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Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Monday February 17, 2014

Updated on February 17, 2014
Atlantic Puffins
Atlantic Puffins | Source

Field Notes

Maine Birding Festivals Featuring Puffins

If you want to see Atlantic Puffins, best get on board in the state of Maine. Some of these are the oldest birding festivals, and yes, they are a big deal to birders. For more information, see

Emperor Penguin Slides on Ice
Emperor Penguin Slides on Ice | Source

Emperor Penguins and Climate Change

Emperor Penguins in the Antarctic are adapting to climate change in order to breed, which is very exciting news. For more on this challenging event:

Common Loon with Baby on Back
Common Loon with Baby on Back | Source

Common Loons Have Toxic Hydrocarbons in Their Blood

There is a lot more to the Common Loon than meets the eye. Since the Deepwater Horizon Spill three years ago, scientists are finding high levels of toxic hydrocarbons in their blood. What can this possibly mean in the future of this remarkable bird?

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source

We have had a reprieve on the lake for several days now, for we are experiencing fully open water once again. Spring appears to be on its way, not only for warmer weather, but for the spring birds of the lake, as well. Come join me this week, and we shall explore what has been happening over the past several days, which could well mean that the groundhog was quite mistaken in his prediction for a late spring. After all, what could a groundhog possibly know that the birds don’t?

Red-winged Blackbird Chooses Nest
Red-winged Blackbird Chooses Nest | Source

Red-winged Blackbirds

The Red-winged Blackbirds are right on schedule this week, for I have seen both males and females setting up residence. I actually observed a female before the males arrived, which should be the other way around, but does it really matter at this juncture? I should say not, and to top things off, I saw this wonderful little male choosing this nest for a potential site for eggs-to-be. Here’s a rare shot of the bird trying on the nest for size.

American Robin
American Robin | Source

American Robin

The American Robin has virtually flooded Boomer Lake this week, and are they ever hungry. Yesterday I witnessed no few than thirty robins in a small test area that I chose for the week. Things are looking up for pairings this week!

Dark-eyed Junco
Dark-eyed Junco | Source

Dark-eyed Juncos

These familiar little snowbirds, most notably the Slate-colored Junco, have been noticed a lot more in the northern climates, especially in Maine and Massachusetts, where there has been a lot of rough weather as of late. Please, northern dwellers, do all that you can to make birds’ lives easier on them, especially during this bitter, snowy winter. Provide water and black oil sunflower seeds whenever possible.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source

Great Blue Heron

A Great Blue Heron that has spent the winter in Boomer Lake’s Southern Cove has been getting ample fish this week. The cove has been completely open over the past several days, and this bird has been putting on a little weight through extra fishing. I noticed several other herons on the main part of the lake, who have been coming out of the Northern Reaches where most of them have overwintered.

American Goldfinch, Non-Breeding Plumage
American Goldfinch, Non-Breeding Plumage | Source

American Goldfinch

I saw this little beauty this morning all by is lonesome. I'm not sure if it was trying to hide or was just resting. It was in an interesting posture, so here is the little non-breeding American Goldfinch.

Where Do Birds Go During Storms?

I have been asked to talk a little about where all the birds go over some of the bad storms that have plagued the country. They do the same thing that many of us do in bad weather. They stay in sheltered areas, like under the boughs of conifers, inside nest cavities, and some also will weather out storms in birdhouses, nest boxes, and even under your roof eaves. Where there is a will, there is a way. It takes a lot of energy for them to keep warm, too, so extra food always helps.

Canada Goose
Canada Goose | Source

Canada Geese and Goose Island

There hasn’t been a lot of activity on Goose Island this winter, but there have been Canada Geese on the ice when we had it, as well as on the present open water. Since it has been so cold, the migrants have been a little later in their arrivals, but before you know it, Goose Island will soon be alive and well with pairings, as well as nest preparation. For me, that truly signifies the presence of spring, which I am anxiously awaiting. Our first babies that we really notice are always the little yellow Canada goslings, the beautiful babies of Boomer Lake.

Keep your eyes on the ground, and your head in the clouds. Some of you have already been noticing an influx of spring migrants, and soon enough, there will be more. Have you cameras at the ready, plenty of pens, notebooks, and your binoculars with you when you go on outings. Some of the best birds are seen when least expected, so my advice is to always be ready. Even though it isn’t hot yet, always have water with you so that you can remain hydrated on those outings, and have fun. Let me know what you are seeing out there.

Male Red-winged Blackbird
Male Red-winged Blackbird | Source
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron | Source
Male Red-winged Blackbird
Male Red-winged Blackbird | Source
Great Blue Heron Stretches
Great Blue Heron Stretches | Source

© 2014 Deb Hirt


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    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Glimmer Twin, I hope so, too. Spring can't get here fast enough for me.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Claudia Mitchell 

      4 years ago

      Even though it's going to be cold this week, things are starting to wake up here. Geese are flying around again, birds are singing and after a brutal winter I have hopes that spring is around the corner.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Kim. Hope that you feel better soon. Seems like the wild weather is getting everyone by seeping in through the cracks.

    • klidstone1970 profile image

      இڿڰۣ-- кιмвєяℓєу 

      5 years ago from Niagara Region, Canada

      I've been down with the flu for a week now and missed this edition, even though I halfheartedly tried to visit HP. As always Deb, this is beautifully done and loved the description of the Canada goslings. I can picture a bunch of puff balls tottering around (didn't realize they were yellow when young). You learn something new every day. Remarkable photos as well.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Everything appears to be right on target, Alicia, though the ducks appear to be hanging on. Can't blame them, as there is plenty of water around here.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Male red-winged blackbirds are so beautiful. Their plumage looks very attractive in your lovely photos, Deb. I'm happy to hear that there is open water at Boomer Lake and that the birds are getting ready for spring.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Eddy! It is always nice for you to come to the lake.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Teachesm it has been a tough winter, much more for some than for others. Here's to spring!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      5 years ago from Wales

      Another wonderful visit to Boomer Lake Deb and thank you for sharing your life with us on here.

      Voted up of course.


    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      I love that little finch tucked into the branches. How sweet. My sister saw her first robin of the year on Monday. It certainly is good to see them migrating back north. The winter has been too long. Enjoyed your post.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks for that important share, Faith Reaper. We can help our animals, one at a time through education.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      5 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Deb,

      Another great hub here as always! I just love those little Puffins, and what a name, but it fits them, so adorable. How interesting about the Loon and their having toxic hyrocarbons in their blood!

      Wow, I have never seen a red-winged blackbird before, so gorgeous!

      Thank you for sharing all of this great information and beautiful photos.

      Up and more and sharing.

      Have a great evening,

      Faith Reaper

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      You are so welcome, Mr. A. Eagles have been here all December. Should be an egg or two by now.

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 

      5 years ago from Missouri

      As much as I love Spring, Winter brings Bald Eagles to our area. One of my drivers saw one last week overlooking a small creek and snapped a beautiful shot of one in a tree. Loved your updates on birding today; just what I needed. Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Leslie, one day, you might get your puffin.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 

      5 years ago

      that red winged blackbird looks like a minah(sp?) bird to me. My aunt used to have one. i want a puffin! too cute! lol

      as usual deb your pics are gorgeous and i'm in awe of the zillions of different species!


    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      sujaya venkatesh, glad to have you along on the ride.

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 

      5 years ago

      love birds av

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Kevin. I keep hoping that one day, we will all know and understand how to care for our birds and animals, so that they may live a wonderful life beside us.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Nell, it is all Big Oil. Technology is not always good.

    • The Examiner-1 profile image

      The Examiner-1 

      5 years ago

      Very cool Deb (or should I say warm?). My favorite photos were the American Robin (I think they are better than the groundhog), the American Goldfinch and the Red-winged Blackbird on the wing.

      I voted it up and UABI.


    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      5 years ago from England

      Hi Deb, how sad that those loons are carrying toxic hydrocarbons in their blood, just goes to show how poisonous we are making the lakes and rivers, another fascinating look at Boomer Lake, nell

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Dave! My little ones are right on target, and I am so ready to have them close at hand. Now, let's see what wonders I have missed...

    • D.A.L. profile image


      5 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      hi Deb more fantastic work filled with information and your excellent photography. Love the atmosphere you have captured in the photographs of the red-winged blackbird.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      ChitrangadaSharan, as always you are most welcome. I look forward to meeting your Sarus Crane. The good news is, that it is now under protection in Pakistan, as well.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Anna, penguins are a tough group, but I hope that will encourage people to assist our little locals to thrive.

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Hey, Kris! Yes, it is encouraging, and I hope there will be more good news. With everyone that we can reach about helping animals, new plateaus will be reached.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very interesting and educative hub, as always!

      The pictures are awesome, especially the blackbird with bright red wings.

      It is always a great pleasure to go through your hubs. Thanks!

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 

      5 years ago from Scotland

      I had wondered what happened to the birds in the storms as well, so that was good to know.

      I am glad to hear about the penguins, it sounds encouraging and a welcome shimmer of hope.

    • KrisL profile image


      5 years ago from S. Florida

      I love the pictures of the heron and the redwing.

      Encouraging news about emperor penguins too.

      Thank you!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Jackie. My heron always hangs at the Southern Cove. If I don't photograph him, he follows me until I do. We have been fairly close for a year now. The red-wings are beautiful birds. Can't miss that call, either. They are very striking birds.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Oh Deb I think you are like me just can't get away from that Heron, he is something else. I don't even mind so much I don't get many shots of mine as long as he sticks around! Wouldn't mind seeing that red-winged blackbird in person! I have about 6 different ones visiting my window daily; hope that will increase with spring. The more use to us they get the funnier they are!

    • aviannovice profile imageAUTHOR

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Billy, it shows that it is a strong species, so that is encouraging. I'd hate to see the emperor eradicated.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very cool news that the penguins are adapting to the climate will find a way...not always but enough to give us hope.


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