Sunday, April 19, 2009


Today was the first of many to come where I, and other birders, will spend countless hours looking straight up into the treetops searching for neotropical migrants - especially warblers. At some point during migration, we will develop a mild to serious condition known as “warbler-neck” - the pain resulting from neck strain after looking straight up into treetops with binoculars in hand for long periods of time.

Mark and I spent most of this afternoon visiting with family and feasting on my Dad’s delicious spaghetti dinner (he uses an old family recipe that came over from Italy with my Great-Grandmother Angelina), my Aunt’s savory baked chicken, and all kinds of sinfully delicious desserts. After our visit, I suggested that we needed to burn a few calories so we agreed to take the long way home and try to find a Townsend’s Warbler that was being seen at the Chestnut Hill Park/Reservoir in Brighton – about two thousand miles or so east of its usual migration route!

Upon our arrival, I started searching the treetops for a brightly colored bird no bigger than that of a Snickers Bar. A few minutes later I felt that old familiar twinge that I knew would develop into full-blown warbler-neck if we did not find the bird fast (I was already at a disadvantage having suffered a stiff neck the day before). The strange thing about warbler-neck though is how quickly and momentarily you can forget about it when you actually see a bird. Such was the case for me when I saw my first-of-the-year Palm Warblers, Pine Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Hermit Thrush - and then - Mark found the Townsend’s Warbler high in the treetops! The late afternoon sun lingering in a clear blue sky created perfect lighting conditions and stunning backdrop for us to watch this bird as it flitted from treetop to treetop in search of food.

For me, this marked the beginning of migration and the amazing May “Daze” that lay ahead. I will endure warbler-neck and at times not even notice its symptoms as I search for and watch these transitory birds feeding and resting before they move on to their breeding grounds. Warbler-neck … what warbler-neck!

To learn more about Townsend’s Warbler go to:

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Can't Bird 65 (but Lord knows I try)

Although birding at 65 miles-per-hour is a challenge it is much easier to do when you are the passenger.

Yesterday, Mark and I drove to NY State to visit with his Mom. We usually make our visits with his Mom in one day, which means a lot time on the road, about 4 hours out and 4 hours back along the MassPike, NY State Thruway, and Taconic Parkway. While making this long trek, I am usually looking for birds soaring overhead, perched in trees, feeding on the ground, or swimming in flooded wetlands and waterbodies. My sightings are often quick but they certainly do help to pass the time while on the road.

Yesterday morning’s weather conditions (cold, dank, and drizzly) made for a quiet trek out to NY State. Our ride back home however was a bit more interesting. We saw a lone Raven and a kettle of 8 Turkey Vultures soaring over the Taconic Parkway; a flock of Wild Turkeys (with one displaying male) in a cornfield along the Berkshire portion of the NY State Thruway; and along the MassPike a few Red-tailed Hawks perched in trees and a Great-blue Heron flying westward towards the Connecticut River with nesting material ( a big stick).

As we continued our travels eastbound on the MassPike I was scanning the treetops in hopes to see an owl or two. Instead, at about milepost 101, I saw 6 to 8 Wild Turkeys roosting in treetops! Although my sighting was quick it is one that was burned in mind’s eye – those great big bodies, long square tails, and smallish heads facing eastward – and all silhouetted against the twilight sky! It looked as if they were still settling in when I saw them. I was thrilled and the sighting carried me the rest of the way home.

This was only second time I have seen Wild Turkeys in treetops and just like the first – I was caught completely by surprise!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Migration North 2009

Halajuliah - migration is in full swing!

A few years ago, I found the “Journey North” website and I log into it each spring to see how migration and other spring signs are proceeding northward. If you have not been to the “Journey North” website check it out at:

Also, click on the 'Weather and Climate' link on the bottom right-hand corner of the page, explore the "Journey North" website for all kinds of great information about changes in weather and climate, plants and animals, ice-out, etc.