• 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.”
  • You can see – maybe – this heron soon
    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.
  • This small duck is endangered species
    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.
  • Great egret fought off extinction
    The great egret in Kentucky has state status as an endangered species. During the second half of the 19th century, this species was pushed to the brink of extinction by over hunting for the millinery trade. This action took place during the mating and nesting season when the great egret grew long white plumes, which were long sought after to adorn women’s headwear.
  • This hawk is no red-shouldered ‘stepbird’
    The immatures of the Red-Shoulder Hawk are often misidentified as being Red-Tailed Hawks, unless you look closely with binoculars. But if you are fortunate enough to hear the rowdy, raucous call of the Red-Shouldered Hawk, then the identification comes easily. Its call has been described as a loud, far-carrying scream that sounds like a long drawn out “kee-yar, kee-yar, kee-yar,” a call that the Blue Jay can imitate to perfection.