Today is Thursday, August 17, 2017

39 Years and Counting

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Black-throated-green Warbler Male

Even with the spotty rain showers, my 39th year leading bird walks and Owl Prowls turned out to be a lot of fun for myself and others who braved the weather.

Arriving at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, it was mostly cloudy and a decent temperature to start off my weekend. I was to be staying in cabin #10, one of my old favorites, made out of cut limestone.

Out the door for my 7:00am birdwalk, the clouds were weeping and I started thinking about our 2010 May birdwalk in which we had one of our worst floods in history. Of course right after my bird program, the weather stopped raining and we had a beautiful afternoon, except for the time to grill out the steaks.

Melissa Turrentine along with her husband Roy, converged out in the parking lot next to the Dixon Merritt Nature Center. The rain started coming down and we headed for the dryness of the new gazebo, where the old ballfield used to be. From this vantage spot we could see and hear most anything.

Off in the distance, where the restrooms are, we found Eastern Phoebes sitting on a powerline, then diving to the ground to catch a flying insect that was too wet to fly. All around us came sounds of bird calls, just waiting to be identified. The Call of the Ovenbird came from under dense trees to our south. Their call sounds like, "Teacher, Teacher, Teacher." Myself and others in the bird loving world, learn these songs by placing them into "phonics."

Up in the treetops, we hear a song, sounding like the tinkling of small bells. This is the Blackpoll Warbler. Most of the Warbler species live and breed up into the northern states and Canada. They are just passing through our area during spring migration. The males of the species wear a bright collection of feathers while the females are quite dull looking. This will help them stay more protected while they are sitting on the nest.

We found a Blaclburnian Warbler dancing around in the treetops. This particular Warbler is one of the most beautiful of their species. See their photo and then judge for yourself.

Our own solid red bird makes it's appearance high in the Tulip Popular tree. Unlike our Northern Cardinal, that wears a black face patch, the Summer Tanager is a solid red in color. These beautiful birds can be found during the summer months at the Cedars of Lebanon. They perfer to eat wasp and even honey bees.

My old friend, Sharon Bracy, was there doing her program on eddible plants and had several jars for sell that she had made. My favorite was her Prickly Pear Jelly, yum! Sharon took several people out to show them what they could consume while they were out in the wilds.

At 3:00pm, it's time fot the Geology Workshop, my favorite. Even as a small child, I have always been fasinated with rocks and fossils. My mother was afraid that the ceiling of our old house might fall in because of the rocks that I had collected. Ron and Angie Zurawski had changed the format a little and kept a captive audience on the edge of their seats.

Finally after trying to light my charcoal in a steady rain, I came out the victor, thanks to a foil roasting pan to cover and keep the steaks dry while they cooked. Diana Bright had tossed a delicious salad and our guest for the evening, Kelly Crowder and I sat down to good company.

7:00pm finally gets here and now it is time for the last program of the day, my world famous, Owl Prowl. I kid you not, I have had several people from all over the world go with me into the woods to call Owls. It didn't take too long before we had six Owls a hooting back at us. These are what is known as "eight hooters," the Barred Owl. Their voices seem to say, "who cooks for you, who cooks for you all."

Here is a list of the 55 birds that we heard or saw during our weekend. Coopers Hawk, Wild Turkey, Mourning Dove, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Barred Owl, Chuck Wills Widow, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Eastern Wood Peewee, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, American Crow, Carolina Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Swainson's Thrush, Veery, Wood Thrush, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Prairie Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Kentucky Warbler, Ovenbird, Yellow-breasted Chat, Palm Warbler, Summer Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Field Sparrow, Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Goldfinch, Red-headed Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Vireo.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking around in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at,

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Our Feathered Friends
Ray Pope
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