The Thing with Feathers by Noah Strycker

Birds are highly intelligent animals, yet their intelligence is dramatically different from our own and has been little understood. As scientists come to understand more about the secrets of bird life, they are unlocking fascinating insights into memory, game theory, and the nature of intelligence itself.

The Thing with Feathers explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, the good deeds of fairy-wrens, the influential flocking abilities of starlings, the deft artistry of bowerbirds, the extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, the lifelong loves of albatross, and other mysteries—revealing why birds do what they do, and offering a glimpse into our own nature.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to list the Red Knot - "rufa" subspecies - as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The adoption of Threatened status would provide additional protection measures for the species along with increased funding dedicated to the recovery of Red Knot populations.

This important step marks at least a decade-long effort of warning and focused advocacy on behalf of the Red Knot. Since 2005, there have been four formal requests to list the Red Knot under the Endangered Species Act. Citing a lack of resources and other priorities, the USFWS opted not to list the species but, instead, placed it in the functional limbo of "candidate species" in 2006.

The USFWS noted that a primary factor in the recent decline of Red Knots has been reduced food supply in Delaware Bay resulting from an over harvesting of horseshoe crabs. The ability of Red Knots and other shorebirds to refuel and fatten up on horseshoe crab eggs during migratory stopovers during their journey from South America to their Arctic breeding grounds is critical to their survival.

The knot's population decline has been most dramatic since 2000. Scientists speculate that the species' breeding grounds in the Arctic have warmed, feeding areas on Delaware Bay, Cape Cod, and elsewhere have been impacted by rising sea levels and ocean acidification, and increasing temperatures have interfered with their lifecycles. For example, horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay may be laying their eggs earlier than usual, thus leaving the migratory shorebirds with a shortfall when they reach this critical stopover site. 

Although Threatened status is different from Endangered status, such a move could require states to adopt better regulatory mechanisms to limit horseshoe crab harvest, or the Service could additionally designate critical protected habitat for the shorebird, such as sand dunes for roosting or habitat areas which support prey. 

Red Knot by Tim Spahr


Good news!

The Center for Conservation Biology is the newly launched Osprey-Watch. This project was created to engage the public in collecting data on breeding Ospreys. The mission of Osprey-Watch is to bring citizen scientists together in order to collect information on a large enough spatial scale to be useful in addressing three of the most pressing issues facing aquatic ecosystems: global climate change, depletion of fish stocks, and environmental contaminants.

To find out more, visit:

Osprey by Nathan Dubrow

Good birding,

Spring Sky Dancing

American Woodcock

American Woodcock sky dancing in fields.
Recent reports in Essex County include Salisbury, Essex & Newburyport.
Get outside at dusk and  enjoy this in the air courtship flights.
Ahh, Spring!

Good birding,

Great Lakes Freeze Difficult for Ducks

Signs of Spring

Grackles, Wood Duck &  Woodcock

Male Wood Duck by Bob Stymiest

Good birding,

Brown Creeper

Brown Creepers hitch along the trunk of a tree appearing like a fragment of loose bark.
This insect eater uses its slender, decurved bill to glean spiders from the bark's furrows.

Brown Creeper by Bob Stymiest

Good birding,

Birds' Feet & Bills

Bird species are defined by bill shape & by their feet & claws.

Good birding,


Killdeer by Tim Spahr

A shorebird you'll find at athletic fields, parking lots & golf courses.

Good birding, 

Passenger Pigeon

Passenger Pigeon

Woodcock Time

The American Woodcock are birds of edge habitat with erratic, zigzag flight, &
twittering call notes. These plump shorebirds, are found far from the shore. 
Their cryptic plumage 
hues of brown, black, buff, & graymatch the forest floor.

American Woodcock

Bird Sightings for Essex County & Southern New Hampshire - Feb. 27, 2014

Cashman Park, Newburyport:
Bald Eagle, Greater Scaup, Common Merganser, Great Cormorant, Horned Lark

Chain Bridge Area, Amesbury/Newburyport:
Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser 

Various Areas on Cape Ann:
, Canada Goose,Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Black Duck, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Greater Scaup, King Eider, Common Eider, Harlequin Duck, Surf Scoter, White-winged Scoter, Black Scoter,Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Barrow's Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-necked Grebe, Cooper's Hawk, Purple Sandpiper, Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black Guillemot, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, Blue Jay, American Crow, Horned Lark, Black-capped Chickadee,Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Salisbury Beach State Reservation:
Snowy Owl, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Snow Bunting

Moulton Street, Newburyport:
Red-tailed Hawk, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, Carolina Wren, White-throated Sparrow, White-btreasted Nuthatch

Bass Rocks, Gloucester:
King Eider, Purple Sandpiper

Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island:

Campton Street, Seabrook, NH:
Snowy Owl

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Plum Island:
Snowy Owl, Common Raven, American Oystercatcher, Merlin, Northern Shrike, Short-eared Owl

Argilla Road, Ipswich:
Red-headed Woodpecker

Washington Street & Uptack Road, Groveland:
Ring-necked Duck, Canada Geese, Mallard, American Black Duck

Halibut Point State Park, Rockport:
Eastern Phoebe

Linebrook Road, Ipswich:
Eastern Bluebird, Hairy Woodpecker, Great Horned Owl

Plum Cove, Gloucester:
Barrow's Goldeneye

Baker Road & Bartlett Street, Salisbury:
Carolina Wren, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-bellied Woodpecker

Pleasant Valley Road, Amesbury:
Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk

Market Basket Plaza, Rowley:
Common Raven 

Crane Beach, Ipswich:
Brant, American Black Duck, Surf Scoter, Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-tailed Hawk, Sanderling, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, 
Snowy Owl, Peregrine Falcon, American Crow, Common Raven, Horned Lark, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Northern Harrier

On Board Eastman's Fleet out of Seabrook, NH:
Common Eider, White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Common Loon, Northern Fulmar, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant,Dovekie,
Common Murre, Thick-billed Murre, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Atlantic Puffin, Black-legged Kittiwake, Bonaparte's Gull, Ring-billed Gull,  
Herring Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, American Pipit, Sanderling, Dunlin, Snowy Owl, Peregrine Falcon 

Various Areas in Marblehead:
Ruddy Turnstone, Bald Eagle

Water Street, Ipswich:
Cedar Waxwing

Harriman Road, Merrimac:
Eastern Bluebird

United Methodist Church, Ipswich:
Peregrine Falcon

Tuxbury Pond, Amesbury:
Bald Eagle, Field Sparrow, Brown Creeper, Eastern Bluebird, Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird

County Road, Ipswich:
Hermit Thrush

Highland Road, Merrimac:
Eastern Bluebird, American Crow, Red-tailed Hawk, Great Blue Heron

Deer Island, Amesbury:
Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk

Plum Island Turnpike, Newburyport/Newbury:
Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl

Church Street, Merrimac:
Cooper's Hawk

New Hampshire Seacoast:
Sanderling, Dunlin, Brant, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Snowy Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Spotted Towhee, Snowy Owl,
Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, Savannah Sparrow, Eastern Towhee

Various Areas in Nahant & Little Nahant:
Brant, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, American Black Duck, Northern Shoveler, Greater Scaup , Lesser Scaup, Common Eider, 
White-winged Scoter, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Loon, Great Cormorant, 
Ring-billed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Eastern Phoebe, American Crow,
Carolina Wren, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, European Starling, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow,
Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal, House Finch, American Goldfinch, House Sparrow

Route 110, Amesbury:
Red-winged Blackbird

Argilla, Northgate & Essex Roads, Ipswich:
Canada Goose, Red-tailed Hawk, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, American Robin, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, 
Brown-headed Cowbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Red-headed Woodpecker 
Ward Hill, Haverhill:
Red-winged Blackbird