Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

Beware of Nature's Undertakers

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Natures Undertaker Black Vultures

We have come to a very dry period now and my okra is loving it. You can almost sit outside and watch it grow. I just hope it doesn't stay this way. There are times that we need rain so the lawn mowing people can make their money, just not too much too soon. That can cause the tomato's skin to bust.

This weekend, we didn't get to go birding on Saturday as usual. Anthony Gray was making plans for his wife Linda Gray's birthday party. It was a most enjoyable affair, right down to the birthday meal, which was delicious. I had better mention my friend, David (Big) Hemontolor. We used to bowl together and he was telling off on me about some of the things that I used to do. Some things are better left alone.

Leaving the party, Diana Bright and I decided to drive out the New Hartsville Pike to see if they had finished the work on it. We were able to drive all the way to the Trousdale County line before we started seeing "Road Work" signs.

Turning around, we headed back toward Lebanon, then taking a right on Ford Road, we keep an eye out for American Kestrals. They were out in force, some just sitting on the telephone lines, others hovering above the fields. There have been many a time that we have spotted them with some small rodent clutched in their talons. Kestrals make good hunters as they will hover above a field and with their excelent vision, spot the slightest movement in the grass below, then slam into it from above.

Driving on, we turn left onto Beasley's Bend Road. Several Eastern Bluebirds greet us as we make our way through the twist and turns on the road. Bluebirds are one of my favorites and have nested in my back yard ever since I have been living here. Sometimes they have returned and raised a second and even a third brood. After the Bluebirds left for the last time, a family of House Wrens took over their nesting box.

We drive out to the old Blowed-out bridge on S. Dickerson Road, where we end up at Cedar Creek. In years past, before Old Hickory Dam was constructed, we could drive over the bridge and then picnic at Lock Five. During the late fiftys, it seemed that half of the people who lived in Lebanon, had a boat. I know that we would head out to the river after church almost every Sunday.

Bird life was scarce, maybe because of the fishermen there trying to catch supper. Some brave soul was standing on the side of the bridge, then plunged head first into the murky water. I have fished this area around the bridge and know that there is a lot of structure beneath the water where a person could get entangled and never get back to the surface.

There are several Ruby-throated Hummingbirds hanging around my feeders. It's not too late to place them out before northern hummers start their migration south. I was just now at my kitchen window and spotted my young Downy Woodpecker drinking from my hummer feeder. There have been many people sending me e-mails asking what these birds were. It must be a southern thing, like us southerners liking us some sweet tea.

My Housefinch seem to have taken over my sunflower feeder, and now it seems like a forty pound bag of sunflower seed doesn't last near as much as it used to. I don't know where all of them come from, but they are here in droves.

They have now bush-hogged the hay field behind my house. I believe someone has gotten their signals crossed because not too long after it was cut before, Shorty Taylor came to cut and bale hay on it. Hundreds of old nasty starlings are now feeding there.

I am wondering where my Song Sparrows will go to nest next year. They have been nesting in the yard across the street, where the back yard was allowed to grow wild. Now the new owners have prepared the house for resale and the yard has been mowed, it looks like a different place.

My good friend Jim Cilchrist left me a letter and a photo disc at the Wilson Post this past week. Jim was telling me that they feed the birds on the front deck, but after dark, they are visited by raccoons, possums, and other critters of the night. He said that he thought that he heard a ten pound squirrel thumping upon the roof. Going outside to investigate, Jim discovered three Black Vultures sitting on the roof staring back at him. Jim, was this an omen, not likely. Why don't we name them Moe, Larry, and Curley. Jim said that he is not likely to forget his visit with natures undertaker.

This past Sunday, I received a phone call from Mary and Edward Lheureux about why are the birds not coming to their house. It could be several different reasons, including the heat, dry conditions, and lack of a good food and water source. My back yard has been overflowing with birds, where I keep out plenty food and fresh water. Mary, you are welcome to take a few of my extra birds home with you.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can write me at, 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087, or e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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Anthony Gray, Ray Pope
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