Glynn Harris: ‘Will’s Widow’ doing fine

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Glynn Harris | Special to the Minden Press-Herald

In last week’s column, you read about the plight of blue birds that are largely absent from our area today. The culprit that took a heavy toll of these birds seems to be the snow, ice and frigid temperatures we endured back in February. I continue to receive reports of people who found dead bluebirds in nesting boxes where they retreated for protection from the cold. Many didn’t make it.

There is another species of birds that are apparently more hardy and better insulated than bluebirds. Whippoorwills – most in our part of the world are actually Chuck Will’s Widows – seem to be making it. For the purposes of this article, we’ll refer to them as Whips and Chucks.

The Chuck is one bird I grew up listening to with it’s “chip-fell-out of-the-white oak” distinctive call from late afternoons on into the night and again early mornings. I live in the country but for some reason, the woods around our home are not attractive to these birds because I recall only hearing one in our woods and that was several years ago. 

Marty Edmonds, retired biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, contacted me last week to share what he encountered this year.

“I was out on my tractor in late May or June when I came up on a pair of birds acting like quail or kildeers do to fake injury. I knew they were trying to divert me from a nest. I identified the birds as (Chucks),” Edmonds said. 

Walking over to investigate, Edmonds found a pair of eggs lying in the leaves, which is the nature of these birds; they don’t construct nests but simply lay them on the ground.

The saga continued when out riding his four wheeler10 days ago, Edmonds saw movement in the leaves. Again his curiosity was piqued and walking over, he saw what he believed to be a Chuck fledgling.

“It had all he markings of an adult bird, mottled brown in color about 4 or 5 inches long with head and beak resembling an adult. What was interesting,” Edmonds continued, “was that I found this chick at least 200 yards from were I had found the nest weeks earlier. Was this one of the hatchlings from the eggs I found earlier or is this a bird from a different nest?”

Actually, Edmonds experience is the second such I have learned about. About this time two years ago, a couple of friends living on the outskirts of Ruston had been hearing a Chuck behind their home. They took a walk out back and came upon a pair of eggs similar to the ones Edmonds had found and they saw the adult bird in the area. They were unable to confirm that the eggs hatched and recently reported to me they had not heard the bird’s call this year.

Adding to the intrigue of these birds, last week, a friend shared his recording of the call of a bird at dusk he was hearing near his camp in western Lincoln Parish. The call was the distinctive three notes of a Whip repeated rapidly over and over and not a Chuck’s typically six note call.

According to a web site I found, Audubon.org, “the whippoorwill breeds from Missouri and North Carolina up through New England and Minnesota while Chuck Wills Widow breed further south, from east Texas and Florida to the Mason-Dixon line.”

Our bluebirds may be in short supply but it is gratifying to note that we might still be able to hear the nighttime call of a Chuck Wills Widow…..and maybe even that of a genuine Whippoorwill. 

Glynn Harris’ Outdoors appears Tuesdays in the Minden Press-Herald.

Fishing Report

BUSSEY BRAKE – Bream fishing has been good fishing worms or crickets around the trees. Bass continue to be fair around the trees on soft plastics and spinners. Crappie are scattered and fair. No report on catfish. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.

BLACK BAYOU – Bass have been fair around the edges of the grass and brush on jigs and spinners. Bream fishing is fair this week. Crappie are scattered and fair on shiners or jigs. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.

OUACHITA RIVER – The river is still high with lots of current. Best fishing for bass and crappie has been in the river lakes. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.

LAKE D’ARBONNE – Bass have been fair fishing the deep holes in the channels especially at the mouth of creeks and run-outs. Soft plastics, jigs and crank baits are picking up a few. Crappie fishing continues to be best fishing the flats in 25 foot water fishing 8-10 feet deep on shiners or jigs. Bream fishing is good on worms and crickets. Catfishing continues to be good off the banks and on the flats on night crawlers and cold worms. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.

LAKE CLAIBORNE – Big news this week has to do with stripers. They are schooling and hitting topwater lures with the Chug Bug when they’re on top and trolling Bomber Fat Free Shad in citrus color working on fish when they’re down. Bass have been better at night fishing crank baits and Shaky Heads around the lights.  Some are also being caught fishing the points on the main lake with crank baits. Crappie have been better at night around the lights in 20 foot deep water. Bream are still around the beds and catfishing has been fair on cold worms. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264.

CANEY LAKE – Some really good bass have been caught with the Carolina rig picking up at least three bass in the 9 to 10 pound range. Some are also being caught on crank baits around the deeper points as well as at night around the lighted piers. Crappie are around the deeper tops and hitting jigs and shiners fished 12 feet deep in 15-25 foot water. Bream are on the beds and hitting crickets and worms. No report on catfish. For information contact  Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.

LAKE POVERTY POINT – Bass and crappie are fair. Catfish and bream are fair to good. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101. 

LAKE ST. JOHN – Crappie are slow. Bass are fair early on Spooks and plastic frogs with soft plastics later in the day. Bream and catfish are good.  For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.

LAKE YUCATAN – No report. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.

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