Hidden Hollow is an established wildlife sanctuary on a conservation easement in the Floyds Fork preservation area of eastern Jefferson County, Kentucky. Most of the 50 acres are natural woodland habitat, full of native wildflowers. We have seen over 65 varieties of birds. The Floyds Fork Environmental Association has counted 296 varieties. Some say their name, such as Phoebes, and Towhee birds, who also say "Cheewink" and "Drink your tea." The barred owl at dusk will ask, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?" There are also wild turkey, scarlet tanager, bluebirds, and at one time, a shy cuckoo. An old cow pond, now a woodland pond, is home to spring peepers and other frogs. We have seen salamanders, cave skinks, as well as evidence of beaver, deer, and other small mammals.
Plantings have been made to enhance habitat. Hedgerows of 6000 Thunberg Lespedeza bushes, blooming in August, were perhaps the greatest success. Their flowers provide nectar for bees, and their seeds are a favorite winter food of bobwhite quail. Brush piles are left for turtle and other small creatures to find shelter. Ground hogs sometimes choose them to keep rain out of their burrows. Wild places give cover. Daisy-like flowers and butterflyweed offer nectar for butterflies. Hummingbirds migrate with the bloom of the jewelweed. Even the lowly dandelion gives seeds for birds. Lichen and seed fluff provide downy nesting material for hummingbirds and others.
After the freeze of 1996, Bobwhite quail were reintroduced to the habitat, in open bottom cages (taken in at night.) They taught us their favorite foods. At the top of their list were Lespedeza seed, grapes and other berries. Chickweed was also a great favorite, with clover, broccoli, and of course apples. Having had their fill of chicken feed in their youth, they preferred millet, and were not above stripping every green spine from a branch of eastern red cedar. From worst to best, one food they would not tolerate was nandina domestica berries, and the greatest excitement was when an unfortunate worm wandered into the cage. Like all of us, the little bobwhites had individual characters. Patch was their leader and watched out for the others, but that is another story. The quail were finally freed. While they make themselves invisible most of the time. Now and then we hear low peeping sounds beside us, then see a covey of eight or twelve little birds flush into the air, to a little ways off. Or in the distance, you might here... "Bob-bob-white!"
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