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Bird Observer

New England Birding Journal

Bird Observer is a New England-based bimonthly journal for birders of all skill levels. We are a nonprofit organization supported by subscribers, and staffed by volunteers. We publish original articles on birding locations, on avian populations and natural history, on regional rarities, book reviews and field notes, bird sightings, photographs, and artwork.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.

Feature Articles from the Latest Issue:

Most Recent

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Birding Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area, Worcester County, Massachusetts

Bolton Flats Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a portion of the Nashua River Watershed Important Bird Area (IBA), protected land that spans over 1,000 acres and offers visitors a wide diversity of birds, plants, arthropods, amphibians, and reptiles. In addition to being a critical breeding location for state-listed marsh and grassland birds, waterfowl, and passerines, it is also an extremely important migrant stopover and is the breeding ground of many vulnerable species such as the Blanding’s turtle and the ringed boghaunter dragonfly.

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Naming Birds: Wherefore Art Thou Vireo?

In this article, we hope to pique your curiosity by providing a brief introduction to bird naming. Though not experts, we have found that learning about scientific and common English bird names has deepened our engagement with birds, birders, and bird science.

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Musings from the Blind Birder: One Small Step for Birders, One Giant Leap for Birds

As I write this, another fall migration season is in full swing. My thoughts focus on the rigors of the migration itself and my wonderment that small birds, some no bigger than my thumb, are able to survive perilous journeys of thousands of miles. And then my thoughts turn to how I am, in a small but significant way, helping to ensure that they land in a rich and supportive habitat for their wintering home.

This photograph shows detail rarely observed because Chimney Swifts move so quickly. Photographs by Sean Williams.

John’s World of Birds: The Cigar that Flies

As Jeff told it, during the council discussion Roger abruptly put his hand up and asked for silence. He turned and stared at the fireplace and then went over to it. He knelt down, reached up into the fireplace chimney, and soon emerged holding a Chimney Swift. He had heard the bird making a faint twitter as well as a scratching sound on the wall of the chimney. After showing it around, he placed it back in the chimney.

Left to right: Cackling and Canada Goose. Photograph by Sebastian Jones.

Tricky Birds: Winter Geese

For the inaugural edition of this semiregular column, we will be tackling a staple of winter birding in Massachusetts, the separation of pairs of tricky geese: Canada versus Cackling, Snow versus Ross’s, and Greater White-fronted versus Pink-footed.

Audubon at Sea: The Coastal and Transatlantic Adventures of John James Audubon

About Books: A Pelagic Audubon

When we think about the world-renowned bird artist John James Audubon, we likely conjure up an image of a pioneering ornithologist of America with rifle, paint, and paper, bushwhacking it through humid forests and swamps, procuring specimens for his watercolors that would later become the elephant folio sized prints in his The Birds of America. Most of us would not envision Audubon also on the deck of a ship, riding out a storm, seasick as all hell. But that image of Audubon is precisely what Irmscher and King present to the reader in Audubon at Sea.

Accipiters in Flight by Susan Browne

At a Glance: October 2022 Revealed

In hawk identification, a useful first consideration is to place an unidentified individual into one of several distinct taxonomic categories. The overall shape and length of the wings and tail, the relative size of the head in front of the wing, and the feather pattern of the underparts, wings, and tail are especially important to notice. In the field, characteristic flight behavior is also a useful identification aid, and sometimes vocalizations can be helpful in distinguishing high-flying or distant individuals, but none of these are useful to the mystery raptors in print.

Zaps

Zaps: 50-6

Zaps are notes of awareness and pleas for action that appear in the corresponding print edition of Bird Observer. Here they are from the current issue.

Not a subscriber yet? You can still browse the site and view enough content to see what a great resource you have in Bird Observer. We hope you'll agree with us and subscribe today.

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo
Hop Brook WMA, Lee, MA

Lawrence's Warbler

Lawrence's Warbler
Ordway Reservation, West Newbury, MA

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler
Crane Hill, Ipswich, MA

Bufflehead

Bufflehead
Ipswich River WS, Topsfield, MA

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA

Canada Warbler

Canada Warbler
Langford Pond, Rockport, MA

Egrets

Egrets
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear
Wachusett Reservoir, Sterling, MA

Ovenbird

Ovenbird
Cedar Pond WS, Hamilton, MA

Piping Plover

Piping Plover
Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper
Halibut Point Reservation, Rockport, MA

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo
Atherton Connector, West Newbury, MA

White-faced Storm-Petrel

White-faced Storm-Petrel
Georges Bank

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher
Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, MA

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

American Golden Plover

American Golden Plover
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Black Tern

Black Tern
Sengekontacket Pond, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper
Umbagog NWR, Errol, NH

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing
Washburn Family Forest, Clarksville, NH

Common Loon

Common Loon
Grafton Pond, Grafton, NH

Least Tern

Least Tern
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, MA

MacGillivray's Warbler

MacGillivray's Warbler
Lexington Community Farm, Lexington, MA

Red Knot

Red Knot
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, MA

Whimbrel

Whimbrel
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow
Smith Pond, Enfield, NH

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush
Gull Pond, Wenham, MA

Common Merganser

Common Merganser
Deer Island, Newburyport, MA

Veery

Veery
Oxbow NWR, Harvard, MA

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Snipe
Indian Stream Road, Pittsburg, NH

American Bittern

American Bittern
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler
Hamlin Reservation, Ipswich, MA

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler
Chubb Creek, Beverly Farms, MA

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper
Grafton Pond, Grafton, NH

Marbled Godwit

Marbled Godwit
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail
Ipswich River WS, Topsfield, MA

American Pipit

American Pipit
Wachusett Reservoir, Sterling, MA

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Oriole
Coy Pond, Wenham, MA

Osprey

Osprey
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, MA

Barred Owl

Barred Owl
Great Bay NWR, Portsmouth, NH

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Ruffed Grouse

Ruffed Grouse
Nulhegan Basin, Silvio O. Conte NWR, Bloomfield, VT

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler
Homestead Trail 45, Essex, MA

Blue-winged Warbler

Blue-winged Warbler
Martin H. Burnes WMA, Newbury, MA

Brant

Brant
West Beach, Beverly Farms, MA

American Avocet

American Avocet
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Bonaparte's Gull

Bonaparte's Gull
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, MA

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher
Delmater Sanctuary, Rockport, MA

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush
Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA

Horned Lark

Horned Lark
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, MA

Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper Sparrow
Pease Grasslands, Portsmouth, NH

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Saltmarsh Sparrow

Saltmarsh Sparrow
Nelson's Island, Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ipswich River WS, Topsfield, MA

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler
Halibut Point State Park, Rockport, MA

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe
Ipswich River WS, Topsfield, MA

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting
Martin H. Burnes WMA, Newbury, MA

Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser
Deer Island, Newburyport, MA

House Finch

House Finch
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager
Willowdale State Forest, Ipswich, MA

Green Heron

Green Heron
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Wood Thrush

Wood Thrush
Ipswich River WS, Topsfield, MA

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Savannah Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow
Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA

Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler
Ipswich River WS, Topsfield, MA

Barred Owl

Barred Owl
Julia Bird Reservation, Ipswich, MA

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler
Jordan Ridge, Acadia NP, Mt Desert Island, ME

Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee
Old Town Hill, Newbury, MA

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak
Appleton Farms, Ipswich, MA

Northern Waterthrush

Northern Waterthrush
Coy Pond, Wenham, MA

Ring-necked Pheasant

Ring-necked Pheasant
Pikes Bridge, West Newbury, MA

House Finch

House Finch
Sandy Point State Reservation, Plum Island, MA

Wilson's Storm-Petrel

Wilson's Storm-Petrel
Georges Bank

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Duck
Halibut Point Reservation, Rockport, MA

Wilson's Warbler

Wilson's Warbler
Parker River NWR, Plum Island, MA

Solitary Sandpiper

Solitary Sandpiper
Little River, Newbury, MA

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow
Round Pond, Hamilton, MA

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin
Chubb Creek, Beverly Farms, MA

Common Grackle

Common Grackle
Ipswich River WS, Topsfield, MA

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper
Hop Brook WMA, Lee, MA

New England Birding Calendar

A consolidated calendar showing field trips, meetings and club events from across the region.

New England Notables

Real-time reports, browseable by county for every New England state.

Where to Go Birding

An excellent resource for birding excursions throughout New England.

Rarities Radar

On-your-cell, real-time rarities listings within a radius of your choosing.

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High Tide Table for Boston

Made especially for birders, with time offsets for up and down the coastline

Generously funded by Bird Watcher's Supply & Gift

Birding List Digests

View summary or detail on up-to-the-minute postings from birding lists throughout New England.

Club Locator

Find a local or regional birding club near you.

The Bird Observer Collection

Every word of every issue - species accounts, book reviews, musings, gleanings, hot birds, cold birds, rare birds and old birds.

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celebrating our
50th year

Our mission: to support and promote the observation, understanding, and conservation of the wild birds of New England.

Bird Observer supports the right of all people to enjoy birding and nature in a safe and welcoming environment free from discrimination and harassment, be it sexual, racial, or barriers for people with disabilities.
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