Watching the bird feeder through the bathroom window Wednesday morning, I could see our feathered friends were cajoling for limited space at the breakfast table. Most of the seed outlets had been clogged by overnight snow.
I wanted to remember that the last thing before leaving the house and with boots on, I’d replenish the seed supply and clear the covered place-settings.
Just then, a much larger customer swooped downward near the blanketed foot of the feeder and then upward toward the nearby butterfly bush. The other birds were flustered by the intrusion. Some dodged into the bush.
Its rusty tail feather gave the red-tailed hawk away as it dove into the butterfly bush.
What might have been a safe hiding place for escape, became a confusing maze for a few chickadees, finches and sparrows. One was easy pickings for the hawk.
I couldn’t make out the color or shape of the entree that was on the hawk’s menu after the predator rose and perched momentarily in the thin treeline. I also didn’t see movement from the food in its talons.
Just like that, the hawk was gone. Presumably to dine alone.
Twenty minutes later, the site of the fly-in breakfast was still void of customers.
I left for work without adding seeds or cleaning the feeder.
I thought it best that the establishment be closed for a bit.
Big show coming soon
The Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg has made the transition from the 102nd Farm Show (loved the milkshakes), to the Auto Show next week, and then to the largest consumer sports and outdoor show in the world, Feb. 3-11.
The Great American Outdoor Show features 650,000 square feet of indoor floor space, more than 1,100 exhibitors in nine exhibit halls, and more than 400 outfitters and fishing charter captains in attendance.
To turn a phrase made famous by the late, great sportscaster Keith Jackson, the outdoor show is the granddaddy of them all.
Some of the highlights of this year’s show include:
DockDogs: The high-flying canine sensation is back in the Large Arena. Anyone who thinks their four-legged companion has what it takes to compete in one, two or all three of the DockDog events is eligible to participate. Go Ol’ Blue, go!
3D Bowhunter Challenge: Archery skills are on display in a dynamic 30-shot course for a chance to win trophies and cash prizes. Even if you aren’t there to compete, anybody with a bowhunting bone in their body will be impressed by the acumen and accuracy of shooters from all across the Northeast. The course is pretty spectacular, too.
Wall of Guns: Play the odds in the National Rifle Association Foundation’s popular event and try to win your choice from more than 60 firearms.
The Friends of NRA Banquet: This family-friendly night of fundraising includes chances to bid on and win unique firearms, merchandise and hunts.
NRA Country Concert, Feb. 10: NRA Country presents Granger Smith and LoCash with special guests Nate Hosie and Earl Dibbles Jr., in the Large Arena.
More than 200 seminars and demonstrations on hunting, fishing, cooking and self/home defense, including several appearances by outdoor celebrities and experts. The Hawg Tank returns.
The show draws nearly 200,000 attendees over nine days to the Archery, Boats, Fishing, Hunting Outfitters, Outdoor Products, RVs and the Shooting Sports exhibit halls.
The NRA says the show has at least a $75 million economic impact on the surrounding community.
Show hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 3 (Saturday); 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 4 (Sunday); 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 5-9 (Monday-Friday); 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 10 (Saturday); 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Feb. 11 (Sunday).
Tickets are $14 for adults, $7 for child aged 6-12, free for children 5 and younger with paid adult, $12 for seniors (65 or older), $24 for a 2-day pass, and $12 a ticket for group tickets of 10 or more. Tickets are on sale at the show’s official website, www.greatamericanoutdoorshow.org.
The NRA plans to donate from the show to the Pennsylvania Game Commission and Swatara Township Police Department.
The NRA said that since it took over the Great American Outdoor Show four years ago, more than $194,000 has been donated to central Pennsylvania law enforcement, youth groups and other eligible organizations.
The Game Commission will receive a $15,220 grant to acquire night vision goggles for the Woodland Tracking Team. The team is frequently deployed to search for lost or missing hunters and hikers. A recent mission using night vision goggles enabled officers to find a father and daughter lost during archery season. Officers located the pair at 2 a.m. three miles from the nearest road.
The Swatara Township Police Department will get a $10,000 grant to support their newly approved K-9 program. The department will reintroduce the K-9 program for the first time in 11 years.
Eagles hope to lay an egg
The pair of bald eagle parents spent time shoring up at the nest high above Codorus State Park in York County this week.
That is especially great news, considering they hadn’t been spotted, by me at least, on the 24/7 livestream provided on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website in many days.
The integrity of the nest itself was questionable following yet another breakdown. It appeared as though part of it had fallen for at least the second time. What is usually a masterful, basketlike weave of limbs and sticks the size of a small car better resembled the shambles of a human bad-hair day.
Eagles can whip a nesting place into shape pronto and they were working at it, so there is hope that these two have not abandoned the two-camera limelight and may produce eggs in it in February.
When nesting actually begins, Momma will be there 24/7 and you can catch the “action” on the commission website, pgc.pa.gov. Find “Quick Click” on the left side of the homepage and click-thru “Hanover Bald Eagle Live Stream.”
Dollars up, bucks down
Deer hunters may be allowed to shoot a second buck, if the Game Commission follows through with the latest money grab idea.
They are exploring permits so that a limited number of hunters could shoot a second buck. A lot of details must be worked out. Would the extra buck license be sold over the counter or by lottery? What would the cost be? $100? $150?
What do Sentinel readers and deer hunters think of the idea?
Send your wild thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Arrows2010.