Harriers Release Barred Owl

Nearly 45 people turned out for the Young Birders Club "Owl Prowl" on March 22nd, jointly sponsored by the Harris Center for Conservation Education. Though the wind was up and the native owls of the Monadnock area were mostly silent, the group did have one reason to get excited: releasing a live Barred Owl back to the wild! 

March is a tough season for our owls: as the snowpack accumulates and hardens, hunting for rodents underneath it becomes difficult, if not impossible. This bird was nearly starving when he was picked up by good Samaritan Cindy Drake and brought to a wildlife rehabilitator in Temple, New Hampshire. After ten days of rest, recuperation, and fattening up, he was ready to go! And it was our privilege to send him on his way.

Photograph by Cindy Drake

Birds in the Hand

Photograph by Henry Walters

Bird bander Lauren Kras examines a male Magnolia Warbler during the Harriers' outing at Odiorne State Park on May 3rd. Young Birders each had the chance to release banded birds, including a Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, and Black-capped Chickadee.

April's Bird-of-the-Month: Golden-crowned Kinglet

By Katie Nelson

Golden-crowned Kinglets are fairly common in March but as it gets closer to April they will grow more and more common. They are a year-round resident of New Hampshire and so they breed and nest here, too. They are very small birds, weighing only six grams. They have pale gray undersides and their backs are darker gray with a hint of yellow. They have black wings with streaks of yellow and white. Golden-crowned Kinglets also have a streak of black through their eyes and the adults have a patch of yellow or orange on the tops of their heads. They like conifer trees in particular where they can find spiders, mites, and insects to eat.

Last fall I was picking apples in a small orchard with a friend. It was very quiet, so we could actually hear the kinglets calling to each other. Soon they were in the trees around us. It was rather magical, especially the melodic noises they made. I haven't seen any since then; they are often overlooked in winter because of their subtlety—small size and small voice—but I assure you, they are here! I personally find them extraordinary and I hope you are all as lucky as I was to see one.

Please report any sightings of Golden-crowned Kinglets to Katie at nhyoungbirders@gmail.com. Any member of the Harriers who manages to snap a photograph or sound recording of either a Ruby-crowned or Golden-crowned Kinglet in the month of April will receive a DVD copy of the film The Big Year—quickly becoming a cult classic!

What's Got The Squirrels So Upset?

Photograph by Paul Bourgault

Photograph by Paul Bourgault

Owls are silent flyers, but Paul Bourgault heard the arrival of this one on February 1st--it was announced by "a squawking of Blue Jays and a squirrel running up a tree." This Saw-whet Owl, one of our smallest and most rarely seen owls, stayed in the backyard in Concord for twelve hours!

March's Bird-of-the-month: Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker
Photograph by Aiden Moser

By Katie Nelson

Downy Woodpeckers are year-round residents of New Hampshire, as well as the majority of America. They are the smallest woodpecker species; the average height for one is six to seven inches tall. The average wingspan is ten to twelve inches. Downy woodpeckers have black wings with white speckles. Their heads have black horizontal bands with one running through their dark, shiny eyes. The females are purely black and white, but males are adorned with a brilliant red patch on the back of their heads that extends partway around on both sides. They usually nest in dead deciduous trees. They prefer infected ones with soft wood which is easier to dig into. While on the topic of trees I will bring up the fact of their diet. They eat insects and grubs that they forage out of dead trees, hence the term “woodpecker.” Downy woodpeckers also will eat smaller proportions of berries, seeds, and acorns. For feeders to attract them I suggest black oil sunflower seeds and suet. It would seem that they prefer the suet from the meat department of the store that is just fat and gristle over the packaged kind.  We have these in our feeders and see the woodpeckers every morning as we head to school. A few years ago we saw the male scoping out a dead birch tree and he and his mate had baby woodpeckers there. It was amusing to see them grow up in the tree. Their lifespans are one to two years but, in rare cases they have lived near ten years. Happy birding!

The Charley Harper Puzzle Contest

Mystery of the Missing Migrants
Charley Harper

Charley Harper was an artist known for his uncanny ability to evoke the personality of birds and other animals with just a few strokes. His pictures are far from what we call "realistic," and yet they do manage to capture something essential about their subject. For the new year, the Harriers challenge you to a little contest: in the Charley Harper drawing above, how many species of birds can you positively identify? Send in your answers by February 15, 2014, and the winner will receive a jigsaw puzzle of this very image! (Must be under 18 years old to win!) Submit your list to nhyoungbirders@gmail.com.


Harriers See a Show at the Coast

February 16, 2014

A contingent of the NH Young Birders paid a visit to the ocean last weekend, on a mission for the Snowy Owl. They were rewarded with excellent sights of not one, not two, but SIX Snowy Owls, and much else besides. Aiden Deegan proclaimed the Sanderling his favorite bird after watching them play tag with the incoming waves on the beach. We listened to the wingbeats of three Mute Swans, plainly audible from a half-mile away, and watched a dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk cruise low over the salt flats. Rob and Kelsi Mumford got to see more than a half-a-dozen "lifers," including two Short-eared Owls, the second of which put on a mesmerizing show at the outer tip of Salisbury Beach State Reservation, just before the snow came down in earnest. But the highlight of the day was the Snowy Owl, including this one, pictured below, at Salisbury. Bryn Stevens, on her first YBC trip, named the bird "Hedwig," and afterwards told her mom breathlessly, "We're coming to EVERY event, okay?"

"Hedwig," Salisbury Beach State Reservation, 2/16/14 Photograph by Henry Walters

"Hedwig," Salisbury Beach State Reservation, 2/16/14
Photograph by Henry Walters