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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why Hummingbirds can use spider webs in nests, without getting stuck.

Hummingbirds quite often use strands from spider webs to build nests. The strands can be very sticky, however, to help the spider catch bugs. The Hummingbirds keep from getting the webs stuck all over themselves and their nestlings by selecting only certain strands. True – much of a web is sticky. But certain structural strands are non-sticky. Hummingbirds know which is which.  Hummers do use the sticky strands for the outside of the tiny nest, so they can affix flakes of lichen or bark as camouflage.


Birds’ beaks adapt to their food source   A bird that eats insects, and one that eats seeds have evolved with very different beaks. The type of beaks they’ve developed will help them locate, grab and swallow the specific food that their digestive system can handle and that's around them.  In north Texas you can see this most clearly in the large, cone-shaped beak of the seed-eating cardinals versus the narrow, pointed beak of the insect-eating wrens. And beaks that are massive and powerful like Grosbeaks, or Hummingbirds' long, narrow beaks for getting deep into flowers, where the nectar is.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

placing your birdfeeder so it'll attract the most birds

Where you put a birdfeeder can make a huge difference in the use it gets.
You can apply the very same rules as a fast-food place opening for business;  the all-important - Location, Location, Location. The main difference, however, is you should always place a birdfeeder in a location where you can see the activity. If after a while you do not have any birds stopping by, it’s probably for one the following reasons:

·       Visibility, for you and them. If birds can’t see a new feeder, they won’t come to it.  So make sure it can be seen from above. It sometimes helps to tie a bright ribbon on a new feeder. Often, feeders themselves are brightly-colored enough.

·       Pick high traffic areas. Put a feeder where birds go anyway; a special tree, near a birdbath etc. At my house, lots of birds hang out just past a certain corner (for the shade, I suspect). We hung a feeder there and it’s almost always busy.

  • Ease of use. Don’t make birds work too hard for their food. Some people make the mistake of putting the wrong kind of food in a feeder. For instance, putting nut pieces in a regular feeder (birds can’t get them out).
  • Placing a birdfeeder in an area that offers little or no safe cover is a recipe for failure.  Try to locate a feeder within 5-feet of cover, such as shrubs or tall (2 ft.+) vegetation. That way birds can quickly escape if a predator appears.
  • Offer a wide variety of food. Some birds eat a one kind of seed; others eat another kind; still others eat something else. So if you offer a wide variety of food, you’ll be able to attract a wider variety of birds.  Of course, whatever kind of seeds you offer, it absolutely needs to be fresh and nutritious, or any birds will simply go elsewhere.
  • Proximity to water. Whenever possible, place a feeder near some water. It can be as big as a lake or as small as a birdbath – either will increase feeder activity.

  • Also avoid placing a  birdfeeder near other animal activity like dog runs, dog houses etc. 
  • Make a good attempt to keep seed in your feeders but remember; just because a feeder is empty doesn't mean that you absolutely have to fill it. Birds will just eat elsewhere, but don't leave it empty too long.   

It can sometimes take a few weeks for both people and birds to discover they have a new place to eat in the area. Just like a new fast-food place may put out eye-catching banners and signs; a new birdfeeder might get noticed sooner if you put a brightly-colored ribbon on it for a few days. After the birds discover the feeder, and (hopefully) enjoy the food that’s in it, just remove the ribbon.