Spring ahead...


Red-winged Blackbird at Battery Steele Marsh

“Spring always follows Winter” (1), and perhaps Spring is here! Michelle is witnessing it in her backyard: “A flock of Red-winged Blackbirds just arrived! For the first time this year, I'm seeing seven or eight hanging around my feeders this morning, and singing their own distinct songs. Yeah!” Others have noticed a new bird call – and it is the Red-winged Blackbird.

With our summer residents returning to build their nests and to bring a new batch of youngsters to the island, we want to introduce a new book on the topic below. Following the review we include Michael’s February bird list – so we do not forget our winter residents who have struggled with us in the cold.

Part 1: Book Review

© Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology – Macaulay Library/Deborah Arnatt

Cleverly arranged, this book "Into the Nest - Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds" (2) explains how bird behavior changes during the breeding season.

This book includes more than 30 species that we might see on the island – even in our backyards. Before jumping into the details, Section 1 describes Bird Basics 101 using easy terminology to describe bird biology.

Section 2 takes us into the lives of different bird species as they undergo their unique breeding and nesting behaviors. The writers present short and interesting narratives with an abundance of beautiful and informative photographs. Each species description includes: the nesting cycle; parenting (feeding, protection, and education); and weaning the young into the new world outside the nest. To keep the stories interesting and lively, ‘bullet’ boxes provide secrets about birds such as Herring Gull divorce rates (low), woodpecker community service, swallow soap operas, and more.

A fun book. For a daily inspirational boost, one can pick up this book and in less than five minutes, learn about a selected species. How do different bird species differ in their pursuit of life as a couple and as a parent? The photographs alone, tell the story while the narrative fills in the extra details. This book is a delightful way to learn about our favorite bird species from the Bald Eagle to the hummingbirds. The cover of the book brings you right into it – through the viewfinder of binoculars - sighting a Cedar Waxwings and young.

A glossary is available in the Appendix, along with a species list with a brief version of the nest data, and range maps.

Other Information:

1. Claire Ottens, pers. comm.

2. A copy of this book is available in Peaks Island Library (after March 14th).

a) Book Title and Authors:

Laura Erickson and Marie Read. 2015. Into the Nest - Intimate Views of the Courting, Parenting, and Family Lives of Familiar Birds. (With support from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology). Storey Publishing, MA.

b) Cover credits:

Design: Eight and a Half. Brooklyn, NY.

Photograph: © Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology – Macaulay Library/Deborah Arnatt.

c) Recommended by Priscilla Webster

Review and RWBB photograph by Patty Wainright

Reviewed by Michelle Brown, Marty, and Priscilla

Part 2: Michael’s Bird List

February 25, 2016

9:30 AM - 12:00 PM Comments: Electrical storm with high winds overnight; dense fog this AM; cannot see Great Diamond from Evergreen; but, no fall out, other than appearance of *SUSC's in Whitehead Passage

20 species: American Black Duck 9 Common Eider 9 Surf Scoter * 60 Large group strung out in Whitehead Passage, on rough surf, heavy fog Bufflehead 4 Hooded Merganser 1 Red-breasted Merganser 2 Common Loon 3 Red-necked Grebe 5 Herring Gull 10 Great Black-backed Gull 1 Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 1 Mourning Dove 7 Blue Jay 5 American Crow 14 Black-capped Chickadee 13 European Starling 20 Northern Cardinal 3 House Finch 6 American Goldfinch 2 House Sparrow 40

By Michael LaCombe

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The objective of The Backshore Bird Blog is to share the wonder and diversity of bird species seen along the Peaks Island shore.

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