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 above 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 been 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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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!