The federally endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker became extinct in Kentucky in approximately 2001.
The accompanying photograph was taken in Pulaski County in Eastern Kentucky, where a few nesting colonies remained alive.
However, because of the severe droughts in the late 1990s, which caused many of the Short-Leaf Pine Trees to die, an infestation of the Southern Pine beetle that further devastated the pine trees, plus probably too much logging in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker had lost its habitat.
The Great Crested Flycatcher is the only flycatcher in the Eastern United States that builds its nest in cavities.
An old woodpecker hole, a natural cavity or a manmade nest box is selected as the home, and it nearly always is decorated with a shed of snakeskin. In fact some call this bird the “Snakeskin Bird.”
It builds that nest in a bulky mass of twigs, leaves, hair, feathers, bark fibers, rope and other trash, constructed anywhere from 3 to 75 feet above the ground.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are known for the pounding cacophony caused by their excavation of cavities in tree trunks.
They pound and dig a 1.75-2.25-inch-wide cavity that this about a foot deep, usually in a large branch or the trunk of a dead tree, but dead snags in health trees also are used.
That’s where they make their homes and raise their broods.
But it’s not as simple as it sounds.
I first encountered this beautiful little bird nesting in the mid-1970s along the northern boundary of Lake Shelby, in abandoned woodpecker cavities.
I was so excited that Tree Swallows were expanding their nesting range southward to include Shelby County and Kentucky.
Then, one spring, I found an unknowing park’s employee chain-sawing down these woodpecker cavities. Whether it was tree branches or tree trunks didn’t seem to matter.
I guess this was being done because they were partially void of sap.
The Horned Lark lives in the open country, never a forest.
As a matter of fact, a clod or stone is favorite perch, and these birds are rarely seen in a shrub or a tree.
This bird may be observed the year around, and it tends to abound in flocks in the winter, again always in open country.
Also drive with caution at night on open country roads whenever snow covers the land, because they will tend to roost at night on the cleared roads.
It’s the Yellow-Throated Warbler’s time of the year around here.
This bird arrives from its wintering grounds in the central to southern United States very early for a warbler species in Kentucky.
In fact, you can start hearing their unique song in late March to early April.
This song is described as teeeew-teeew-teew-tew-tew-tew-twi as it runs down the scale and grows fainter and fainter, ending in an abrupt higher note.
But even if you hear this bird, don’t be surprised if you have trouble finding it in the branches.
As a young boy, I called this bird the upside-down bird, because it moved up and down trees while a woodpecker only moved up.
The White-Breasted Nuthatch actually walks up, down and around tree trunks and limbs.
They are named for their habit of wedging a hard food item, such as a nut, into a bar crevice and hammering or hacking (“hatching”) it with the bill to open it.
A year-around resident, this bird’s presence as a breeding population in a certain forest area is supposed to e a good indicator that the forest is healthy.
The White-Eyed Vireo has a song that has been described very differently by elder ornithologists versus newer bird experts.
The song has been described by some as “whip Tom Kelly” and who are you now?” But, more recently, some have heard it as “pick-up-a-reeeeeeeal-chick.”
Photo by Horace Brown
The Yellow-Crowned Night Heron lives in hideaway places in Kentucky.
The Yellow-Crowned Night Heron winters from Central Florida, the Gulf Coast and lower California, and it arrives in Kentucky in late March.
But you may not see them right away.
This is a very secretive wading bird that is found along secluded streams. It is far from being nocturnal and often seems as active by day as any other heron.
The white crescent on the head behind the beak is a sure-fire identifying mark of the male Blue-Winged Teal, a duck common to the state but not so numerous.
The female is similar to two other species of Teal that inhabit our area, with pale blue shoulder patches that are mostly hidden when swimming but are rather obvious in flight.
They nest sporadically from the Louisville are to the southwestern portion of the state and are here from their wintering grounds around early March and into late April.