Thursday, October 30, 2008
They fluff their feathers, which traps air between their feathers and bodies to create a natural layer of insulation. They sleep with their bills under their wing feathers and breathe in warmer air. Their food gives them energy to shiver and generate warmth. And of course they seek shelter out of the wind and cold. Some, such as the chickadees & titmice, huddle together in natural shelters like bushes. Also nesting boxes become roosting boxes in the winter. Or there are also roosting pockets.
Invite Birds to this Charming Village
Birds will stay nice and cozy in these delightful roosting pockets woven of all-natural grasses. It offers essential protection to enable survival.
· Fill with seeds or with nesting materials
· Turn your backyard into a bird sanctuary
· Helps birds conserve energy for winter survival
Hang them from tree branches, vines or fences to provide safe, warm nooks for small birds.
They add charm to the garden year-round and they may even serve as nests in the spring.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Also birds’ feet are mostly bone and tendons, so unlike mammals, they have a limited supply of nerves, blood vessels or muscles to freeze. Their feet are also covered with scales which isn’t a living tissue and less susceptible to freezing.
Finally, birds don’t have sweat glands in their skin to produce any moisture to freeze. Heat and moisture are accumulated in sacs, transferred to the lungs and eliminated through the mouth. No moisture escaping through their feet is also the reason they don’t stick to metal perches in the winter.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Most birds have a special middle-ear receptor called the Vitali organ, which can sense incredibly small changes in barometric pressure. So if the activity at feeders suddenly becomes much more intense a storm may be approaching. Birds flying low or lining up on power lines also indicate swiftly falling air pressure.
During storms birds may think of your feeder as a known source of food. While not dependent on feeders, it may make it easier for wild birds to brave a storm.
Even so winter storms can be hard on small birds like chickadees. In severe weather chickadees fly as little as possible to reduce the amount of heat lost though flight. It also helps if there are patches of dense vegetation or roosting boxes that give protection form the wind.
Monday, October 27, 2008
This is the situation Black-capped Chickadees find themselves in every winter. They need 20 times more food in the winter than they do in summer because they can lose 10% of their body weight just during a cold winter night. So they've got to eat often.
As autumn approaches, they begin hiding or caching seeds for the winter by the hundreds. In a behavior called "scatter-hoarding," each seed is individually hidden under tree bark or dead leaves.
The amazing thing is that they can accurately remember the location of each seed they hoard. Not only that, they also remember the quality of items they initially stored, making more of an effort to retrieve the higher quality food.
Scientists have found that the hippocampus region of the brain , the area associated with this type of spatial memory, is proportionately larger in chickadees than in other birds that do not cache food. Not only is it generally larger, it actually increases in size in the autumn and shrinks back to its original size each spring.
Look for the chickadee’s scatter-hoarding behavior at your feeders this fall, and just maybe you will learn a few tips from them on how to remember where you put the car keys.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Titmice and Chickadees (Paridae)
Chickadees are small black, white and gray birds that flit from place to place. The male, female, and immature birds all look alike. Described as friendly or cheery, chickadees are the darlings of the backyard birdfeeding world.
Chickadees tend to feed one at a time because there is a hierarchy that allows the most dominant bird to feed first. Generally, chickadees take one seed from the feeder – sometimes choosing with care to get the heaviest seed – and they fly away to eat it and return for more. Their favorite foods at the feeder are peanuts, suet, mealworms, sunflower, and safflower seeds. They will also forage for insects, small caterpillars, spiders, snails, slugs, centipedes, flower seeds, and berries.
Chickadees are very vocal as they call to their mate to announce food or a warning. Because chickadees generally do not migrate, they are good at finding food sources and other birds such as nuthatches and woodpeckers sometimes join them in foraging for food. They have particularly strong legs that let them hang upside down while searching for food.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
3998 Van Atta Road in Meridian Township
For general information, call Kit Rich at (517) 349-3866.
Hike Daylight Savings Time will be over, so its time to "fall back" into nature on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. for a guided walk to discover the autumn woods. The fee for this program is $2/person or $5/family due at the walk.
The Harris Nature Center has Halloween adventures for the whole family on Saturday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. There will be a fun house, games, hay rides, a real pumpkin piñata, a trail walk through the "Friendly Forest" and a pumpkin to decorate. Also, in the main display area of the nature building enjoy refreshments and see live animals on loan from Preuss Pets. Again this year, food vendors will be available on site and there will be a campfire going for roasting marshmallows. Children can participate in all of these activities for just $5 and their accompanying adults are free. No registration is necessary for this event and it will continue regardless of the weather.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Use the talents you possess - for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except for the best. ~ Henry Van Dyke
Thursday, October 23, 2008
A WBU Weather Guard is designed to keep snow and rain from spoiling your seed in the tube. This is a clear plastic dome that slips on top of most of our WBU tube feeders. It will not deter birds from feeding, in fact, many enjoy feeding under the shelter and out of the wet weather. It has a lifetime guarantee and is made in the USA.
Once the Feeder Fresh absorbs its own weight in water it will discontinue absorbing, and be identical to the silica grit that birds normally ingest. Made in the USA.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Dubbed Microraptor, the crow-sized fossil is one of the smallest dinosaurs ever found and challenges conventional theories and assumptions about the evolution of flight.
NOVA commissions a model of Microraptor complete with feathers and moving joints to be tested in a wind tunnel.
Their hope is that the model will settle the debate between theories that birds evolved from fast running dinosaurs flapping their feathered arms or reptiles in the trees that glided from the treetops.
Microraptor is the unexpected missing link that has reignited the debate and is a clue from the long-ago era when the ancestors of birds first took to the air.
Monday, October 20, 2008
House Sparrows have learned to thrive in close association with mankind, unlike the many other species that have declined or disappeared as a result of our activities. In fact, they actually owe much of their success directly to us.
Between 1874 and 1876 a few House Sparrows were brought over from England and were released in Jackson and Owosso, Michigan to control insect infestations on crops. They quickly multiplied into thousands as they regularly raised three to five broods per year, each brood averaging around five babies.
Then it was discovered that 60% of the House Sparrows' diet consisted of the farmers’ seed crop instead of the bugs. However the information came too late to stop the population growth.
Today due to several releases of a few House Sparrows across the US they are the most abundant songbirds in North America and the most widely distributed birds on the planet. And the House Sparrows in your yard may be 100th generation Americans.
So, love them...or hate them...they are here to stay.
Our challenge is to learn to live with them as well as they have learned to live with us by mitigating their impact on our native species, while fully understanding the niche they now occupy in our avian landscape.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The smallest hummingbird in the world is the Bee Hummingbird of Cuba. Only 2 inches long and weighing less than 0.04 ounces, this tiny hummingbird beats its wings 80 times per second. Its ability to pivot its wings allows it to stop, hover in midair, and fly backward.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Did You Know?
- We know less about life in the earth than we do about the far side of the moon. Yet everything depends on its vast hidden ecosystem.
- Each shovel of soil holds more living things than all the human beings ever born. Dig into this underground universe and meet its tiny but helpful residents.
Friday, October 17, 2008
'Twas your cheery chirp I heard?
What did you intend to say?
"Give me something this cold day?"
That I will, and plenty, too;
All the best I have for you.
Don't be frightened-here's a treat;
I will sit and watch you eat.
Shocking tales I hear of you;
Tweet, and tell me, are they true?
Robbing all the summer long;
Don't you think it very wrong?
Pop Pop says you stole his grass;
Stealing houses built for Blue,
Even though I think you knew.
But I will not try to know
What you did so long ago;
Here's your breakfast, eat away;
Come to see me every day!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Does the length of the black and tan predict whether it will be a harsh winter or not?
No real study has ever been conducted. In 1948 Dr. Curran did a loose study where he recorded the stripe length of a small sampling of caterpillars and then the harshness of the following winter. His experiment was publicized in the paper and made the Woolly Bear Caterpillar one of the most recognized caterpillars in North America. Scientist today think, if anything, the stripes would tell what the last winter was, not the future. But no large study has ever been completed.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
What is suet?
Suet is animal fat. It is the most concentrated source of energy you can offer wild birds. Our Suet is made with only the highest quality processed beef kidney fat. Special processes remove impurities that cause low melting points and spoilage problems.
Why do birds eat suet?
Suet is one of the top three foods to feed wild birds. Birds have high metabolic rates. It is not unusual for birds to consume 1/4 to 1/3 their body weight worth of food a day! Offering peanut/suet cake provides a high caloric energy source.
How do I feed suet?
Suet is traditionally fed in wire cages. There are also recycled plastic suet feeders with a tail prop, squirrel proof suet feeders, decorative suet feeders, suet log feeders... Come in and see our wide selection. If you buy extra suet, it can be stored in the freezer.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Just the opposite was found with Blue Jays. Studies show that the first year Blue Jays go further south to winter in a more plentiful habitat. While their crafty parents, perhaps knowing several survival tactics, stay the whole year.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Order: Piciformes Family: Woodpeckers (Picidae)
The Red-bellied woodpecker is often confused with the Red-headed woodpecker because they both have red on the head and the Red-bellied Woodpecker really doesn’t have a red belly – just a pale rosy tint. The rest of this medium-sized woodpecker has a black and white barred pattern on its back and wings, with white to pale grey across the breast and along the sides.
One of the most common woodpeckers, it is found all along the eastern half of the United States.
This woodpecker is unusual in that it will sample any food it finds. It eats seeds, fruit, acorns, insects and loves suet when it’s available.
In the fall and winter it will store its food in the barks of trees to pull out and eat later.
Special cells on the end of their bills are constantly replaced because of the repeated pounding.
They are important to many other bird species because they drill new nest holes each year and leave the old cavities for birds like swallows, owls, bluebirds, and a huge array of small birds like wrens and chickadees to use.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
So how do their bodies handle vigorous, repeated blows to the head as they peck? They are well equipped!
3. EYE BALL: The woodpeckers close an inner eyelid a millisecond before a strike comes across the bill to prevent harm from flying debris and hold the eyeball in place.
When they are drilling, they can peck about 15 times in a single second. All their drilling and tapping can add up to about 12,000 pecks a day. Woodpeckers have evolved to deal with pounding wood with gripping feet, "shock-absorber" head musculature, extremely long tongues, and stiff tail feathers helping them perch upright on trees. Woodpeckers are simply impressive birds.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Red and brown.
Watch them go
Up and down.
See one flit
When it flies.
Bound to catch
Our 'lil eyes.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America. As a cavity nester they will use holes in trees, crevices in cliffs or buildings, or artificial nest boxes. The habitat for the kestrel and screech owl are similar and the nest boxes made for them are identical. Wild Birds Unlimited has the nest boxes available or you can build your own. Plans can be found on the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) Website.
The box should be 10 to 30 feet above ground in trees along the edge of a woodlot, on a lone tree in a field, on a barn, or mounted on a pole. Space the boxes one mile apart.
Kestrels hunt by perching, watching, and then flying down. Their habitats are open country, farmlands, and even urban environments.
Kestrels in Mid-Michigan usually go south for the winter. Females migrate before males and pick out the best wintering territories, but they both return to the same breeding territory in the spring.
The average kestrel is 9" nose to tail, has a 22" wingspan, and only weighs 4.1 oz. Their diet consists mainly of rodents, insects, and small reptiles. But, when one gets really hungry, or the opportunity presents they will occasionally eat a bird. They are not a serious threat to any of the larger bird species. But American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) is commonly known in as the "Sparrow Hawk" because it will hunt smaller birds like sparrows.
So the answer to "will the kestrels feed on my finches and swallows" is maybe, but they won’t decimate the bird populations in your area. There is a natural balance. For more facts about Kestrels visit: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/American_Kestrel.html
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
During the summer the worker bees live for an average of only six weeks. As fall approaches the queen reduces her rate of egg laying. Those that hatch approaching autumn will live over the winter for up to six months. The queen can live for a few years.
As temperatures dip below 50° Fahrenheit, Honey Bees form a winter cluster and stay in their hive except for bathroom breaks. This means they squeeze together as tight as possible around the Queen bee in the center of their hive. The bees rely on honey and pollen stores collected over the summer for survival.
They generate heat from eating honey and flexing their flight muscles without moving their wings. This perpetual shivering by the worker bees creates enough heat to keep the Queen at about 80°F. The outer part of the cluster is about 48°F.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about bees. National Public Radio did an interesting interview Oct 4, 2008 with Professor Thomas Seeley of Cornell University. He talks about how it was discovered that only a few “streaker” bees scout out and then direct a whole colony to a new hive. Click on the link to hear the whole interview: Bees Follow Their Leaders
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Norris Ingells was a photo journalist at the Lansing State Journal for many years. He initiated a weekly nature feature and illustrated it with his own photographs. His passion and curiosity about nature riveted the readers of the paper. He was a valued member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Fenner Nature Center (FOFNC).
In honor of the spirit and passion of Norris Ingells, the Friends of Fenner have instituted the Norris Ingells Walk for Nature. With this walk, it is our desire to get more people out into the natural world and also take this opportunity to raise funds to further nature education in the community.
Information: Contact Fenner Nature Center at 517-483-4224 or visit http://fenner.homestead.com/events/norris_ingells.html
Monday, October 6, 2008
Whether you are carving a pumpkin, or preparing a pumpkin pie, set aside the seeds. Nuthatches love them, and many other birds will eat them as well. You also may have noticed squirrels rearranging the face of your Jack O’Lantern as they have quick nibble.
When you are making apple pies don’t throw away the apple cores. There are a number of birds which may be attracted to apples, including Cardinals. You can also roll birdseed in with extra pie dough and bake it in the shape of a bagel. When cool hang from trees. The pie crust usually has lots of fat which is substitute for the insects that birds eat but are not plentiful in cold weather.
Many insect eating birds greatly appreciate this high protein food. Too much salt isn’t good for the birds, but a few leftover party nuts mixed with other bird seed can be a treat. You can also collect nuts from the trees in your neighborhood, including acorns and walnuts.
Smear peanut butter on a tree trunk. You’ll be surprised how many cute birds this will attract up and down your tree. Or spread Peanut butter on pine cones, old bread, or cookies. Then roll them in birdseed and hang them on your bushes with raffia string.
Cut a large orange in half and eat the inside. Poke holes ¼ inch from the rim and attach a twine handle. Mix the last handful of unsweetened cereal at the bottom of the box with stale crackers or bread crumbs, dried out raisins or holiday stuffing. Fill the orange half and hang the filled feeder from a tree.
Autumn decorations for your home can also provide the birds with food. Blue Jays and Squirrels will enjoy ornamental corn.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Now imagine a bird spots your feeder. It looks good from the outside... When was the last time you’ve cleaned it?
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
This month we are featuring the Photography of Gar Watson, a Lansing native who enjoys sharing his vision of the natural world by interpreting light through the lens of a camera. His work deals largely with flora, fauna, and scenes of nature.
Come in to see his framed and matted work and blank note cards he has on display for sale until the end of October 2008.