A CASE STUDY REGARDING A PRESUMED BIRD KILLING
Saturday. March 14th. 2020
From the upstairs window, I saw what I thought to be the scattered remains of a decimated avifauna species of some sort. The scene organized itself similarly to what I’d observed previously in other kill sites. The theory was supported by a rise of bird activity due to recent rainfall and myself, the observer, had also seen a small, playful, black cat come to the yard a few times to leap and tussle with insects. The playful cat had not since returned after an initial attempt to crack open a window and introduce myself, but its chosen play site was in close proximity to the alleged kill site. My theory on the cat's disappearance was that it had believed the house to be vacant and was severely humiliated by acting foolishly in a presumed state of privacy. Twenty-four hours had passed since the original observation and so, after returning with corona supplies, I decided I ought to know if the yard contained carrion or not. The site had shifted some, moving in a (southerly) direction towards the water and had also expanded in size. It's possible that there was now a growing number of deaths occurring and might signal an outbreak or a maniacal predator at work. Wearing thick-soled shoes, full-length garments and, spraying vinegar and essential oils into the surrounding air, I inched my way closer to the suspected death zone. Within seconds of my approach, I realized I had imagined everything and it was simply the scene of a magnolia tree losing its petals. My summation: When you think the world is under attack and full of death, take a step forward into the unknown and realize there is always an underlying scene of beauty and very likely, mistaken paranoia. The next case study will be... Why have all the neighbors been continuously mowing their lawns for the past four days??
Thank you for reading and I hope this can provide a momentary lapse in the current tension we are all experiencing // mandog
SPRINGTIME BIRD LIST!
01. A single, solitary Bald Eagle soars overhead from one side of the cove to the other.
02. Huge flocks of nomadic Cedar Waxwings frolic in the yard going from one side to the other, landing in the upper portions of the trees. They have crested heads, distinct masks and upon their wings and tail feathers "waxy," colored tips.
03. A pair of plump, Dark-Eyed Juncos, with smooth, rounded features and a squat bulbous body came chasing each other into the yard. They moved to the Birch tree and made a nice, rolling, chirp sound.
04. The breeding House Finch males display a remarkable breast of rust-colored plumage continuing up to its face and back. They've been very vocal and showy in their courting displays.
05. A single Osprey flies low, scanning the dimly-lit waters of the cove. It has been going too and fro carrying with it each time a single stick for its nest. collecting nesting sticks, to which my neighbor was ultimately forced to knock off its pier.
06. Red-Shouldered Hawks fly in screeching patterns directly above the house and occasionally land on perches that allow them views of both front and back yards.
07. The black and white checkerboard of the Downy Woodpecker enters and climbs the Birch with little to no caution. I've started to identify the tree they are on by the sounds of the wood.
08. Mockingbirds came into the yard and hop from limb to limb of various bushes. Their raspy calls echo out like alerts.
09. The American Crow calls to one another from different trees.
10. Tufted Titmice make diving swoops into the feeder and then exit back to the Birch to peck apart the sunflower seeds.
11. The Carolina Chickadee follows in a similar path to the feeder as the Titmouse, but spends a little more time there.
12. A sounding cacophony of feuding Blue Jays will encompass the upper portions of the Birch tree before flying off together.
13. The Cardinals at this time seem to be keeping to the lower ground.
14-15. Great Blue Herons stalk the shores while Canadian Geese venture all the way up to the house. I must alter my tactics daily to keep them at bay.
16. Mallards in their pairs are occasionally seen coming in when the geese are not present. Which is next to never.
17. Making dashes to and fro along the banks are the Bufflehead Ducks. Seen diving in succession one through six and then popping back up again one at a time.
18. The stark white breast of the diving Common Loon can be seen across great distances. When they go under, be ready to set a stopwatch and make guesses for how long and just where they will again emerge from.
19. The Herring Gull can be seen making an occasional voyage along the cove’s waterway.
20. The Robins would mostly forage in the mulch beds before taking a stroll down the sidewalk to look for worms.
21. While not as common this time of year, the Mourning Dove still makes a lonesome visit to the Birch tree.
22. Brown-headed Nuthatches have come to the Birch tree and initially pecked at its bark before going for the seeds at the feeder. It has a rust-colored helmet that separates in the back atop white cheeks and a pale gray underside. It most certainly likes to hang upside down at all its feeding spots.
23. A Brown Thrasher carries the tune for the day from high up in the Birch tree. It has bright yellow eyes, a mottled chest and brown coloration that goes the full length from its head back to its tail feathers. It can also be seen foraging in the mulch.
24. Visiting pairs of Brown-Headed Cowbirds made stop-offs at the feeder, feeding until they were full. Both a male and a female would occupy the feeder. The Males had a distinct cut off at the neck and iridescent sheen everywhere else. The female had a pale gray, uniformity to its coloration.
25-26. American Vultures sweep above the trees on the opposite side of the cove. Their flight patterns include the occasional 1-2-3 pumps which separate them from the Turkey Vultures that also roam the airways.
27. A Tree Swallow came to the Magnolia tree, calling out to its partner mimicking the same two-tone chirp back. A very fast flyer, it had a stark white underside, with a jet black and iridescent head and back. The Latin name of bicolor speaks to its starkness.
28. I was finally able to identify the Eastern Bluebirds that had been hanging out down near the dock. They have got a bright blue back, finch-like shape and size with chestnut upper and a white belly.
29. An elusive Eastern Towhee made its daring escape from the holly bush during a soaking rainfall. The male shows a distinct tri-color variation, with dark black head segmented by rust-red flanks and a white belly. Similar to a warbler, it has white wing bars, but much longer tail feathers. Is seldom seen more than a foot above the ground.
30. A Chipping Sparrow first left the Leyland Cypress and perched itself on the corner of the rooftop. During a soaking rain, it went beyond to visit the feeder. Distinct rufous cap with dark streaks masking its eyes. Gray chisel like bill and pale gray chest.
31. A White-Throated Sparrow also came out with the rains and sat a close distance to the safety of the holly bush.
32. Taking turns with the other sparrows, a Song Sparrow comes to the feeder.
33. The elusive Yellow-rumped Warbler finally revealed itself enough to allow me to identify it. It had been contained to the holly bush for some time, but after taking a perch atop the birch, I had a clear focus on where its patches of yellow fell amongst the black and white streaked body.
34. Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher came into the Birch tree during evening hours. Moved around from amongst the limbs, but never came to the feeder. Coloration was bright, with distinct white eye-ring.
35. Across the yards, I spotted two Eastern Kingbirds maintaining a defensive perimeter of their territory.
36. Mid-day, an impressive Cooper’s Hawk came to the birch. It poised itself staring intently at the feeder, took a dive, averted its path and returned to the tree antsy in its behavior. It decided to move on and flew to the neighbor's yard out of sight.
37. As I was setting up the GoPro for a rainy day filming session, a lonesome Goldfinch came and sat just before me in the birch tree. It made a pass in the front yard prior, but this close encounter had given me a positive ID.
38. Mistakenly similar to the Anhinga, a young Double-crested Cormorant came and sat upon the floating box. Both of these are seen in Florida, but only the Cormorant makes it this far inland.
39. A turf war between Red-breasted Nuthatches broke out while I was helping a neighbor with his yard.
40. Upon putting up a suet feeder, I was able to more closely identify the Common Grackle from the crows. I believe it consumed the entire suet square overnight.
41. Swooping erratically and maneuvering like fighter pilots, Bank Swallows chase after insects skimming above the surface of the lake.
42. Taking a rest in one of the trees along the shoreline, a magnificent Belted Kingfisher sat with its jagged double crown. It later fly past me with a dangling fish pinned within its enormously large and powerful beak.
43. What my mother and I believe to be a Pine Warbler came to the river birch tree twice within two days time. Its coloration was muted, but certainly held yellow throughout the entirety of its front. The distinct warbler wing bars were there, but when dealing with 20+ yellow coloration birds of this same shape, size and similar markings.. it gets tricky. Best guess: Pine Warbler. Second best: Tennessee Warbler
44. A Red-Bellied Woodpecker made a brief encounter to the suet feeder twice in one week.