Our Feathered Friends - Aug. 8

Storms like this one can displace some of our feathered friends which sometimes can't find shelter enough for protection. One particular species was sitting in the back tree line singing it's heart out as I was talking to Dotty. It was a Common Yellowthroat and by the sound of his singing he was plenty happy to be alive. The Common Yellow (Geothlypis trichas) don't you just love these Latin names, is a true new world Warbler which are an abundant breeder here in the United States. Their range is north to southern Canada all the way south down to central Mexico.{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=20|imageid=470|displayname=0|float=right}

Back when I was first learning the calls of the birds, my mentor, the late Reverend William (Bill) Senter would take me out on a bird count and with his keen hearing, he would announce to me what was singing. I said, Woah, I want to see the birds that are singing. Bill slowed down his pace and worked a little slower where I could see the species and eventually learn the sounds that were being sung. Most of the sounds, we would put into phonics and some of the others were a series of squeaks, buzzes and trills which took a little more time to get down pat. My first Warbler was the Common Yellow-throat and it was very easy to remember this little tart. His song was a repeated, "Witchity-witchity witchity" sung from a prominent perch on a tall stalk of some type of weed in an overgrown patch of tall grass in a marsh like setting. The strongly accented syllables made the song even more identifiable.

Their costume consists of an olive back, wings and tail, yellow throats and chest. You will notice that the female is much duller than the male which has brighter yellow and a black face mask. If you per chance invade his territory, you can expect to get fussed at which he will keep it up till you move away. I will make my sushing sounds which will usually bring him out of the thick vegetation and bring the bird out in plain view. After a few minutes, he will no longer consider me a threat and go on about his business.

{phocagallery view=category|categoryid=20|imageid=471|displayname=0|float=left}After the female chooses a mate, she will construct the nest into a large bulky mass of leaves, bark strips, grass, cattail shreds, weed stems or animal hair to contain the four white eggs, spotted with brown that hatch in about twelve days. Sometimes a Cowbird will slip one of its own eggs into the nest to be raised by the smaller Warbler. Out at Gail and Charles Morris' home a few years ago Karen Franklin and I spotted a Prothonitary Warbler feeding a Cowbird chick which was slightly larger than the Warbler itself. Seems to me to be a waste of energy stuffing food into an enormous gullet of a baby that doesn't even favor the parents. At least it isn't a starling. Occasionally the Yellow-throat will build a new nest lining over the parasite's egg.

If you take a ride out into the country, slow down and take a listen for the call of the Yellow-throat when you pass a bridge next to a grassy field. Chances are you might locate one, especially in the early spring. Some of their hangouts are out Belotes Ferry Road where the tall grasses grow. Almost sounds like a poet that don't know it.

I received a nice e-mail from one of my readers, Sonja Hunter, who sent me a couple of pictures. Sonja doesn't have a Hummer feeder yet, but right now she has Hummingbirds eating from her Butterfly Bush. Also the Goldfinch in her yard are not attracted to a feeder, but they enjoy munching on the seeds of her coneflower and coreopsis (Sunfire) plant. I am passing along the picture of her Goldfinch for your enjoyment. Thanks, Sonja.

Since fire destroyed the Sellars Funeral Home here in Lebanon, I will not be passing away any time soon until it is rebuilt, and please keep their family in your prayers.

We would love to hear from you as to whats lurking about in your neighborhood and at your feeders. You can reach Karen Franklin by e-mail at, karen.feathered@gmail.com and you can write me at 606 Fairview Ave., Lebanon, TN, 37087 or e-mail me at ourfeatheredfriends@yahoo.com