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New Hampshire’s state bird, the purple finch. Courtesy photo.




State bird: the purple finch

The official state bird is not as common as it once was, according to Pam Hunt at the Audubon. These days, they are mostly found in White Mountains and in the north. People tend to see them at feeders in small numbers in the spring and fall. In Canada and northern New Hampshire, one can see flocks of them in winter. Places like Errol and Pittsburg are usually reliable places to spot one. How far south they migrate can vary. 
Roger Tory Peterson, the man famous for creating the Peterson Field Guides, once called the Purple Finch a “sparrow dipped in raspberry juice.” It was made the state bird with legislation in 1957 sponsored by Rep. Robert S. Monahan of Hanover, a Dartmouth College forester. His measure defeated a competing bill by Rep. Doris M. Spollett of Hampstead, a prize goat breeder, who wanted to make the New Hampshire hen the state bird. 
Source: The New Hampshire government website and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.
 
National bird comes home
After decades of having no Bald Eagles in New Hampshire due to a national population drop caused by pesticides, they’ve made the Granite State home again. 
The first breeding pair came in 1989, but for several years, they were the only ones in the state. Thanks largely to conservation efforts and the federal ban on the pesticide that devastated their population, they were removed from the state’s endangered species list in 2008 and by 2014, we saw a tremendous spike in the population. Today, there are an estimated 90 individual eagles — about 45 territorial pairs. Numbers are expected to continue to climb until we reach our carrying capacity. They can be found near bodies of water, where they hunt. Most of the known nests are along the Connecticut River, the Merrimack River and the Lakes Region. 
Source: NH Audubon raptor biologist Chris Martin.
 
The state raptor that wasn’t to be
New Hampshire’s legislature was the subject of national scrutiny, and late night talk show punchlines, when a number of lawmakers shot down a proposal by local 4th-graders to make the red-tailed hawk the official “state raptor.” Opponents said the measure was a waste of time, and one conservative lawmaker said it would be a better mascot for Planned Parenthood, citing its predatory skills. The youngsters were present in Representatives Hall during these comments, and legislative leaders later called on the vocal opponents to apologize. 
The White House later let those kids name a red-tailed hawk that had taken up residence near the stately domicile and had been photographed loitering on the grounds. The students chose the name Lincoln.
 
Loons under threat
Lead tackle has long been behind loon deaths in New Hampshire, and now there may also be a second biological toxin they have to contend with. The state recently strengthened a law restricting the use of lead tackle but as recently as this summer two loons were found dead with lead jigs and fishing line in their gullets and fatal lead levels in their blood, according to autopsy results released last week. NHPR reported the birds were found near Lempster and Stoddard. Their mortality is concerning to conservationists because the birds reproduce late in life and untimely deaths might have huge impacts on their populations.
Now, UNH researchers have concluded that a toxin found in cyanobacteria known as BMAA might also be contributing to the loon population decline. The toxin, which has been linked to neurological diseases in humans such as ALS, was found in high concentrations in loon chicks. Researchers say the toxin moves up the food chain and gets more and more concentrated by the time the birds consume it.




Birdwatch
Where and how to find NH’s feathered friends

07/21/16
By Ryan Lessard news@hippopress.com



 There are more than 300 species of birds found every year in New Hampshire, and interest in these sky-bound creatures — from the tiny, seed-eating singers to the majestic broad-winged predators — is growing each year.

“In 2016, birding… seems to be one of the fastest-growing outdoor activities,” said longtime birder and professional nature tour leader Bob Quinn of Webster.
It helps that no matter what region you’re in, there’s a good amount of bird diversity.
“I would say every town in the state has, during the course of the year, well over 150 species of birds,” Quinn said.
Quinn said his twice annual birdwatching classes at the New Hampshire Audubon’s McLane Center in Concord are becoming more popular. He teaches a course in the spring and fall, about once or twice a week for about four to six weeks, and every one of them has filled up, he said. 
There’s even some data that shows the growth in birdwatching popularity, with surveys showing an increase in birdfeeders and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracking growing birdseed sales, according to Quinn.
For Stephen Mirick — an obsessive birder since he took an ornithology class at the University of New Hampshire in the 1980s — birding is also a social event. He met his wife during a bird walk, which is sort of an open-invite field trip mostly for intermediate and skilled birders.
“My wife and I like to go to the coast and we like to watch things like loons migrating along the coast heading south, or sea ducks when they’re migrating in the fall,” Mirick said.
Generally, Quinn said, people who get into birdwatching share a few qualities: They have a love of the outdoors and an innate curiosity that drives them to learn as much as they can about birds and other aspects of nature.
If you want to get into the hobby, here’s how: Quinn said you will need keen eyes and ears and a pair of good binoculars. He said it’s best to get a new pair since hand-me-downs are often very weak and can be a turnoff to potential birders, and you can get a decent pair for about $100 to $200.
Finally, you’ll need a good field guide. Again, he cautioned against using a dusty book you found laying around.
“Get something current. Don’t use your grandmother’s bird book or your mother’s bird book,” Quinn said.
He recommends either the standard Peterson Field Guides series or the field guides by David Sibley. There’s also a mobile app he enjoys called iBird Pro.
“Then, off you go,” Quinn said.
 
The backyard birder
Quinn and other longtime birders all say the best way for first-timers to get into the hobby of birdwatching is to start at home.
“Start local, start simple, and then go from there,” Quinn said.
Setting up birdhouses and birdfeeders at your home is a sure way to attract some feathered friends for your viewing pleasure. You can look out your windows or stand outside at a safe distance and peep through binoculars to identify what species is paying you a visit.
After doing this for a while, some folks might feel like they’re hitting a wall in their learning. If that’s the case, Quinn recommends taking a free course at the Audubon. There’s another one coming up in the fall (details have yet to be finalized). With that, folks will walk away with a greater frame of reference, more tips and tricks and a network of fellow birders with whom to compare notes.
“A lot of people never get beyond watching their backyard birds, which is perfectly fine,” Quinn said. “Other people end up all gung ho about it and end up traveling the world, literally.”
But many people end up somewhere in between.
 
The rambling birder
“The next step is to join the bird walk with someone experienced who’s guiding,” Quinn said. “There are bird walks almost every weekend throughout the state, mostly led by New Hampshire Audubon volunteers.”
It’s the quiet season right now, but there’s a bird walk hosted by Quinn coming up in Concord on July 23 from 7 a.m. to noon starting at the Audubon.
They tend to be a couple hours in the morning, and they introduce birders to the broader picture of bird life, graduating from textbook images to the real thing.
“The first thing that strikes people is usually the beauty of the bird in the wild,” Quinn said. “When you see the live bird in the wild, it is so much bigger, brighter and vibrant.”
Soon, you’ll be ready to go it alone or with a partner. For Mirick, a lot of the fun is in the searching.
“I’ve equated it to hunting. … It’s a way of being able to capture your prey without having to shoot it. Essentially, that’s what you’re doing. You’re kind of stalking,” Mirick said. “It’s a little bit of a treasure hunt, and you never know what you’re going to see.”
 
The birder beyond
If your birding appetite is still not sated, there are more ways to use your newfound skills.
Quinn said a popular thing for the birdwatching community is something he terms “event birding.”
“An example of event birding will be coming up in September, when it’s the hawk migration season, because there are days in mid-September when you can literally see several thousand hawks in one day as they migrate,” Quinn said.
There’s also the annual Christmas Bird Count during which Audubon biologists and birders statewide count all the birds they can find in key areas on a single day near Christmas.
“It’s an event that’s been going on for a hundred years,” Quinn said. “A lot of people participate.”
There are also some competitive events like the annual Birdathon in May, which is a fundraiser for the Audubon where teams of birders rack up donations based on the number of species they find. And there’s the similar Super Bowl of Birding that is organized by the Massachusetts Audubon but takes place in southeastern New Hampshire and northeastern Massachusetts in late January or early February.
Quinn said most competitive events are linked to conservation fundraisers, and it’s rare to see any sort of cutthroat competition between teams since they’re all birding for the same cause.
Then there’s individual competition, not linked to any particular event, such as the “big year,” which was the premise of a 2011 box office comedy flop of the same title starring Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. The birders are listing all the unique species of bird they see across North America in a calendar year and some — like the main characters of the movie — are obsessed with breaking the individual record.
 
Hippo’s Field Guide
We spoke with New Hampshire Audubon’s top biologists and birders to create an abbreviated guide to some of the Granite State’s most common birds and some of the hard-to-find birds that have been known to make an appearance only at specific times of the year or in very discrete locations. And some of the birds are so ultra-rare, they are treated with VIP celebrity status (VIB?) when they pop up in our small state. 
If you want to be a birder, you’ll need to know what these birds look like, what they sound like, where you can find them and, of course, what to call them.
 
Common backyard birds
1. Northern Cardinal
Description: Perhaps the most appreciated backyard bird due to its striking red color, a cardinal does not molt or migrate in the winter, so it stands out even more against the snow. The females are a reddish shade of brown but still sport a bright reddish-orange beak like their male counterparts, a red tail and a prominent crest on their heads. The only other solid red bird in New Hampshire is the scarlet tanager, which has black wings. It has a short, fat bill for cracking seeds. They tend to be more reticent and they feed off the ground in the early morning and very end of the day. 
Where to find them: Despite the name, they are very uncommon north of the White Mountains. They started out as a southern bird that extended its range upward. They can be found anywhere in the state year round, especially the southern part.
 
2. Blue Jay
Description: Another favorite, blue jays have a mostly blue plumage with black parts and a white-gray breast. Medium sized with a crest on their head, blue jays have a long and pointy beak. Smaller than crows but larger than robins, they are known for their intelligence and have a loud “jay, jay, jay!” call. Biologists say they have complex social systems with strong family bonds and have a taste for acorns. 
Where to find them: Blue jays are found everywhere in the state year round and their favorite habitat is the edges of forests.
 
3. Black-capped Chickadee
Description: A tiny bird with a big, round head, narrow tail and short bill, it has a black cap and bib with white cheeks, gray-black wings and a whitish belly. These common birds are known for their curiosity and tendency to explore their territory and investigate people. They eat from feeders and nest in cavities, including birdhouses, in pairs in the summer. In the winter, they’re in flocks and you might see 10 or 12 of them come to a feeder. They have a distinctive “chicadee-dee-dee” call and they also whistle the yoohoo-sounding “deedee.”
Where to find them: Black-capped chickadees can be found throughout New Hampshire year round and their preferred habitat has trees or woody shrubs. They’re known to nest in alder and birch trees.
 
4. Tufted Titmouse
Description: Another southern bird that’s become common in New Hampshire, the tufted titmouse has a pointed crest on its head but is only slightly larger than the other small birds that come to feeders, like chickadees. The titmouse is mostly gray with a white belly, rust-colored flanks and large black eyes. It uses its short little bill to thwack large seeds against its perch to crack them open. They come to bird feeders and live in birdhouses.
Where to find them: They can be found anywhere in New Hampshire year round but they’re not common north of the White Mountains. Their habitat is in eastern forests, including both deciduous and evergreen trees.
5. Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Description: The smallest of the birds common to the Granite State, ruby-throated hummingbirds have a reddish throat with reflective feathers that can look black when there’s no light shining on them.They have shiny emerald and golden green feathers on their cap, back and flanks and a white belly.  Like all hummingbirds, they are nectar-eaters and are attracted to the color red. They dart about from flower to flower, feeder to feeder eating with their needle-like beak. 
Where to find them: These ruby-throated hummingbirds can be found throughout the state in the summer but they migrate to Central America in the winter. The easiest way to find them is to put up a nectar feeder filled with sugar water near your window. 
 
6. American Robin
Description: A gray brown bird with its signature rust-orange breast and belly and erect posture, the American robin is often seen on the ground of fresh-cut lawns yanking worms up out of the ground. They are the largest of the North American thrushes and enjoyed for their physical beauty and morning song. In winter, they will eat fruit wherever they can find it. 
Where to find them: The robin is easily found throughout the state on your lawn looking for worms in the early morning hours, but they’ve adapted to nearly every type of woodlands and fields. While they have a migration pattern that sees them breeding in the northern reaches of Canada and flying as far south as Mexico for the winter, in 1997, New Hampshire birders started seeing their numbers rising in wintertime. Biologist Becky Suomala at the New Hampshire Audubon believes this is likely due to a combination of milder winters and more ornamental fruit trees planted by people. 
 
7. White-breasted Nuthatch
Description: These blue-gray-winged birds have white faces and streaks of black in their wing feathers and nape. White-breasted nuthatches feed on insects in tree bark using their thin, pointed bill for probing. During feeding, they work on a tree by going head down, but they are agile enough to turn sideways and upside down on vertical surfaces. They get their name from their tendency to wedge large, meaty seeds and nuts into tree bark and then use their beak to crack the nuts open. They have been known to nest in some birdhouses but not commonly.
Where to find them: They can be found all over New Hampshire year round, especially on the edges of mature woodlands. Nuthatches are found in coniferous trees but are more associated with deciduous trees like maple and oak.
 
8. American Goldfinch
Description: The American goldfinch male is bright yellow with black cap and black-tipped wings in the summer, but in the winter they molt and adopt a more olive green shade seen in the females. They can seem strangely patchy during molts. In spring, males are mottled green and yellow. They have a conical beak and a song as bright as their summer color. Goldfinches prefer to eat sunflower seeds and nyjer. Their transient feeding habits are so unpredictable and erratic one can expect to see up to 150 birds coming to their feeder any given winter or none at all. 
Where to find them: Goldfinches wander around statewide, roving to follow food supplies, all year long. 
 
Source: List provided by NH Audubon biologist Becky Suomala. Additional details from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.
 
Common country birds
1. Rose-breasted Grosbeak 
Description: Medium-sized songbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks are named for the red triangle on the male’s chest. They have white bellies and are black on the back. Females are a lighter brown with white stripes on their head and they share a big, fat bill, for which they earn the name grosbeak. They come to feeders and bring young ones, eating seeds, fruit and insects. 
Where to find them: Rose-breasted grosbeaks spend their summers throughout rural New Hampshire to breed and migrate to Central America for the winter. They usually return by May.
 
2. Baltimore Orioles
Description: Bright orange with black on their heads and wings, male Baltimore orioles are beautiful birds with a lovely song to herald spring. Females (pictured) are more mustard colored with brown and white wings. They have a long, thin pointed black bill, and they eat fruit, nectar and insects. They can also be lured to nectar feeders designed for them, but a simpler trick is spiking an orange on a nail. Related to blackbirds, they create long droopy nests that look like hanging sacks that are hard to find until the leaves fall away.
Where to find them: They prefer deciduous trees but not deep in the forests, and they are often not far from orchards. Baltimore orioles are common throughout rural New Hampshire during the summer for their breeding season and they go to Central America and the northern coast of South America for the winter. They’re usually back by May. 
 
3. Eastern Bluebird 
Description: A bright royal blue on their back, wings and cap, with a reddish brown breast and white belly, eastern bluebirds can be a delight to catch with your binoculars. Females are grayer on top but still have blue wingtips. They are small thrushes with long wings and they are often found perched high on wires, branches and posts near open fields scanning the ground for insects in the summer. During the winter, they eat fruit and berries. 
Where to find them: Eastern bluebirds are in the rural parts of the state, nesting in birdhouses and old woodpecker tree holes during the summer breeding season. They often fly south for the winter but can still be found in some southern New England states year round. While they’re here, they prefer open areas like meadows, fields and golf courses.
 
4. Indigo Bunting
Description: The male indigo bunting has deep iridescent blue feathers all over and a short, thick and conical bill. Females are light brown with pale bellies. These birds aren’t just a sight to behold; they sing like it’s their job, from dawn till dusk, all summer long. They forage in low vegetation for insects, seeds and berries and they prefer thistle and nyjer seeds in feeders.
Where to find them: They arrive in rural parts of New Hampshire in the spring, breed here through the summer and migrate to Central America in the winter. They prefer weedy and brushy habitats near tall trees where they can perch and sing.
 
5. Barred Owl 
Description: This brown and white speckled owl is large and stocky with a classic owl look and sound. Its hoot is said to sound like “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” It blends in easily in mature forests and flies silently as it hunts mice, voles and other small rodents. They hunt at night, when their calls can be heard the most, though they can occasionally be heard during the day as well.
Where to find them: They generally live in old forests in New Hampshire year round, nesting in large tree cavities. Locals have seen them perched in the winter waiting to catch rodents that come to eat birdseed that’s fallen from feeders to the ground.
 
6. Pileated Woodpecker
Description: The classic woodpecker with the red crest, black body and white stripes along its face, the pileated woodpecker feeds on carpenter ants in trees and fallen logs and creates large feeding holes where there’s a colony. Those holes are often used later by other bird species for nesting, and they tend to have a very distinctive rectangular shape. It is New Hampshire’s largest woodpecker species and is nearly the size of a crow. 
Where to find them: They prefer any forest with standing dead trees or downed wood, and they can be found across rural New Hampshire year round.
 
Source: List provided by NH Audubon biologist Becky Suomala. Additional details from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.
 
Hard-to-find birds
1. Black-backed woodpecker
Description: While their behavior doesn’t differ much from other types of woodpeckers, these have black backs, a white face with black mustache marks and a yellow patch on their crown. They have a penchant for wood-boring beetles, so while they are fairly uncommon, they follow areas where outbreaks of boring insects occur.  
Where to find them: This bird is far more common in Canada and northwestern states year round. But they have been seen in some parts of New Hampshire, such as the northernmost Coos County, usually spotted along logging roads in Pittsburg. They prefer coniferous forests and high elevations, so they can also be found in the high parts of the White Mountains.
 
2. Mississippi Kite
Description: The Mississippi kite is a beautiful gray hawk from the South with a pale, ghostly color and a sleek, elegant silhouette. Their diet consists largely of dragonflies, which speaks to their agility and skill at hunting bugs in mid-flight. They also hunt small rodents and spend most of their time in flight.
Where to find them: Only one pair is known to exist in New Hampshire, with a nest in Newmarket. About five or 10 years ago, the couple built a nest there and began raising young. At the time, the nearest breeding pair was in Virginia. Since then, pairs have showed up in Pennsylvania and New York but New Hampshire remains its northernmost reach.
“It’s kind of cool that they ended up in New Hampshire, hundreds of miles north of where they’re normally found, and have stuck around,” said Pam Hunt, avian conservationist for the New Hampshire Audubon.
 
3. Cerulean Warbler
Description: The cerulean warbler is pale sky blue on top with a white belly, making it difficult to spot when it’s perched on treetops. It has a dark blue band dividing its breast and bib. Females are bluish green. Compared to other warblers, it nests and forages at much higher parts of the canopy. 
Where to find them: As with the Mississippi kite, New Hampshire is as far north as cerulean warblers range. They used to keep a small presence in Pawtuckaway State Park each year, but they recently disappeared, possibly due to a forest harvest in an area of the park. Some years, there is also a pair that appears at Pisgah State Park in Hinsdale, but that’s rare. Their main breeding territory in the summer is between Missouri and New Jersey and in the winter they migrate all the way to South America, as far south as Bolivia. Spotting them is expected to only get more rare as their population is declining rapidly.
 
4. American Pipit
Description: A small light brown, non-descript sparrow-looking bird, the American pipit has a slender body, a pointy bill and is known to bob its tail and walk on ground. Its song is described as “tinkly” by Pam Hunt at the Audubon. While they sing high up in the air, they spend most of their time walking on the ground. They also nest on the ground in clumps of grass or against a rock.
Where to find them: In New Hampshire, they can only be found in one place in the summer: at the top of Mount Washington. That’s because it generally nests on alpine and arctic tundra. The only other place you can find them in the Eastern U.S. is Mount Katahdin in Maine, which must be hiked. Even then, biologists estimate there are only about a dozen pairs in the state, though they’ve been around for about 20 years. There is one exception to its secluded scarcity and that’s during fall and spring when they’re migrating, when they can be fairly common in the fields along the seacoast.
 
5. Piping Plover
Description: The piping plover is a short bird with longish legs it uses to walk in beachy areas. They are white and pale tan with black stripes around the neck and across the forehead. 
“They blend in with the sand almost perfectly,” said Pam Hunt with the Audubon. 
Where to find them: These birds nest only on sandy beaches. In New Hampshire, they’re only on Hampton and Seabrook beaches. They are on the state’s endangered species list, and most years, there are only five or six pairs in the state. Conservationists go to great lengths to protect them from humans and predators by fencing off areas where they have nests and even screening the opening to their nest with mesh that the plovers can fit through. 
 
 
6. Sora
Description: The most common rail in North America, the little gray and brown bird with its bright yellow bill and little black cap spends its time on the ground in shallow marshy areas. Like most rails, they have long legs and very long toes. Soras are very secretive and extremely hard to spot. But their distinctive call is enough for experienced birders to identify them. It goes “Sor-ah? Sor-ah? Sor-ah?” followed by a descending trill.
Where to find them: The sora is a marsh-dwelling bird, and in New Hampshire they’re very dispersed. There are some records of sightings in the North Country and records for southern parts of state, like around Concord and along the coast. They come and go, and there’s some indication their population may be declining. They’re up here only in the summer and migrate to Central and South America and the Caribbean islands in the winter.
 
7. Purple Martin
Description: Purple martin males are more dark indigo blue than purple. They’re the largest swallow in North America and they’re most famous for being the only bird species to have evolved to nest exclusively in manmade houses. Some places are set up with these gourd-shaped multi-compartment birdhouses at the top of posts for fear they’d die off without them. Pam Hunt with the Audubon says they’ve been associated with humans for hundreds of years.
“Native Americans used to put up natural gourds with holes in them and the birds would nest in those, and they kind of adapted to that,” Hunt said.
Where to find them: There are five known colonies in New Hampshire, and their total population is around 20 pairs. Most of the colonies are around the Seacoast with some in the Lakes Region. 
 
8. Sandhill Crane
Description: A large bird, about the size and appearance of a great blue heron, the sandhill crane is gray and tan with a long neck and legs. They also have a distinctive red forehead. A mating pair has a very interesting dance that involves jumping up in the air, flapping their wings and making noises. Like most cranes, they are more land- and field-based.
Where to find them: The sandhill crane only recently colonized New Hampshire at a new nest in Monroe, way up north. The birds are more commonly found in Canadian prairies and out west from the Rocky Mountains to Alaska. The local pair since produced a chick about three years ago, marking the first ever crane breeding in the state. School kids in the area named the first bird Oscar and the second bird Olive. 
 
9. Ring-necked Duck
Description: First, let’s get this out of the way: There is no ring on the ring-necked duck’s neck. 
“People always make jokes about that,” said Pam Hunt with the Audubon. 
She says that since it has a white ring around its bill, this glossy black duck should be called the “ring-billed duck” instead. The bird often travels in small flocks or pairs and dives for mollusks, aquatic invertebrates and underwater plants.  
Where to find them: They avoid settling in most of New Hampshire so usually you can only catch them in the spring and fall while they’re migrating. But if you’re in the right place at the right time, you can see dozens or as many as 100 of them on springs, ponds and rivers all over the state during that time. But in the breeding season, they’re found only in Canada and just a few places in the state north of the White Mountains. They tend to be on fairly remote ponds or places like Umbagog Lake. They’re very secretive and hard to find. 
 
10. Pine Grosbeak
Description: These pink, almost “Pepto-Bismol-colored” male finches are from the north, and how far south they come each winter have to do with food availability. Females are rusty brown or olive green. They eat flowering crabapple trees and berries. Because they’re from such wild reaches, you can walk up to them and they won’t be startled because they’re not used to people. 
Where to find them: The Pine Grosbeak breeds mostly in Canada and in some parts of the Rocky Mountains. Since they are adapted to colder climates, New Hampshire is its winter vacation destination. That’s why they’ve been dubbed the rarest of the “winter finches.” But sometimes they don’t come to the state at all, or if they do, only in small numbers. “Some [years] there are dozens if not hundreds and sometimes there are only one or two,” said Pam Hunt at the Audubon.
 
Source: List provided by NH Audubon avian conservationist Pam Hunt. Additional details from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.
 
VIBs (The rarest of the rare)
1. Redwing
Description: This bird is a thrush native to Europe, England and Asia. It’s a mid-sized bird, mostly brown with white speckles and white stripes over its eyes. It’s named for the reddish underwing and flanks that can be spotted while it’s in flight.
Where to find them: Normally, you wouldn’t ever find this in New Hampshire, or anywhere on the Eastern seaboard. But a local birder spotted one in Hollis this past March in a flock of robins. They migrate across the North Sea to breed as far west as Iceland but never beyond that. There are only a handful of records for redwings in the entire eastern U.S. 
Pam Hunt with the Audubon said that when the birder identified the redwing, he freaked out and exclaimed, “Oh my god, it’s a Redwing!”
“A mob scene ensued, which is of course what happens when a really mega-rare bird like that shows up somewhere,” Hunt said.
She thinks it’s probably the rarest bird ever to show up in the state, and it likely did so because it got turned around by a storm on its way to Europe.
 
2. Rufous Hummingbird
Description: It’s built just like our common hummingbird but with red all over its face, neck and wings, a pale breast and a brown cap. Unlike the ruby-throated hummingbird, the rufous doesn’t have the instinct to migrate south in the fall, so if they find their way up here they often end up dying in the winter. There are only a few cases of them surviving the winter in Connecticut and Massachusetts within the last decade.
Where to find them: Usually found in the far West, these birds are becoming increasingly common in the East as vagrants whose migration pattern is altered, most likely by a random event. They start to arrive in New Hampshire in the late summer and hang out at nectar feeders into the fall, but in very small numbers. There’s usually only one sighted every two years or so.
 
3. Pacific Loon
Description: This is a small loon, not as big as the loon that’s common in New Hampshire. Its non-breeding plumage is brownish gray, and its breeding plumage includes a gorgeous gray head and speckled back.
Where to find them: The Pacific loon normally nests in the tundras of Alaska and northern Canada, and most spend the winter on the Pacific coast. But there’s usually one in New Hampshire each year. Its appearance is highly variable and can happen in any season. Chances of seeing it are very slim because it spends a lot of time on the ocean.
 
Source: List provided by NH Audubon avian conservationist Pam Hunt. Additional details from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. 





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