"I hope you love birds too. It is economical. It saves going to heaven."
Emily Dickinson

Monday, December 5, 2016

Helping kids make free pine cone birdfeeders

A Northern mockingbird pecks at the Bark Butter on the pine cone feeder.  Photo by J.J. Meyer
Bring the kids to Wild Birds Unlimited this Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to make a pine cone feeder that birds go nuts over. The project is quick and easy. First, the kids smear Bark Butter (it's like peanut butter, only better for the birds) on each layer of the pine cone. Then they sprinkle it with shelled sunflower chips. Tie a string to the top and there you have it! A tasty treat for the birds. We'll even wrap it so children can give it as a gift. 

I'll be on hand to help with this event at the Wild Birds Unlimited store, 24451 Alicia Parkway, Mission Viejo.  For more information, call (949) 472-4928.

Happy Birding!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Songbirds in Snow Stamps

Make your Christmas cards more beautiful this year!

The Songbirds in Snow stamps feature four birds: the golden-crowned kinglet, the cedar waxwing, the northern cardinal, and the red-breasted nuthatch. Illustrator Robert Giusti painted the original designs in acrylic on canvas board, depicting each bird perched on a snow-covered branch.

The forever stamps come in books of 20. Purchase them at: USPS.

Happy Birding!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Vote for Audubon California's 2016 Bird of the Year

Vote for Audubon California's 2016 Bird of the Year

Which bird will take the title: California Coastal Gnatcatcher, California Scrub Jay, Double-crested Cormorant, Eared Grebe, Western Sandpiper, or the Northern Spotted Owl? You can vote as many times as you like through Dec. 16.

My vote is going to: The Northern Spotted Owl, which is something of a conservation legend, playing a huge role in the battle to save old growth forests in its range in the Pacific Northwest. While it’s a bird that is more commonly thought to occupy Washington and Oregon, we do get a good number here in California – as far south as Marin. Because of this species dramatic declines, it was listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1990. The California Spotted Owl has been identified as a distinct subspecies.

Happy Birding!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Grab your binoculars: Project FeederWatch is underway

Photo by J.J. Meyer
The 30th season of Project FeederWatch started November 12.

This citizen science project, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at back yards, nature centers, community areas and other locales in North America.  Participants periodically count the birds they see at their feeders through early April and log their counts on the program's website. 

The information helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance. FeederWatch data show which bird species visit feeders at thousands of locations across the continent every winter, as well as how many individuals of each species are seen. This information can be used to measure changes in the winter ranges and abundances of bird species over time.

You don't have to be an advanced birder to participate.  Just watch feeders as much or as little as you want over two consecutive days as often as every week.

There is a $18 annual participation fee for U.S. residents ($15 for Cornell Lab members). The participation fee covers materials, staff support, web design, data analysis, and a year-end report (Winter Bird Highlights). Project FeederWatch is supported almost entirely by participation fees. Without the support of our participants, this project wouldn’t be possible.

For more information and sign up, go to Project FeederWatch.

Happy Birding!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Armstrong Nurseries to offer free class on attracting birds to your garden

Hummingbirds are attracted to salvia.  Photo by J.J. Meyer

 Armstrong Nurseries are offering free gardening classes at its various locations throughout Southern California. 

Learn how to attract birds on Saturday, November 12 at 9:00 a.m.  – Southern California has a wonderful array of birds. Armstrong’s experts will show you how to design a garden that will attract both hummingbirds and songbirds alike. No registration required.

Classes will be held at all store locations, except the Irvine outlet. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

If you missed "Super Hummingbirds," watch it at PBS.org

In case you missed "Super Hummingbirds,"you can still watch the 52-minute episode online at:
PBS - Super Hummingbirds 

Hummingbirds are amazing creatures to behold. They are the tiniest of birds, yet possess natural born super powers that enable them to fly backwards, upside-down, and float in mid-air. Their wings beat faster than the eye can see and the speed at which they travel makes people wonder if it was indeed a hummingbird they actually saw. They also are only found in the Americas. These attributes have both intrigued scientists and made it challenging to study the species, but with the latest high-speed cameras and other technologies, Super Hummingbirds reveals new scientific breakthroughs about these magical birds.

Emmy-winning filmmaker Ann Johnson Prum (Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air; An Original DUCKumentary, Animal Homes) returns with her second film on hummers which presents new scientific discoveries such as how they drink a flower’s nectar so quickly or why they are able to thrive in the thin air at high altitudes. For the first time, viewers will see the birds mate, lay eggs, fight, and raise families in intimate detail.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Is bird feeding harmful or helpful?

Goldfinches flock to a nyjer feeder. Photo by J.J. Meyer

The following information was reposted from Project Feederwatch.

The Impacts of Feeding on Bird Populations

 Highlights from a presentation by FeederWatch project leader, Emma Greig, at the North American Ornithological Conference 2016. She summarized research being conducted by her and by Cornell Lab Citizen Science director, David Bonter.

Food is a major determinant of the distribution, evolution, behavior and persistence of species, as has been shown by an abundance of supplemental feeding studies on small scales. But despite 50 million people in the US offering billions of pounds of seeds to birds every year, we know very little about the consequences of this hobby on native species in North America.

If supplemental feeding is ecologically detrimental, then we would expect to see long-term population declines in the species that consume the most supplemental food. According to the State of North America’s Birds 2016, one-third of all North American bird species need urgent conservation action. We looked at 30 years of FeederWatch data collected by thousands of project participants to select 135 species using feeders occasionally to regularly. Then we looked at the population trends for those species using 50 years of Christmas Bird Count data. 

Overall, species that utilize bird feeders the most were doing better over time, rather than worse, and the few species showing declines include non-native species (House Sparrow, European Starling) or species suffering from novel diseases (House Finch). The species most in trouble, such as seabirds and shorebirds, don’t come to feeders and are declining because of other threats. Feeding birds may not help the hardest-hit species, but it may inspire people to support conservation.

We still have a lot to learn about the impacts of feeding birds, such as possible indirect effects on migratory species, or possible effects on generalist predators such as crows that may subsequently impact populations of non-feeder birds or small animals. Nonetheless, this works gives us some insights about how feeding birds impacts the species the use feeders the most.

Link to original story: Project FeederWatch.

Happy Birding!