Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nesting Season in Downtown Sanford

Sanford, North Carolina arose in the 1870's at the junction of the Raleigh and Augusta Air Line Railroad and the Western Railroad in what is now designated as the Historic Downtown area. Visitors to the area today will find a significant number of historic homes and businesses, including the Railroad House and the Temple Theatre. Eclectic shops, antiques, talented local artists, great restaurants, and phenomenal live performances at the Temple are among the many reasons to visit. Hoot Owl Karma has discovered that Historic Downtown Sanford  is also something of an urban wildlife hotspot...

The faux owls dotting the rooflines indicate that Sanford has its share of "problem" pigeons (rock doves), just like every other small town with vacant downtown attic space in the South. For months in the late winter and early spring, flocks of cedar waxwings make the rounds of the ornamental hollies lining the downtown streets, wheeling and turning among the old downtown buildings as they gorge themselves in the safety of the downtown bird sanctuary, but these are far from the only birds in town.

The observant wanderer about downtown might encounter an avian inhabitant in the most unexpected places, even here, right alongside the rails where fifty cars of CSX freight just thundered past. Do you see the bird nest? It's right there, along the margin of the gravel and the weeds, three large speckled eggs, hiding in plain sight...

See them yet?
The cry of the killdeer can be heard throughout the vacant open spaces along the downtown portion of the tracks, and nature's brilliant scheme for disguising its precious eggs is as effective here among the trackside litter as it was on the pre-pioneer plains of a bygone age or among the scattered shells near the shore of some ancient sea.

Both male and female adults linger nearby, not yet sounding the alarm or feigning injury to lure us away from ground zero, but diligent and wary of any threatening move on our part. Next time you're out and about in your downtown, keep an eye out for oddly shaped pebbles; after all, May is nesting season!

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