|Our Feathered Friends|
|Wednesday, September 8, 2010|
By RAY POPE
What great feeling weather we had for the Labor Day weekend. I heard no complaints from anybody, especially myself. This prompted me to turn off the air-conditioner (sorry MTEMC) and place a small fan in the kitchen window blowing out where it would pull fresh air in through my bedroom. When I awoke Sunday morning it was a very pleasant 64 degrees inside my home.
Many of you have Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at your feeders. Like I mentioned last week several of my neighbors took advantage of my offer to place Hummer feeders at their locations where they will be spread out more than just at my house. Peggy Carver has so many at her place next door that she threatened to have me take it away if she has a collision with one of the small speed demons. I told
Peggy that they were such good flyers that they might come close but were quick enough to turn at the last second. Mrs. Andrew Jackson across from Peggy sits on her front porch with her dog Poochie and has them flying right by her head. Right straight in front of my home lives Holly Boyd who had a feeder in her back yard. Now with one on her front porch, she has doubled the birds at her place. I might guess that between us all we now have at least 50 Hummers, with more possibly returning from the northern states.
I called Gail Morris Sunday to see what she had out at her lake home. Gail is supposed to send me some bird pictures so I can use them in my article. There are now several snow white Great Egrets on the lake close by their home. She is being driven crazy by Crows, Crows and even more Crows across the street from her house. Gail, along with husband Charles, want me to invite some of you readers to come down for a pontoon boat ride on the Spring Creek area of the Old Hickory Lake to see what water birds are lurking about. During the early spring there are several islands that some of the Egrets and Herons have made a nesting rookery where coyotes and other land predators can’t reach. Anyone interested in the boat trip should write, call, or e-mail me so we can figure out our plans on the trip.
Another one of our summer residents is the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea), which is a member of the new world Warbler family. Adult birds are 5 1/2 inches in length with an 8 3/4 inch wingspan. Its color goes off the chart with the male’s bright golden head which contrasts with his large dark eyes, black bill, and greenish back. Yellow extends over the belly, fading into white underneath the short tail. Wings are grayish-blue with black edges. Females have similar plumage, except with green washing over the crown. This bird was named after officials in the Roman Catholic Church, known as the protonotarii, who wore golden robes.
The Prothonotary Warbler is a cavity nesting bird along with the Lucy’s Warbler which is the only two cavity nesters in the Warbler family. They choose to breed in wooded swamps, forested river bottoms and along the shores of lakes. The male usually builds several incomplete nest, usually in old Downey Woodpecker holes in their territory only to have the female build the real nest. They are declining in numbers due to loss of habitat and also by being parasitized by the Brown-headed Cowbird. Their vocals consist of a loud, sharp, repeated “tweet-tweet-tweet-tweet!” Once you have heard the song, I’m sure that you will remember it for the rest of your days. A couple years ago we watched a male stuffing insects into a baby Brown-headed Cowbird down at the lake home of Gail and Charles Morris which was just as big as the surrogate parent. I also remember taking a ride on the General Jackson Showboat where the Warblers were nesting in an old pipe sticking out from dockside.
I was taking advantage of the sale at TSC this past Friday when I started talking to a nice lady in the birdseed aisle. Sherry Green, of the Watertown area, was loading up on suet when we struck up a conversation about the birds we have at our feeders. I told her that she should take advantage of the prices on black-oil sunflower seed for the song birds at her feeders. I helped her by loading the 40 pound bag of seed into her buggy and then placed it in the trunk of her car. Tractor Supply Company should place me on commission when they have sales on bird seed.