Return of the White Pelicans

Ray Pope


Return of the White Pelicans | Anthony Gray, Ray Pope, David Turner

Anthony feeding the baby ducks



This is my 300th article and I was hoping for a more spectacular something to write about, but this time of the year, there seems to be a shortage of things flying around. Never the less, it still is a milestone within my own mind of one of my favorite things to do. If there was no love of watching birds in my life, you most likely would not be reading this story.

This past Tuesday, I received an e-mail from David Turner, who lives out past Spencer Creek off of Burton Road, just west of highway 109. David told me that he saw a small group of White Pelicans over on the south side of the road where the water is shallow and the territory is perfect for wading birds that depend on small fish and other types of small animals to eat. These special birds have been seen in the same general vicinity for the past several years, but they are usually here at a different time.

Anthony Gray came by this past Saturday, right on time to head out for a little bird watching. I mentioned to him, the e-mail from David and that was all it took to fire up Anthony's urge to go and see if we could locate the Pelicans. It had been several days since the sighting and the odds were not in our favor that they would still be in the same place.

God was smiling down upon us and the birds were still at the same location in the shallow slew where several other wading birds were jockeying for position in their quest for a meal. White Pelicans are not diving birds like their cousins, the Brown Pelicans, and swim around looking for their lunch, just below the surface of the water. Other birds seen in the slew were Great Egrets, several Double-crested Cormorants, one Green Herron, and a single Black-crowned Night Herron. I don't know how long they will be here, but it would be a great time for some of my birding friends to see a somewhat rare bird in this area.

We also made a quick stop at the Cherokee Steak House to see what was lurking around there. A whole gaggle of Canada Geese were moving about in the grass behind the restaurant, where I wouldn't want to be walking barefoot. They can be quite messy. We also ran into Anthony's favorite bird, the mutant, face eating killer goose like bird. Anthony was planning to feed the family of ducks, but was waiting for his nemesis to go some place else.

A female Mallard duck had hatched out several eggs and had her little ones in tow. Just looking at the babies, it looked like they were pure blooded. That's a good thing about a duck, they don't need swimming lessons and can feed all by their selves as soon as they are hatched. Most of the danger for the tiny ducklings would come from beneath the surface of the water, such as a hungry bass.

After church, this past Sunday, I went my to see my mother, Margie Pope, and was told of a story that had unfolded right under her nose. Mom, was standing by the screen door, that overlooks the deck on the east side of the house, when a squirrel came running by doing about ninety miles an hour. The reason for the huge burst of speed was right on it's tail. I can only speculate what must have occurred, but a Red-bellied Woodpecker was right behind the squirrel, pecking it on the backside, with every stride. She had never seen one run that fast. The squirrel must have poked it's head into the Woodpecker's nesting hole and now was fleeing for its life. It will probably not find it easy to sit on a limb for a few days.

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