Birds, Butterflies, and Books

The Midwest has been on the receiving end of some intense precipitation over the last two weeks, and all of my regular birding sites are flooded. So despite my best efforts, the motorless list had been frustratingly stuck at 99 species. But this past weekend on a bicycle trek downtown, I finally secured my century bird in Peregrine Falcon. I did not get a picture of it, so instead I will shamelessly plug the book that I made for baby #2, who is due at the end of July:

Mini Ornithologist

Mini Ornithologist

I made a similar book for Walter when he was born, and several people afterward commented that I should have more printed and sell them. So I made an updated version and am now using my kid to hawk stuff on the internet. I’ve totally got this parenting thing down.

Eastern Comma

Eastern Comma

So anyway, like I said, the birding sites are water-logged. But all that means is I have explored my other nerd thing by taking pictures of butterflies.

Great Spangled Fritillary

Great Spangled Fritillary

Both of the above bugs were seen at the very muddy, very inaccessible Fox Island.

Arrowhead Prairie

Arrowhead Prairie

Things dried out enough for me on Sunday to actually get in the car and do some scouting for a potential epic bike ride to Arrowhead Prairie. I realize this defeats the purpose of doing a motorless list, but I really, really want a Henslow’s Sparrow on mine, because I understand how rage-inducing that would be to some bird bloggers out there. And isn’t the very essence of blogging one-upsmanship and narcissism? Rhetorical question; the answer is “yes.”

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Naturally, when I got there I saw more butterflies.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

And while the grass was not tall enough for Henslow’s Sparrows (yet), I did see the woodpecker that one would expect of wide-open, treeless country. This Northern Flicker provided me with the I Can’t Get Away With Writing A Bird Blog And Not Showing A Single Bird Picture picture.

To summarize: 1.) Buy my book; 2.) I am finally at 100 species on my motorless list (and it is worth noting that my entire life list measured 109 when I started this blog); 3.) my butterfly life list is now at 4 species; and 4.) I am going to do everything in my power to get a Henslow’s Sparrow on my motorless list.

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Urban Birding

Last weekend the sun was shining, the bike was ready, and the motorless list stood at 98 species. So I headed to downtown Fort Wayne in the hope of hitting the century mark before the end of May with two reliable downtown birds: Cliff Swallow and Peregrine Falcon.

Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow

I had no trouble finding the swallows, but my camera was no match for them. Of the dozens of photos that I took, this one ended up being the best. Yikes. Cliff Swallow is a bird that is not reported very often in Allen County, but I know a secret hiding place where they can be found. If not for a river kayak outing last spring, I would not have known about the colony beneath the heavily traveled Harrison Street bridge where they can only be observed from below.

Municipal Architecture

Municipal Architecture

With motorless bird #99 under my belt, I followed the river back toward the city, stopping along the way to admire some outstanding municipal architecture. Is this Gothic building: A.) City Hall, B.) County Courthouse, C.) Cathedral, or D.) University?

Answer: E.) Water Treatment Plant. They don’t build them like this any more.

Peregrine Falcon Habitat

Peregrine Falcon Habitat

A nest of introduced Peregrine Falcons has been very productive for several years in downtown Fort Wayne. I have seen many birds at several times this year, including one doing epic battle with a Turkey Vulture above the streets of the city, but always when I had driven into town (side note: the dogfight ended in a draw, but I would count it as a win for the TUVU who was pulling off some incredible aerobatic maneuvers to avoid the falcon). On this day, PEFA would remain hidden among the rooftops, so my list frustratingly stays at 99.

Lincoln Tower

Lincoln Tower

As it is written in the Constitution, every single Midwest city must boast one marquee pre-WWII Art Deco skyscraper. Fort Wayne’s is the Lincoln Tower, built as national headquarters for Lincoln Bank, and completed one month before the stock market crash leading to the Great Depression.

One Summit Square

One Summit Square

The monolith behind Lincoln Tower is One Summit Square, or if you want to call it by its new name, the Indiana Michigan Power Center (ugh). This building has the claim to fame of being the tallest structure in the city, the 4th tallest in the State (this is Indiana… I’ll take what I can get), and the single greatest murderer of birds in the downtown core. Although I suppose the killings are not intentional, so I guess we can call them manslaughter. Or birdslaughter.

Black-Billed Cuckoo

Black-Billed Cuckoo

It doesn’t matter if you are a Black-Billed Cuckoo…

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Or a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. The shiny glass panes of this building will get you either way. In general, if you are in the genus Coccyzus, stay the hell away. For the record: I have neither of these birds on my life list.

Mad Anthony Wayne

Mad Anthony Wayne

I have nothing as good to offer as some of the fare being blogged about from Arizona or Maine, but I can tell you about my city’s namesake: General “Mad” Anthony Wayne. To appropriately honor him, the city has a statue and an NBA D-League team (2014 champions, baby!).

The Worst Pigeon

The Worst Pigeon

To keep things bird-related as this wraps up, I offer you the world’s worst Rock Pigeon. I have no idea if this thing was sick or incubating eggs, but it was sitting in the doorway of an insurance company in a pile of its own filth. Even though I have yet to crack triple-digits, I am glad that this was not bird #100.

A challenge for my reader(s): Correctly guess bird #100, and your name will live immortally on this blog!