Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Economy Strikes!

We missed our blog entry yesterday as we were distracted by the sudden collapse of GrandLuxe Rail. We were scheduled to provide the Audubon presence on the rail trip from Seattle, WA to Jackson, WY via Mt. Rainier National Park, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. An email yesterday afternoon announced that GrandLuxe Rail would cease all operations effective this Friday. Good thing we paid attention while in Jackson Hole last week!

There are plenty of benefits to working at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, but one of the biggest is being able to observe wildlife outside the office window. It has a calming effect. Today, the scene is dominated by a variety of birds and they appear to be pulling out all the stops. It's as if they are saying, "Hey, look! We're still here! Cheer up. Travel will come another day."

All morning, the Red-eyed Vireos (Vireo olivaceus) continued to return and eat the ripe fruit of the Horse Sugar (Symplocos tinctoria). After lunch, the second shift brought a male Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina) that checked under every leaf for an insect meal. Apparently, the Hooded Warbler did not do a satisfactory job, because a Worm-eating Warbler (Helmitheros vermivorus) soon followed and rechecked the leaves. Soon after that, a White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) appeared and quickly located a large caterpillar that had gone undetected by the warblers. After choking down the caterpillar, the White-eyed Vireo wiped its bill and appeared to mockingly cry to the other species, "Rookies." For reasons unknown to us, a pair of Carolina Wrens (Thryothorus ludovicianus) became agitated and protective of their turf. After a few high-speed, low-level passes, the Worm-eating Warbler led the other species in departing the area.

As we're trying to wrap up this entry, a Northern Parula (Parula americana), a Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia), a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor), a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) all check the area for a pre-migration meal.

Below are some shots out west in Wyoming:

Images by Mark Musselman

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