Wednesday, October 26, 2011

#75 Conservation Tip: National Wildlife Refuge

National Wildlife Refuge Week was officially on the calendar October 9-15, but really, every week is National Wildlife Refuge week!

With over 550 refuges in the United States, encompassing millions of acres of habitat, there is always somewhere to go, and something to see at a wildlife refuge.

Autumn is a great time to get outside and enjoy colorful fall foliage, see raptors soaring overhead, watch waterfowl paddling in cold waters, and peer at insects crawling on flowers.

Whatever your interests, National Wildlife Refuges offer wonderful resources to get outside and get back to nature!
photo © adrian binns

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

#74 Field Tip: Connecting Kids to Birds

There is nothing more wonderful than a kid's smile when he/she is really looking at birds. From the first sighting to the hundredth, kids are amazed by the interesting behaviors of our feathered friends.

From majestic Bald Eagles soaring in the sky, to brightly-colored American Goldfinches feeding on sunflowers, birds are easy to see and watch all year long in a variety of habitats.

Birding is an accessible hobby to kids in every location, demographic and background. It requires little money (a simple pair of binoculars to start) and only a willing and enthuasiastic mentor to guide the kids along. Take a kid out birding today and start a lifetime connection to birds!

photo © adrian binns            

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#73 Backyard Tip: Safflower Seed

The easiest way to attract Cardinals is to introduce safflower seed to your feeders. This large white seed is their favorite!

Safflower has the added benefit of being too bitter for squirrels, and too hard to crack open for gregarious blackbirds, such as grackles and starlings - all species we associate with quickly depleting the backyard feeder stock!

While it is one of the more expensive seeds, I prefer to fill a feeder with just safflower to see which other birds it attracts. I have seen House Finches, Tufted Titmouse, chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, Mourning Doves and woodpeckers. A more affordable way to introduce safflower is to purchase a seed mix that includes safflower, and these species will readily enjoy picking them out.
photo © adrian binns

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

#72 Field Tip.... The Warbler that acts like a Flycatcher

The American Redstart is the most active of our wood warblers, with boundless energy, hovering, flitting about with wings half open, pirouetting,  conspiciously fanning its tail, flashing its bright colors (orange in males, yellow in females) as it darts from limb to limb, all in an effort to flush potential prey.

The way it acts while foraging could be interpreted as flycatching, and this is not the only unique feature of the American Redstart. It also has long rictal bristles at the base of the broad bill, suggestive of a flycatcher. These bristles act as sensors to help the bird catch flying insects and protect the eyes from debris and damage.
photo © adrian binns