Hop to It!
Saturday, March 20th marks the first day of official spring. The outgoing winter has been long, cold and snowy, a kind of 1980's winter, to hear tell of it from old-timers. We've had …
Hop to It!
Saturday, March 20th marks the first day of official spring. The outgoing winter has been long, cold and snowy, a kind of 1980's winter, to hear tell of it from old-timers. We've had snowpack since December 18th last year, a full 90 days of true and deep North American winter. Awesome.
The persistent snow and diving nighttime temperatures have meant existential hardship for many wild animals in our woodlands, songbirds especially. Those that over winter here grow increasingly desperate as winter fades and more of the available seeds and other edibles get picked over by squirrels and other competitors.
Right now, before anything turns even a hint of green, circumstances are at their most desperate. Putting out suet or a bird feeder is a really delightful and important way to support our feathered friends, all of whom face a daunting few weeks ahead before brooding—resurrection—begins.
When I first put up a bird feeder here, I believed I could just fill it up with any old seed and let it stand in the snow all winter long. Since then I have learned a lot about bird feeders and bird feeding.
This winter much of North America has been befallen with salmonella outbreaks at bird feeders which has caused horrendous numbers of songbirds to die of food poisoning. We humans are in control and play our part in saving these birds, already in significant decline due to climate change and the use of pesticides.
Love your feeding station and its visitors? Well, a feeder should be taken apart every two weeks or after heavy use and all the parts scrubbed clean in a hot dishwasher or with a diluted bleach bath (one part bleach, nine parts water). Let everything dry out thoroughly before reassembling the feeder.
If you notice any birds in distress around your feeder, inactive or shivering or acting strangely, your feeder may be a “superspreader event.” How well we know about these events in 2021. Bleach is in the cupboard. Hop to it, little feathered lives depend on you!
Additionally: buy superior quality seed. Cheap supermarket bird seed generally contains all kinds of inedible grains that birds will abjure. If you see a lot of seed fall to the ground around your feeder, your avian connoisseurs don't like your menu. Fallen seed also begins to rot and grow moldy.
Dear Reader. Seriously now. Would YOU eat rotting moldy food? You might, if starving, but then pay with your life. In the human realm, a doctor would intercede for your food poisoning. In the cold dark nights of Sullivan this mud-mucked March, on some lonely branch, no bird doctor will intercede and you will shiver and fluff your feathers and fall off the branch. -- Bird feeders: hop to it! Sunflower seed is IT!
On an entirely other note. I received an invitation to fill out the 2021 Membership Survey from Bill Moss, Membership Secretary of the Smallwood Civic Association. Folks, please look in your inbox. This survey is important and also due on the first day of spring, March 20th. The Association seeks and needs your input to improve our common home. What can I say? Hop to it!
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