Well, hello there! Long time no blog. We lost our beloved cat Arby on Monday after about eight weeks of slowly deteriorating health. It’s been a tough summer. I’m so ready for fall! Bring on September — which happens to start off with International Vulture Awareness Day on the 1st.
I find vultures endearing for several reasons. These pictures of Black Vultures, taken at Hontoon Island State Park back in June, show three of those reasons.
They are social.
They are curious.
They love the sun.
How are you celebrating IVAD this year? Arthur and I will visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom (the park celebrates on the 5th), as we did last year. If you can’t get enough of vultures, you’ll probably like what we’ve done over at Birdorable – check out the new Birdorable vulture landing page.
There’s a movement to designate the Osprey as the state bird of Oregon (replacing the Western Meadowlark). A few months ago schoolchildren in Florida elected to name the Osprey the new state bird, to replace the Mockingbird. I love Ospreys as much as the next person (it’s even one of my favorite Birdorables), but how come they’re so popular as to be replacing existing state birds all of a sudden?
Osprey Hovering by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region, Creative Commons on Flickr
Yesterday we participated as Team Birdorable in the 14th annual Big Sit birding event. The Big Sit involves observing as many different bird species as possible while remaining basically in the same place. Big Sit participants find a good birding spot and remain within a 17 foot diameter circle during the event.
We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of a county preserve: Prairie Wolf Slough in Lake County, Illinois.
Prairie Wolf Slough in Lake County, Illinois
Our view of the slough from our Big Sit circle
Amy looks for birds during the Big Sit
Arthur explores the slough outside our Big Sit circle
We arrived at our ‘circle’, a picnic table, shortly before sunrise. Our first bird was a Mallard flying over, and then the first of many flocks of Canada Geese leaving the slough for the day. Other flyovers included Herring Gull, American Crow, Great Egret and Great Blue Heron. American Goldfinches and Red-winged Blackbirds were the most abundant species.
Canada Geese leave the slough for the day
An American Goldfinch snacks on seeds
A White-crowned Sparrow poses for the camera
Our total species count was 16, nowhere near fellow Illinois Big Sitters Birdfreak’s impressive total of 42. We had a lot of fun during our first Big Sit and we are looking forward to participating again next year!