Unexpected Life Bird

| March 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

Late February was upon us; days of winter birding would soon come to a close.  Winter can be an exciting time for birds.  Though most of the bright and vibrant colors brought to the Northeast by neo-tropical migrants are absent, other colors, brought down by the hardy birds of the North characterize the winter months here in New England.

Before the end of the New Hampshire winter, Chad Witko and I had one thing on our minds…Bohemian Waxwing.  It was time; time to find this tough Northern species.  Reports had been consistent for the New London area in New Hampshire.  Graduate school was making it difficult to get out consistently due to the hefty work load, but we made a plan for it.  The day was set, now all that needed to happen was wait and hope the waxwings stick around.

I received a text from Chad saying that he was going out for a scouting trip to search for the Bohemian Waxwings ahead of time.  Sounded great to me, perhaps it will ease our search in the future.  Busy studying and working on school work ahead of time to lessen the workload of the weekend, I was spending the day on Antioch University New England’s campus in Keene, NH.

After a solid morning and early afternoon filled with homework, I decided to call it quits for the day and headed out to my vehicle.  I was about 10 feet from my car in the Antioch University parking lot when I heard a group of Cedar Waxwings fly overhead and land in a nearby tree.  There were several trees in the parking area filled with a plethora of berries being enjoyed by the flock of Cedar Waxwings.  I stopped and watched for a bit as they were fairly close and didn’t seem to mind any sort of human activity.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Growing up in the North, I have seen a lot of Cedar Waxwings and I am very familiar with this species.  That being said, I noticed something different about one of the waxwings.  It seemed larger and plumper than the surrounding birds.  I walked closer.  Looking at the bird, it almost seemed to have reddish undertail coverts.

“Could it be?” I thought to myself.  I walked closer yet.

“BOHEMIAN WAXWING!!!”  Wow, it was awesome!  There were three Bohemian Waxwings feeding and associating with the flock of Cedars.  What an exciting and unexpected sighting!  After seeing it, my heart raced and I wasn’t sure what to do as I did not have my binoculars or camera at hand.  So, like any rational human being, I sprinted back into the school and grabbed a pair of Antioch’s binoculars and a point-and-shoot camera.  I managed to snap a few photos and get some great views at the birds!  They even hung around for me to race back to my apartment for my DSLR camera.  It was awesome.  I then heard that Chad had seen a Bohemian Waxwing in New London; what a day!  It was a life bird for both of us!

Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing


Kevin Vande Vusse
Growing up in the Grand Rapids area of Southern Michigan, Kevin always enjoyed spending time outdoors. Whether it be fishing or hunting with his father, or a family trip to the Lake Michigan shore, Kevin enjoyed being outside. Having an interest in nature from a young age, birds were not always the focal point of his love for wildlife. It wasn’t until traveling to Costa Rica in 2011 on a study abroad venture and seeing the Resplendent Quetzal for the first time in the wild that Kevin fell in love with our feathered friends. From that point on it was a slippery slope, and he fell in face first. Going back to Michigan with a new love and passion to learn the birds, Kevin bought his first field guide and just started walking around.

Graduating with a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from Grand Valley State University in 2012 and currently working towards his M.S. in Environmental Studies with a Science Teacher Certification, Kevin hopes to someday be a middle school science teacher. Incorporating his love and passion for avian life into the world of education and inspiring the minds of young people is only one of the many ways he hopes promote conservation through education of the next generation.


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