[Tweeters] Diversionary Tactics

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Tue Jul 29 08:39:54 PDT 2014

Thanks to Ellen Blackstone posting the BirdNote list's, I noted the title "Killdeer, Master of Distraction " program, which reminded me of other birds that have been diverting my attention lately.
Back a few months ago I watched a Killdeer doin' " the ol' broken wing act" out on Pt. Wilson here in Port Townsend. It's a pretty good act - which I've seen a number of times over the years, in various locales.
Then last month, my attention was diverted by a Spotted Towhee as I was looking for it's nest (thanks to a female Cowbird pointing out the location) here in my parents yard - the bird ran out the far side of the fuchsia bush where it was nesting, and fanning it's showy white spotted out widely, it drug it across the lawn, moving in a sort of jerky motion till it disappeared into a nearby hedge. Sure diverted my attention!
My favorite bird diversion here so far though was a few weeks ago, as I snooped about the Kah Tai Prairie here in PT. This is a little prairie remnant being nurtured by the Washington Native Plant Society - lot of interesting plants in this little patch, which is possibly the only prairie in Washington surrounded by a low white-painted chain fence( the two little sections of it are located by the PT Golf Course parking lot).
Anyhoo, I was walking around the edge of the prairie, when all of a sudden a male California Quail came bursting out from the unmowed prairie on to the surrounding mowed lawn and ran rapidly around me in big circles. Quail run quite fast. Simultaneously, the female, which was still in the unmowed area off to my right, was having what we used to call a "major spaz attack"- thrashing and jumping about like it's head was on fire. I was so gobsmacked by this double-whammy diversion, I didn't know where to look next - any thoughts I might of had of finding a quail nest driven from my head. I walked onward and peace returned to the prairie.
For those needing even more excitement, nesting Goshawks could provide it. Back in the mid 70's I worked two summers in Stehekin, in the North Cascades. There was one section of trail, somewhere in the Valley, which had a Goshawk nest nearby, and over the season we received a list of reported Goshawk attacks on hikers - at least one actually getting nailed, and bleeding. For anyone seeking that nest, their attention was suddenly diverted to protecting their scalp instead. Hikers were running out of there!
Jeff Gibsondiverted in,Port Townsend Wa

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