Commuting

Pretty much all of my birding in the last two weeks has been done while commuting by bicycle. Here are some things that I saw.

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American Kestrel

An American Kestrel is always sitting on the same wire over a field by my office. The dark smear on the bird’s belly in the photo aboveĀ appears to be blood. It must have been feeling sluggish post-meal, since it was more cooperative than most.

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Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireos are one of the most commonly heard birds on the greenway along the river, but rarely do I actually stop to try and observe them. This one let me get quite close.

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Cliff Swallows

The Harrison Street bridge in downtown Fort Wayne is the only reliable place I know of to get Cliff Swallow, and these birds were motorless #125.

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Colony

Their architecture is pretty impressive. Others who have tried to make their home under this bridge have not been as successful.

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Cedar Waxwing

For a period of about a week, a literal swarm of Cedar Waxwings numbering in the hundreds decimated the ornamental cherry trees of Indian Village Park on either side of the trail. It was a spectacle to behold, and I spent a long time getting to know the flock.

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Cedar Waxwing

Waxwings are my favorite bird, hands down. You can make all kinds of metaphors about their behavior, so choose one. They also look cool.

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Orange Tail Feathers

One individual had orange tail feathers, which is something I have read about but never observed before.

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Bombycillas away!

In case you were wondering, here is what they do with all of that fruit.

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Grassy Domain

My ride traverses a variety of habitat, but it usually produces only the expected things. The exception to that might have beenĀ last week. Two separate weedy fields gave me two separate really good birds that were heard-only. Last Monday, only a mile and a half from downtown, I heard Dickcissel. On Friday I rode past the field pictured above, and there were at least two Grasshopper Sparrows somewhere within. These last birds would have been lifers if I decided to count them, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I did eBird them though, which also felt weird because now I have more birds in eBird than I do on my life list. If you are reading, how do you rectify this situation? Difficult times. Such is the life of a birder.

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The Weather

As I write this, it is snowing again in Indiana. We are only supposed to get six to ten inches though, so it’s really not one of the worst storms we have had so far in 2014. The temperature tomorrow is also supposed to be in the low 20s, which is pretty warm so far for the year. In all, I think I can count three days where the temperature has gotten above freezing since the beginning of January, and I have only birded twice in that time. It’s pretty difficult to have a successful strategic year with stats like those. But I do have some good birds!

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

I was fortunate enough to have my camera with me one day when I found this American Kestrel eating lunch out by the airport. Despite the sheer numbers of these tiny, colorful falcons present in the great corn desert, I have never gotten a photo of one.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

I also had a very good yard bird yesterday. Jaime gets credit for hearing this Barred Owl first, and then I was able to spot it in the Norway Spruce separating our yard from the neighbors’. Walter’s room is decorated with owls, so it was pretty cool to see this one at eye level right outside his window. It stayed for over an hour, calling almost continuously. We have dubbed him Owlbert, and he has given much weight to the theory that the general public is more receptive to owls than other types of birds. Along with the Snowy Owl from December, the picture of this owl garnered intense outpourings of love from my Facebook friends. Meanwhile, I could post a photo of the rarest bird on earth and get two or three likes. Perhaps owls are the gateway drug to get people into birding? I should try and test that.