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The Mountain Called

1/15/2023


The mountain actually called a few days ago, but I was working. In this instance, the mountain is a Mountain Bluebird that was found in northern Indiana. The bird was showing on a rural property with some nice, gentle hills and a meandering creek running through it. You could see where the bird would have been attracted to this area over the miles and miles of barren ag fields that are more common to the area.


In cases like this (very remote/rural area that is not heavily birded), I often wonder how the bird was even noticed. The answer for this bird was pretty simple. Doug Gerbacht, a local birder, was driving down the road when a bright blue bird flew up and landed in a tree. Doug quickly marked it as a bluebird and kept driving. Doug was not so quick to write it off as an Eastern, though, and doubled back to check the bird out. And, like that, the state has its fourth record for Mountain Bluebird. Thankfully, Doug was good about getting the word out quickly and has been very helpful in getting chasers onto the bird. He even put up a big cardboard sign at the spot where the bird is being seen.


That sign was the first thing that had alerted me that I was in the right place when I rolled into the area at sunrise on Saturday. It is always good to know you are in the right spot. Shortly after, a couple other cars arrived. Leland Shaum and a group of Amish birders showed up and setup in a couple locations. It was not long after that we got word that the other group had spotted the bird. We raced over and they quickly had the bird in a scope. It was a very distant bird, though. Over the next hour or so, it was a lot of watching the bird sit in various trees, watching the bird preen, and, occasionally, seeing it disappear down to the creek or into some bushes to feed. Finally, the bird disappeared and did not come back up. By now, a decent sized group of birders had shown up, and one of them noticed the bird had moved up the road a ways. It was also coming down lower. We then spent the next hour and a half following the bird around from spot-to-spot. At least the movement kept us warm. The bird would duck down into the underbrush and feed for a bit and then land back up in a tree. Then, it moved back down the road and landed on a fence post. Finally, it moved all the way back down to where we first spotted it and fed close to the road for about 15 minutes. When it was done there, it flew back up the road, again. At that point, I knew I was not going to get any better photos. It was an amazing experience with a state lifer. You could not ask for much more. This is my 335th species seen in Indiana, and my 302nd photographed. As great as the bird was, it was also a great experience with the birding community. I saw a lot of people that I have not seen for a while, and it was good to connect with them and share the experience. Thanks to everyone for making the day that much better.


Now, here are way too many photos -


Thanks for reading,

Mike


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