Connecticut Audbon Society

 

Natural Selections

Welcome to Connecticut Audubon’s blog, Natural Selections. Use the box on the right to subscribe for free and you’ll never miss a post.

Click here for a calendar of webinars, videos, and other online programming.

 

Facetiming Bird Migration

May 5, 2020 — NBC CT meteorologist Kaitlyn McGrath Facetimed Executive Director Patrick Comins last week to talk about migration, about visiting Connecticut Audubon’s sanctuaries, and about threats to Connecticut’s birds.

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Webinar Wednesday: Animal Tracks

May 5, 2020 — Learn how to track your favorite animals across your backyard. This week RTPEC teacher-naturalist Morgan Allen will teach you how to identify the tracks of local animals as well as how to make your own animal track stamp.

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All About Owls Webinar

Tuesday, May 12, 7 p.m. One of our most unique and mysterious family of birds, owls are most active when the rest of us are settling down for the night. In this webinar, teacher-naturalist Joe Attwater will go over what makes these birds so amazing, and which ones call CT home. Joe will discuss: What […]

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I Spy: Coastal Connecticut

May 11– Welcome to Mystery Monday! Let’s play a game of I Spy: Coastal Connecticu1 Every Monday we will post part of a picture of an organism found along the coast of Connecticut. Make your best guess–you can post your answer on The Coastal Center’s Facebook page: click here or on The Connecticut Audubon Society Facebook page: click here. […]

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Daily Bird: Yellow-crowned Night Heron

May 4, 2020 — Yellow-crowned Night Herons are birds of marshes and wet meadows but are not widely distributed across the state. Our Milford Point Coastal Center is by far the most reliable location in the state.

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The Monday Bird Report

May 4, 2020 — It was not only a beautiful weekend, it was a busy one for birds and birders. Here are a few highlights.

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The Answer for the May 4 Mystery is……

If you guessed Hermit Crab you are correct!   Did you know: Most species have long, spirally curved abdomens, which are soft, unlike the hard, calcified abdomens seen in related crustaceans. Most frequently, hermit crabs use the shells of sea snails The tip of the hermit crab’s abdomen is adapted to clasp strongly onto the columella of the […]

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Daily Bird: Eastern Whip-poor-will

May 1, 2020 — Eastern Whip-poor-wills typically arrive in their breeding grounds in late April-early May, timed with the appearance of the insects that make up their diet.

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I Spy: Coastal Connecticut

May 4– Welcome to Mystery Monday! Let’s play a game of I Spy: Coastal Connecticut! Every Monday we will post part of a picture of an organism found along the coast of Connecticut. Make your best guess–you can post your answer on The Coastal Center’s Facebook page: click here or on The Connecticut Audubon Society Facebook page: click here. […]

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Raptors of CT Webinar

May 1, 2020 — If there’s one group of birds that captivates birders and non-birders alike, it’s the raptors. Join us for a special webinar, 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 5.

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What’s on your bookshelf? CT Audubon shares favorite reads on nature and the environment

April 27, 2020 — For your reading pleasure, Connecticut Audubon staff talks about their favorite books on nature and the environment, new and old, including a several by local authors and classics by Rachel Carson, John McPhee, David Quammen, and Michael Pollan.

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Daily Bird: Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

April 30, 2020 — The long-popular reference to a “miniature Mockingbird” holds up pretty well. Shape and tone are reminiscent of the big mimid, although the gnatcatcher lacks the white wing markings. But keep miniature in mind. This is a small, slender bird in the warbler size category.

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The Daily Bird: Semipalmated Plover

April 29, 2020 — Semipalmated Plovers are starting to appear on Connecticut beaches during spring migration. Named for their semi-webbed toes, which allow them to walk on different substrates, Semipalmated Plovers can be found foraging for insects and other invertebrates on mudflats and beaches while they migrate to their nesting territory on Arctic beaches.

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Daily Bird: Peregrine Falcon

April 28, 2020 — Urban development generally pushes species out of the habitat that was replaced by buildings. There are some species like the Peregrine Falcon, however, that can adapt. Peregrine Falcons nest on and dive from tall ledges. The abundance of ledges in urban areas gives them a greater selection of nesting locations.

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Dr. Science Reveals the Cool Features of Bivalves (video, 3 minutes, 49 seconds)

April 28, 2020 — What lives in salt water and shares traits with a bicycle, a door and cooking a big pot of spaghetti? Watch Dr. Science reveal the cool features of a familiar filter feeder in the Long Island Sound ecosystem.

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The optics are good at EcoTravel

April 28, 2020 — Andy Griswold gives a rundown of the best binoculars and scopes from Vortex and Swarovski. Learn about what you should consider when making a purchase.

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A look back at the Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz

April 28, 2020 — If you participated in the Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz, you know how much fun it was. Well over 200 people from all over Connecticut submitted 2,619 observations of 654 species. The most common: garlic mustard, an invasive plant.

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Daily Bird: For Frank Mantlik, the Townsend’s Warbler was bird number 400. Nobody around has seen more.

Frank Mantlik

April 21, 2020 — Only one birder was on record as ever having seen 400 species in Connecticut. Frank Mantlik’s Connecticut life list sat at 399, and he was about to become number 2.

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What’s on your bookshelf? Nature books for kids

April 30, 2020 – Reading can spark and cultivate a life-long connection with the natural world. Educators from Connecticut Audubon share some of their favorite books for families with young readers … or readers of any age who are young in spirit.

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Daily Bird: American Redstart

April 27, 2020 — The beautiful little American Redstart will be migrating into Connecticut any day now. Adult male American Redstarts are mostly black with bright orange patches on the sides, wings, and tail. Females have gray head and underparts, with olive back and wings and dark-gray tail.

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Eco-Hour with Patrick Comins

April 27, 2020 — Join Connecticut Audubon Society’s Executive Director Patrick Comins as he takes you through Connecticut’s shorebirds by season.

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Osprey Nation Training webinar with Miley Bull

April 27, 2020 — Join Connecticut Audubon Society’s Senior Director of Science and Conservation Miley Bull for a look at a familiar shoreline bird: the Osprey!

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Daily Bird: Belted Kingfisher

April 24, 2020 — The Belted Kingfisher is one of the few bird species where the female is more colorful than the male. Its presence is often known by the distinctive rattle call it makes while flying.

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Daily Bird: Waterthrushes

April 23, 2020 — These warblers are active, vociferous birds, habitual tail-waggers easily told from our array of other warbler species. Telling them apart is another matter.

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CTAudubon sanctuaries remain open to the public. Here are the rules

April 23, 2020 — The Connecticut Audubon Society’s sanctuaries remain open to the public. We encourage you to visit our preserves while also observing the latest CDC recommendations regarding social distancing. 

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Dr Science: Slimy But Fascinating, There’s Much to Learn About Mud Snails (video, 2 minutes, 19 seconds)

April 23, 2020 — Why do snails “walk” so slooowly? During this seaside adventure, Connecticut Audubon’s Dr. Science explains this and more fun facts, including the important job mud snails do at the beach and what their tongue has in common with a conveyor belt.

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Daily Bird: Pileated Woodpecker

April 22, 2020 — The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker found in Connecticut. Crow-sized, it is an inhabitant of the mixed deciduous and coniferous forests of North America. The birds especially like forests where large old trees can be found.

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Trail to Earth Day #18: was this the actual first Earth Day?

April 22, 2020 — For the final installment on the Trail to Earth Day we’re going back to 1817, thanks to This
Day in Connecticut History and to John Folsom, who represents Pomfret on Connecticut Audubon’s Board of Directors.

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Dr. Science: Will she be participating in the Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz?

April 22, 2020 — It’s Earth Day. Dr. Science shows how to take part in the fun.

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Trail to Earth Day #17: Advocate

April 21, 2020 — Speak up. Speak out. Work in concert with others and with conservation organizations like Connecticut Audubon that can amplify your voice.

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The Daily Bird: Great video about the state first-record Townsend’s Warbler

April 21, 2020 — EcoTravel’s Andy Griswold was in Hartford to see the Townsend’s Warbler and came back with this great video, including an interview with Paul Desjardins, who first found the bird on Friday.

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Trail to Earth Day #16: Volunteer

April 20, 2020 — There’s an easy way to get involved and to do some good locally and immediately: volunteer.

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Daily Bird: Townsend’s Warbler, a first for Connecticut

April 20, 2020 — For that portion of the Connecticut birding world that chases after rarities, word of a Townsend’s Warbler in Hartford was a great substitute for caffeine on Friday morning. It arrived with a jolt.

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Cathy Hagadorn is at Deer Pond Farm to talk about what you might find during the Bioblitz

April 20, 2020 — Before you head outside for the Bioblitz on Wednesday, April 22, take a look at what Cathy Hagadorn, director of Deer Pond Farm in Sherman, has to say.

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EcoTravel gives you a 4-minute tour of how the Ospreys live in Old Saybrook

April 20, 2020 — EcoTravel Director Andy Griswold is on the scene to talk about Ospreys.

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Dr. Science Explores Rockweed (video, 3 minutes, 16 seconds)

April 16, 2020 — Is Dr. Science taking a nap on the beach? Or practicing yoga? You’ll be amazed when you get up-close and find out. She’ll show you that there’s more going on at the seashore than you ever thought possible!

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Trail to Earth Day #15: Food for Thought — How to Eat Sustainably

April 18, 2020 — Whether in the grocery store or your own kitchen, every time you make a decision about food, you can have an affect on the food system.

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Trail to Earth Day #14: Water and branches

April 17, 2020 — Birds need water and a place to take cover. Those are two easy things you can help them with in your yard.

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Daily Bird: Glossy Ibis

April 17, 2020 — Glossy Ibis have returned to Connecticut from their wintering grounds and big flocks have been seen feeding together. Here’s what you need to know about this eye-catching species.

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Daily Bird: Green-winged Teal

April 16, 2020 — Green-winged Teal is the smallest North American duck with a length of only 14 inches. The striking males pack a lot of color and pattern into a small package. They’ve been seen recently at Milford Point.

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Bioblitz: What you might find on Earth Day

April 16, 2020 — When you step outside on April 22 for the Earth Day Backyard Bioblitz, here’s what you might find.

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Trail to Earth Day #13: Reduce Light Pollution and Bring Back the Night

April 16, 2020 — Increasing evidence shows the excessive use of artificial light at night is harming wildlife at an alarming rate. What’s at stake? Not much. Only the survival of animals critical to their ecosystems, and pollinators that are vital to producing the food we eat, so ultimately human health as well.  

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Daily Bird: Downy Woodpecker

April 15, 2020 — Anyone with a bird feeder already knows this diminutive woodpecker. At about six inches in length, this black and white clinging bird has a coast to coast distribution and is the smallest of our woodpecker family. It is here in Connecticut year round and does not migrate.

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Trail to Earth Day #12: A place so your bird can sing

April 15, 2020 — The bottom line for birds is habitat. They need suitable places to nest, spend the winter, and rest and feed during migration.

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Dr. Science is at the beach (video, 2 minutes, 59 seconds)

April 14 — The amazing Dr. Science talks about plants that drink salt water (not surprisingly those plants are at the beach).

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I Spy: Coastal Connecticut

April 20– Welcome to Mystery Monday! Let’s play a game of I Spy: Coastal Connecticut! Every Monday we will post part of a picture of an organism found along the coast of Connecticut. Make your best guess–you can post your answer on The Coastal Center’s Facebook page: click here or on The Connecticut Audubon Society Facebook page: click here. […]

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Daily Bird: American Black Duck

April 14, 2020 — Black Ducks are a large-bodied dabbling duck about the size of a mallard. They have a yellowish bill with a gray head and dark body.

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Trail to Earth Day #11: In the car, put the brakes on harmful environmental impacts

April 14, 2020 —Transportation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas pollution, and cars are major contributors. Vehicle emissions are a big part of this, but a car’s ecological impact goes beyond this single aspect.

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Trail to Earth Day #10: cut out pesticides

April 13, 2020 — If you apply pesticides to your property to kill insects, you’re killing the food that Connecticut’s birds rely on.

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The Daily Bird: Pine Warbler

April 13, 2020 — Of all the warblers that breed in Connecticut, the first to return in spring is the Pine Warbler, arriving in mid- to late March. This year, many have moved into the state during the last few days.

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Follow the footprints: trackers know where the otters roam

April 11, 2020 — Paula, a retired science teacher who lives in Woodstock Valley, leads Connecticut Audubon’s Citizen Science Wildlife and Tracking Program. Since 2003, she’s trained 147 volunteers who have logged 9,216 hours in the field. About a dozen volunteers have stuck with it for a decade or more.

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Video (4 minutes, 16 seconds): Dr. Science goes Brackish

April 11, 2020 — Dr. Science is at the Coastal Center at Milford Point to reveal nature’s formula for an amazing ecosystem called an estuary.

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Video (3 minutes, 30 seconds): making sense of citizen science at Deer Pond Farm

April 10, 2020 — Cathy Hagadorn and Deirdra Wallin explain explain EBird, Motus, and other ways of keeping track of the birds, insects, mammals, and more in our area.

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The Daily Bird and the Trail to Earth Day: See you next week

April 10, 2020 — The Daily Bird and the Trail to Earth Day are taking the weekend off. The Daily Bird write-ups have turned out to be the most popular feature on our website over the last two weeks. Now is a good time to thank the Connecticut bird experts who wrote those for us.

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Trail to Earth Day #9: Composting with worms

The Trail to Earth Day, a series of simple tips to help the environment (with music at the end), will run through the 50th Earth Day, April 22. We’d be happy to send you one a day via text. Sign up here. April 9, 2020 — This series is based on suggestions that we solicited […]

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The Daily Bird: Great Egret

April 9, 2020 — Great Egrets have arrived along the shore of Long Island Sound. Look for this large, long-legged wader foraging in wetlands, lakes, and marshes.

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Trail to Earth Day #8: Make your windows safe for birds

April 8, 2020 — Up to a billion (with a “b”) birds a year are killed when they crash into windows. It’s a problem where individual action can make a difference.

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Daily Bird: Wood Duck

April 8, 2020 — This time of the year Wood Ducks are found in good nesting habitat. That includes almost all freshwater bodies and wetlands with nearby large trees and adequate cover.

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I Spy: Coastal Connecticut

April 13, 2020 — Welcome to Mystery Monday! Let’s play a game of I Spy: Coastal Connecticut!

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Trail to Earth Day #7: Changing Simple Habits Today Saves Water for Tomorrow

April 7, 2020 — There’s one situation where you definitely don’t want to worry about water use these days: washing your hands. Lather up and rinse well! But there are plenty of other ways to save water.

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Daily Bird: Cedar Waxwing

April 7, 2020 — In late winter and early spring, look for Cedar Waxwings feasting on the blue berries of the Eastern Red Cedar.

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The Daily Bird: Great Horned Owl

April 6, 2020 — Today’s Daily Bird consists of one great photo. Our friend Tomas Koeck took it in Fairfield, and we thank him for the chance to publish it here.

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Trail to Earth Day #6: Make a Little Birdhouse

April 6, 2020 — Build a birdhouse (or buy one) and put it up.

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Video (2 minutes, 30 seconds): Spring activity in the wooded wetlands

April 5, 2020 — The noisiest places in the natural world right now, at least in Connecticut, might be vernal pools. Conservation biologist Jim Arrigoni explains what’s going on, in this video.

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Trail to Earth Day #5: It’s Cool for Cats to be Indoors

April 5, 2020 — Don’t let the cat out of the house. Outdoor cats kill an estimated 1.3 – 4 billion birds in North America every year (they also kill 6.3–22.3 billion mammals annually).

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What to do with “abandoned” or “orphaned” birds

May 6, 2020 — Have you found an abandoned bird? Birds and other wildlife that seem to be abandoned or orphaned at this time of year often are not actually abandoned orphaned. The Connecticut DEEP has advice about what to do if you find a bird that you think is abandoned.

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Trail to Earth Day #4: Lower Your Carbon Footprint During this Rite of Spring

April 4, 2020 — We all have different tolerance levels for clutter, but no one can deny the good feeling of clearing out those unused items taking up space. Rather than making their ultimate destination a landfill or incinerator, consider the alternatives.

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The Daily Bird: Canvasback

April 3, 2020 — Of all the waterfowl found in North America, perhaps none are more deserving of the title King than the dramatic Canvasback.

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Trail to Earth Day #3: Stay Conservatively Plugged In While Working at Home

April 3, 2020 — With small changes to consume less power, we can be more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and save money.

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Video (1 minute, 30 seconds): “A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight …”

April 2, 2020 — This is the time of year to put your Eastern Bluebird box up (and if you don’t get bluebirds, maybe you’ll get Tree Swallows). Deirdra Wallin and Stefan Martin were back in the field again at Deer Pond Farm recently to talk about it.

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News: Osprey Nation 2019 Season Report

April 2, 2020 — The sixth season of the Osprey Nation citizen science project saw increases in the total number of Osprey nests in Connecticut.

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The Daily Bird: Red-breasted Merganser

April 2, 2020 — The Red-breasted Merganser’s distinguishing characteristics are a long neck, a scarlet bill, and a double crest at the back of the heads of both males and females.

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Trail to Earth Day #2: Make Your Property a Great Place for Birds and Insects — and For Yourself

April 2, 2020 — Landscape for birds. Lots of us can make the property we live on far more sustainable, in lots of ways. Reduce the size of your lawn. Let the clover take over.

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The Daily Bird: Northern Gannet

April 1, 2020 — Some people associate spring migration with songbirds such as warblers or other delightfully petite and colorful passerines but there’s another bird that comes to my mind – the Northern Gannet.

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Trail to Earth Day #1: Hike, Walk — Be Safe But Get Outdoors

April 1, 2020 — Idea number 1: Go for a walk. Governors and health officials are telling us to stay home but they’re also saying it’s fine to go for a safe walk. In fact, they say it might be essential.

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The Trail to Earth Day

March 31, 2020 — The 50th Earth Day is April 22. How are you celebrating or marking the occasion? We have ideas, almost two dozen of them, and we’ll share them, one per day, over the next three weeks.

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The Daily Bird: Palm Warbler

March 31, 2020 — If you wait until May to look for spring warblers in Connecticut, you might miss seeing this gem.

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The Daily Bird: Winter Wren

March 30, 2020 — Winter Wrens can be found throughout the state at this time of year although they are usually hard to find because of their secretive habits. The best place to look is in thick brush near streams.

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Spring 2020: The Daily Bird

We’re revising our large archive of Bird Finder features, bringing them up to date for this spring and re-posting them as our Spring 2020 Bird of the Day. We hope it provides a few moments of enjoyable distraction during this difficult time.

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During these unprecedented times we are grateful to our funders who have graciously supported Connecticut Audubon as we develop online and distance learning programs. These programs have been made possible in part by:

  • The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut
  • John P. Flanagan Foundation
  • NewAlliance Foundation
  • Savings Bank of Manchester Foundation
  • The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven
  • The Nordson Charitable Foundation
  • The Perkin Fund
  • The Scripps Family Fund for Education and the Arts
  • The SpringRiver Private Foundation Trust
  • The Valley Foundation
  • Virginia B. Squiers Foundation
  • The Waterfall Foundation
  • Wakefern
  • ShopRite
  • Garofalo Markets
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