The Breitensteins’ place

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m a member of Birding Pals, which works like a dating site, only for birding.  You put your info in it, saying where you live and when you can take people birding in your area, and people who are planning to visit can contact you via the site — they don’t get your actual email address or other contact info unless you give it to them.  If you’re available, you can take them birding, and they’re supposed to buy you lunch or something.  It’s how I got in contact with Claudio in Chile, although he’s really a paid guide, which isn’t what the site is designed for.  Anyway, some time ago I got a request through birding pals from a couple in Bollinger County.  They’ve developed their property to maximize wildlife habitat, and they wanted someone to come and find out what birds live on their land.  I agreed, but then put it off, and one thing led to another, and then I went to Chile…

Finally I arranged to go visit on Wednesday, the 24th.  As it turns out, the couple, Kathy and Paul Breitenstein, were featured in an article in the Missouri Conservationist last March.  I knew I was in the right place when I turned into their driveway and saw all the Rattlesnake Master growing in their “yard”.

Breitenstein Place  The Breitensteins’ driveway.   Rattlesnake Master

Along with a wide variety of other native plants.  The dogs ran out making a lot of noise and then licking me, and Paul came out to greet me.  He gave me a general idea of the property — about 110 acres, mostly wooded, a lot of it their own plantings, and a big area of prairie plants that they’d established.  He was meeting a crew doing some deck construction for him, so I set out on my own.  I made a slow circuit of the property, starting out in the woods and ending with the prairie.

One of the first birds I heard when I got out of the car was a Chipping Sparrow; or so I thought, but when I looked up at all the pine trees, I thought maybe it was a Pine Warbler.  They’re tough to distinguish.  I think on the average Pine Warbler has a more melodic, sweeter trill than the Chipping Sparrow’s mechanical sound, but they both vary, and there are areas of overlap.  I was pretty sure this was a Pine Warbler, though.  When I set out into the woods, I stopped and scanned the pines.  There was a flash of movement, and in the binoculars it was a Chipping Sparrow singing away.  Shows you what I know.

It wasn’t until I’d gone almost all the way around the property that I actually did find some Pine Warblers, and they weren’t singing.    In fact, they were immatures, showing some weird plumage that may indicate they were molting from juvenile to adult feathers.  In other words, Pine Warblers are probably successfully breeding on the Breitensteins’ property.
Pine Warbler

This is actually a good angle to view a warbler — undertail patterns are distinctive.  This one is just weird, though, with that asymmetrical gray base.  I suspect molting is to blame. 

The big find for the day, at least from my perspective, was an Eastern Whippoorwill.  Sure, I hear them fairly often, but this one flushed when I was walking a trail in their woods, then perched in a tree where I had a great view.  The first time I’ve ever seen one in broad daylight, and certainly the first chance I’ve had to photograph one.


Eastern Whippoorwill
Not too happy about being rousted out of bed in the daytime, I’d say.

I also happened onto a Blue-winged Warbler — I know that they breed in Missouri, especially in and near the Ozarks, but this is the first one I’d ever seen in July.   As it turns out, also the first eBird record of one in Bollinger County in July.

In all, 34 species, not bad for midsummer birding in a place with no water to speak of.  And a tribute to what you can do if you encourage native plants on your property.  I can’t wait to get back there during migration.

Breitenstein's stream

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