Archive | December 2017


If you are searching for a gift for someone on your Christmas list that shares your passion for the natural world, a good choice would be my latest book entitled,

A Journey of Discovery.  


This 267-page volume covers a wide range of plants and animals that are part of the fabric of Georgia’s natural heritage.

       Here is a brief list of a few of the more than 70 chapters contained in the book:

America’s Long Love Affair With The Hummingbird

Counting Hummingbirds Is No Easy Task

Black Bluebirds And Other Backyard Oddities

A Buffet For Wood Ducks

How Do I Deal With An Angry Bird?                                             

Water Moccasin or Watersnake—That Is the Question                

Luna Moths—Nighttime Beauties                                            

Fox Squirrels—The Forgotten Ones                                           

Our Fascination With Antlers                                              

Zinnias And I Go Back a Long Way                                    

Redbuds Are Stealing The Show                                           

Owls, Folklore And Halloween                                                 

The Origin Of Thanksgiving                                                     

The Basics Of Winter Bird Feeding                                       

Butter—Kids And Birds Love It                                 

Taking Time To Watch                                                          

How Wildlife Copes With The Heat                                          

Can Local Birds And Plants Predict The Weather?                        

The Backyard Olympics                                                           

Do Released Bass Live To Fight Another Day?

The book can be purchased at your local bookstore or at The Monroe County Reporter in Forsyth, The Bird Store in Macon or online at Amazon and other booksellers.


 According the  a study of bird feeding in the United States and Canada called ProjectFeederWatch, window strikes are  responsible for more deaths at feeders than cats, hawks or any other factor.

       This conclusion is based more than 2,000 deaths reported during the study.  According to the analysis of these data, nearly half of all deaths are caused by birds striking windows. If these data are correct, the study leaders estimate that one in ten birds might be killed by flying into buildings annually.

       While this is indeed a cause of concern to those of us that feed birds in our backyards, these deaths might represent only two or less percent of North America’s fall bird population.   

       This conclusion is based on volumes of data collected by literally thousands of citizen scientists that submitted detailed logs a wide range of subjects relating to their bird feeding programs.

       This monumental study was sponsored by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada, National Audubon Society, and the Canadian Nature Federation.


For most of us, the downy woodpecker is the most common woodpecker that visits our feeder.  This tiny woodpecker is only about the size of a house sparrow (6 1/2 – 6 3/4″ long).  Indeed, it is so small that it holds the title of being the smallest woodpecker in North America.  However, what it lacks in size, it makes up with being one of the most energetic birds to grace our backyards.  It seems to always foraging for food.

       If you would see downy woodpeckers more often at your feeders this winter, here is a list of some of their favorite feeder foods.

       While the downy woodpecker will eat plant material, it primarily feeds on animals such as both adult and immature insects.  As such, one of the first foods should offer at your feeder is suet.  As we all know this insect substitute is made from animal fat.

       Unfortunately, the very best suet is hard to come by.  This suet is suet rendered from the hard, opaque fat that surrounds beef kidneys.  The very best way to obtain this suet is to buy it directly from a butcher.  Sadly, most of us do not know a butcher.

       This means that we have to buy suet cakes.  These cakes are made from animal fats. These fats are soft and can come from anywhere on an animal carcass.  Whereas beef suet does not melt when the temperatures rises, suet cakes typically do.  Fortunately, for us, downy woodpeckers will eat suet cakes.

       The best way to feed suet cakes is to offer them in inexpensive mesh suet feeders. 

       Downy woodpeckers are also fond of sunflower seeds.  For reasons that I cannot explain, downy woodpeckers seem to eat sunflower seeds more often in some locales than others.  In my neck of the woods, they seem prefer suet and whole, peanuts to sunflower seeds.

       Hulled peanuts are a great downy woodpecker food, however, sometimes hard to come by.  However, if a store that specializes in birding-related items is located nearby, you are in luck.  The peanuts are best offered to the birds in special cylindrical whole peanut feeders.

       Downy woodpeckers are also known to eat cracked corn as well as a wide variety of dairy products and baked goods.  The list of these foods includes doughnuts, American cheese, coconut, and bread.

       If downy woodpeckers eat other food items at your feeders, please let me know.