Our Feathered Friends

Ray Pope

April showers cause flooding problems 

April showers have received an extention from Mother Nature and it will probably rain through the rest of this week. I saw more water backed up in places that don't usually have flooding problems. Jackson Cave behind the Cedar Forrest Lodge was flooded with a very high volume of water pouring from the entrance. It was a real frog strangler this weekend.

This past weekend at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park we held the second annual Elsie Quarterman Glade Festival with birdwalks, wildflower tours, and my favorite, a geology workshop with State Geologist, Ron Zurawski. This has been my 34th year for doing programs at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park.

The weather tried to dampen the spirits of the few determined souls that braved the elements with binoculars in one hand while holding an umbrella in the other. Kudos to Toots Willis, who had the patience to walk with me in the rain to try and locate the nest of the Great-horned Owl. The warm weather and plenty of rain had the trees in full canopy which made finding the nest difficult, if not plum hard to see. When we made our approach I watched the male fly off his perch and then he flew in a circle only to land back from where he started. Poor Toots, I tried to position her where she could see the Owl only to find her looking in a different spot. After some wrangling she finally located the owl through a small open area and was pleased to add the owl to her list of birds seen.

Melissa Turrentine was my co-leader for the morning birdwalk and she had to be my ears for the day as my hearing was not working as it should. Melissa spotted a Cerulean Warbler and called out to me the other species that were singing. Finally I could hear a Great-crested Flycatcher calling from up in the tree tops. Their calls are very loud and distinct for even someone like me with hearing problems. There were White-breasted Nuthatch,Tufted Titmouse, Goldfinch, Chipping Sparrows, and of course Eastern Bluebirds. There was one quick moment that I thought that I had seen a Red-breasted Nuthatch, but I wasn't positive. I wanted to find the Red-headed Woodpecker, but I'm afraid the starlings have put them on the run. We watched helplessly last year as the Woodpecker drilled out its nesting hole only to be evicted by the nasty starlings. It’s hard to understand why the woodpecker would give up its home without a fight.

Ron Zurawski stopped by my cabin and invited me over for lunch. They had planned to cook hamburgers with all the trimming and corn and baked beans on the side. That, I couldn't pass up! The hamburgers were really ground turkey burgers with secret spices and other flavorings included and tasted delicious and were also very healthy for me. A person could get spoiled in a hurry with friends like that.

Later in the evening I was met by Karen Franklin who made the trip from Mt. Juliet hoping to see some owls. Before we tried to call the owls, a program on frogs was presented by Danny Bryan from Cumberland University, who played different frog calls that we might be able to hear out behind the Dixon Merritt Nature Center. For a few of you "more mature" readers, the Nature Center is the old bath house where the first swimming pool was located. I use that term because it fits me to a tee. We tried to call up a Screech Owl while listening to the frogs singing by the swollen stream that flowed from Jackson Cave. Karen told me that if she heard an Owl, she would give me a jab on the shoulder to alert me that one was answering me back. True to her word, she was soon punching me as there were two Screech Owls, one to the north and the other to the south telling us that they were in no mood to get out into the light rain that was beginning to fall. My ranger friend, Wayne (Buddy) Ingram told me that there had been Barred Owls hanging out around the tall trees of the Dixon Merritt Trail. We tried in vain to get a response from them, but I can't blame the owls for not wanting to get their feathers wet. After all was said and done, I finally got to sit down and spend some quality time with Karen Franklin on the topic of birds. She wants to learn the many different bird calls and I will be happy to work with her as soon as my hearing returns. Next year make plans to join Toots, Buddy, Ron, Karen and myself as we once again try to call our nocturnal feathered friends.

I would love to hear from you as to what’s lurking about in your neighborhood or at your feeders. You can reach me C/O The Wilson Post or call me at 449-4123 or e-mail me at raysfeatheredfriends@yahoo.com.

Our Feathered Friends is a weekly column in The Wilson Post written by Roy Pope of Lebanon.