Monday, May 14, 2007

101 birds of 2007

Posted by Kirk
Here we are. Take in a big deep breath. I have passed 100 birds for 2007. I know any serious Birder is thinking right now, "it took you till May to get 100 birds? Slacker." Ya well, I'm new to the whole bird thing and other things like having a sick dog kind of consumes all my time. This sure is a lot earlier than I got 100 birds last year though!

Bird 96 was a brown headed cowbird. Two points to make here. First off, why isn't it called a brown headed bison bird? Second, why does everyone hate this bird? I know people who kill them if they see them. Keep in mind, this isn't an exotic species like a house sparrow. Brown headed cow birds are nest parasitizers. Okay, well redhead ducks parasitize mallard nests. Should we kill the redheads ducks too? The problem is that cow birds are an edge species and humans love creating edge everywhere so we're increasing the cow bird population.

Monday night was the MNA board meeting and we met at Lebanon Hills. The meeting went long and the sun had set by the time we left the building. The fun thing about hanging out with a bunch of naturalists is that everyone is pretty keyed into their surroundings. Within a few steps of leaving the building, one word was on everyone's minds.


We could hear "peents" coming from the foggy netherworld around us. Where was the bird? It seemed to come from all directions. Soon we could hear the chirpy wing beats of the rotund little bird zooming around overhead. As we strained to see it we heard more peenting and realized there were multiple birds out doing the sky dance. I'm going to conservatively say three birds but four is probably safe and I would not be surprised to find more. This is in contrast to my experience out at Warner where I work. When we have woodcocks it tends to be just one. My guess is that in a more rural setting where there is more land, the woodcocks are more likely to back down in response to challenges from other males. There are plenty of other places to go. Closer to the city, the woodcocks are less likely to back down as there are no other suitable sites and thus the makes defend a smaller dancing ground. This is just wild speculation on my part.

We spotted several birds flying overhead and eventually ran into the field in the dark to get a good hiding spot to try to see him on the ground. It was too dark already but one time he did hand very close. We could hear him do his little hiccup inhale before the really loud PEENT!.

On Tuesday May 8th I opened my window at work and heard a familiar call I hadn't heard since last year. What is that? Oh course, the eastern wood pewee. I also heard ovenbirds so I needed to head outside to spot them. I had a few things to check on outside at various times during the day and I took my binoculars which ensured that I never say any birds. I did also hear a wood thrush and a great crested flycatcher.

Thursday, May 10th I finally saw chimney swifts. I had heard them earlier so it was nice to finally spot them. I saw them while eating lunch on the deck at work.

I took Friday, May 11th of from work and I was pretty much homebound taking care of the dog. I did spend some time in the yard and spotted a sole goldfinch on my goldfinch feeder. I put this feeder up in December so it is about time someone found it! Hopefully more will be back. There are also regular house and fox sparrows visiting the yard and chimney swifts flying over the house.

On Saturday I heard my first swamp bandits of the year a.k.a. common yellow throats. As I was with a girl scout troop teaching canoing I couldn't break away to spot the bird. I also heard some sort of vireo and yellow warblers. Ahhh, all this hearing and no seeing make Kirk a grumpy boy.

Sunday, May 13th was Mothers Day and I spotted Barn Swallows in the parking lot of Interlachen Country Club.

Monday May 14th was a wild day. It started off when four of us from work, Me, Julie, Julia and Bekah carpooled. On the overpass from Hwy 36 to 35E northbound some idiot came out of nowhere going way too fast and sideswiped Julie's car. We pulled over, called the police and waited. It took a long time for the hwy patrol to fill out the paperwork and I joked that Julie should have gotten in an accident in better bird habitat. Just after I said that Julia spotted a bird sitting on some long grass in the middle of the cloverleaf interchange. She grabbed her binoculars and sure enough, it was an Eastern kingbird. We all passed the binos around and I realized it was bird number 100 for me for the year. So I guess at least one positive thing came out of a bad situation.

Once at work we set out bird banding. We caught a yellow-bellied flycatcher, a catbird, a ruby-throated hummingbird, a common yellowthroat, and two female American redstarts. We didn't have many nets set and they weren't up long as it was just a training session. I don't count any birds from the nets for my bird count as that seems like cheating. I did, however, see a beautiful scarlet tanager up at the top of the trees behind the building. That's 101 birds. We had to call it early to head home so Julie could go to the doctor to make sure her baby was alright after the accident so we didn't go down to the lake for lunch as planned. I'm sure I would have added a handful more birds. Maybe later in the week. It feels good to be over 100 though!

96 Brown Headed Cowbird
97 American Woodcock
98 Chimney Swift
99 Barn Swallow
100 Eastern Kingbird
101 Scarlet Tanager