With decent weather this past Saturday, one would think that our feathered friends would be out in abundance, but they were sticking to cover like a cockle burr sticks to a blue tick coon hound. It was about 55 degrees outside, but the wind blowing hard made it difficult to use my parabolic microphone, to listen to any bird calls. Most of all, it just amplified the noise of the wind.
We rode out to the Cedars of Lebanon State Park at about noon that day hoping to find the huge nest, that I had seen a few years ago in a large tree on the new property. I tried to walk out that far on foot, but soon sounded like an old steam engine, wheezing with almost every breath. We turned around and headed back to ask ranger Wayne, (Buddy) Ingram if it was alright if we drove back there in Anthony Gray's van. He said OK, just don't let the horses out. After passing through the gate, we headed up the hill, over by the pond, which in warmer weather, a chorus of spring peepers and other assorted frogs and toads would be singing their hearts out trying to locate a mate during the evening hours. There was several small flocks of sparrow type birds moving about, but sticking close to cover, Field Sparrows perhaps.
We finally found where the small herd of horses were hanging out and they must have thought that we had come all of the way out there just to feed them. At the end of the field over close to the East Richmond Shop Road, we had to turn around and head back, with the horses hot on our heels. Anthony's quick eye spotted a Yellow-rumped Warbler jumping out ahead of the van while we were headed back. We did not find the huge nest over in the tree line, but some of the strong storms earlier in the year could have blown it to the ground. Also some of the large trees had been knocked down, over where I thought I had spotted it before.
Stopping back at the nature center, we found Buddy preparing to feed the snakes that are housed there all year long. There are special places that sell mice and rats for such a time. The large Grey Rat Snake didn't waste any time grabbing the large rat placed in front of it. A few youngens were there to marvel at how the snake was able to swallow whole something that was larger than its head. The secret is in the fact that snakes can unhinge its jaw to accept a larger than usual meal.
At this time of the year, more people are turning to feeding the birds. Approximately 54 million people place out some of the different types of food that most birds eat. I have changed my types of feeders to the kind that squirrels can't tear up. Most everything out in my backyard is constructed of steel. Unless squirrels have adapted to being able to use a cutting torch, I believe that my feeders will be safe. The only plastic one I have will be filled with safflower seed which squirrels do not eat in the first place.
My most favorite seed is Black oil Sunflower seed, which is loved by my House Finch, Chickadees, and Titmouse. Even the Downy Woodpecker will snatch a seed when the suet runs low. My Mockingbird enjoys the raisins that are offered in an older steel feeder. At least these types of feeders will last for several years before having to be replaced.
Later in the winter season, I will most likely start feeding Nyjer seed, which is a favorite of our Goldfinch. This seed is too expensive for me to feed all season long, as it has to be imported from Africa and has to go through a process of heated sterilization to keep it from germinating.
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