Since the brown thrasher lives in Georgia throughout the entire year, it is easy to believe it does not migrate. However, banding studies have revealed some brown thrashers migrate while others stay at home. Consequently, ornithologists classify this master songster as a partial migrant.
Banding studies have revealed that some brown thrashers that breed in New England make their way to the Carolinas and Georgia in the winter. By the same token, brown thrashers that breed east of the Mississippi are often regular winter residents across a broad swath of the South from Arkansas to Georgia.
Consequently, when you see a brown thrasher scratching away the leaves beneath one of your shrubs this winter, you have no way of knowing whether it has been living in your backyard throughout the year or recently made the flight to Georgia from Massachusetts, Ohio or other state far to the north of the Peach Strata.
As for me, I care not whether the thrashers I host in the winter are permanent residents or not. I am just glad they chose to winter close to my home.
Remarkably, spiders annually eat more insects than bats and birds combined. In spite of this, they are one of the least appreciated animals that inhabit our yards.
With that in mind, the next time that you spot a spider in your garden, don’t kill it. Spiders play a key role in the ecology of our yards. As such, they help control all sorts of insects and other invertebrates. In addition, they are important sources of protein for scores of animals such as birds. For example, tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds and great crested flycatchers are just two of the birds that dine on spiders.
There are a number tactics folks employ to deter bees, yellow jackets, and wasps from their feeders. Here is one you may not have considered: avoid using feeders decorated with yellow features.
Most often, yellow is used to decorate the artificial flowers surrounding feeding portals. I am not sure why manufacturers go to so much trouble to include yellow in the color scheme of a feeder. Perhaps they feel yellow flowers look more realistic, or attractive. Who knows? One thing we do know is hummingbirds are attracted to the color red found on such places as the feeder base and top. As such, using yellow on a feeder does not enhance the chances that hummingbirds will use it.
When yellow is used to decorate a feeder, it simply makes the feeder more appealing to bees, yellow jackets, and wasps. The reason for this is honeybees, wasps, and yellow jackets are attracted to the color yellow. Consequently, in theory, feeders that do not feature the color yellow should not be visited by these insects as often as feeders without the bright color.
However, if red feeders are coated with sugar water that has sloshed out of feeder portals, squadrons of these stinging insects will most assuredly show up. In addition, these flying insects are capable of finding a source of food regardless of whether it has any yellow on it or not. I know this is true as just last week I was stung by a yellow jacket as I tried to refill one of my red feeders.
Using feeders without yellow will not solve the problem of hummingbirds having to share nectar with hornets, honeybees, and yellow jackets. However, it just might help alleviate the problem.
The American goldfinches that we see at our feeders right now (August) are in their breeding plumage. However, as we all know, the American goldfinches that visit our backyards in the winter appear to be totally different birds. This is because after the close of the breeding season the birds undergo a feather molt. As a result, a dull and somber winter plumage replaces their bright and beautiful breeding plumage. However, it is not commonly known that the color of the goldfinches bill, feet and legs change along with the feather molt.
At this time of the year, they are pale yellow. However, outside of the breeding season they are grayish brown. This change can best be appreciated if you compare the color of the feet, legs and bills of the American goldfinches you are currently seeing, with those of the bird in the photo (taken in winter) that accompanies this blog. The difference is truly remarkable.
If you are concerned about the plight of Georgia’s pollinators, I urge you to become a citizen scientist and take part in the Great Georgia Pollinator Census. This year’s count will be staged August 20 and 21.
This will mark the third year the census has been conducted. Last year, in spite of Covid-19, 3,755 Georgians representing 124 counties took part in the survey. Their efforts resulted in data collected on almost 82,000 individual pollinators.
The counts have been carefully designed so that Georgians of all ages and skill levels can take part. There is no participation fee and a census requires only 15 minutes of your time. Most counts are held in yards. However, a number of teachers and other youth leaders involve young people in counts held in such locations as school grounds.
The survey is conducted by the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Becky Griffin is the Project Coordinator (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The information gathered is being utilized by UGA researchers for economic valuation studies of pollinators.
For details regarding the count, go to Great Georgia Pollinator Census (http://ggapc.org). When you visit the site, take the time to download the fantastic, full-color pollinator guide.
Once people begin watching birds, there is a natural tendency for them to try to find out as much as they can about the fascinating feathered creatures that bring them so much joy. If you find yourself in this category, it is only natural that you would like to know how many different species of birds have been seen in Georgia. However, if you begin looking for this information you might find surprisingly difficult to locate. However, this blog will lead you directly to the right place.
One might think that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources is the logical place to begin your search. Such is not the case. The organization that is responsible for maintaining the official list of birds seen in Georgia is the Georgia Ornithological Society (GOS).
This bird is on the official list of birds found in Georgia
This private nonprofit organization was established in 1936. It is dedicated to the conservation of birds in the Peach State through preservation of habitat, promoting scientific research, printing bird-related publications, and education. One of their goals is to maintain the official list of Georgia birds.
Before a species is added to the list all available information regarding a sighting of a new species is carefully scrutinized by a select group of experienced birders. Currently, 361 species of birds are on the list. You can download the list by visiting the GOS website at https://www.gos.org Once there select Birding.
When you visit the site, take the time to check out all of the great things that the GOS is accomplishing. After you have done this, I would not be surprised if you decide to join this great organization.
After reading my latest post concerning how much force a pileated woodpecker can endure without harming itself a fellow blogger chastised me for not explaining how this is possible. In hindsight, I indeed did leave a major part of the story untold.
There is no simple answer to this question. The truth of the matter is a number different factors work together to enable a woodpecker is able to hammer a tree with a force some 1,000 times the force of gravity without injuring itself. To begin with, the woodpecker’s brain is oriented in such a manner that it is better able to absorb force from the front. In comparison, the human brain is far better able to cope with forces from below. The woodpecker’s brain also fits tightly into its cranium. This prevents the brain from easily moving about. The woodpecker’s aspect of the woodpecker’s hyoid bone also plays a critical role. This bone actually loops around the head of the woodpecker and helps dampen the force exerted on the bird when it hammers into the wood of a tree. A number of “spongy” plate-like bones found in different spots in the skull help spread out the force of a hammer-like blow.
The design of the bill is also important. Upon close examination it is obvious that the lower bill is a bit larger that the upper bill. Why is this important? Since the upper mandible is shorter than the lower mandible the force of the bill striking the wood passes through lower jaw before it reaches the bird’s skull. Whereas the force exerted on the upper bill is cushioned by spongy bones found at its base.
The fact that the woodpecker’s chisel-like bill is self-sharpening is also an important asset. Since is bird’s bill is always sharp the bird can hammer into wood using less force than would be required if its bill was dull.
It is also important that the woodpecker make every attempt to strike its bill directly at the wood. This helps ensure that the force of the strike originates from the same direction.
It is also important that woodpeckers possess strong neck muscles.
Research conducted by Chinese scientists was able to quantify how successful the complex design of the woodpecker’s head is in muting the extremely high forces it has to withstand. Their findings demonstrated that these modifications are so effective in transferring forces down the woodpecker’s body the head receives only 0.3 percent of the initial force of a blow. That is remarkable.