Birds

Wild Turkey
John Mizel / Flickr Creative Commons

There is a common misconception that wild turkeys were once extinct in New Hampshire but have since returned.  Extinction is often confused with extirpation but they are actually two different concepts.

Extinct refers to species no longer in existence, having no living representatives – gone everywhere.  Things like the brontosaurus, which no longer occurred as of 10's of millions years ago, the wooly mammoth 10-thousand years ago, or the passenger pigeon only 10 decades ago.

Flkr Creative Commons / US Fish and Wildlife

Talk of turkey is usually relegated to the month of November as we stuff ourselves with eating yams and cranberry jelly, and watch college football. And the misperception about Ben Franklin proposing the wild turkey as our national bird, is usually not far behind.

Ed Yourdon via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7umThC

To catch a thief, you have to think like one. To prevent a crime, you have to case a joint like a potential infiltrator and find the weak spots. Today, an architecture and design critic gives us a burglars eye view of the built environment

Plus, humans respond to architecture on measurable cognitive and physiological levels - which means boring cities take a steep toll on our bodies and our minds.

Matt Ward via Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/7BuupJ)

Is there a song that has stuck with you for years?  Maybe a tune your parents sang to you as a child, the notes imprinted on your mind and became a part of your being.  As Chris and Dave shared the melodies imparted to themselves, the conversation turned (as it often does) to birds.  Is our musical learning similar to that of our avian neighbors?

4.12.16: Jackson vs. Trump & Birds, Birds, Birds

Apr 12, 2016
PROscreenpunk via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4JiDy2

Imagine a political outsider who's thin on policy and big on celebrity.  He's crude. He draws enormous crowds, and his popularity has party leaders panicking.  I'm talking of course about presidential candidate Andrew Jackson. Today, we'll look at some parallels between the elections of 2016 and 1824.

Then, New Englanders are cautiously optimistic about the end of a mild winter - with one devoted group especially keen to see what the spring brings – birdwatchers. 

Courtesy Duncan Hull via Vlickr (https://flic.kr/p/bA7FsW)

For the past 20 years, peregrine falcons have shared the cliffs in Rumney with the rock-climbing community, and Chris Martin has been directing the monitoring of these birds since they arrived.  In addition to tracking the progress of the falcons as they emerged from their endangered status, Chris and the Forest Service work closely with the climbing community to support recreation and maintain the safety of the falcons. 

capegirl52 via Flickr

Right now the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun.  Light enters our atmosphere at a much shallower angle and for fewer hours each day.  To put it simply, it's cold in New England. And as sure as January's cold the usual grumblings from residents about the plunging mercury abound.  It isn’t surprising when you consider how poorly adapted we humans are for living in the cold.  However, adaptations in other species in New Hampshire have allowed them to flourish.  

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tis the season for Christmas carols but at Something Wild one in particular captures our attention: The Twelve Days of Christmas.  There are a lot of birds featured in the song but, like so many of our carols, the lyrics are from old Europe and don’t really speak to life in 21st century New England.  So we thought maybe it’s time for an update… a rewrite… a New Hampshire Christmas carol.

We’ll skip over days twelve through eight – those all have to do with crafts people and artisans – and jump right to the important stuff – the BIRDS!

Chris Martin / Courtesy of NH Audubon

November is a great time to spot golden eagles. They are a rare sight in New Hampshire, but they do pass through the state on their annual migration. Right now they’re on their way south to winter in the central Appalachians. They’ll pass back through the state in March on their way to Labrador and northern Quebec to nest.

Golden eagles are sometimes confused with young bald eagles, but there are differences. When bald eagles are in flight, they hold their wings flat like a plank, but golden eagle wings have a slight ‘V’ shape.

Courtesy Town of Monroe

You know how New Hampshire likes to be first in the nation when it comes to politics? Well, it turns out we’re stragglers in another category: sandhill cranes. They’ve been nesting in our neighboring states of Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, but they never went granite until 2014.

Something Wild: Azure Crescendo

Oct 2, 2015
Kelly Colgan Azar via flickr Creative Commons

Generations ago, when people lived closer to the natural world, more outdoors than in, mild October days were called "bluebird weather."

The eastern bluebirds' gentle, quizzical notes were familiar and their distinctive habits recognized. A bluebird family remains together this time of year when most other bird species disperse. They favor field or open habitat, and typically perch on branches at field edge when they feed.

Robert Taylor via Flickr

You may be familiar with hoarders (not the TV show, but same idea).  In nature, a hoarder will hide food in one place.  Everything it gathers will be stored in a single tree or den.  But for some animals one food cache isn't enough.  We call them scatter hoarders.

jjjj56cp via flickr Creative Commons

The bird world quiets down by late summer - but not the American goldfinch, one of the most common backyard birds. September brings the chatter of young goldfinches as they follow their male parent. They beg noisily, perched with head thrown back and trembling wings.

Most songbirds switch their diet to high-protein insects when feeding their young, and they nest earlier when insects are most bountiful. For example, chickadees that keep bird-feeders busy in winter disappear in summer as they forage for insects not birdseed.

Suzie Tremmel via Flickr CC / flic.kr/p/y5VH

Looking to deepen your relationships, professional satisfaction, and personal innovation? Then it’s time to get vulnerable. We speak with TED Talk superstar Brene Brown, whose research says that exposing our secret selves is the most daring way to live. And, while the trans-gender movement gains ground, we’ll explore the shockingly common occurrence of doctors assigning gender to intersex babies. Plus, twins separated at birth find each other at last.

NHPR

We’re at an osprey nest in Tilton with Iain McLeod, director of Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Our goal is recruiting another individual for Project OspreyTrack. He explains that Project OspreyTrack began in 2011, “to try to understand a little bit more about osprey migration and foraging.” 

Paul Cecil at www.permuted.org.uk

There are actuarial tables and plenty of lists to help you figure out whether you've hit middle age.  Gray hair, inability to read your phone.  Failure to recognize every song on the radio. But as NHPR's Sean Hurley reflects from his home in the White Mountains, maybe middle age is simply noticing a shift in perspective. 

NH Audubon

Those of you who keep a close eye on the Peregrine Falcon cam in Manchester, will be well acquainted with the saga these birds have undergone. If you're not, NH Audubon's Chris Martin recorded a quick recap last year.

The song of the veery is a haunting, ethereal song. Males sing at dusk, a time when not many other birds sing and daytime winds have calmed. It's also a time when the air turns damp; dense, moist air transfers sound waves better than dry air.

If you listen to the song carefully, you can hear an echo or tremolo effect (more on this below), because songbirds have, essentially, a double voice box that can produce two notes at the same time. (The left voice box is lower pitched than the right one.) In a sense, a singing veery harmonizes with itself.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

If you visit Appledore Island during spring bird migration, consider wearing a helmet.

“Yeah I mean the herring gulls will hit you and it’s jarring, but the black-backs hitting you can do some serious damage,” says Sarah Courchesne, a sea-gull researcher with Tufts University, as she and her students suit up to go out and catch seagulls.

The gulls that nest around the research station get very protective this time of year

Warm Weather Heralds Prime Bird Watching Season

May 4, 2015
JD via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/eUKGG8

If this past winter had you longing for sunny days and spending more times outdoors, you’re certainly not alone. As northerly winds make way for the warm southerly breezes, you’ll likely notice quite a few more birds at the feeders and songbirds chirping away out of sight. Spring is prime-time for bird watching and while you may have noticed the return of the Red-winged Blackbirds back in March, and perhaps a surge in waterfowl sightings, there a plenty more feathered friends winging their way north.

Colleen P. via flickr Creative Commons / flic.kr/p/nBkdFS

It was a long hard winter – but temperatures are finally climbing and bird song is erupting across New Hampshire. Today is Bird Day and we’ll talk about the sounds of spring migration – and hear how you can keep traveling birds from flying into your windows. Plus, an amateur photographer and creator of the #WorstBirdPic Meme comes to terms with the fact that 99% of his bird photos are blurry.

And two spring traditions come together in a new project that’s just sprouted at Fenway Park: an organic rooftop garden. 

Shell Game / Flickr/Creative Commons

One of the rituals I shared with my children when they were growing up was stalking woodcocks during their spring courtship display. I guess I was sort of emulating a hero of mine named Aldo Leopold.

The Uncommon History of the Common Junco

Mar 6, 2015
Blake Matheson via flickr Creative Commons

A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form? It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter feeders, is providing a  clear picture of that process.

First, a quick review of what defines a species:

Trevor Dennis / Flickr/CC

  New Hampshire wildlife officials say several more ducks have died since nearly two dozen of the wild birds were found dead in a storm runoff basin in Concord.

Conservation officers recovered 22 dead ducks Saturday from the oil-contaminated water at a housing development. Another four ducks were captured and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center, but two have since died, along with another duck found walking in a driveway.

Officials are investigating how what appears to be motor oil ended up in the basin.

Trevor Dennis / Flickr/CC

New Hampshire wildlife officials say 22 wild ducks were 

found dead in oil-contaminated water in a storm runoff basin at a Concord housing development.

Officials say the dead birds were recovered Saturday by conservation officers using nets while contending with extreme cold temperatures, deep snow and thin ice. Another four ducks were captured and taken to a veterinarian for treatment.

capegirl52 via Flickr

Right now the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun.  Light enters our atmosphere at a much shallower angle and for fewer hours each day.  To put it simply, it's cold in New England. And as sure as January's cold the usual grumblings from residents about the plunging mercury abound.  It isn’t surprising when you consider how poorly adapted we humans are for living in the cold.  However, adaptations in other species in New Hampshire have allowed them to flourish.  

The stately Raven has garnered many connotations over the years, chief among them are for the bird’s intelligence. Additionally, this largest of songbirds is also known for is aerobic alacrity - flying upside down, doing barrel, etc - and playful proclivities.

Stories of their intelligence abound, including one that involves Cheetos. A wildlife biologist was attempting to trap and band ravens. To lure them in, he spread Cheetos on snow and the bright orange color soon attracted several ravens, which were then snared by leg traps under the snow.

Jeff Finn / Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/44459766@N02/6385935213

It was a record year for red-bellied woodpeckers in New Hampshire. That's the word from New Hampshire's birders as the international Christmas Bird Count tradition comes to a close.

Overall, bird enthusiasts from 21 regions across the state are reporting both high individual bird counts, and high species counts.  

As volunteers fan out across the state for the annual Christmas Bird Count, they’re likely to see two noteworthy species down from the north this year. Both are named "Crossbills" for unique bills that actually do cross, all the better to pry seeds from a conifer cone.

Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Tis the season for Christmas carols but at Something Wild one in particular captures our attention: The Twelve Days of Christmas.  There are a lot of birds featured in the song but, like so many of our carols, the lyrics are from old Europe and don’t really speak to life in 21st century New England.  So we thought maybe it’s time for an update… a rewrite… a New Hampshire Christmas carol.

We’ll skip over days twelve through eight – those all have to do with crafts people and artisans – and jump right to the important stuff – the BIRDS!

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