Thursday, April 30, 2009


First an "Art Shot" - I Love this pic... Thanks Ray!!
Some friends of mine in the Green Hills area shot these great pics of - what I believe - is a type of Skink. We see these guys on a pretty regular basis here in middle Tennessee. Theirs has taken to tormenting the dogs by sunning itself on the deck and, more picturesquely, the stump adjecent to the deck.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Busy Chickadees

Believe it or not, there are 7 babies in here. This is a bluebird box in my front yard. I knew she laid 7 eggs, but I did not think they would all hatch. I have never had that many in my BB box before. Trust me...there are 2 more little yellow beaks under the dog hair.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Driveway Robins

This is a Robin nest next to my driveway. They are so close that I could reach out and touch them. I was not aware that robins were such good moms. I had a new roof put on an out building close by. There were three days of hammering and sawing and the female robin never left. She does not fly off when I drive down the driveway. As far as I can tell, she has two babies. They seem to be doing great.


This is a cardinal nest outside my kitchen window. I thought is was remarkable in it's construction. The female also has strategically placed a big leaf over the top. She has two beautiful eggs. I know that I will enjoy watching her raise her babies.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bluebird Takeover

I saw this bluebird nest in Bellevue where I take agility classes with my dog. We were sitting outside and saw the bluebird pair chase the chickadee away. About twenty minutes later the chickadee came back with more of her family and the chickadee and bluebirds chased each other around the nest box. The next week I found the bluebird nest on top of the moss. The following week there were 3 eggs. I can't wait until next week to see if she has added any more.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wake Up Call!!

We have entered the time of year that I just love. It is warm enough to sleep with the windows open, enabling the sweet scent of the spring wildflowers and earthy mustiness of the woods to permeate my slumber. Even better though, in my opinion, is the cacophony of song that greets you as the dawn breaks. This is commonly called Dawn Chorus. We only hear this abundance in the spring as the birds are frantically trying to find a mate. Every year I track the progress of our migrants by the Dawn Chorus.

Today the leading songster was a Scarlet Tanager closely followed by the Eastern Bluebird and Wood Thrush.

Currently, all the birds are continuing to eat through the rain... guess we will not be having much of a break today. Just as well, in my opinion. It will be a great day to watch our newly arrived Hummingbirds partake of the bounty of wildflowers... and feeders, of course.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Front Row Friday!

Today, at the bank, I came across a beautiful Cooper's Hawk hunting the road. Using my car as a blind, I caught these pretty good pics. I am sure that the people in the drive through could NOT figure out what this weird woman was doing creeping her car slowly, slowly slowly around the parking area. In the end, I think the time spent paid off.

When I arrived home, again I saw the Owl - just hanging out, so I snapped these pics:

then went inside to write a quick entry... So here we are. I had just begun and crackle, crash... huh?? What's that!? The Barred Owl was in hot persuit of something... well... someone. When s/he got back up on a branch it was apparent that they were not successful. It is so hard for them to catch food - I am always amazed when they make a catch.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Morels!!

So we kept looking for more of the Black Morels that we had found earlier... Well, this is what we found! LOTS (30+) of "Morchella Semilibra" or Half-Free Morels. Again the common names are kinda funny and I am not sure that they should be shared here... but... hmmmm.... says that they are commonly called "peckerheads" and a couple other questionable names. Whatever you call them, they are DELISH! This evening half of the pound that I picked ended up in a wonderful Wild Mushroom Risotto -- wonderful! Yes, I know that this is not a food blog, but these guys were wildlife. :) Oh, and you may notice that I DID harvest one Black Morel - he's the guy with the bigger black cap in the upper right-hand side of the picture.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wake Up Call!!

I was pleased to hear the song of the Wood Thrush this morning upon waking. This species has a tough row to hoe, being one of our neo tropical migrants. Their population is on a sharp decline due to loss of habitat both here and in their wintering grounds.

Another quick note.... Seems that the Barred Owls have chosen to nest in the "in very poor shape" owl box that they have nested in in the past. :-/ As stated earlier, I am very concerned about the condition of the box.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Severe Weather!?!

When the sky started to get dark, Becky and I decided it would be good to get on the web and take a looksee at the radar. Well, the weather folks were saying that bad things were happening elsewhere, and the radar looked pretty bad for us up in the Goodlettsville store as well.

Looking around the store and perusing our options for cover, we came to the conclusion that there just was not a very good place to take cover; so, we hoped that we would be spared cramming into the tiny little space that we chose for our safe spot. I suggested to Becky that she just stand at the window and watch the birds. No, this was not a case of putting our heads in the sand, rather we put our trust in the birds... and they continued to chow down. :) They ate through the little down pours and continued eating right up until the sun came out again (very briefly). As usual, the birds were right! No Severe Weather for us.

Just a helpful hint though... never trust greyhounds to let you know if there will be adverse weather coming your way - - Well, don't trust my greyhounds at least - - they will always try to convince you that you should go home 'cuz the big one is coming! LOL

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Never Know....

Alan B. came in yesterday toting a picture that he asked for an ID on. These are the types of identification that I do not mind one bit! The IDs over the phone are virtually impossible - there is just no knowing what the bird could possibly be, which this case exemplifies... He had a Parakeet in his feeder.

Little Keet probably escaped his home, at least we hope that he was not merely released. He will likely survive throughout the temperate season if he does not become a part of the food chain. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't have much in the way of defense skills for our indigenous wildlife.

For now, Alan and his family will just enjoy the pretty blue bird on the feeder. Thanks for the pix, Alan!!

New "Deliveries"

It's always a big ordeal getting a concrete delivery, but 'ya gotta have a good selection of Bird Baths - and boy do we have that right now! So, upon arrival to the Franklin store (the only location that can easily receive a semi truck delivery) we were greeted by 4 huge pallets of Bird Baths. We sorted through them, all the while, commenting on the Killdeer that are SO vocal back behind the store. Upon finishing the split and pricing for the other two stores, we loaded up the stores' vans and started to clean up.

Well, let me tell you, the Killdeer had become so vocal it was clear that there was something wrong. We decided to take a good look around before moving the vans, for fear that there was a chick around. Sure enough, in the downspout splash guard there was a Killdeer chick! Poor little guy, his mom had built her nest on the roof of the shopping center and when he decided to get up and stretch his legs, he must have fallen down the downspout!
Here he is after we moved him to a safer spot. His mom was back in no time and she must have led him to safety.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Got this wonderful letter from Cornell and I just know that some of you would like to become Citizen Scientists!! Get involved, and we can help keep the birds here for your Grandkids.

Dear Friend,

Got Nest Boxes? If you do, you have a front-row seat on the miracle of birth and renewal in the bird world. If you don't, now is the time to put them up. You can also help scientists learn more about bird families and how they might be affected by climate change.

You're invited to register your nest box (or boxes) with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch program ( It won't cost you a thing but it does yield valuable information about breeding birds and how their natural rhythms may be changing.

NestWatch is easy and fun for adults and children. It helps all of us reconnect with nature, which is good for our health and well-being. NestWatch is a great activity to do on your own, in a classroom, or as a homeschool project.

Here's why it's so important to gather this information: Studies are showing that some birds are laying their eggs sooner than they used to—as much as nine days earlier in the case of Tree Swallows. That could spell trouble if the eggs hatch before a steady supply of insects is available for feeding the young. As a NestWatch participant, you'll visit nests once or twice a week and report what you see: Which kinds of birds are using your nest boxes? When were the first eggss laid? How many eggs were laid and how many actually hatched?

Everything you need to register your nest box and get started with NestWatch is available online, including directions on how you can monitor nest boxes without disturbing the birds.

Don't have a nest box yet? Find out how to provide the best and safest boxes for bluebirds, swallows, chickadees, and other cavity-nesting birds [at your local Wild Birds Unlimited Store]. If you like, you can also monitor the nests of backyard birds that don’t use nest boxes, such as phoebes, robins, and goldfinches.

By the way, the hugely popular NestCams are back in action—peek into nests and nest boxes across the country via live cameras focused on Eastern Bluebirds, Barred Owls, Wood Ducks, Barn Owls and more. Keep watching and see what hatches! The more NestWatchers we have the better the information we can gather about our bird friends. Feel free to download this NestWatch flyer (PDF) and post it anywhere you feel is appropriate. As a citizen scientist you have the power to really make a big difference.

Thank you!
Tina Phillips, Project Leader NestWatch

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Time Marches On

Comparing these pics from those in the earlier post, you can easily see how far the molt has continued. The Goldfinch are wasting NO time in getting ready for their nesting season - though they nest quite a bit later than our other common backyard birds.

I was THRILLED to find 2 Morel Mushrooms in the woods today! If anyone has any hints on either finding more, or encouraging a larger patch to develop, PLEASE let me know. I would really enjoy being able to harvest enough off of our land to be able to make a yummy Morel Sauce for Pasta! Here is a pic of one of the little beauties:

Wikipedia lists: "Dryland Fish", "Merkels", "Molly Moocher" and "Hickory Chickens" as the common names for this fungi. Don't you just LOVE common names!?!