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-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

Cedar waxwings

For the past several days, a small flock of cedar waxwings have been sunning themselves in the bushes in our back yard in the late afternoon.  They seem to want to soak up every bit of sunshine that they can before the sun sets and the temperature drops.

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”  ~Charles Dickens

Stirring up the Snow Geese

While driving the back roads along the Mississippi levee, we came upon a flock of snow geese scavenging waste corn out in a farm field.  What a lovely sight they were when they became agitated and a frenzy of white bodies took to the sky. The whir of their wings as they shot off the ground, followed by a multitude of loud shrill cries, are sounds that will long be remembered.

“Nature was here a series of wonders, and a fund of delight.”  ~Daniel Boone