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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Why Ducks are big on north Texas / Toxic birdseed?

Wood Duck (male)
Wood Ducks  (male, female)
Mallard & chicks

Wild Ducks, particularly Wood Ducks, must love north Texas. They love to eat acorns, and north Texas is naturally covered with Oak trees. Every fall, the Oaks produce millions and millions of delicious acorns.

Muscovy Duck
Nestboxes for ducks can be rewarding; just make sure they're protected from tree-climbing predators. Ideally, putting it on a tree over water, or on a small island, works well. In Texas, avoid plastic boxes - they get very hot here, and the inside temperature can kill the embryos in the eggs.

Scotts Miracle Gro Co. has agreed to plead guilty to charges in federal court and pay $4.5 million in fines in two incidents
The complete article from the Columbus Dispatch can be read by pasting the above address into your browser. Or by doing an internet search using the words "Scotts  guilty  pesticide  fine"

The Scotts company, makers of Songbird Essentials, will plead guilty to violations including knowingly selling birdseed coated with toxic pesticide. Charges also included falsifying E.P.A. pesticide registration numbers on their products, although the E.P.A. hadn't cleared them.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why do Crows hang out in such large flocks?

Crows are extremely social animals. Same goes for many other animals such as most fish, wolves, caribou, lemmings, and (to a certain extent) humans. They see value in large groups for two main reasons: 1. There are many more eyes to watch for predators, and  2. There are many more eyes when searching for food.

When a member of the group spots a safe food source (like your neighborhood?) you might see several hundred Crows. This behavior is common to lots of birds. Grackles, Starlings and sparrows come to mind.

Conversely, there are anti-social animals that see value in going it alone, or hunting in very small (often related) groups.

We've all known for years that playing outdoors benefits children. Now it's been shown to be true. Outdoor play improves kids' bodies, lets them think more realistically, improves sleep, reduces obesity, increases attention and enhances learning abilities.

The National Wildlife Federation has just completed a pilot project on childrens' play in backyards, as well as in public sites like parks, playgrounds and preserves. You can read more about it at