Common grackles

The common grackle is one of those birds that both irritates and fascinates.  A flock showed up in our yard in early spring, bringing with them noisy chatter and rowdy behavior at the feeders.  A pair or two stuck around, and during the past couple of months they have been through courtship, nesting, and are now raising a brood which clamor loudly for attention and food.  The juveniles are dull brown with dark eyes. The adults, with their beautiful iridescent colors and stern-looking golden eyes, seem to be devoted to the fledglings, looking out for them and eager to meet their needs.  If the past is any indication, they will all soon move on to places unknown, and the yard will once again be quiet and peaceable.

“It’s amazing how lovely common things become, if one only knows how to look at them.”  ~Louisa May Alcott

Red admirals

There’s a place on our country road where I consistently see red admiral butterflies when I’m out walking in the evening.  They are territorial and tend to patrol the same area, chasing away other males that enter their space, and often returning to the same perch.

Recently I spotted the red admiral pictured below, flitting around, stopping occasionally to perch on a leaf and soak in the last bit of sunlight as the sun was setting in the westward sky.   Its wings were so tattered that I wondered how it could possibly fly, but fly it did, without the least bit of obvious trouble.

“There’s no need to be perfect to inspire others.  Let people get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections.”  ~Unknown

Around the feeders

Ruby-throated hummingbirds around the feeders at the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center – Big Sandy.

 

Occasionally, you would also see them resting on small branches overlooking the Tennessee River.

“It is not the strength of the body that counts, but the strength of the spirit.”  ~Tolkien

Iris time

Around the first week of May, many gardens in Tennessee come alive with showy flowers having a variety of colors and intricate details.  The greatly anticipated iris season only lasts a few weeks.  Though the life of the blooms are short-lived, the beauty and smell of the flowers linger in the mind until the next iris season rolls around.

On the first weekend in May, a town near us hosts an Iris Festival flower show.  This year, as always, we saw a number of beautiful varieties.

“There’s a picture there that lives in memory when it’s Iris time in Tennessee”  ~Willa Waid Newman

Sunsets

My favorite time to walk on our country road is shortly before the sun goes down.  Each sunset has its own color and design as the light of day fades away.

“God is always seeking you.  Every sunset.  Every clear blue sky.  Each ocean wave.  The starry hosts of night.  He blankets each new day with the invitation, ‘I am here.’”  ~Louie Giglio

Great Egrets

We enjoyed seeing several great egrets out hunting on flooded land that lies near the Mississippi levee.  Their snowy white feathers really stood out against the bright yellow butterweed growing in the fields.

“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”  ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Red-winged blackbirds

Flying among the tall grass along the levee were the red-winged blackbirds.  Stopping to perch atop tall stems, the male, with his bright shoulder patches, would occasionally puff up his wings and belt out a loud song.

The female, the less showy of the two with her streaked brown feathers, was quieter and more likely to be overlooked.

“Blackbirds are the cellos of the deep farms.”  ~Anne Stevenson