Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

June 26, 2017

My 250th Life Bird

Hello! I'm baaaaaaaaack! The nest season is almost over and it will be the end of my nest blog which I hope many of you checked out. But this is not about that blog, this is about my 250th life bird.

I was sick all through the weekend, actually came down with it Thursday night. Whatever bug hit me, hit me hard and fast. I laid low through the weekend as much as I could. I even turned down helping TWC with a local wildlife situation near our home. I just couldn't move on Saturday.

Sunday when I woke up, I could tell I turned the corner on this illness. I was starting to feel a little better. I didn't want to push it and had every intention to lay low once again. Then the phone rang around noon. Long story short, it was a friend seeking any updates on a rare bird sighting not far from the house. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. When I think of this bird, I think Texas, as that's generally where one could see them reliably in the nesting season. It winters in Mexico and Central America. So ya, this bird is quite a ways from home.

I scoped the internet for my friend, giving him what I could find which was a pretty good location and last time it was seen. He thanked me and off he went.

The thought of this bird being so close to home played heavy on the minds of both myself and Angie. Over the next 2 hours Angie asked me 4 or 5 times if I wanted to go see it. I kept saying "no, I should rest". I was feeling better but my responsible side kept saying "be a good boy, stay home and rest". I worried about an exhausting walk in the field, standing around for who knows how long until the bird popped up... IF it popped up again. There was a thread on social media regarding the bird and people going to see it. Thankfully a few were keeping everyone updated on the sightings.

Angie asked me once again if I wanted to go see it. There was discussion about regret in the following days if I didn't go. She didn't want me to feel that. We don't chase rarities very often but this one was really close to home. I thought about it and this time I said "yes". We were in the truck minutes later and on our way.

A short drive to the park, a short walk to the location from the parking area and we were greeted by a few "bird people" as some call us all. One man quickly pointed out the bird to us. It was way out in the field and I caught a glimpse of it momentarily as it flew from a tree and then disappeared around a small hill. Unfortunately Angie did not see it at this moment.

There were some familiar faces in the small crowd, quick hellos were said and then everyone started walking the trail to hopefully find the bird way over across the field, somewhere behind this hill. No time for socializing when there's a rare bird to be seen. So no offense was taken by anyone for these brief greetings.

As we made our way over, there was a larger crowd already there with a few more familiar faces. The bird seemed to be doing the rounds about this field and people were in various spots, waiting, hoping it would come closer to where they stood on the trail. If there was 50 people there in total, 47 stayed on the trails. The other 3, well, there's always a few. They weren't aggressive, just eager. One woman politely asked one of them to please get out of the field and stand on the trail with everyone else. No arguing back, this person joined the group and that was that.

The bird reappeared. A long distant view for everyone but there it was. This is the scenario that played out over the next 45 or so minutes we were there. We had some great flight displays from this bird. What a tail on this creature! It never came in close for great naked eye views or photo opportunities but that's okay. It was awesome that everyone present enjoyed what was there and not a single person bitched about not getting THE photo.

As we saw more and more of the bird, we all started to relax and actually socialize among each other. Some people there I've not seen in a year or more. I was still feeling alright, not winded like I was a day earlier, and didn't mind catching up. When I'm unwell, I am the epitome of anti-social.

All in all it was a great little outing for Angie and I.

It's always nice to get lifers but even better when we can get these together. It's an even greater memory!

After we got home, Angie opened up the spread sheets with our life lists and added the bird. Little did I know that this was a milestone life bird for me... #250. I might'a celebrated this in the moment if I knew. Oh well, there's always #300, whenever that may come in the next decade or so.

Here are a few photos of the bird. Cheers!  The bird is in every photo except the first one; you may have to open them to full screen to see it though.  Just record shots that help tell the story.

Making our way over, a small crowd already gathered.

First long view of it sitting on a branch far far away.

If I didn't see it fly to this tree, I wouldn't have been able to spot it again.

Now I can really appreciate the tail on this bird.

When everyone is hoping to see the bird from where they stood and waited.

I was laughing at this moment below.

Always happens, look away and the bird does something.

Dude in the hat, please put down your notes and look at the bird passing by you!  LOL!  It's the only thing that comes to mind with this photo.  I'm sure he had many views of it by this time.

Our time there ended on a high note, really getting some great views of the Flycatcher, even as far off as they were.

You can see why they are called "Scissor-tailed Flycatchers".

Here we are the day after, there are a lot of people that have gone down looking for it already but the bird is not being seen. It has probably moved on. I'm still not 100% health wise but I have no regrets.

June 5, 2017

Made a Friend

One morning in late May. I was out in the shed working on some bird houses. It was cold and rainy, and the rain was coming down pretty heavy. The yard was full of birds. There was a lot of European Starlings with their young. Oh those squawky young birds chasing their mommies around for food. Bottomless pits!

I am moving about the shed, hammering some nest boxes together when suddenly I sense I am not alone. I stop, look around and spot this bird sitting there watching me.

I was a little stunned for a moment but then highly amused. My initial "what's wrong here?" disappeared as I watched him watch me, then shake the rain off himself, preen, look at me again, squawk, and repeat.

I finished up what I was doing. The noise and my movements did not bother him in the least.

I talked to him and he looked at me rather curiously. He tilted his head from one side to the other. I asked him where his mommy was. I talked about the crappy weather we were experiencing. And then I lost the fight to not put my hand towards him. I kneeled down and put my finger tips to his toes and as soon as we connected, he stepped on.

I now stood up and he stayed on. I held him to the open double doors, looking out to the yard. He wasn't interested in going back out there. I gabbed away to him a little bit more. I took a couple short videos, a few "cellfies" and then enjoyed a few more minutes with him in total silence. I just watched him. He preened himself on my finger tips and occasionally let out another squawk.

I couldn't resist the "cellfie" as I call these photos.

Looking out at his family and friends.

The morning was moving fast. I had somewhere I needed to be with those bird houses, even with all the rain coming down. I moved him over to the handle of my lawn mower. He stepped down like he knew I needed to go.

I told him he should go see his family now. I told him he couldn't stay in here all day. I gathered up the nest boxes, leaving the shed doors open and started walking up the yard, heading to the truck. I walked backwards so I could see what or if anything was going to happen, preferably returning to his family. And he did just that. He flew out of the shed and to the nearby trees, squawking a few times, and then he disappeared from my sight.

What a wonderful experience this was on such a dismal day. I will remember it for many years to come, that I am sure.

He may have been a young and naive bird but obviously he was pretty darn smart to know where to go to get out of the rain for a while. I can't help but feel a little honoured with what happened. Sure Starlings aren't high on any birder's list and even I get frustrated when they dominate the bird feeders some days. But we connected, our two worlds met for a brief moment, we were just two living souls and not man and bird. That's the best way I can describe it.

I know I grinned through much of my work shift later that day.

I look at all the young Starlings still about the backyards and wonder which one is him.

Perhaps the next rainy morning we have I will open those shed doors once again and see what happens?

I posted one of the videos on my YouTube channel, even as I put my hand out of the shed doors with him still on my fingers, he never left. Video here.

I expect some to frown upon this but he came to me. I didn't coax him with food. I embraced a unique encounter. Sure I did not need to have him on my finger tips like that but obviously the boundaries between us were missing. It was like seeing an old friend. I let go of my frustrations at this bird species for a while. Maybe my story will alter your view of this type of bird as well.