Monday, June 12, 2006

Mocking Bird Mystery Moves

The Army Corps of Engineers opens and closes the gates in the McAlpine Dam for navigation purposes. You never know from day to day how much water will be coming through at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. Saturday morning, the gates were mostly closed, and the water level was down a lot from the previous Saturday. The lower Fossil Beds were partially exposed, but covered with a layer of mud, drying in the sun.

Our mocking birds like to perch on the lamp post and the top of the Interpretive Center, the two tallest places around. From those spots they can see every other bird in any direction. If I hear some unusual song, it's usually the mocking birds giving a concert and trying to fool me. Usually I don't notice small birds on the fossil beds, but this time I saw some mocking birds and starlings running around on the mud. The mocking birds caught my attention because they seemed to be in a Batman mode. One would walk around, cocking its head to peer at the mud. Then, it would hold out its wings, like Batman holding out his cape, for a few seconds. No flying, jumping around, or wing beating. It just held them open for a while and put them down again. After this action, often it would grab for what I assume was an insect on the ground, then take a few more steps and pull the Batman bit again. Strangest thing I've ever seen! If I were a bug, I'd be terrified to see a mocking bird looking at me, whether his wings were open or not!

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