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JIM: Birds played role in early Adair Countians' lives

Enjoying the birds in Adair County is centuries old, as 'Jim' points out in this compilation of writings by the Adair County News correspondent, commenting on poetry by resident J.T. Jones. The correspondent wrote 'A somewhat rambling but mostly true birding report from north of the Green River' for the News in April 28, 1909. His mother fed the birds, and his family's trips were measured successful by the number of raptors seen. His lament was 'missing the mockers south of the Green.' His quiet, understated and modest humor seems to anticipate the coming Dr. W.K. Neat, when the 1909 News correspondent from N. of the Green writes, Adair Countyistically, The worms in particular thrived on the natural fertilizer Mama used to grow her flowers. I once saw one of those organically fed red wiggler's tar and defeather a robin. Somehow, hyperbole and bragging has just never seemed to be a part of our literary heritage. -EW

By "Jim"
Where have you been my bonny bird
To leave alone so long,
One whom you have so often cheered
With your enchanting song?
These words, penned by Adair County resident J.T. Jones, appeared in the April 28, 1909 edition of Adair County News. I know how Mr. Jones felt. We live in a rural area somewhat north of the Green River where wildlife abounds, but one species sadly missing is Mr. Jones' bonny mocking bird. So rare are they here that so much as a single sighting raises hope the next year will bring more. Alas, that has yet to come to pass.

Amongst my happier childhood memories is watching the birds come to feeder on the back porch where my sainted Mama would put bread crumbs and suet. An elm tree not far removed from the back porch served both as a staging area for the daring daylight "raids" our feathered friends made on the feeder and as a safe haven for them to enjoy the largess of their banditry.

And too, many of the birds, particularly towhees and robins, much enjoyed scratching in Mama's rose beds to feast on the premium quality bugs and worms found therein. (The worms in particular thrived on the natural fertilizer Mama used to grow her flowers. I once saw one of those organically fed red wigglers tar and defeather a robin.)

Fast forward a few (or more) years....

We always keep an eye out for birds when we're out walking. A few years ago, we spotted a pair of bald eagles floating around, less than a mile from where we live. A couple of summers ago, we were lucky enough spy a pair of scarlet tanagers near the river (alas, not the Green), and this past year, a pair of Baltimore orioles hung around for a while.

When traveling, we measure the success of the trip by how many raptors we see. On one trip down to the Auld Sod a few years back, the count was over 30, mostly redtails and kestrels. Almost certainly, that will always rank as the apogee of our sojourning "success."

One of the roads we frequently use runs atop a river (neither so wide nor so deep nor as beautiful as the Green) and we keep a sharp lookout there when crossing the bridge. The river and the berms often are frequented by geese and more times than not a great blue heron will be practicing his (or her) skills as a stealth fisher at the expense of minnows, crawdaddies, frogs, and the like. Now and anon, we'll spot a belted kingfisher perched on the power line above the river, none too patiently "a-waitin' for a fish to flick a fin," as my mother-in-law's daughter quips.

Although mocking birds are in short supply up this way, their shirttail cousins the catbirds do a fair good job of filling the void. Still, we miss the mockers south of the Green, that
Each morning at the dawn of day
Upon a perch so grand
As if to make a great display,
Sung to beat the band.
Compiled by "Jim" in preparation for the Great Backyard Bird Count, February 18, 19, 20, 21.

This story was posted on 2011-02-12 06:52:39
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