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

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

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

Dining coots

On our last visit to Reelfoot Lake, we spotted a number of coots swimming close to the water’s edge, foraging for food.  On that day, they were pulling aquatic plants and small fish from the shallow waters.

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”  ~Luciano Pavarotti

Great Blue Herons

We spotted these blue herons standing in the floodwaters of Reelfoot Lake.  Due to excessive rain during the past two months, the lake, which is usually out beyond the tree line, has spilled over its shores.

“Don’t pray for the rain to stop; pray for good luck fishing when the river floods.”  ~Wendell Berry