Wood Duck Boxery

Non Birding Bill and I managed to finish filming our wood duck installation segment yesterday. I'm not sure if I like it as much as the woodcock one, but I think it's short, informational and enough to get someone started on their first wood duck house.

We put them up in two places on Mr. Neil's property. We had a pretty good idea of where to put the first one, near a small pond near the driveway, but the second one I wanted down by the creek, I just didn't want it too close to trees so squirrels would take over. But I also didn't want to haul a seven foot 4X4 post and large cedar box down hills and through the woods. Mr. Neil had a good idea of where we could go and offered to take us in his new convertible mini--then he took it off road! I had no idea you could take those tiny cars off the road. I really like the covertible one, with the top down you can watch all the raptors thermalizing overhead. I complimented him on getting such a great car for birdwatching passengers.

As we were trying to find just the right spot, we came across some ripped up feathers. They were large and soft gray. Some bones were mixed and were very large. Hmmm, gray? Grouse? No, too big for grouse and too uniform. Wild Turkey? Hmmm, too gray...

Then it suddenly hit me--sandhill crane! By looking at the state of the feathers, they had been ripped with mammal teeth, taken out in clumps and some holes were consistant with a mammal bite. I know there are fox and coyote around. Sandhills do nest nearby, and they are migrating through right now. I wondered how this one came to be attacked and dragged into the woods. There's a road nearby, did it get hit by a car and was dragged in and eaten? Was it exhausted from migration and finished off by a coyote? Tough to say, but this was certainly an interesting scene for me to ponder for the rest of the day.

We found a perfect spot for the wood duck box. It's actually a spot that I always thought would be ideal for doing a big sit: on the edge of woods, looking over a pastures with a creek running through. I think this house will get duck right away, since some wood ducks are bound to be floating down the creek and will see the box and think, "Wow, look at that nice hole up there. I bet I could fit in there and lay some eggs." It's open enough around the box so the hen can fly in and out with no problem and the trees are far enough away so squirrels won't jump in and take over the box. We have great raccoon baffle on the post, so it's protected from most predators.

After we finished filming I stared exploring the woods. Mr. Neil's place is one of my favorite birding spots. I walked around and found three ruffed grouse territories. I love hearing grouse drum...or should I say feeling them drum? That drumming sound just seems to pass right through you. As I was walking I found a huge turkey feather. I picked it up and heard leaves rustling. I looked up, and there was a huge tom turkey running ahead trying to get away from me.

When I got out to the road, I found a turkey vulture sitting on a fence post eyeing a roadkill possum. The bird flew down and started eating away. A pickup truck went by and startled the vulture and fortunately it just flew away and didn't barf. As it took to the air, it dropped a feather. Wow, what luck: a wild turkey feather and a turkey vulture feather all in one day.

The turkey vulture feather is the one on the left and the wild turkey feather is the stripey one on the right. The vulutre one smelled just like a vulture should-a slight hint of vomit, just like the turkey vulture at The Raptor Center.

As I have been writing this entry, Kabuki has been lurking about and for some reason has decided to pull out one of my American Birding Association Brochures and chew it up. Apparently, he doesn't want me to go on that trip. Can't wait to see his reaction when he finds out that I'm going to the June convention. Look at that bird--no remorse.