The Bird Garden is located at 3203 route 114 in Edgett's Landing, New Brunswick. We manufacture unique bird feeders, houses, iron hangers and among other things make the best peanut butter suet ever.
We also have a stall at the Moncton Market, Westmorland Street, (but we're closest to the Robinson Street entrance), Moncton, New Brunswick, Saturdays from 7 am - 2 pm.

*****Since we can no longer compete with online discount sites like Amazon, we are no longer carrying commercial feeders. For now, we will be concentrating on our unique feeders and accessories, bear with us while we update our website. *****
Plug your current location in the google maps at the bottom of each page for driving directions to our two locations.

Hawk Watching

It’s March, finally, this is the month things will really start to happen.  For those of you who are new to my column and those who forgot when I mentioned it last year, we gain about 1 hour and 45 minutes of daylight this month, that will trigger all kinds of behavior in the bird world.  When I mentioned this to my mother, she replied that daylight savings time starts a couple weeks early and that’ll help the birds out.  If you can figure that one out, drop me a line, maybe they have more time to fix up around the nest after work?  
  I’m like a lot of people I’ve spoken to, I sort of neglected some of my feeder stations a while ago when I couldn’t easily get to them without snowshoes, moving some to the cloths line where I can fill them more easily.  There were quite a few of you who also chose to buy new feeders rather than a pair of snowshoes to retrieve the old ones.  The next time I see a $10 pair of snowshoes in a yard sale I’ll be picking them up, you can’t find them that cheap when you need them, and if you want to get anywhere off a beaten path you do need them.  We only have 2 acres, but if I were dropped in the middle, I don’t know if I’d survive. (The bird house picture that was printed 2 weeks ago in now completely buried.)  
I want to start getting ready, the blackbirds will be back in a couple weeks, a welcome sign of spring, I enjoy them for a while but don’t miss them too bad when they disperse to breeding grounds.  They do a nice job cleaning up under the feeders, although this year they’ll need to do some major excavation to get at the fallen seed.  I’ll put lots of cracked corn on the ground when they return, if the snow hasn’t crusted over by then I’ll feed it on the driveway and beat an area down in the snow.  I do love watching a big flock of male Red-winged Blackbirds take flight and flash that beautiful red patch.  
Last year there were Eastern Bluebirds back in New Brunswick in March and actually building nests by the first week in April.  Tree Swallows will follow soon after and our wintering chickadees are starting to think about spring, singing more and inspecting the odd nest box.  
  Although they won’t be arriving in our province for another 2 months, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird has started it’s journey north.  A few have already crossed the Gulf of Mexico, soon I’ll be getting emails from snowbird friends, bragging about a hummer at their Florida feeder.  What do I respond with?  I have a picture of the great view taken from my roof while shoveling off the snow and a picture of me up to my waist in snow...on the roof, I’ll send them that and mention all the roofs that collapsed. They should have something to worry about other than what level of sunscreen they should apply. 
For now I’ll have to be content looking at my one lone male robin coming to apples and sumac berries, I might even be able to trick myself into thinking it’s a sign of an early spring, except he’s been in the yard since December and we’ve had quite a bit of winter since then.  No, robins won’t be a sign of spring until they arrive by the hundreds, accompanied by flickers in the ditches and any bare ground they can find, those are the robins that signal spring, and they’ll arrive a week or two after the black birds.
That’s also the time I like to be in Albert County for the hawk and sea duck migration, there are a few good areas to watch, but the best has to be in New Horton on route 915, the little Baptist Church is a well known hot spot for area birders.  You have great views of hawks as they approach, if the conditions are right the birds will glide and ride thermals giving experts and beginners plenty of time to study these specks in the sky and decide what species it is.  On the best days a few hundred hawks and a few thousand ducks will pass by on their way up the bay.  Scanning the individuals and flocks trying to pick out something different or even rare is a great way to spend a sunny early spring day, that’s the best part, if it’s raining or there’s a cold north wind, you might as well stay home by the fire and watch birds out our window, there’s not likely going to be too many hawks on the move.  
After a period of bad weather, the first warm sunny day with a south wind is bound to be productive.  What better place to be than New Horton or Cape Enrage watching what flies past?
Photographers are likely to be disappointed, most of the hawks are just specks, even with binoculars and spotting scopes there are only certain field marks you’ll be able to pick up.  Colours aren’t as important as patterns, size not as important as shape.  Size of wings, head and tail in relation to other body parts come into play, the way they flap their wings, the way they hold their wings when they soar.  
A little study leading up to the day will pay off, most field guides are of little use on a hawk watch, my trusty Peterson guide with it’s pictures of perched hawks doesn’t cut it, Sibley’s is better but if you really want to identify flying hawks from a distance you’ll want to read books specializing in that field.  My all time favourite (non-field guide) bird book is Hawks in Flight, by Pete Dunne, David Sibley (yes the same Sibley) and Clay Sutton, the cream of the crop, who have all written several recommended books.  Pete and David are writers for Birders World magazine, (who by the way just changed the name this month to BirdWatching Magazine so if you’re looking for it on the news stand it’ll have a slightly different look.)  Clay Sutton wrote several books, including How to Spot Hawks and Eagles. 
I’m anxiously awaiting my copy of Hawks at a Distance, by Jerry Liguori, praised by both Dunne and Sibley it promises to improve my identification skills.  
Don’t get too intimidated when you pick up one of these guides, I narrow the list to what I’m going to see in New Brunswick, I don’t waste precious brain cells memorizing all the traits of a Swallow-tailed Kite for instance.  Then just before the day, I’ll brush up on what is likely to be passing through that time of year.  I can follow other birders reports or go back to online archives to see trends.  
I’ll take my books, labeled with post-it note book marks for easy reference, but I usually only look at them after the bird moves on, taking all the time to absorb as much information as I can. 
If you’re really into hawks, and really enjoy challenging yourself and your identification skills, then a hawk watch day may be for you.  If you aren’t so sure you could get excited about standing on a hill studying specks in the sky then it’d be a good idea to drive separately, you’ll be miserable and you’ll drag the rest of the group down with you.  Remember, you’ll want warm cloths, sun screen, lip balm, sunglasses, water and lunch.  This isn’t watching gulls by Captan Dan’s in Shediac in the summer, this is Albert County in March and April, it’s cold and nothing is open, so take everything you’ll need with you. 
If you’re lucky, there’ll be a couple veteran hawk watchers on the sight, you’ll get to hear the lingo, and someone will be able to tell you if you’re on track or totally off base with your identifications.  It’ll take some practice to even be able to find the speck in question, you’ll be looking into a clear sky with no reference points.  It’s not like finding the crow someone points out in the birch tree at 3 o’clock. (the position, not the time).  It’ll be more like, “11 o’clock, 2 fields (field of view of a typical binocular) above the horizon, it might be an eagle...or a small aircraft.”  So you find it and watch until it gets closer and more clues start to show up.  
For me the best thing that came out of studying hawks for a migration watch was being able to identify the ones I see flying over my yard, without the aid of optics.  It’s a lot easier to do the yard work without running for my binoculars every time a hawk passes, my yard is just north of the good hawk watch sights, although they disperse somewhat, quite a few still fly over, keeping me on my toes and giving me lots to look at. 
{If you know what the photo is, drop me a line.}

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