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Melissa Mayntz

Birding / Wild Birds


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Helping a Horrific Anniversary

Sunday April 20, 2014

Four years ago today, the worst offshore oil catastrophe in United States history began when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Gulf Coast, eventually spill more than 200 million gallons of oil into sensitive marine environments. While the active cleanup phase has recently ended, restoration efforts are continuing to monitor the region's habitats and sensitive species. According to the Global Animal, multiple species - including common loons - are continuing to suffer from the effects of the spill.

What can birders do today? Plenty! Understanding how oil hurts birds is essential, and supporting conservation organizations will help birds recover from future spills. BirdProject Soaps are elegant, artistic gifts that help support the region's recovery, and taking steps to reduce a birding carbon footprint can help reduce dependence on oil overall.

How will you help prevent another catastrophic oil disaster?

Oiled Pelican
Photo Louisiana GOHSEP

Piscivorous Birds to Be Culled

Saturday April 19, 2014

Fishermen are often at odds with fish-eating birds, and the Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it plans to kill up to 2,000 piscivorous birds to protect Washington salmon populations. According to the Dispatch, California gulls, ring-billed gulls and double-crested cormorants are all scheduled for the cull, but overall population numbers will not be significantly affected. Additional non-lethal hazing methods will continue to be used as well.

Do you agree with culling activities to protect other wildlife and promote economic and tourist activities? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Double-Crested Cormorant
Photo Andrea Westmoreland

Goose Patrol on Land and Sea

Friday April 18, 2014

Canada geese are a problem in many urban and suburban areas where their populations can be considered a nuisance. In Ohio, however, Ohio Geese Control is using multiple techniques not just on land, but also on the water to encourage geese to move away. According to Fox8.com, the 10-year-old company uses trained dogs, radio-controlled boats, false eggs and other techniques to discourage the sometimes aggressive waterfowl with great success. All of the company's tactics are humane, tricking the birds into believing the area is unsafe so they will seek a different territory, but never harming the birds.

Many areas cull undesirable birds, and backyard birders use a variety of techniques to discourage bully birds from their feeders. How do you remove unwanted birds without harming them? Share your techniques in the comments!

Canada Goose
Photo dee2018

Bird of the Week: Black-Billed Magpie

Thursday April 17, 2014

This week's featured one is a species I always enjoy - the black-billed magpie is the ultimate jokester, robbing other birds and raising a ruckus. They're also beautiful and are one of only four birds in North America with a tail longer than its body - a clear field mark that makes them easy to identify.

Is the black-billed magpie on your life list? Share your sightings of this corvid in the comments!

Black-Billed Magpie
Photo Larry Lamsa

A Twitching Hoax

Wednesday April 16, 2014

The savannah sparrow is a relatively bird in North America, but only makes rare appearances as a vagrant bird in Europe. One such sighting was reported last month in England, but was quickly determined to be a hoax. According to the Worthing Herald, the hoax was discovered because a photo showed the bird on a type of barbed wire never used in the United Kingdom, and the local birding community is at a loss to understand why a fellow birder would perpetrate such a hoax.

Most birders reliably follow rare bird ethics that include being certain of a bird's identity before reporting it to the appropriate authorities. While mistakes do happen, conscientious birders will not spread the word about a rare sighting until it can be properly verified, and only if it is certain that the bird will not be stressed by the instant celebrity that comes from being a rarity.

Savannah Sparrow
Photo Caleb Putnam

April's Featured Feeder

Tuesday April 15, 2014

Today may be Tax Day, but every day is a day to pay your backyard birds - with seed. This month, you might want to spend a bit of your tax refund for a big payout in backyard birds with the Eco-Strong Mesh Feeder from Duncraft, our featured feeder for April. A sturdy and attractive feeder in a spring green shade, the open mesh design offers easy treats for a whole flock of birds of all shapes and sizes.

Looking for other feeders to add to your backyard buffet? Check out all the bird feeder reviews, and just in case your tax refund may not be as big as you'd like, learn how to find cheap birdseed at the same time so you can always keep the feeders full!

Eco-Strong Mesh Feeder
Photo Duncraft

Mailbag Monday Bird Calcium

Monday April 14, 2014

It's Monday again, and that means dipping into our weekly mailbag of reader questions. This week, Kate from North Carolina asks...

"I've heard that I should give birds eggshells in spring. Why?"

Eggshells are a rich source of calcium for a healthy spring diet, when birds need a greater amount of calcium to form strong eggshells and raise well-developed hatchlings. While it is not critical for backyard birders to offer calcium to birds, it is easy to do with dried chicken eggshells, crushed oyster shells or other simple sources. Birds will also seek out natural calcium-rich foods at this time of year, but every little bit helps!

Make sure you're offering all the best spring bird foods at your feeders and your backyard birds will thank you!

Photo Andy Rogers

World's Most Endangered Birds

Sunday April 13, 2014

With nearly 10,000 bird species in the world, it can be hard to create any list of the most important or beautiful birds, but a new study from the Zoological Society of London and Yale University has ranked bird species according to their risk of extinction as well as their overall distinctiveness. According to the Guardian, the giant ibis tops the list of 100 birds, and is joined by other amazingly exotic species such as the kakapo, spoon-billed sandpiper, maleo and shoebill. Only half of the species have been the focus of conservation efforts, and it is hoped that attention to these species will help redirect initiatives to preserve avifauna diversity.

Want to see other rankings of fascinating, must-see birds? Try 100 Birds to See Before You Die!

Photo Brent Barrett

Nenes Return to Oahu

Saturday April 12, 2014

The nene is the state bird of Hawaii, but for almost three centuries, these endangered geese have been absent from the state's capital island. According to Audubon Magazine, the nene has finally returned to Oahu, with a nesting pair of birds at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge on the northernmost part of the island. The geese join four other endemic birds that thrive in the refuge, though it is yet uncertain how successful their residence may be in the long term.

Even if you can't see the nene, you can browse a complete gallery of state birds and learn more about each symbolic avian representative!

Photo Matt MacGillivray

Bird Takes the Train

Friday April 11, 2014

Trains are popular transportation in Europe, but not usually for birds. According to the Daily Mail, a young tawny owl stayed nestled under the driver's cabin of a train between Glasgow and Northamptonshire, a distance of 325 miles, before it was discovered. The bird, now named Lucky, was taken to a local wildlife rehabilitation facility with minor injuries, but made a full recovery and has been released.

Want to help other injured birds in unusual circumstances? Consider helping fill a bird rescue wish list so every bird can be lucky enough to get help!

Tawny Owl
Photo Adrian Paine

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