My excited little group of Owl watchers
This first paragraph may not be bird related, but I feel like the ones involved are some of my kin folks. I want to congratulate my Cumberland Baseball team and coaches for winning their third national championship at the NAIA World Series out in Lewiston Idaho. What an honor to be able to call these young men my friends. I love each and every one of them. Standing at the end of their dugout, taking pictures, I have personally felt the emotions of losing a game, and then the high, when they are playing their best. On the last day of practice, I was talking to the pitchers, and I pointed to the inside practice facility and told them that there should be a sign noting a 2014 win to go with the 2004 and 2010 victories. They make me proud.
Anthony Gray and myself braved the heat of the day to ride out into the countryside looking for what ever was flying. When this time of the year gets here, it is such a quiet time in the bird world. Most all of the species have already had their babies and have gotten them on their own. At this time it is rare for me to see a begging youngster, hitting up mama or papa for their dinner. When the parent bird feels like junior can feed himself, they turn a deaf ear to the constant begging cycle of adolescence. For the past week or so, the little ones watch as their parents show them how to find food, avoid predators, and maybe how to sing. What a hectic spring it has been. We saw very little and decided to adjust our birding schedule where we can go out much earlier in the morning and then catch our 11am meal at Peking.
Yesterday, out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, one of the seasonal workers at the Dixon Merritt Nature Center was showing a pair of baby American Kestrals to some of the visitors. Buddy Ingram had told them to put a pair of leg restraints on it if they were to take it outside. Someone didn't listen to the words of the wise old ranger, and now this bird is freedom bound. I just hope it can fend for itself, without becoming another larger hawks meal.
Last night at Cedars, I was to have an Owl prowl right at dark. Buddy is going to have to adjust his hours so we can begin at dark. The Owls will come to me, even in the daylight, but it is at a risk, from every bird in the woods that they share. Most everyone knows that Owls are nocturnal, (night time) birds of prey and mostly only come out at dark. This is like, second shift at some factory. First shift would be like our Hawks which are diurnal, (day time), and feed during daylight hours. These different feeding patterns usually determine what is for dinner. Rabbits and squirrels during the day, while, heaven forbid, skunks for the larger Great Horned Owl after dark. That will wake up your sense of smell even with a head cold.
Back to my Owl prowl. I believe that I have set a new world record for calling in a Screech Owl. It showed up within mere seconds of hearing my call, and I even watched it fly up on a limb. It was a male with a younger one in tow. As it talked back and forth to me, it was obvious that other birds were still active in the woods. A Wood Thrush came barreling in to voice his opinion at the twilight invader of his domain. He was soon joined by a Summer Tanager, who was not a happy camper at all, seeing this Owl disturbing his soon to be sleeping time. Once these birds have gone to roost, they get a little less brave and keep their mouth shut.
Satisfied that everyone had a good look at the Owls, we headed back out the way we had come. When we got to the restroom area in the campground, I just happened to notice that our Owls had followed us over too. It was soon joined by the female, who is a little larger than the male, and another baby Owl. The female flew to the ground and must have caught some kind of insect, because she went back up to give the delicious meal to one of her children. This also happened with the male who did the same. All of this was going on within about thirty feet of us. What a show. I will make better plans for more Owl prowls, as the summer gets along. Computer savvy people can find information on Facebook, by looking up me, Ray Pope, or Cedars of Lebanon State Park for more information on summer activities and find my smiling face there doing some kind of nature adventure.
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