Monday, November 01, 2010

The Woodman's Feather Mystery and a Strange Duck

Photo Donna Browne
Remember back in early October, I discovered a great many feathers surrounding the Woodman Supermarket in Janesville, WI?

There were feathers in the gravel, under the bushes, and sticking to the grass in the lawn. At first I thought they were all pigeon feathers but on closer examination I realized there were a good many gull feathers there as well.

Looking around I didn't see a single member of either species. What was going on? Well...

Photo by Donna Browne
Upon leaving the store the other day, I looked up to see a kettle of birds circling above a small strip mall kitty corner from Woodman's.

Photo by Donna Browne
On closer examination they looked like gulls.

Photo by Donna Browne
I hit the brakes and abruptly took a right, almost hitting a couple pigeons that had flushed suddenly from the ground. (Glad to miss the pigeons. But sorry, I missed the shot. They hot winged it out of there.) Then I looked to see where they'd come from.

Photo Donna Browne
Just as a flock of sparrows came out of the bushes and repositioned themselves under a---WHAT? A bird feeder! Look up at the stores in the photo of the mall above. There is a Wild Birds Unlimited and they have a number of feeders in the small green space between the road and their parking lot. Now look in the upper right hand corner of this photograph. See the beige building with the orange roof trim? That is Woodman's, where all the feathers are laying everywhere.

Thinking back I've seen Red-tailed Hawk circling about an 1/8 of a mile from this point several months ago. And three years ago I watched a Cooper's flying at car roof level from small tree to small tree in the Woodman's parking lot.
Mystery solved. Obviously the bird feeder is the draw for the seed eaters, (plus there are the wind currents around the little mall creating a place for birds to kettle up) and that nice flat roof of Woodman's is the dining hall for any raptors who happen to be taking their dinner from the birds availing themselves of their dinner at the feeders.
I always feel much better when I've figured it out. Whatever "it" is at any given moment.
Photo by Pat Gonzalez
Pat Gonzalez has a new video camera and has also discovered another strange duck in the New York Botanic Garden.
I was at the NYBG earlier today trying out my new toy. The mystery duck there seems to have attracted a friend. Here's some video I shot.
I've attached a photo. Is this another farm duck?


It looks like a hybridized individual to me. One that is at least partially a "farm duck".

D. B.


Karen Anne said...

kettle up?

Donegal Browne said...

I most often see it done by Turkey Vultures but other birds such as gulls do it as well. They circle, swirl, wheel, glide, even flap now and again riding the geothermal currents in what looks like some kind of organized activity.

More on the main page next post up.