Category Archives: Species Accounts

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk (Code 1)  1 Jan 2015

Area:  Common migrant and permanent resident across Hunterdon County.

Yard: At least one pair is active in the neighborhood, and a bird or two is usually in the yard at least a couple times a week.  Other birds are seen soaring in the distance.

Observations: Often found and mobbed by crows.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird (Code 2)  10 March 2015

Area: Common to fairly common migrant and breeding species in Hunterdon County, uncommon to rare winter resident.

Yard: Uncommon.  Mostly seen as a flyover during migration.


Audio: Song from male in tree 10 March 2015.

RWBL 10 March 2015

Observations: FOYYB was a pair of male birds in a grackle flock that visited the feeders on 10 March 2015.  Flock flew off and the pair remained perched in a tree in the side yard allowing me to get the poor documentary shot (above).

Extreme Yard Birding–Redpoll Social Attraction

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Common Redpoll, 5 March 2015. Documentary shot, heavily cropped.

I’ve been watching my feeders for months waiting for a Common Redpoll.  Today we were hit by another heavy snowstorm, in which I finally got my first Purple Finches of the year.  But no redpolls.  There have been a few reported today in scattered spots around the county, so they are apparently moving around in the storm.  This was the time to try something new.  I decided to try social attraction to see if I could get redpolls to stop in my yard.

I got a recording of a feeding redpoll flock, played it on a loop on my iPad, and stuck a bluetooth speaker broadcasting the recording out near my bird feeders and put more seed on the ground in the snow.

Just over an hour later I heard a Common Redpoll call as it flew over my OldBird21c microphone (recording below)!

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Flyover Common Redpoll “tchet” calls

Then a couple minutes later as I watched from the window a redpoll flew past and landed on the seed I had placed on a small conifer near my sparrow slick.  It flew before I could grab my camera, but I went upstairs to see if it might be feeding under my feeders (the view from downstairs was obscured by snow banks) and sure enough, there it was feeding on the ground next to the speaker!

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Common Redpoll, 5 March 2015


Common Redpoll on ground near Bluetooth speaker (under shelter box at upper right).

The bird flew up into a tree, and didn’t stay more than a few minutes.  But I got a recording, photos, and was able to log it for the Backyard Big Year!


Bluetooth speaker, protected from snowfall by black box with holes in it to allow sound broadcasting


Now I know some folks are opposed to playing tapes to lure in birds.  But social attraction using audio recordings is a legitimate conservation strategy to attract Atlantic Puffins to nesting sites, and has been since used to lure in other rare birds to appropriate habitat where they are more prone to stick if they think others of their species are around–such as Black-capped Vireos in Texas.  Purple Martin landlords routinely play martin recordings to attract them to new colonial housing.  In my case, maybe redpolls moving around the area could use a little social encouragement to check out my yard and find my feeders.  The bird got a quick meal, I got the bird for my annual yard list.  It’s all good.  Right?

Interestingly, the other birds seemed to avoid the feeders while the recording was running–preferring to stay over by the food at the sparrow slick.  After I turned off the recording, the American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins returned to the feeding station.  Hmmmm.  Wonder what is up with that?

Purple Finch

Purple Finch (Code 2)  5 March 2015

Area: Uncommon migrant and winter visitor, usually seen at feeders.  Some yards will retain them all winter, while others will not see any.

Yard:  Uncommon migrant and winter visitor.  Sometimes several birds will stick around for a  few weeks or more, other times months go by without seeing any in the yard.

Observations: First birds of the year were a pair that stopped in to the bird feeders briefly during a heavy snowstorm on 5 March 2015.  I only managed a quick documentary shot of the female (above) before they took off.

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper  (Code 2)   17 February 2015

Area: Uncommon and local resident, most often found during migration or winter.  Most reports in the county come from areas with pine trees, including Spruce Run and Round Valley.

Yard:  Apparently a fairly rare winter visitor, though expected.  The first encounter for my yard was the bird seen and recorded 17 Feb 2015.  It flew across the yard about 1:30pm and I was unable to relocate to photograph, but the OldBird21c mic picked up a few calls (below).

Audio:  Apparent Brown Creeper call recorded by OldBird21c mic.


Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

13 Jan 2015

Brown-headed Cowbird (Code 1) 13 Jan 2015

Area: Uncommon winter and fairly common summer resident in Hunterdon County.

Yard: Frequently seen and heard during the breeding season, much less common during other seasons. 3 birds seen 13 Jan 2015 were with sparrows feeding on seed scattered in side yard.


Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle (Code 3)  2 Jan 2015

Area: Fairly common, especially near reservoirs and rivers in Hunterdon and Warren Counties, with several pairs nesting in the area.

Yard: Occasionally seen as a flyover from the yard.  Bird seen on 2 Jan 2015 was an adult soaring to the north, spotted through the scope while watching the local crows mob a Red-tailed Hawk.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Group of 21 on frozen pond on Old Farm Rd north of the yard, 10 Jan 2015.

Canada Goose  (Code 1)  1 Jan 2015

Area: Abundant during non-breeding season, a growing sedentary population remains to breed.

Yard: Common to abundant flyover during non-breeding season. Usually seen when moving between roosting grounds on local water bodies and feeding areas in fields, often in morning or late afternoon. Occasional groups or individuals land in fields and pond on Old Farm Rd north of the yard.

Audio: 15 Jan 2015

CANG 15 Jan 2015

House Finch

House Finch

Male House Finch (bottom) with presumed Carolina Chickadee, 1 Jan 2015

House Finch (Code 1)  1 Jan 2015

Area:  Common throughout Hunterdon County.

Yard:  Fairly common, small numbers usually found in yard throughout the year.  Often come to black oil sunflower seed at feeder, or perch high in side yard trees.  Will also forage in rose tangles and other understory thickets.



Female House Finch at black oil sunflower seed feeder.


Pair of House Finches on patio under feeders.


HOFI 1 Jan 2015


HOFI 1 Jan 2015 B

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted TitmouseTufted Titmouse  (Code 1)  1 Jan 2015

Area: Common permanent resident in wooded yards and woodlands in Hunterdon County.

Yard: Common permanent resident, at least a pair of birds commonly come to feeders in winter, heard singing in neighborhood during breeding season.

Calls from 19 Jan 2015

TUTI 19 Jan 2015


Singing “peter-peter” 28 Jan 2015

TUTI 28 Jan 2015 singing