Archive for February, 2006

Winter is back — again

Well finally Vermont looks like Vermont should in February.  A nice coating of snow, cold termperatures and the birds are going crazy at the feeders.

This reminds me a lot of how they were feeding in November leading up to the super cold weather we had the first two weeks of December. I know the cold weather is going to be around for awhile so make sure the feeders are full, the water not frozen and enjoy the variety of birds at your feeders!

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Have you seen any Juncos?

A customer came in yesterday and asked me the question. And normally this time of year, we tend to see juncos, picking up what’s left over on the ground. But this year, I have yet to see any.

Given the weather we’ve had this winter, it’s probably just another pattern change for the year that we’ll experience. Who knows, bets are that we’ll probably have snow in June!

We all reported seeing juncos very early in the fall season. Many said that it was the earliest they had ever seen them here. So, if  you see them arrive again, drop a line.

Also, don’t forget to send any sightings of birds that are unusual. Lots of common redpoll visits being reported right now.

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Seed is flying out the door

Pun not really intended, because I just noticed it as I began to enter in today’s notes. But really, I have sold more seed in the past couple of days than I have in a while.

It’s not really a surprise since the weather turned back to cold (2  1/2 days without power - thank you very much) the birds really need the food.

Which brings me to the main point of today’s entry. A customer called to say she has found several dead common redpolls over the past couple of days. I recommended that she call VINS and let them know.

Turns out that they have had several reports of this and gave her the following information so I can pass it along.

Since it’s been so warm this winter, the old/half-eaten seed that has been laying at the base of your feeders has more than likely spoiled and common redpolls, being mainly a ground feeder are dying of salmonella.

Her advice - be sure to clean up around the base of your feeders. Any old seed or shells should be cleaned up and this should help these birds out. Good advice with or without this problem. And don’t forget to clean your feeders.

 

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A long, dark, cold night

Well as expected, the storm we got yesterday, which had very little in the way of precipitation, had a bunch in store for us with wind. Our town got hit very hard, and the power is still out.

However this blog is about birds and it was interesting to see, even with high winds this morning and one feeder knocked pretty much over by a fallen tree, but hanging on the pole nonetheless, the birds were out feeding this morning wherever they could. Tonight is going to be our coldest, so my guess is that the feeders will be pretty busy for the next few days.  

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A Pre-Storm Treat!

Well, the on-again-off-again nature of this winter returned with a vengenance this morning. 60 degrees in the morning when I woke up, and then snow squalls 2 1/2 hours later.

But the real treat today came when I arrived at the store. Out front of the movie theater next door is a fruit tree, with a ton of dried berries on it. And flying back and forth between the tree and the river were over 50 Cedar Waxwings, truly one of our most beautiful backyard birds. Imagine a multi-colored cardinal, beautiful black mask, outlined in white, yellow bellies, and a beautiful olive/mauve/blue toned feathered body. And of course the red tips at the end of their wings.

It was quite a site to see and apparently one that repeats each spring. I can’t wait till next year! Stay warm over the next few days, it’s going to be COLD.

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Preparing for the cold?

While today and tomorrow it might feel a bit like early April - actually mid-April, the birds seem to know that this weekend could be the coldest we have felt all winter. The activity yesterday and today was way more active than the past few days. In fact, yesterday, there was such a variety of birds it was hard to keep track.

Hairy and downy woodpeckers, nuthatches - white and red-breasted, titmouse, chickadee, and goldfinches were out in big numbers at my feeders.

Get ready to try and stay warm this weekend - and maybe we’ll get some snow out of this too?

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Winter Returns - Feeders are busy!

It’s nice to have weather that actually makes sense. And while we didn’t get the snow that the coastal cities received. The ground is white and the air is cold. Life is back to at least a little bit more normal. Though it is suppose to warm up again briefly Wednesday and Thursday.

Feeders have been busy the past two days. Given that it has been 10 degrees or so each morning, that doesn’t surprise me.

One interesting note, we both believe that we are seeing the male goldfinches that visit our feeders begin turning a bit more yellow. Not sure when they normally molt, but I am going to see if I can find out.

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Trying something new

One of the great joys of birdfeeding is that there is practically - and I do mean practically - no limit to the number of ways and types of food you can feed wild birds. And the reward is that by trying new things, you often get new birds or more of the birds you want visiting your backyard.

A nice success story from a lady who has been feeding for many years but was looking for something new to try. I asked her if she had ever tried feeding raw shelled peanuts.

In reading some books I discovered that this is a relatively new type of feeding here in the U.S. but something that has been done in Europe for a long time.

What I do know is that the folks who have been doing it around here for some time are very loyal to shelled peanuts. It’s a terrific no waste seed, especiall compared to the mess made by black oil sunflower in the shell seed and it attracts lots of woodpeckers and nuthatches to the feeder.

Well this lady recently came back in to buy more shelled peanuts. And she just was just delighted at how many birds were coming to the feeder. Seems ALL of the birds are beginning to prefer the shelled peanuts - chickadees, titmouse in addition to the woodpeckers and nuthatches.

Lesson here - If you’ve been enjoying a hobby for many years, always take the time to find new ways to enjoy it. It might even make the hobby more enjoyable than it was before.

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Maple Street Bird Feeding Success

When we purchased The Bird Place we had planned to make sure that we just didn’t run a retail store. We really wanted to get the store out in the community and get everyone interested in the fun of backyard birding and bird watching.

One of our first projects has finally seen some success. Working with Joy Stewart’s kindergarten class at the Maple Street School here in Manchester Center, the kids built their own soda bottle feeders and had one extra they hung outside their classroom.

It took about a month and half - the going time frame without using the Dinnersong CDs, but now they have some chickadees visiting. Here are some pictures.

The good news is that it even took the students making an announcement that no one Soda Bottle Feedershould play under the tree since that seemed to be keeping birds away. Joy tells me that the kids just love the birds and are thrilled they are there.  

They also hung out a suet feeder and even more birds are visiting.

I’ve always maintained that getting kids interested in wild birds is a great way to get them interested in wildlife. Here’s hoping that they’ve taken the first step and will become even more interested in helping out wildlife.

 

Chickadees on Suet Feeder

 

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Very, very strange winter

Well it’s now official. We no longer have any snow left anywhere except the machine-made snow that’s up on the trails.

Not that much action at the feeders either. The goldfinch keep coming back and the chickadees and tufted titmouse are still here, but not in the numbers of a couple of days agao. I also haven’t seed a white-breasted nuthatch in two days now.

I have had several people come into the store asking for bluebird feed since it’s warm enough for them to start checking out houses - at least those that overwintered.

In even stranger news, since there is no snow on the ground, I noticed this morning that just about all of our crocus are starting to sprout.

We’ll have to see how the rest of winter goes, but I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the last of it yet.

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