Not a Vulture

We finally made it up to Springfield, Ohio for the Canine Performance Events (CPE) Invitational Nationals. I must say this is a bit overwhelming and I don’t even have four paws and a tail (although I do have the long nose for it ha). Sources indicated there are around 700 canines performing at this show and based on the large number of campers and dogs everywhere you look – thinking that might be an undercount. Raven hits the agility ring starting tomorrow. Don’t tell him, but Dad will not fault him for being nervous with all the voodoo paws pointed at him from the stands. Ruger and Benji came along for moral support … and we didn’t trust them not to throw a kegger while we were gone. Linda was surprised to see the were also holding an open “drag racing” event here. Think of it as a solo drag race for 50 yards although instead of nitro fuel they only need puppy kisses from Mommy at the finish line. Decided we would let Ruger have a go now that he has officially “crested” the one year old threshold.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our featured feathered friend.. and a lot more about our little dragster.

None of us, mom, dad and most of all Ruger have ever participated in this performance event – no idea what to expect and honestly a bit nervous that Ruger would blow a tire and end up in the fencing (sounds more thrilling than “spot a Rabbit and head off into the weeds through the large openings in the fencing hehehe). Knowing how much he loves his mom more than I, made the smart decision to have mom go to the far end while I stayed with him at the start. Got some quick instructions on what to do by the steward, set him down on the line, showed him where mom was and let them go when the lure line took off. For those not familiar, they have a line with some white baggies tied to it that the dogs chase to the finish. Having never seen one before, Ruger was a bit spooked when it took off ahead of him but he quickly blasted out more focused on getting to mom vs “catch”ing the baggie. Solid performance – stayed pretty much in a straight line and ran hard the entire way. The steward gave us some great tips to produce faster times in the future .. one being Mom should run backward at the finish rather than just standing and waiting as that slows down the dog rather than powering through to the finish line. For his first time we thought he did “Great”!

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

50 yards in 6.42 seconds. With the experience and the new knowledge, we should be able to get him “fly”ing in future runs. Will also be helpful if we get a venue with shorter grass – set Ruger down at the start and you could only see half his legs. Mom also needs to have a talk with him about proper dog sport etiquette – as he was walking back to the start, he was doing some serious trash talking to the dogs still waiting to compete – even threw in some Usain Bolt gestures.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Apologies, I should probably get to the meet of this post – dad wrapped up in bragging about his kid ha. If you caught on to the hints, you probably already know what today’s featured feathered friend is. “Crested”, “great”, “catch”, “fly”. Put those words in a bowl, drop in a pinch of “er”, turn on the mixer and you have yourself a batch of Great Crested Flycatcher. This particular one needed a bit more yeast in the batter as it didn’t raise its crest feathers very high.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

Not a new bird to the blog (link here), but it is still a nice find. This particular specimen was a bit worn by the looks of its back feathers and roughed up front. This is likely due to the tough migration journey across the gulf. They typically winter in Central and the northern part of South America. While checking out their regional maps, learned that there is a population in southern Florida that choose not to migrate, favoring instead to hang out at the beaches and sip on drinks with little umbrellas sticking out of them. Hard to fault their logic.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

This one was spotted on our trip to Dauphin Island back in April 2021. Probably the second bird tinned at Shell Mounds as it was perched right next to a Prothonotary Warbler (link here). The bright glowing yellow of that Warbler caught my attention first versus the more subdued yellowing the Great Crested sports on the underside. In fact, that coloring can often be completely missed if they are not facing you. In that case you need to find the rufous coloring on the lower half of their wings. They are also known as pranksters and will often imitate other birds to throw your ID off – case in point, this one declared “I’m a Vulture!”. “Not fooling me, I saw you eat a LIVE insect seconds ago”.

Great Crested Flycatcher found at Shell Mounds on Dauphin Island in April 2021

The Great Crested are one of those Flycatchers that are often heard long before they are seen, especially when they are singing/calling. I was fortunate this one was likely still exhausted from the migration and just resting on a branch in the clearing. Confirmed by Cornell’s website, these Flycatchers forage the higher levels of the tree canopy to limit competition with the numerous other members of the Tyrannidae family. At the risk of this cute Flycatcher getting added to Linda’s hate list (along with those asshat Cowbirds), this bird will often decorate their nests with shed snakeskin. Cue Linda in one..two..three “WHAT THE HELL!!!”.

Well, Ruger is now trash talking some Greyhounds out the RV window so better wrap this up before one of them demonstrates what a professional racer looks like. Take care everyone and welcome to June.

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