Eastern Screech Owl
It seems like only yesterday that we were in the deep freeze with all of the frigid weather and now, I am afraid that we have jumped over spring and landed in the middle of summer. I made a promise to myself that when it warmed up, I would not rant and rave about hot weather, nuf said.
Several of my good friends from the Lebanon Senior Citizens Center had signed up to go on my bird-walk this past Friday afternoon. It is my belief that Lelan Statom's forcast for the morning called for off and on showers all during the day, which spooked many that had signed up to be fearful of getting soaking wet while out at Cedars of Lebanon State Park. There was no doubt in my mind that conditions would improve, as the day went on, and I was correct. The ones who went were not disappointed at all.
When we arrived at the campground, there was a cacophony of bird songs coming from every direction, and by several different species. To my right, I could make out the flute like quality of the Wood Thrush, and in the other direction could be heard the call of the Black-billed Cuckoo, of which may also be called a rain crow by our country folks. Red-eyed Vireos were singing their question and answer song, like was mentioned in last weeks story. The rain from earlier in the day had set the tone for some great bird activity.
Members from the senior center were, Teresa Botts, our activities director, along with Sue Abernathy, Gayle Ellis, Laura Hannah, and Bob Stockwell. Getting to my program, we were going to try and call up some of the members of the Woodpecker clan. Might as well start with our smallest of the species, the Downy Woodpecker. It didn't take a minute for this curious little fellow to come calling. Both the male, with the red spot on the back of his head, and the poor plain old female were making moves trying to find the strange Woodpecker that had invaded their domain. Before it was over, I believe that we had two different families there. I sometimes do this at home, but refrain from doing it too often, because of the hard feelings it stirs up from one family to another. The Downy drills out a smaller nesting hole which might get used by a pair of Chickadees or other small cavity nesters, the following year.
Getting to Woodpecker number two, which was the Red-bellied Woodpecker, he arrived also in record time trying to find the interloper in his territory. Several of us were seated at the picnic table at the campsite, craning our necks trying to keep up with them as they scrambled from tree to tree. Thank goodness that starlings had not ventured into the campground, as I have watched a pair drill out their nesting hole, only to get evicted by a family of lousy starlings.It was about this time that someone pulling a pop-up camper came and wanted the site that we had gathered at. Teressa, time to load up the van and head for another spot on the other side of the loop.
Finally situated away from other campers, we set up shop at another picnic table. Our third Woodpecker we tried to call was the Red-headed Woodpecker. It didn't take him long before this beautiful bird appeared with his mate. They really put on a show for our group of, possible new bird nerds. There are many bird watchers that have never seen a Red-headed Woodpecker, because a Red-Bellied has a red head too, but not as vivid as the Red-headed. The white pattern on the back of the wings kind of reminds me of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which some people believe to be extinct. Only God knows.
With the continued singing from the resident, Wood Thrush, I asked my group if they would like to see how to make the Thrush mad. I brought out my Screech Owl CD and it wasn't even a minute before the whole woods seemed to be turned upside-down. The Wood Thrush was giving out his warning, while a White-breasted Nuthatch was going bananas over in a tree. It seemed that the longer we sat there, the more the ticked off birds got even more ticked off. The Nuthatch was dancing from limb to limb, when I noticed what was really making them angry. In answer to my Screech Owl call, the real deal came swooping in on silent wings and sat there looking at us. Even after locating the owl and snapping pictures, the other birds were still making a ruckus. My picture of the Screech Owl, reminded me of the owls in the haunted forest on the Wizard of Oz, very spooky!
Before we came back to the senior center, we drove over to the nature center to show everyone the butterfly garden and then to venture to Jackson Cave. Can you believe that I wrote a story and didn't mention Anthony Gray's name?
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, email@example.com