Saturday, May 24, 2008

Who Is That Masked Bird?

When I was a kid, The Lone Ranger was one of my favorite TV shows. At the end of each episode, a townsman would scratch his head and ask, "Who was that masked man?" I felt that way birding at the Falls this morning.

The Cedar Waxwings arrived, and chased each other from one end of the park to another as fast as they could fly, and that's saying something! This must have been the grandfather of the flock, content to sit on a branch soaking up the early morning sun. Our mulberry trees are going to be absolutely FULL of berries in 2 or 3 weeks, and I think these Waxwings are scoping out the neighborhood for the best trees to claim as their own.

As I turned up the trail from the river into the Woodland Trail, I heard a "witchety, witchety" call from the trees. The warbler gods smiled on me and led me to a Common Yellowthroat in the brush, the first one I've ever found myself. He too wears a mask. Do you think masked birds have a secret identity? Are they really some other kind of mild mannered bird during the off season?

Other mystery birds don't need masks to hide their identities. They just dress up to look like any of four or five other birds of similar appearance. For example, I followed a bird around at the Cabin for a while, hoping to get a good picture. From the binoculars, it might have been a Phoebe, but there was no tail bobbing. I heard a Peewee from the branches -- maybe that's what it was. It would leap from a branch, flapping in all directions, then return to the branch with a bug. Some kind of flycatcher, I bet. Yes, there are two wingbars, but I'm completely unable to distinguish the Empidonax Flycathers in the Peterson book from each other. It didn't sing, and mostly stayed silhouetted against the background. An Acadian? An Alder Flycatcher? Your guess is as good as mine. I do like the peacefulness of the bird with the water sparkling in the background, even if I'm not certain what it is. Sometimes you have to enjoy and appreciate without knowledge.

Last week I had good pictures of the Red Bellied Woodpecker at the nest hole. His behavior seemed agitated, but I didn't really know why, until today. I looked for him at the nest hole again today, but saw only a starling, sitting quietly, preening its feathers in front of the nest hole. I am afraid that's what caused the Woodpecker's agitation last week. His nest was being raided and destroyed by a Starling.

Two nice people looked at my photos this morning, and I gave them this blog address, but did not give them the correct one. I'm sorry. That's the danger of putting things in your favorites or using software to remember your passwords. You don't remember yourself if you don't have to use it manually. I hope these people can find this blog, or just come back to the Falls again and ask. My husband got some cards printed up after his retirement. Maybe I should do the same.


Kathiesbirds said...

Out here we have the vermilion flycatcher who also wears a mask. Of course, I always think of the Lone Ranger also. I am just catching up on my blogging and comments and noticed you stopped by my blog and left such a nice one. Thank you! Now I am looking for your poems...

Bevson said...

OOOOO. I loved the Lone Ranger too. I drove my mother crazy singing the song. Your photos are amazing. I'll be back. Bev