For the birds

Rob Fergus aka Birdmeister has a few posts today about local bird life, focusing on owls, Monk Parakeets, and Hornsby Bend. He’s also got updates on the search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, a bird thought to be extinct (more here). He’s apparently returning next month for a workshop on Purple Martins.

I haven’t ever noticed the Monk Parakeets myself. I’ll be on the lookout for them from now on. It’s an interesting story. I’m always fascinated by transplanted species stories. It seems like you only ever hear about the ones that are causing trouble.

I’m not really much of a birder. We had a massive Blue Heron nesting in one of our trees for a few seasons. It hasn’t returned the last couple of years. I can’t say I miss it as it left quite a mess at the foot of the hackberry it was using for a nest. It freaked me out one night while I was watching T.V. a few years ago. I heard this terrible screaming/moaning coming from the backyard and thought someone in the neighborhood was being murdered. I went outside to investigate and saw the heron sitting in a different tree than the one with the nest and making the terrible noise. Shining the flashlight at the nest revealed nothing at first, but then two glowing eyes appeared. A raccoon was in the nest eating the heron’s eggs and/or hatchlings. I can’t remember if that incident coincided with the herons moving from our hackberry, but I suppose it’d make sense.

The only other birds I ever notice around here are the grackles, who seem to be a perennial pain in the ass around here. I remember the UT Plant people driving around with a cannon on the back of a pickup and firing it off in an attempt to get them to leave campus in the early 90’s. Do they still do that? There was a massive swarm around the Lincoln Village shopping center between Highland Mall and I-35 last week at dusk. Seeing them perched on every surface immediately brought to mind Hitchcock’s The Birds, one of my least favorite of his films. Creepy. I caught a story about crows overrunning Auburn, NY on KUT on the way home from Central Market a couple of Sundays ago.

2 Comments so far

  1. Rantor (unregistered) on February 6th, 2006 @ 4:15 pm

    Perhaps the first, and certainly one of the oldest, parakeet colonies is down near Casa de Luz and the playing fields just south of the river. They get around a lot from there. Another longtime colony is on and around the Huston-Tillotson campus. They can be quite raucous and don’t have much fear. They love fruits, especially figs.

  2. Joanna (unregistered) on February 7th, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

    I haven’t seen the Physical Plant folks doing anything at UT lately to keep the grackles away. But, the birds do seem to be leaving campus alone for the most part (knock wood) which makes me think they are doing something…it’s just not as obvious as before. The sheer number of grackles around Highland Mall and Lincoln Village at dusk these days is very scary and always makes me think of Hitchcock.

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