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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Goldfinches are arriving; what are you feeding them?

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

Some Goldfinches are here already, more are on the way.  When they arrive they're a dirty-yellow color, and are hungry for thistle.  However, the small black seed they like is NOT the same thing as the "thistle" that grows here in Texas.    Some call it "Nyjer" (nigh-jer) a trademarked name for the common birdseed you really want. It comes only from overseas.

This real thistle (or Nyjer) has a freshness length of only 6 or 7 months, since it has to be heated at Customs (250 degrees for 15 minutes) to kill off any unwanted seeds, which starts the process of it going stale. So, when given this year's seed, Goldfinches should eat it all, instead of throwing it on the ground. That's not the case if they're given last year's seed, or locally-grown "thistle".

Rufous Hummingbird
Some north Texans have seen hummingbirds in their yards - during the winter!  It's rare, but possible.

Our "customary" hummingbirds (the Ruby-throated and Black-chinned species) left here in early October. But the Rufous Hummingbird summers in the Pacific Northwest, and comes south for the winter. (And Texas is the "south") .

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The word "harvest" bothers Canada Geese and me

Canada Goose
Roughly 25-percent of the Canada Geese that are "harvested" from the wild each year in Canada are taken by native/aboriginal people. The others are taken for various reasons, including 'sport'.

They're among the top three species hunted (along with Mallards and Teal).

Canada Goose
By the way, they're "Canada Geese" not "Canadian", which you'll hear sometimes in the media.

The number of waystations for migrating Monarch butterflies has passed 1,000. Since Monarchs, like most butterflies, migrate each year to warmer climates like Mexico, they need frequent waystations to rest and refuel, especially in Texas. Size isn't a big factor; some waystations are just a few square yards.

The butterflies used to do this almost anywhere, but the U.S. is losing good butterfly habitat at the rate of over 3,000 acres a day. In this area, the most frequently-seen butterfly is the Gulf Fritillary. Now is the right time of year, in Texas, to prepare an effective butterfly waystation.
Gulf Fritillary