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Hampshire Bird Club


  • April 11, 2024 7:51 AM | David Gross (Administrator)

    Professional bird photographer Joe Oliverio has generously donated two lovely prints to the HBC (see images below). They are being raffled with proceeds going to the club. You can purchase raffle tickets at $5 each online or in person at the May and June club meetings. The raffle drawing will occur at the June picnic/meeting at Arcadia. (You do not have to be present to win.)

    Bald Eagle

    Prairie Warbler

    Order your raffle tickets now and good luck!

  • January 22, 2024 9:51 PM | derek allard (Administrator)

    Despite a temperature of ten degrees and strong winds, seven hearty souls came out to the Fannie Stebbins Wildlife Refuge in Longmeadow for the first Birding for Everyone walk of the year. Among the attendees was an eleven year old boy and his dad, the former on his first ever bird walk. 

    Perhaps it was the beginners luck that the boy brought because we had great looks at a number of species. Right at the start, during introductions, a Hermit Thrush flew up as if to check out what the heck we were doing out on a day like this. We also had several sparrow species (White-throated, Song, American Tree) wondering the same thing.

    As we walked down the easy, paved road an adult Red-shouldered Hawk was found perched in a tree right above the road. Everyone had great looks at the bird and the distinguishing field marks (and habitat) were pointed out while the bird scanned for prey. 

    At the patch of unfrozen water a number of Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards, and American Black Ducks (the latter two we were able to get a good comparison of the differences) were found. And, on the back edge sitting on ice was a female Northern Pintail. Quite a good treat! A couple minutes later, a Great Blue Heron flew across the back edge of the frozen pond. Unusual for this time of year with so much ice now formed. 

    All of that was great, however the biggest thrill of the walk came near the end when a Bobcat (and a very healthy looking one at that) was spotted at the edge of some cattails and walked out so that everyone had a great view. Not a bird, but still pretty darn cool.

    Here is the eBird checklist from the walk (most of it done from memory as we didn't want to lose fingers!)

    Thank you to everyone who came out for this walk. I'd be willing to bet next month will be warmer!

  • December 12, 2023 9:51 AM | derek allard (Administrator)

    This fall, the club made a donation to support the work Mary McKitrick, Theresa Gessing took on, along with the help of former HBC Board Member, Jim Lafley (and others) to clean out the gourds at Fort River. 

    You may recall that in 2022 Purple Martins visited these gourds, however they were far less present in 2023. Many of the gourds were filled with nesting material from other birds, which was likely a contributing factor to the lack of Purple Martin visits.

    The work that Mary and Theresa initiated to clean should make these gourds far more inviting to the Purple Martins in 2024. The hope is that we might see a breeding pair at the gourds in the coming year!

    Thank you to everyone involved for the work you did!

  • November 28, 2023 5:17 PM | David Gross (Administrator)

    It’s right around the corner! The Northampton (MANO) Christmas Bird Count (our 89th) will be held on Sunday, December 17. Plans are well underway, and we’re hoping for another great count this year! We’ve developed strong COVID-workarounds, so we’ll stick with the protocols that have kept everyone healthy over the last few years. Feel free to discuss this with your team leaders if you have any questions.

    Speaking of safety, did you know that we notify the Police Departments in all 14 towns within the count circle? They appreciate knowing what all those folks walking and driving around with binoculars hanging from their necks are up to!

    If you haven’t yet joined a team, or signed up to be a feeder watcher or a yard watcher, it’s not too late. The CBC is one the world’s largest community science projects, and the MANO count is the fifth largest in North America. And it’s fun!

    Let us know if you’d like to participate by sending us an email. Even if you don’t join one of the count groups or don’t have feeders, you can still count birds in your yard or take a walk around your neighborhood. We’re delighted to welcome feeder-watchers and yard watchers along with new count participants, to explain how the CBC works, and to answer all your questions. As in years past, we’ll have Zoom orientation meetings (how it all works, including filling out the forms) along with a Zoom compilation wrap up (information and links below in the Education Committee section).

    Oh, no!!! Bears!!!! Don't worry if you don’t dare put up feeders. You can be a yard birder. How to be a yard birder? First, be sure your yard is in our count circle (Go to the CBC page on the HBC website and click on the Google map link under the Northampton (MANO) Maps header. Then type your address in the magnifying glass at the top left. The small red dot is your location. You might need to make the map smaller to see if you are inside or outside the count circle.)

    To be a yard watcher

    • Look out your windows for a minimum of 15 minutes three times on the 17th.
    • Count and record the number and kind of birds you see each time.
    • Submit to the CBC the highest number of birds seen at any one time.
    • Submit the total time your household spent checking your yard.

    Please feel free to contact the MANO team to sign up or with questions at .

  • November 17, 2023 10:22 AM | David Gross (Administrator)

    On a cold and windy day, a small group of dedicated birdwatchers braved the elements to visit Barton Cove, Turners Falls Rod and Gun Club, and the Power Canal. A scope was definitely necessary to see the distant birds, which were few and far between.

    At Barton Cove we saw a Bald Eagle trying to feed in the flotsam and jetsam trapped against the barrels while it was being harassed by American Crows. Canada Geese, Mute Swans, and Mallards drifted along the far edge feeding causally. A large raft of Ring-necked Ducks contained some Buffleheads as well as a Pied-billed Grebe on the perimeter of the group.

    We moved on to the Rod & Gun Club where we saw a similar mix of geese, swans, Mallards, and a pair of Buffleheads, but were surprised by a Long-tailed Duck. A group of Dark-eyed Juncos were along the edge of the woods with an Eastern Bluebird, while a flock of House Finches and Goldfinches were hiding and feeding in the shoreline weeds.

    At the Power Canal the only new birds we saw were a female Common Goldeneye and a Great Blue Heron.

    Jim Lafley

  • November 02, 2023 2:06 PM | David Gross (Administrator)

    It has been a phenomenal year of birding in Massachusetts, with a number of vagrants spotted in some of our favorite birding hotspots. But as the woods and fields grow increasingly quiet this fall, it’s a reminder that these birds are not to be taken for granted. Nationwide, birds are in trouble. And in Massachusetts, a state with great bird diversity, a whopping 22 birds are in decline and many more are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It is a frightening prospect that the excitement of our favorite birding pastime might wane as birds disappear.

    Fueled by an interest in bird conservation, the HBC re-established the Conservation Committee last spring to provide additional focus to the growing needs of birds in our area. The conservation challenge is daunting because of the many social, political, and economic factors that must be navigated to get meaningful conservation projects off the ground. However, the committee has identified several conservation opportunities that are within reach and that could produce conservation dividends. Here’s an update on a few of our leading opportunities.

    Working on a Motus tower. Photo credit: Bob Zimmermann.

    Motus Wildlife Tracking SystemMiniature radio transmitters, called nanotags, are revolutionizing our understanding of bird, bat, and even insect movement. One might think that placing a tag on a bird could interfere with flight, but these tags are incredibly lightweight. There are fifteen receiver towers that pick up the signal of these nanotags in Massachusetts. That might sound like a lot, but their detection range is limited to roughly ten miles and there are gaps right here in our area. In collaboration with the Northeast Motus Collaborative, the committee is investigating the potential for sponsoring the construction of a receiver in the hilltowns between the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires so that bird movement and habitat usage can be more readily understood. Two committee members observed the installation of a tower at October Mountain State Forest last month to get a sense of what is involved.


    Chimney Swift Nesting TowerOne of the great spectacles in a summer evening is the swirling flock of nesting Chimney Swifts returning to their roost. New England has an abundance of old mills and brick buildings which often serve as Chimney Swift roosting or nesting habitat. But as these structures age, it isn’t uncommon for communities to remove the buildings and repurpose the land, thereby eliminating the Chimney Swift colony. As a result, and because of old growth forest loss, Chimney Swifts are on the decline and are on a list of birds that could one day go extinct. Intervention is necessary. Designs for nesting towers are readily available, and Bruce Hart is looking into the construction of a tower in Williamsburg to replace a roosting site in the chimney of an old school building that has recently been demolished. While finding suitable locations and willing recipients of a tower is challenging, several locations have been suggested for consideration and the discussion is ongoing.

    Bees at work. Photo credit: Bob Zimmermann.

    Pollinator GardensA vast majority of the world’s flowering plants rely on pollinators (insects, bats, and birds) for reproduction. Many birds in our area rely on those very same insects for food. Unfortunately, key pollinators such as wild bees and some butterflies are on the decline owing to habitat loss, climate change, and the indiscriminate use of herbicides, creating concerns for the persistence of our insectivorous birds and natural communities. One option to help reduce this decline, promoted by state and federal agencies and conservation groups, is the expansion of pollinator gardens. Not only do flowering milkweed, sunflowers, coneflower, and lavender produce pollinator benefits, they are colorful and easy to maintain. The committee is promoting the use of pollinator gardens as an affordable and effective conservation tool in our area. Several committee members have registered their pollinator gardens with and have eliminated their lawns in favor of low maintenance pollinator gardens.

    Male Bobolink. Image credit: Creative Commons, photo by JanetandPhil.

    Grassland bird monitoringIsabel Bronson, Land Stewardship Coordinator with the Trustees of Reservations, joined the Conservation Committee to discuss the plight of grassland birds and opportunities to assist in monitoring them on Trustees’ properties. Point count surveys during the breeding season on these properties are helping managers and scientists answer key unknowns such as whether timing of migration is changing due to climate change, whether grassland bird arrival coincides with food availability, and what are effective management regimes. The program expanded to include 28 properties this year, and several committee members assisted with point counts on four of them in western Massachusetts. We aim to have the HBC be part of the larger effort to conserve grassland birds such as the Bobolink, which has experienced a significant decline due to habitat loss, and stands to benefit from this program.

    If you have an interest in making a difference to birds in our area by participating in any of these activities, we welcome you to join the HBC Conservation Committee. Please contact Bob Zimmermann at

    Contributed by Will Duncan, HBC Conservation Committee Member.

  • October 28, 2023 9:41 PM | derek allard (Administrator)
    Blue skies and unseasonably warm temperatures contributed to one of the best attended Birding for Everyone walks of the year. Nearly thirty people set out from the Elks Lodge parking lot in Holyoke for a short walk down to the reservoir. 

    The three walk leaders (Lesley Farlow, Steve Winn, and derek allard) pointed out birds along the way, among them several White-throated Sparrows, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Double-crested Cormorants that cooperatively flew right in front of the group.  As the walk progressed, the group gained experience identifying juvenile vs. adult Ring-billed Gulls and found a pair of Bald Eagles perched on the far shore.

    All of this was wonderful, however the most unexpected bird of the day didn't come until late in the walk in a small pond at the edge of the reservoir. A Ruddy Duck swam among Wood Ducks and Mallard, always a good find in our area!

    After a couple months of less than ideal weather for the Birding for Everyone walks, it was a treat to have an unseasonably beautiful day. It was also nice to see a lot of Birding for Everyone regulars on this walk. In less than two years, this program has brought together a core of new birders who are getting as good as the trip leaders, which is fun to see.

    For a full accounting of the birds seen this month, please see the checklist in eBird.

    If you would like to join a future Birding for Everyone walk, they take place on the fourth Saturday of every month and everyone is welcome.

    Thank you to MJ Tash, Jesse Sterling Harrison, and Mary Jane McGuire for the photos used in this article.

  • September 18, 2023 10:26 PM | derek allard (Administrator)

    Well, it's been a long time coming. Our old website served us well for many years, however technology is always changing and to stay current we need to embrace these new technologies.

    One of the great challenges we've had since I joined the board is managing membership. Yes, you could join online, however everything had to be copied over to a complex spreadsheet that had a lot of manual overhead. Behind this new website is membership software that will automate much of this work and give your own profile and the membership directory (of those members who wish to share information).

    We also spent a good amount of time redesigning the site to make navigation simpler while making sure we ported old content over as well. Over time we will keep refining the new website as we are now able to make edits directly without help of a dedicated website professional. Exiting, right?

    You will also be able to see a full list of ALL HBC events from one page instead of having to navigate through programs, field trips, and workshops. Easy peasy. Of course, we did keep the ability to see events within those categories, but we want everyone to see what we offer. Completely.

    That is all for now. We welcome your feedback and suggestions as we take this next step in the club's digital evolution.

    Thanks for being a member (and if you aren't, now's the time to get onboard!)


  • August 31, 2023 1:06 PM | derek allard (Administrator)

    The Education Committee received 67 responses to our survey.  Members continue to want Bird Identification Presentations and information about birding locations in New England.  Several people want to work with students.  The full results are here Final HBC Education Committee survey.

Hampshire Bird Club, Inc.

Post Office Box 3637
Amherst, MA 01004-3637

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