Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

Turkey Trot

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Northern Harrier or Marsh Hawk

We had another carbon copy week just like the last one with heat, then thunderstorms in the afternoon. I am sure the lawn mowing people are almost working overtime to catch up. Here in my yard, I would have to let the grass dry, if I could before the next rain. I am not complaining one bit as we need to get our rain levels up a tad.

I got up very early and was waiting for Anthony Gray to come knocking. We are one of the largest counties in area and we sometimes strive to find different roads to travel on to locate birds. We are always in search of the road less traveled. We start out on Hobbs Lane down on the old Murfreesboro Road.

Over to the left in the grown up field we locate a Common Yellowthroat. This is one of our Wood Warbler species that is here in the summer, but during our winter months, it spends it's time down in South America. His, "Wichety wichety wichety" call rings back to us as we turn in on Hobbs Lane.

To our right we will find a pair of Rufous-sided Towhees. They like the stunted undergrowth in the over grown hay field. These old pastures of farms long gone make up the vast territories of our avien friends. His call note, "Cherwink" is later followed with their song which seems to say, "Drink your tea." Other birds seen in the imediate area are the Bluejays, Field Sparrows, and the American Crow.

Jumping across Highway 231, puts us on Rocky Valley Road, which makes a large circle and then concludes on the eastern part of the old Murfreesboro Road. We have several stopping points along the road which has been most productive in our search for birds.

In one of the grown up fields we are tickled to hear the voice of the Bob White Quail. The last few weeks we are hearing more and more of these special birds. It could be because the western part of the county has grown up with more subdivisions than the eastern part of the county. Off to our left we hear the call of the Carolina Wren's "Teakettle, teakettle, teakettle." Even I have a pair of these Wrens hanging out at my place.

Overhead on one of the powerlines we find a pair of Barn Swallows taking a break with their four babies. They are most likely learning how to catch flying insects on their own. I love to hear their twittering call as they swoop and soar freely in the sky above.

Eastern Bluebirds abound in this area where housing is at a premium. Up ahead we find a small flock of Wild Turkeys crossing the road. At first glance, we thought they may be Black Vultures feeding off of some poor dead animal. In another spot we watch as a flock of Canada Geese comb through a mowed place in a field. We do not see any signs of a pond close to here.

On up past the big right turn, we stop in the edge of the woods to listen to the call of a Kentucky Warbler. They sound some kind of similiar to a Carolina Wren to the untrained ear. After raising their brood of youngins here in the summer, they will migrate south to the Yucatan Penninsula and other close places in the islands of the Caribbean.

Coming back out on the old road, we take a right turn down Central Pike then left on Stewarts Ferry Pike to the town Of Gladeville. At this point we turn left on McCreary Road. Just down the road a piece, it appears that there is a spring fed pond that flows back under the road. Sitting on an overhead power line is a Belted Kingfisher. He is easy to spot with his oversized head. Further along we find a Song Sparrow singing from a low shrub in the western boundaries of the Cedars of Lebanon State Forest.

We turn left on Vesta road and another left on Moccasin Lane. This is a dead end road and we find nothing of interest there. We had thought that the road would come out on the old Cedar Forest Road. Wrong, time to back track.On down the Vesta Road we turn left on Flat Woods Road. As soon as we turn we find an Indigo Bunting singing from on a high perch overhead.

We come upon a large flock of Wild Turkeys out in the road and to our right in an open field. As we slow down a few of them are running ahead of our car looking for an exit through the thick grown up sides of the road. It is comical to watch their speeded up strutting, with their heads bobbing, doing about fifteen miles an hour. Finally a low spot and over they go, out of the road. We get a close look at them and can see a small beard on them which makes them males. It's a good thing Diana Bright was not with us, as her gobbling sound would have probably sent them into cardiac arrest.

Up around the "S" curve, there is a pair of adult American Kestrals with two little ones in tow. Mom and dad Kestrals will help little junior and sister hone their hunting skills so they will be able to survive on their own. We also hear some more Bob White Quail.

Stopping at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park, we find the place in good hands with Diane Oliver and Glenda Oakley at the helm. Driving through the campground, we find the tent section lacking in campers, probably because of the forcasted afternoon thundershowers. It is no fun tent camping when it is pouring buckets of rain. Been there, done that.

Out Cedar Forest Road, we still find our White-eyed Vireo singing up a storm. Returning to Lebanon we take the back roads and up Oak Grove Road where we discover Chipping Sparrows eating on the side of the road. Also in the area there is Carolina Wren, Blue Jays, more Towhees, and Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Still headed to Lebanon, we turn left onto Tuckers Gap Road. Right next to Bartons Creek, sitting on top of a light pole there, is a Northern Harrier. In the old days, they were known as Marsh Hawhs, slightly smaller than our run of the mill Red-tailed Hawks. These birds have a different way of hunting. Also at that spot, we find another Common Yellowthroat and an Indigo Bunting.

I would like to put an old wives tail to rest concerning the migration of our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. They (DO NOT) catch rides on migrating geese. I have heard this over and over and I cringe each time someone tries to convince me of that. Migrating Hummingbirds fly just above the tree lines where Geese have been known to fly as high as 20,000 feet, where a Hummer would not function at that altitude. Hummers fly over the Gulf of Mexico, while our geese do not fly that far south. Some people think that Hummers have no legs either.

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,

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Our Feathered Friends
Anthony Gray, Diana Bright, Diane Oliver, Glenda Oakley, Ray Pope
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