NSDAR conservation meeting focuses on birds

Published 12:54 am Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Major George Gibson Chapter NSDAR met in March at the Flatwoods United Methodist Church, Jonesville, Virginia. Members present were Charlotte Brooks, Sharon Harrell, Rebecca (Becky) Jones, Linda Lawson, Agnes Marcum, Rebecca (Becky) Royal, Augusta Sinon, Mary Sprinkle, and Manerva Watson. Becky Jones and Mary Sprinkle were hostesses and program chairmen.

Guests present were Richard Davis, pastor of the Flatwoods church and speaker; Nancy Jerrell and daughter Kelli Mooney, prospective new members; and Frances Hines, a former Jonesville teacher and a New Jersey DAR member. Hines is Mary Sprinkle’s mother and Becky Jones’ sister.

Past Regent and Treasurer Charlotte Brooks called the meeting to order. Members participated in the DAR Ritual, the Pledge to the Flag, The American’s Creed, and the Preamble to the Constitution. Brooks read a flag quote by President Woodrow Wilson: “The things that the flag stands for were created by the experience of a great people. Everything that it stands for was written by their lives.”

Chaplain Manerva Watson gave devotion entitled “God is a God of New Beginnings.” The scripture was James 4:6. God opposes the proud, but he shows favor to the humble. Failure is never final for those who begin again with God. The devotion ended with a blessing for the refreshments.

Mary Sprinkle provided the American Heritage Minute by showing a picture of her great great grandmother along with the beautiful pin worn in the photograph. For the Flag Minute, Agnes Marcum read about a Revolutionary War flag called the “Bennington Flag.” Her DAR School Minute focused on Tamassee School in South Carolina. Marcum’s Indian Minute continued the series about World War I Choctaw code talkers.

Program Chairmen Becky Jones and Mary Sprinkle introduced speaker Richard Davis, pastor of the Flatwoods United Methodist Church. Davis gave a very interesting and informative presentation about birds. He said his interest began several years ago with books and binoculars. Now, there are free apps with pictures and other information. Amateurs may call themselves bird watchers or birders. Ornithologists are those who have studied birds scientifically.

Davis named several common birds in Lee County, showed slides, and demonstrated some bird calls. The bird slides included the song sparrow, a bluebird, bluebird eggs and babies, an indigo bunting, a hawk migration, and a picture of “Martha,” the last known passenger pigeon. “Martha” died in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo. Davis also showed a Virginia map with reports of bird activity by county.

We have two different kinds of buzzards or vultures in our area, the turkey vulture and the black vulture. Those that flap their wings frequently and have a more short, stubby tail are the black vultures. The ones most commonly seen are the turkey vultures. They often roost at the same place for many years.

The group learned that birds that fly have more dark muscle tissue than those that do not, such as chickens and domestic turkeys. Mourning doves and hummingbirds have all dark muscle. Migrating birds, especially hawks, have learned to save energy by using thermal risings when flying along our mountains. Some bird species leave the nest soon after hatching; others need parental care much longer.

Bird feeders should be placed at varying levels. Davis uses black-oil sunflower seed although some recommend different seeds for each feeder. Suet or beef fat is good for some species.

Some common birds in our area today are the kestrel, red-bellied woodpecker, turkey vulture, crow, raven, robin, blue jay, wren, song sparrow, bluebird, and chickadee. Spring is a good time to learn about birds. Some birds that used to be in our area, but are now rarely heard, are the bobwhite, whip-poor-will, and chuck will’s widow.

The Virginia Society of Ornithology website has a publication called “The Raven.” There is a Bristol Bird Club where people report on birds sighted. Recently, there was a report of thirty-one different kinds of birds at Wilderness Road State Park. Wise County has a bird count each Christmas. Davis would like to host a Christmas bird count in the Jonesville area. He also mentioned a book called “Birds of the Virginia Cumberlands” by Richard H. Peake, a retired professor at the University of Virginia-Wise.

The group thoroughly enjoyed Richard Davis’ presentation with several members offering comments and questions regarding birds they had seen and heard.

Program Chairmen Becky Jones and Mary Sprinkle made a bluebird box for each attendee. These were displayed on the meeting tables along with colorful bird carvings. Bluebird boxes should be painted a light color before mounting at least six feet off the ground, preferably on a metal post.

There was also a short business meeting and sunshine report. The next chapter meeting is scheduled for April 28th. The theme is “American Heritage/Historical Preservation/American History.” The hostess is Judy Hounshell; the program chairman is Fay Ramsey.