Above: Common Blue Violet, one of many violet species enjoyed during the festival.
This is one of the fun parts of attending a nature festival and a good description of my experience at The Meadows at Opossum Creek Retreat during the New River Birding and Nature Festival. I couldn't possibly remember everything I saw and heard on that day, but familiarity is the first step and I did store away a few enriching experiences to share with you.
My first delight of the day was learning a new bird song, the Ovenbird's "teacher, teacher, teacher". As many as three of these birds were singing in the area as we walked. Even though one of our hosts, Keith Richardson (right), had his scope handy, we did not see Ovenbirds on this day. As the days of the festival went by, I had more opportunity to practice recognition of this song. More about this bird later.
A blue-green lichen picked up from the ground, now has a name and an interesting function.
Lichen is actually formed by a symbiotic relationship between an alga and a fungus. This particular blue-green lichen is called Green Shield Lichen. The expert who called our attention to it was Jim McCormack (right), who rolled the scientific name off his tongue like it was an everyday expression, Flavoparmelia caperata. This is also the name of the fungus that partners to create the lichen.
Even more fascinating, Jim informed us that hummingbirds favor this type lichen for nest building material because of its characteristic ruffled edges. These variable edges make the lichen easier to pry loose and more pliable for molding into the rounded shape of a tiny hummingbird nest.
Bill Hilton, Jr.(left) talked about birds while demonstrating banding.
Below, he examines a female Red-bellied Woodpecker's feathers to age her for the record and explained that the emerging red feathers on her crown were an indicator of older age, possibly caused by hormonal changes.
Birds were only part of what we enjoyed on our nature walks. Keith Richardson pointed out the leaves of the Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain growing along an adjacent wooded trail.
Next: WV's Waterfalls and Warblers
Related Links and resources:
WV's New River Birding and Nature Festival
Bill Hilton Jr--Hilton Pond
National Park Service, New River Gorge Website
Jim McCormack--Ohio Bird and Biodiversity and Hummers, gnatcatchers and lichen
What are Lichens?
Susan Kailholz-Williams--Susan Gets Native
Debbie Barnes-DJB Photo Adventures
And on this blog, you may be interested in:
Impressed with a Red-bellied Woodpecker's Tongue and Who's Boss?