Audubonning

In April I joined the board of directors for the local chapter of the Audubon Society. Last Saturday was my first official event: a hike at Foster Park. I was specifically asked to lead it because of my time birding there over the last several years, which was a pretty neat compliment. Foster was chosen because 100 years ago when the park was still being planned, the chapter namesake Charles Stockbridge went to the city of Fort Wayne to advocate that the new park include natural space for wildlife and not just be a big manicured lawn. To gather strength for his argument, he went out in May to count the bird species that could be found along the Saint Mary’s River where the park was to be built. He came up with a list of 44. A century later, my group set out to see if we could meet Mr. Stockbridge’s mark to commemorate his success in influencing one of the city’s keystone parks.

YBCU

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

I chose not to ride my bike only because I woke up kind of late, and it was supposed to storm right around the time the hike ended. Of course that meant that right off the bat we had some pretty great birds, but I won’t complain! A pair of Yellow-billed Cuckoos gave spectacular looks in a single lonely tree next to the baseball fields. It was pretty much consensus that nobody in the group of 12 or so had ever seen more than one cuckoo in the same field of view at the same time. Cool!

RTHU

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

A little while later, my proud trip leader moment occurred. We were hiking along the river, and I was acting as the official tally keeper for the morning. Mostly I was birding by ear and stopping to get people on new species when they first showed up. We had numerous Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and I was only tallying them when I heard them squeak close by. I stopped to watch one of them, though, and was rewarded when it landed on a nest right in front of me. Most of the rest of the group were watching an Indigo Bunting pair, so I directed their attention to this tiny hummingbird abode to much collective joy.

BAOW.JPG

Barred Owl

The hits kept coming as we stumbled into a Barred Owl not five feet off the ground right by the trail. This plus everything else made a great day for the couple of new birders in the group, and we even began waving the attention of other people walking by to get them on the bird, which they did and observed for a long time. Everyone loves owls!

HOWR

House Wren

This House Wren in a nest cavity right next to the owl was way more perturbed by us than the raptor sitting next to it.

WODU.JPG

Wood Ducks

And for the grand finale, Wood Duck babies. 14 in total. We ended the day with 48 species, breaking the century-old mark set by Mr. Stockbridge.

Besides Stockbridge Audubon, earlier this year I was asked to write an article on green birding for the Indianapolis chapter, Amos Butler Audubon Society. The result is on page 7 of their March/April newsletter. Their editor is also a green birder and is amassing quite the green list from the middle of the state.

I have always birded on my own for the most part, so it is strange but a nice change of pace to all of a sudden be immersed in a bigger birding community.

Birding in Exotic Locales

Since I haven’t seen much of note lately, I will share some birds I’ve seen in various travels over the past couple of years.

Red-Masked Parakeet

Red-Masked Parakeet

While in San Francisco in the summer of 2010, I came across one of the more famous established populations of introduced parrots in the United States (there’s a movie about it if you don’t believe me, and yes, Jaime and I have watched it). They call them Cherry-Headed Conures in the movie, but the generally accepted birding name is Red-Masked Parakeet.

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer’s Blackbird

The Brewer’s Blackbird is about as common as the European Starling in San Francisco, but I had never seen one before the trip.

Great Egret

Great Egret

The Great Egret can be found in Indiana, but I got a pretty good photo op of this guy while in San Francisco, too.

Pygmy Nuthatch

Pygmy Nuthatch

I discovered this Pygmy Nuthatch while biking the Front Range of the Rockies in Golden, Colorado in spring of 2010.

Worm-Eating Warbler

Worm-Eating Warbler

This Worm-Eating Warbler was sunning itself on a mountainside in the Shenandoah National Forest in Front Royal, VA when I lived close by in the summer of 2007.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is another Indiana resident, but this one was photographed at my parents’ house in Apex, NC in the spring of 2008.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

And ditto for this Brown Thrasher.