Week 3 Answer

Quiz 3

As I said, this one wasn’t really fair. Here’s a more typical example:

(Found with creativecommons search)

It’s one of the invasive honeysuckles (Lonicera sp). It had grown completely out of control in the yard and ended up taking over the entire back yard before we finally had it cut down. The birds did like it, but there’s plenty of native plants they like as well.

Week 3

Quiz 3

This one’s probably a bit unfair. A couple hints: it’s invasive and almost never grows to be this big. Taken after being cut down in November 2004, although the stump is still there.

Week 2 Answer

Quiz 2

This one’s a fairly small bird, perched on a peanut feeder. That should eliminate a lot of things, although I have seen just about every yard bird of that size on that feeder at one time or another.

The underside is a bright reddish brown, the tail is long, thin, and spotted, and the throat appears to be paler. There’s not much that matches that. Like last week, this is a wren. This time, however, it’s a Carolina Wren.

Carolina Wrens are easily found all over Waltham. Although I haven’t confirmed breeding yet, there’s absolutely no doubt that they are. Although in previous years, they would drop down in harsh winters, I’ve noticed no such reduction lately (in fact, there’s been two in the yard for the first time recently).

Again, I haven’t publicized at all and there were no responses. Now that I’m on wordpress, comments should be possible so it might pick up a bit.

Week 2

Quiz #2

Taken 1/12 in the yard.

Still haven’t looked at comments, so email or use click on the picture and use the flickr page if you have an account. Answer next weekend.

Week 1 Answer

Quiz #1

Let’s start with the fact that it’s a small, brown bird (not everything in these quizzes will be birds). The size and color limits us to sparrows, wrens, creepers, and that’s about it. Sparrows all have thicker bills and creepers are almost always found on tree trunks and not on little twigs (besides being thinner, having a more patterned wing, and shorter legs).

So, among the wrens, there’s 4 known from Waltham: Carolina, House, Winter, and Marsh.
Carolina’s a very differently colored bird with a big eyestripe. Marsh Wrens are paler
below and also have a prominent eyestripe. House and Winter Wrens are similar, but
Winter has a much shorter tail. It’s also much more likely to be found in Waltham in
January (according to Birds of Massachusetts, Winter Wrens are regular overwinterers
and House Wrens only very occasionally in the southeast and the Cape).

So, a Winter Wren. In Waltham, I’ve only had them at Met State, although I’ve had them
pretty regularly there. I’ve also heard about records around Prospect Hill and at least one
other record.

Since I haven’t made any announcements of this quiz, I got no responses.

Week 1

Quiz #1

Taken 1/5 at Met State.

Still haven’t looked at comments, so email or use click on the picture and use the flickr page if you have an account. Answer next weekend.

Waltham 2007

Here’s a list of birds and bugs seen in Waltham in 2007 with date of first sighting and place. Italics is on the yard list and Bold is new to Waltham.


  1. Canada Goose (1/2, Lyman)
  2. Mute Swan (1/1, HP from yard)
  3. Wood Duck (1/21, Charles)
  4. American Black Duck (1/4, Charles)
  5. Mallard (1/2, Lyman)
  6. Green-winged Teal (1/21, Charles)
  7. Ring-necked Duck (1/18, Charles)
  8. Bufflehead (4/19, HP from yard)
  9. Common Goldeneye (2/1, Charles)
  10. Hooded Merganser (1/2, Lyman)
  11. Common Merganser (1/8, Hardy Pond)
  12. Ruddy Duck (4/29, Hardy Pond)
  13. Ring-necked Pheasant (4/26, Met State)
  14. Wild Turkey (6/2, Met State)
  15. Horned Grebe (11/10, Cambridge Res)
  16. Double-crested Cormorant (4/5, Hardy Pond)
  17. Great Blue Heron (1/4, Charles)
  18. Green Heron (5/14, Lyman)
  19. Black-crowned Night-Heron (6/11, Lot 1)
  20. Turkey Vulture (1/9, Paine)
  21. Northern Harrier (9/5, yard)
  22. Sharp-shinned Hawk (3/11, Charles)
  23. Cooper’s Hawk (1/4, Charles)
  24. Broad-winged Hawk (8/27, Prospect Hill)
  25. Red-tailed Hawk (1/3, Paine)
  26. American Kestrel (1/2, UMass Field Station)
  27. Merlin (9/14, Met State)
  28. Virginia Rail (3/28, Leitha)
  29. American Coot (2/1, Charles)
  30. Killdeer (3/5, UMass Field Station)
  31. Lesser Yellowlegs (10/3, Lyman)
  32. Solitary Sandpiper (4/29, Met State)
  33. Spotted Sandpiper (5/10, UMass Field Station)
  34. Least Sandpiper (8/16, Lyman)
  35. American Woodcock (3/30, Lot 1)
  36. Ring-billed Gull (1/1, HP from yard)
  37. Herring Gull (1/2, Lyman)
  38. Iceland Gull (1/31, Stanley)
  39. Great Black-backed Gull (1/8, Hardy Pond)
  40. Rock Pigeon (1/2, Main at Linden)
  41. Mourning Dove (1/1, yard)
  42. Black-billed Cuckoo (5/30, Paine)
  43. Yellow-billed Cuckoo (5/16, Paine)
  44. Eastern Screech-Owl (1/2, Lyman)
  45. Great Horned Owl (4/29, Met State)
  46. Common Nighthawk (5/20, yard)
  47. Chimney Swift (4/29, Hardy Pond)
  48. Ruby-throated Hummingbird (6/22, Paine)
  49. Belted Kingfisher (7/30, Hardy Pond)
  50. Red-bellied Woodpecker (1/7, Prospect Hill)
  51. Downy Woodpecker (1/1, yard)
  52. Hairy Woodpecker (1/19, Prospect Hill)
  53. Northern Flicker (2/20, Paine)
  54. Eastern Wood-Pewee (5/16, Paine)
  55. Eastern Phoebe (3/14, Prospect Hill)
  56. Great Crested Flycatcher (5//12, Prospect hill)
  57. Eastern Kingbird (5/3, Charles)
  58. Blue-headed Vireo (4/24, Prospect Hill)
  59. Warbling Vireo (5/9, Lyman Pond)
  60. Red-eyed Vireo (5/16, Paine)
  61. Blue Jay (1/1, yard)
  62. American Crow (1/1, yard)
  63. Fish Crow (1/4, Charles)
  64. Common Raven (5/2, Prospect Hill)
  65. Tree Swallow (4/11, Hardy Pond)
  66. Northern Rough-winged Swallow (5/3, Charles)
  67. Bank Swallow (5/19, Hardy Pond)
  68. Barn Swallow (5/10, UMass Field Station)
  69. Black-capped Chickadee (1/1, yard)
  70. Tufted Titmouse (1/1, yard)
  71. Red-breasted Nuthatch (8/13, Paine)
  72. White-breasted Nuthatch (1/1, yard)
  73. Carolina Wren (1/21, Charles)
  74. House Wren (6/11, Lot 1)
  75. Golden-crowned Kinglet (1/31, Prospect Hill)
  76. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (11/23, Charles)
  77. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (4/29, Met State)
  78. Veery (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  79. Hermit Thrush (1/20, Met State)
  80. Wood Thrush (5/10, Leitha)
  81. American Robin (1/3, WHS)
  82. Gray Catbird (5/3, yard)
  83. Northern Mockingbird (1/1, yard)
  84. Brown Thrasher (8/30, Met State)
  85. European Starling (1/1, yard)
  86. Cedar Waxwing (3/27, Leitha)
  87. Blue-winged Warbler (6/23, Lot 1)
  88. Tennessee Warbler (5/16, Paine)
  89. Nashville Warbler (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  90. Northern Parula (5/7, Paine)
  91. Yellow Warbler (5/3, Charles)
  92. Chestnut-sided Warbler (5/16, Beaver Brook)
  93. Magnolia Warbler (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  94. Black-throated Blue Warbler (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  95. Yellow-rumped Warbler (1/4, Charles)
  96. Black-throated Green Warbler (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  97. Pine Warbler (4/23, Paine)
  98. Palm Warbler (4/21, Met State)
  99. Blackpoll Warbler (5/10, UMass Field Station)
  100. Black-and-white Warbler (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  101. American Redstart (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  102. Ovenbird (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  103. Common Yellowthroat (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  104. Canada Warbler (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  105. Scarlet Tanager (5/19, Prospect Hill)
  106. Eastern Towhee (5/1, Met State)
  107. American Tree Sparrow (2/23, Paine)
  108. Chipping Sparrow (4/11, WHS)
  109. Field Sparrow (10/16, Waverly Oaks)
  110. Savannah Sparrow (5/3, Charles)
  111. Fox Sparrow (3/17, yard)
  112. Lincoln’s Sparrow (10/16, Waverly Oaks)
  113. Song Sparrow (1/8, Hardy Pond)
  114. Swamp Sparrow (4/26, Met State)
  115. White-throated Sparrow (1/1, yard)
  116. White-crowned Sparrow (5/5, yard)
  117. Dark-eyed Junco (1/3, Paine)
  118. Snow Bunting (12/23, UMass)
  119. Northern Cardinal (1/1, yard)
  120. Rose-breasted Grosbeak (5/8, Prospect Hill)
  121. Indigo Bunting (5/7, Paine Estate)
  122. Red-winged Blackbird (2/18, Charles)
  123. Eastern Meadowlark (9/27, UMass)
  124. Common Grackle (2/25, Miriam)
  125. Brown-headed Cowbird (3/21, Miriam)
  126. Orchard Oriole (5/29, Charles)
  127. Baltimore Oriole (5/4, Leitha)
  128. House Finch (1/1, yard)
  129. American Goldfinch (1/1, yard)
  130. House Sparrow (1/1, yard)

Yard: 54

New: 12


  1. Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) (5/30, Paine)
  2. Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis) (6/16, Met State)
  3. Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis) (6/24, Charles)
  4. Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) (8/1, Charles)
  5. Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) (6/10, yard)
  6. Stream Bluet (Enallagma exsulans) (5/29, Charles)
  7. Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum) (6/25, Lyman Pond)
  8. Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) (6/24, Charles)
  9. Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) (5/29, Charles)
  10. Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis) (5/10, yard)
  11. Sedge Sprite (Nehalennia irene) (6/8, yard)
  12. Lance-tipped Darner (Aeshna constricta) (7/29, Prospect Hill)
  13. Black-tipped Darner (Aeshna tuberculifera) (7/26, Paine)
  14. Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) (9/12, WHS)
  15. Common Green Darner (Anax junius) (5/9, Lyman Pond)
  16. Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) (5/29, yard)
  17. Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps) (6/15, UMass)
  18. Clamp-tipped Emerald (Somatochlora tenebrosa) (9/1, Met State)
  19. Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa) (6/24, Met State)
  20. Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) (6/22, Paine)
  21. Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) (5/12, Prospect Hill)
  22. Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) (7/14, Charles)
  23. Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) (8/2, Paine)
  24. Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) (6/24, Met State)
  25. Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata) (6/21, Paine)
  26. Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) (6/18, Lyman Pond)
  27. Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) (6/27, Hardy Pond)
  28. Ruby Meadowhawk (Sympetrum rubicundulum) (6/16, Met State)
  29. Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum) (7/29, Prospect Hill)
  30. Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) (8/15, Prospect Hill)
  31. Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) (8/1, Stanley)


  1. Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) (6/2, UMass Field Station)
  2. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) (5/21, Paine) (first Tiger sp. 5/8 Lincoln St)
  3. Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) (6/28, Prospect Hill)
  4. Cabbage White (Pieris rapae) (4/23, Paine)
  5. Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice) (5/8, Prospect Hill)
  6. Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme) (6/15, UMass)
  7. Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius) (9/18, Lyman)
  8. American Copper (Lycaena phlaeas) (6/11, Lot 1)
  9. Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus) (6/21, Paine)
  10. Striped Hairstreak (Satyrium liparops) (7/31, Prospect Hill)
  11. Eastern Pine Elfin (Callophrys niphon) (5/8, Prospect Hill)
  12. Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) (7/29, Prospect Hill)
  13. Eastern Tailed-Blue (Everes comyntas) (6/11, Lot 1)
  14. Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) (5/1, Met State)
  15. Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta) (7/5, Paine)
  16. Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) (6/11, Lot 1)
  17. Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma) (6/21, Paine)
  18. Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa) (3/27, Paine)
  19. American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) (5/29, yard)
  20. Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) (6/15, WHS)
  21. Red-spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis) (6/24, Met State) this one had a mild white band, so Hybrid Admiral is more accurate
  22. Little Wood Satyr (Megisto cymela) (5/30, Paine)
  23. Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia/inornata) (5/30, Paine)
  24. Common Wood-Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) (7/29, Prospect Hill)
  25. Monarch (Danaus plexippus) (6/21, Paine)
  26. Silver-spotted Skipper* (Epagyreus clarus) (6/11, Lot 1)
  27. Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades) (6/19, Prospect Hill)
  28. Southern Cloudywing (Thorybes bathyllus) (6/22, Paine)
  29. Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) (6/19, Prospect Hill)
  30. Dreamy Duskywing (Erynnis icelus) (6/11, Lot 1)
  31. Juvenal’s Duskywing (Erynnis juvenalis) (5/7, Paine)
  32. Wild Indigo Duskywing (Erynnis baptise) (7/16, Prospect Hill)
  33. Common Sootywing (Pholisora catullus) (6/7, Waverly Oaks)
  34. Least Skipper (Ancyloxypha numitor) (6/11, Lot 1)
  35. European Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) (6/16, Paine)
  36. Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) (8/31, UMass)
  37. Peck’s Skipper (Polites peckius) (5/29, yard)
  38. Tawny-edged Skipper (Polites themistocles) (6/19, Prospect Hill)
  39. Long Dash (Polites mystic) (6/11, Lot 1)
  40. Northern Broken-Dash (Wallengrenia egeremet) (7/29, Prospect Hill)
  41. Hobomok Skipper (Poanes hobomok) (6/6, Paine)


  1. Whitetail Deer (6/30, Lot 1)
  2. Raccoon (4/2, Lexington St.)
  3. Gray Squirrel (1/1, yard)
  4. Eastern Chipmunk (2/28, yard)
  5. Eastern Cottontail (2/18, Charles)
  6. Woodchuck (7/2, Kennedy)
  7. Red Fox (11/??, Trapelo)

Other stuff

  • First yellowjacket 3/3 (Lyman Pond)
  • Wood Frog (4/1)
  • Spring Peeper (4/8)
  • Painted Turtle (4/9)
  • Snapping Turtle (5/3)
  • Garter Snake (4/21)
  • Grasshopper (5/7)
  • Bat (late date 11/29)

New Quiz

For 2008, I’m going to start a weekly quiz. It’ll be the Waltham Taxon of the Week and may include just about anything. I’ll attempt to post a picture once a week and the following week post some information about it and a new picture. I’ll attempt to actually take the picture during the week, in Waltham, although I may use some old ones if necessary. All will be from the right time frame at least.

No prizes and I doubt anyone will actually participate, but email me if you think you know an answer or have any other commentary. I may try to set up some form of comment system for this.

Greater Boston CBC 2007

Last Sunday was the Greater Boston CBC. Scheduled for 12/16, we were snowed out. Somehow, my team was able to have better attendance on the rescheduled day, unlike most teams. Unfortunately, we were snowed out of several areas and had to replan most of the day.

We started with the usual owling, which turned out to be a waste as we heard nothing. Meeting up with the full team at 7:00, we had a Red-tail replacing last year’s Cooper’s in the same tree. We quickly headed to Dunback, where I found the Great Horned Owl with a little help from the crows. We wandered around the rest of the pines and down to the gardens without much of anything and were ready to move on by 8:45.

Our next stop was Brookhaven, where the nature trail was too snowy. Walking around the parking lot to make sure the pond was frozen, 16 Cedar Waxwings flew by, being chased by a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

We moved on to Falzone Field, which was also too snowy. There were big numbers of robins and mourning doves and what was presumably the same Sharp-shinned landed across the field. Willy the screech owl was out, so we headed over, although he decided to go back into hiding before we got there.

We took a quick detour to check Met State for redpolls and then went to Beaver Brook. There, we found out why we never covered it before. It’s in Belmont’s territory, so we left and went to the UMass Field Station. There was an Accipiter perched that looked like a Cooper’s, but before we could get closer two small white birds flew in. Snow Buntings! My first for Waltham, and only the second record that I know of (also here).

Snow Bunting!

As we started into the field, someone asked about the kestrel the group had here last year. A couple seconds later, we turned around and there was a kestrel sitting on one of the trees behind the building! I headed for the pines to check for owls, while the rest of the group went for a better look for the buntings or to the community gardens. The kestrel flew right overhead. The pines were empty (as always) but the far back corner of the field had a lot of common birds. Walking was rather tough here, sinking in with almost every step.

We moved on to Lyman Pond. Most of the group went to see if the Screech-Owls were back, but I decided to check the pond itself for any open water. There was a small strip, which had a Great Blue Heron and a Mallard. I was about to gloat over the heron, but it flew to the other end and everyone saw it.

Next up was the Paine Estate, which was completely dead. It was close to lunch time, so we headed to the high school and Kennedy. There wasn’t much around, but it put us in a good place for the people that had to leave. We headed to Wendy’s.

While eating lunch, we pretended to count gulls and starlings. Much better was the kestrel that perched briefly in the McDonald’s lot across the street and the flyover Great Blue Heron.

After finishing lunch, we headed to the Charles. We quickly found all the good ducks (23 Ring-necks, 8 Hooded Mergansers, 18 Commons, 3 Goldeneye) and another couple herons. We split up at the 2nd overlook and I continued on to the baseball field. A few more of those ducks were around, but the big highlight was a pair of kestrels. They were very active, flying around and landing on the light towers and vocalized quite often. They were joined on the tower by a Herring Gull and a Cooper’s Hawk flew through as well.

Kestrel on Light Tower

There was also a very cooperative Red-tail right by Newton St.:



We returned and found the group that had gone to check the waterfall back at the parking lot, looking at a Fish Crow. We moved on to the Gore Estate, which was too snowy to walk around, although I took a quick run to the fenced-in field.

Pretty much out of accessible places, we went to drop the rest of the group off before heading home to count feeder birds for the rest of the day. On the way, we made a brief stop at Hardy Pond, which had surprisingly large numbers of Mallards considering that it was totally frozen.

Definitely a better day than I expected. Thanks to Judy, Joyce, Christine, Eric, Lew, Barbara, and my parents for helping.