by Gene Benedict
August 23, 2017

Last time we talked about some of our feathered friends with whom we share these islands part of the year.  This time let’s talk about some birds you can’t seem to get away from.         

Mallards, highly praised game by duck hunters because of their beauty and their size, normally migrate a thousand miles or so from season to season.  Not so in Cedar Key.  It appears the mallards are here to stay.  And from February through June and even later, the mallards own the streets, the yards and the buildings.  In their mating season they are oblivious to cars, man, the weather and even brooms.  So we live with that, we adapt, we generally let them have their go.  Worthy of note; each year we see fewer females.         

A few days ago, several frigates, otherwise known as man-of-war birds, were soaring lower than usual.  They are scavengers and have been known to rob food from other birds.  One came down to the water to rob a gull of a morsel and when the gull refused to cooperate, the frigate grabbed the gull and tried to fly off with him.  The gull hung on to the morsel and struggled with the frigate, finally breaking free.  The frigate circled back still intimidating the gull, but the gull was not about to give in.  Bored, the frigate finally gave up to search elsewhere.         

We have a large number of barn swallows all over town and they are in their full mating colors this time of year.  Anne and I have a family nesting in our chimney at the house.  Last Halloween, Cindy and Rich at Gulfside Motel hung a jack-o-lantern from the end of the upper deck out over the water.  Several barn swallows have taken to nesting in that pumpkin, and as dark approaches each evening, you can watch them settling in for the night.

Anne and I have a pair of Carolina wrens that have build a nest in our clothespin bag on the back porch.  We won’t be using clothespins for a while.  We also have a resident mockingbird that has forgotten how to sleep and all night long he serenades us through the bedroom window.  Because we have occasional power surges and outages in Cedar Key, we decided we needed a backup alarm clock that is battery operated.  The one we chose talks to you.  You don’t have to see the face to know the time; just touch it and it tells you.  We set the alarm one night and the next morning, early, after the mockingbird had serenaded all night, it went off.  To our surprise, the alarm was a rooster crowing quite loudly.  Of course we sat straight up in bed and by the time we figured out how to shut the alarm off, it was too late.  The mocking bird had picked up on the rooster crowing and was hard at it.         

So until next time, look for me out there hunting down trouble in Cedar Key.

 Copyright © by Gene Benedict - August 2017