“I’ll be back at 11am to pick you up,” Dave said as he headed out the door for work. He’d already spoken to Sister Marty this morning, and we were going to head to North Vernon, Indiana and try to see the Calliope Hummingbird that was coming to a feeder. This was one of the few times that all three members of our birding competition team, aptly named, On a Wing and a Prayer, could be together to go birding, and we were all anxious to see this bird. It would be a life bird for me. Calliopes breed in the northwestern US, migrate through the Rockies and overwinter in western Mexico. How this individual wound up in south central Indiana is a mystery.
At 11am, Dave was back and we jumped into the truck. The weather is absolutely perfect – clear skies and 50F weather. We met Marty in Mt Vernon and gave the homeowner of the feeder a call. She’d seen the bird this morning, and we were welcome to come on over. When we arrived at the house, Ken from Columbus, OH was already standing against the fence in her backyard watching for the bird. We introduced ourselves to Norma Jackson, signed her guest list and quickly walked around to the backyard. She had two feeders set up; one with a heat lamp directed toward it, and another one further out in the yard with heat tape wrapped around it.
Within minutes, the hummingbird landed in the badford pear in the backyard and zipped down to the feeder for a drink.
We quietly stood in the yard for about 30 minutes and the bird came in and out about 3 times.
She’s one of those female hummers that looks just like a bunch of other female hummers. But, we were able to snap a couple of photos that really show the decurved bill.
We were visitor numbers 224,225 and 226 to Norma’s yard since Christmas Eve. I’d say she’s had a pretty busy holiday season!
We left the Calliope and headed over to Muscatatuck NWR and went into the visitors center to check out their feeders. We were rewarded with great looks at both house and purple finches, fox, tree, white-crowned and white-throated sparrows as well as standard feeder birds, chickadees, titmice, etc.
We had decided to head over toward the big lake and see if we could see otters, when we spotted two photographers frozen in place at the edge of the woods. We crept up slowly in the truck – well, I guess we didn’t creep, considering the truck is a diesel. So we turned the engine off and asked them what they had. “Screech Owl,” the man replied. We quietly stood by the car for a few minutes and watched the hollowed out hole in the tree, but didn’t see anything. We moved on and birded the rest of the road and turned around. On our way back past the photographers we checked the owl hole again, and sure enough, there it was. A beautiful rufous morph eastern screech owl. Score!
We picked up a few more duck species at the lake and a red shouldered hawk sitting on a telephone wire on the way into North Vernon. Team On a Wing and a Prayer is up to 80 species and its only January 6th! I think we’ll stop for Mexican food on the way home. Birding is exhausting and I’m starving! LOL!