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December 05, 2011

November ended the same way it started.

With green grass showing.

Early December is still in the 40's with rain.

This past week, parts of Michigan had a nice snow and some locations even had a snow day for school (what's with that?), we were unscathed.

The weather people called this one wrong for us.

I know the calender still says it is autumn, but for much of North America, winter can't read and waits for no man.

I look at it as winter being that much shorter and with plenty of sunshine in November, that made life much easier around here.

Pictured is my nephew, "Sergeant David J. Patterson", recently home from a tour in Afghanistan.

We were able to visit for a day at his mom's house.

The other picture is of my niece, another nephew and some great kids.

So there is no mistake, I'm the old, dumpy looking guy on the right. :-)

David and family are now at their home base in Louisiana.

December 7, marks the remembrance of "Pearl Harbor Day."

A history changing date that seems to be remembered less with each passing year.

My dad and an uncle were in the
"Pacific Theater".

Like many that go off to war, very little was ever talked about the war.

Again, "Thank You" to all of our military personnel, past and present.

At the bottom of this letter are a couple of pictures of our Lovebirds.

Peaches (the lone bird) is the mother and the other picture shows Creamy (yellow bird) and the three 6 week old babies.

Yes, Creamy's eyes are truly red, that is not from the camera.

We had to remove the babies at a 4 weeks, as Peaches began to pick on them and started to lay more eggs which we remove.

Creamy is placed with his kids for now.

I keep learning about Lovebirds.

Female Lovebirds are not a friendly bird at all.

We've turned pages on the calender and that can mean one thing.

It is time to give your feeders and water sources a good cleaning and sanitizing, especially before winter really settles in.

If you can't find the time, remember you can spray your feeders with rubbing alcohol to kill off any cooties.

Because it dries so fast, it doesn't leave anything behind to harm your birds.

Ideal for penetrating the grain of wooden feeders.

A cap or two of bleach in your bird bath will also sanitize the water and wont harm your birds.

If you must, do it in the evening and residuals will have oxidized by morning.

This time of year, I start to get more of the woodland birds.

Woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, blue jays and so on.

All the more reason to offer clean feeders and water.

If you are looking for a new feeder or as a possible gift, check these pages for some hints on whet to look for in a good feeder.

If you haven't yet, you still have time to wrap and protect young trees from mice and rabbits that will find the young bark pretty tasty once the snow covers the earth.

Too much chewing will kill off your prized tree.

Something else a good tree wrap does.

It helps to protect young trees from sun scald.

When the temperature drops below freezing, the tree sap freezes.

Even on a cold day, the warmth of the sun can thaw out the sap.

Once the sun goes down, the tree sap freezes again and we all know that liquid expands when it freezes.

If this happens enough, the bark on your young tree may crack and split open.

Young maples of all species are very susceptible to sun scald (yes, even Japanese maples).

You will often find this split on the south side of a tree.

A vinyl tree wrap should only cost a dollar or so, I'm sure your tree cost a bit more than that.

Wrap enough to be safe.

Decorating trees for birds is a cute idea, but many birds will ignore your gestures and offerings.

Cranberries are to hard and bitter for most birds.

Ideally, cranberries should be frozen and thawed a couple of times to bring out the sugars and soften them up.

Many birds ignore popped corn as well, and popcorn will dissolve when it gets wet.

Still, it is a fun thing to do with kids and grand kids and your birds just might surprise you.

Are you going to make up some pine cones for your birds?

If you are collecting your own cones, bake or nuke them a short spell, or until they open.

By doing this, the cone cooks and remains open.

Otherwise, raw or cold cones will shut tight.

Do place paper towels or something disposable under the cones, or you may have a pine sap mess to contend with.

Drill a small hole in the cone or find a way to run a wire or twine for a hanger.

The cost of peanut butter may have you thinking twice before you do this.

Fill your cones with peanut butter (plain or crunchy) and roll your cone around in a good seed mix of your choice.

Some fables or tall tales are still out there about peanut butter being too sticky for the birds and they will die from eating it.

If you must, feel free to mix you peanut butter with corn meal, it will make it easier to work with.

One last thing.

Be sure to leave bottom of the cone plain ( a good inch or or two) so the birds can get a grip and not mess up their feathers as well.

Slippery feet and greasy wings is an accident or death waiting to happen.

You can also get a bit creative by using a grapefruit or orange half.

Scrape out the citrus fruit.

Poke a hole on each side and run some wire, decorative yarn or twin through your holes and tie a knot on each end to keep it in place.

Melt some lard, suet or unsalted grease.

Mix in your choice of nuts and seeds.

As the mixture cools and begins to thicken, scoop some into your hollowed out orange or grapefruit halves.

Give them some heaping helpings.

Be sure to keep the twine and rims free of the grease.

Now you have a couple of decorative yet practical treats for your feathered friends and your kids and grand kids will be tickled they could help.

Now imagine the joy they may have when they see the birds feeding from there treats.

What a wonderful way to get young ones involved with nature.

Especially in this high tech, me first world.

There is something special about spending time with little ones and being able to teach at the same time.

Winter Migration:

Migration is an on going thing.

It seems like some species of bird(s) is coming or going all the time.

Winter migration is mostly water fowl.

Ducks, geese, swans, loons and several water birds.

Even seagulls.

Many wont migrate unless they have to.

Sure some will head out early, but around here, the Mallard ducks and Canada geese will stay until the waterways freeze and food sources are buried in snow and ice.

Then again, up to 50 ducks a day will stop by here during the winter months for their dose of cracked corn.

Usually within a helf hour of dusk.

As long as there is food and water, many of them stay right here.

If winter is mild, a few Great blue herons will remain if waterways remain open.

I've seen Belted kingfishers as well in January.

Robins, Eastern bluebirds and others will remain until they are forced to migrate to find food.

Not to mention, not all hawks and Bald eagles will migrate.

When waterways freeze, large birds of prey head out to find open water for fishing purposes.

Many hawks of different species winter over, here in southwest Michigan.

If food is plentiful, why get stressed with a long migration.

Then again,...................

Winter migration may be a several thousand miles or a couple hundred miles.

Some years, irruptions happen with certain bird species and they seem to migrate in great numbers.

Common redpolls, Red-breasted nuthatches, Pine siskins and even Snowy owls irrupt, or migrate when food sources are lacking.

Some hardy souls will remain throughout winter or migrate in short stages.

By this I mean only as far as they have to or until they must move again to find food.

Currently, flocks of European starlings (by the thousands) are still feasting before they migrate south.

Yes, migration is a year long event.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

You've been blessed.

A toy or food donation for the needy goes a long way for all involved.

Remember, He is the reason for the season.

Now your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"We've all been broken at one point. Forgiving ourselves and another person helps us move forward."

Julia Roberts

Boy have I been there.

Unforgiveness is like a cancer that eats away and causes other life and health issues.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Ephesians 4:32 (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,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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