Flora and Fauna of Panther's Hollow

| 4/27/2016 10:14:00 AM

Tags: wildlife, Central Appalachians, observing nature, Jennifer Quinn, Scott County, VA,

Jennifer QuinnAppalachian forest

The real estate listing for this property promised abundant wildlife, and in that regard I certainly haven’t been disappointed. Some of the local critters have caused trouble in the garden and the poultry flock, but most have been a source of delight.

Where to I start? As a long-time birder, I’ll start with the abundance of bird life. In my first year at Panther’s Hollow I recorded over sixty species of birds, from the open areas by the road past my house to the back of the hollow. Some of these I’ve only heard, but the majority I’ve spotted, often from my windows while washing dishes or sitting on the sofa.

April brings the song of the Northern Parula Warbler, followed shortly by the Hooded Warbler, and later the Black-throated Blue. Meanwhile the phoebes have begun nesting, the towhees are singing their “Drink your teeeee!” and the wood thrush and ovenbird are making their presence known. As spring wears into summer the ruby-throated hummingbird is a frequent visitor to the garden, drinking nectar from the jewelweed that grows along the stream, the blossoms of the scarlet runner beans, or the flowers of the trumpet vine, which are a particular favorite.

The scarlet tanager can be found farther back in the hollow, and I’ve even spotted more elusive species, like the Louisiana waterthrush. The pileated woodpecker (think Woody) can often be heard and occasionally seen, as is the northern raven, with its hoarse croaking. Red-shouldered hawks often get my attention with their repeated “keeaaaa, keeaaa” glissando as they circle high overhead, sometimes with newly-fledged young, and the smaller broad-winged hawk occasionally signals its presence with a high “tee-deee.”

Nighttime or early evening often brings the barred owl’s “Who cooks for you, Who cooks for you-all” and other shrieks and howls, and occasionally from the porch on a summer evening I’ll hear the screech owl’s soft whinny. A few times in winter I’ve even heard the great horned owl’s mysterious hooting from somewhere deep in the woods. Out by the road in the evening I may hear a whippoorwill incessantly repeating its tremulous phrase.

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