birds

Goose Mystery

Oct 1, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The source of mysteries is not limited to the likes of Tony Hillerman or P.D. James. Nature also serves up some perplexing whodunits from time to time. On the evening of January 25th, 1983 several people called the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Louisiana where I worked to report unusual snow goose mortality near Jennings. As the regional wildlife disease biologist, I was responsible for looking into the matter.

 

Pied-billed Grebe

Sep 17, 2018
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The degree-toting ornithologists call her pied-billed grebe but in Louisiana she answers to “di-dipper,” or “hell-diver” on a bad day. For her the water’s surface is only an interim point in space and time. That she spends precious few moments there is an aggravation for birdwatchers and boys with BB guns, not to mention the serious predators be they finned, feathered or scaled. Departing the planner ecotone dividing atmosphere and liquid is more graceful if she chooses the denser of the two mediums. The downward dive is faster than the eye can appreciate the choreography.

 

Rain Crows

Sep 4, 2017
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

One definition of the word 'lurk' is to lie in wait in a place of concealment.  Among those birds that spend time along Louisiana bayous, one species in particular can be said to exhibit this behavior as a matter of habit.  Rain crows, often heard but less often seen, are bona fide lurkers as they perch with hunched shoulders that belie a long, graceful neck in a pose that for all the world appears to me an expression of guilt.

Belted Kingfisher

Aug 14, 2017
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

In teaching kids how to fish, one of the first obstacles that must be overcome is what has to be an innate urge to throw rocks and sticks into the water for the sheer joy of it.  Every fisherman knows that such commotions only scare the fish away.  Within the world of birds though, some of the best fishers actually incorporate this behavior into their pedagogy.

Wild Bird Longevity

May 15, 2017
Bryant Olsen / Flickr.com https://tinyurl.com/klyh8za

While cleaning out wood duck boxes in anticipation of the upcoming nesting season, a biologist of Upper Ouachita National Wildlife Refuge recently found a roosting screech owl in one of the boxes. Small owls are often found in the boxes and are occasionally banded during the encounter.

Carolina Wren

Apr 3, 2017
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Though mates for life, for much of the year they sleep on opposite sides of our house in the woods.  One we call the east wren.  This is the male.  The west wren is the female that sometimes roosts above the front door or in a wind chime that she often rings on a dead calm evening seemingly for her own amusement.

Feeding Birds

Dec 26, 2016
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

Nothing can brighten a gray winter day faster than a splash of crimson cardinals or goldfinches gathered at a window side bird feeder.  The popularity of bird feeding continues to grow, and a recent report estimates that 63 million Americans provide food for wild birds, spending more than $2.5 billion on birdseed and feeding supplies each year.

 

Bullbats

Oct 24, 2016
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

The award for the Louisiana bird with the most misleading name should be conferred on the common nighthawk, also known as the bullbat.  No part of these monikers is accurate.  In the first place, they are not common anymore as long-term surveys show their populations in the United States have declined 61 percent between 1966 and 2014.

 

Christmas Bird Count

Dec 28, 2015
Ouchley
K. Ouchley

On Christmas Day 1900, twenty-seven conservationists in New York decided to protest a traditional holiday bird shoot in which teams competed to see who could kill the most birds and other animals in one day.  Instead of shooting the birds, the protesters counted them and unknowingly established an event that has become known as the National Audubon Christmas Bird Count.