Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Till Death Do We Eat

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Turkey Vulture

We had another good rain for our gardens, but it has caused the grass to grow almost faster than my lawnmower can cut it. I don't know where all of the birds have come from, but they can empty four feeders in a matter of two days. It is starting to get expensive.

Where I placed out another feeder, stocked with Safflower seed, one plant has germinated from the seed that spilled out and was missed by the birds. It's a beautiful plant and covered with thistle like thorns and yellow blooms. Squirrels do not bother with this type of seed, at least in my yard.

Saturday morning started out cloudy, but it didn't take too long before the sun was peeking out from between the clouds. We headed out Franklin road hoping to catch Melanie Kelley out and about. Melanie has been keeping tracks on her resident Chimney Swifts, hoping to see if the little ones have fledged.

Chimney Swifts, (Chautera pelagica) is a bird belonging to the family, Apodidae. The bird feeds entirely on flying insects and sometimes on airborne spiders that shoots out a strand of web to move from one place to the other. Swifts are one species that cannot perch, but rather cling vertically to surfaces. They are a medium sized, sooty gray bird with long slender wings and very short legs.

Chimney Swifts have been removed from least concern and added to near threatened status by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. This is due in part because of the tearing down of chimneys on old structure and capping off chimneys on new construction. Most people do not realize the benefits of this special bird. Research has shown that a pair of swifts, raising a family of three youngsters, consume the equivalent of the weight of 5,000 to 6,000 houseflies each day.

Melanie is also involved with the conservation of our beautiful Monarch Butterfly. She has collected their eggs and helped them all the way through the caterpillar stage. She presented Anthony Gray and myself with a pair of blue-green chrysalis, that will soon hatch into the Monarch. After they hatch, we will release them back into the wild blue yonder. I haven't studied much about butterflies, but after listening to Melanie, I will be keeping a much closer eye on them.

We then headed north to the blown out bridge on South Dickerson Chapel Road, where I could hear the song of the Baltimore Oriole. Most everything was quiet and the nesting activity of the Great Blue Heron continues at a break neck pace. Several fisherman were taking advantage of the slightly cooler weather to drown a few worms.

We ran into James H. Martin on the bridge, teaching his grandson, Blade Silas how to fish. Blade was only three years old, but seemed to catch on fairly quickly to the art of angling. While we were there he caught a fish on almost every cast.

On the road toward the bridge, something was stirring on the wind, a stink that was coming from some dead creature. Sitting on a fence post was a couple of Vultures, waiting for us to get out of their way so they could finish their meal. Some people hate these birds, but they do have their place in our world. If not for "Buzzards" the place would be a lot stinkier and disease would be worse. There was two different Vultures there, the Black Vulture and the Turkey Vulture.

Driving out Flatwoods Road, this past weekend, there were several different species of birds, just sitting on the telephone wire. Of course, I spotted a family of Loggerhead Shrike, or as some call them, the "Butcher" bird, because of their habit of impaling small rodents or birds on thorns or even barbed wire, saving them for later consumption. Several pair of Eastern Bluebirds, darted down to the grass to catch some kind of insect. Other birds there was the Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Meadowlarks, and American Kestrals. Several Goldfinch were feeding off of thistle plants growing along side of the road. I spotted several milkweed plants growing in profusion, where some of the farmers didn't cut them down.

With the weekend being the 4th of July, Cedars of Lebanon State Park will have a plethora of programs geared for the entire family. I will be doing an owl program this coming Friday Night, starting at 7:30pm. We will be walking over to the old campground, behind campground #3. As with anything wild, there can be no guarantees as to if it will show up. Maybe, I can get lucky for a change. I will also be camping this weekend. Keep your eyes open for the schedule, which should be printed in this weeks Wilson Post. Hope you can make it out 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, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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Anthony Gray, Ray Pope
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