Through the Window: October 2018

White-throated Sparrow, carved by Bob Spear.
White-throated Sparrow, carved by Bob Spear.

October is great, because it’s the month of the Big Sit!. That’s a day when we sit around with Team Loonatics and look for birds. They do all the hard work: cooking, listing, watching, identifying. We host them and are happy. Their list of birds this year doesn’t quite match our viewing window list (below), since we can’t always see from inside what they see from outside. It’s great to see and hear them all.

Some of the more northerly species are returning! Continue reading “Through the Window: October 2018”

Attracting Birds to Your Yard Naturally (re-post from VT FWD)

VERMONT FISH and WILDLIFE sent out this press release. It’s great advice and ideal for Vermonters, so we asked and got their permission to post it here. Thank you, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department (especially Tom Rogers and John Buck).

For Immediate Release: October 2, 2018
Media Contacts:  John Buck, 802-476-0796

MONTPELIER, Vt – Vermonters love to see birds around their home, and putting out bird feeders is a popular way to attract our feathered friends to back yards. Vermont is among the top states in the country for people who report feeding and watching birds near their home.

However, birds aren’t the only wildlife attracted by birdseed.  Vermont’s abundant bear population is increasingly coming into conflict with people as they raid people’s bird feeders, often leading the bear to continue to seek food sources in residential areas. As a result, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department urges Vermonters to hold off on putting bird feeders out until snow is well-established.  With plenty of seeds and berries on the landscape, birds have enough native foods to tide them over until bears are hibernating.

“Nature provides birds with ample natural food options, from flowers to seeds to fruits and insects,” says John Buck, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s migratory bird biologist. “Vermonters can plant a variety of native plants and provide other resources that will naturally attract birds from spring through fall.  These natural food sources are healthy for birds and provide bird-lovers with a safe alternative to putting out bird feeders. Providing natural food sources also helps prevent a concentration of birds in one place around a feeder, reducing the likelihood of disease transmission and unnatural predation rates.”

As Vermonters put their gardens and yards to bed this fall, Buck has several recommendations for fall plantings, as well as seeds to procure for the spring, that will safely encourage birds in backyards:

  • Maintain natural diversity in your yard by adding fruiting shrubs, mixed-age trees, tall grasses, and bare patches to welcome several species and fulfill multiple habitat requirements.
  • Plant a variety of native plants to provide food sources for birds, such as dogwood, choke cherry, or highbush blueberry.  A list of local native shrubs that attract birds and other wildlife can be found at vtfishandwildlife.com.
  • Purchase seeds for spring planting including black-eyed Susan, milkweed, and coneflowers.
  • Help birds overcome parasites by providing dust baths made of equal parts fine sand and wood ash in a bird bath or small planter.
  • Provide water year-round.

By encouraging birds to backyards with natural gardens of flowers, seeds, and berries instead of store-bought seeds, More information: http://tinyurl.com/VtBackyardHabitat

Tom Rogers
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
Information and Outreach
1 National Life Drive, Dewey Building
Montpelier, VT  05620
[phone]      802-377-2628
[website]   www.vtfishandwildlife.com

Through the Window: June 2018

Northern Flicker. Carved by Bob Spear; photographed by Museum staff.
Northern Flicker. Carved by Bob Spear; photographed by Museum staff.

Early birders continued their weekly walks this month. It’s such fun to go out with them or hear their stories afterward; each month is different. Those lists are generally recorded over on eBird. From the windows, we stick with the more well-recognized feeder and forest edge birds. Even here, there are often stories to be discovered. Continue reading “Through the Window: June 2018”