Pairs of birds
grackles, mourning doves, blue jays and redbirds
These colorful birds visit my yard often. The birds that I remember when I was a child at Banner Mountain were not the same as these. They were mockingbirds, hummingbirds, sparrows, crows, hawks, owls and purple martins. My older siblings often told the story of how they would go look at a bird’s nest in an old tree. They said it was the nest of a “yellow-hammer” and it was built in an old “snag,” which meant it was in an old hollow tree. But I have no idea what kind of bird it was. My siblings went every day to see the baby birds. By researching, I’ve learned the yellowhammer is Alabama’s state bird, which is a northern flicker or yellow-shafted flicker. Or as one source says, they were birds with yellow patches under their wings. I can only imagine how beautiful those birds and baby birds must have been. I wish I could have seen them but they lived in the old snag tree before I was born. And to this day, I have not seen a yellowhammer bird. ~~Freeda Baker Nichols
This red-bellied woodpecker has grabbed a bite of food and is lifting off in flight to wherever he is nesting. The ever-present sparrow at the lower right corner of the photo huddles quietly, awaiting the departure of the bossy woodpecker. Blue jays are often rude and aggressive wild birds, but even they move away from the woodpecker when he flies in.
I don’t recall woodpeckers at Banner Mountain. But they probably were there. My favorite birds were the mockingbirds and the whippoorwills. I remember the red-tail hawk that circled the sky, whistling, and looking for chickens to catch. Mama sent me outside many times to scare the hawk away. We had lots of sparrows around our homeplace. And there were quail. Crows, too, and owls. The hummingbirds were the most entertaining. They hovered over the honeysuckle and raided the sweet nectar in the colorful hollyhocks that Mama planted by the garden fence. Once I found an abandoned bird’s nest that hung down from a limb like a sock. I don’t know what kind of bird built the nest. But it was an awesome find for a child who would grow up to become a writer with a big imagination.
© Freeda Baker Nichols