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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The very simple key to attracting birds to your yard


 

Whenever I talk with other amateur birdwatchers, one question that almost always gets asked is “how do I get birds to come to my yard?”.  The key is fresh seed!! You can have an expensive, gigantic birdfeeder located in your yard’s birdiest place. But if it’s filled with stale, un-nutritious birdseed, birds will look elsewhere in a hurry.

 

The seed you offer birds must be unquestionably fresh. For them, it’s a matter of life and death. Birds absolutely have to get top nutrition from all the food they eat. Theeey d9in’t caremif it cost you a fdew cents less. All they cvare abour is gettinjmg ther nutrition to make it through bad weather, or be able to attract a mate, or fly well enough to escape a predator, or fight off disease (take your pick - they could all end the same way).

 

To humans, birdseed all looks the same; but a wild bird can tell instantly if it’s been sitting in a warehouse or on a store shelf too long.  When seed is harvested, it has 100% of the naturally nutritious oil content. The longer it sits idly on a shelf, drying out, the less natural oil content it has - and the less attractive it is to a bird.

 

A bird has the ability to tell if a seed he holds in his beak is worth eating or not. He can tell in a micro-second, and may just throw it on the ground and look for a more nutritious seed.  They’re not being fussy, they’re just being practical. Some seed packages contain a lot of cheap filler. Or seed that our Texas birds don’t eat, like corn. Some packages contain a lot of non-seed junk; plant stalks, empty hulls, twigs, weed stems etc. You pay for this stuff, but wild birds won’t touch it.

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton. 
 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The main purpose of the male Red-winged Blackbird's red "epaulets"


 
 
Red-winged Blackbird (male)
This time of year Red-winged Blackbirds are throughout north Texas. The Females are a non-descript gray and black. The male has reddish patches (about the size of a quarter) on each wing. These are used to claim and defend a territory. When the red “epaulets” were colored black in an experiment by researchers, the male usually lost its territory.

 They often hang out and hunt in large flocks, which may have some Crows, Grackles and Cowbirds in it.


A fable from another era about mothballs    Loose mothballs often get eaten by wild birds (which have no sense of smell) with very unhealthy results. I recommend a cluster of 6 or 8 mothballs however, bundled up in something like an old sock, to repel certain wild animals and loose dogs (which is a subject in itself). It’s NO LONGER a responsible recommendation to scatter mothballs on the ground. This is no longer suggested by researchers, or any knowledgeable or environmentally-aware person. 


 

 

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at Yost87@charter.net in Denton.