended up at $37.5 million, down 21 percent from FY10 ($47.65 million), but up from $0, proposed in the original H.R. 1.
The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program is to be funded at $62 million – a reduction of 31 percent from 2010 (i.e., $90 million) and the lowest level for the program in its 10-year history. This is up from $0 proposed in H.R. 1.
Funding for LWCF was put at $301 million – a 33-percent reduction from last year, but up from $244 million proposed in H.R. 1.
The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act was reduced to $4 million, a reduction of 20 percent from $5 million last year.
The Wetlands Reserve Program, a crucial Farm Bill element, is reduced $119 million from FY10.
EQIP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, is reduced $80 million from last year.
The Conservation Stewardship Program, another USDA effort, is reduced $39 million.
At the agency level, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will have to function with a $118-million drop in its overall operations budget.

Most of the anti-conservation riders originally attached to H.R. 1 were removed from the final bill. This includes one that would have undercut the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to restore protections for certain wetlands and streams. Still, the final budget bill includes language that would undermine EPA’s efforts to reduce pollution from mountaintop coal mining and mercury emissions from power plants; stop the BLM’s new Wild Lands Policy (issued in late December and clarifying how BLM lands with wilderness characteristics are to be inventoried, described, and managed); and remove gray wolves from Endangered Species protection in a number of states.

With the battle over FY2011 ended, deep concern mounts over how drastic the budget cuts might be for FY 2012.

For more details, see this summary from the Wildlife Management Institute:

Thanks to the Birding Community eBulletin for this report:

Friday, May 6, 2011

We're moving

No, we are not gone and have not forgotten you - we are simply moving this blog to its new place on our new website. It's the same address as always,, and while we're working out the usual kinks that come with a transition such as this, we will soon be up and blogging there. When we are we will pass along the direct link to introduce you to our new home. All of these posts will still be available and hopefully archived directly on the new site.

See you there!