If I were pressed to name my 10 favorite birds, one of the birds on that list would be the Scissor-tailed flycatcher. But they are very, very scarce here in Alabama. Although they have been nesting here for several years, the summer birds are few and far between — probably fewer than a dozen pairs in the entire state. It’s long been the plan to travel to the Gulf Coast in October and November to see the species in Alabama; they are almost a sure thing at Fort Morgan or Fort Gaines in fall.
So it was a rare and special treat to catch an adult Scissor-tailed flycatcher feeding dependent young at Sledge, just recently. The parent bird repeatedly flew out for large flying insects from over the nearby farm pond, then returned to feed the hungry fledglings perched on the power wires.
This birding trip was part of a “pilgrimage” that I make often in the late spring and summer — to drive down to and through the Black Belt — following the blue highways that pass by the extensive farms and fields, the catfish and cattle ponds, the small swamps, streams, and marshes. Searching for the “summer specialties” that appear in the open country in this, hottest part of the year. This day Eva and I saw not only the Scissor-tails, but also Wood storks, White pelicans, a Fulvous whistling-duck, Mississippi kites…I could go on, but it sounds like bragging.
Do this, though: get in the car. Bring water, snacks, a sun protection, and drive to that part of the state near Greensboro, Eutaw, Demopolis, Uniontown..Use state highways 69,25, and 61, and the county roads that criss-cross and connect them. Now keep your eyes open; this is magnificent summer birding!