Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Another David and Goliath Story

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Attacking Northern Flicker. Crayon Sketch by Ken Januski.

Though migration is coming to an end there are still plenty of stories to be found with birds and other wildlife. A week or two ago I saw a diminutive Ruby-throated Hummingbird repeatedly attacking the head of a Tufted Titmouse. Today something similar occurred with a bird attacking the head of a Northern Flicker. At first I thought it was another hummingbird but in this case it was a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Over and over he dive-bombed the oblivious flicker.

Oddly enough we're just starting to see gnatcatchers again. They're a very early-arriving migrant that seems to start a nest within days of arrival. Then they disappear. My guess is that this seeming absence is due to their raising a family. And my second guess is that now the young ones have fledged. In fact this rambunctious individual might have been a youngster. On the other hand perhaps there are still youngsters in the nest and the nest is nearby. The one thing that makes me think that is unlikely is that gnatcatchers seem to have mysteriously reappeared the last few days after an absence of 3-4 weeks.

This is a quick ballpoint pen sketch from some photos taken today that has had Caran d'Ache NeoColor II crayons added and then a wash added to that, spreading the water-soluble colors. It is a quick way to work through an idea. It is done in a Stillman and Birn Epsilon sketchbook.

One of the other interesting bird events of today, before the rain came pouring down, was one Louisiana Waterthrush feeding another, as at least one occasionally sang. My guess is that they were a mated pair. I don't believe the fed bird was a youngster. Sadly I just read that at least in Pennsylvania should they nest more than half of the eggs they raise will probably  be those of a Brown-headed Cowbird. Sad but true.

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