Bird brained stories!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tap your red shoes together three times and say, "There's no place like home!"

Almost two weeks ago, I unwittingly spotted my 200th North American life bird. Since realizing I'd hit a landmark, I have wanted to try and get photos of the Dickcissel, Mr. #200, or at the very least, get a decent look at one.

This has proven to be difficult. First attempt was a week ago, when I joined another birder in the area to check out some fields where she'd seen some earlier in the week. It was a lovely afternoon, as reported elsewhere, but no Dickcissels for me that day.

A couple days ago, local birders reported seeing some very cooperative birds near a small beach close to the airport. Unfortunately, even yesterday, access to that road was cut off due to the impending Deke Slayton Airfest taking place as I type. Again, no Dickcissels.

People have mentioned that they are in the fields behind the Menards building in Onalaska, so before picking my son up at work last night, I gave that a try. I did hear Dickcissels--at least six--but because of the wind and just plain stubbornness, I'd say, none poked their heads above the grass. One of them had to be no more than six feet in front of me, singing away, but not so much as a wing flutter could I spot.

I'd pretty much decided to let this little goal go, as so often we must do with many things in life. Then....

My son's car has been in the shop, creating the situation neither of us loves, that harking back to when he had his permit and had to depend on Mom or Dad to get anywhere. I was driving him to work this morning, and as I passed a field in the industrial park across the street from us, I heard it. "Dick dick sizzle sizzle!"

After running Mom's Taxi Service for my sons for the afternoon, I gathered up my camera and binocs and walked the shoulder up the road from my house. Echoing off the vacant building, I could clearly hear one singing, but had to look up before I spotted it. Sure enough, a miniature Meadowlark was singing away on the line overlooking this patch of former farmland, still untouched by the corporate interests that have taken over our front porch view. For about an hour I sat on the hillside, watching and listening to at least two male Dickcissels trying establish territory, and noticing a female preening for her suitors.

I have never been happy with the development that has taken place in front of me. We bought this home 24 years ago and enjoyed rural views and a quiet street. In the last ten years, it has become as busy as any street in town, constantly noisy. Where once I could depend on watching Sandhill Cranes in the spring at sunset, reflected in the vernal ponds that would form in the unplowed fields, I now look at a building that was occupied for less time than it's been advertised as "will divide," and a growing number of other industrial sites. To say I'm not pleased with the powers that be would be an understatement. However, for the time being, I will enjoy this little gift in my front yard, hoping for better light and better photos.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Oh, and to ensure that perhaps they and all the other birds I enjoyed in that field can continue, I will write to my county board supervisor and ask that they consider saving some gas and labor costs and avoid mowing down there.


  • Perfection!!!! What a wonderful day!!!
    Great photo of your 200th bird congratulations

    By Blogger Endment, at 5:40 PM  

  • Gwyn,
    I saw my first dickcissels today while birding with the famous Mike McDowell at the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. A magical time, indeed!

    By Blogger Jane Swanson, at 6:43 PM  

  • Great Photo...I am on my 218th bird on my life list...

    By Blogger Jimmy, at 9:31 PM  

  • yay for success!!! :D

    (and boo for "progress". :P)

    By Blogger doris, at 4:37 PM  

  • Amazing photo!

    Some of our best discoveries can be made close to home. Sadly, home is often changed by powers beyond our control.

    By Blogger MojoMan, at 8:00 AM  

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