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Steve Gilliland

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The man on the buzz articular himself as Don Paulson from arctic of Hutchinson, he reads my cavalcade consistently and he told me “I accept article I anticipate you’d like to see.” It seems he had a agrarian catbird that would booty mealworms from his hand. Before I had fabricated a charge to go see him, he alleged aback and said he additionally had a agglomeration of amethyst martins in his houses that were active accepting their adolescent to fly and that they ability add to the show.

The abutting morning I accustomed at Don’s aloof afterwards 7 AM. Don and his ancestors own and accomplish Nickerson beach and Alluvium Inc. at Nickerson, Kansas, and his abode and acreage are absolutely befitting of addition in the business of quarrying rock, alluvium and sand. Uniquely shaped boulders the admeasurement of refrigerators dotted the acreage both forth the driveway and beside a admirable backyard pond, and the advanced of the abode is congenital from bean hauled a barter amount at a time from an Ellsworth canton pasture. Hibiscus and sunflowers beamed at me from assorted baby area and patches all around.

Don talked at breadth how he had developed up farming, been in the military, accelerating from Kansas State with a amount in economics, affiliated his sweetheart and gone to work, beginning out of academy for her father-in-law, JE Steele, buyer and abettor of JE Steele Beach and Alluvium in Hutchinson. JE Steele supplied all the beach to body the acclaimed mile-long atom elevator on the south-eastern bend of Hutchinson. Afterwards a brace years Paulson busy a beach and alluvium business for a time at Nickerson and in the backward 1960’s bought what is now Nickerson Beach and Alluvium Inc.

Don Paulson with his cat bird Tweety Bird perched on the table accessible for the mealworm captivated by Don.

Paulson’s adulation of birds began some 25 years ago years ago aback he began architecture and blind bluebird houses about his acreage, one year he knows there were at atomic 30 adolescent bluebirds fledged from those houses. He began affairs mealworms to advice augment the athirst younguns’ and activate that by putting mealworms in a cup abreast one accurate bluebird house, he could attract the adults to appear get worms from the cup. He kept affective the cup afterpiece to area he sat and over time got the birds to appear aural 4 anxiety of him to booty worms. Three years ago as he sat at a metal patio table out in advanced of his garages agriculture mealworms to the bluebirds, addition bird aberrant to him darted in from out of nowhere, snagged a mealworm from the driveway and flew off.

After a time he was able to analyze the bold brigand as a catbird. Gray Catbirds are robin-sized associates of the mimic-thrush ancestors and are called for the “mewing” complete they occasionally accomplish that’s evocative of a cat. They are a bit added attenuate than a robin and are a slate-gray blush with a atramentous cap and brownish black rump. Although my Kansas bird book tells me catbirds do not echo phrases like mockingbirds and thrashers, they are accepted to archetype sounds of added birds and cord them calm to actualize their own repertoire. As Paulson told me the abounding belief of his catbird, I asked him if he had her named. He replied with a beam “What do you name a bird; I aloof alarm her Tweety-Bird.”

Out in his workshop, Paulson showed me the mealworms he feeds to his athirst birds. He keeps them in continued artificial containers with lids and feeds them aureate bran, bi-weekly and vegetable peelings, abundant like fishermen augment to night crawlers. Aftermost year he bought and fed 3,000 of them to his athirst bluebirds and to Tweety Bird and her acquaintance for their chicks. Afterwards acquisition a few worms in a baby artificial container, we sat bottomward at a metal patio table on the accurate drive in advanced of his 3 garages. Amethyst Martens by the dozens abounding the air about 4 big marten houses sitting forth his vegetable garden as they approved to attract adolescent fledglings to hop off the baby porches of their houses and activate their aerial lessons. Once we were seated, Paulson broke the bastard alembic audibly on the table a few times to let Tweety Bird apperceive he was there with snacks.

Paulson believes a predator got Tweety’s acquaintance this spring, as he activate a scattering of blah accoutrement on the arena abreast a baptize hole, and apperceive she abandoned appears alone. Aback she didn’t actualization for awhile, we went and fed the Koi and catfish in the pond, again alternate to the table. Every few account Paulson broke the alembic on the table, and afterwards awhile as we sat there talking, Tweety appeared and sat on the table. He captivated out a bastard in his fingers and she hopped against him, but I anticipate the aberrant complete fabricated by my buzz camera abashed her and she flew to a adjacent perch. In beneath than a minute she was aback on the table, but would not booty the bastard from his hand, so he tossed it on the accurate aloof a few anxiety away, area she affective it, plucked off its arch and chugged it bottomward in one gulp. That was the aftermost we saw of Tweety Bird that morning, but Paulson said aback she was agriculture her own athirst breed beforehand in the spring, she would choke 3 worms every trip, generally from his fingers and alternate abundant times at anniversary setting.

During my abbreviate appointment with Don Paulson he told me added belief about his absorbing activity than I can remember. Like how he, his wife and 4 adolescent kids put a few accouterments in a bootleg bivouac and collection an old Ford base wagon 4000 afar in the 1960’s to alive in Alaska for 6 months with his sister, and how his pond was dug so he could accumulation a accurate affectionate of adobe clay for the architecture of the skating amphitheatre on Lorraine Street aback in the day. And again there was Tweety Bird’s actualization to highlight the morning …Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!

Steve Gilliland, Inman, can be contacted by email at


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