Today is Thursday, August 24, 2017

Our Feathered Friends

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Red-winged Blackbird Male
Killdeer Doing A Wounded Bird Routine

I am not sure how the weather will go for next week as I am writing my story a week early. This weekend we will be staying at one of the cabins at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. I plan on just taking it easy and may make a trip over to the swimming pool to cool off. Please, no Shamu jokes.

I am finishing up my story from last week, so here we go. Toward the end of Center Hill Road, we passed Spar Mine Road. I had no idea how this road received it's name until my old fishing and turtle catching buddy Wayne Barnes told me. Spar is a mineral that is derived from Gypsum, refering to its crystalline projections. Whew, that is a mouthfull.

Taking a right at the stop sign put us on Conatser Road. Up ahead was another place where the road seemed to go through a tunnel of trees. We stopped here and gave a listen. Here we also found several Wood Thrushes singing back into the woods. Eastern Wood Peewees seem to be everywhere. We heard one close to the road and way back into the woods, and we could faintly hear another one. They are most likely males, and each one will stay within their own territories.

Coming out of the darkness of the trees we again found a plethora of Chipping Sparrows. They were feeding along the road and flew up as we approached. More Goldfinches were feeding on thistle plants up on one of the hillsides. Way off in the distance the crow of a rooster came to us, as well.

We took a left on Walter Morris Road and soon found the eastern boundary of Wilson County and the beginning of Smith County. Our Wilson County roads are well mantained and fairly wide, while the road in Smith County seemed to be a chip and tar road. Every so often we heard the song of the Indigo Bunting while they sat on a high perch somewhere. Sometimes we will hear them more often than we see them.

We crossed a wet area where cattails and willow trees were abundant. At this point we saw the Red-winged Blackbird. They will stoop and bow while singing, "Gurgilee" and expose the red and yellow patch on their wings that gives them their name. Anthony Gray and I have these beautiful birds visiting our feeders back at home.

Heading east we made a stop at the Rome Boat Ramp. Parking at the ramp we heard the call of the Carolina Chickadee. This was the first one that we had heard all morning long. Over by the banks of the Cumberland River, we found the old Rome Ferry, the Jere Mitchell, pulled up on the bank in disrepair. As we look out over the river, a Common Loon flew in and landed about 50 feet from us. When a Loon is swimming, they have a low profile in the water. Soon a fishing boat approached and he dove underneath the water so he could be seen no more.

As we continued driving east, we turned right on Rawls Creek Road, and after several name changes, we were on Trousdale Ferry Road headed back in the direction of Lebanon. We headed south on North Commerce Road and stopped at the Good Hope United Methodist Church. This is where Anthony said his "I do." On the church property were a couple of Purple Martin houses. Several people have told me that their Martins didn't show up this year. These house were full and the sound of their voices filled the air.

Killdeers, a member of the Plover family, ran up and down the driveway talking in the Killdeer language, to stay away from their nest. A Killdeer builds their nest in a shallow cup of gravel, and the eggs are shaped where they will not roll away. If you approach one of their nest or little ones, they will go into their wounded bird routine. They will flop and drag their wings, making you thing something is wrong with them. Some predator will follow them away from the nest hoping for an easy meal. After they are at a safe distance, they just fly away.

Still headed south on South Commerce Road, we turned left on Commerce Church Road and stopped at the bridge over the Round Lick Creek. There we found a pair of Eastern Phoebes. They will sit on a limb, wagging their tails and singing their names. Off in the distance we watched a Great Blue Heron wading the shallows hoping to catch its dinner. Flying overhead we found Rough-winged Swallows wheeling and diving to catch their lunch: flying insects.

Leaving Watertown behind we headed for our favorite lunch time rendezvous, Peking Chinese Restuarant for some delicious Szechuan shrimp.

Later that evening Diana Bright and I went to watch the finals of the National Junior High Rodeo at the James E. Ward Agriculture Center. We sat next to one lady that almost jumped out of the bleachers as her daughter won the championship for goat tying. Later we got to meet Wacey Day of Fleming, Colorado, who competes for the Nebraska team. She was a very charming lady and could tie a goat quicker than I could tie my shoes.

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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