Monday December 9, 2013
Every new day is a new opportunity to enjoy birds, and every week I answer a reader's question to help them do just that. This week, Mary from New Jersey asks...
"It seems the only birds I see at my feeders are house sparrows. I'd love to see different sparrows - my neighbor has some white-throated sparrows - but how can I get them to visit?"
Sparrows are often overlooked and because many of them look similar, it can be challenging to identify sparrows and realize that you may already have more than one species visiting. There are also many ways to attract sparrows, including offering ground-feeding areas with millet and cracked corn, low bird baths and a dust bath area for them to enjoy. With a little perseverance, you'll soon see more sparrows at your feeders!
Have you been keeping up with all the reader questions this year? Check out the Mailbag Monday archive to be sure you haven't missed out!
Photo © John Beetham
Sunday December 8, 2013
Wind turbines can be deadly to birds, particularly large raptors, but despite the risk, the federal government is seeking to extend the length of permits that allow wind farms to unintentionally kill eagles. According to Fox News, the change would extend permits from the current five years to a 30-year term, granting companies holding the permit an exemption from prosecution for killing certain numbers of eagles in that time frame. Conservationists argue that further study is needed to determine the environmental effects of wind farm facilities.
Both bald eagles and golden eagles are susceptible to wind farms, many of which are positioned along key wind current areas, the same wind currents birds use for soaring and migrating.
Do you agree with these permits in the interest of promoting more sustainable energy sources? What term do you think should be suitable for regulatory permits? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Photo © Larry Hennessy
Saturday December 7, 2013
Backyard birders may specifically plant fruit trees for birds, but fruit farmers often suffer losses to birds when hungry flocks damage crops. According to Phys.org, a new trial using dancing inflatable figures is showing promise to help protect the crops without stressing the birds. The air dancers - the same tall figures that often grace used car lots - have enough random motion to discourage birds and were the most effective of several protective measures tested in New York vineyards and blueberry orchards.
Different birds do damage to different crops, but many birds - particularly thrushes, waxwings and starlings - can easily strip trees and consume hundreds of pounds of fruit in just a few hours or days, depending on the size of the flock and other available food sources. If you have fruit trees, how do you protect your produce from the birds? Share your tips in the comments!
Photo © Rusty Clark
Friday December 6, 2013
All hummingbird lovers know the proper nectar recipe to feed their favorite flying jewels, but new research is showing that hummingbirds can digest more forms of sugar than previously believed. According to News Medical, a University of Toronto study has compared how hummingbirds digest both glucose and fructose, switching from one form to another with easy to support their high-energy lifestyle. It is hoped that further research about hummingbird digestion could lead to treatments for humans who have difficulty digesting sugars.
Hummingbirds may not be around to sip too much sugar water at this time of year, but if you do have overwintering hummingbirds in your area, make sure you take steps to keep hummingbird nectar from freezing on the coldest nights!
Photo © Larry Hennessy