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Monday, June 29, 2009

Sharing

American Goldfinch and White-breasted Nuthatch sharing the feeder, taken when it was a little sunny, not rainy. Hmmm, when was that, seems like years ago we saw the sun. We have had mostly rain here for many, many weeks and we (and everyone else around here) are getting sick of it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mealworms

Live mealworms. We strain them from the bran they came in.

We feed our bluebirds live mealworms, which they find irresistable. Mealworms (technically the larvae of a beetle) are available in quantity from internet websites and from pet stores which usually sell smaller quantities. If your order needs to be shipped, be aware that most sources only ship early in the week, they do not want to ship so the live mealworms would sit in a hot warehouse over the weekend, they might expire in the heat.
If you order a quantity, it would usually come with the mealworms in a mesh bag with newspaper inside the bag. You can take the mealworms out of the bag and put them in a plastic container (with airholes) with something to eat, like a few pieces of apple, or some cornmeal. You can store them in the refrigerator, they become rather dormant when cold.
We ordered some from the internet, and also bought some from a pet store. The ones from the pet store came in a container with bran. So we put them in a strainer and shook it to remove most of the bran.
Bluebirds would eat practically as many mealworms as we put out. We try and offer them just several times a day, usually at the same time. During the very wet, cool spell we had, we offered more mealworms. That's because bluebirds found it hard to hunt insects, since the cold depressed insect activity. In the morning the bluebirds are lined up by the feeder, waiting for us.
We mainly offer mealworms during bluebird nesting, when they can use it most. They feed the mealworms to the nestlings. Our experience is, once the young fledge from the nest, the parents move far them away into the woods, presumably to a safer area than the open space here. They do not continue to come for the mealworms. Other people may have different experiences, do you?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mr. Blue


We are enamoured with bluebirds. Then again, who isn't. We just feel so lucky this year that they are nesting close to our house. They come in frequently for the mealworms we put out. They seem eager for this supplemental food for themselves and their nestlings, especially since the weather has been cool and rainy, the type of weather that depresses the insect activity that they hunt.
I just love the way he looks in different light, sometimes sky blue, somtetimes deep blue. This photo was taken on a dim, misty day and the blue seems deep and rich.
This is a busy week for us, so we will blog when we can. Have a good week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Corgi break

It's cold, wet, raining, gray. We're feeding our bluebirds mealworms 3 times a day. They have 4 day old babies in the nest.
If you're a Corgi, it's a good day to stay indoors in the Corgi nest and chew on the toys. That's Abby in the nest, Phoebe is supervising.
In Corgi news, Abby's sister, Bubbles (Llandians Champagne On Ice), won Best Puppy at the Mayflower Pembroke Welsh Corgi regional specialty show on Friday.
Keeping it in the family, her dad, Keiffer (Ch. Aberlee Phantom Sequence), placed with an AOM (Award of Merit) and also won Best Stud Dog.

Here's Keiffer on the table with his owner, Dianne

The overall, Best in Show winner was a female Corgi, Ch. Greenwoods Moonlight Melody.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Psycho Bird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, female has white chin and throat

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, male at nest hole. The male has a red chin and throat.

We've had Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers nesting in our woods for the last 4 years. There are some interesting thibgs about Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. There's no big bright yellow belly, just a buffy or pale yellow wash on underparts. They make the wildest noise. One of their main squeal-like calls sounds like the dramatic music from the shower scene in the movie Psycho. If you've ever seen Psycho, you know what we mean.
They drill horizontal lines of holes in trees and drink the sap that flows into the holes. Other birds may drink the sap or eat insects attracted to the sap. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, drink the sap and may time their spring migration to coincide with sapsucker migration, thereby availing themselves of the sap food resource, before nectar producing flowers are in bloom.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rose-breasted Grosbeak female

We recently have been seeing a Rose-breasted Grosbeak female at our feeders. We have also been seeing a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak. They must be breeding. She's not as knock-your-socks-off brilliantly colored as the male. Then again, he does not have to sit on the nest, as she does, a sitting duck for any predator. So, for her, it's much better to have subtle, more camouflaged colors.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pine Siskins still here, are yours?

Pine Siskin

We still have Pine Siskins here. We had a lot of Pine Siskins at our feeders this winter. We think some have stayed to breed. They don't usually breed here where we are in southern NH. Do you still have Pine Siskins?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ya gotta love it

Ooh, Rose-breasted Grosbeak male at our feeder. Ya gotta love it. Just a knock out combo of that black and white plumage and the big, red triangle on the breast.

I was at an antique store recently and the woman who runs it knows I write about birds, so she asked about a bird she recently saw. She said she had been to Audubon camp as a youngster, so she knew some birds, but she had just seen one she couldn't identify. "It was black and white and had this big red..."Rose-breasted Grosbeak" I blurted out before she could finish. She wondered how I could be so sure. There's just nothing like it around here I knew. But she would not know that. She only knew that this was an incredibly and dramatically colored bird that had grabbed her attention.
Yup, he is dramatic. Ya gotta love it.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

No Safe Passage

American Crow

A friend of ours say that this is the time of year when there is no safe passage for crows. It seems as if everytime we see a crow it's getting dive-bombed by Red-winged Blackbirds, orioles, Common Grackles, Eastern Kingbirds and others. With good reason — crows are notorious for eating the eggs and young of other birds.

The other day we saw a crow fly across our field with something in its mouth that looked like a nestling bird. A grackle was in hot pursuit. Made us wince. We don't like to thinkg that crows do such things. But then again, they have to eat too and feed their hungry young who are in a nest in our woods.

It's not easy to see predation in nature, but that's how it goes. This is a time of year where almost all birds are strongly trying to reproduce, raise their young, and thus pass on their genes, insuring the survival of their own species. So we view predation in that context, and marvel at the strength of the reproductive forces around us.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tufted Titmouse

We get such a kick out of seeing how many mealworms the Titmouse can stuff in its bill. Reminds us of seeing all those photos of Atlantic Puffins where they have stuffed an enormous number of fish in their bills.

This morning Don and I were talking about how the Titmouse stuffs as many mealworms in its bill as possible then flies off. Mr. and Mrs. bluebird, (see yesterday's post) just sit on the mealworm feeder and devour the mealworms themselves. That's because our Tufted Titmice are in a different stage of breeding than the bluebirds. The Titmice are feeding young, Mrs. Bluebird is sitting on eggs. She just needs to feed herself, for now.

You can tell a lot about your birds, just by tuning in and watching their behavior. The ones hurrying around with food in their bills are feeding young in the nest or fledglings who are out of the nest, but still dependent on the parents. Watch a bird with food in its bill and see where it goes, that will tell you where its nest is.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Mrs. Bluebird

Mrs. Bluebird loves the mealworm feeder and has eaten most of the mealworms we put out this morning. I just love having her come to feed right next to our deck. Bluebirds would devour any amount of mealworms we put out, and that's just the adults. They aren't even feeding babies yet! She is still incubating.
So to keep it reasonable for us, we offer mealworms in the morning and late afternoon.