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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Do you know a "Bunny Hugger"?

What to do with a bird that's fallen out of its nest. Almost always, the best thing to do is NOTHING. Certainly don't kidnap the bird and try to make it into a pet.

juvenile Cardinal
A baby bird hardly ever "falls out" of the nest. The mother usually pushes it out when she thinks it's time for the youngster to learn to fly and hunt for food on its own (drawing on millions of years of experience by its avian ancestors).

Chances are if you see a baby bird on the ground, its mother and/or father are very close by, watching attentively, and chirping instructions. The young bird may spend a day or two on the ground before it takes its first flight.

Occasionally it really needs relocating; like if a dog or cat is nearby or it's in traffic. Go ahead and do so gently, putting it down in roughly the same area so the mother can keep teaching it how to be a bird. If you're worried about that silly old fable about a human's scent, don't even consider it. Truth is, most birds have a very poor sense of smell.

"Bunny Hugger" is a term for a well-meaning person who takes a wild animal home, and tries to raise it as a pet, often causing severe injury or death to the animal. Of course, a wild rabbit, bird, lizard, possum, squirrel or whatever is a wild animal, and always will be. Nobody knows better how to raise it than its natural mother.
       The term was popularized in Thomas French's 2010 book, Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Painted Buntings will RARELY come to a feeder

Painted Bunting
The diet of a Painted Bunting is mostly insects; very rarely seed.  Some may not eat seed in their entire lifetime, depending on food availability in their environment. When feeding their young (shown to left), they feed 100% insects!

Painted Bunting
No, it's not someone's escaped pet! Only the male is brightly colored. The female is a dull lime green, so it blends in with the natiral landscape. You'll hardly ever see either at your seed feeder.

The best way to lure one to your yard is with clean birdbaths, not feeders. Like almost all birds, they love splashing around in birdbaths, and will often appear at one while shunning a feeder.
Painted Bunting

WHERE TO PUT A BIRDBATH; GUIDELINES  Let me start by stating the worst and best places for a birdbath. The worst is right in the middle of a lawn, where there is no escape route for bathing birds if a predator appears. The best place is where you can conveniently see it through a window.

The edge of a vegetated area is almost always a good location. (The picture is of a birdbath at my house)  In that location a wet bird (which can't fly very well) can flutter to a nearby branch or into dense vegetation. Thus he or she can quickly escape a predator, like a cat or an unexpected human.

Speaking of cats, birdbaths should be 2 or 3 feet off the ground, making it more difficult for a predator to sneak up on a bathing bird. Birdbaths should also be about 2 inches deep at the most. If the one you have is deeper, just put a rock (or several) in it.