Powderhorn Birdwatch: Anticipation, illusion, a family moment and a few rants

family-best-bet-5-2-MayDay-Parade-1-of-2BY JOHN KARRIGAN

Last month I said that I thought I would have a lot of new birds to write about this month. This has not really happened yet (on April 28 when I am writing this), but I do have some things to write about.
Just after writing my April column, some Bufflehead Ducks and Pied-billed Grebes began to visit the lake. The beautiful Bufflehead Ducks made several visits from the beginning to the middle of April, and the Pied-billed Grebes have continued to visit until now. Both the Grebes and Buffleheads are serious diving birds and spend most of their time either far out in the lake or underwater so they are not real easy to see. The Double-crested Cormorants are serious divers also but they can usually be seen all over or above the lake, and on the island. Some of the Heron groups have returned to the lake with one or two Great Blue Herons, two Black-crowned Night Herons and one Great Egret making fairly regular appearances. I have not seen any Green Herons yet this year, but even when they are there, they can spend a lot of their time in hiding.
The usual Wood Ducks, Mallards, Canada Geese and Ring-billed Gulls seem to be doing fine in and around the lake. This morning, I dreamed I saw baby Canada Geese but I don’t think that will happen for at least a few days.
The turtles seem to be doing fine. I have seen up to a dozen at a time, but so far I have only seen Painted Turtles. And I have still not seen the Muskrats I was hoping for. My other mammal report is one bat by the lake at mid-month. There should soon be a lot more bats and many frogs and toads to fill out the non-bird sightings.
Many of the small birds I expected to see in April have not arrived yet. One bluebird has showed up. I was (and still am) expecting the moderate number that usually show up to breed, etc., and enjoy the northeast area of the park. The Juncos have all left the yards and park to go north as usual. Song Sparrows, in moderate numbers, are around the lake, but I have seen no other sparrows and no warblers, kinglets, wrens or other small birds around the park so far this spring.
Of course I could rant about the Ash trees and other tree loss in the park, which really could have an effect on birds and other things.
Or I could rant about the few trees that have been planted to replace the missing trees. The new trees are all less than two inches in diameter and can be ruined by nasty (usually young) people that occasionally like to damage things in the park.
Or I could rant again about the broken dock, but that has nothing to do with birds, but it might upset some people if 10 or 20 of them fall into the lake on May Day.
Or I could quit ranting and get back to birds—large birds!
A Wild Turkey was reported in and around the east side of the park on April 12. It was reported as heading towards my home, but I never saw it. There must have been a misunderstanding but it will probably find me on its next trip.
I saw a Bald Eagle over the park on April 15. I think it was going to stop, but an American Crow came out of the park to hassle the Eagle and the Eagle left going northeast. Various nice people have mentioned Eagle and Hawk sightings to me. Which brings me to a nice 15th Avenue person (with a nice 15th Avenue dog) who told me about a Hawk nest near the southwest corner of the park, complete with a pair of Cooper’s Hawks.
Now I was going to write a rambling piece (not ranting) about how the people and dogs and cats of 15th Avenue are the nicest and smartest and most observant in the area, which is true, but maybe I will write more of that later. Anyway, with three other people and two dogs, I went looking for and found the Hawk nest, not very far from a tree where a pair of Cooper’s Hawks had a successful nest a couple of years ago. We arrived just before dark yesterday and got to watch the “changing of the guard” for the Cooper’s Hawks. In other words, we saw the Hawks change places on the nest in the egg warming process and the non-15th Avenue people and dogs seemed to be fairly smart for non-15th Avenue people. The Cooper’s Hawks incubate the eggs for 35 to 38 days, but I of course don’t know when they started.
Now for my final large birds segment. On several afternoons, in the last two weeks I have seen some yellow and orange birds with about 20-foot wingspans at the west end of the lake. On closer examination, they have turned out to be Heart of the Beast puppets getting ready for May Day. By the time you read this (if anybody reads it), the May Day celebration will have been completed on a nice Sunday and you will have seen all the birds I mentioned and then some.

Comments and observations are always welcome. Send them to me, in care of Southside Pride. Thank you.

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