I guess you might say that we were back to business as usual this past Saturday afternoon when Anthony Gray and myself left Peking to head south in the hopes of seeing some of our feathered friends. Someone had turned the heat off as we went to Percy Priest lake off Couchville Pike in search of some shore birds. The wind was whipping over the water which seemed to be like mother hubbards cupboard with hardly any birds in sight. Only a couple of Ring-billed Gulls disturbed the water, probably feeding on shad in the shallow water inside the cove. After almost freezing, we headed somewhere that we had hoped would be a few degrees warmer.
Our wish was granted when we finally made it out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, it was five degrees warmer, but still felt cold. It seemed that all of the birds had taken shelter within the cedar trees which did block the wind, and our ability to locate them. We were able to find a couple of Hermit Thrush, a cousin to our American Robin and Eastern Bluebirds.
As we traveled on toward the Hurricane area in southern Wilson County, we encountered an Eastern Phoebe that flew out from under a shallow bridge and landed on a low limb near the creek. You can pretty well identify a Phoebe, because of its dull wardrobe and his habit of wagging its tail in a pumping motion. There were no bird singing anywhere we stopped, maybe their beaks were chattering. Other birds seen were Black and Turkey Vultures, American Crows, and a couple of American Kestrals, (Sparrow Hawks), with one of them hovering over an old pasture looking for Voles or Meadow Mice.
We decided to stop birding and actually tried to locate a cave we had explored back in the 1990's. The cave eluded us and that was just as well because when we were in it the last time, I got stuck. After crawling for 145 feet, I became wedged just five feet short of where the cave opened up into more walking passages. Have you ever tried to crawl backwards for that length in a tight space? Not very cool.
Looking out my kitchen window this past week, I spotted an old friend from up north, enjoying a snack just below my feeders, and it wasn't even snowing. The return of the Dark-eyed Junco lets me know that winter is almost upon us. Another name for this bird is the "Snow Bird", which was made famous in a song by Anne Murray back in 1970. The term snowbird can also mean northern folks that make their way down to Florida to spend the winter months instead of putting up with the snow and freezing weather back home. I believe that I am about ready to join them down there too.
I was telling my good friend, Liz Franklin about seeing the Junco, when she told me that she saw one a couple of days before I did. There goes my bragging rights. These birds should be here all through the winter and then head back up north for breeding season. Most of the time, I don't see them unless there is a snow on the ground. Maybe things are looking up here at home.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org