Picking out the Seeds

A male Indigo Bunting busily picking seeds from the heads of tall vegetation along the roadside.

I’ve learned to keep things simple. Look at your choices, pick the best one, then go to work with all your heart.”  ~Pat Riley

Red-winged Blackbird

In the spring, the sound of the male Red-winged blackbird echoes out across grassy fields and marshy areas as he noisily defends his territory, puffing up and proudly displaying his ornate red and yellow shoulder patches.

The song of the streaky-brown female can also be heard as she moves stealthily through tall grass in search of food and weaving material for her nest.  Her dull color helps to provide camouflage as she sits in her nest, located close to the ground.

“In spring more mortal singers than belong
To any one place cover us with song.
Thrush, bluebird, blackbird, sparrow, and robin throng.”
~Robert Frost

White Pelicans and Great Egrets

We came upon this peaceful looking scene — White Pelicans and Great Egrets foraging in the shallow water of farm land near the Mississippi River.

God made the country, so lovely and fair!, It’s wide open spaces for all to share; Where joy and contentment each one may find If he, earnestly, seeks for peace of mind.” ~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham

Dickcissels

I look forward each spring to visiting the Mississippi levee in hopes of a glimpse of this small bird.  As you drive along, you can hear the calls of Dickcissels concealed in the dense, tall grass along the road.  Occasionally, one will fly up and perch on a swaying stalk — guarding their territory, plucking seeds from the plant heads, and belting out a loud song.

Below is a short video of a Dickcissel’s song.

“Sing, then.  Sing, indeed, with shoulders back, and head up so that song might go to the roof and beyond to the sky.”  ~Richard Llewellyn

Feed Me!

This young grackle chick was causing quite a commotion in one of the bushes in our yard.  Not wanting to be forgotten, you could almost see the desperation on its face as it expectantly awaited its next morsel of food.

No need to worry.  It was being tenderly watched over and cared for.  Mom kept slipping into the back side of the bush to give it suet from a nearby bird feeder.

Yellowlegs

Both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs forage in the shallow water of flooded fields near the Mississippi River at this time of year.  These shorebirds spend a few weeks in the area before moving on to their breeding grounds in the north.

“No matter how deeply you come to know a place, you can keep coming back to know it more.”  ~Rebecca Solnit   

Looking for Lunch

It’s always fun to watch a great blue heron when it’s mind is singularly set on catching it’s lunch.

“… of all the liars among mankind, the fisherman is the most trustworthy.  ~William Sherwood Fox

A Common Goal

While hiking a wooded trail that runs beside the lake, we found a view through the tree tops of a group of White Pelicans flying high overhead. 

Continuing on, we suddenly heard a loud noise, and were surprised to see a flock of White Pelicans mixed with Double-crested Cormorants plummeting onto the lake near where we were hiking. Two birds that you wouldn’t expect to see together, but united in a common purpose.

After the commotion of the landing, the fishing party proceeded quietly along the shore for a short distance and then headed out across the lake toward the opposite shore.

“Teamwork is a powerful advantage when you share a common goal.”  ~Phil Geldart

Cormorants

Other than a gentle whir of wings, there is nothing to indicate that a flock of Double-crested Cormorants are quietly flying overhead.  Shortly before sundown, they can be seen moving swiftly through the sky, perhaps heading for a nearby roosting sight.

While Double-crested Cormorants are interesting birds to watch,

their growing presence at Reelfoot Lake is having damaging and irreversible effects on the local habitat, including the Cypress trees, many of which have been around for hundreds of years. 

These birds strip the bark off of the trees and, over time, their acidic droppings kill the trees and surrounding vegetation.

“A nuisance may be merely a right thing in the wrong place — like a pig in the parlor instead of the barnyard.” ~George Sutherland

Early March along the Levee

It’s that time of the year when the eagles are taking turns sitting on the newly-laid eggs in their nest.  This lucky pair has a perfect view overlooking life along the Mississippi River.

On flooded land near the levee we also spotted a Pied-billed Grebe, some American Coots, and a Great Blue Heron.

“I sat there and forgot and forgot, until what remained was the river that went by and I who watched …”  ~Norman Mcclean