July 17, 2003

BioHazards and Birding

Officer, I think I may have poisoned somebody. But I'm innocent of intent. Really.

Last week, with company milling about the yard, it wouldn't do to leave that hornets nest under the lip of the front porch. Somehow, it had become reinhabited after a thorough soaking a few weeks earlier (and thanks to Scott Chaffin for his logical observation that the hive still contains growing and maturing baby hornets and the smart thing to do would be to remove the hive immediately after spraying it). I didn't do the smart thing, never got around to scraping the melon-sized hive out from under the porch after emptying a can of Raid into it.

Yesterday evening I walked out the front door and noticed pieces of the hive strewn about the yard. "I see you got brave and scraped that hive away" I told Ann.

"I didn't do it. I thought you had. It was there this morning when I left for work".

Apparently what were pests to us was dinner to somebody else. I hate it that those delicious little hornet larvae were marinated in toxic broth. And some coon (I guess?) is off in our woods in GI distress thinking he needs to pay more attention to his GERDS and lay off the pupae from now on.

Also in Nature Notes:

Tell me if I'm wrong: not one in fifty of you have even heard of an "ovenbird" much less seen one. Suffice it to say they are nice to have around (and especially to hear in the early morning coolness) but they tend to be very secretive, and seeing one is a rarity. And so the other day, having one perch on a branch within six feet of me was amazing. And I was beaming with pride since I had "pssssshed" him in (that's a birder's buzzy call that sometimes stirs up the birds, makes them curious so they pop up to be identified. It doesn't always work, but I have had warblers come so close I thought they were going to perch on my sunglasses!).

What was odd about this was that 1) this ovenbird was not at all shy; 2) it was flitting about 5-10 feet off the ground while ovenbirds spend most of their time on the ground; and 3) this one was bobbing his tail in an uncharacteristic way I had never seen before.

And I stand corrected, while not being too hard on myself. Turns out it is another bird (in the same genus) called the waterthrush... identified in part by it's characteristic tail-bobbing. I later saw my new friend feeding two young over behind the woodpile. I'll have to see if I can follow them to a nest, which will be immensely easier to find than the ovenbird's camouflaged 'igloo' hidden on the ground. My guess is, if there were ovenbirds that close to the house, the darn cat would have already discovered them, and had them over for dinner.

Posted by fred1st at July 17, 2003 05:51 AM | TrackBack
Comments

I love posts like this! I pulled out my copy of Sibley's Guide just so I would know what an Ovenbird looks like.

I can see how you missed your first guess. But for behavior and habitat, the two would almost seem to be twins!

Posted by: ronbailey at July 17, 2003 06:59 AM

I've heard of ovenbirds, but never seen one. Same goes for the waterthrush.

Posted by: bogie at July 17, 2003 07:27 AM

At first I thought that maybe your ovenbird had been dining on your hornet remnants; but, I like the waterthrush ending better. The last ovenbird that I saw was skulking down the creekbank behind our previous abode. Saw a Louisiana waterthrush just a few weeks ago down at a nature center near Arkansas City KS. Either is a good "find" for someone like me. Good birding, Fred!

Posted by: Cop Car at July 17, 2003 07:45 AM

I heard, but didn't see, an ovenbird while I was getting gas in New Hampshire in June on my way to see Beth of Cassandra Pages. It (the bird, not the gas) said "teacher teacher teacher teacher TEACHER." They are indeed skulkers but if you see one it really doesn't mind you being close. I would have stayed to look for it more but I was already late.

We don't have these birds out west except as accidentals and it's been an AGE since I've seen either a northern or a Louisiana waterthrush... nice going!

Posted by: Pica at July 17, 2003 12:22 PM

I've never been lucky enough to see an ovenbird, but I know of them this way: http://www.bartleby.com/119/9.html

Posted by: Cindy at July 17, 2003 06:36 PM

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