Small, but beautiful flock

Photo courtesy the Ohio Division of Wildlife Male Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea

Last week Chris and I were visiting our neighbors, the Bakers and enjoying the beautiful view from their deck overlooking Big Flatrock River. Our host, Linda mentioned she had seen an Indigo Bunting in the brushy undergrowth off of the deck earlier in the day, and she thought there may be more.

Glancing in the general direction she indicated, I was surprised to see not one Indigo Bunting tucked in the willow branches, but two! In all my years of only occasionally seeing these marvelous tiny flying jewels, I’ve always seen just one each time.

As I stood there watching the two tiny birds, Linda said, “Is that another one?”

Picking up her birding binoculars, I could plainly see the third male Indigo Bunting!

For the next 15 minutes, we watched as the three chased each other around the brushy river bank. Apparently, they were in competition for a mate, but we didn’t see any apparent candidates enticing their attention among the willow branches.

Indiana Schools Shine At National Archery Tournament

Indiana schools took two of the three team titles at the 2019 National Archery in the Schools Program Eastern Nationals held in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 9-11, where more than 15,000 students participated.

Indiana schools and students brought home awards not only in Bullseye, but also in the NASP/IBO 3D Challenge, Centershot Bullseye and Centershot 3D tournaments. To date, this is the strongest finish Indiana has accomplished at any NASP® National Tournament. A total of 110 Indiana schools were represented at the national level in the Bullseye Tournament, 32 in the NASP/IBO 3D Challenge, eight in the Centershot Bullseye, and two in the Centershot 3D tournament.

Castle High School of Newburgh won the High School Division for the second consecutive year, shooting a tournament-series-record 3,480 out of a possible 3,600. For their efforts, each of the 24 students on the Castle team will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to continue their education after high school.

Reitz Memorial High School of Evansville placed fourth in Centershot Bullseye.

Hayden Elementary School of Hayden won the Elementary School Division, shooting 3,229 out the possible 3,600. Each of the students on the Hayden team will receive a $500 scholarship.

Castle’s Ashlie Garrison received the highest individual awards among females, shooting 298 out of a possible 300 to claim the Top Overall Female award, as well as being named the Top High School Female Academic Archer. She will compete for cash scholarships at the NASP® Open/Champion NASP® Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, July 25-27, along with many other archers from Indiana schools.

The highest scholarship available at the tournament is $20,000, an amount to be awarded to one female and one male archer. Overall, NASP® will award $113,000 in scholarships this year.

NASP® is a joint venture between school corporations throughout Indiana and the DNR. NASP® provides international target archery training in Indiana’s physical education classes as well as other classes for grades 4-12. NASP® supports student education and introduces many life skills through archery.

Tournament competition is open only to schools having received the archery training provided by the DNR Division of Law Enforcement and include the archery program as a part of their curriculum. More than 500 Indiana schools participate in NASP®.

The program is supported and often funded through local school corporations, the Indiana Hunter Education Association, individual donations, conservation organizations, and corporate sponsors such as the National Wild Turkey Federation.

Wyandotte Caves Reopens

Wyandotte Caves is again offering people a chance to beat the heat this summer by going underground, where the temperature is a cool 52 degrees all year.

Public tours of the caves resumed on Saturday, May 25, and are offered on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays, from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekends.

Wyandotte Caves is managed by the staff at O’Bannon Woods State Park and is located between Corydon and Leavenworth on State Road 62 in Crawford County. Camping is available at O’Bannon Woods. Reservations can be made at camp.IN.gov.

Jackets are recommended for all cave tours due to the cool temperature. Remember to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. Pets, alcohol, and tobacco use are strictly prohibited in the caves.

Big Wyandotte Cave is closed from Labor Day to Memorial Day weekend to protect hibernating Indiana bats. The cave is one of the most important hibernacula in the state for the endangered Indiana bat species. It is available for tours, but the tours are classified as rugged due to the steep terrain and stairs people must navigate. Tours take two hours and cover roughly 1.5 miles.

Little Wyandotte Cave is available for pre-scheduled group tours throughout the year. The tours of this cave are open to all ages. They are shorter and easier than the Big Wyandotte tour, at 35-40 minutes, because of a lack of long staircases. The tour offers a view of many flowstone and dripstone formations. Occasionally, a cave-dwelling species may be seen.

Both caves reopened in the summer of 2016 after a multi-year closure prompted by the impacts of white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease affecting bats across the Eastern U.S. and beyond.

O’Bannon Woods State Park (on.IN.gov/obannonwoodssp) is at 7234 Old Forest Road, Corydon, 47112.

‘till next time, Jack

Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or e-mail at jackspaulding@hughes.net.