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Cleaning Your Feeders & Need Your Favs
November 29, 2010

These are some of the Mallard ducks that come to feed every evening.

They march from the pond, through the neighbors yards (seen here), across the street and to our place.

I start out every year with a handful and right now 28 to 30 appear every day.

Cracked corn is on their menu.

What a busy past week and a wonderful Thanksgiving at the Patterson household.

The last of the yard and garden chores are finished.

The Lawn and leaves were mowed and chopped one last time.

Mower and tools ae put away for the winter.

Only in America, can we go from giving thanks one day and without missing a beat, push, shove, yell and other things, the very next day.

Black Friday..........................

I'm proud to say I have never participated and never plan too.

Like the ducks, Canada geese will stick around until they have to migrate for food reasons.

The local ponds are shallow and freeze over quickly, but nearby Plaster Creek remains open most of winter and this offers a place to feed and offers some protection from predators for the ducks and a couple of geese that remain during the winter.

Not all ducks and geese migrate to the south, or at least the deep south as we may think.

Some remain as long as conditions allow for it.

Others migrate a few hundred miles, while still others do indeed make the long trek to the middle and deep south.

I still have seen a few American robin in the past two weeks.

Conditions have finally chased most robins to southern points.

Like the water fowl, most years a small population of robins, bluebirds and a few other species remain in some of the northern regions.

As long as food and protection are available, a few of these birds will winter over.

Birds that typically wont eat seed, but do enjoy fruits and whatever else they can find.

Winter holly, crab apple, viburnum, juniper, dogwood and other native shrubs and trees will offer food for several fruit eating birds and four legged critters.

No such luck you say?

You may offer fruits pieces, meal worms, and suet for this hardy lot and plan on planting a few of the bushes or trees next spring.

For the past couple of weeks, I have asked for you to get your thinking caps on or dig into you your Christmas memory archives.

Come up with some Christmas favorites you can share.

It may be a family tradition past on from generation to generation,

Something new you and your family started.

It may be a memory of Christmas past.

Getting and putting up your tree.

Baking with mom or grandma.

Spending time with friends and family.

Maybe a Christmas play or celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus (he is the reason).

I'm really counting on you to help.

Send this back to me with your favorites along with your vitals.

First name (last is optional).

City or region,

State or province

I hope to have several to put in the next three letters.

Thank you for your help.

The Christmas Wreath:

I'm sure there is more history, legends or other views about the Christmas wreath, but this seems to be the best I could come up with.

Christmas wreaths are so beautiful. Whether they are made from evergreen, pine cones, tinsel, Styrofoam, wood or rope, when a wreath is hanging on someone’s front door it just seems to say “Welcome” as well as inspiring some Christmas spirit.

More than just a decorative touch for your wall or door, wreaths have existed in various forms since the time of the ancient Romans. Whether the wreath you hang is a crafter's masterpiece or a homemade hand-me down, it has a long tradition of meaning behind it. Wreaths are an eternal part of the festive season.

In ancient Greece a coral wreath was awarded to victors in sporting events. In the way that we now award gold medals, the wreath was a sign of victory. It meant much the same to the ancient Romans, a sign of victory over challengers.

Religiously, the advent wreath has a place in Catholic tradition. This special wreath is created with four candles, each a different color. One candle is lit each Friday of Advent with a prayer. In this, the wreath represents the coming if the Christmas celebration. Scandinavian wreaths also feature candles. The candles light the winter night's and are a sign of hope for the future light of spring. It was believed the wreath and candles would encourage the god of light to turn the world towards the sun once more.

The tradition of the wreath extends further back than the beginnings of Christian tradition. Pagan rituals of mid-winter often featured a wreath of evergreen with 4 candles. The candles were placed in each of the four directions, representing the elements of earth, wind, water and fire. Rituals were preformed to ensure the continuance of the circle of life.

Much symbolism can be attributed to the Christmas wreath. The shape of a circle has no beginning and no ending. This may represent the eternal nature of GOD's love, or the circle of life.

Evergreens are used to represent immortality and the victory of life through darkness and challenge. The fact that evergreens live through winter signifies the strength of life.

The decorative value of wreaths is believed to have been derived by ancient tradition. In the way that we use house numbers today, wreaths featuring different floral arrangements were used to identify different families and houses.

Also attributing to the wreath lore is the Roman use of wreaths as signs of victory. It is believed that victors of battles would hang wreaths upon their doors to advertise their status.

Today wreaths are a wonderful decorative touch, both year round and at Christmas time. It is a sign of faith in humanity and life and of victory over life's challenges.

Whether you hang a wreath on the door to welcome visitors, or on the wall to complete a room's decor the splash of color on a cold winter's day is sure to add a feeling of warmth, building excitement for the coming season.

We start a new month this week and that means one thing.

It is time to give your feeders a good cleaning.

Experts suggest cleaning your feeders and water sources at least once every 30 days.

I find the first of every month is a good time to clean and sanitize feeders.

I usually clean them more often, but the first of any month is still a good time for me.

It is almost like a built in reminder to me.

Once you start doing it this way, it becomes habit.

At least for me it is.

I took this picture of a House finch at one of my feeders a couple of days ago.

Check out the crusty eye.


This poor bird will most likely die because of this eye disease.

Keeping feeders and water sources clean can slow down or deter the spread of Conjunctivitis and other bird diseases.

As winter approaches, more birds congregate at our feeders an that increases the chance for germs to spread.

Like the class room or office where one gets a cold and spreads the germs around.

Bird feeders are much the same way, but most sickness haven't crossed species yet (thankfully).

If you see one House finch with Conjunctivitis, you can be sure you will see more and possibly other finch species.

Keeping your feeders clean is Paramount this time of year when nature's bounty becomes less and birds come to your feeders more.

A sick bird's face, saliva or fecal matter touches a part of your feeder.

Another bird comes along and visits the same feeding port, platform or tray.

A sickness spreads.

I understand you may have trays on your tube feeders for one reason or another.

Tube feeders are designed for small birds and trays allow larger birds (even bullies) to feed.

I too have a tray on the tube feeder outside our daughter, Yolanda's window so she can watch Northern cardinals (her favorite bird) come to her window as they perch on the tray.

I also keep the tray clean.

Typically I wont promote the use of trays on tube feeders because trays become a collect all..

They collect seed hulls, bird poop, etc.

Drain hole become plugged and you have a rotting, sticky, disease filled mess sitting in your feeder trays.

I have drilled several extra drain holes into the tray of this mesh feeder and I also clean it on a regular basis.

This isn't exactly what you have in mind for your birds, is it?

If feeders and trays aren't kept clean, you have other birds sticking their bill in this mess and the possibility of getting sick with something like Salmonella.

Now you have another sickness to contend with and this one warrants the removal of feeders for the next several weeks.

Often your state's 'Department of Natural Resources' or 'Parks Department' will ask you to take your feeders down until further notice.

Usually six to eight weeks.

As birds disperse and look elsewhere for food, the sick birds thin out and die off without spreading the disease like they would at feeders.

Eventually you can put your feeders back up once the danger passes.

I use a couple of small platform feeders during the winter as well.

(Small platform window feeder.)

Platforms can attract and feed the greatest variety of birds.

They also allow birds to feed and poop on the seed.

Again, keeping platform feeders clean should be a regular part of your bird feeding schedule.

If you are like me, you are often too busy to remove, scrub and sanitize on a weekly basis.

This is where a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol comes in handy.

Spray feeder ports, trays, platforms, and even screen mesh like my feeder pictured above with the cardinals.

Rubbing alcohol is a wonderful thing.

It kills off any germs and dries harmless and almost immediately.

What more could you want?

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

(Please remember your Christmas favs.)

I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.

J.B. Priestly (1894-1984) English Author

What a wonderful out look to have.

A new day, a new adventure.

A new day, a fresh try.

A new day, a day to serve and worship.

So much of our attitudes is in our outlook towards life.

A positive, moral attitude and strong beliefs will go a long way.

Take delight in a new day.

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4 (New International Version, )

"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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