Dust Trail: Is it the key to “Who did it?”

Sometimes, even just a dust trail can lead to the discovery of an event, exposing what really happened to whom.

It may be just a matter of looking at the evidence (the effect) in context and in the right light. One late afternoon looking out of my large picture window, I discovered a very sizable dirty spot in my vision. It appeared that a dust bomb had hit the window. Now, it was not an unusual situation that we would have dust smudges from bouncing birds who seem to delight in ricocheting off the window as they fly past, but this was a direct hit by, it was a dust trail.

We live in the woods in the shadow of a mountain and just off our screened porch is a bit of a bird haven where we have provided both cover via trees and bushes and also chicken wire meshed sanctuaries where the song birds, can eat without the threat of the hawks and other flying predators that might, and do, hunt this area. We have had numerous hawks hit the screen mesh in a power dive assuming it wasn’t there and ricocheting off in dismay. Watching the birds interact, it is very curious how they compete, yet assist one another in the big picture stuff. This is curiously true of the prey-class of many species but not so much of the predator-class.

Watching the birds interact, it is very curious how they compete, yet assist one another in the big picture stuff. This is curiously true of the prey-class of many species but not so much of the predator-class.

One of the more obnoxious birds that visit our feeders is the Black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia) or camp robber, as it is known. It is noisy, pugnacious, and sneaky-greedy for food with the other birds. Yet when a small hawk snuck into one of the trees awaiting a bird hors d’oeuvre of junco, the magpie started squawking and screaming and bouncing around in the vicinity of the hawk to the point that the hawk gave up and went its way.

There is a curious symbiotic relationship between the birds of the prey-feather where they stick together when a predator bird is present.

In my blog post “Listening To Your Hike” I observed a very brave red squirrel drive a great horned owl crazy to the point that the owl left the immediate habitat due to the squirrel’s constant agitation. The squirrel wasn’t doing this to save its hide; it was announcing to the rest of the forest that a bad guy was present and to stay away/watch-out!

Meanwhile back to the dust bomb or dust trail my experience with bird-predators is that they get highly focused in their aerial attacks. I have also noticed that birds love to take dust baths. They use dust as a cleansing agent and you often will see them flapping up a storm of dust.

Perceiving that the effect, the dust bomb, was likely relevant and deducing from the evidence of activity I was familiar with in the interplay between bird predator and bird prey my inclination was that the dust bomb was in fact, a trail in the dust that was likely caused by a misguided missile. So when the sun came out the next day I attempted to view the dust trail; from every angle to see if I could ascertain a description of the cause.

This interplay between effect and cause is the essence of deductive reasoning.

You are not just seeing but observing and then contemplating what you are seeing, looking for further evidence, and then grappling with the facts you find in your mind. This is the path to discovery. This is the key to unlocking the secrets and discovering the adventures going on in the habitat of your hiking. This is the same interplay you will learn is necessary with each of your senses. You will start listening to what you are hearing; tasting what you are smelling; and asking, “what is that, who is talking and why, where is it coming from, or maybe how long has it been there or why is it missing?”

Seek and you will find, ask and you will receive; don’t just walk the path, but experience the activity that is being lived right before your eyes.

I hope to see you on the trails of adventure.

With hiking stick in hand,

Scott

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *