Decimation in Dunn’s Woods

Last night’s (May 25, 2011) storm brought down a second round of large trees in Dunn’s Woods, at least 10 percent of the large trees are down, many more are damaged.

Dunn Woods Tree loss from the winds of May, 2011
Dunn Woods Tree loss from the winds of May, 2011

On Monday, straight line winds knocked down a dozen large trees in Dunn’s Woods, all the paths were blocked were blocked by trunks or large limbs from nearby trees. I was happy to see that the Cooper’s Hawk nest had not been blown down, and the maple tree was somewhat protected on the east side of the woods. Two years ago a big storm had caused the parents to abandon the nest after the chicks had died. They moved the nest to the east side of the woods last year.

From Dunn Woods

I have been watching the nest, and saw the mom get up and resettle in, while the dad flew from tree to tree around the nest.

We live just a few blocks from the woods, and last night’s storms were loud, but nothing we had not seen before. So I was surprised to find just as many trees and limbs down in the woods today as from the storm on Monday. To my dismay, the large maple with the hawk’s nest was down. I climbed through the limbs to where I had remembered the nest to be, and found it with 2 baby hawks dead just a few feet from the nest. If they had not died from the impact of a 60 foot fall, they would have died of exposure as they had no feathers at all. One was much larger than the other.

I took these pictures, and then as I was climbing out from the limbs, I heard one of the adults call out (to me?), and then call again, I am sure they knew I was visiting the chicks. The other called from farther in the woods, it was a heart rending call of bereaved parents.

From Dunn Woods

City Birds

Last night I rode up to the Cascades waterworks between North Walnut and College. I walked out to the waterfall to see what I could see. I first noticed the crop of water lotus that was growing close to shore, and the flowers were just beginning to bud out. The yellow balls were about 2 inches wide, and should bloom fully when we get some warm weather. I went down to the water’s edge, with rush hour commuters on either side.

I looked across the water to the College side of the pond, and there was a young great blue heron standing on the wall and eyeing the fish in the water below.

Great blue heron Cascades Pond
Great blue heron Cascades Pond

But my attention soon changed focus as I heard and saw a pair of medium sized birds hovering over my head. From their calls, and eventually when I saw the male, I knew they were a couple of red-winged blackbirds, and really did not want me to come near the water lotus. The mom hopped about on the leaves sticking up out of the water, and called to me repeatedly while the dad would fly over my head.

I kept my attention on the water lotus as I thought I had seen a mammal swimming between the plants, but then realized that might be what was disturbing the blackbirds. I looked up and realized the heron had flown off in the meantime, and I started to leave also.

But as I walked along the water’s edge, I realized that the nest was not among the water lotus leaves (now I see that did not make sense), but rather in the uncut grass which defined the verge. I stepped into the grass, and was buzzed by the birds, so I am pretty certain I am right. Let’s hope the grounds keepers know enough not to mow that last foot of grass, it is a family home!

Hawks in Dunn Woods

Cooper's Hawk nest in Dunn's Woods

For several years I have been watching the Cooper’s Hawks in Dunn Woods, right behind Bryan Hall on the IU campus. I first heard them in the spring/summer of 2007, the juveniles were in a couple of different trees calling for their parents to bring food, their calls could be mis-heard as some jays, but when I saw them flying from tree to tree.

I’ve followed them through a series of 3 different nests in the woods, then move every couple of years. One year I did not hear the young ones, nor did I see them, I assumed the eggs or chicks were damaged during an early spring storm that blew through with hail and high winds.

This week I’ve seen them flying back and forth to the nest tree, watched them as they shift around will sitting on the nest. Dad will sometimes fly in close and land in a nearby tree, call a bit, then fly to the nest, then on again for another mission. From the sounds of all the other birds in the woods, and the abundance of squirrels and chipmunks, I am assuming they are not hunting there at this time.

I can’t prove it, but I think they have found that it pays to wait and let their fledglings hunt in the abundant, and relative safe, confines of the woods later in the year. Are birds that smart? Do they want to keep relative peace with their neighbors while the kids are young? I’ve seen a murder of crows chase a hawk out of the woods, but I’ve yet to see or hear them attack the nest.

Crank Forward

I am looking for input about the crank forward design bikes that are now on the market. I am pretty convinced that Rans is the best brand, has anyone had experience with one? My understanding is that they relieve the pressure on the hands, wrists, arms and butt, like my recumbent, but had the more traditional design that makes it easier to ride, and it can be parked in a regular bike rack, which is always a problem, even with my short wheel base model. This looks like a great city bike, and is reputed to be a good climber (compared to a standard bent), but who knows? Do you?