|Our Feathered Friends- May 4|
|Wednesday, May 4, 2011|
By RAY POPE
Many thanks to Carole Young for taking me out to the park for my weekend programs. I thought Carole might enjoy some closeup action from a few woodpeckers and other species of birds since she is one of my readers with a passion for our feathered friends. I played the call for the Pileated Woodpecker and a pair showed up with in a minute and flew from limb to limb trying to locate the strange birds in their territory. Carole kept calling them “Woody” after the old cartoon character Woody Woodpecker.
Two more of the Woodpecker family decided to show up to see what the commotion was all about. A Red-bellied Woodpecker also answered the call of the CD player along with a small Downy Woodpecker.
I thought that maybe we could get a few more non-woodpeckers species to show up and say howdy. It couldn’t have been longer than two minutes before the White-breasted Nuthatch showed up trying to find his next of kin calling out from under the porch with the swing that Carole had commandeered for her sitting pleasure. I sat on the rocks that made up the floor of the porch.
A few minutes later, we were watching the antics of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher who showed up to see what was going on in his world up in the tree tops. These small birds use spiderweb to glue lichen to a horizontal limb for their nest, much the same as a Ruby-throated Hummingbird does. The Gnatcatchers look like a Mockinbird, but scaled down to about 1/3rd the size.
At 7 O’clock Saturday morning I was met by my partner, Melissa Turrentine, president of the John W. Sellars chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society to lead a birdwalk around the area of the Dixon Merritt Nature Center and Jackson Cave. Melissa will send me the total list of birds seen on our walk and I will pass the information on to you, hopefully in next weeks article. A couple birds that I must mention on our walks was a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a Red-shouldered Hawk. The Hawk has nested somewhere in the area for several years. Toots Willis got there a little late, but in time to see several birds. Toots, next year make sure to set your clock.
If you get a chance to visit the Dixon Merritt Nature Center, be sure to ask about the Prairie Kingsnake, in the office area. This is one beautiful snake. Natalie Janney is the seasonal in charge of the nature center and also a very good friend. I hope to get with her during the warm months to do some bird or owl programs in the park.
Mr. Grasshopper himself, Wayne (Buddy) Ingram was the driver for my Owl prowl during the late evening program. Buddy and me go back a long way as friends go. The first stop we tried to locate the Screech Owl behind Campground #1. Someone was shooting a gun over in a small subdivision and most likely had the Owls looking for a different place for the night.
We made our way up the hill to the Swimming pool parking lot where I tried the Barred Owl call. It didn’t take long before we were serenaded with the call, “ who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”. My bread and butter birds did not disappoint that night, even coming close enough for the 25 plus people to get a good look at it. All good things must come to an end and I am already looking forward to next years event. I really missed Karen Franklin this year but she was under the weather. Maybe we can make it later in the spring before all the good stuff goes north.