Date: 2/27/18 2:06 pm
From: Jeffrey Short <bashman...>
Subject: Re: Saw-whet Owls, Red Crossbills, and a Black Vulture Courtship Display
Each year I buy pickup-truckloads of cedar mulch from a local mill for our flower beds and shade gardens. The fresh mulch tends to keep down insects though as it rots down, there are plenty of invertebrates underneath; however, the birds rarely feed in the mulched areas.

The mill trucks- in tens of thousands of red cedar logs from all over, cuts them into various sizes of lumber which they then send to China so they can create useful items for resale.

The cedar mill also cooks the sawdust fines to extrude cedar oil (for perfumes among other things).

The owner still uses cedar pencils to work his books.

Jeff Short

From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List [mailto:<ARBIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of Kimberly G. Smith
Sent: Tuesday, February 27, 2018 9:56 AM
To: <ARBIRD-L...>
Subject: Re: Saw-whet Owls, Red Crossbills, and a Black Vulture Courtship Display

Around the turn of the last century, the Ozarks were a main source of cedar in the US, particularly for making pencils… pencil companies would offer children a quarter to find them the biggest cedar trees… by about 1910, most of the cedars that could be logged were gone and cedar factories closed. This article says that some companies came back in the late 1940s and cut out the best cedars again.

Cheers, Kim


Kimberly G. Smith

Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR 72701

Phone: 479-575-6359 fax: 479-575-4010

Email: <kgsmith...>


From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List [mailto:<ARBIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of Mitchell Pruitt
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2018 8:51 PM
To: <ARBIRD-L...>
Subject: Saw-whet Owls, Red Crossbills, and a Black Vulture Courtship Display

It was a magnificent day to be doing field work on the Madison County Wildlife Management Area, south of Eureka Springs! The sun’s rays warmed the upland forest, sending off an intoxicating aroma from the pines. Birds could feel spring’s grasp just like I could, with singing all around. Pine Warblers were numerous, partaking in song from what seemed like every other pine. In addition, Red Crossbills linger on the WMA. I heard 12 today, as they flew from pine to pine.

One saw-whet remains in the area, old faithful Trip. This is the female who was captured 3 times last fall, first on October 31. She’s clearly been enjoying our mild-ish winter ever since. Trip was vacationing elsewhere during the last week of December, but has been a regular ever since. After a brief hiatus from wanting to be located, I was able to find her roost site and even locate her visually! She remains the only individual I have tracked to cedars rather than short-leaf pine. Today’s cedar was located in what I like to call the Hansel and Gretel forest, a dense and rather creepy swath of cedars, with gnarly old trees dating back to who knows when. I’d be interested in knowing more, as the area seems not to be a glade that has been choked out by vigorous cedar in the last 60 years. It's more reminiscent of what has become of a cedar grove planted to shelter a modest settler’s cabin in the early days.

This was not the first time I have tracked Trip to the Hansel and Gretel forest and, I must say, it is much more peaceful on a calm sunny day, as today, than on a creaky, gloomy day. It didn’t take me long to pinpoint the tree and after several minutes of searching the crown, I located a little ball of fluff perched serenely where the crown was thickest, and limbs from another cedar encroached upon those of the roost tree. Without the aide of radio telemetry, these saw-whets would surely go unnoticed, as they largely have since the time of Arkansas’ pioneering ornithologists. The photo attached demonstrates just how well hidden a decently-sized female saw-whet can be (decently sized still being hardly over 3 ounces). And a “low” (25 feet) cedar roost seems to be out of the norm, in the region…try finding one 75 feet up a pine! I certainly couldn’t do it without the help of technology.

I quietly and quickly examined the ground below the tree, finding only one spot of whitewash and a single, gooey-fresh pellet; it's likely Trip has only used this roost once recently. She sure has plenty of nearby choices, however! Based on a quick Google Earth study, the domain she has ruled since December is about 12 acres. That’s not counting another patch of cedars that she has been known to roost in, down the road a bit.

As an ending aside, I was also thrilled to watch the aerial courtship display of two Black Vultures! At first, the pursuing individual (presumably the male) chased the other bird, occasionally catching up to grab onto a tail feather. Eventually, the feather grabbing ceased and the two flew circles, in tandem. I was able to get photos, so stay tuned. Pretty incredible day!

Enjoy the warm weather,

Mitchell Pruitt

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