New Hampshire Audubon biologist Pam Hunt prepares the Harriers for an evening walk to listen for Whip-poor-wills under a nearly full moon. We saw one male feeding as dusk fell, and up to five of these nightjars were heard calling simultaneously, in and around Mast Yard State Forest in Penacook. Their chorus was joined by the eerie yodeling of coyotes, the swirling songs of Veeries, and our own shouts of excitement, picking handfuls of lowbush blueberries among the fireflies by moonlight!
Photographs by Cynthia Nichols

 


YBC Officer Madison Christgau paddles her canoe out toward the loons of Newfound Lake.
Photograph by Jane Quigley

Harriers Take to the Water

By Alan Chretien, Young Birders Club Secretary General

On May 31, I went on the annual canoe/kayak trip at Newfound Lake in Grafton County, New Hampshire. It was a fun day full of birding, boating, and enjoying the company of my fellow Harriers. Over the course of the day, we saw 26 different species of birds. Notable mentions were an Alder Flycatcher, an American Robin carrying its "modular nest" to its tree, and a Canada Goose hidden
 away in a bush on the water's edgesitting on her nest. Also deserving of mention were a Wilson’s Warbler (migrant), a Blackburnian Warbler, Black-billed Cuckoo, and the distant sounds of gray tree frogs. I definitely enjoyed the day and loved paddling one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever been on. Of course being with friends made even better. 

Species List
•Tree Swallow
•Red-wing Blackbird
•Alder Flycatcher
•Chimney Swift
•Yellow Warbler
•Canada Goose
• American Robin
• Blue Jay
• Common Grackle
• Warbling Vireo
• Swamp Sparrow
• Veery
• Gray Catbird
• Cedar Waxwing
• Red-eyed Vireo
• Black-capped Chickadee 
• Wilson's Warbler
• Black-billed Cuckoo
• Chestnut-sided Warbler
• Tufted Titmouse
• Blackburnian Warbler
• Common loon
• Eastern Kingbird
• Common Yellowthroat
• Hairy Woodpecker

Many thanks to New Hampshire Audubon's Emily Johnson, Director of the Newfound Center, for volunteering to lead us on this great trip!


Meet Our Sponsoring and Partnering Organizations!

Since the fall of 2013, the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, based in Holderness, NH, has been giving their organizational backing to the Young Birders Club. The Science Center's sponsorship is invaluable: there would still be harriers to see, but no Harriers to see them! In addition, the larger New Hampshire community of birders and environmental educators continues to support the Club in numerous ways, both by leading field trips, advertising and hosting events, and spreading the word about all our activities.

The Harris Center for Conservation Education, based in Hancock, has been a terrific partner in this regard, as has New Hampshire Audubon, the state's largest and oldest conservation organization, now celebrating 100 years of history!

To all these organizations and individuals who have helped build and support the Young Birders Club, we thank you! If you are not yet acquainted with the good work they are doing around the state, visit their websites to learn more:

Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

Harris Center for Conservation Education

New Hampshire Audubon

Over twenty Harriers, along with their families, took to the ocean to search for whales and pelagic birds on June 23. Shearwaters, petrels, and a young gannet were the birding highlights, along with the flukes of this spectacular Humpback Whale (above).


Join The Harriers!

Do you like the outdoors? Do you like exploring in woods, fields, tidal pools, swamps? Are you interested in seeking out the birds and wildlife that live there, and learning them by name? Do you think you might be half-bird yourself? Join The Harriers and connect with other kids who feel the same.

New Hampshire’s Young Birders Club will open up to you  some of the region’s most ecologically rich and diverse habitats. If you’d like to see new birds, learn to identify them by sight and by sound, and understand more about how they fit into the larger web of life around us, sign yourself up!

    The Harriers welcome all kids under the age of 18 who live in New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, or Massachusetts. You don’t need to pass any test! If you’re interested in the natural world, we’d love to have you. Ask your parents if you can get involved, and have them contact the club's coordinators to find out more about us.

    Because the Young Birders Club (YBC) is run by kids, there are plenty of chances to play a leadership role within the organization. Your photographs and writing are needed for the website; your ideas for group excursions make our field trips happen. And by becoming a member, you will become one of your school’s “Lead Birders,” with the chance to be in charge of collecting and recording data about the bird-life on and around your campus. By comparing that information with that of other schools, we can get a more complete picture of what’s happening, year by year, to New Hampshire’s avian species. 

    Join the Harriers! 

    Membership in the Harriers lets you attend any and all of our field trips. Annual dues are $25, which help make our events possible. When you become a Harrier, you’ll also receive:

    • Your own copy of the brand-new Stokes Field Guide to Birds (Eastern Region) [$20 list price]
    • One "Rite-in-the-rain" notebook for your field notes and observations
    • A checklist of New Hampshire’s birds
    • A subscription to the YBC’s newsletter, The Harrier
    • A membership patch featuring the Harriers' logo
    • Best of all, you’ll be able to participate for free in any YBC event you like: look for nesting peregrine falcons in the White Mountains; watch young loons on New Hampshire ponds; hammer together nest-boxes for wood ducks; learn how to band migratory songbirds…the opportunities are endless! Check out our list of upcoming events to learn more.

     

    Aiden Moser, Harriers' Officer and photographer extraordinaire, traveled to Cape May, New Jersey in April, where he caught this American Oystercatcher in mid-sentence. Or was it mid-yawn?

    Leica Sponsors Essay Contest for Young Birders

    The optics company Leica, in partnership with BirdWatching Magazine, are holding an open essay contest for young birders and their mentors. The prize? A new pair of binoculars, and not just any pair...

    Read more about the contest and the prizes at the BirdWatching Magazine site.

    Have you been seeing massive piles of woodchips in your woods? The culprit may be our largest woodpecker, the Pileated. Harriers' member Paul Bourgault spotted this individual, posing beside its latest project. Photograph by Paul Bourgault

    Have you been seeing massive piles of woodchips in your woods? The culprit may be our largest woodpecker, the Pileated. Harriers' member Paul Bourgault spotted this individual, posing beside its latest project.
    Photograph by Paul Bourgault



    What’s a Harrier, anyway?

    Adult Male Northern Harrier
    Photograph by Len Medlock

    The Harriers include a number of species of birds of prey (Latin genus name, Circus). At least one type of harrier is native to each continent other than Antarctica. They are long-winged birds with acute senses of sight and hearing. They usually hunt their prey (which includes small rodents, reptiles, or birds) by flying very low over a patch of open ground, such as a marsh or stubble field, looking and listening for any movement beneath them. In New Hampshire, our native harrier is the Northern Harrier, which used to be called the Marsh Hawk. It is a species of  some concern, as populations appear to be declining in parts of the country, including New England. Adult males are very pale gray, with black wingtips, colors which give them the nickname “Gray ghosts.” Females are brown above and pale below. A young harrier’s plumage is like the adult female’s, only its belly is a luminous rusty-orange color, making it one of the few species in which the juvenile birds are more colorful than their parents. Birders will do well to take after this gorgeous animal!

    Adult Female Northern Harrier
    Photograph by Lillian Stokes