Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Visitor to the land down under

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Birdman Ray with Queen Elizabeth, Gracyn Milliken and Diana Bright

Well, I enjoyed another great weekend with decent weather and very nice temperatures. Before too long, the mornings will be tolerable and from midday on way too hot. This week Anthony Gray and I did not get out to do a little birding. I hope to get back on track next week with my best Bubba.

Great friends and I spent our Saturday at the 30th annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival over in Triune. We were not prepared for the line of cars trying to get into the place. After about an hour or more watching the back bumper of the car in front of us, at last the entrance was in sight. Once inside the boredom of traffic was completely forgotton.

The walk into the festival was not too hard on these old worn out legs, once we got past the entrance gate. I had been here back in the late '80s, and I could tell that it was much improved. They had a show about raptors, Hawks, Falcons, and other assorted birds of the night. When I saw a Barred Owl, I couldn't resist trying to be vocal with her. As soon as I made my "hoots," she turned her head so fast, I was afraid her head would fall off. These special federally-protected species of birds have been found to have injuries that would not let them survive out in the wild, and can be used for educational purposes.

While there we ran into Queen Elizabeth who didn't mind us getting our picture taken with her. Tossing royal etiquettes aside we get right up there and put our arms around her, no problems. Leaving merry ole England behind, it's time for a little nourishment at Chef Wang's in Murfreesboro.

This past week has been very busy around the back of my home, with newly-hatched birds everywhere. So far, I haven't seen any decent species feeding Cowbird babies. Young Robins and Bluebirds have been a constant visual here with parent birds looking everywhere for food to fill these little bottomless pits.

My most favorite bird species for the week would have to be my resident Downy Woodpeckers. They hatched out two females along with one male, and the first place they came to after they learned how to fly was my upside-down suet feeder. I hung it from my gutter on an old coat hanger, just high enough so the squirrels can't get to it.

The little male Downy sat on top of it, trying to figure out how to get to the good stuff. After several minutes, instincts finally set in and after a couple of trys, he was hanging underneath it where the good stuff was waiting. The little female sat on top pecking at the hard plastic covering, wondering why she couldn't get a bite of the treat. At some point, she finally learned the trick to a full stomach. Now I can see sibling rivalry, even in these wild creatures. The male already has red feathers starting to grow on top of his head (see photo). The female Downy will wear a plain set of feathers (see photo). I really get a chuckle, watching them toss and tumble trying to keep each other from their special stash of goodies.

The Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pebuscens) is North America's smallest woodpecker. I won't bore you with a description of the bird, but let you check out the live birds in the photos in this article. These birds choose a decidious tree in which to drill out their nesting cavity in a dead limb. Both sexes do the excavating on the nesting hole, where the female lays between three to six eggs. Incubation by both parent birds last 12 days and are fed mostly insects, unless they live close to me. I have observed both male and female Downys coming to my suet feeder, taking large amounts of suet in their beaks and flying off to the nesting tree.

It was good to see Charlene Reeves at last Thursdays May birthday celebration at the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center. Of course, my birthday was in May also. Charlene is a bird lover and has passed her love of birds to her grandson, Neel Reeves, who is into weight lifting. When I first met Neel, he had such a small frame and I can only imagine how big he has become now.

I would love to hear from you as to what's lurking around 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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