Label: Birds

December 22, 2010


I never quite seem to finish my fall cleanup in the garden. One thing leads to another, and suddenly there is snow on the ground with broken stems and brown leaves poking through. I used to feel guilty about it, but a number of years ago I came to embrace the winter garden, even throwing some Christmas lights on a bean trellis that never made it into the barn for the winter!

Of course, you should remove any foliage that has scabs, fungus or other evidence of disease in the autumn. But leave some of the rest so that birds have a place to forage for food, and you will enjoy a winter of bird watching as part of the bargain.

Beneficial insects such as ground beetles, centipedes, millipedes, pill bugs and spiders will also crawl inside leaf piles or dead stalks in order to survive the cold, wet months. Garden spiders, which catch mosquitoes and other harmful insects, often overwinter as eggs. Keep them around by providing safe hiding places for their egg sacks. All of these creatures are our gardening partners, breaking down and adding organics to the soil.

Best of all, I love the architectural quality of the brown, dry stalks, and they look great covered in frost or spider webs.

When you finally cut everything back in spring, be sure to leave them in a stack until May to allow all of the overwintering insects to emerge. I love having a garden, and it has its own special charm in the winter months.



Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: birds, Insects, Winter, Gardening   •  Permalink (link to this article)

November 18, 2010

chickadee bath


Yesterday morning I was waiting for my wife Liz in my car and noticed a chickadee landing in a water-filled depression in the driveway. The chickadee was taking a bath in the shallow water and it looked like such fun with water flying everywhere. It reminded me of a kid in the bathtub just splashing around and squealing. If I was bird-sized (instead of only my brain being that size), I would have leaped in and joined the water fun!

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: Animals, birds   •  Permalink (link to this article)

July 24, 2010

A reader named Mary Ludwick wrote today to introduce us to a fabulous resource for anyone interested in birds and birdwatching -

According to the information on the website, is a real-time, online checklist program… (that) has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, eBird provides rich data sources for basic information on bird abundance and distribution at a variety of spatial and temporal scales.

Although it is designed specifically as a place for birdwatchers to report their sightings, this is also a rich source for educators and families to use with kids because it enables you to find out which birds to look for in which months of the year. If you combine this resource with the bird identification aids at, you will soon be seeing and identifying birds that you never even knew were residents of your neighborhood! Kids who are excited by birdwatching can report their observations and help build scientific knowledge about the bird population in their communities. Check out this story about eBird’s June "Birder of the Month," a young father who juggles home, work and time with his three-year-old son, and integrates all these activities with his passion for bird watching.

In the Gulf Coastal area, bird watchers are using the site to help NOAA track sightings of birds injured by the oil spill. They are building this body of information in order to help to steer beach protection and clean-up efforts to the sites with the greatest concentrations of birds and most important habitats. So many citizens wonder what they can do in the face of the massive environmental crisis - here is a valuable way to contribute if you live in that area of the country.

Thanks, Mary Ludwick, for building our bird knowledge on!




Posted by: Liz Nealon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: birds, Summer Vacation Science, Oil Spills   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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