TIS THE SEASON FOR SONGBIRD TRANSITION

Thanks to a mom who loved birds, I developed an interest in songbirds as a kid growing up in Goldonna. When she heard the song of a bird with which she was not familiar, she would reach up on a shelf, pick up her tattered bird book, summon my brother, sister and me to follow her to the yard to try and find the bird that was singing a new song.
Once the bird was located, mom would thumb through the pages of her book until she found it. She’d show it to us and explain what it was and why it was here. With that humble beginning, I learned to love song birds, especially in trying to identify them.
There are still some species that visit my yard I’m not sure of, especially those that hang out in the thickets and woods just over the fence. I pretty well know the ones that have a taste for the bird seed I keep at my feeder. I’m talking about regular visitors such as cardinals, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, blue jays and red bellied woodpeckers. I will occasionally spot one foraging in the trees across the fence I can’t identify. I see some of these especially during the spring migration when all sorts of warblers pass through this area.
We are undergoing a transition in the bird world right now as some species head south for the winter while others are just arriving from northern states. We have said goodbye to the hummingbirds that spent the spring and summer sucking up on the sugar water we fed them. Others that were here but have departed include the fun-to-watch purple martins.
I could write a book about my frustration of trying to attract martins to my boxes. When I was growing up, martins would build nests in anything you hung up for them. As an adult, I have installed state of the art martin boxes, attractive gourds – you name it – and have yet to attract any. The lucky folks who have martins every year have had to bid them adieu until next spring; they’ve moved on to the tropics for the winter.
Other species that have moved on include the indigo buntings, painted buntings, blue grosbeaks among others. One we seldom see but love to hear it sing is the wood thrush; they’re gone too. While some are leaving our area, folks interested in keeping up with birds have perhaps already seen some of those that spend the winter with us. I have already spotted a pretty little bird with a slate gray back and white underside on the ground around my feeder. It’s one I grew up calling a “snow bird”, but in reality, it’s a junco.
Another I’ll be looking to see any day now is a white throated sparrow, a bird slightly larger than most sparrows but true to the name, has a white throat with splash of yellow around the eyes. Another bird I occasionally see in winter is the hermit thrush. These birds with rusty tail and olive brown back, white underside covered with spots, have the tell-tale habit of slowly raising its tail several times a minute.
Some of the birds spending the winter in these parts are seldom seen until we have snow. Once we get those rare snows that cover the ground, at least two species show up in my yard, birds I never see any other time. One is the Eastern Towhee, a pretty little black, orange and white bird that lives in the thickets and is virtually out of sight until it snows. Another I have seen during periods of snowfall is the fox sparrow, a rather large sparrow, brownish on top with a white breast accented by a dark spot in the center.
I’m sure any reader who follows me who is a card carrying ornithologist will snicker at my rather lame attempt to describe and use proper names on some of these. Let ‘em snicker; I just enjoy watching and feeding them and attempting to figure out what they are.

FISHING REPORT 

BUSSEY BRAKE –Crappie are scattered and fair. No report on bass, bream or catfish. For
latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Fishing overall is rather slow. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707
for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – Crappie fishing has been best fishing around the deep tops in the river,
fishing 15 feet deep in 20 foot water on shiners or jigs. Bass are fair in the cuts and in deep holes
on soft plastics, crank baits and Rat-L-Traps. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole
Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – Most of the crappie have migrated to the deep channels with best
catches made fishing jigs or shiners 17-18 feet deep in25 foot water. Bass are also moving deep
with best catches made on deep diving crank baits, soft plastics or jigs. Bream fishing is slow
while catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks.. For latest reports, call Anderson’s
Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Stripers are no longer schooling on top as the shad have moved to deep
water. Trolling white bucktails could pick up a few. Bass to 3-4 pounds have been caught fairly
deep with Chatter baits working best. No report on catfish or bream. For latest information, call
Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – Jigging spoons bounced off the bottom in deep water are producing catches of
yellow bass. Bass are better on the deeper points and some to around 8 pounds are being caught
on deep diving crank baits and oversized plastic worms. The crappie have moved deep with best
catches made on shiners or jigs fished out from the dam and around the Highway 4 bridge. No
report this week on bream or catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia
Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been fair to good with mostly smaller fish being
caught. Crappie are fair around the coves on the north end and also the south end with Bobby
Garland jigs working best. No report on bream or bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point
Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – The lake is down two feet and fishing overall has been quite slow. For
information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water level is fairly stable but except for a few bass being caught,
fishing is generally slow. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.


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