Highlights of a morning (11/20) birding with JoAnne Russo:
Herricks Cove, Rockingham, 13 GW Teal
Allens Marsh, Westminster, 2 Coot
Putney Great Meadows, 142 Snow Buntings, 125 Horned Larks, 75 Am. Pipit, 220 Am. Crow
---Don Clark, Grafton, VT
A Red-throated Loon has been visiting the Connecticut River between Vernon and Hinsdale, NH, yesterday and today(11/20). I spotted the bird yesterday from Vernon as it swam and dove around the island where the power lines cross the river about a mile above the dam. Returning today, I relocated the bird, but it was over on the Hinsdale side of the river so I drove over to the setbacks and was treated to some nice, much closer views. Hopefully it will stay around for another day or so.
---Dave Johnston, W. Brattleboro, VT
Pileated in West B.
Yesterday morning (11/20) we watched a female Pileated Woodpecker as it flew in an landed on the trunk of a dead elm tree. A large chunk of loose bark attracted its attention as it went about chopping off strips of it to gain access to the infected wood beneath. We could see that it was finding something delectable when it stopped occasionally to pry something out of the rotted wood and devour it. This may be the same female that we observed here last year when it landed on the side of the house and was fascinated by its own reflection in the storm window of our bedroom.
Tips on Feeding the Birds
1. Birds require foods with high nutritional content, especially protein and fat.
A bird’s diet must fuel a metabolism that can require up to a whopping 10,000 calories a day (equivalent to a human consuming 155,000 calories). A bird’s inner furnace burns especially hot during flight and the breeding season and on the coldest days.
This means birds must make highly efficient choices about what they eat. A backyard feeder is an especially efficient place to forage because it mimics what scientists call a “resource patch,” a cluster of food much like a fruit-laden apple tree.
But don’t worry that birds will become too dependent on your feeders. Evolutionary pressures encourage birds to continuously sample a wide variety of foods because any bird that becomes dependent on a single patch or type of food will perish if it runs out.
2. Birds must have high-quality food.
Birds are remarkably proficient at assessing potential food items for nutritional content and quality. If you watch your feeder closely, you may observe the animals lightly rattling individual seeds in their bills to weigh and taste them before deciding whether to drop them to the ground or eat them.
Low-quality foods are discarded and a consistently low-quality food patch may be avoided for a while—a behavior called “neophibia” that explains why birds learn to avoid your feeder if you put out old, moldy or inedible seeds.
3. Birds choose seeds that are easily handled and digested.
This finding emphasizes that for birds, eating is not only about nutrition but about consuming a lot of food very quickly while avoiding predators. Research has shown that given a choice between high-quality, cumbersome seeds or low-quality, easily handled seeds, birds consistently choose the latter.
The bottom line:
For these reasons and others, the study found that the most highly sought after seeds are: black oil sunflower, white proso millet, nyjer (thistle) seed and sunflower chips.
Whichever seeds you buy, a growing body of evidence shows that backyard feeding helps wild birds—the animals’ growth rates, survival rates, breeding success and clutch sizes all improve markedly when they have access to feeders.
---Adapted from “For the Birds: Which Seeds Are Best ?” by David Lukas, National Wildlife , October/November 2009.
FEEDER COUNTERS NEEDED
Brattleboro Christmas Bird Count, Saturday, December 17, 2011
Be a Citizen Scientist and join one of the seven groups that will be out in the field counting birds OR If you are within the boundaries of the 15 mile diameter circle designated for the Brattleboro count, you can stay in the coziness of your home and do a bird feeder count. You do not have to watch continuously. When you do look at your feeders, note the numbers of each species. For example, if during the day you count chickadees in the numbers of 4, 6, 3, 2, the number you would report is 6 since that is the highest number seen at one time. If you think that they are not worth reporting you would be wrong. They all count no matter how common and how small a number. If you are uncertain if you are within the count circle, send along your address with your totals. Also, even if you don’t take part everyone is invited to attend the Count Down Pot Luck Supper at the home of Hollie Bowen & Paul Love at 19 Whipple Street in Brattleboro at 7 p.m. The repast will immediately follow the tallying of the birds. Don’t let us have all the fun. Plan on attending!
Send your count totals via e-mail to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or bring them with you to the supper.
Please share your birding news with us.
What have you got coming to your feeders?
Are there any birds nesting in your yard?
What have you seen while on a trip?
Drop us an e-mail email@example.com
W. Brattleboro, VT