Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beware of the Kestrals, Especially Mice

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Great Horned Owl Caught in the Chicken Pen



Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. I thank God for the birth of his son, and let us all rejoice, because Jesus is the reason for the season.

We had to hit the trail earlier this past Saturday because Anthony Gray had to do the grandparent thing in the afternoon. After hitting the gas pumps for a little under two dollars for a gallon, we headed out toward the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, hoping to see a few of our feathered friends. Stopping out in front of the nature center, we found such a quietness all around the area. There was nothing stiring, not even a mouse, at least in that place.

We headed out Cedar Forrest Road in the direction of Norene. Still, no movements from anything, except the distant rush of the wind in the tall grass. Finally turning right on to Cainsville Road, we found American Kestrals sitting on the telephone wires, overlooking the fields. At one time we watched one of them dart off from their perch to the ground, then fly away with a mouse in their talons. Most any large field has a plethora of small rodents living there, field mice and voles. Voles are like a souped-up version of a mouse, but with a stubby tail.

Small flocks of sparrow type birds flitted just in front of us, sticking to the cover of the overgrown fence roads while we were riding down Salem Road. The best look that I could get with my binoculars shown them to be Field Sparrows. A little farther down the road, which crossed over two creeks, more small birds flew up. It was much easier to identify them as Dark-eyed Juncos. When they take to the air, you will see a pair of white feathers in their tail, which makes them much easier to tell their species from other birds.

Anthony Gray stopped by one afternoon to show me a picture that Sharon Rosser had taken out in her chicken pen. She had been having problems with racoons getting into the pen and had reinforced around the bottom to help protect the chickens. Somehow, there was a hole above, just big enough for a Great Horned Owl to squeeze through. When she went out to feed, there was the remains of one of her chickens on the ground. Sitting up on one of the roost poles was the culprit. The Owl (see Photo)was sitting there waiting to be let out of his prison. Sharon loves all of the birds that come to her yard and did not want to destroy this beautiful creature and was looking for someone to put the new squatter out.

Here in my own backyard, there is an array of different birds feeding at different times of the day. Most people don't think that American Robins hang around here when the weather turns cold. I have them year round. Most of our Robins head south and are replaced by some of our northern Robins. Kind of a swap up. There is a pair of Bluejays that come to eat, flying in like gang busters, sending the much smaller birds toward cover. Even my Mockingbird gets out of their way.

I would like to wish each and everyone of you a very Merry Christmas and hope that you will give our birds a helping hand when it comes to food. Remember to keep Christ in Christmas and hope that you all have a safe holiday.

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, Sharon Rosser
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