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The Widow at the Window

posted by Jeff Bilsky at
on Friday, May 20, 2011 

Around my company I'm known as: "Bilsky, the guy who's in to birds." This gets me everything from weird looks, stares (mostly when I pull out my binocs to look at the trees across the street), jokes, and random bird-related questions. Recently I was in Florida, visiting my company's home office near Tampa, and my reputation had most definitely preceded me. One employee sought me out to ask my advice on the following dilemma...

Night after night he is being tormented by the call of the Chuck-will's-widow. It's described as a "seemingly endless call" by most accounts and my co-worker was desperate for a solution. He was at the point of considering capital punishment for the crime of sleep deprivation but I urged him to try other options - pointing out that the law frowns upon such things even if his weary eyes didn't. I also pointed out that the bird was only doing what it's evolution demanded. He seemed open to finding a way to co-exist peacefully and I suggested scaring the bird away with the call of the greatest predator of the night, the Great Horned Owl. The experiment is underway and thus far seems to be having mixed results. He reports that after his initial night of playing the owl call for 20 minutes the Widow left and didn't come back for nearly a week. Then he played the owl call again and the bird left...but then came back the next night. I wouldn't normally condone the use of an ipod in such a manner but I was trying to come up with a quick solution to help prevent the death of a Nightjar at the hands of the sleep-deprived. Apparently this is a community of a dozen or so homes that lives on the edge of the woods so there is no shortage of wildlife. He said that the community has decided to put up some owl boxes around the area to help control the burgeoning rodent population as well as to hopefully scare away the Chuck-will's-widows; perhaps the Barred Owl is a lullaby compared to the Widow.

Anyone have any other ideas on what to do in this situation or any similar stories about losing sleep because of a noisy bird?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

give it a month and all will be well...

May 20, 2011 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

haha, that of course makes the most sense but I don't think non-birders have the patience we have. The few times I've been woken up by a bird in my yard I might as well have been a kid hearing Santa on the roof...

May 20, 2011 at 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Jerry Liguori said...

Use earplugs.

How could such a mellow sound keep someone awake? I used to love hearing those things when I lived back East. Sherry and I would stay up just to listen to them....and then fall right asleep.

May 20, 2011 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Jeff Bilsky said...

@Jerry - That seems like the reasonable solution to me as well.

May 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM  

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