A Final Story From My Trip to Cleveland, Involving Indians and Seagulls

Seagull Deterrent

Apparently, the Cleveland Indians have been having a problem this year with seagulls at Progressive Field. There's been a marked increase in the numbers of birds roosting on the buildings along the river and they've discovered that the pickings at Progressive Field are pretty darn good after a game. However, being seagulls, they don't wait until the game is over to stake their claim and lately they've been hovering around the field during game time and occasionally land en masse on the outfield.

The day we arrived in Cleveland, the Indians won a close game against Kansas City in the tenth inning when a ball hit up the middle bounced and then struck a gull before the outfielder could snatch it up. Not a very auspicious way to win, but a win's a win.

Recognizing something had to be done, park personnel came up with the idea of shooting off fireworks in between each half inning. A single loud pop of a firework (above) designed to scare off the circling birds before they'd have much of a chance to alight on the field.

The Birds Fly Off in a Hail of Fireworks

We saw the firework trick work only once and wondered how much longer before the seagulls figured out where there's smoke there's no fire. According to the local paper, the team is contemplating also using a live eagle as a deterrent; an idea that seems to add many more problems than solutions.

The Seagull Cleanup Crew

After the game, the seagull buffet was open in the bleachers.

Over Before It Began

Goldnest

This morning, while Wee-J was busy creating sidewalk chalk drawings (or as she called it, “chalking”) and I was sitting on the stoop enjoying the sun, a flash of yellow in the sky caught my eye. That could be only one bird–a goldfinch. Indeed it was, two of them, building a cute little round nest high in the tree right in front of me.

Because the tree hasn’t leafed out yet, I had a good unobstructed view of their work. I was thrilled that this pair had chosen a tree I walk by twenty times a week and that I’d be able to follow their progress (as much as you can from the street) throughout the spring.

Alas, it didn’t last long. A few hours later, while Jade was napping, I looked out the window and noticed a fuzzy bit of brown fluff on the sidewalk in front of the house. Then, when we went outside to draw more chalk “designs,” a close look at the fluff revealed it to be a section of nest. Sure enough, looking up, the little nest in the branches overhead was a shadow of its former self with not a goldfinch in sight. I’m guessing this pair was either new to the job of nest building or just not very good at it.

The upside was that I was able to give J a close-up view of the nest that I’d pointed out to her earlier in the day. I popped the nest under the tree hoping the birds might return and rebuild, salvaging their first attempt bit by bit.

Eviscerated Fish — It’s What’s For Dinner!

Better than any FalconCam I’ve yet to see, the EagleCam at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, MD is outstanding. Not only is it a fantastic live overhead glimpse into a bald eagle nest but it’s 24-7, with an infrared camera that allows you to see the birds long after the sun has gone down.

Yesterday, the first eaglet hatched and today eaglet number two emerged from its shell. The parents have been bringing whole fish and birds to the nest for themselves to eat and according to the companion weblog, they should begin feeding the eaglets in the next day or so. (Check out the blog for interesting info and photos.)

Evanston FalconCam Is Up!

Twice this week I’ve seen one of the returning falcons in downtown Evanston. Both times the bird was perched on the south-west corner of the old Marshall Field’s building. I’ve been checking the library website for updates; as of today they report that Falcon Watch 2009 has officially begun. You’ll find the FalconCam here.

The Great Thaw

You know it’s been a long, hard winter (and we’re just at the half-way point) when sparrow song sounds like a welcome breath of spring. Last weekend, when we had our first above-freezing temperatures in what seemed liked months, I heard twittering and rushed to the window to see what unusual bird had landed in my backyard. Turns out it was just a few sparrows and it was then that it hit me–I hadn’t seen, let alone heard, birds for weeks. Negative windchill and rock-hard snow had chased the birds to wherever they seek refuge when it’s arctic out.

This morning, as I was waiting for the El, enjoying our second day in a row of teasingly springtime temps (yesterday it was in the 50s and all the white, and nearly all the black, snow had melted,) I was happy once again to hear the sparrows chittering in the rafters of the platform, no matter how nondescript their song, and to see the grass again, no matter how brown. We have a few more warmish days coming up this week and you can count on the fact that I’ll be outside getting some fresh air (that won’t freeze-dry my lungs) while I can. After that, I’ll be able to face another dousing of snow, because it’s only a matter of time.

Sandhill Crane Spotting!

I’m walking home this afternoon, listening to a podcast on my iPod, when all of a sudden I’m aware of a strange squeaky-squawky sound. I look up to see a large line of migrating birds navigating their way along the lake shore. Not the usual geese. No, that sound meant only one thing — Sandhill cranes!

Awesome. I’ve never seen that before around here. It absolutely made my day.

Drying Off

NaBloPoMo, Day 9

Drying Off
Anderson Japanese Garden
Rockford, IL
20 September 2008
Not a great shot but I was using the digital zoom and trying to catch this quickly. I’d never seen a heron standing with his wings like this. At first, from across the pond, I thought it was a statue.