Henderson Feathers Report 4/30/24

Submitted by Art and Barb Straub,

It was bound to happen. The seasons roll on and for the most part are anticipated and welcome, thus time for bird migration is upon us. At this writing we await local reports of Northern Orioles, Ruby-throated hummingbirds, indigo buntings, white throated sparrows, scarlet tanagers, and eventually Monarch butterflies, the early birds getting the worms. Dean and Judy Hathaway of Rush River Park sent photos of five bluebird eggs with nesting parents. Others with bird houses will soon experience the same if your birds’ boxes are in place.

The ‘dirty bird’ we don’t appreciate arrived on April 18th at bird feeding stations. Perhaps they have their role in the ‘great plan,’ but if we were to eliminate one bird, it’s the adaptable yet parasitic Brown-headed Cowbird. Oh, yes, European starlings appear on our same negative list as the cowbird, but the insidious habit of laying eggs in the nests of docile song birds…mourning doves, house finches, etc., goes against the grain. Believe it or not…we’ve watched the rascals attempting to negotiate a Northern oriole’s tightly woven sack nest! It all comes from the ‘Bison Bird’ riding the backs of buffalo. The wooly mammals were always on the move in ancient times; the cowbirds had no time to build nests, thus laid their eggs in others’ nests leaving the hapless victim mother to hatch and nurture the juveniles. Baby cowbirds grow quickly, then kicks its victim’s kids out of the nest, thus committing a number of actions which we humans consider cruel.

Reports have been forthcoming by numerous birders of white-throated sparrows, large flocks, dropping down upon area lawns, singing their hearts out as they head for ‘O Canada,’ major summer homes. It took us virtual YEARS to track down the nomenclature of that elusive bird, including a trip to Canada of a June day to discover that in that fair country, the local’s term them “Night Birds.” Yes, they sing at night, a beautiful whistle. Have you observed this sparrow-like bird with white throat and yellow near its eyes? If so, it’s a real treat, they’ll be north soon. Try not to confuse them with yellow-rumped warblers which dropped in to visit Polly Snyder’s forest preserve this week. Again, the flight to the north is on.

They did it again! Yes, Joe and Ellie Doherty’s migrating barn swallows returned to the Doherty sheep barn about the same day they have ended their southern trip each year…around April 25th.
Just incredible! Barns housing animals have insects flitting about, providing sustenance plus warmth from the animals…a regular palace in which to build nests for a couple of batches of young per summer. A life of luxury for people who care. (Oh yes, swallows sometimes nest in buildings in which farm machinery is stored, dropping their feces upon farm equipment causing some folks to eliminate the helpful insect- guzzling aviators.

In Spring of 2023, a set of twin white-tailed fawns were born to a docile doe deep in the woods near Pumpkin Hill Road. Due to one of the toughest winters of our times, the little buck fawn didn’t make it, thus the doe doted on the remaining female fawn. Having observed many deer attachments, these two were very close through fall and winter of ’23 and ‘24. Often, the trail camera would catch them smooching, or just nuzzling noses. Lately, the doe has been especially attentive, as by May 15th, new fawns will emerge from her abdomen. Between now and then, mom must ‘lose’ fawn # 1, the yearling. Thus, drivers will find more deer than usual wandering about near highways and byways. Be wary and take special care for your safety at nightfall, please. Finally, the word is out. Morel fungi are still few but present, others may get ‘there’ afore ye!!! Make haste.