Tundra Swans on Mohawk River

marianne friers

I have never attempted to post here before so please forgive me if I don't get it right. 
My husband and I found eight Tundra Swans at the confluence of the Mohawk and Schoharie, near the Schoharie Crossing boat launch. They were easily seen and photographed from the parking lot and were resting on the ice with some Canada Geese, just to the north. 
Marianne Friers

Turkey Vulture- Saratoga

Alan Mapes

One TV riding the winds near Weibel Ave just now. 

Alan Mapes

This week's destination: 2/20 NOTE CHANGE OF TIME

Naomi Lloyd

And now for something completely different -- Owl Time!

The Short-eared Owls have been putting on a great show up in the Washington Co. grasslands, with as many as 8 seen some evenings. I propose we meet at 1:00 at the Hudson Crossing parking lot, spend several hours checking out the river and fields on both sides, then be at the Plum Road fields about 4:00pm when the owls come out of the grass and start hunting. People have been getting great looks as they swoop across the fields, sometimes perching on roadside signs.

Hope to see you there at 1:00PM! Or if you just want to be at the grand finale, park along the roadside between Plum and Swamp Roads.


Saratoga Waterfowl, Northumberland Longspur

Alan Mapes

An afternoon visit to Stafford’s Bridge on Fish Creek turned up 500 or so waterfowl, mostly mallards, blacks, common mergs and Canada Geese. Among them I picked out 2 ring-necks, 1 lesser scaup, 3 hooded mergs, and 1 black x mallard hybrid.

At the north end of Homestead Road were the usual small group of horned larks (6). I found two nice manure spreads along County Rt. 29, just north of Harris Rd. - but no birds. Finally, on Stonebridge Rd between Ballard Road and the poultry farm was a manure spread with a ton of horned larks and snow buntings. I got a great look at one Lapland longspur among them.

Alan Mapes

Lions Park and Bikepath 2/15/2020


Hi all,
I walked the Niskayuna Bikepath from Lions Park north past Ferry Drive from 1100am to 1pm today.  Most of the river and backwater was frozen. 
Higlights included

Snow Buntings-flock of 50 or so in a farm field between the path and the river north of the Ferry Drive bridge.  No Larks or longspurs visible.

Bald Eagle-one adult

Redwinged blackbird- 2 flyover males

Rough-legged Hawk- 2 birds one dark, one light around 1pm.
I first saw the dark phase bird perched with its back to me in the stand of trees across from the train station building.  I moved closer and saw it fly showing a long winged Buteo with the dark body contrasting with pale flight feathers and the dark terminal tail band of a Rough-legged Hawk. It flew over an area of cattails and even hovered in place briefly allowing me to see its head and bill. It was then joined by a light bird showing the dark carpal patches, white flight feathers, dark terminal tail band and white tail base of a light Rough legged Hawk.
Both birds moved slowly down river toward Albany county hunting over the cattails and reeds that border the river on the south side.

Good Birding!

Neal Reilly
Schenectady and Rochester, NY

Gyrfalcon sighting


2/13/20. Voorheesville NY the old Levi’s Farm property 
slowly flying over the open areas before landing on the ground and staying for several minutes. Allowed me to drive within 30 feet and park to watch and admire.

Middle Grove


Bribing blue jays this a.m. with black oil seeds and peanuts (to keep them from pecking at my sills).  A couple of cardinals and a red-bellied woodpecker checked out the scene as well.  It is interesting to note that, as soon as I entered the yard to check out the status of the feed, one of the jays gave a "kip-weeee" BWHA call as an alarm.  I guess it's equally effective for humans.


Middle Grove

fort Edward grasslands Wednesday afternoon


Denise and I birded the grasslands this afternoon, Wednesday Feb 12. We had 2 Rough-legged hawks, 1 kestrel, 1 harrier, 1 red-tail, 5 short-eared owls and 1 Geeat Horned owl, plus several flocks of a total of about 150 snow buntings and a few horned larks. Scott Stoner, Loudonville NY

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

Adult Golden Eagle, Battenville, NY, 7:14 AM today.

Scott Varney

While driving to work this morning, an adult Golden Eagle soared above Route 29 in Battenville, within close proximity of the Battenkill River. I stopped my car and the eagle was soaring in a tight circle directly above my car. I looked for a nearby deer carcass but was unable to find one. I'll take a better gander on my way home. Golden nape and head were clearly seen and were very well contrasted with the very dark body color. No banding on the tail.  Amazing best observation of this species!  

Scott Varney
Salem, NY

This week's destination: 2/13 -- Stay home again

Naomi Lloyd

Yes, the Thursday morning forecast is once again dismal! Stay home, watch your feeders, make plans for Valentine's day, and be careful!


Red-winged Blackbird, Latham 2/12


At the parking lot of the Mohawk Riverside Landing Park this morning, a Red-winged Blackbird perched up singing over the frozen wetland.

Tom Williams 

No destination: 2/6 -- Stay Home!

Naomi Lloyd

Hey Birders, due to the increasingly unpleasant forecast for Thursday morning (sleet, snow, freezing rain) I say we should all stay home and watch our bird feeders this week.

Better luck next Thursday -- stay safe and watch out for ice --


On Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 12:42:51 PM EST, Naomi Lloyd via Groups.Io <naomi_kestrel@...> wrote:

Bill and I were the only birders last week and got skunked on grasslands birds, despite others finding good stuff later that day and in the week. So let's try the Washington/Saratoga grasslands again and hope for better luck (and more eyes!)

Meet at Hudson Crossing park at 9:00. I might spend the rest of the day up there and look for SEOW in the afternoon.,-73.579937,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89de2ebeef77c4ef:0xcdfc181530ee1425!8m2!3d43.113797!4d-73.577743?hl=en&authuser=0


TONIGHT - HMBC program - Monday Feb 3 at the Colonie Library - Grassland Bird Monitoring


6:30 PM; details below

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: "scottjstoner via Groups.Io" <ScottJStoner@...>
Date: 1/28/20 21:05 (GMT-05:00)
Subject: [hmbirds] HMBC program - Monday Feb 3 at the Colonie Library - Grassland Bird Monitoring

Program -- NYSDEC Grassland Bird Studies and Conservation in NYS

  • When
    3 Feb 2020
  • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Location
    William K. Sanford (Colonie) Library
Speaker: Paul Novak of NYSDEC

for details please see

Lesser Black-backed Gull, Cohoes

John Kent

I did the Green Island - Cohoes - Crescent circuit around noon today. I got to Crescent Park a while after Gregg’s post on the Iceland Gull, but didn’t find any gulls there. My only notable sighting was a Lesser Black-backed Gull, seen above Cohoes Falls while scoping from School Street. I wasn’t able to make out leg color, but based on mantle color, a gray-streaked head and neck, and size comparison to Herring Gulls, I felt confident of the ID. I also saw four Mute Swans together on the north side of the Mohawk just west of Crescent Power Plant.

This morning at Henry Hudson Park in Selkirk, I saw three Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, a Winter Wren, and a Common Grackle. A Peregrine Falcon carrying prey landed in a tree and started eating, then flew off when it saw me looking at it.

John Kent

Iceland gull, crescent


one first year bird on the ice in large group just west of the crescent Bridge. visible from the fishing access on the opposite side. was totally blocked when we were looking from crescent Park. 

Gregg Recer

gregg recer
malta NY

ADBC field trips

Naomi Lloyd

As I looked over the list of upcoming HMBC field trips in FEATHERS, I remembered that our neighbor club, the Alan Devoe Bird Club, has a busy schedule of walks for the new year. Many of them dovetail into open spaces in our list (except May -- everyone is busy in May!). They focus mainly on Columbia County destinations, nearby but less familiar to many of us.

Naomi Lloyd

Seeking Sites for Avian Conservation Research

Steve M. Chorvas

I am forwarding the message below to the listserve on behalf of Bruce Robertson, an avian ecologist at Bard College (Dutchess County).  If interested, or if you have any questions, please respond directly to Bruce (contact info at end of message).
Steve M. Chorvas
Saugerties, NY
From Bruce Robertson:

I'm currently in the second year of a State of California-funded research project designed to understand the basis for the large-scale phenomenon of bird collisions with solar panels. I've been doing this research locally, on wintering songbirds here in the Hudson Valley, and in the yards of kind citizens who volunteer the use of their yards for about a week. I'm writing because we are seeking more citizens with interest in helping with the project in the next 1.5 months.  

Information for the project is included below, but in short we are looking to place a bird feeder or some heated bird baths on the grass at the edge of some woods where we can attract birds to interact with our experiments. And we are most limited on sites for the bird bath experiment because it asks citizens to allow us to plug in these heated bird baths into some exterior power supply for a few days, and many people don't have exterior power supplies.


Volunteer your yard or property as a site for a Bard College research project

Over the past few years, an increasing number of migratory birds are found dead at utility-scale solar installations in the California desert. The USFWS estimates that somewhere between 18,000-83,000 birds may die each year by either colliding with solar panels or wandering through the hot solar flux near collecting towers at solar-thermal facilities.

Why should birds be attracted to solar panels? 

Much of the sunlight hitting the solar panels is absorbed and converted to electricity. Due to the color and smoothness of solar panels, the light that bounces off, however, becomes ‘polarized’. This means that the light is forced to start vibrating in a horizontal direction, only. When you view a lake or river, the light reflected from the surface (glare) is also polarized and fisherman that wear ‘polarized’ sunglasses can block this bright and polarized light and see into the water more clearly. Water has always been the primary natural source of polarized light on earth and many animals (e.g. aquatic insects) that need to locate water bodies to breed, drink or hunt have evolved eyes capable of seeing polarized light and so finding water even from great distances. Birds may also locate lakes via their polarized light signature and this may explain their attraction to solar panels in the desert. They may mistake solar panel fields for lakes where they can drink and/or rest. When they descend to investigate they collide with the panels. In ecological science, such  deceptively attractive, but dangerous habitats are better known as ‘ecological traps’.

What are the goals of our research?

It is our goal to test this ‘lake effect’ hypothesis. In this first of two years of the NY portion of our research project, we will conduct three experiments that, together, will answer the following questions:

1)      Can songbirds see horizontally polarized light and are they attracted to it?

2)      Do songbirds perceive smooth, shiny objects (i.e. simulated solar panels) as water bodies?

What kind of experiments will we do?

We would like to conduct 1-2 of our 3 different experiments on your property.

Experiment 1 (4 way bird feeder): We will place a bird feeder near the forest edge, leaving it for 2-4 days until the local songbirds have discovered it. Each feeder has a base, or landing platform, that reflects wavelengths of light with particular degrees of polarization in the visible and ultraviolet range. A single observer will return to refill the feeder, then early the next morning to record which feeders are visited most frequently and by which species. We will infer their relative attraction to each surface based upon their frequency of visits. We will then remove the feeder with the experiment complete.

Experiment 2 (modified bird baths): We will place a modified upright bird bath in your yard and near the bushes or tree line where we will also place a bird feeder, affixed to a tree. The bird bath will be full of water, but it will be adapted so that its basin is coated with materials of that variously absorb or reflect different types of light. Above and next to this feeder we will place motion-activated cameras designed to record avian visits to different portions of the bird bath. The cameras will be closely focused on the bath and won’t record activity outside of the experiment. The bath will remain in place for 3-6 days. An observer will visit your property ~4 times: 1) to set up the study, 2) to change the camera batteries and fill the bird feeder, and 3) to remove the equipment.

Which experiment will be done on my property?

Your property may be suitable for more than one of these experiments, but we will only conduct 1 or 2 on your property. This is because birds have the opportunity to learn the difference between real and simulated water and this learning could bias the results of any future experiments.

Who is funding this research project?

The project is funded by the State of California’s Energy Commission as well as a generous contribution from five different utility-scale solar energy companies working in California.

Interested? Please send us an email! We’ll arrange a time to speak with you about the possibility.

So if I were writing and I wanted to stop the sentence at this point and it dies it on its own.

Bruce Robertson, Associate Professor of Biology, Bard College (broberts@...)

Olivia Rothberg, project manager (orothberg@...).


Bruce Robertson

Director, Bard Ecology Field Station

Associate Professor of Biology

Division of Science, Mathematics and Computing

Bard College

30 Campus Drive

Annandale-on-Hudson, New York 12504

Email: broberts@...

Office: 845-752-2332



Some links to stories on my research

Admin note - photos

John Kent

HM Birds members -

Please note that we have limited space for storing files (photos, for the most part) on our account, and it is running out. You shouldn’t be storing anything there that is important to you, because when our space fills they will start deleting files. The storage space we have there is intended for short-term use to share photos. If you have photos stored there, please consider deleting ones that are unnecessary so that nobody’s files are deleted automatically. Thanks.

John Kent
HM Birds admin

This week's destination: 1/30

Naomi Lloyd

It's pretty quiet birdwise and the weekend rain killed a lot of ice on the Mohawk. So for lack of a better idea, let's meet at the Mechanicville Price Chopper at 9:00am and check out along the Hudson. Hopefully the colder temps will have driven some duckage down to us. The river up Schuylerville/Ft Ed way was about half-frozen last week.,+Mechanicville,+NY+12118/@42.9100473,-73.6873021,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x89de17c4d0038d6f:0xfc26c2b79e8fc201!8m2!3d42.9100473!4d-73.6851081?hl=en&authuser=0

Good birding!

Naomi Lloyd

HMBC program - Monday Feb 3 at the Colonie Library - Grassland Bird Monitoring


Program -- NYSDEC Grassland Bird Studies and Conservation in NYS

  • When
    3 Feb 2020
  • 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Location
    William K. Sanford (Colonie) Library
Speaker: Paul Novak of NYSDEC

for details please see

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