Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Exit: Rose-breasted Grosbeak; Heading North Enter: Summer Tanager; From the South

There is a constant drama going on right outside our windows.  As we move through Spring and on our way into Summer, the actors (and actresses) in this play keep changing.  
We had 3 or 4 weeks of daily visits of the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks.  I could even see the male's winter feathers  change to their brighter, more colorful summer attire.  I'm not sure how many of this species we actually had, but I did see at least 4 males and 2 females at the same time.  Last Sunday was the last day I saw them.  That Sunday night we had some rain and it got colder.  Monday their absence at the bird feeders was quite apparent to me.  I don't pretend to understand how or why birds decide to move on when they do, but since our motorhome is so close to the woodsy area around us I think I'm more aware of what's here on a daily basis.

We have several kinds of woodpeckers and at first, when I saw this guy, I thought it was a Hairy Woodpecker...
He'd been hanging around on the poplar tree right outside our window for several days.  I got to looking a bit closer at the holes he's been drilling in the tree.  Hmmmm...  those sure look like a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker pattern.  Birders will know what I mean, but these birds drill holes that end up looking like a screen door mesh...  all in evenly located spaces and fairly close together.  So...  I started watching a bit closer.  Saw that he wasn't a Hairy, nor a Downy...  so got out the camera and tried for a decent shot.  Again...  I'm in our motorhome and this guy is outside the window.  I think that he, too is just passing through...  but he left his mark on that tree before he left.

Also last week I heard a bird song...  way up in the treetops.  Wasn't sure... got out the binoculars and yes...  there was a male Summer Tanager singing his little heart out.  I'm sure he was trying to attract a mate....  and I think he succeeded....
That's the male on the left...  the female is at the far right.
We are currently re-doing the rental (the house Bill & I lived in) and the sliding door in this picture will be replaced on Tuesday.  So I've never taken the time to clean the glass.  Had a heck of a time trying to get my camera to focus on the birds... it loved the dirty glass... even the screen on the left.  But since the birds have been flying from the nearby trees to the deck... back and forth all morning....  I did clean the glass later hoping for a better shot.

The female apparently is playing hard to get....  she lights on the deck..  flits up in the tree...  flies off to the trees across the field...  back and forth...  all the time making a "come hither" call.  Of course the male follows...  he'll hang out in the tree a while... swoop down on the deck to woo her... she flies off...  he follows...  it goes on and on...
This is the female...  totally different plumage than the male.
Not really drab, but certainly not the brilliant red of the male.
I'm not sure how long this courting will go on, but tomorrow morning I hope to get up there again and see if she's still being coy.

We heard the Cuckoo a few times this week.  Haven't seen one yet, but know that he, too, has returned for the summer.  I still see the Yellow-throated Warbler at the feeder now and then.  Also, the Bluebirds seem to have a nest in the nesting box closest to the house.....  we'll see.  And, the Robin that built her nest under the deck may already have hatched her eggs.  I haven't checked with the binoculars for tiny heads peeking up, but will when the weather get nicer.

Yes...  everyday is another act in this Summer Play that the birds are putting on here.  I just watch and listen... waiting for the next set in this wonderful cast of players.

A followup on my Cauliflower Crust Pizza....
I got the recipe for the crust from George - he's the Awesome Travels blog with the Weber Q.
I had my Cuisinart Food Processor in storage here...  got it out, cleaned it up...  and put it to use.  Got a big head of cauliflower at Kroger's and ground it into very small bits.  I kind of did my own variation...  used more than 2 cups of cauliflower so added 2 eggs, the mozarella cheese and Italian seasonings...  then made almost a puree out of that.  I love it that George suggested using parchment paper on the pan...  kept the crust intact and easier to serve.  I spread the marinara sauce over the baked crust.  Of course I go overboard on the veggies...  peppers, garlics, spinach, mushrooms, onion...  and topped with Feta cheese.  I baked it all about 45 minutes at 350 (another variation) because it was so thick I figured it would take a bit longer get done.  It was delicious!  We had half for dinner last night and the other half tonight.  And yes, it was filling enough that we didn't need any other side dishes either night.  (Okay, a glass of wine...  but, hey.....)

I had enough cauliflower to put half in a baggy and freeze for another pizza later....  neither of us have gluten problems, but this is a great gluten-free pizza.  So, thanks, George for this idea.  This one's a keeper!

That's All For Today!


  1. I've never seen a tanager, but we've had some birds we don't see often hanging around this past week. The rose breasted grossbeak, Baltimore oriole, the hummers are back and we have acquired our own pilliated. We think the grossbeak is nesting nearby.

  2. We don't have gluten free problems either, but just love that pizza, less carbs, starch and calories, yep healthier pizza.
    Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I tried mixing pureed cauliflower into the mashed potatoes one time and the cowboy noticed--I'm thinking he might notice an entire pizza crust made from cauliflower!!! :)))))

  4. The grosbeaks should hang out all summer there. We had one stop in yesterday. While living in Victoria, Texas, we had a pair of summer that bird. Good shot of the female.

  5. Love birds and I know that I would love your pizza. BTW, I was watching a beautiful Painted Bunting on my feeders this morning.

  6. Isn't it great to watch the migrants move through and see the breeding residents show up. And knowing that the cycle has been repeating itself for millennia.

  7. We still have our Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. I think this is one of the only times I actually have seen a female prettier than the male, Summer Tanager. Yea for the females.

  8. Wow. Great birds... and food! All birds we don't see anymore. As for the cauliflower pizza, I've never seen it!

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