Housekeeping

I didn’t have any intentions of updating progress on my 2013 Indiana list, but a walk around Foster Park earlier today with Jaime and Emma The Dog yielded two new year birds: #138 Yellow-Throated Warbler and #139 Philadelphia Vireo. That’s all for that.

What I was really coming here to say today was that I have some housekeeping issues to clarify on this blog. The first is that my life list was incorrectly numbered at 209 birds, when in reality there have actually been 210 on it this whole time. The second is that after consulting eBird, I am going to remove Muscovy Duck from the list (see this post), because even though the birds I saw were unrestrained and breeding, the ducks in Miami have hybridized with domestic birds, leading to an impure breed that isn’t truly wild. So we’re back to 209 species on the life list.

However, further consultation of eBird led me to discover that some other birds that I saw in Miami that I thought were the same as some that I saw in Europe (see this post) are actually different. Apparently, the Common Moorhen lives in Europe, while the Common Gallinule lives in North America. I have seen both, so I am adding Common Gallinule to my life list, bringing the total to 210 again.

Finally, after going through some old pictures from a trip to San Francisco in 2010, I realized that a bird I identified as a Herring Gull is actually a Western Gull.

Western Gull

Western Gull

This Western Gull has a much more robust bill than his Herring cousins, so I can now up the life list to 211 species. This marks the first time that a misidentification that I have later gone on to correct has actually resulted in an increase to my list.

And speaking of lists, the final housekeeping item for this blog (blogkeeping item?) is the addition of two new list pages at the top navigation bar. The pad of paper on the kitchen counter is growing unwieldy, so I am adding our Yard List to this blog. I am also adding a County List page, because apparently that is a cool thing to do, too. There are people who track what is called the “century club,” or seeing 100 birds in every county of a state. If I am playing that game, then I have reached the century mark in 2 of Indiana’s 92 counties. I’ve got a long way to go, but this will help motivate me.

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Bucolic Birds

The google defines “bucolic” as such:

Of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside.

This past week I have had some very bucolic experiences in southwestern Allen County related to birds. July is supposed to be a slow month for birding. But it hasn’t been for me, because I have had the opportunity to get out much more than I did in the previous months. The result is ten new year birds for my Indiana list, three of which are new to the life list as well.

Bucolic

Bucolic

Eagle Marsh yielded some annuals that I missed earlier: #129 Willow Flycatcher, #130 Warbling Vireo, #131 Orchard Oriole, and #132 Marsh Wren.

#129 Willow Flycatcher

#129 Willow Flycatcher

A flooded area along Amber Road on the extreme outskirts of Fort Wayne also provided bountiful shorebirds. Who needs a beach when you have muddy cornfields?

#133 Pectoral Sandpiper

#133 Pectoral Sandpiper

#134 Semipalmated Sandpiper

#134 Semipalmated Sandpiper

#135 Spotted Sandpiper

#135 Spotted Sandpiper

Are sandpipers bucolic? I’ll let you decide. How to tell them apart? Allow me to help. #133 Pectoral Sandpipers are one of the easier shorebirds to pick out, because the streaking on their fronts comes to an abrupt halt in their pectoral region. #134 Semipalmated Sandpipers (lifer) are one of the smallest shorebirds, and unique in that they have black legs (which are barely discernible in the above photo, even with the full-arthropod-seeking-submerged-head shot) and not as reddish as other peeps. #135 Spotted Sandpipers are not spotted in their basic plumage, plus their wings and back are a uniform brownish gray without patterns (compare with Pectorals). Whew. Glad that’s over with.

#136 Dickcissel

#136 Dickcissel

Onward and upward to Arrowhead Prairie, one of the most bucolic places I have ever been, and the location where the bucolic photo at the beginning of this post was taken. #136 Dickcissels abounded there today (lifer). In addition to having one of the more fun bird names to say, Dickcissels have been something of a nemesis bird for me. Usually associated with more westerly locales such as the great plains, Fort Wayne has nonetheless had continuing reports of these small animals this year. I struck out many, many times before finally hitting on some today. I also had some (lifer) Bank Swallows, ending my very productive week at 137 species in the state of Indiana in the year 2013. But why stop here? Here are some other bucolic photos that I got this week of some previously mentioned birdies:

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

Because this is Indiana, after all

I have made fun of Indiana before for having multitudinous open fields. I sure am glad that she has a sense of humor, otherwise this state would not be continuing a yield of superb grassland birds.

#128 Henslow's Sparrow

#128 Henslow’s Sparrow

This, my friends, is a Henslow’s Sparrow. Good for year bird #128 and life bird #207. He was found defending his territory from a tall tower of stalk that rose a majestic two feet higher than the surrounding fescue, chirping his head off for an easy ID and photo. There was quite a lot of chatter on the IN-Bird-L listserve about several of these fellows at a new (for me) place southwest of town called Arrowhead Prairie. So I made the trip today and found one almost instantly. Birding satisfaction.

Cool fact: According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Henslow’s Sparrow was named by John James Audubon for his friend, John Stevens Henslow, who went on to teach one Charles Darwin.

Back from a month off

Sorry for that long delay. In the mean time, I (finally) saw some Cedar Waxwings (#126) flying and zeeeing over my backyard in June. Year bird and yard bird at the same time. Word! Since then, I have seen them all over the place. It only took six months.

Recently, Fort Wayne has been enjoying a spate of several uncommon birds. I went chasing after one today and found it almost immediately perched on a fence at the Fort Wayne International Airport. Behold:

Upland Sandpiper

#127 Upland Sandpiper

Life bird and year bird #127, Upland Sandpiper! Not common in Indiana; more a resident of the open prairie. These guys are extremely early fall migrants, and it is likely that this one is on his way south even though it’s barely July.

Anger

Anger

I also happened upon the world’s angriest Red-Winged Blackbird. It happens.