Today is Monday, December 22, 2014

A Whole Lot About Nothing

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A Whole Lot About Nothing | Goldfinch,Anthony Gray

Goldfinch in his drab winter plumage



Wow! This week, I don't have any special stories to tell you about going birding with Anthony Gray. He had to attend a birthday party in Shelbyville, Tennessee this past Saturday. It seems that every time we head out birding, my writing juices start flowing and then, I have some kind of story to share with you. This week, it is different.

This past couple of weeks, we have watched temperatures drop into the twenties, with plenty frost to help take care of me having to drag the lawnmower out to keep my grass nice and neat. With the chill in the air, I find that mowing the lawn is more to my liking and before this winter is over I will find myself wishing to be able to mow again.

Since it has gotten colder, there seems to be about double what I usually have feeding on the various offerings that have been placed out for my feathered friends. So far, the only northern visitor has been an immature White-throated Sparrow, which doesn't want to pose for his southern debut in The Wilson Post. Also, I am thankful that the large flocks of Common Grackels that I watch flying in a southerly direction, keep on headed south instead of to my feeders. Many people that I talk to, do not care to place out food for them and consider them in the same category as the European Starling.

The other morning, a really cold morning, I was checking up on the many birds that had gathered on and around my feeders. I had a big surprise, when I saw my Mourning Doves taking a turn at ice-skating. I keep a small container of water flat on the ground so they can have a safe place to drink and bathe. It was frozen over and the Doves were milling about on the slick surface, sometimes slipping and sliding. With hammer in hand, it didn't take too long to find a remedy for the situation.

Just like us humans, water is a necessity and we cannot live without this simple sustenance. It is very important that we can provide such a simple element for our birds, only hydrogen and oxygen. Since cold weather has arrived, I was checking to see what was on the market that could keep my water supply from freezing. There were several small heaters available for just such a time. Of course, me being as frugal as old Ebenezer Scrooge, I ordered the cheapest one that there was. For the paltry sum of fourteen dollars, and free shipping to boot, this device will keep my water source ice free. I will only plug it in after the weatherman says that the temperature will drop low enough to freeze, so as not to make my electric bill do any thing funny. I might guess that the word frugal means the same as "Cheap." That's me in a nutshell.

One of my friends that attends the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center was asking me, where have all of the American Goldfinch gone. I can't remember who was asking, but they said that they took down the special feeder, Nyjer Seed,  because of that. There are lots of people that don't realize that the Goldfinch's plumage takes on a much duller color during the fall and winter months, causing some birders to not recognize the species. I have included a picture of a Goldfinch in winter plumage in this article. It is the one on the left bottom of the feeder, with several House Finch also sharing the dinner plate. When spring approaches, it will trigger special hormones that will make the feathers take on a bright yellow color, along with having to mow the yard again. That's alright with me.

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 you can e-mail me at, rpope15@bellsouth.net

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