PROVIDING BIRDS WITH NESTING MATERIAL
Although some birds are already nesting it is not too late to provide the birds that nest in your backyard with nesting material. While birds typically have no difficulty finding all the nesting material they need, you can make their job a little easier by providing them a wide assortment of items.
In a former blog, I discussed the fact that an increasing number of folks are providing nesting hummingbirds with cotton in something called hummingbird nesting balls. The balls are fashioned from vines and contain loose cotton. Hummingbirds will pluck cotton fibers from the balls and use it to create their nests. If you type Providing Hummers with Nesting Material in the search bubble found on the right-hand side of the blog page, the blog will appear, and you can read all about them.
Even though other birds will take advantage of this source of soft nesting material, there are other ways that you can supply titmice, chickadees and other birds with nesting material. One of the easiest ways to do so is to put nesting material in a suet cage. If you do so, make sure the cage is not greasy. Hang cages where they can be easily seen by birds. You can also make small piles of nesting material on the ground. It can also be placed in small baskets that are often used to display blueberries and other small fruits and berries. The baskets can then be hung from the limb of a tree or Shepherd’s hook.
Some of the various items that can be offered to the birds include short pieces of yarn, feathers (tree swallows like white feathers), slender strips of bark, pet and human hair, moss, and dry grass.
Materials that should be avoided are dryer lint, cellophane, plastic, aluminum foil, wire, and tinsel.
Who knows? You just might find the birds ignore your offerings. Then again, if they do, you will experience the thrill of watching them carry fly off with something you offered them. Even if you are not lucky enough to see birds collecting nesting materials, after the nesting season is over you might find some of your items woven into a nest—that’s great too.
DO EASTERN BLUEBIRDS USE THE SAME BOX FOR MORE THAN ONE YEAR?
If you erect bluebird boxes, more than likely you have wondered if bluebirds return to nest in the same nest box they used the year before.
As it turns out, banding studies demonstrate anywhere from 26-44% of the bluebirds that nested in box last year will return to nest there this year.
One factor that determines if bluebirds use the same box from year to year is whether their nesting efforts the previous year were successful. As you might imagine, they are more likely to use the same box if they successfully raised young in that box the previous breeding season.
BACKYARD SECRET – AMERICAN CROWS USE ANTS TO KEEP THEIR FEATHERS CLEAN
If you have never taken the time to watch the behavior of the American crows that visit your yard, you are missing the opportunity to see birds exhibit some amazing behaviors. For example, if you are lucky, you just might see a crow engaged in a behavior called “anting.”
It seems that American crows will literally stand or lie on top of an ant mound and let swarms of these six-legged insects crawl all over them. Once the ants begin running around on the crows’ feathers, the birds grab the ants and rub them on themselves. Ornithologists believe the formic acid found in ants helps the birds ward off parasites.
Have you ever witnessed this activity? I must admit that, although I have not done so, it is something that I definitely want to see for myself.
RARE WHITE CARDINAL APPEARS AT FEEDER
Recently a Bibb County, Georgia homeowner looked out her window and saw an odd bird. The bird had the shape of cardinal; however, it was mostly white. One of the first things that popped into her mind was the mysterious bird was a species she had never seen. What was she looking at?
It turns out the bird is a leucistic cardinal. This cardinal displays some pigment. Albino cardinals have no pigment.
Such birds are extremely rare. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology conducts an annual FeederWatch Survey. Each year survey participants report approximately 5.5 million birds. On an average, only 236 of the birds tallied annually had albinism or leucism. This works out of roughly one out of every 30,000 is either leucistic or albinistic.
Leucism is much more common than albinism. According to the experts, out of every 100 birds that are reported with abnormal plumage only three are true albinos and 82 are leucistic.
RUBYTHOATED HUMMINGBIRDS RETURN TO GEORGIA IN MARCH
March is the month ruby-throated hummingbirds return to Georgia.
Over the years, countless Georgia hummingbird enthusiasts have told me that they saw the first hummingbird of the year hovering in the spot where a hummingbird feeder hung outside their kitchen window a year earlier.
With that in mind, if you do not already have a hummingbird feeder hanging in your backyard, there is no better time to hang a feeder in your backyard than right now.
The first ruby-throated hummingbirds arrive in South Georgia in late February and early March. On the average, from there, they make their way northward at a rate of about 23 miles per day. By March 20, the birds reach Middle Georgia. The first northbound birds arrive in North Georgia in late March and early April.
The first hummingbirds to arrive are males; the females make an appearance about 10 days later.
Let me know when the first male and female rubythroats arrive in your backyard.