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In the News and Much More
April 20, 2009

Busy, busy, busy.................


That pretty much sums up this past week that ended up with back to back 70 plus degree days.

Now you have to know, when it is warm and sunny, I'm outside getting some stuff done and exploring when I have time.

My 55th birthday came and went very quietly this past Saturday, though we did share a birthday dinner with some neighbors (she has her birthday on the 19th. I'm the 18th).

This coming week we celebrate "Earth Day" (April 22) and "Arbor Day) April 24).

It is nice to have days of recognition, but every day should be "Earth Day" and every day we should thank the one that gave us this planet.

A special day to plant trees................

Come on now, you can plant just about anytime......

Be sure you plant a nice native tree or two.

How quickly things begin to turn green when you had some sun and warmth to the longer days.

While some parts are dealing with floods and severe weather, we welcome the bit of rain we are blessed with Sunday and today.

We need the moisture, as much of the state is under a high and extreme high fire warning.

The warmer weather has brought out the chorus of "Peeper frogs".

Always nice to hear them singing, isn't it?

While feeder activity slows down in some ways, it picks up in other ways.

Sometime during Friday night, the juncos took off, yet a white crowned sparrow made its appearance.

Soon more will follow and they will stay for 2 plus weeks until they head north to their breeding grounds.

Birds are singing well before sun up and well after sun down.

Is there any better time of the year than Spring?

Robins are busy foraging and building nests.

I'm down to about 3 pair of cardinals now and soon it will be just the dominant pair.

Like many Northerners, I await the arrival of hummingbirds and orioles as well as other late arrivals.

Some people have no respect for nature and the wildlife around them.

My walk with Keet on Saturday brought me across a path in the field where someone needlessly killed a Garter snake and left it in the path.


We don't have to like everything around us, but we must show some respect, as snakes do serve a purpose and most snakes are harmless to people and pets.

As much as you are tempted to clean up under shrubs etc. temper those thoughts.

When "Gardening For Wildlife" one of the best things you can do is lose your tools or at least limit the use of them.

Nature doesn't rake up after herself.

Dead leaves and twigs become nesting materials, places for insects to hide so birds, shrews, toads, lizards etc. can forage for them.

Decaying leaf litter becomes rich organic matter for your plants, limiting the use of man made fertilizers.

With proper planting techniques, you wont see it muck longer as lush green growth fills in, providing protection for birds and small mammals.

Now, that afternoon or Saturday you spend on clean up can be utilized more productively, like taking a walk in your favorite park or natural area.

Many questions are asked about hardening off tender annuals to get them ready for planting.

It doesn't matter if you grow your own or buy them from a garden center, they still need to be hardened off.

Why you may ask?

Think...... what is like for you the first time you are outside for a few hours after being stuck inside much of the winter.

How quickly do you sunburn?

Your tender skin gets burned.

The same thing goes for all your plants that have been stuck in your house all winter or you are growing under lights or in a greenhouse.

The plants haven't experienced the direct rays of the sun and will literally fry or sunburn.

Toss in the effects of wind (windburn) and your plants have little to no chance for survival.

You need to slowly acclimate your plants the the wind and sun.

This can be done in a few ways.

I like to put my plants out in the morning or late afternoon to get some sun but not the direct, burning, afternoon sun.

Sometimes I put them out all day in a filtered sun.

Gradually adding sunlight until they are ready for planting and plants that sit out for the summer are ready to go.

Much like working slowly on a tan so you don't burn.

We all know how a good sunburn feels.

Now think what this will do to tender foliage?

Do you get the picture?

You may want to keep them out all day under light shade or indirect sun.

In time, you will need to increase the hours of direct sun for your the plants toughen up.

Take your time, you don't want to set your plants back or kill them off.

I would rather get my plants in the ground a week later than lose them and have to start over.

We rarely lack a breeze here in Michigan during the spring, but I do know some people like to run a fan on their plants to toughen them up.

Keep an eye on the moisture level, as they will dry out quick.

Remember, this goes for annuals and some perennials you purchase.

These plants have spent the past several weeks in ideal growing conditions without direct sun rays and wind.

They too need to be hardened off.

A few more readers canceled this past week, that's okay, it means they must feel uncomfortable when I mention our "Creator" or "Creation."

That's a good thing, it means a seed has been planted.

This week's letter will focus on some news topics.

Many are older, but on going.

one or two items may answer a question or two that has been kicked around.

Sometimes, complete information doesn't reach me right away.

Plus a few new items in the bird feeding industry.

Read them completely, as there may be a bit of information just for you.


Not new news , but for some it may well be.

Birds in the United States are in serious trouble.

That’s according to a first-of-its-kind report just released by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

(AMAZING, could they tell us something we dont know?)

The report says that about a third of the country’s 800 bird species are “endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to habitat loss, invasive species, and other threats.”

Declining habitats and bird populations mean we are going in the wrong direction.

The resulting loss of habitat could not have been helpful to bird populations.

There are other factors, at work here, too.

We use chemicals on lawns like water.

We use chemicals on lawns like water.

Change is affecting habitats and food sources.

And tall glass buildings continue posing a threat of collision.

Report Highlights:

The report on birding contained high and low points, including:

- Habitat restoration and conservation efforts can quickly reverse species declines.

- In Hawaii, more birds are in danger of extinction than in any other state.

- There has been a 40 percent decline in grassland birds over the past 40 years, a 30 percent decline in birds of aridlands and serious concern for coastal shorebirds.

-- About 40 percent of species dependent on U.S. oceans have declined.

"The report also reveals convincing evidence that birds can respond quickly and positively to conservation action,” the Department of the Interior states.

The government partnered with numerous conservation groups to produce the report.

Announcing the report’s release, the department quoted David Mehlman of The Nature Conservancy, saying, “Habitat availability and quality is the key to healthy, thriving bird populations.”

(Isn't this for all life?)

Conservation action can only make a real difference when concerned people support the kind of vital habitat restoration and protection measures this report explores.

There are reasons for optimism.

We are experiencing a swell in conservation and environmentalism.

While part of the so-called green movement is faddish, there are serious efforts afoot to change the fundamental way we approach land development and energy production and consumption.

We need to attach the industry to these movements.

Not just the industry, but you and me.....................

We need to bring up the subject every chance we can.

For me........

I can't recall the last time I saw a red-headed woodpecker, a Bob-white quail or an Eastern meadowlark.

While some birds like American robins adapt to habitats, many birds don't and wont.

without habitat, they wont breed and simply fade away into extinction.

We cannot afford to ignore the declines revealed in The U.S. State of the Birds.

Still in the news,

Peanut Butter Suet Safety:

THE SALMONELLA OUTBREAK THAT SHOOK the peanut butter industry this year has raised questions in the bird feeding community.

Are peanut butter-flavored suet cakes and suet plugs safe to offer to wild birds? Can wild birds fall ill from this strain of salmonella?

The problem began in January when a salmonella outbreak was traced to Peanut Corp. of America, a Lynchburg, Va.-based company.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the presence of Salmonella typhimurium to peanut butter and peanut paste made at the company’s plant in Blakely, Ga.

These were not products sold directly to consumers, but products used to make consumer goods such as cookies, protein bars and ice cream.

A contamination possibly linked to this outbreak has forced at least two companies to pull birdseed from store shelves.

Dr. David Bonter, Project FeederWatch leader at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says that salmonella poisoning is a common cause of mortality in feeder birds, particularly Pine Siskins, Gold Finches and redpolls.

This year may have seemed worse in some locations do to an irruptive year by Pine siskins.

There have been several outbreaks of salmonella involving wild birds in the East and Midwest, according to the Cornell Lab.

Some are reported in states involving bird feeding stations, while some involve waterfowl congregating in water.

The Cornell Lab has not linked this outbreak to the Georgia company’s peanut butter contamination.

The disease in question, transmitted by infected fecal matter, probably occurs wherever flocking species gather together.

Now this is the main reason I wont use trays on my feeders and in certain locations I have old window screens under feeders to collect and toss.

If you can't keep feeders clean all the time, a quick spray with rubbing alcohol will do the trick for killing off cooties.

The article continues......

We can assure you our products are safe,” states C & S Products, of Fort Dodge, Iowa.

The company uses a program called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point to inspect its products before shipping. It also requires suppliers to certify product safety.

Pine Tree Farms, of Interlaken, N.Y., grinds its own nuts for its suet.

Pay attention to this now.........

Since nuts themselves are not affected, Pine Tree’s suet is guaranteed not to be affected by the current salmonella outbreak.

Did you catch that?

The nuts aren't affected, its the by products from dirty machinary, etc.

If you are unsure of your suet’s safety, call the manufacturer and find out the source of the ingredients.

As long as the peanut butter is not from Peanut Corp. of America, the suet should not be involved in that recall.

For the latest on the peanut butter recall, visit

Some may suggest lime on your lawns......................

To much of a good thing will kill off grass as well as cooties that may linger.

To much lime will raise the soil pH to the point that several plants including certain lawn grasses can't grow.

A thick layer will choke off and kill your lawn or flowers.

Use caution.

You are better advised to remove feeders for a time than to through chemicals around.

Remember, even natural or organics are chemicals and can to harm.

When an outbreak is suspected, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and your local authorities recommend cleaning areas that may be contaminated with the bacteria and discouraging large flocks of birds from gathering in one location by romoving feeders for a period of time.

Birds are susceptible to the disease, and the salmonella scare prompted several manufacturers to post statements online to ease customer concerns.

Nyjer Prices Jump

A Nyjer shortage has pushed up prices for the seed, about $20 more (for a 50# bag) than prices were a few months ago.

The reason: A trade dispute between India and Ethiopia. India lost about 1/3 of its crop and Ethiopia raised its prices to take advanage of the situation.

Usually India sets the the price and Ethiopia will sell for a bit less.

This time, Ethiopia seems to have the upper hand so prices have jumped.

Here we go again:

Oregon is once again proposing a levy or seed tax of 10 percent on birdseed to help fund state conservation.

If the new bill becomes law, the 10% will be tacked on to wholesalers who will then pass it increase onto cunsumers.

Similar proposals have gone through various states and at the federal level many times and have failed so far.

In recent years, the "Wild Bird Feeding Industry" went to bat in Washington to prevent taxes on birdfeed and bird products.

Let your officials know how you feel on this, good or bad.

Just In time for Mothers day, some new products are on the market.

Droll Yankees, a leader in the industry has come up with a new design for a tube feeder called the "Onyx Clever Clean".

Twist and release base- easily removes for cleaning debris that can spoil and make birds sick.

New perches and port designs allow for friendlier feeding.

Not sold a box stores, check at specialty stores or online.

You pay more, but quality manufacturing and a lifetime guarantee will pay for itself within 3 years

Woodlink has come up with a pre-filled hummingbird feeder.

While the concept may sound good, My opinion and that of others is to stay away from pre-mixed solutions that have red dye and preservitives in them.

Perky Pet , finally has a top fill and empty design for a couple of feeders.

But the design is still flawed as far as allowing bees and ants at the feeder ports and gravity still will have the feeders dripping.

For sure they are easier to fill and clean, but I want hummers, not insects.

Stonewood Manufactering has come up with a recycled suet log.

Instead of a wooden log, it is made of recycled platics to look like the real thing.

A rough surface to allow clinging birds to grab hold and makes for easy clean up... no grease or oil stains and no rancid debris to make your birds sick

Easy to clean, sanitize and refill.

I'm sorry, I don't have prices or locationd for any of these products, but if you can look them I'm sure.

It is nice to see companies like Droll Yankees, Aspects and others that take bird feeding serious and make the birds saftey a top priorety.

Everyone wants your dollars, play it smart and look for the best products you can afford.

They last longer and in the long run you will pay less.

Well its time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week (I like doinf these).

I'm not happy, I'm cheerful. There's a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them.

Beverly Sills (1929-) American Opera Singer

Okay guys, this isn't just for the ladies.

This is for everyone.

We have cares, but learn to deal with them.


This sounds like we must make a choice every now and then.

You must decide, choose, think about things.

Are you going to let something/someone get the best of you, or are you going to master it or the very least take charge so it doesn't control you and your thoughts.

I've been there and still struggle from time to time (like loosing a job).

Do I let anger control me and run my life or do I control it and be a cherrful person (most of the time)

Yes you do have a choice.

Are you going to be a real downer throughout life or are you going to take charge and be a cheerful person?

Are you going to praise God (sometimes it requires sacrafice of self)?

Or are you going to let tough times win?

Your choice.

You can do it


That's it

Now make the choice to be cheerful and share your smiles.

What can be easier?

Until next time.

As always.

"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 recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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