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My Life’s Birds: #66-67

January 30, 2008
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June 18, 1993 – Christian Co, Mo – The home where I spent my formative years was a good ways out of town. My dad, an only recently reformed back-to-the-lander, wanted to be out in the woods. If my parent’s marriage, and by extension my childhood, can be signified by any long-term trend, it’s the slow and measured way in which my family has moved from deep in the dirt-road sticks, little by little, into a proper house in the suburbs. Most of my life was spent in the little yellow house in Lindenlure, Christian Co, surrounded by forests, fields, and river. Because of that, most of my Life Birds early in my birding career were on that property or at the many feeders we had set up around the house. That didn’t mean we didn’t have to go into town regularly though, and it was on these roads into Ozark that I honed my skills identifying birds by silhouette on power lines.

The official bird of our fair state, Eastern Bluebird, was encountered occasionally. We would put up bluebird houses at the Linden house but the trees were too near and the houses would always get appropriated by Chickadees and Titmice and Wrens. Out here in the pastures they were regular if not common. In fact, I actually can remember a time when bluebirds were not so easy to come by. The Audubon Society I was a member of, GOAS, was very active in putting up nest boxes everywhere in appropriate habitat. Largely because of their efforts, bluebirds are doing very well in southwest Missouri. Activism at work, and in my own lifetime to see it happen. photo © James Ownby.

Not only bluebirds, but also Eastern Kingbirds could be found along the barbed-wire fences that parallel McCracken Road. McCracken could conceivably be called Tyrannus row, as along with the Eastern Kings sit common Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and the very very occasional Western Kingbird. Something about the cattle pastures with the odd Black Walnut grove must suit the tyrant flycatchers very nicely.

My parents now live in a neighborhood where they can watch the new construction that sprawls out into the fields where I saw these birds for the first time. The land-owners cashed out to the developers during the real estate boom a few years back. I may be still relatively young, but I’ve been able to watch the bluebirds return to the fields and then the habitat slowly degrade again into manicured lawns and measured lots. The birds are not gone yet though, Eastern Bluebird and Kingbird are both on my parent’s yard list for the area. But one does wonder how much more they can take.

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