Newburyport Birders Update – January & February 2020

Recently, the Red-throated Loons were feeding on crabs at Salisbury Beach State Reservation. Horned Larks are foraging in the wrack line & on grassy strips. Brant are feeding on the grasses at the edge of the water. Snow Geese have been few & far between. Snow Buntings are often seen feeding in the cracks in the pavement. The crespuscular Short-eared Owls are hunting over the salt marshes. At Cashman Park, the Peregrine Falcons are preying on pigeons. Bald Eagles are being reported, & February is the best month to see them along the Mighty Merrimack River.

SEASONAL SIGHTINGS: Observe, Appreciate, Identify

Observe the wintering grebes along our seacoast. Their legs are located far back on their bodies, an adaptation for diving. Grebes are able to feed at 80 feet below the water’s surface. Watch these skillful divers!

Appreciate the Horned Lark. It’s North America’s only lark. Search the dunes, wracklines, stubble fields and open pasture for these winter visitors!

Identify the Long-tailed Duck. This deep-diving, sea duck has a short, stubby bill with a pink band at the tip. The adult male’s central tail feathers may be up to nine inches long and project five inches beyond the outer tail feathers. Its flight style is swift and careening!


We try to design programs that provide unmatched, personal service.
Newburyport Birders serves you pleasantly, professionally and promptly.
Our extra effort ensures that your birding adventures will be of enjoyable, high quality.


Our Gift Certificates are always available for a private tour, our educational programs, birding basics & field study. What a great gift for the budding naturalist or birdwatcher in your family! Contact Sue at


There’s a natural draw to appreciating birds. We’ll customize your tour, complete with one of our highly-skilled guides! Get outside with Newburyport Birders; you’ll observe, appreciate and identify birds. Birding is good for you!
Birding can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve concentration. Take a deep breath of fresh air, listen to the sounds of the birds and appreciate their colors. There are millions of active birdwatchers in the United States who collectively spend more money watching birds than all Americans spend on movie tickets.


This year, Newburyport Birders has increased its offerings of Bald Eagle programs so you can arrange a tour with your family and friends! The Bald Eagle is one of our national symbols. Each winter, Bald Eagles from northern New England move south to the lower Merrimack River which provides perfect, winter habitat for these majestic birds. These spectacular birds soar high over the water and then stoop to secure prey with their sharp talons.


There was an instructive, short article in the New-England-oriented magazine, Bird Observer, in their December 2017 issue. It was about lenses and general cleanliness for optics with a special emphasis on saltwater surroundings. The short piece was by Gail Fisher, a technician with decades of experience in the Swarovski Optik’s repair department.

On New Year’s Day, I always clean my optics. So I follow Gail’s tips below:

  • First, clean the lenses in a standard way, including blowing off particles.
  • Then wipe off the surface with a moist lens-cleaning cloth.
  • What comes next is specifically related to optics and saltwater environments: Rinse the waterproof equipment at the end of the day; use Simple Green, a mild all-purpose cleaner (dilute with water), and a toothbrush to clear away dirt.
  • Be sure to use a soft cloth to dry the surface of the body’s armor.


You can learn more about Bird Observer at this link:


After reading a study in “Environment and Behavior” which concluded that viewing trees, plants, animals and vistas reduces stress, I realize that ideal habitat for stress reduction is so available right here in Newburyport along the Merrimack River. The larger the habitat, the more significant the impact… Those with attention problems can focus more effectively after an outdoor activity, and all students show an increase in cognitive ability when they have access to a natural setting. Time outdoors is healthy!


  • Place the bird into a family ~ a raptor, an owl, a songbird, a shorebird.
  • Study the size, shape and color of the bird ~ make note of the field marks.
  • Focus on the bird’s behavior ~ diving underwater or flicking its tail.
  • Observe the habitat ~ beach, wooded area or marshland.
  • Listen to its call or song.


In 2020, consider subscribing to The Birding Community E-bulletin which is distributed to active and concerned birders, those dedicated to the joys of birding and the protection of birds and their habitats. The issues are sponsored by the producers of superb quality birding binoculars and scopes, Carl Zeiss Sport Optics.

You can access all the past E-bulletins on the National Wildlife Refuge Association (NWRA) website:

The monthly E-bulletin mailing lists subscription page is here: