Pat posted on January 12, 2011 03:25
Save up to 40% (125x125 tan) class=

Now that we're here year 'round, we can do a lot more for wildlife. With this past summer having been so tough - hot and dry, so that many plants dried up before forming seed - we know the birds can be short of winter food. So we've added several feeders and keep them stocked with black oil sunflower, safflower, nyjer, mixed seed, and suet. In return, we're getting daily, daylong entertainment. Finches, cardinals, titmice, chipping sparrows, red-bellied woodpeckers, and even the occasional bluebird start feeding early morn and continue till early afternoon, with occasional returns. We'll soon be clearing out the birdhouses and adding more for the coming season, and look forward to a good-sized population of songbirds this summer - not that they were lacking before.

Something we're really pleased about is having added birdbath heaters. Since our winter temperatures aren't severe, heaters in the 50-watt range suffice to keep water from completely freezing in birdbaths by the front walk and outside my parents' suite. Such a small expenditure of electricity for a good purpose: I recommend them to anyone caring for birds in a cold climate.

Having read some good tips on helping birds through the winter, the other new thing we're trying is small shelters for small birds: some like heavy felt, some heavy raffia. Can't tell how much they're being used, but occasionally see one swinging far more than any breeze accounts for. The idea is to give small birds shelter from the wind and rain. We know the barn is a virtual aviary in the winter, but that's a long way from the feeders, and perhaps not all species care to cohabit.

We ordered most of our new items from Duncraft, and recommend them highly. Take a look at what they have to offer: Help Birds Survive Winter.


Posted in: Wildlife  Tags: ,
Pat posted on May 24, 2010 10:07
Newly-hatched cardinal

Location, location, location: A pair of cardinals here made a clever choice. There's been a nest just outside the front windows - opposite the pair of rocking chairs that look out on the front - up in a holly tree. Just inches from the window, giving us a front-row view of the nesting female, and finally, the hatched little ones, and the parents feeding them. Local friends told me sadly that a black snake had gotten their cardinals' nest. What a great choice this holly tree is: a hard spot to fly into, discouraging predatory birds, not sturdy enough for the cat to navigate the branches, and too thick with small branches for a snake to slither up, I'd guess. I kept the cat in for many days to give them peace, put a bowl of water on the porch railing near the tree, a small feeder with sunflower seeds nearby in the yard. It's now an empty nest: another generation successfully launched.


Posted in: Diary , Wildlife  Tags:
Pat posted on May 3, 2010 19:12
Chimney swift image from the internet, not here at Chick Cove Manor

Last spring, just after buying a large plasma tv for the living room, and setting it up in front of the unused fireplace, for want of other quick options, strange noises were heard from that spot. A funny sort of chattering or extended staccato whistling ... what on earth? Then a small bird plopped onto the floor one day and I discovered that the noises were from chimney swifts nesting here. I couldn't move the tv and heavy stand to put the bird back up the chimney as I should have, so I tried to put it in a safe spot outside. Probably never made it, although I never saw proof of its demise. If it fell after an unsuccessful attempt at flight, perhaps the next try was a success. It seemed mature enough. Interestingly, they need to be offered something vertical to cling to, as they don't perch on other surfaces. Brick and mortar chimneys are ideal.

So, this surprise was reason to learn something new. I found that chimney swifts are endangered, and protected by federal and state laws. ChimneySwifts.org tells us that, "Chimney Swifts are extremely beneficial. Two parents and their noisy offspring will consume over 12,000 flying insect pests every day. These include only small things like mosquitoes, gnats, termites and biting flies. Unfortunately Chimney Swift numbers are in decline due to loss of habitat -- first large hollow trees, and now open masonry chimneys."

Now, after rearranging the furniture, I've got access to the fireplace again and am all ready to retrieve and replace any fallen little ones this year. But so far, so good. The chattering goes on and no arrivals on the floor. I hope there's a large family enjoying any and all mosquitos!


Posted in: Diary , Wildlife  Tags:

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