I hope that everyone is enjoying this wet October. This is usually the driest month of the year. I would be safe to say that the good Lord knows more than us mortals. The water table here is much different than it was several years ago. I've seen springs that have disappeared altogether. Be careful what you pray for.
Anthony Gray picked me up right on time to start our Saturday Morning bird hunt. We retreated to the home of Sharon Rosser where hungry birds were in abundance at the many feeders that she maintains there under the huge Oak tree. This is such a beautiful setting with the Oak tree being the centerpiece of her front yard. The tree is so huge that it would take 4 of me fingertip to fingertip to reach around it. I am now five feet and ten inches in height, but still have a wingspan of 72 inches. I can blame gravity for my shortened height.
Birds were everywhere. Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadees seemed to be all over the place at the same time. I took up position where I thought would be advantageous to get a picture of the several Whitebreasted Nuthatches walking down the tree. Before I retrieved my camera from Anthony's van, I was standing just five feet away from the feeder where the Nuthatches were feeding from. Even a Red-breasted Nuthatch snuck in behind me to grab a sunflower seed from a smaller feeder placed out under a small shrub. As soon as I got back with my camera, the birds decided to be a no show. I sit still as a statue and they would only fly in behind the feeder where a picture was impossible.
There is an old road that circles Sharon's property and it hasn't had a car on it in years, maybe a four wheeler or two. Calling out down the road was a family of Pileated Woodpeckers. It was hard to find them because of the canopy of the trees reaching overhead, making it seem that we were walking through a tunnel. We could hear them calling just up ahead, but keeping out of sight. The closer we got, the farther they would move.
Over to the right there was an open field where cows were grazing and a nice pond where a small heard of deer had been drinking. The deer jumped a short fence ahead of us and disappeared into the trees on the left. Looking back toward the field we saw a small flock of birds flying from tree to tree, but too far away to get much of a look at them. I told Anthony that they might react to my "shusing". Sure enough as soon as I was making my sound, the birds stopped, and then flew up on a limb where we were able to identify them as Field Sparrows. The "shushing" sound that I make sounds like a fuss made by several of our smaller birds when they spot danger. Other birds will react to this noise either by freezing, or joining in the fracas themselves.
Walking back toward the house, we spotted several Warblers in the treetops moving rather quickly among the leaves gleaning the insects there. Anything in the treetops, was hard to get a good look at because of the lighting conditions. Finally one of the birds came down enough for us to get a decent look at. I didn't get to see one of the males, but did get a good look at one of the females. We had found one of our Warbler species, An American Redstart, in her fall colors. I was able to identify her by the yellow patch found in her tail. In the male, these colors would be red. Last winter these trees were full of Golden-crowned Kinglets.
Coming out of the trees along the old road, we were blessed to have the Pileated Woodpecker fly just overhead, close enough, to not need to use our binoculars. Many times I have wished to be able to see an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which is thought to be extinct. I have my doubts, and believe that they are still there.
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