[tn-bird] Anhinga / Eagle Lake Refuge

  • From: OLCOOT1@xxxxxxx
  • To: tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2002 07:29:02 EDT

July 14, 2002
Eagle Lake Refuge
Shelby Co. TN

The adult male Anhinga was perched in the willow trees early Sunday morning 
and was photographed. The mystery stick that I mentioned the bird carrying 
Saturday is not as much of a mystery today. The bird has apparently speared a 
root and it is stuck on the upper mandible about an inch or so up on the 
bill. There is an enlarged area with a stick about 5 or 6 inches long 
sticking out. I could not get close to the bird but did get some photos in 
which the object is visible. 

The mystery now is why the bird cannot scrape it off. The bird seemed OK and 
manipulated with it while it preened. As I stated yesterday the bird was 
catching fish but I'm sure this unwanted appendage causes some difficulty in 
spearing and swimming in vegetation. The bird and area is best viewed from 
the observation tower. This is the only area with water on the refuge. 
Hopefully the bird will stick around without the stick. The pattern on the 
back of this bird is really a fine work of art. This is possibly the male 
that I reported on May 18, performing a display flight over the rookery to 
the north of the refuge.

This species is very slow in making a comeback in breeding numbers in 
Tennessee. There have been a few nests observed over the years regularly in 
the Reelfoot rookeries. There was suspected nesting in 1992-93 at Cocklebur 
Lake here at Memphis when I found adults and flying young in the area on 
numerous visits. In 1995, Mark Greene and I found newly fledged young at 
Poplar Tree Lake in Shelby Forest which is just east of the rookery that the 
Eagle Lake bird was seen displaying over. In 1996 I located and photographed 
3 nests with young in the Heloise Rookery on the river in Dyer Co. I first 
reported a display flight over the Shelby Forest rookery in 1998, that was 
the first time I had ever seen such a flight and I also observed a female in 
the area. Evidently it has been and will be a slow process to return to 
previous numbers but they are nesting now in multiple areas in west TN. The 
bird seems to be doing quite well in Mississippi and Arkansas rookeries that 
I have visited.

After sunning and preening the bird flew back to open water and proceeded to 
feed. Also present were a few Great Blue Herons, Common Egrets, Little Blue 
and Green herons, Cattle and Snowy Egrets. The few Killdeer were joined by 5 
Least Sandpipers, 1 Western and 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper. Mississippi Kites 
of all ages can be seen acrobatically feeding around the refuge.   

Good Birding!!!

Jeff R. Wilson
Bartlett Tenn.

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