For the past several weeks, I have been chasing birds. I brought two of them home with me; beards and spurs are drying on the shelf and meat is in the freezer.
I’m a turkey hunter and this is the time of year I look forward to more than any other time. Louisiana’s season ended this past weekend and although it would be fun to chase another gobbler or two, I’m content with what the season afforded me.
This article, however, is not about my quest for gobblers. It’s about what all I have observed while in the turkey woods as well as what I’m seeing as I kick back on my porch, nursing a cup of coffee. It’s springtime and just about every bird in the country is trying out vocal chords and doing its best to out-sing the competition.
One of the benefits of sitting quietly in the woods waiting to hear a gobbler is to get tuned it to all the other sounds going on around you. For example, last Saturday as I stepped out of my truck in the gathering light to head for my turkey blind, I heard a bird I hadn’t heard in a couple of years. You can’t really label the call of a yellow breasted chat as bird song; it’s anything but musical.
I never saw the bird shrouded by the thicket where it perched but I immediately recognized the call of the chat, which is a combination of grunts, wheezes, clicks, and snorts that sounded at times like a rusty gate hinge that needed a shot of WD 40.
As the sky brightened on a nice spring morning, every bird in the area awakened.
Cardinals; titmice, mourning doves, rufous sided towhees, and a host of others I couldn’t identify, filled the woods with trills and chirps that made me forget I was there to try and waylay a gobbler.
Returning home, I was treated to a different chorus taking place in my back yard. Some of the same species I heard in the woods have cousins living in my yard but I was afforded not only nice bird music but sightings I haven’t seen since this time last year.
I keep my bird feeder filled all time but I’m especially careful to be sure it’s full when the neo-tropical migrants make their way across our area from the coast where they first make landfall. This time of year, I can depend upon seeing a strikingly beautiful bird, the rose breasted grosbeak, sitting on my feeder. His mate, drab sparrow-like, can’t hold a candle to the black, white and crimson wardrobe the male wears.
Others that settled in for the spring and summer are the buntings. I haven’t seen a painted bunting in years but the indigo buntings do their part in adding bright color to the yard.
We have our usual mixed flock of songbirds from cardinals, titmice, Carolina chickadee, blue jays, mourning doves to our red-bellied woodpecker and last week, I identified a blue grosbeak on the feeder.
This year, we’re enjoying a treat that hasn’t taken place in our yard ever that I recall. A brown thrasher, a somewhat shy bird that resembles a mockingbird with freckles, has decided our Lady Banks arbor is a fitting location for a nursery. The nest was constructed, eggs laid and now we’re watching the rusty brown pair busy about making sure the little ones have plenty to eat.
They may be more shy and retiring than mockingbirds but venture too close to the nest and risk the chance at getting attacked.
Glynn Harris Outdoor column is sponsored by D.C. Pawn in Minden