A Family Trip with an Unexpected Find

A Family Trip with an Unexpected Find by Josh Haas

While in Lafayette, IN for what would be our last Christmas gathering, I awoke well before sunrise to the sound of a baby playing in her crib.  Being up early has its advantages and like many mornings, I jumped on my iPhone for things like the daily weather, news, and of course a gander through the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds app.  Using the “Find Birds with eBird” feature, I scanned the list and one bird jumped out very quickly.  A Varied Thrush had been seen the day prior no more than 12 miles from where I was staying.  This bird should be in California, let alone Indiana so it was worth the effort.  If you haven’t checked out this great feature in the app, it’s worth your time.  It’s quick and much better than some of the other apps that feature eBird searching.

Cooper's Hawk, Adult © Josh Haas

Cooper’s Hawk, Adult © Josh Haas

Unfortunately, after two morning attempts for this western thrush, I never did see it but I did get a nice opportunity with an adult Cooper’s Hawk before meeting a nice birder who mentioned having Saw-whet Owls roosting on his property.  That obviously perked some interest!  I jumped at the invitation and soon found myself riding in a gator across his property 6 miles away after a different bird.  Boy it would’ve paid to be prepared for the 12 degree temps but who would’ve known a family Christmas could turn into a birding adventure.  I suppose in our family, it’s very likely!

Sure enough, as we approached a small Cedar grove, we slowed and eventually stopped.  Looking into the woods, one can’t help but notice the many yellow ribbons hanging on trees marking where birds were or are roosting.  The gentleman does surveys daily to gather data about the individuals.   Amazing commitment…

Northern Saw-whet Owl © Josh Haas

Northern Saw-whet Owl © Josh Haas

All in all, he showed me three individual Saw-whet Owls.  One was even awake and willing to be photographed.  Oh man was I one happy Daddy!  This property was amazing and he told stories of the many species of Owls, Raptors and Passerines that fledged over the years from the 200 acre parcel.  This is another example of a great find and a genuine birder willing to share his great spot.

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Josh Haas

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