20 April 2010

Titmouse Pair Visits Shadow Lake, Elmwood Park

During the Sunday bird hike about Elmwood Park on 18 April, the call of a Tufted Titmouse was heard to the south of the Jones Street Bridge at Shadow Lake. There was a vagrant cat lurking, and it had disturbed the birds, enough to cause a commotion.

In looking closer there were two of the titmice to briefly appreciate before they moved further in the woods, and my route was to chase away the unwanted feline predator. It felt safe but eventually ran up to the back of a house neighboring the south side of the park.

This is the first known occurrence of this species for nearly two decades in the park environs, having last been noted some time during 1991 by Clyde Johnson and Emma Johnson, during one of their regular walks.

The other most recent observation was 2 November 1989, also by the Johnsons.

Prior to that, obviously because of the complete dearth of lookers, the only other records are from the early 1930s and prior.

They were: 31 December 1932; on 22 October 1922 when noted by Miles Greenleaf, the celebrated news editor with a great passion for birds; and, during the December 1919 to Feb 1920 period, it had also occurred.

The first notation of its occurrence, and coincidentally, also in mid-April, was 14 April 1918. The sighting was given as the first instance of the species having been noted in Omaha, according to the report issued by Greenleaf.

The Tufted Titmouse had been seen previously in the local area before, in particular in 1900 at Florence, which was north of the river city, as well as Child's Point, northeast of Bellevue, in Sarpy County, and just down river from South Omaha. It had undoubtedly made its way along the Missouri to within the Omaha boundary, especially in the timber along the bluffs, but had not been observed and noted.

In the next few years after its first Omaha occurrence, it was reported again in the hills of Florence, and in December was noted as occurring often at Turner Park, in midtown.

The two titmice seen today were a welcome sight and a wonderful addition to the current bird list for Elmwood Park and Memorial Park!

A short time later during the walk about, an American Coot was seen at Wood Creek Pond, and was the second sighting this month, surprising for a species which prior to the two current records (the other instance was two weeks ago), that had last been seen 24 April, 1996, also by Clyde Johnson and Emma Johnson.

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