Guineafowl (Numididae) were domesticated for food but they work for us in other ways as well: They eat ticks and they’re great watchdogs.
When it comes to ticks, guineafowl perform a valuable service by reducing our exposure to Lyme disease. In the video below, a small flock is on tick patrol at Suffolk County Community College on Long Island, New York.
Their watchdog skills are important too, especially if a fox tries to get into the hen house. Guineafowl are quick to raise the alarm. They’re loud and they’re not shy about it.
But sometimes their idea of danger is not the same as ours. See the video below.
Guineafowl are so loud that it’s best to keep them where people don’t mind the noise.
This morning 11 of us met at the start of the Bridle Trail in Schenley Park. Though it wasn’t a very bird-y day we did see a scarlet tanager before we started down the trail. We also saw cup plant, oxeye or false sunflowers, and wild bergamot along the way.
Best Bird was a chipping sparrow, energetically gathering bugs to feed his fledgling. We watched him knock planthoppers out of a maple tree, then flutter down as they fell and chase them on the ground. The planthoppers hopped to escape but he was faster than they were, stacking them in his beak. As soon as he’d delivered them to the youngster he was off again to find more.
Best mammals were a 5-point white-tailed buck in velvet and twin fawns (with spots) nearby. They didn’t care that 11 people were watching them. Here’s a photo of (probably) the same buck two months ago. He has the same odd antler configuration.
Join me on Sunday, July 28 at 8:30am for a bird and nature walk in Schenley Park.
On this month’s outing we’ll visit a trail I’ve never shown you before. Meet me at the start of the Bridle Trail, so named because it was built in the late 1880s as a riding path for horses. We’ll make a clockwise circle for 1.6 miles.
The gravel trail is a gentle downhill with rock outcrops, a view of the Monongahela River, two stone bridges, and some cool birds and plants. American hophornbeam winged fruits, shown above, are seen along the way.
Dress for the weather (probably hot!). Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring water, a sunhat, binoculars and field guides if you have them.
p.s. What goes downhill must come up the woodland staircase to the Oval.
This morning 11 of us met for a bird walk at Duck Hollow and the Lower Nine Mile Run Trail.
The Monongahela was running high with only a few mallards and lots of plastic trash floating down the river, the result of an inch of rain in only 25 minutes on Thursday evening, June 27. The downpour affected the new bridge construction, too, at Nine Mile Run.
When I walked the area on Thursday morning I saw the workers laying Jersey barriers in a row and draping them with white plastic. The downpours breached the solid dirt bank in three places and knocked over four Jersey barriers. Powerful stuff!
It was hot and sunny, so we stayed in the shade. So did our Best Bird, an indigo bunting, who looked almost black in the shadows. Since his feathers merely reflect the color blue the shadows affect how he looks. Read more about his blueness here.
Downtown Pittsburgh Fledge Watch begins Friday June 7, noon to 1pm.
The four peregrine nestlings on Third Avenue will fly soon and may need our help. I’ll be Downtown at lunchtime on three weekdays beginning this Friday June 7. Stop by and join me.
What:Downtown Peregrine Fledge Watch is a drop-in event to watch the young Downtown peregrines, educate the public about peregrines, and alert the PA Game Commission at 724-238-9523 if a fledgling needs to be rescued from the ground. Come when you can. Bring binoculars or camera if you have them. Be sure to check the blog for updates in case of weather cancellation.
Where:3rd Avenue between Wood and Smithfield in Downtown Pittsburgh, approximately at 341 Third Ave, which is parking lot. Click the link for a map. When: On weekdays, Fri June 7, noon-1p. Mon-Tues June 10-11, 11a-1p. Who: I’ll be there with John English of Pittsburgh Falconuts Facebook group. Notes: There is no official Fledge Watch on June 8-9 weekend but John and/or I may be there. On-street parking is free on Sundays. (Some streets will be closed on Sunday 9 June for the Pride Parade.)
Keep in mind that Fledge Watch is weather dependent. It will be canceled for rain or thunder.
Do you need a reminder of the PA Game Commission phone number? Click on the flyer below to download one for yourself.
Pitt peregrine chicks waiting for breakfast, 29 May 2019, 6:03:58
"Red" flaps his wings
Both flap and hop
Whining for breakfast, 29 May 2019, 6:07:45
One of them climbs up to the snapshot camera
Both in view
Back down to the green perch ...
... and then he walks up the other side as his brother watches
Brother is leaving, too, walking off to the left
Both are on the ledge up above the cameras at 6:18:44, 29 May.
This morning at 6:18am both of the Pitt peregrine chicks walked off the nest and out of camera view. They’re now officially ledge walking.
The slideshow above covers 13 minutes of activity, just long enough to show them bouncing around, whining at their parents (not in sight), and disappearing from camera view.
I visited Schenley Plaza at 10:45am and found both of them on the nest rail watching the world go by. Here’s Peter Bell’s picture from last year, 27 May 2018, that shows what they look like today (if I could take a picture).
Now that they’re off camera the best way to see them is from Schenley Plaza. Stay tuned for a (possible) revision to the Fledge Watch schedule. Maybe Friday. Not Thursday because it’s going to storm.