|Our Feathered Friends - May 11|
|Wednesday, May 11, 2011|
By RAY POPE
You might compare them to the Children of Israel complaining about not having meat to eat. After a while they had more than they could handle and were tired of it. I’m not sure if our feathered friends will get tired of the Cicadas, but I’m sure that we will.
Spring is the time for planting flowers and also vegetables. I plan on planting at least 50 Better Boy tomatoes with a few odds and ends thrown in for good measure. I was lucky last season as my Roma tomatoes won a blue ribbon at the Wilson County Fair. When planting flowers remember to plant some that will attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and/or Butterflies. Any type of a trumpet-shaped flower works best for our little Hummers.
In a well know supercenter store I was taking a short-cut through the shoe department when I ran into Natalie Janney, the young lady in charge of the Dixon Merrit Nature Center at the Cedars of Lebanon State Park. We talked about how well things went last week and have plans for me to come out and do a few more bird programs and the Owl prowl. Of course I will keep you all posted about future bird happenings at the park. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but it’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of a great state park right in our own back yard with nature programs every week of the summer.
While out in my back yard this past Sunday, I was serenaded by a couple dozen Cedar Waxwings enjoying the ripe Mulberries in the back yard tree line. These beautiful birds will soon be headed north where they will begin the breeding process and rear their young then return here in the late fall.
There are times that I mention city birds and country birds. Maybe since many people are leaving the city and setting up residence out in the country, it’s no wonder that some of the country birds are moving to the city, maybe to get away from them.
The country bird that I’m talking about is the Eastern Meadowlark. There was one singing in the hay field behind my Fairview residence and most likely will raise a family there. The Eastern Meadowlark, (Sturnella magna) is a medium-sized icterid bird. I don’t like to get too technical when writing my bird articles, but an icterid bird is in a group of small to medium-sized, often colorful passerine birds restricted to the new world. Most species have black as a predominant color often mingled with bright colors of yellow, orange or red.
Adult Meadowlarks have yellow underparts with a black “V” on the breast and white flanks with black streaks. The upper parts are mainly brown with black streaks. They have a long pointed bill.
Its vocals are hard to describe except that it is very pleasant to listen to. I don’t know of any other way to describe it. Breeding habitat consists of grasslands and prairie, pastureland or hayfields, which is what is behind my house.
The female constructs the nest of grasses, pine needles and in the past, horse hair. usually with a dome-shaped roof of growing grass stems. She lays from three to seven white eggs splotched with brown and lavender which hatches in two weeks. After hatching she will take the old pieces of egg shells far away from the nest so as not to alert some predator to their whereabouts. Many of these beautiful birds meet their doom when the pastures are mowed during the spring.