Members' Birding Notes

Club Members: Email your notes, observations, and questions about birds (including photographs of birds you wish identified) to Nick for inclusion on this page.


From Ted Thornton on 6/3/2021 - This was the fourth visit observing Bobolinks in a nearby Northfield farm pasture (first for me, fourth for Patter). We estimate 5-7 male Bobolinks were present in this pasture that Patter first visited on 5/29 (see her note below). While we were there today, we re-erected a Bluebird house that had fallen to the ground. The house had been taken over by Tree Swallows. Pictures

From Patter Field on 5/29/2021 - Here is a copy of a report Patter sent to Audubon today regarding a Bobolink survey on a farm located in Northfield conducted at the farmer's request.

Yesterday and today I observed five male Bobolinks, and saw two females. I believe all five of the males are paired up, as they flew to different sections of the upper part of the field.

Today at 7:30 I walked the periphery of the 22 acre(?) field, which is surrounded by forest, shrubs, and a brook with other fields and pastures nearby, and observed the following other bird species:

nesting pair of Red Wing Blackbirds with nestlings

nesting pair of Northern (Yellow Shafted) Flickers

nesting pair of Bluebirds

Song Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow


Common Yellowthroat

Red Eyed Vireo


Tree Swallow

Barn Swallow

American Robin

From Rinky Black on 5/13/2021 -- Just leaving Montague after watching a Golden-winged Warbler that has been here for a few days. I had help from Jeff Blanchard from Athol (need hearing aids!).

There is a meadow with alder against a tree line in the triangular field bounded by Greenfield Cross Rd, Hatchery Rd and Greenfield Rd in Montague not far from the fish hatchery. The bird was moving back and forth mostly along the edge of the tree line.

Beautiful bird! Good luck!


From Nick Fleck on 3/11/2020 -- In response to a question that arose during Ted Watt's program on birds and gardening, Nick promised he would do some research and post an answer. Nick reports, "Immature Cardinals (both sexes) are without red and have black upper and lower mandibles. They will pass through stages of redness as they mature into adult males and females. By immature this means from May to Sept."

From Josh on 1/24/19 -- Nick and all - If you like Snow Buntings, and would like to see some south of the state line, I saw a flock of 55 or more at the Turners Falls airport on Tuesday. I also saw a flock of roughly 40 of them at the Orange Airport back on the day of the Athol CBC, I think it was December 16.

As for Horned Larks, on January 8 I saw a flock of roughly 60 in Deerfield, at the North Meadows (birders’ name for the big agricultural fields accessible via Old Ferry Road, Brougham’s Pond Road, and Little Meadow Road). More recent visitors there have reported over 100.

Any time that large numbers of those species are encountered, it’s always worth searching through the flock for a Lapland Longspur. I haven’t seen one yet this winter, but a few have been reported amid large lark flocks in the Hadley Honeypot and East Meadows in Northampton.

Around Northfield, good places to search for such species include Bennett Meadows WMA, Caldwell Farms (just past the transfer station), and Great Meadow (bordered by the road of the same name). They can be nearly impossible to detect when the ground is clear, invisible in distant corners of the big fields, but snow cover drives them to roadsides and manure, compost, or mulch piles as the only places where they can easily feed.

Matt, Utah has some stupendous birding. I visited in February a few years ago. Antelope Island SP can have some astounding waterfowl concentrations. There’s a ski town called Alta which is a great place for seeing flocks of Gray-crowned Rosy-finches, sometimes with other rosy-finch species mixed in, plus on your way back downhill it’s possible to spot Townsend’s Solitaire and Northern Pygmy-Owl. And along some of the rivers you can find Dippers.

Good birding,


​From Nick on 1/23/19 --

Today in Vernon, Vt. a small flock (about 25) of Snow Buntings & a large flock (around 200) Horned Larks.

Where. On Rt 142 just north of the Historical Society, and old one room Brick School House and at the corner of Pond Rd. There is a small manure pile. This is where they were feeding as well as along side the two roads.

From Nick on 11/22/18 - Here are dates of the first fall arrival of the Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea):

11/18/14 11/22/15 11/29/16 11/18/17 (yesterday with the cold) 11/21/18

Only three species of Sparrow remaining in my yard. White-thr, House, & Tree.​

From Patter on 4/7/18:

2-24-18 first Redwings heard in swamp off Glenwood Avenue

2-28-18 large flock of redwing blackbirds and grackles under back bird feeder, Highland Avenue

mid-March 2018 -- pair of wood ducks on Mill Brook Pond

3-26-2018 Robins singing their spring song at dusk, Highland Avenue

4-2-2018 first Phoebe heard, Birnam Road

From Nick on 1/15/18: "Watch the Titmice at your feeders as they seem to be choosy about which sunflower seeds they eat or stash. Why? If the seed shell is soft that indicates that their is either no seed inside or a mighty small one. Such seeds are not worth opening and they discard them. If you watch carefully you will see them do this; unless of course you have an exceptional bunch of seeds that are all good. This is true with other species including the other Tit we have here, but it is most obvious with Baeolophusbicolor.

Q: Why has the Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) population in North American dropped by more than 50% since 1977?"

From Patter on 1/12/2017: "​Birds seen every day at our platform and suet feeders, Dec. 2017: chickadees, tufted titmice, bluejays, pair of cardinals, goldfinches, juncos, mourning doves,white throated sparrows, red bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, house finches, house sparrows, tree sparrows, white breasted nuthatches, red breasted nuthatch, Carolina wren,. In yard: pileated woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, flickers, robins, bluebirds, crows. A downy was killed near the feeder last week, likely by a coopers hawk or a sharpy, which we have seen (but not well enough to tell which) over our yard twice. Last year at this time we had a flock of evening grosbeaks and several pine siskins, as yet not observed this year, likely because the berry and pine seed crop up north is excellent this year."