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Friday, December 2, 2011

Meticulous yard-cleaning is going to get rid of birds

Olive Sparrows

Dark-eyed Junco

It's time we relegate the myth of "fall cleanup" to the trash bin. Many, many songbirds depend on "yard leavings" to find shelter and food during north Texas' cool months - much like a bird living in a natural forest.

The majority of north Texas' wild birds are attracted to an unkempt yard - Wrens, Juncos, Brown Thrashers, Towhees and all our 12 species of native Sparrows, to name a few.
Of course, some accommodations need to be made for the humans living there too. At our house we clean up a portion of our yard, and let nature take its course in the rest of the landscape. We're constantly rewarded with visits from birds of all kinds.

The Macaulay library at Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology has  collected thousands of bird sounds: they're accessible through their web site - . Their first recording of  birds was made back in 1929, and many, many have been added since.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blue Jays can "squirrel" away several acorns at once

Blue Jay

The common Blue Jay we see in north Texas can pick up and fly with several acorns at a time.  Very efficient!!

He can carry one or two or three (depending on the nuts' sizes) in its mouth and throat.  Also, at least two more in expandable "pockets" on the outside of its throat.

The jay carries them away and hides them for later - just like a squirrel.

If you're thinking about buying a child a pair of binoculars for Christmas, that's a wonderful, lasting gift!! However, please avoid buying a toy pair, which has terrible performance, usually breaks right away, and sours the child on pursuing other "nature stuff" in the future. Keep these criteria in mind;

1. Choose binoculars where the distance between the eyes ("IDP") adjusts down to 50-55 mm.  2. Steer clear of choosing extra-high magnification, and toward a wider field of view, so the child can see a wider area.  3. Avoid a compact model made for an adult's hands. These almost always have smaller focusing dials.