By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
With the pandemic messing with all our social gatherings, Holy Cross had to perform a “virtual” Good-bye at the end of my 51 years as pastor. It was decided that all would be invited to drive by in the parking lot with horns honking, balloons floating and signs showing support.
During that parade I was observing one of the hand made posters which announced: “We will miss you, Rev. Fr. Tim…gardener…bird watcher…spiritual leader…rescuer.” I will miss those wonderful parishioners also….but…
I would like to comment on that epitaph “bird watcher”. We birders do much more than watch birds. We also listen to their calls. We make quick judgements about what kind of species we are observing. We then research and ponder and learn more about the feathered one. (You do know that feathers are an essential part of being listed as a bird!)
I have an example of being a “bird thinker”. On the last day of my 51 years, I was in my garden at my new residence in Fruitdale puttering around. My binoculars were close at hand. I noticed a red-tail hawk on the summit of a near-by power line tower. A group of starlings were fussing at the hawk.
All of sudden a newcomer came flapping into the line of cedar trees under the power lines.
My first guess was that it was a different kind of bird. Then it flew to a nearby wooden telephone pole and I immediately knew it was a woodpecker. I watched it intently for several minutes. It was pecking vigorously at bugs hidden in the wood. All the time it was wary of the red-tail hawk high above it.
There was a red crown of feathers and several white patches and very dark wings were obvious when it flew finally into some distant cedars.
Now was the time for some “bird thinker” action! It was bigger than a downy and it was not the usual red-bellied and some of the characteristics were pointing to the red-headed woodpecker which is rare, but sometimes seen in Dallas County.
Back at my computer I began to look at the Audubon guide to birds. It was not a red-headed woodpecker, nor a downy, nor a yellow-bellied sapsucker! Lo and behold, on checking out the Pileated Woodpecker, all my field notes came into focus.
I had not realized that this bird, which is often seen in the Trinity Forest, had wandered up into the highlands of East Oak Cliff! In my record book a new bird for my new location in life.
Father Timothy Gollob is a retired priest, who served 51 years as pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.