[CT Birds] Who says the summer doldrums have to be dull?

Nick Bonomo nbonomo at gmail.com
Tue Jun 18 08:18:59 EDT 2013

There are a few interesting breeding bird stories in Connecticut at the

Those SANDHILL CRANES in the Norfolk/Canaan area sure are interesting. The
species is spreading south and east as a breeder in New England, so it
should be expected to breed in CT, probably sooner than later (if not

The adult WHITE-FACED IBIS we had as a flyby on our Big Day actually flew
to the Duck Island heron rookery (off of Westbrook) where it was seen
landing in a tree. This species has drastically increased as a migrant in
New England over the past 10 years, and breeding should be expected. I
believe that a breeding attempt by at least one WFIB has been confirmed in
MA in recent summers (last year?). These birds might pair with Glossy Ibis,
as hybrids have been documented elsewhere. But there are certainly enough
WFIB in the northeast each spring to expect pure pairings.

I inquired about access to Duck Island, as I wished to document a possible
breeding attempt, but found that the island is appropriately closed.
However I was also told that no landing is even permitted below the tide
line at low tide, which sounds unlawful to me but who am I to argue with
the big bad government. We are in the midst of a two-week waterbird survey
in which officials will make a visit to Duck Island to survey the nesting
waders. The counters should be aware of this nesting possibility, so
*hopefully* they will look closely at every ibis. That is apparently our
only hope to document whatever is going on there.

Though I have not seen a report in a few days, that pair of NORTHERN
SHOVELERS in the Swan Pond at Hammonasset stuck around for quite some time.
There was a note by someone on eBird that they may be nesting, though there
were no details provided. Has anyone been there recently to check on them?
The last few reports were of just a single bird, which could indicate that
the other is on a nest somewhere tucked away.

Lastly, while Big Day scouting back in May I had two agressively calling
KING RAILS up the Quinnipiac River marshes, about as far north as exit 9
off I-91. I did not see the birds but given the up-river location and fresh
water co-inhabitants of that marsh (Virginia Rails every year, Least
Bitterns at least intermittently, and never any Clapper Rails in my
experience), these were assumed to be King Rails. The birds were giving
only the female-type "kek-kerrrrrrrrrrr" (given by both King and Clapper).
At least one was still present the following night, but subsequent
listening attempts were unsuccessful. Before I could decide whether
reporting these birds was the right thing to do or not (very rare nesting
species in the state prone to over-taping), they were apparently gone. BUT
that is a large marsh system with little to no access, so for all we know
they could be breeding somewhere in there. If someone with a kayak were
interested in searching, you may meet success. That's probably the only
public way to get into those marshes, as far as I know.

So there are several nesting possibilities to investigate this month. Some
are observable by the public while others are not. If you're looking for
something to do between migrations, helping document a rare nesting species
could be worthwhile, even if it's simply providing regular updates on the
Hammonasset Shovelers. If you do venture into the field looking for any of
these, or any other rare nesting species, just make sure that you do not do
anything to disrupt the birds. Do not play tapes, do not trespass, and do
not harass.

Nick Bonomo
Wallingford, CT

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