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Saturday, February 25, 2012

A phenominally miniscule "feeding niche"

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Certain birds can share the same tree as a 'food source' by looking at it from a different perspective. The Downy Woodpecker and Brown Creeper, for instance, will hunt for insects while going UP a tree. Conversely a Nuthatch will hunt for insects on the same tree(s) while going DOWN.

Downy Woodpecker
All birds find food, and the available food supply is spread out fairly and used efficiently.

Check out this Screech Owl video;

What is the magnitude of the oil spill in the Gulf? (Not just the beaches but the whole Gulf)?  For a comparison, the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989 was 11-million gallons. It's estimated to have killed between 100,000 and 250,000 seabirds.

The recent Deepwater Horizon spill ("leak" actually) let about 210-million gallons of oil pour into the Gulf. Dead birds are still being counted, and more deaths will occur for decades; the bird deaths may total well over a million.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Safely cleaning gunky, wooden suet feeders

"Before"  (Yellow-throated Warbler)

After several years, oil from suet and/or peanut butter will leach into wooden suet feeders. The bacteria that can then grow on the wood can harm birds.

You can use a simple solution of water and bleach (10 to 1) to safely clean it. I'd soak it in the solution for about an hour, scrub it, rinse it with fresh water, then let it air dry.

In case you're thinking that any bleach residue will hurt birds; Household bleach from the bottle is diluted to 5 to 9 percent already. If you then dilute it further, at 10 to 1, any bleach residue (sodium hypochlorite) will be negligible.

Privacy fences can have unintended consequences. Cats instinctively use them to trap young birds (that are unable to fly yet).l

Rather than eliminating the fence or the cat, I suggest planting some sort of dense vegetation at the base of a fence, allowing the fledgling bird to hide, or climb up the vegetation instead of being fatally trapped. In north Texas, vines such as Coral Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper, grape or even annual Morning Glory will do the job. Excellent dense plants for Texas yards are Lantana and Mistflower.