Today is Saturday, August 19, 2017

Land Down Under In My Backyard

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Chickadee Feeding From Down Under

How many of you had trouble pushing yourself away from the dinner table Thanksgiving Day? I know that I did, especially going to two dinners. The holidays is always a rough time if you are trying to maintain your waistline. I can forget that for sure.

Anthony Gray picked me up right on time for our Peking rendezvous. Nothing starts a cold afternoon of birding like a nice bowl of hot and sour soup. Peking makes the absolute best. We just happened to run into Liz and Willis Franklin there. I was telling Liz where we had planned to go and what we would most likely find when we got there. Sharon Rossers home is down in the boondocks and she keeps out several bird feeders loaded with black oil sunflower seeds. At this time of the year, you can expect to see the regulars bunched up at your feeding station, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, House Finch, and Goldfinch. Of course the Goldfinch will be in their drab colors until spring approaches.

I had told Liz that I was expecting to find White-breasted Nuthatch there because of the location in the deep woods. She had never seen one before and I had my camera and was hoping to get a decent shot for my article. Within only two minutes there was one coming down the tree head first.

With my Nikon in hand, I tried to sneak up in a good position for a great shot. Even using my telephoto lens, it's not always easy to get a perfectly focused picture. There are three red spots you will see through the camera where the lens will focus on when you depress the picture taking button half way. Try as I may, the camera only wanted to focus on the side of the tree trunk closest to me instead of the Nuthatch. I fired off three frames and could only hope that one of the bunch might be usable. After getting to the house and downloading them to my computer, I was disappointed to find them unsuitable to use with my story, even though I sent Liz the best one to her, via Facebook.

I thought that maybe if I put on my green jacket and Anthony's black stocking hat, that I would blend into the background of the green shrubbery next to the house. The Nuthatch must have been nervous about me because he was like a no-show Jones, as I stood as still as I could for close to twenty minutes. Finally with leg muscles aching, I had to move on to get some feeling back into my lower extremities. I did manage a decent picture of a Tufted Titmouse eating beneath the feeder, (see photo).

There are only certain birds that you will find around your house during the winter months and even then, it will greatly depend on what type of surroundings you may live in. Song Sparrows like to hang out in dense thickets or thick shrubbery. The White-throated Sparrows like the deep woods situation. House, or English Sparrows will congregate anywhere there is food. I don't care for this species as they are invasive, brought here around 1850 to control agricultural pest. They are one of the two species that do more damage than good. They can even wipe out a nesting family of Eastern Bluebirds. The other bird is the European Starling, need I say more? Right now they congregate in flocks of thousands all over Lebanon. Just take a good look at your car. What a mess.

I mentioned bird seed types in my last weeks article. I do have one plastic feeder in my backyard that I place safflower seeds in and "my" squirrels will not touch it. They don't seem to like it, maybe because they can't smell it, since it is in a tougher shell than the other seeds. At least they won't chew up something they don't give a hoot for.

Suet is another favorite food that attracts certain good birds to your feeders. Woodpeckers of all types will find this kind of food delicious. There are even kinds that contain hot pepper to keep the squirrels at bay. I modified my suet feeder to help keep undesirable birds from feeding on it. It hangs upside-down where only certain types of birds can eat from it, (see photo). My Chickadee, Titmouse, Mockingbird, and several of our Woodpecker species can enjoy a meal from it without competition from other birds that eat here at my 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,

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Our Feathered Friends
Anthony Gray, Liz Franklin, Ray Pope, Sharon Rosser, Willis Franklin
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