30 June 2013

June Birdlife of East Omaha Park Places

Numerous bicycle outings were made during June to survey breeding season birds at several parks in eastern Omaha. Each area was especially visited during a five day period in mid-June. The locales of interest were:

  • Carter Lake District: four visits and 64 species, with the place continuing the provide unexpected occurrences (there were three surveys in 2011 and four in 2012 with 75 species overall);
  • Fontenelle Park: three visits, and 26 species;
  • Adams Park District: one visit and 21 species, with the last June visits in 2003, and which included the wooded property parcels west of the park property;
  • Mercer District (including Walnut Hill Reservoir, Carolyn Mercer Park and Bemis Park where a couple of June visits last occurred in 2003): one visit and six species for these parks which have very little habitat diversity for birdlife;
  • Gifford Park: one visit and 14 species and it was the first June visit;
  • Memorial Park: 22 species during one survey visits, and with occasional notes for other dates, especially along Happy Hollow Creek;
  • Elmwood Park: one visit and 23 species
  • Hanscom Park: one visit and 14 species; and
  • Spring Lake Park: one visit and 27 species (the last June visits here to do a bird survey were in 2003).

This is an overall tally of the species, with the values given representing the total number counted.

Common Name Carter Lake District Fontenelle Park District Adams Park District Mercer District Gifford Park District Memorial Park District Elmwood Park District Hanscom District Spring Lake Park District
Snow Goose 18 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Canada Goose 141 2 296 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Wood Duck 171 3 114 3 - - - - - - 57 22 - - 1
Gadwall 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mallard 198 4 5 - - - - - - 19 - - - - - -
Blue-winged Teal 24 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Blue-winged Teal x Green-winged Teal 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Redhead 1 5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Lesser Scaup 5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Ruddy Duck 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Wild Turkey 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2
Common Loon 2 6 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Pied-billed Grebe 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Great Blue Heron 8 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Green Heron 5 2 7 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Turkey Vulture 2 - - - - - - - - - - 2 - - - -
Cooper's Hawk 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
American Kestrel 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Killdeer 39 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Spotted Sandpiper 2 8 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Least Sandpiper 3 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Black Tern 54 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Rock Pigeon - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - 5
Eurasian Collared-Dove 4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Mourning Dove 74 10 - - - - 3 3 5 6 1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Barred Owl - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - -
Chimney Swift 38 8 2 4 3 8 - - 4 4
Belted Kingfisher 4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Red-headed Woodpecker 15 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Red-bellied Woodpecker - - - - - - - - - - 1 1 - - 2
Downy Woodpecker 6 - - 1 - - 1 1 1 - - 2
Hairy Woodpecker 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3
Northern Flicker 13 2 - - - - - - - - 3 - - 1
Eastern Wood-Pewee - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - 1
Alder Flycatcher - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Willow Flycatcher - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Least Flycatcher 5 1 - - 1 - - - - - - - - - -
Eastern Phoebe - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1
Great Crested Flycatcher - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 1
Western Kingbird 13 5 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Eastern Kingbird 26 1 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Warbling Vireo 21 3 - - - - - - 1 - - - - - -
Red-eyed Vireo 2 - - 1 - - - - 4 2 1 4
Blue Jay 3 - - 1 - - 1 - - 3 2 2
American Crow - - - - - - 1 - - 3 - - - - 6
Purple Martin 66 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Tree Swallow 25 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 30 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Bank Swallow 30 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cliff Swallow 35 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Barn Swallow 150 36 2 - - 2 1 1 1 - -
Black-capped Chickadee 18 7 2 3 3 3 5 2 7
White-breasted Nuthatch 2 1 - - - - - - - - 2 8 4
Carolina Wren - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 - - 3
House Wren 14 1 3 - - - - 2 2 1 6
American Robin 256 166 12 3 6 29 41 14 5
Gray Catbird 26 - - 3 - - - - 2 3 - - 2
Brown Thrasher 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
European Starling 163 41 3 1 16 11 9 8 3
Cedar Waxwing 3 - - 1 - - - - 6 - - - - - -
Yellow Warbler 17 4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
American Redstart - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - - - -
Common Yellowthroat 4 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Chipping Sparrow 11 8 2 - - 1 4 2 1 - -
Northern Cardinal 15 5 6 - - 1 6 7 2 7
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Indigo Bunting - - - - 2 - - - - - - - - - - 2
Dickcissel 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Red-winged Blackbird 74 15 18 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Common Grackle 368 47 1 1 14 44 42 31 11
Brown-headed Cowbird 16 - - - - - - 1 3 - - - - - -
Orchard Oriole 10 1 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
Baltimore Oriole 40 4 2 - - 2 - - 2 - - 1
House Finch 3 12 - - - - 2 12 6 - - - -
American Goldfinch 13 5 5 - - - - 4 1 - - 2
House Sparrow 5 13 - - - - 2 1 19 4 5

1: Group of ten surprisingly noted at the end of June at the north side of the lake, with both blue and white phase birds present
2, 3, 4: numerous young noted
5: drake noted at the end of the month
6: pair noted by Bird Isle at the end of the month
7: nesting at the end of the month on the lagoon island; one bird was sitting at a partial nest while the other one was looking for suitable twigs
8: the shorebirds left once the beach area disappeared due to ongoing pumping to raise water levels; pumping has been nonstop since mid-March

The greater the number of surveys, the better the local avifauna can be known. For example, at the end of the month survey in June 2012 there were 35 species noted at the habitats about Carter Lake. This year, at the end of the month survey, the tally was 42, and would have been greater if the usually seen White-breasted Nuthatch and expressive Blue Jay would have indicated its presence. Surprising this year during the month, especially in the latter part of the period being considered, were the several Snow Goose, a single Redhead, three Wild turkey and the wonderfully seen pair of Common Loon. Additional new records for the date were a Cooper's Hawk being chased away from the airport grounds by a bunch of Common Grackle, and a solitary, silent American Kestrel sitting atop a snag in the north part of the park, which is now oficially open to the public.

It was a good month for surveys, with moderate temperatures and suitable mornings with low wind speeds, and some sunny skies. The mid-June effort turned out especially nice, as it provides a solid perspective for each park amidst the breeding season. Not that it essentially matters, but the facts are important.

Next month will provide additional perspectives, and what the birds convey depends on one essential fact: if you don't go, you don't know!

Barred Owl at South Grove, Elmwood Park.

Western Kingbird nest at Levi Carter Park.

American Robin attending nest with young at Levi Carter Park.

A few of the snow geese at Carter Lake at the end of June, 2013. There were 2-3 earlier in the month, but it was certainly a surprise to see this number. It isn't the best picture in the world, but it works for documentary purposes!

Trumpeter Swan History from Carter Lake

On February 23, 2003 two Trumpeter Swans with neck bands were seen on the south side of Carter Lake, which would be the Carter Lake, Pottawattamie County, Iowa portion of the oxbow lake of the Missouri River.

The markings on the red neck bands were J50 and J84.

Once these details were obvious, an email was sent to Dave Hoffman, a wildlife technician with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. He provided the following details which indicated that at least two of the five swans present were from Iowa.

J50 was 2000 hatch year male from Beemer's pond (five miles west of Webster City, Iowa). He was released at Crawford Creek (Ida Co.), three miles south of Battle Creek, (Ida county, Iowa) on May 18, 2001.

This bird had also been previously seen January 27, 2002 at County Highway A and 144th St. five miles west of Kearney (Clay county), Missouri.

J84 was a 2000 hatch year female from Rick Stickle's (Kirkwood Community College) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She was released at Princeton WMA, two miles north of Princeton (Scott county), Iowa on April 11, 2001.

These details suggest that when Trumpeter Swans occurred in early-January through early-March in 2013, the birds may have been from places in Iowa.

In 1995 the Iowa Department of Natural Resources initiated a trumpeter swan restoration project in the state with the release of ten trumpeters near Spirit Lake in northwest Iowa, Hoffman said.

These records from my bird archive indicate the effort was an obvious success a decade ago, and appreciated on the west side of the Missouri River. Then and now!

29 June 2013

Proposed Niobrara Wildlife Area a Unique Bird Haven

A property being considered for a forestry and wildlife management area in Cherry County is a known haven for a great many birds.

This is a list of the twenty-one dates when bird surveys were done on the property, with the owner's permission. Several times, especially early in the summer, she was also present, doing her best to keep the bird feeders full. The setting changed from the first years here with new ownership at the time, ca. 2004, to the contemporary setting. Public funding through a grant was used to fence the area. There is now a trailer, a ready source of water via a developed pump and electricity via a buried powerline. These are modern accoutrements in this area of the Niobrara River valley, especially for what is essentially a nature reserve, with a designed name of Circle J Reserve. The J represents people involved with the place, and a circle to indicate that they came together to make it happen and understand the avifauna of this area of the Niobrara valley, south of Nenzel.

Niobrara River at the Circle J Reserve; May 31, 2010.

My first visit here was in February 2004, based upon an email from a UNL professor of ornithology suggesting a sort of business endeavor to do bird surveys for someone on their newly acquired property. The reality of that situation was soon realized to be not be a bona fide financial proposal.

Since there was a nice variety of birds present, the site was attractive for that particular reason. That first day of boots on the ground, the most exciting thing heard was the song of a Marsh Wren in the terrace wetland nourished by flows from a groundwater spring. Then to add to the excitement, a Wilson's Snipe was also present. Also at the place, were Red Crossbills flying southward from the upland pines and across the running water. During the winter of 2004-2005, a Virginia Rail was a resident. The occurrence here led to further searching and notable discoveries of a similar sort, elsewhere during the winter weeks along the central Niobrara River valley.

Especially because of the wintering species, the place piqued my interest, and so subsequent visits occurred. This is the tally of dates when the place was hiked and the number of bird species noted. Most of the twenty surveys were on the north side of the river.

02/27/2004: 16
03/09/2004: 11
03/17/2004: 20
03/18/2004: 6
04/06/2004: 26
04/20/2004: 30
06/06/2004: 48 species representing breeding season birds
06/15/2004: 54 species representing breeding season birds
10/12/2004: 23
11/16/2004: 10
11/17/2004: 22
12/15/2004: 6
12/16/2004: 21

02/18/2005: 12
10/23/2005: 8
01/11/2006: 8
06/10/2006: 35
06/22/2006: 38
05/31/2010: 37
09/27/2011: 21 species

Additional details would further denote the variety of species present in this site's habitats's along the Niobrara River. These sorts of information would further indicate the value of the valley habitats for wild birds in a region where there are few details of the avifauna. Prominently missing is a focus on bird hybridization, in a valley where it is well known to occur, based upon studies in decades past by prominent scientists.

This property of about 460 acres is a great option for a new public wildlife and forestry management area. It has a nice habitat diversity, including that distinctive meadow on the north side of the river, and a tangly swamp on the south side.

What will happen with the recreational trailer and its wooden shelter, the recently rebuilt garage across the county road, isn't known? The owner of the property was not disclosed by the newspaper report in later June. Apparently there was also a public hearing in Valentine, but its date and time are unknown as details could not be found online.

Based upon a few hundred records of distinction, this is a list of species observed at this area.

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Common Merganser
Ring-necked Pheasant
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Wild Turkey
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
Virginia Rail
Sandhill Crane; aerial migrant
Spotted Sandpiper
Upland Sandpiper
Long-billed Curlew; on the nearby upland
Wilson's Snipe
Mourning Dove
Black-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Great Horned Owl
Long-eared Owl
Common Nighthawk
Belted Kingfisher
Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Western Wood-Pewee
Alder Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Western Kingbird
Eastern Kingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Bell's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Horned Lark
Tree Swallow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow

Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Winter Wren; among the aquatic habitats provided by springwater seeps
Marsh Wren; an iconic winter occurrence
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
Townsend's Solitaire
American Robin
Brown Thrasher
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
American Redstart
Common Yellowthroat
Yellow-breasted Chat
Spotted Towhee
American Tree Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Lark Sparrow
Lark Bunting
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal; a far-western occurrence
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
House Finch
Red Crossbill
American Goldfinch

There are additional subtle details of significance for the birds, the particulars expressed by the actual records, though the specifics are not publicly available. Also pertinent to the history of this place, the owner did research on the Yellow-breasted Chat, and received a PhD degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

What the future would involve under public ownership, is unknown. There are some advantages, and some uncertainties. At least the site would always be accessible. The addition of hunting would be an unwelcome seasonal intrusion. The property will be subject to greater disturbance, possibly more trash. Someone may decide a camp and want to have a campfire, which will mean cut trees and a mess left behind.

It is very unlikely that the current place name will be continued. Two public meetings in July - The Nebraska Environmental Trust and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission - are scheduled when decisions will be made regarding the acquisition of this site.

Parcels of the proposed wildlife area in Cherry County, along the Niobrara River.

New York Game Man and His Fowl Fortune

Anonymous. September 19, 1867. A game man. How a fowl fortune was made. Memphis Daily Appeal 17(351): 2. From the New York Gazette.

One of the places in this city where the people, en masse, surge and tide through is Fulton market, and in the midst of that labyrinthian maze of stalls, stands and tables, the famous Mr. A. Robbins keeps a chicken stall. It is a very easy matter to find his place of business — direct your steps towards the center of the market, stumble over a mass of unsavory pickle tubs, pass by a sound as of scraping tripe, mediate between long rows of fresh slaughtered sheep and calves, turn a corner by some golden cheeses as large as the new moon, smell the aroma of the country and the spring time in the rolls of yellow butter at your left hand, and, the moment any game comes in sight, ask for Mr. Robbins, and, although he deals in robins, yet out of pity, or for some other reason, he calls them pigeons.

Mr. Robbins is a much younger looking man than one expects to find, when he has been told that he has made a couple million dollars selling chickens! He is the famous chicken millionaire, and though so very rich he attends to his own business. He has been in the poultry business thirty-five years, thirty-one of which have been beneath the lucky roof of Fulton market. His stall is not a large one, and yet he sells upon an average 2000 chickens a day the year through, which would equal 730,000 a year. His business amounts to several hundred thousand dollars a year. There is a very cosy little office in one corner of his stall, ornamented with full length portraits of some of the wild game in which he deals, which literally is not large enough to swing a cat in. On the marble-topped counters of Mr. Robbins' chicken arrangement may be found ducks, geese, turkeys, English snipe, woodcocks, prairie hens, English pheasants, black grouse, wild pigeons, venison, roasting pigs, sweet breads, etc. Everything which has wings, that man is fond of eating, can here be found, with from twelve to twenty men to wait on customers, and attend to the business. Besides supplying he public, he has orders for hotels, ships, restaurants, etc., and is in fact the largest chicken dealer in the United States.

All parts of the country are laid under contribution to supply his stalls with game. Partridges come Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Long Island and the west; the best canvasbacks come from Havre de Grace, Sandusky, Ohio, and Mississippi; the mallard ducks and wood ducks — the only ducks that light on trees — are caught at the great lakes while the black ducks and broad bills come from the sea shore. In winter the canvas-back ducks are the favorite game with the people; just now woodcocks, chickens, and partridges are the best and most popular.

Bridget is not always sent to market to do the buying for the family. Many American ladies attend to their own household duties. Mrs. H.W. Beecher can often be seen in Fulton market, with her basket upon her arm, purchasing chickens and wild geese of Mr. Robbins, the face of Mrs. G.S. Robbins, who took so prominent a part in the soldier's hospital during the war, is another of those familiar to the denizens of Fulton market.

Although Mr. Robbins has accumulated such a vast fortune that we might suppose he could afford to retire, yet he prefers, and does, personally attend to his own business. He has an elegant brown stone residence on Rem_an street in Brooklyn, which is valued at $150,000, and the furniture inside of it is said to have cost a fabulous sum. Going up a broad flight of stone steps, you pass between an arched doorway into a vestibule where some elaborately carved marble vases, standing almost as high as your head, attract attention. The halls and drawing rooms of the house are large and lofty, beautifully carved overhead in panels, and frescoed. Mr. Robbins does not stop to take his breakfast at home, but leaves his home for the market every morning between the hours of four and five o'clock. Some of his men get there as early as two o'clock. He is an expert salesman, and can pick out a chicken "to a dot" let you call for whatever size you will. In personal appearance he is a medium sized man, rather stoutly built, with a full face and black hair, slightly sprinkled with silver. He has deep hazel eyes and wears black chin whiskers. He leaves the market at 12 o'clock, and the rest of the day enjoys life, riding out with his family or a few friends. He makes the most of each day as it passes, and leaves the morrow to care for itself.

The Preacher, or Red-eyed Vireo

Wilson Flagg in Boston Transcript. June 9, 1882. St. Johnsbury Caledonian 45(2341): 4.

There are no birds in our forest more nimble in their motions, more graceful in the form and plumage, or more interesting in their ways, than the vireos. They seem to occupy an intermediate space between the sylvias and the flycatchers, but resemble the sylvias in their methods of foraging. Only two of the genus are common in Massachusetts, and these two are the most interesting of all. The subject of my present sketch in the red-eyed vireo. It is amusing to watch the bird as if creeps adroitly over the branches, carefully examining the under side of every leaf, and seizing the insects with an unfailing precision. This is the method of the sylvias; the flycatchers take all their prey while it is on the wing.

The red-eyed vireos were formerly very numerous in our cities and towns, making their homes in the tall elms, maples and ash trees that skirt he roadsides and shade public and private grounds. At any time of the day, from May till September, we might hear as we passed along the road one or more of them warbling among the lofty branches while diligently collecting their insect food. Parties occupying the seats under the trees on the Common in Boston on pleasant summer noons, would listen with delight to their cheerful notes, delivered without any long intermissions, from morning till night; and it was not often they obtain a glimpse of the seemingly invisible songster.

But we seldom hear one these days, except in the borders of woods. Since the English sparrows were introduced, and have multiplied to such prodigious excess, the vireos have disappeared — not that the sparrows have driven them away, but that the vireos refuse to associate with them, or to remain in a neighborhood where they exist. Neither are they snobs; for a snob, in selecting his associates, thinks only of "consideration." They have done as we should do if we were invaded by a colony of Yahoos outnumbering our own people. If we could not destroy them, we should quit the region they had invaded. The vireo does not believe in the equality of races, probably because he has never read Dr. Pritchard.

I will confess therefore, that I feel a singular respect for the vireos, on account of the regard he shows for his own offspring by fleeing his country rather than to allow them to be reared in the company of an inferior race. Consider for a moment the grievance of the vireos, melodious songsters, haunted forever by the presence of a host of yapping, jabbering and quarreling birds beneath their orchestra, like a "Callithumpian band of antiques and horribles," serenading outside at a private concert. Birds that never utter a musical note are assembled under the green trees, where the vireos have made their abode for centuries, and drown their music by a seeming mockery.

Let us not be surprised, therefore, at the disappearance of these beautiful birds, and of many others equally beautiful and interesting, who instead of minding Wendell Phillips, have chosen to follow the example of the vireos. A bird's song is designed by nature as a charming reminder to the female of the presence of her mate, and as a means by which she might determine his whereabouts when seeking his company. I can easily imagine, therefore, that singing birds would be unable to endure in their resorts any continual noises that entirely overwhelm their song. They are delighted, like human beings, with the signs of life and gladness, and they sing more loudly and cheerfully when they hear other songsters about them and other agreeable sounds. But ought we to expect their aerial choirs, that warble in praise of the gentle mother of dews and flowers, would consent to remain in their chosen sylvan haunt, after its conditions were so changed that their voices were obliterated like the sound of a shepherd's pipe in the midst of a rattling hailstorm!

There is another important view to be taken of their sad case. The red-eyed vireo is a religious bird and a preacher. Listen to him a few moments are any time, and you will be convinced that he is talking. He says a few words, then pauses as if to deliberate or to watch their effect on his hearers, then utters a few more, stops to capture an insect, speaks two or three more words, and continues talking in this way, often an hour or half a day. He is no declaimer; he is not voluble like the bobolink, and never delivers a song that might not be measured by three syllables. Nuttall, who speaks of it as a flood of gushing melody poured forth in a rapid stream for several seconds, described the song of the purple finch mistaking it for that of the vireo. Ornithologists are very correct, undoubtedly, when they describe a bird's toes and talons; but they commit many egregious blunders when describing its notes. Even Samuels, who is seldom incorrect in his notations of bird songs, has copied Nuttall's error.

The red-eyed vireo, I repeat, is a preacher. He is constantly talking to his feathered disciples, and warning them to "flee from the wrath to come." His song is a true rhythmic sermon, promulgating the tenets of the genuine Orthodox faith, delivered at all hours of the day and in all days of the week. Taking a hint from the apostle's advice to "pray without ceasing," he preaches continually, delivering his exhortations while diligently picking up his subsistence, and rebuking by his example those economical Christians who spend the whole week hoarding up piety enough to last them during the Sabbath.

Along the hamlet's shady street
Where overarching elm trees meet
And interlace their slender boughs, —
Solemn and earnest is the preacher.
All the live long day a teacher.
Waking sinners from their drowse
His surpl___ is of olive green
Beneath a vest of white is seen
His pauses oft, his word are slow
But listen, as you stand below —
My brethren — ye sinners, —
O hear me — O turn ye —
Repent ye — my hearers,
Repent ye — you'll catch it!
He has no special congregation
Nor has received inauguration
He speaks from all arboreal heights;
Proceeds with cautious eloquence.
And seems to pause and weigh the sense
His words to music he recites
That all where reason cannot win
By music may be saved from sin.
Like Moody, working many a miracle
In saving souls by methods lyrical.
My hearers — except ye, —
My brethren — ye sinners —
O turn ye — repent ye —
Repent ye — you'll catch it! —
While preaching this from sun to sun
His earnest work is never done,
He labors every shining hour —
Like our expositors of creeds
Still mindful of his worldly needs.
He sips the dewdrop from the flower;
And, like a Baptist elder reaching
To take a watch to mend while preaching
Exhorting takes a caterpillar,
Or swallows an incautious miller.
Ye sinners — O turn ye —
O turn ye — why will ye —
Why will ye — O sinners —
Except ye, — you'll catch it!

Care for Memphis Birds

Snow Feather. June 18, 1873. Care for the birds. Memphis Daily Appeal 33(170): 4.
Now, birdie fly fast through the day
To your sweet mate, e'er night is nigh
And when the sun shines over the lea
Come change your home and live with me.

Editors Appeal — Harper and other editors tell us Cincinnati has imported from Germany, and turned loose in her suburbs, fifteen hundred song-birds of different varieties. I wish we could truly report less than that number had fallen a prey to the merciless shot-guns of wanton boys in the neighborhood of Memphis, during the past two seasons almost at our door-steps. Any interference with, or protestation against such cruel sport, being met with jeers of angry words of defiance. Not only little boys but youths, and even a few grown up men, armed and equipped, with trained setter walking demurely along, looking as though heartily ashamed of "Othello's occupation," come into the immediate outskirts of town to try their skill in bringing down any bird they chance to meet. Cincinnati opens her purse, sends "over the land and over the sea" for these tiny warblers to make home beautiful; but woe to the little feathered innocents here — they are not spared, even in the springtime, when "I love and I love" is the subject-theme of their song. If an appreciation and proper valuation of all things beautiful denote the highest tone of culture and refinement, shall not our city fall behind our western sister in the one instance? We do not need to bring birds from other lands to enhance the charms of our surroundings, in themselves so lovely. We have only to note and care for the many beautiful, bright ones we have. Little "western blue-birds," sparrows and wrens bring their sweet notes and build house under our eaves. Red birds, gold orioles, gaily flash their bright wings in the sunlight. Partridges whirr by through the evening air, and their flute-like whistle rings out clear and sweet. Larks with heart-hymes to the bright sphere above, and the low, mellow "voice of the turtle melts into sorrow" which must needs die of its own sweet singing, while "love lingers list'ning near." All the livelong day mocking-birds charm and cheer; and when the lady moon "tips with silver all the fruit-tree tops," through the mystic shadow and sheen the voice of song floats out still, so thrilling in its pathos it would seem no illusion that the rose-queen opens her glowing heart to the love of the nightingale. Two or three varieties of finches, ruby-throated humming-birds, shy plovers, brown-breasted thrushes, butcher birds, graceful, gliding rain-crows, and numbers of birds besides these, are all our very own, with fit homes too, in the ever charming and varied scenes around Memphis. Green commons, sloping hills, lonely old forest trees, fruit-laden orchards, smiling gardens and flowers, whose perfection challenge all fastidiousness. The spirit of beauty in no other inanimated embodiment, so touches the heart — we all love flowers — and the birds we must care for, it we love them too. How does it happen that the Appeal, with all its vigilance, anxiety, tenderness, and wisdom, in guarding, investigating, cherishing, and directing the public good in objects great and small, seeming equal to any, and all emergencies, persists in the oversight of the bird? Play council and influence our boy-sportsmen and thoughtless youth to nobler, more manly sports, and save our beautiful birds.

Hunting Wild Geese With Oxen

Anonymous. March 20, 1880. Ottawa Free Trader 40(31): 7.

Shooting wild geese was, in the early days of California, an important industry with those men who hunted for the market, and was very attractive to the few amateurs that indulged in the sport. In those days goose shooting was a profitable business for the hunter, and it was no uncommon thing for a skillful one to make from $100 to $150 a day, even when he obtained but for or five double shots. The system pursued by the market hunters in shooting the geese was as follows: A docile ox was generally selected by the hunter for his attendant. Then the geese were sought on the large open plains, where they fed all through the day, going to water morning and evening. The hunter marked a flock a half or three-quarters a mile away, and then put his ox in motion, allowing him to feed as he went along, in order to make the geese remain unconscious of the lurking figure that moved behind the ox's body. Old goose-hunters affirm that those oxen seem to take a delight in assisting the shooter to work up to his game. They would approach the geese in an indirect way, never going straight towards them, and apparently feeding as they went along. It is also asserted that the geese used actually to know, after being shot at once or twice, the hunters' oxen. As soon as the hunter got within shot he discharged both barrels, one at the geese on the ground and the other as they rose, bagging from thirty to sixty geese. He either rested the gun on the ox's back, or allowed him to pass on, and then raked them with his small cannon. The gun used was generally a four-bore, and never less than six, weighing from fourteen to sixteen pounds, and the charge was from eight to ten drachms of powder and two to three ounces of shot. There was at least half a dozen engaged in this business, whose wealth might be computed as from $40,000 to $50,000, altogether the result of goose hunting.

April Arrival of the Bluebird

Anonymous. April 23, 1859. The blue bird. Dayton Daily Empire 10(81): 1.
I am so blithe and glad to day!
At morn I heard a blue bird sing;
The blue-bird, warbling soul of spring,
The prophet of the leafy May —
And I knew the violets under the tree
Would listen and look the bird to see,
Peeping timidly here and there
In purple and odor to charm the air;
And the wind flower lifts its rose veined cup
In the leaves of the old year buried up;
And all the delicate buds that bloom
On the moss beds, deep in the forest gloom,
Would stir in their slumber and catch the strain,
And dream of the sun and the April rain —
For spring has come when the blue-bird sings
And folds in the maple his glossy wings,
And the wind may blow and the storm may fall,
But the voice of summer is heard in all.
I am so blithe and glad to day!
My heart, beside the blue-bird sings,
And folds, serene, its weary wings,
And knows the hours lead on to May!

25 June 2013

Purple Martins Gathering at Midtown Omaha Roost

Purple martins are active at their seasonal roost at the Nebraska Medical Center campus at midtown Omaha. There were several hundred present on the the evening of June 24th. The martins present are the vanguard for the multitude that will occur in the coming weeks. Any day now is a good time for a visit to enjoy the spectacle of the birds as they gather in the aerosphere, and then swoop into the trees which are their roost for the night. There are also a bunch of common grackles and European starlings gathered at the place.

23 June 2013

Jay Bird Song of Oldtime Tennessee

The Jay-bird Song. February 11, 1858. Marshall County Republican 2(14): 4.

A corn-shocking refrain. Tune, "Jango Malango-ho!"

Dedicated to Col. Henry W. McCorry, of Jackson, Tenn.

By Gen. W.T. Haskell, of Tennessee.

A Jaybird lived on the Forked deer,
Jango Malango-ho!
And a blue-bird lived him neighbor near,
Jango Malango-ho!
And he with the Jay-bird court a Tom-tit,
Jango Malango-ho!
The Blue-bird laughed and the Blue-bird swore,
Jango Malango-ho!
That he never saw such fun before,
Jango Malango-ho!
Says the Jay-bird, "Blue-coat you be done,"
Jango Malango-ho!
"Or I'll stop your way of poking fun,"
Jango Malango-ho!
But the Blue-bird kept on laughing all,
Jango Malango-ho!
Says the Jay-bird, "Go it, have your will,"
Jango Malango-ho!
So the Jay-bird winked at the Blue-bird's sister,
Jango Malango-ho!
And flew to the Paw-paw bush and kissed her,
Jango Malango-ho!
The Blue-bird ripped, and the Blue-bird swore,
Jango Malango-ho!
That he was never no mind before,
Jango Malango-ho!
So he fluttered about, and he could not rest,
Jango Malango-ho!
And he went and spoiled the Jay-birds nest,
Jango Malango-ho!
Then the Jay-bird eloped with the Blue-bird's wife,
Jango Malango-ho!
And it almost took the Blue-bird's life,
Jango Malango-ho!
And all the birds from the Crow to the Wren,
Jango Malango-ho!
They poked their fun at the Blue-bird then,
Jango Malango-ho!
And the Blue-bird moved from the Forked deer,
Jango Malango-ho!
But where the Jay-bird did not hear,
Jango Malango-ho!
For the Blue-bird went to Arkansas,
Jango Malango-ho!
But the Jay-bird still stuck in his craw,
Jango Malango-ho!
And he cried one day with melancholy,
Jango Malango-ho!
Because he did commit the folly,
Jango Malango-ho!
To laugh at the Jay-bird and the Tom-tit,
Jango Malango-ho!
As he was sitting atop the saw-pit,
Jango Malango-ho!
And because he thought it all for the best,
Jango Malango-ho!
To go and spoil the Jay-bird's nest,
Jango Malango-ho!
And he wiped his bill and signed his will,
Jango Malango-ho!
And the will is in the family still,
Jango Malango-ho!
And he left to his son this last request,
Jango Malango-ho!
To never fool with a Jay-bird's nest,
Jango Malango-ho!

In the stage of Nashville, on the way there with McCorry, in December, 1841.

Philadelphia Game Market in December 1864

December 9, 1864. Philadelphia Evening Telegraph, page 8.

City Intelligence.

Game. — Our markets at the present time are well supplied with deer, notwithstanding which, however, venison is esteemed a delicacy, and as such is on the bills of fare of our first-class hotels and restaurants; but very many regard the best cut of a "saddle" as altogether inferior to a good "sirloin" or "porter house." A good cut off a saddle can be got at the rate of twenty-five cents per pound, which, as far as deer is concerned, is a prohibitory game for the poor man. Indeed, the prices which the dealers affix to all kinds of game which they expose for sale are such that they would seem effectually to debar almost all but the inveterate game-eater from patronizing their stalls. Nevertheless, the day's supply is the day's demand, the dealer secures his inevitable profits and the extravagance buyer his game dinner. We learn that the woods in the neighborhood of Altoona are more thickly infested with deer this season than for years back.

They are all in fine condition. Some of the heaviest ever heard of have been killed this season. Old hunters say that there are deer now in this locality which do not belong here, being larger, and the bucks having different shaped antlers from those usually found on these mountains. It is supposed they cam hither either from New York State, or from the mountains of Virginia. Almost every train from the East takes hunters to the mountains, but we doubt whether all of them get sufficient venison to compensate them for their loss of time, railroad fare, and destruction of shoe leather.

The quail and pheasant, both very scarce in the market this season, are real game birds, and are justly esteemed great delicacies. Quails are well nigh extinct in this section of the State, and the most that find their way to the markets come from abroad. The cold weather of last winter was more effectual in slaughtering these princely little birds that the guns of generations of hunters would have proved. Of the few quails found in the markets, a dozen may be purchased for about six dollars, or at the rate of fifty cents a piece. Wild ducks and geese have been in great abundance during the present season, and command, considering the prices on things in general, a very moderate figure. Good, fat mallard ducks, from the marshes, are to be found strung up in large numbers in all the stalls. Wild geese, like the same, are not the most esteemed of birds, but being wild, they hold their own as a game delicacy. There are a few woodcock and snipe to be found in the market, but bearing superior prices to the quail and pheasant, are not sought after in preference to the latter.

Great Squirrel Hunt in 1847 Massachusetts

November 18, 1847. Litchfield (Conn.) Republican 1(21): 1.

A Great Squirrel Hunt lately came off at Northampton, Massachusetts. The sportsmen were divided into two parties of 50 each — one headed by Col. Thayer, the other by Major Cook. The Colonel's party came off the winner, having killed between six and seven hundred the most. The following is the list of game produced by both parties:

Foxes 5, Grey Squirrels 555, Red do. 3157, Striped do. 2442, Wood Peckers 728, Flying Squirrels 6, Raccoons 38, Crows 35, Hawks 23, Larks 2, Owls 32, Blue Jays 529, Weasels 3, Partridges 130, Muskrats 69, Woodchuck 1, Rabbits 68, Woodcocks 3, Pigeons 58, Ducks 2.

Making a total, as usually counted by sporting parties, of over nineteen thousand! Hand over the hat. — Waterbury Amer.