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Recreation

  • This sparrow is getting pretty rare
    One of the elder ornithologists by the name of Ridgeway described the song of the Lark Sparrow in the following manner: "One continued gush of sprightly music, now gay, now melodious and then tender beyond description – the very expression of emotion. At intervals, the singer falters, as if exhausted by exertion and his voice becomes scarcely audible; but suddenly reviving in his joy, it is resumed in all its vigor until he appears to be really overcome by the effort."
  • The Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher: A really rare find in Kentucky
    My current home, which is a small, wooded farm named “Wingspan,” located in the northeast corner of Shelby County, near where Franklin and Henry counties also come together, is a place as near to heaven as one could find. This lovable tract fronts on a road named Catwalk and backs up to an outstanding fishing lake with 6.5 miles of shoreline, named Trailwood.
  • Odd little Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers now carve their lives outside Kentucky
    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.
  • This little bug-lover holes in just about anywhere
    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.
  • This bird likes to dig in and stay if starlings will leave it alone
    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.
  • If you build it, Tree Swallows will come
    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.
  • This little bird likes the wide-open spaces
    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.
  • Look high in the trees to spot this spring singer
    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.
  • This bird takes a walk on the wild side
    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 song you hear may be that of some other bird
    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.”