Saturday, May 7, 2011

Birding Time

   It is time for our spring bird count. Every year we go out and see what birds are moving thru. And, we are sent a list to fill out and send back to the person that keeps track of all of it (as you can tell I know not much about all that!). So, we grabbed our list, our bird books, our binoculars, and set out this morning.
These don't count!

   But...wait - back up! - yesterday was our first REAL find! Actually I almost mowed over the poor guy. I was just mowing along, minding my own, and whoosh flew out the side of the mower. Or so I thought. Then I got a better look and it looked like I had scared up a female woodcock. It whooshed again into the pasture fence and it looked more like a duck of some kind. As I jumped up on the top of the mower (not a safe thing to do by the way, but I did turn off the blades first), and somehow made it over the pasture fence without breaking something including my fool neck, the whatever it was whooshed again thru the second pasture fence into the north east pasture.
   The sheep, needless to say, were a little freaked out. "What in the world! That crazy mama of ours is jumping fences and chasing ducks that aren't OUR ducks...baaaad woman!". I raced around the corner and into the north east pasture and the whatever was bashing itself against the far fence. So I ran up to it.
   Then I noticed it was grayish, or blackish, or shiny, well it kinda looked pidgeon like. YUCK! But, I reached down and picked it up. Having worked for a nature center and also having volunteered for a wildlife rescue place, I had a general idea of how to grab it. Altho my best lessons were taught to me by my own poultry. I looked down and...

Ahh! What the hell kinda feet are those??!!
Then, the demon eyes...

Okay, this is definitely NOT a pidgeon, or a chicken, or anything else I've ever seen up close. Get the bird book! I like my National Geographic bird book best so we grabbed that and the camera while the whatever was under a crate with a rock on top.

This shy little guy is an American Coot. No...not an old coot like you-know-who uptown, but an American Coot bird. This was a super great siting! I didn't have this on my life list, let alone ever had one on my lap!
Toooo Cooool!
   I was worried it couldn't fly since it had been crashing around so bad, but we took it out toward the prairie and let it go and it flew away. It must've got off track in the wind and rain last night and was resting, or trying to rest until I almost mowed his head off.
   That was the start of our bird count weekend. Today we went birding again thru our woods and saw lots of warblers (I hate warblers cuz they are so hard to figure out), robins by the hundreds, and a couple other good sitings. One, we think, was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. We also counted a couple of red-breasted grosbeaks, sparrows by the dozens, indigo buntings, and some regulars like blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers. Around the house area are lots of starlings (another YUCK from me), more robins, nuthatches, and goldfinches by the dozens.
   Then we took a drive to see some wetland birds. Lesser yellowlegs, another coot, and a couple of Least Sandpipers. I love water birds the most. I could watch them all day. They have such funny and unusual habits. The prairie areas showed us some bluebirds, tons of red-wing blackbirds, kingbirds, and an eastern Meadowlark.
   I'd like to go back out tonight for the owls and more night loving birds. The larger birds we saw included red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and great blue herons. But, one of the best sitings was to see four wild turkeys walking silently thru our woods...two hens, a young jake (male), and an older tom. I am sooo glad we have wild turkeys again and they feel safe in our woods.
   So...if you get a chance this next week - go birding! The migrants are flying thru and there are a lot of cool birds to see right now. Just watch out for the old coots (not the bird kind)!


  1. WOW! An American Coot! And you got to hold it! I've been watching two pairs of hummingbirds, a flighty pair and a calm pair. And the red-shouldered hawks are nesting for the 4th year in the tall pine tree. Also, the Indigo Bunting has appeared for the 3rd year and this time brought a female. I have the usual...Cardinals, Thrashers, Crows, Buzzards. So, see...we are still doing the same thing at the same time. Good birding!

  2. That's incredible how many varieties of birds and how MANY in number you have. It sounds like Wild Kingdom up there!