|Our Feathered Friends - March 30|
|Wednesday, March 30, 2011|
By RAY POPE
After that one we will move into a cold spell called Locust winter, which also times itself with the moving up of the Crappie to spawn. One more major cooling down will be what we call Blackberry Winter. Sometime there will be an odd cool spell after the major four that most old timers refer to as Cotton Britches Winter. I mention the above cold spells, and I will get some of the funniest looks. This is something that I have learned since I was a small child, and I plan to pass it on up to my children’s children. Why, I’ll bet that John Sloan probably has a dozen stories or more about these winters.
Spring, a time for rebirth, a new beginning, time for our birds to do a lot of thinking about “he-ing” and “she-ing.” Of course the best looking male birds gets the best females, but not without a little courting, or maybe I should say sparking. During the fall and winter months our feathered friends take on a dull look. Even our Warblers dull-up for the winter and the bird books will show both the fall colors as well as the breeding plumage.
Second year males of the Summer Tanager family look almost as if they were kin to parrots. Their colors go from yellow to shades of green and then to red. Most people see the Tanagers as only red which will be a mature bird.
Many of us diehard birdwatchers get out into the field looking for the species that you may not find sitting in your backyard, unless of course you have a home on the lake with thick woods surrounding your home. I’m talking about a good friend of Karen Franklin and I, Charles and Gail Morris. I can’t wait till I receive another invitation for a spring-time visit. They have a sunroom looking out into the tree tops where most species will be on the same level as you. The last time Karen’s family and I were treated to Tanagers, White-breasted Nuthatches, Yellow-bill Cuckoos, as well as several of our mainstay birds at Gail’s home.
I still have several birds here at my feeders that are taking on their breeding plumage. The House Finch have gotten more red on their face, and the Goldfinch, most everybody’s favorite, is getting brighter and brighter each and every day. There is one little Goldfinch that will stay on the feeder and let me walk up close enough to get a close up picture. Even though the Goldfinch are turning their colors up a few notches, they will be the last bird to raise their little ones since they breed late in the summer.
This past Sunday I received a phone call from Jim Major asking if I could help him with a bird at the feeder. He tried to describe it, and I would suggest something similar, but he was watching from a distance. Jim called me later and after he looked with his binoculars it was plain as the nose on his face that he was looking at a cowbird. Without bright sunshine we tend to miss the subtle colors and fail to notice the chestnut head of the Cowbird.
This past Saturday I ran into DeAnne Woodall at a popular place to buy birdseed. I was just getting off my scooter when she came up with a buggy-load of seed and dogfood. I asked if I could help her put the food in the trunk of her car, a jesture most of us men should consider learning. We started talking about the birds we have in our backyard. DeAnn mentioned that she no longer had Goldfinch coming to her finch feeder.
I told her that the Nyjer seed might be spoiled and she should clean out her feeders and replace it with fresh. Before she left DeAnn grabed a fresh bag of Nyjer seed and headed to the checkout. Later in the day I received an e-mail from her telling me that she cleaned out the feeder and replaced it with fresh seed and soon after there were Goldfinch feeding there. That is something that some of you might learn from. Keep your offerings fresh.