Saturday, February 21, 2009

Winter birds are leaving, spring birds arriving

Today, after competing in the regional MATHCOUNTS competition, I had
some time to do some birding. Some of the first Turkey Vultures of
the season were slowly drifting by the house. I headed up to a small
field just up the road from my house, and found a Fox Sparrow in a
brushy area, along with several juncos and house finches. As I
continued along the field, I found a majestic-looking immature
Cooper's Hawk on top of a dead tree.

Several large Snow Geese flocks have been flying over, some groups
number in the thousands. Red-winged Blackbirds are also on the move.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Recent photos

Here are some photos I have taken recently:

Eastern Bluebird:

Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch at my feeder:

Female Northern Cardinal:

White-wing over Bethlehem

Today's weather here in PA has been a combination of rain, snow, some sun, and wind. This afternoon, around 2:45, a I heard a single White-winged Crossbill flying over, despite the 40mph gusts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quiet days in PA

Being still stuck at home during this extended President's Day weekend, I've been able to do some birding around the house.  `With the Great Backyard Bird Count and the Lehigh Gap Nature Center's Feederwatch this weekend, my sightings went to two citizen scientist projects.

On Saturday (2/14/09) my dad heard an American Woodcock displaying in the field across the road.  That morning, two White-winged Crossbills flew over the yard while I was birding from my deck.  On Sunday (2/15/09), I found a flock of juncos which had two Field Sparrows and a lone American Tree Sparrow mixed in. 

This morning, I had four White-winged Crossbills feeding in the spruces in my yard, but as soon as I got my camera, they took off.  I also found a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Pileated Woodpecker.  There are about 30+ Pine Siskins and about 10 American Goldfinches at the feeders.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lehigh Gap Nature Center bird survey

For the past three years, I have been monitoring the birds at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center (LGNC) near Slatington, PA. LGNC is a 750+ acre plot of land situated along the Kittatinny Rigde, which extends from southern PA to northern NJ. LGNC is part of the largest land-based superfund site east of the Mississippi River. The area in and surrounding LGNC was contaminated by the zinc smeltering by Palmerton Zinc Co. The area was devoid of vegetation and the soil was filled with heavy metals including zinc, cadmium, and lead. As the trees and other plants died, the soil and rocks eroded away, leaving a moon-scape of large bolders.

LGNC's goal was to restore this mountainside. To do this, the center planted native warm-season grasses to recreate the soil and hopefully bring life to the once lifeless landscape. The grasslands at LGNC now flourish with plant and animals life. There are now fungi, plants, and animals. Some of the most important species now using the refuge as a migration stop, wintering site, or breeding location, include Prairie Warblers, American Kestrels, Indigo Buntings, Rough-legged Hawks, Vesper Sparrows, and Eastern Bluebirds. This past summer (2008) I found nesting Blue Grosbeaks at the refuge. The pair was successful in raising a single baby. This nesting was the first confirmed breeding record of Blue Grosbeaks in Carbon County, PA and an important milestone for the LGNC.

The refuge consists of scrub habitat, a native plant garden, restored grassland, riparian zone, the Lehigh River, a natural savannah (or savanna), deciduous forests, ponds, and wetlands. The refuge is open to the public from dawn to dusk.

For more information about the LGNC and a calendar of events and programs, visit

This past weekend, on my survey, I found 25 species. We saw mainly common winter birds, but did find 120 Pine Siskins, 8 Common Mergansers, 4500 Snow Geese (fly overs), and two male White-winged Crossbills.

New Blog

Hey everyone!

I'm a young birder that lives in eastern Pennsylvania. I was encouraged by some fellow young birders to start a blog so here it is!