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Bird Feed and Seed
December 17, 2012
America, we need to pray and pray hard for our country.
Please pray for the families and community that will never be the same.
As a parent, I am speechless.
Hug you kids and grand kids and make sure they know you love them.
The tragic events that transpired this past Friday in Connecticut only magnifies the need for God in America again.
All prayers are welcome from around the globe.
Friday, the 21 st of December is the first official day of winter.
A good time for some pretty sunsets (pictured below).
Still nothing in the way of a real snow around here.
On most days, temperatures remain above freezing.
It isn't healthy for our northern gardens, snow is a great insulator.
Bird activity varies from day to day right now.
However, dusk does bring the Northern cardinals in and in good numbers (12 or male males, plus females).
Unfortunately I am not able to get a picture that time of day.
Do you plan on counting birds?
This year's Christmas bird count runs from December 14, 2012 through January 5, 2013.
Here is a short history lesson on the Christmas bird count (Credit to the Audubon Society).
Prior to the turn of the 20th century, some people engaged in a holiday tradition known as the Christmas "Side Hunt".
They would choose sides and go afield with their guns; whoever brought in the biggest pile of feathered and furred quarry won.
People drink and whoop it up, shooting anything that moved or flew.
Conservation was in its beginning stages around the turn of the century.
Scientists and observers noticed and were concerned by the declining wildlife populations.
Beginning on Christmas Day 1900, ornithologist Frank Chapman, proposed a new holiday tradition-a "Christmas Bird Census"-that would count birds in the holidays rather than hunt them.
Thanks to the inspiration of Frank M. Chapman and the enthusiasm of twenty-seven dedicated birders, twenty-five Christmas Bird Counts were held that day.
The locations ranged from Toronto, Ontario to Pacific Grove, California with most counts in or near the population centers of northeastern North America.
Those original 27 Christmas Bird Counters tallied around 90 species on all the counts combined.
So began the Christmas Bird Count.
Don't run your vegetable garbage down the disposal or dump it in the trash.
Recycle it in compost piles.
If you don't have a compost pile going, or simply don't want to mess with it, toss your fruit and vegetable garbage in the gardens and flower beds.
That is what I often do.
Who cares what it looks like this time of year.
The garbage decays right into the soil over winter.
Sometimes it may offer food for the bunnies, but I look at it this way.
If they are munching on potato or carrot peels, they wont be munching on my shrubs and plants.
No matter how I look at it, it is a win, win situation.
Be sure to place citrus peels and stuff around your acid loving plants (Rhodos, Holly, Hydrangea, Conifers, etc.).
This weeks letter is on bird feed.
Offering fresh, high-quality Bird Feed stands out as one of the best ways to attract birds, but you must select the right types of seed.
Studies conducted at the University of Wisconsin and Penn State University prove conclusively that even the most feeder-habituated birds forage for 75 to 80 percent of their diet.
Geographical location will dictate what birds you get most of the time.
What attractions or protection you have in your yard will dictate how many birds, and will they stop or hang around. Some prime examples are, water and trees or shrubs.
What types of bird feed or seed you offer them can also make a huge difference in quantity and quality of birds.
I'm going to list a few choices and what I recommend for your feathered friends.
If I had only one choice of feed for my birds, it would be Black Oil Sunflower Seeds. Black Oilers (BOSS) is the most desired food, by the largest variety of birds.
Sunflower seed in the shell also keeps starlings from feeding.
Starlings lack bill strength to crack them open.
Black oil sunflower seed can contain up to 24% protein and up to 50% oil.
Sunflower's oil keeps the sheen in the birds feathers and keeps the home fires burning.
A very important factor when caring birds in the cold of winter.
Sunflower seed is good for year round health.
Besides being rich in oil and protein, these seeds contain a dozen vital minerals.
Calcium is one important item on that list, vital for strong bones and eggs shells.
On cold winter days offering birds sunflower seed can mean the difference between life and death for your birds.
Chickadees can increase their body weight by 12% daily by eating sunflowers and burn it off at night, only to start over again the following day.
Use chips sparingly.
They cost more, and when wet become a pile of mush and turn rancid.
Feeding Birds Peanuts is gaining in popularity at bird feeding stations throughout Europe and North America as well.
They head the list as a bird food with a whopping 25% protein and up to a 45 and 50% oil content.
Plus several minerals.
I increase my peanut feeding for winter and the birds do come in bunches.
Again, many choice birds will flock to peanuts and peanut feeders.
The one big draw back can be the cost of feeding goobers to the birds.
Check around, The place i once worked offers a 20# bag for $38.99.
For a few dollars more, I drive 4 miles and get a 50# bag.
Raw or roasted, bird love them.
Remember one thing however,no salt please.
Nyjer is a protein and oil rich seed. As much as 22% of this tiny package is protein and on average, 37% is oil content.
Nyjer becomes a specialized food, as mostly finches and the finch family will dine on the tiny seed.
A soft shelled seed that spoils rather quickly if it remains wet for any length of time, or simply sits there for any length of time.
When the seeds lose their sheen, they are no good and need to be replaced.
Again, this can be a pricey food.
Safflowers Seeds are the new kid on the block.
You've seen the signs and read the advertisements, "Birds love it and Squirrels hate it".
I have yet to see one bird that prefers safflower over sunflower or peanuts.
The seed has on average an 8 to 10 percent protein content and around a 38 percent oil content.
Plus high in B vitamins.
It is a viable food source for birds, but not as valuable as sunflower seed or peanuts.
It is also grossly over priced.
One plus, starlings can't crack it open.
Suet is the most concentrated source of energy in a diet, animal fat also provides other nutritional benefits. Fat acts as a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
An interesting side bar, squirrels don't like suet, they are after the other contents within the cake.
You know, peanuts, berries and other seeds.
If squirrels are an issue, offer pure (all fat) suet.
You can also find information on Millet, cracked corn.
Milo, wheat and other grains are simply fillers that bring the cost of bird food down.
When you factor in the waste, does it really cost that much less to economize?
Don't forget to offer grit (good blends provide this).
If you want a blend, you are much better off to mix your own.
And of course, Fresh Water.
Well, it is time to fly for now.
Before I go, here is a message.
Prayerfully, the next letter will be my annual Christmas letter.
This year it will go out on Friday, December 21.
So many of you will be traveling, and it allows me time to spend with my family.
I'll see you again next year (Lord willing), on January 7th.
The manner in which it is given is worth more than the gift.
Even if it's a little thing, do something for those who need help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.
Here is the true gift prophesied hundreds of years in advance.
For to us a child is born,
Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
"Treat the earth well:
It was not given to you by your parents,
It was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our
Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
Ancient Indian Proverb
Your friend indeed,
Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.
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