There are over 40 species of bats in North America, and there’s a good chance that there are currently bats visiting and living near your backyard.
Bats are shy and gentle creatures, and will not try to get tangled in your hair or suck your blood. In fact, they’ll perform a very beneficial job in your garden – insect control.
By providing a bat house in an open and sunny location, you’ll have a good chance of them taking up residence in your backyard.
Attracting Bats to Your backyard
Most bats will visit yards looking for insects to eat. They often hunt around streetlamps, targeting insects attracted to the light. Adding a light source to attract insects will also attract moths – a bat favorite!
Moths are also attracted to scented plants like primrose, clematis, barberry, and rotting fruit. Planting a variety of plants, and allowing fruit to ripen and rot on the ground is a good approach to attracting moths.
Many birds use elaborate displays to impress and attract a mate. In this video from David Attenborough and BBC wildlife, some interesting male birds are shown attracting females – including peacocks, pheasants and long-tailed widowbird.
For an amatuer backyard birder like myself, bird song identification can be overwhelming. But I found a hand-held resource that has made it fun and easy for me and my family. The Birdsong Identiflyer™ plays …
A New England Christmas is full of flakes on your nose, hot chocolate cupped in your hands, and a warm glow in your heart. Homes are brightly decorated with lights and poinsettias, and of course the tree
In New England we don’t let the cold chill our spirits.
Instead we celebrate the season with many events that celebrate the outdoors, and catch the festivities in true New England fashion.
The foothills of northern Wyoming’s Big Horn mountains are home to the Sharp-Tailed Grouse and their mating arena known as a “lek”. Thirty male and female Sharp-Tailed Grouse gather on this small baseball diamond sized grassy hilltop. The grouse live in communities with up to two dozen males “displaying” in one Lek. A community’s Lek is used for years… even decades.
Each morning, just before dawn, males stake out territories of less than 10 square meters, on which they dance to attract a mate. When rivals approach a territorial boundary, they quickly move from dancing to a tense face to face stand-off. Male Sharp Taled Grouse battle, their wings fan to make themselves appear larger. Their tails quiver with tension. Males in the lek fight for up to 6 hours each day, repeatedly defending from attacks from all sides.
Battles move fast, with attack and counter-attack going by in a blur of feathers. High speed video, slowing time, reveals these battles to be tactical coordinated combat. Beaks, wings and claws become weapons, used with precision. Fights begin with a stab at the head, with the eye comb a frequent target. This fleshy colorful patch above the eye may be engorged or deflated. Combatants partially expand their eye combs during battle, perhaps signaling their readiness to fight. Injury to the eye comb, may reduce a males attractiveness to the opposite sex.
For bird watchers and backyard birders alike, wild bird identification is a fun and sometimes challenging activity. Recognizing and identifying wild birds is easier when the four keys to bird identification are used – Size & Shape, Color Pattern, Behavior and Habitat.
Bird Identification – Bird Habitat
A habitat is where a bird lives, eats and sleeps, and all birds are uniquely suited to survive in a particular area or environment. Habitats are broken down into four general categories, including Forested Woodlands, Water or Aquatic areas, Scrub Shrub areas or Open Habitats.
Bird Watching and identification is about the probability of seeing a species of bird in their habitat during a particular time of year. Bird watchers who know what birds are likely to be seen in a habitat have a identification head start – a short list of birds they expect to see, and a quick visual cue for birds that require an extra look.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has created an excellent video series to help the beginning birder develop their wild bird identification skills. Below, is the fourth and last in the series – Recognizing Birds – Bird Habitat. The other videos in the series can be found here – Size & Shape, Color Pattern, and Behavior.
If you hang bird feeders, have you figured out which birds are visiting? If you buy your birdseed mix from the grocery or dollar store, have you ever noticed that only a few types of bird visit and hog all the food? If so, it’s very likely that you’re hosting House Sparrows, whose presence in New England and the Northeast is being blamed for declines in some native songbird species. If you are concerned about the welfare of our bird populations, you do not want to feed, house or otherwise encourage House Sparrows!
It may seem cruel to single out certain types of birds to discourage, but House Sparrows (also called English Sparrows) are an invasive species in the US. Brought to this country from Europe in the 20th century, they quickly established large populations that have spiralled out of control, outcompeting native songbirds for food, shelter and space. Along with European Starlings (another invasive bird in the US), House Sparrows are considered a threat to many bird species already at risk due to habitat loss and pollution. In fact, these birds are among the very few species in the US not protected under Federal species protection laws.
Since the mid-1990s, populations of invasive birds have increased significantly. House Sparrows thrive around human habitation, and you can often see them picking at food scraps in parking lots of fast-food joints or big-box stores (where they also find safe housing inside). They are quick to find a residential bird feeder, and will gobble up large amounts of birdseed, leaving little to the less aggressive birds indigenous to New England.
I recently completed a couple of bluebird houses made from discarded fence rails that were “rescued” from a burn pile.
Over April vacation, my sons and I worked with our town’s Open Space Stewardship program to help establish a tree nursery at Sunny Meadow Farm. In addition to the plot used to grow trees for the town’s use, the half acre property includes the Walter F. Lewis Community Garden where residents are given plots of farm land to grow their own crops.
While building a large brush pile that day, I noticed a few pieces of the original horse chewed fence had been stacked in the burn pile. Seeing the beauty of the patina of the boards, which had taken decades to form, and being a big fan of recycling materials, I grabbed a few of the discarded boards and loaded them into my truck.
Peterson style bluebird house
Peterson style bluebird house
Both bluebird houses share functional features such as a pivoting wall for easy clean-out, canopied roof, ventilation and drainage holes, and copper lined entry holes (to prevent predator chew out). I designed one birdhouse in the traditional bluebird box style, and the other in the angled Peterson style.
Because of their strikingly beautiful black and orange or yellow plumage, their distinctive whistle, spring songs, and their amazing suspended nest, Orioles are quickly becoming one of Americas favorite birds.
While over eight species of Orioles can regularly be seen in the United States, we’ll deal mainly in this flyer with three species-Baltimore, Bullocks, and Orchard. All United States Orioles show variation on the theme of black with yellow or orange plumage.
Except for in the Southeast, all Orioles are tropical migrants. While migrations vary from year-to-year, Orioles generally arrive in the South in early spring, Midwest in early May, and further North soon afterward.
Fruit Feeder from recycled materials
Fruit Feeder from recycled materials
It is very important that you have Oriole feeders up and ready, or often they will pass you by for better feeding grounds. It is equally important to have nesting materials out and ready to help encourage Orioles to nest in your yard. Long frayed natural fibers are a favorite.
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The rule implements federal protections provided by the ESA for the Cantabrian capercaillie, Marquesan imperial pigeon, Eiao Marquesas reed-warbler, greater adjutant, Jerdon’s courser, and slender-billed curlew.
If the pair’s breeding effort is successful at Midway Atoll Refuge, it would mark the first confirmed hatching of a short-tailed albatross outside of Japan in modern history.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed a report recommending closing human access to caves and mines where bats with white-nose syndrome are hibernating in an area more than 250 miles from other WNS-affected caves and mines.
The oldest known U.S. wild bird – a coyly conservative 60 — is a new mother. The bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, was spotted a few weeks ago with a chick by John Klavitter, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist and the deputy manager of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The bird …
Damage to bat wings from the fungus associated with white-nose syndrome (WNS) may cause catastrophic imbalance in life-support processes, according to newly published research. This imbalance may be to blame for the more than 1 million deaths of bats due to WNS thus far, proposes Carol Meteyer, a pathologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National …
Researchers found that deforestation in the New England area at that time produced significant soil erosion, increasing sediment delivery rates — the natural flow of sand and soil in water systems. The large amounts of sediment traveling in rivers and streams to the coastline spurred a significant period of wetland growth, leading to marshes lining the coast of New England that today are abnormally large.