Powderhorn Birdwatch “The mysterious ways of birds and men”

catbird1BY JOHN KARRIGAN

The weather has not been as odd as many other months lately so I guess I will have to write about something else, like the Miracle of Birth. Oh, I could do that!
On July 2, I saw a moderate sized Painted Turtle laying eggs near the north lakeshore. On at least a couple of other occasions I have seen other people watching the interesting turtle egg-laying process. The eggs are not supposed to hatch for a long time, not till next spring.
On July 3, the homeowner of my domicile noticed an American Robin’s nest in a relatively new and moderately small tree on our boulevard (small compared to the large elm trees that used to dominate the boulevards and city before the Dutch Elm disease wiped out all the elms). Five days later, a good neighbor spotted a baby Robin, way too new to fly, under the tree and told me about it. I quickly looked it over and at first thought it was dead, and then saw that it was breathing. There was no way to put it back in the nest, so I quickly (and carefully) boxed it up, provided openings for air, and took it to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville during rush hour traffic, of course. The baby Robin was doing well and making lots of noise by the time I got there. They said it should do fine. A woman just ahead of me brought in a baby bat from the basement of her very old house, and she knew she had more bats to catch. A few years ago, I brought a young Crow to the WRC that was in the back yard with flying problems. The Center does great work with all kinds of animals (mammals), birds, reptiles, what have you, and I donate to them when I bring something in and at other times.
We also have a very young Downy Woodpecker visiting the yard. You can stand five   feet from him (or her) and watch it climb tree trunks, looking for good bugs. The  regulars in the yard remain    the same: Goldfinches, House Finches, Chickadees, Chipping Sparrows, English Sparrows, Robins, Cardinals, and Mourning Doves, and occasionally, that handsome Hairy Woodpecker.
Now to some larger young. The Cooper’s Hawk youth seem to be doing fine. They are close to full size and are often quite noisy and active near their birth nest, just north of the park building.
I don’t know if it’s the still, very high water, or just the time of year, but the birding around the park is not too exciting lately. The Canada Geese, ducks (Mallard and Wood), and Cormorants are around as usual. The Herons and Egrets are less common than they were in April, May and June, and small birds are less common also. On my last park walk (yesterday, July 28), in addition to the water fowl, I saw one Great Blue Heron, one Chimney Swift, one Song Sparrow and one Chipping Sparrow. And of course one Sea Monster.
Not too far from the great Powderhorn neighborhood, I saw a Tom Turkey waiting to cross Minnehaha Avenue, and a Red Fox crossing 46th Street near the Ford Bridge.
This doesn’t have anything to do with birds, but I have been seeing the Big Dipper quite a lot lately and a few days ago I saw the Space Station go by.
I have been staying at my Highland Park estate lately and see a Catbird fairly often. On rare occasions, I have seen a Catbird at Powderhorn. For some reason, I have always liked Catbirds, ever since I saw one in my Grandma Ras’ back yard. Relatives convinced me there was no cat hiding in her back yard, but there was a Catbird, a Robin-sized gray bird with a black cap, that can and sometimes does make cat-like noises. Before that, I didn’t know many birds except Robins, Sparrows (English), Blackbirds and Ring-necked Pheasants. As time passed, I started to use binoculars, read birding field guides and attend birding festivals. And then I went on to write for the New York Times. Wait a minute, it was my dad that went on to write for the New York Times. I went on to write for Southside Pride.
My Highland Park compound is where deer pass through and stay on the grounds quite often in the winter months. There are no deer now, but there are chipmunks, which I don’t see in Powderhorn. Oh wait, this is not my estate; this is where I am house- and animal-sitting for several weeks. I still live in the magnificent Powderhorn Neighborhood, where we don’t have deer or chipmunks, but we do now have a toad in the yard.
Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of Southside Pride. Thank you.

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