October’s Bird of the Month

By Douglas “Birdman” Gray, Outdoor Afro Contributor

As I reflect on my personal birding over the last month, I have to say it was a very good month. My last 30 days ofbirding reinforced something I’ve shared with folks before, “September is my favorite month for birdwatching in Indiana.” The month of May is probably most folks’ favorite birding month. With many migrants passing through not only singing, but also in their full breeding colors, it’s easy to understand why.
It was such a good month that I’m sitting here scanning my Month List, and I must confess, I’m having a somewhat difficult time picking out a “BOTM”. I’ve seen some GREAT birds! But alas, I must choose so, here we go.
This month’s Bird of the Month is the American Avocet.
This long-legged shorebird has a striking black and white pattern on its back and sides. It also sports a long, up-curved bill that makes it one of our most unique looking birds.
We don’t get many chances to see this beautiful bird in Indiana, but at least one has been fairly cooperative over the last 3 weeks down at the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area (GPFWA) near Linton, Indiana. If you have an opportunity to visit GPFWA and possibly see this wonderful bird, I think you should take that chance. Even if you go and do not catch sight of this particular bird, I think you will find the trip well worth it just because of all the other cool birds you will surely see. Without a doubt, GPFWA is one of the premier birding spots in the entire state.
I find it interesting that while we don’t get many chances to see American Avocets in Indiana these days, historically the bird was known to nest in Indiana. The famous John James Audubon, whom we can consider the father of modern day birding, once rose up early one morning to approach some Avocets that were sitting on nests near Vincennes, Indiana. He wrote back in June of 1814, “Lovely bird, how unsuspecting, and yet how near to thine enemy…” (Here we must excuse ourselves and leave Audubon to his early work as he shot five Avocets. We must remind ourselves that in those days, before good photography and good binoculars, shooting birds was the only way to examine them in detail…. and we must also remember that there was a time when these birds were probably so plentiful, that thought was never given that they would ever become a rarity. Let us always consider the importance of conservation.)
September!!! What a great month to bird. My second favorite month? October!!! I look forward to next month…

Lynne Arrowsmith

Douglas “Birdman” Gray has been birding almost all of his life. He grew up on a family farm near Clarksville, Tennessee, where they grew crops ranging from apricots to wheat, and most things in between. They also raised chickens, guineas, pigs, horses, and a cow named…….Apples. Doug’s grandfather identified the birds they would see daily on the farm.
Doug now resides in Indianapolis and works in Parenteral Engineering with Eli Lilly and Company. Most of his current birding takes place in Indiana, with a concentration on Central Indiana, where he leads bird walks for “Backyard Birds”. Doug can be reached at 317-255-7333.