Davey Walters Photography

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8 Massachusetts Birds to See in 2015

Posted on March 2, 2015 at 9:55 PM

Everyone has bird lists: life lists, year lists, month lists, day lists, ABA region lists, country lists, state lists, county lists, town lists, neighborhood lists, yard lists, and more. Many birders will create any new list they can imagine just to check off another few species. I will be the first to admit this. To tell the truth, I love it when my life list gets all torn up. It’s just an excuse to print out a new one and go check all the species off again. That may seem ridiculous, but there is a real satisfaction that we gain from marking a job as done. Seeing a new bird is just another job accomplished. But how satisfying would checking off a bird be if you had planned to see it? I’m going to give you a list of 8 Massachusetts birds that you should target in the year 2015: two species for each season.


1. Snow Bunting.

A specialty from the north, these fast, aerial birds are a real treat to watch. They zip around in tight flocks, swerving and then suddenly alighting, sometimes 100 of them in a single tree!

2. Snowy Owl.

Famed for their ghostly appearance and calm beauty, these owls have been noted of late to be hunting seabirds to supplement their regular diet of rodents. They are a must for any birder who can get to the coast.


1. Winter Wren.

These spritely wrens can be seen on their early spring migration north, often bursting out in short phrases of song. They are very interesting to watch as they flit in and out of dense cover, giving trace views of their ornate plumage.

2. Scarlet Tanager.

These gorgeous birds are often seen on migration, and sometimes even breed here. The males are a stunning crimson with jet black wings, and very celebrated. The females are often forgotten about, though they are also a special bird, their leaf-green bodies setting of their pitch-colored wings.


1. Red-winged Blackbird.

Flashy black with red epaulets in summer, male Red-wingeds will perch atop an open branch or cattail until they fall off with exhaustion. Their song is a short ‘Conk-a-ree’. The female is striped brown, and builds her nest in dense reeds.

2. Piping Plover.

Though very small and fast, these plovers are very entertaining. They can be found on the enclosed breeding grounds, roped off to the public because these birds are endangered. They zip back and forth, chasing innumerable small invertebrates across the sand.


1. Pied-billed Grebe.

Small and rather cautious, these grebes are not uncommon on their southbound migration. They reside in small lakes and ponds and marshland along the coast. They don’t stay long above the surface when they’re fishing, so you may have just a few seconds to glimpse them before they dive.

2. American Woodcock.

Stiller than statues, these mid-sized sandpipers are rarely found near sand. Birds of the woodland and small field, the male’s nasal “peent” calls often pierce through the early fall night. They are stocky and somewhat awkward, with bills the length of their body. A bird of funny proportions, their large eyes give them a surprised appearance.

That is my list. Perhaps you will see some of them, perhaps all. But whatever the outcome, hopefully there will be some satisfaction in checking these birds off your list.

Note: this article was published in the January/February 2015 edition of the MYBC newsletter. You can view the newsletter at the MYBC website under 'Publication': http://massachusettsyoungbirdersclub.weebly.com/

Photos and text copyright D. Walters 2015. Please do not use any of my images without my permission.


Categories: birds, photography

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