Resident Geese

The large numbers of nonmigratory Canada Geese in Central New York are as much a part of our winter landscape as the corn fields that sustain them.


This morning I watched as two flocks, about 150 geese in all, flew overhead in a northerly direction. They hadn’t lost their bearings at all: their destination was harvested corn fields and waste grain, not a warmer, southern climate.




Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Waterfowl in Winter: Dabbling Ducks

The second post in my 3-part series on “Waterfowl in Winter” features two species of dabbling ducks: Mallards and Black Ducks. Unlike the diving mergansers in my last post, dabbling ducks splash around near the surface of the water, often turning upside down, as they forage on aquatic vegetation.


Mallards feeding in a snowstorm


Mallards, hen and drake


Mute Swan guarding open water; mallard hen


Black Duck


Mute Swan and Black Ducks


Mallard hen

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.






Waterfowl in Winter: Mergansers

The gloomy, overcast weather lingering over Central New York has driven me to my archives in search of something seasonal to perk up my blog. I’ve had a lot of fun observing ducks, geese and swans in their winter habitats and decided to share some of those memories.

I’ll begin with American (or Common) Mergansers on local surface waters. These are streamlined, narrow-billed ducks that dive for fish.





Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Native Shrubs for Wildlife

Staghorn Sumac is a native, thicket-forming shrub that can reach the size of a small tree. The fruit is very persistent, providing a source of food for birds throughout the winter. It is more an emergency than a staple food item, habitat that sustains some species in late winter when natural food sources have been depleted or are still buried in snow. I have, for example, observed small flocks of hungry (starving) wild turkeys and flocks of returning robins feeding on sumac fruit in late February and early March.


Black-capped Chickadee foraging on a Staghorn Sumac fruit cluster

Photo by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.