The roadside wildflowers were at their peak and the bird life was plentiful. I didn't see any unusual birds. Indeed, most of the birds we encountered were ones that I might easily see in my own backyard, although a few of them would be considered unusual.
Notable examples were the Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Great Crested Flycatchers that seemed to be calling from every second tree. Both of them might be seen in my yard but haven't been in 2013. (I did hear one Yellow-billed Cuckoo calling here a few weeks ago.)
Another bird that was very common in north Mississippi where we were was the lovely little Indigo Bunting. In most years those birds do pass through my yard in April, but I didn't see a single one this year. They were busily nesting in the Mississippi woods and their musical songs were heard everywhere.
One bird which I missed during our visit - and I did sorely miss it because it is one of my favorite birds in the area - was the Eastern Towhee, a bird which I still remember by its more descriptive former name, Rufous-sided Towhee.
Eastern Towhee picture courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
In most years, I see a number of these lovely sparrow-like birds scrabbling around in the leaf litter on the ground or sometimes singing loudly from the tops of trees, but not this year. I didn't hear or see a single one.
One bird that I was delighted to discover there was the Osprey.
One day on the trip, we went out to Bay Springs Lake Recreational Area on the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and there we encountered a pair of nesting Ospreys. These birds never used to be found in this area when I was growing up. They are flourishing now and that is all credit due to the Endangered Species Act.
The Ospreys and their nest were far out in the lake - really too far for the lens I had on my camera, but, of course, I had to try.
We watched the birds for quite some time. I saw one make a couple of dives but he came up empty. There are plenty of fish in the lake, so I'm sure they make a good living here.
Another bird which we saw and heard on the lake, one that never used to be in the area, was the Fish Crow. The calls of these birds, a distinctive and more nasal variation on the voice of the American Crow, sounded throughout the woods around the lake. The corvid population seemed about evenly divided between American Crows and Fish Crows.
I enjoyed my visit with the birds of Mississippi, even as I enjoyed my visit with its people. The avian world seems to be healthy and flourishing there and that is always good to see.