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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Aggressive Hummingbirds may be calmed by multiple feeders


 

 

Hummingbirds are one of the most aggressive, selfish birds we have in north Texas. They’re bullies. Thank heavens they’re so small or they might try to take over the world…or at least every tree and birdfeeder in it.  Juvenile Hummingbirds, especially, seem to frequent feeders where they don’t get chased away.

If you have one nectar feeder, you know what we mean! But if there are two or more feeders in the yard, a “bully” usually has a tough time claiming them all. Particularly if the line-of-sight between the feeders is blocked by something like a shrub or corner of the house. The nectar at one feeder can’t be a lot better than the other, since no Hummingbird likes settling for second-rate food. Both feeders have to be filled with fresh nectar and cleaned regularly.  In our heat, mold can grow easily and quickly. I refill our feeders about every 3 to 6 days (depending on the weather), running the parts under very hot water at the same time. Then, every two or three weeks, I’ll clean them with a solution of one part vinegar to 10 parts water.

      Notice that I never said anything about adding food coloring. That’s a total myth. Red food dye can cause, according to several research studies, genetic defects in Hummingbirds. Most nectar feeders are bright-colored anyway, so it’s totally unnecessary and just not worth the risk.

 

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, April 19, 2015

These bird invaders are crowding out our natural birds.


 

Eurasian Collared Dove
 
Several non-native bird species have moved into North America, most recently the Eurasian Collared Dove. This bird, originally native to the Indian sub-continent spread following an accidental release in the Bahamas in the mid-70s. These non-native species (due mainly to the lack of natural enemies) will out-compete our native bird species. Recent invaders likely to be seen in north Texas are the Monk Parakeet and the Nutmeg Mannikin. Actually, the House Sparrow (really a Weaver Finch), the Starling, the Rock Dove and the eastern population of the House Finch are “invaders” too – having been brought here against their will in the past.

 
 

Not hard to figure out what kind of bird it is.  
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Several times I’ve been asked to I.D. a bird. The query goes something like ”the average-size bird is black, but it has a yellow head”. I instantly know it’s a Yellow-headed Blackbird. They’re traveling through here now, having spent the winter in Mexico or the deep, deep south of Texas. Some will stay here all summer, but the majority will continue north. The male only is black and yellow – the female is all brown. YHBBs prefer wetlands and open, freshly-cultivated fields. That’s where their main food source is (insects). They eat seed sometimes, if insects aren’t handy. They feed and travel in mixed flocks, mainly with the slightly smaller Red-winged Blackbirds.
An interesting phenomena is that YHBBs and other migratory birds are arriving about 5 days earlier than historical data indicate.  What that means is to look sooner for the many warblers and such that will be moving through north Texas.

 

 
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