[TN-Bird] Thank you, Tennessee birders!

  • From: Thomas Miko <thomas_miko@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: Tennessee Birds <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2012 09:22:27 -0800

Dear Tennessee Birders,
I am writing these lines at my kitchen table in Los Angeles while my two kids 
are watching cartoons, my wife is rubbing the dog’s belly with her foot, and 
the Black Phoebe who spends his days on my now-defunct analog TV antenna is 
cheering the blue skies with his constant, “Psheoo! Psheoo!” 
It’s good to be home.
I had an awesome time in Chattanooga, last week, where I got 7 lifebirds: 
Brownheaded Nuthatch, Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Red-headed Woodpecker, 
Eastern Towhee, Field Sparrow, and best of all, Barred Owl.
I am so grateful to Carol Fegarido, who took me to her house, Monday after 
class, and let me photograph all of the birds that visit her feeders, 
especially the Brown-headed Nuthatch.  What a pretty little bird!  The 
Cardinals, Downy Woodpecker, and Carolina Chickadees were gorgeous.  She then 
took me to Camp Jordan, where I would have seen the American Woodcock, had I 
not wandered off to the other end of the grassy field. Ha ha.
Tuesday after class Marty Paige picked me up and took me to Chester Frost State 
Park, where he wouldn’t give up until he got me Red-headed Woodpecker for a 
lifebird.  Along with them, I enjoyed the Red-bellied Woodpeckers—which I’ve 
only seen once before, in Texas—along with the Blue Jays (which I think are 
much more beautiful than my local Steller’s Jays), Eastern Bluebirds (Texas, 
Southeast Arizona), and the Eastern Towhee behind the Bailey Cemetery.  To me, 
seeing flocks of White-throated Sparrows and Common Grackles was 
scandalous—simply scandalous, I tell you.  Out here in California when someone 
finds one single White-throated Sparrow among the wintering White-crowned 
Sparrows, they have proven their worthiness as a birder.  When it takes you 
three to five attempts before you finally get your hands on that White-throated 
Sparrow, it’s infuriating.  Same goes for that darn Common Grackle that shows 
up at the park in November among the Great-tailed Grackles and Brewer’s 
Blue Jays: Out here in California, Blue Jay is an incredibly rare vagrant.  
Birders who live 400 miles or more away will drive across the state to get Blue 
Jay on their California list or their year list.  Non-birders refer to our 
Scrub Jays and Steller’s Jays as “blue jays” and we spend a lot of time 
explaining to them that our jays may be blue, but they’re not Blue Jays.  There 
is even a Blue Jay Campground up here in the mountains (named, I am sure, after 
the Stellers).
Meanwhile, Gerald Linderman kept tabs on me, and offered good advice.
Wednesday the weather was bad, so I studied in my hotel room, when I wasn’t 
video-conferencing on Skype with my wife and kids.  Our Basset Hound kept 
staring around the living room, confused, because she could hear me, but 
couldn’t smell me.
Thursday, after class, Marty picked me up and took me to his house, and showed 
me the Barred Owl that lives in the forest. Wow! 
I wasn’t even prepared for the Field Sparrow.  That was a bonus bird.
So, Friday after we took the final for our training course, I walked out of the 
classroom, and a crowd of government employees was standing in front of the TV, 
watching live coverage of the tornados.  One employee who I nicknamed The 
Sergeant-Major (He must be a retired E-7 or higher.  I can tell.) was nervously 
instructing his grandfather over the phone on what to do if a tornado hits his 
house.  Seeing a guy with arm muscles that big being that upset and scared was 
unnerving.  Our flight home got canceled, and my boss and I had to go back to 
the hotel we had just checked out of, four hours earlier.
I think it was good for me to be in your part of the country when tornados hit. 
 By good I don’t mean “nice”, I mean that it was a good jolt of reality.  Out 
here in California  when we see tornado coverage on TV it’s this abstract event 
that happens somewhere else, far away, to people you don’t know.  I only have 
Marty Paige’s work phone number, so I couldn’t call his house, to see if he’s 
Well, I got home yesterday, Saturday, via Dallas (they re-routed a bunch 
flights to avoid the Midwest), after two smooth flights.  My son was 6 when I 
left L.A. last week, and he turned 7 on Friday.  I guess one thing that is 
constant is change.
PS: Your American Crows sound VERY different from ours, out here in The West.

Thomas Geza Miko, 
B.Sc. Radiology, Nuclear Medicine, Radiaton & Lab Safety
Pseudocryptozoologist (Bassariscus astutus, Sauromalus obesus, Heloderma 
653 S. Indian Hill Blvd., unit C 

Claremont, CA 91711 
Home: 909.445.1456
Mobile: 909.241.3300


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