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The Manure Spreader: Bird watching

Tim Moffett for Progressive Dairyman Published on 31 March 2017

Well, spring is in the air. The days are warmer, things are starting to green up again – and just last week I had a group of bird watchers show up at the farm. I inquired if they needed to borrow some birdshot. They looked at me like I had a talking parrot on my shoulder.

Apparently, there is a large group of people out there who travel thousands of miles just to watch a bird sit on a branch. At first, I thought this was a waste of time, but then I thought about all the farmers who spend hundreds of dollars on hunting gear to sit in a deer stand for hours and don’t even see a deer. Yeah. You know who you are. And your wife does too.

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The bird watchers didn’t find the birds they were looking for. All they saw were some cattle egrets, a couple buzzards and one chicken. They just assumed there was some type of “global warming” problem and the birds weren’t coming to Florida anymore.

I assured them every type of bird imaginable arrives at this farm every spring. That’s when I introduced these lovely people to our “barn cat” Sylvester.

I explained to my guests that, here in Florida, the only bird that disappears on purpose this time of year is the “snowbird.”

“Snowbird” is the nickname for the dark-eyed Juno bird in the sparrow family. But in terms of people, it is used to describe seasonal travelers, usually from northern snow-filled states and Canada. Since they are arriving from the same area of the globe, you would think these snowbirds would travel the same migration pattern as Canadian geese.

Tracking traveling snowbirds isn’t difficult at all. Habitually, they like to travel in the fast lane on any interstate, usually 10 mph slower than the posted speed limit with their left blinker on for the entire trip. For the Canadian breed of snowbird, this is not their fault; they think they are driving in kilometers.

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Apparently, the snowbirds are born with the natural ability to drive large RVs and travel trailers because legally anyone else would be required to own a CDL license to drive something that big. Snowbirds do not have a distinct sound like the owl, whippoorwill or Toucan Sam.

Most likely they will be heard cranking “Free Bird” from the stereo of their golf carts. They say, “Birds of a feather flock together,” which makes finding and observing these snowbirds easy-peasy. For a bird’s eye view of these majestic creatures, just stop by any Pilot truck stop or Cracker Barrel restaurant.

So to all my “snowbird” friends, I wish you all safe travels, and I will see you again next winter.

I think Willie Nelson said it best. “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”  end mark

For more information about Tim, visit him at Tim the Dairy Farmer.

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