Larsen BBS #1

Red Squirrel

Today Brendan Murtha and I conducted Fairfield’s first Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) of the season at the Larsen Sanctuary. It was a great morning for a BBS with little wind and tolerable temperatures. We thoroughly covered most of the sanctuary during our four and a half hour visit, notching 38 species!

Due to the fact that today was so early in the season, we were unable to confirm any breeders but did have a ton of probables, the closest to confirmed being two Black-capped Chickadees seen excavating a nest site!

Black-capped Chickadee cavity excavation; both birds would take turns chiseling away at the wood while the other waited patiently above.

Notice the little bits of wood flying into the air!

Other probable breeders included Wood Duck, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse and Mallard. Many other species were singing and would thus constitute “possible breeders.” We’ll likely get better confirmation for many of these birds as the season progresses.

We also encountered a number of migrants and other highlights, including four ‘Yellow’ Palm Warblers, a slew of Eastern Phoebes, a flyover Common Raven, both kinglet species, Eastern Bluebird (including two singing males), Hermit Thrush and Pine Warbler.

'Yellow' Palm Warbler

Eastern Phoebes

Hermit Thrush

This is just the first of what will hopefully be biweekly BBSs of Larsen throughout this season. I also hope to conduct a BBS at a number of other locations in Fairfield, and use the same biweekly schedule at Hoyden’s Hill Open Space (whose first BBS should be next weekend). Can’t wait!

Our checklist with the locations of highlights and the breeding codes can be viewed here.


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One Response to Larsen BBS #1

  1. Betsy Hermann says:

    Hi Alex,

    Love your birding emails. We’ve been filling our feeders 2 to 3 times a day. The number of birds, red squirrels, and chipmunks keep us hopping. I chopped up some left over cranberry pancakes for the birds this week and someone ate them within 30 minutes. Not a crumb left. Big mystery! A lot of wild life does live in our woods.

    The chickadee pictures were wonderful. The Black Capped Chickadee is the Maine State Bird. Last summer a pair raised a family in one of our bird houses. We hope they will come back.

    Hope your Florida trip was good birding as well as fun.

    Keep birding and The Flight of the Scrub Jay coming. I love it!

    Your Rangeley friend,


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