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Matt Kamm
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Thanks for all the reports! Funnily enough, just this Friday we saw a female Pileated Woodpecker chiseling the bark off of a dead tree not twenty feet from our building here at Mass Audubon HQ. Early March seems like a great time for Pileated Woodpecker sightings!
Thanks for the comment, Christine! There are hawks that hunt in groups (such as the Harris Hawks of the American southwest), but in Massachusetts, low-flying groups of large, soaring birds are almost certainly Turkey Vultures. Soaring vultures watch each other as well as watching for carrion, so when one begins to descend, others notice and come to the area as well.
Thanks for the comment, Noreen. You can check out a map and list of every Atlas block where breeding saw-whet owls were found here ( The block where you made your sighting should be listed as Confirmed. If you don't know which block your nest box falls in, you can look at the maps of each block here ( Much of Lenox falls in the Stockbridge 10 block, but there are a few others with parts of Lenox in them.
Wow, Karen! That's an exceptional sighting. Would you happen to have any pictures of the bird, or more information about the sighting?
Thanks for letting us know, Luke! It's not unusual this time of year for bobwhites to gather into large coveys, so keep an eye out for even more birds in the area where you spotted the first.
Thanks for the comment, Mary! Though suitable habitat for bobwhites in MA may be dwindling, it's heartening to know that there are still a few places where their whistling can be heard even west of the Quabbin.
That's very exciting, Emily! The Atlas project did not find any Confirmed instances of Red-headed Woodpeckers breeding in Massachusetts, but they may be breeding in the state forest near you. Keep an eye on your feeder, and let us know if more Red-headed Woodpeckers show up.
Thanks for the comment, Genel! Keep an eye on your yard in the coming weeks - any Evening Grosbeak seen in June should be regarded as a possible breeder. It may yet return.
Very cool, Melissa! Northern Saw-whet Owls are more common than they seem, but it's still a rare treat to actually lay eyes on one of these reclusive little hunters. Thanks for the comment!
Thanks for your comments, Lee and Diane. It's great to hear that Pileated Woodpeckers are living peaceably alongside our human enclaves.
Thanks very much for your comment, Michael. To the best of my knowledge, there are no historical records of Red-breasted Mergansers breeding anywhere in the Taunton River / Mt. Hope Bay area. I can certainly look into it further, though, and anything is possible for the future, so keep an eye on the area this summer to see if the mergansers stick around!
That's an exciting find, Lawrence! Bobwhites are becoming quite scarce outside Cape Cod, so to see one in Woburn is quite a treat. We here at Mass Audubon would love to see some of your pictures, if you're willing to share. Send them along to, and thanks for the comment!
Off to greener pastures... Exciting news! Distraction Displays is moving from TypePad over to WordPress. Be sure to change the URL in your Favorites bar, Bookmarks menu, or that little word processor file that you use to keep track of... Continue reading
Thanks for the comment, Kirstyn! American Coots always pass through in large numbers during the fall, but seeing them in winter is rarer. During mild years such as this one, your neck of the woods is often the best place to see them in areas where the water remains unfrozen. Your other visitor with the funky 'do may be a female Hooded Merganser ( Like coots, they can be hard to find in the winter, but some of them turn up around the southeast coast every year.
From Newburyport to West Springfield, it looks like Pileated Woodpeckers are out in force this winter! Winter is one of the best times to see woodpeckers, since most of them remain year-round and there are no leaves on the trees to obscure them. Thanks, Bill and Mike, for letting us know about your sightings.
Wow, Donna! You were very lucky to get so close to these impressive birds. I hope your pictures come out well, and leave you with good memories of the encounter.
Thanks for the recipe, Wil! I and one of my two roommates are both vegetarians, and I made a big pot of this soup last night with the addition of kidney beans for protein and a generous dash of cayenne for kick. Even my meat-eating roommate loved it, so thanks!
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From the Department of New and Noteworthy The wait is over, Atlas faithful - the State of the Birds report has arrived! This landmark work of conservation science draws heavily on the data you've all put in so much work... Continue reading
Thanks for the comments! Even experienced birders thrill to the sight of a Pileated Woodpecker. Woodpeckers usually winter fairly near their breeding grounds, so keep tracking the bird through the colder months.
Every rosefinch has its song. The genus Carpodacus, somtimes referred to as rosefinches, presenta an interesting complex for the the Massachusetts Atlaser. House Finch is a rapidly-increasing introduced species, while Purple Finch is a native bird that seems to be... Continue reading
They're quite fetching, aren't they? Bicknell's Thrushes (sometimes referred to as "Bickies," though not by me) were named after the man who first described the species, Eugene Pintard Bicknell. Perhaps he's an ancestor of yours!
From the Department of Power to the People Have you been waiting for a particular challenge to be addressed as a Tuesday Tune-Up? Let your voice be heard! Submit suggestions in the comments. Whether it's an entire group of birds... Continue reading
A closed mouth catches no flies. Every birder knows the Empidonax flycatchers are notoriously difficult to identify. Visually, there are differences, but tricks of the light and individual variation usually overshadow these to the point where they are rarely reliable... Continue reading
Cool sighting, Mark! Both species of cuckoo certainly breed as far north as the U.P. If you'd like to upload your pictures to a photo-sharing site and post a link here in the comments, I'm sure lots of people would be excited to see a picture of one of these reclusive birds.
Interesting news, Donna. I've heard Wood Thrushes singing throughout the summer here in Massachusetts, so it is odd that your birds don't seem to be singing. Wood Thrushes can certainly be very skittish, and males rarely sing near the nest once eggs are laid. Perhaps a pair is nesting near you, and the "chuck chuck" is the female's alarm call!