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Archive for April, 2013

Woke up to 47F this morning and its about 70F at noon and beautiful. A few of the later greening trees are starting to get their leaves now (i.e.. Black Walnuts, Sweet Gums, Sycamores). There was heavy fog at dawn and a female cardinal was watching her nest:

 

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Despite the cool, rainy, foggy weather,  the regal eastern Kingbirds have been arriving this past week. Nearly every fence row has it’s share. Some will move on, but the pair that nested up high in our sweet gum tree last year has returned (photos taken with a 400mm lens yesterday):

With dark gray upperparts and a neat white tip to the tail, the Eastern Kingbird looks like it’s wearing a business suit. And this big-headed, broad-shouldered bird does mean business—just watch one harassing crows, Red-tailed Hawks, Great Blue Herons, and other birds that pass over its territory. Eastern Kingbirds often perch on wires in open areas and either sally out for flying insects or flutter slowly over the tops of grasses. They spend winters in South American forests, where they eat mainly fruit.

Cool Facts

  • During the summer the Eastern Kingbird eats mostly flying insects and maintains a breeding territory that it defends vigorously against all other kingbirds. In the winter along the Amazon, however, it has a completely different lifestyle: it travels in flocks and eats fruit.
  • Parent Eastern Kingbirds feed their young for about seven weeks. Because of this relatively long period of dependence, a pair generally raises only one brood of young per nesting season.
  • It’s not called a kingbird for nothing. The Eastern Kingbird has a crown of yellow, orange, or red feathers on its head, but the crown is usually concealed. When it encounters a potential predator the kingbird may simultaneously raise its bright crown patch, stretch its beak wide open to reveal a red gape, and dive-bomb the intruder.
  • The scientific name Tyrannus means “tyrant, despot, or king,” referring to the aggression kingbirds exhibit with each other and with other species. When defending their nests they will attack much larger predators like hawks, crows, and squirrels. They have been known to knock unsuspecting Blue Jays out of trees.
  • One of the byproducts of being an insectivore is that both adults and nestlings regurgitate pellets of insect exoskeletons.
  • Kingbirds sometimes catch small frogs, treating them the same way they deal with large insects: beating them against a perch and swallowing them whole. Eastern Kingbirds apparently rely completely on insects and fruit for moisture; they have never been seen drinking water.
  • Kingbirds are “passerines,” a taxonomic group commonly referred to as perching birds or songbirds. But kingbirds and other flycatchers are in a different subgroup from true songbirds, and they don’t have nearly as complex voices. Rather than learning their calls they probably perform them innately. The young begin to give adult calls at about two weeks of age.
  • The oldest Eastern Kingbird on record was 10 years, 1 month old.

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The temperature has hovered in the upper 40’s to very low 50’s for 36 straight hours now — with fog, drizzle, rain, and thunderstorms. We have received about one inch of rain in the past 36 hours also.  Earlier this week it was a different situation. The air temperature fell to 28.7F on Tuesday morning 4/23/13. Ponded water in the yard was frozen; so this was not just a heavy frost. This cold spell set dozens of records here in NW Arkansas. Many late arriving tree leaves have now, as of Saturday, turned brown and need to restart the budding process. Most tender low vegetation and annual flowers were killed. Murray is a low valley in the high Ozarks and the cold air literally poured down and inside the valley. This is late for the last hard freeze in this area.

 

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Had a very light thundershower overnight here in Murray Valley (not much rain) but it is thundering now at 9:30 AM. So fingers crossed ! Drove south 20 miles to Haw Creek yesterday afternoon. Here are a few photos:

 

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We had a hard freeze this morning in Murray Valley. The temperature fell to 28F at 6 AM. We went into Jasper for breakfast to Sharon K’s on the south side of town on Arkansas Highway 7. Sharon K’s is an old place nicely fixed up, clean, with a great breakfast menu and country friendly service. It’s been in operation since the 1960’s and prior to that, the cafe was located in the old building just north (as seen in the pictures – left); and the current Sharon K’s was the Gas Service Station starting in the 1930’s. Both buildings have antique glass. Stop in next time you are in Jasper.

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Woke up cold this morning; it was 36 degrees. We did get 0.66 inches of rain in overnight in a nice thundershower. There is a freeze warning tonight for Newton County; so, drove up to Kingston for breakfast. Kingston is an older Arkansas town located just about 10 miles north of Boxley on the upper Buffalo River. Kingston is near the banks of the upper Kings River in Arkansas which flows northward to the Missouri border and becomes an arm of Table Rock Lake. I ate breakfast at the Valley Cafe looking through the antique glass windows; really nice !

 

 

 

 

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Its’ 6 PM and finally started to rain. I put out the first feeder yesterday; got one Rudy Throat Hummingbird male in 10 minutes; today I have about 5-10. They are too busy to count !! They are sitting on a young Red Bud tree in the yard:

 

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