By January 11, my birding friend Kathie, who recently relocated to Tucson, AZ, has 102 birds on her list for the month. It's a good thing I'm not into listing big time. Since I've had a cold and sore throat for the last 10 days, I haven't been out of the house much. But the rain stopped, and the sun came out this afternoon. With temps at 64, I couldn't pass up the chance to do a little birding on the Anchorage Trail, which is very popular here in Louisville.
I watch for any kind of animal, not just birds. This little squirrel decided that a bird's nest box makes a dandy place to spend the winter. As soon as he saw me looking, he ducked in to hide. Wonder if he'll give it up when the birds are ready to nest?
I do most of my birding by ear, and heard all the familiar Kentucky birds this afternoon. Bluebirds gave their sad little whistle, Cardinals chipped boldly, and the Kingfisher cackled on the other side of the lake, while Gold Finches called for potato chips as they flitted among the branches. This Song Sparrow serenaded more melodically than the pair of Canada Geese on the lake.
True to their names, the Mute Swans were silent, but very beautiful.
Then I heard a loud keer, keer, keer, from two Red Shouldered Hawks, and took off down the trail in pursuit. I saw a flash of wings, and then lost them. But there was a dark blob in the branches. Quietly I crept forward, binoculars in hand. OMG! It's NOT a hawk in the tree but a BARRED OWL!
On other birding trips here, we saw a Barred Owl peering out of its hole in a tree, but I wasn't the one to locate it. I've never had good luck trying to find owls in the wild on my own. Even the GHO in Arizona was pointed out by the leader of that trip, who knew where it liked to sleep during the day.
But I found this bird all on my own! Whooppee! Here is was, 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, and this Barred Owl was bright eyed and, well, not exactly bushy-tailed, but certainly alert, keeping an eye on the neighborhood while counting on his marvelous camouflage for privacy. Even when he knew I was walking under his tree, he just ignored me. How cool!