Sunday, June 29, 2008

Make Your Windows Safe

  Lets face it, most of the traditional methods for preventing birds from flying into windows either look terrible, can be difficult to install, or in some way block our view. I recently came across a fairly new product put out by Duncraft. They are now offering removable UV decals that stick to the outside of the window to help keep the birds away. And for the good news - the tinted decals are nearly transparent when viewed inside the house, but reflect ultraviolet sunlight outside that warns birds to change direction (see example below).

The only question I must ask is what if the sun is not out? I'm guessing that it will still reflect light, just not as strong as it would if the sun was out.

Can't wait to try these on my glass sliding back door...


The decals can be purchased directly from Duncraft in a variety of shapes.


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Friday, June 27, 2008

Greetings From the Outer Banks of NC

I'm currently enjoying a weeks vacation here in Nags Head, North Carolina. Other than being a little hot, the weather here is great. Although on second thought, it's supposed to be hot at the beach; right?

I've been doing some site seeing among other things and thought I would share a few photos...

Here, my brother is feeding the 'gulls from our balcony.


Spent some time at the Bodie Island Light House...



This next picture was taken at the NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Almost looks like I was underwater when I took this photo...GLAD I WASNT!


Brown Pelicans flying by on the beach.


Mallards swimming in the Albemarle Sound.



Sunset at Sugar Creek...


Here my daughter is pretending to be a little model - they just grow up so fast!


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Do-it-Yourself Oriole Feeder

A while ago I came across this picture of a Oriole feeder from the Droll Yankee website. After looking at it for a moment I realized how quick and easy this could be made. All you would need is a coat hanger and something to connect it too. Cut the coat hanger and loop it as shown in the photo, attach it to a piece if chain, wire, or string, and then attach it to a tree limb or wherever you want.


Most of us think of the Baltimore Oriole when we see a feeder like this; but there are other birds that enjoy nibbling on fruit as well.

Here's some additional information on attracting birds with fruit:


can be placed in a platform feeder and are

very attractive to:

 mockingbirds, bluebirds, catbirds and waxwings

Orange Halves

placed in a fruit feeder are attractive to:

Baltimore Orioles, Brown Thrashers, Bullock’s Orioles, Catbirds, Hooded Orioles, Mockingbirds, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers and Western Tanagers


placed in a cage or on a platform feeder are

particularly attractive to:

Acorn Woodpeckers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Bluebirds, Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, House Finches, Mockingbirds, Robins, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers, Towhees and Western Tanagers

Other Fruit

that birds find attractive includes apples,

currants, cranberries and blueberries.




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Monday, June 16, 2008

The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker


Here's a bird I knew very little about until recently spending some time with VDGIF wildlife officials in the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge. It's no easy task one official told me, but the refuge is currently working to bring back the red-cockaded woodpecker to where it once lived.

Here's some interesting information on the red-cockaded woodpecker that was provided to me in a brochure put out by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

The red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW) is about the size of the more popular hairy woodpecker. The RCW is the only North American woodpecker to excavate roost and nest cavities in living pine trees. The longleaf pine is its preferred tree, but has been found to nest in other varieties of pine trees. They prefer large pines and open understory forest. The use of live pines as their choice may have evolved in response to living in a fire maintained ecosystem where frequent fires eliminated most standing dead pines and other understory growth. (Note: live pine trees are somewhat resistant to fire).


The RCWs were once considered common throughout the longleaf pine ecosystem. They inhibited the open pine forest of the southeast from New Jersey all the way to Texas, and north to portions of Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky. Over time, the longleaf pine ecosystem slowly disappeared from much of its original range. Early European settlement, commercial tree farming, and agriculture eventually lead to the decline of the RCW habitat, and as a result, the RCW numbers fell as well.

The RCW was listed as endangered in 1970. At the time of listing, the species had declined to a few thousand birds in widely scattered, isolated populations. Today, due to awareness and intervention that number has increased to over 15,00; however, there are certain populations in decline and small populations throughout the species current range that are still in danger of extirpation.

Efforts to bring this bird back has been tough. Today, many souther pine forest are young and have a dense pine/hardwood under-growth. Prescribed burning in pine forest is the most efficient and ecologically beneficial method to accomplish hardwood midstory control.


Although they are in the beginning stages, The Great Dismal Swamp NWR is making an effort to re-establish the RCW. The restoration of thousands of acres are being looked at for potential RCW habitat. Below is a photo I took recently of an area they are working on to make an RCW habitat. Notice the open forest understory that has been created due to prescribed burning.


Its exciting to see and follow the progress of the red-cockaded woodpecker. I hope one day I will have the privilege in seeing one!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Who says Mallards Don't Nest in Trees?


Well, as you can see, this one does!

I was visiting with my parents earlier today when my dad said he wanted to show me something outside. So we took a short walk behind his house toward a small farm pond. A few yards beyond the pond was a sweet gum tree with a large hollow in the bottom of it. Beginning about 25 inches from the ground, the hollow stretched up vertically about three feet high. As we carefully approached the tree I noticed a mallard hen sitting on her nest. She blended so well in the tree that it took me a few seconds to get a fix on her.

I have heard of mallards nesting in rotten tree stumps, but not in a tree itself. She seemed to me safer and more protected from the elements than she would have been on the ground. It's like she knew exactly what she was doing.

She has been setting on 9 eggs for about a week now. I hope to have the opportunity to provide more updates on her success.


Notice how well she blends in...


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Sunday, June 8, 2008

D. S. Birding Festival - Part III, The Snake Handler

Okay, so this is the third and final post on the Dismal Swamp Birding Festival, held back in early May.

After our tour we decided to get a bite to eat and view some of the displays that were set up. One of the displays that caught our attention was the one set up by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. There they had an assorted display of real and stuffed animals set up for viewing and handling. My daughter Morgan was especially intrigued with the live snake display. After touching one of the snakes, she asked to hold one. So...

Here she is holding a small mole kingsnake.


(...NO, she is not part of some weird religious cult...HA, HA!)


Here she looks like she is trying to decide if she should be afraid of it...still holding the mole kingsnake.



Next, they pulled out a snake that was a bit larger - the red cornsnake.

Would you believe that she is TERRIFIED of bugs!!



At one point she ask to take one home. Mom was quick to say NO! Mom was nervous enough about the current situation in her hand!


Last but not least was the black ratsnake. This snake was just a little too large for her to hold by herself.


Yes, the little girl that's so afraid of bugs loved the snakes! Go figure...


Here she says good-bye to a 'stuffed' river otter.


Although small, it was a quality festival. We learned a lot about our nearby refuge, and look forward to going next year.


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Friday, June 6, 2008

Bird of a Different Color

  Scientist have revealed that a birds color has a profound effect on more than just its image. A new study done on barn swallows reveals that it also affects the bird's physiology.

Follow the link below to check out the rest of this very interesting article by Science Daily:


Gracious Living

Personally, I'm not a big news buff, and when it comes to the daily newspaper, I can take it or leave it (normally leave it). With that said, there are a couple of weekly publications by my local news paper that I do try and read when I have the opportunity. One of those sections is called Gracious Living. This weekly (Sundays paper) section includes a variety of articles and tips on mostly home and gardening. More often than not, there's a gardening tip or two that I come across that appeals to me.

Remembering these tips is the challenge I face. I'll often write down or clip out these articles; but after a short while they are usually lost or forgotten. So I figured, why not just type them here in my online journal. By adding them here they can be tagged appropriately and easily referred to later. Another advantage in doing it this way is the ability to share it with others that may be interested.

Now for this weeks "worth saving" clips:



More tips to come...