Archive for January, 2006

To see a Pileated

Since John and I moved to Vermont, one of the big surprises for us was to learn about the Pileated Woodpecker. Before moving here I had never seen one - actually I am fairly certain that I didn’t know they even existed. Shortly after putting up our feeders here, we saw one fly above us and land on a dead maple tree on our property. It practically took our breath away.

Since then we’ve seen it often, once even landing right in the back of our house where it proceeded to land on the ground, hop over to a dead log and bank the heck out of it while it ate the insects inside.

Rarely have we seen it in the winter, but we wouldn’t have been looking since before owning the store we basically would get up in the morning and head off to ski. So it was even a nicer surprise to be getting stuff in the car to head to the store earlier this week when he (you know it’s a he by the huge red crest on his head) flew right across the road from our house and started making his “kekking” call and then pecking several trees.

A nice way to start a winter day!

 

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Winter Finally Returns

Snow! It finally came back and Vermont looks like Vermont should in January. And the feeder was very busy this morning. The mouning doves - eight of them - getting all they could from the ground before the snow covered it up. And I noticed today that I had quite a few tufted titmice visiting the feeders.

And in much more encouraging news - the american goldfinches have really discovered my nyjer feeders - of course filled with our own Fabulous Finch Food. A blend I make here that they really seem to love.

Still working on getting more photos on the site. This weekend was, happily, much much busier than I thought it would be. So between today and Wednesday I should be able to get photos done.  Be sure to check out the site when you get a chance.

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Yet another Spring Day

Wow! This is a January thaw that just won’t quit.  Today at the feeder I had eight mourning doves under it while the chicadees, titmouse and nuthatches really worked on the feeder.

Per my message the other day, the Cherry Treat suet seems to be going well, and there doesn’t appear to be any squirrel interest yet. Come to think of it, I have not seen any squirrels in two days. I have a feeling that with the snow pack gone, they are eating every acorn that has fallen off the oak trees since our first big snowfall right before Thanksgiving and don’t need the feeder.

Depending on the traffic today, my plan is take some photos in the store and get them up on the site. Everyone keeps complaining about the lack of photos, so I am going to do my best to get more up. Also working on trying to add some new stuff on the product list.

Have a great weekend

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Ooops - I forgot yesterday

Well it was bound to happen. I finally forgot to post. I was hoping to not have that happen until later in the year, but now that it’s over, I guess the rest of the year will go by without a hitch.

OK, now for some bird watching-feeding stuff. It is VERY warm here today, and feeder activity was a bit light this morning. So either they were taking it easier, or checking out other feeders. I am also trying out another one of the suets we sell - Cherry Treat. It doesn’t have real cherries, just cherry flavored nuggets.  So far it looks like the birds like it. Had a male Downy Woodpecker eating away when I left to come to the store.

Next project to get going on - quickly - is our plans to celebrate National Bird Feeding Month, which begins in about 10 days - Yikes! - I need to prepare some pamphlets and posters for the store so we can get the word out.

The whole idea of the month is to get people who are already feeding birds to get one neighbor or family friend into the hobby. We’ll be offering specials for anyone who brings someone in to get started and for the person who is just beginning too!

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Back from Atlanta

Good morning. Was welcomed home by some buzzing chickadees yesterday as the feeder was a bit empty. Those of you who feed know this sound well. I am not sure who has whom trained better. Lots of activity at the feeder today. Even with heavy rain and temps near 50. Weird weather. If there is any question that the Earth is a bit warmer than it was when I was a kid, this winter is beginning to settle it.

First thanks to all who posted comments over the past several days. I really appreciate it. And while all are friends and family, please pass the site to anyone you know who is interested in wild birds.

The shows were both great. BirdWatch America was very helpful in letting me see how the product in our store stands up to what is available. I am happy to report that we do well. More importantly, I can’t wait to share some of the new stuff that we will have coming into the store.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be focusing on information I received from the folks at the Wild Bird Feeding Industry. They are working hard to establish standards for feeders and feed. The Bird Place has always sold feeders that meet these standards. The more interesting topic is that of the seed we buy to put in those feeders.

I am going to get into that discussion a bit more over the next couple of days. If any of you have any experience with different types of seed or the quality of seed you buy, please post them here.

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Off to Atlanta!

Whew! - I think I’m just about ready. Tomorrow I head off to Atlanta for the BirdWatch America trade show. Ever since we started talking about buying the business, I have been looking forward to this show. It will be the first time that I get to meet other folks doing exactly the same thing we are from all over the country.

More importantly, there will be vendors that specifically handle the types of products that we might want to carry in our store, so I can have the chance to get some new and exciting new products here at the store.

Also, in conjunction with the BirdWatch show, AmericasMart - the Atlanta Gift show is running. This is several multiple story (22 in one case) buildings filled with vendors and distributors who want retailers to buy their stuff. I’m certain it will be sensory overload.

So, unless I can get access to a computer while I’m down there - still working on the laptop thing for myself- I will write a complete update on the things I see down in Atlanta next Tuesday or Wednesday.

In the meantime, please keep me posted on any interesting activity at your feeders.

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Patience is a virtue - even when feeding birds

We all know that the world doesn’t run on the schedule that we want it to. It needs to catch up with us or get out of the way. I think that may be one of the reasons that I like birdwatching so much. It makes me SLOW DOWN.

Sometimes I even have to remind myself on the advice I give all of our new customers when they come in to start feeding birds. It can take some time when you are just starting. Birds take time to come to your feeders and more varieties will come with more time.

I was reminded of that this morning when I looked out the window and saw about 12 American Goldfinch feeding - not at the same time, the feeder only has 6 ports - on my Nyjer feeder. I put that feeder out about 5 weeks ago, and just started getting a couple of males about a week and a half ago. What a site to see - it really makes me want to try out one of our Finch Flockers. It would be so cool to see 20 finches feeding at the same time.

So take time to slow down today -

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Weekend Update

Had a small problem with the blog, but now that it got fixed - I can do some quick updating on the weekend.

Had some customers stop by the store yesterday from Windham, VT - up the mountains a bit who reported they just got a large flock of evening grosbeaks. They wanted to beef up their feeding station so they could keep them around. I look forward to seeing if it works. Second report of a large flock in the past few days. Wish some would come to my feeders.  

Over the coming week, I’ll be writing some posts on Project FeederWatch discoveries from last season’s feeding. They had some interesting information, and it would be interesting to see if they match the experience of all of us who are feeding around SW Vermont.

Also, I plan to start taking more pictures of the store and displaying them here. Friends and family are interested in seeing more of the store and I need to do a better job of it showing it at the store.

Have a great week, let me know if anything interesting is happening at your feeders and post your comments and images.

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It really worked!

Today started off with a great phone call from customers that stopped by the store a few days ago.

They were getting ready to set up a new feeding station and were concerned about getting birds to start using the feeders. Their nearest neighbor is about a mile away and they are in the middle of the woods on over 20 acres. Would the birds even FIND their feeder? This can be an issue and many times it can take up to a couple of weeks for birds to find a new feeder.

That shouldn’t be a surprise - think of how many times you’ve seen a new restaurant open and how long it takes before you visit itl… on the condition that you even like the type of food the place is serving. Well, it’s no different for birds. First you have to put out food they like, and then wait for a passerby to try it and let everyone else know if it’s a good spot to eat.

Chickadees are usually the first at any feeder around here, especially if it has black oil sunflower seeds in it.  I know when we put up our first feeder here in Vermont, they were the first, and you can definitely hear a specific call they make to let their friends know they found a good spot.

Back to our customer. The question was if there was anything they could do to encourage birds to show up? As a new store owner you want to give good advice, and we do have a product called “DinnerSong” which is a cassette tape recording of the calls that Chicadees make when they find a new food source. I have heard this works, but not ever having to use something like this, I offered full disclosure and offered them the cassette.

I only asked that if it worked, that they give me a call so I could use them as a testimonial.

This morning I got the call. They had played the tape yesterday and nothing happened. They played it again this morning and within 30 minutes chickadees had appeared and already several other species have turned up. The customer couldn’t be happier and I’m thrilled to pass along the success.

If you’re thinking about started to feed wild birds, keep this tip in mind!

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Now it’s official!

We’re both Vermonters as of today. Went to the DMV, which was remarkably efficient with absolutely no wait and got the license while you waited. Very nice.

It was a VERY snowy morning, though a bit warm. The birds were feeding like mad this morning. I keep trying different products and today it was our least expensive suet, which does have seed in it. Just monitoring to see if squirrels go after it. They did not touch the pure suet - as has been my experience for 4 years - but did go after our Woodpecker Treat - though the birds got their fair share as well. So far I did see one red squirrel check it out, but that’s it. We’ll see what condition it’s in tomorrow.

NO unusual sitings - but a customer did come and report a Common Redpoll at his feeder yesterday. Usually an irruptive series, but I’ll pay attention to our other regular feeders to see if they start popping up more. This would be the time of year to see them if they’re here.

Let me know if you see anything unusual at your feeders!

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