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Posts Tagged ‘warbler’

Falls Brush Fowl, 5/09

Ornithological history was made today as the first photographic images of the rare and elusive Falls Brush Fowl were made public.  Seldom seen and rarely heard this bird was photographed by the park’s unofficial artist in residence.  The Falls of the Ohio is the same area where the legendary John James Audubon began his drawings for his monumental undertaking, “The Birds of America”.  Audubon, however, never recorded seeing this bird.

Falls Brush Fowl, 5/09

The specimen appears to be a male in full courtship display.  This bird was not particularly wary as it strutted it’s stuff on several prominant logs and branches often in bright sunlight.  The Falls Brush Fowl is known for the fan it creates from its tail feathers, much in the manner of grouse.  Dancing gingerly it trills its song into the deep underbrush, while its head is framed by a ring of pink feathers.  The exact numbers of this bird are unknown.

Falls Brush Fowl, 5/09

No response was noted from the male Falls Brush Fowl’s display.  As reclusive as the males are…the females are even more difficult to approach.  Nothing is known abouts its nest, eggs, clutch size, incubation period and chicks have never been seen.  Speculation exists that the eggs may be deposited in a hole covered with rotting vegetation.  The heat generated from the decay of leaf matter incubates the eggs, but this has never been proven.  The bird is more myth than fact and the photos are welcomed by the scientific community and the general bird-loving public.

Chestnut-sided Warbler, 5/09

Other birds noted in the area this day include:  the Chestnut-sided Warbler seen in the above photo.  Small groups of mixed species  traveled and fed together among the willow and cottonwood trees.  It was not unusual to find Yellow Warblers, Magnolia Warblers, Carolina Chickadees, and Indigo Buntings harvesting small caterpillars. 

Time Keeper and Wishing Well, 5/09

Lastly, yesterday’s figure entitled the “Time Keeper” was spotted in an a different location.  A park visitor moved the piece inside a wood structure called the “Old Colonel’s Wishing Well”…a curiousity deposited by the last high water.  I’m sure there is a story surrounding that object and if anyone out there knows it…I would love to hear it!

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Falls Colgate ClockWorking at the Falls of the Ohio is a reflective experience and thinking about the construct of “time” pops into my head a lot.  To reinforce matters even more, less than a mile from my “studio” is this giant clock ticking away in a grand, but conventional manner.  I once read  that the largest clock face in the world was at another Colgate Palmolive plant in Jersey City, New Jersey, but it was demolished in 1988. Our clock, the one in Jeffersonville, IN, I believe is  now the biggest.   At night it glows red.  The building was once a prison before the toothpaste factory relocated here.  Recently, it was sold to another interest and we aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen with certainty,  but it is everybody’s wish that the clock remain.  From downtown Louisville, you can tell time by looking across the Ohio River. 

fossil snail at the Falls of the Ohio

About a mile or so away from the clock is another landmark, the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, IN.   If it had nothing else, it would be one of the most important fossil sites in the world.  In the rocks here you will find more species  from the Devonian Age than anywhere else.  In the time line of life, the fossils here are the high point of life as it existed over 375 million years ago.  Essentially, this bedrock limestone is the bottom of the river.  The best time to see these rocks is in the late summer and early fall when the water level is low.

Horn coral, Falls of the Ohio

Although today’s park is a fresh water environment, back in Devonian times this was a shallow, marine reef ecosystem dominated by various corals.  When these now long extinct animals were alive, they existed somewhere in the latitude of the present day Bahama Islands.  The Devonian age is noted for the appearance of fish, the first animals with backbones, but here at the Falls their fossils are rare.  Contemporary fish bones, however, are not.  Here is a carp skeleton.

carp skeleton

There are many lessons about life in these rocks.  I often wonder as I stand upon them whether intelligence and sentience will prove to be an evolutionary advantage.  I think that’s why we are here.  So far, I think the book is still open on that one.  I found this faux-fossil (one of two such balls found over the years here) and couldn’t resist the juxtaposition.  Fossil collecting in the park is prohibited, but I did pocket this pink ball with its embossed trilobite.

faux fossil with real fossil

Presently, the migratory birds are feeling that rhythm to move northward.  The yellow-rumped warbler is the first warbler to arrive and the last to leave.  This male has staked out his territory and is singing away as his kind has done for thousands of years.  Last year was spectacular for warblers.  Here’s hoping for a repeat.

yellow-rumped warbler, male, 4/09

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