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Snippets and tidbits
September 15, 2008

Parden me while I park the row boat.

I little closer................


Before I get started, Our thoughts and Prayers for everyone effected by Hurricane Ike.

That goes for the folks up North that have several inches of rain and flooding as well.

Yes, rain has been an issue here in southwest Michigan as several (and I mean several) inches fell over the weekend.

We had a combination of Lowell and Ike drop water on the region.

Prior to the monsoons, we had a couple of absolutly gorgeous days and the following week looks promising as well.

Late summer weather patterns are going through the transition period.

The weather isn't at all like last year, when we had several upper 80's and a couple of 90 degree days.

I was hoping to get back in the Big Lake at least one more time this year, but it doesn't look like 'Mother Nature' is going to let that happen.

Bird activity has quieted down some for now.

Yes, there are the usual birds like Cardinals (even a fledgling begging to be fed), Mourning doves, Black capped chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Woodpeckers, Goldfinches and a few other species.

But the activity is a bit less and the chirps, chws, tweets and fa la las are all but gone now.

No more swallows to grace the air with their skillful flight.

Gone are the orioles as well.

Ahhh, the American goldfinches (adult and fledglings) that still fill my yard most of the day with sight and sound as they enjoy free food and the seed head from coneflowers, liatris and sunflowers (annual and perennial).

Coreopsis (Tickseed) is one of a few perennials that bloom all season when maintained, but this time of year I allow blooms to go to seed.

The Coreopsis seed feeds birds and it allows the plant to harden off for winter.

Goldfinches make my day this time of year when days are shrinking and gardens are fading.

Even in the rain, the 'Goldies' fill my yard.

Have you noticed that the Goldfinches are changing colors yet?

For those that are new to backyard birding, American goldfinches moult twice a year.

In ther fall, males shed to their winter colors and moult back to brightr colors in the early spring.

More on that at another time.

Two hummingbirds continue to bless us with their presence. Even with all the flowers, they are visiting the feeders more, especially when it rains.

The days are numbered when they too shall leave without notice.

Another reason to look forward to Spring, the return of our feathered friends.

Skunks are now the nightly clean up crew under the bird feeders and have been so for the past month or so.

I don't mind, they are doing me a favor.

No fur kids to tangle with and as long as they don't wake the dead with a spray or two, they are even a joy to observe.

Quite pretty animals they are.

Just about every night, when the windows are open, you can hear a couple of siblings get into it and sometimes let out a spray.

With skunks, adults will warn before a spray, the younger the skunk is, the quicker they are to let loose and without warning.

That too comes with time and I'm sure not wanting to smell themselves.

Call me a nut job, but the picture on the right is a little guy I can get within a few feet of and toss him some groceries.

I figure, as long as the butt is facing the other way, I'm pretty safe (until Karen starts yelling at me).

I don't make a practice of it.

One evening last week, Keet and I were treated to a pair of Belted kingfishers, a Great blue heron in the pond, a young white tail buck that looked like a 4 pointer that still had some velvet hanging from an antler.

As we approached home, a huge Great horned owl flew silently overhead.

Now that was a nice walk.

The following evening, we spooked a female deer from her laying spot. Use to people, she hung around for a few moments until Akita started barking and wanted to chase her.

Yep, an 8 lb. dog wanting to chase an adult white tail deer.

Even if the birds are quiet and some are gone for the season, there is still plenty of wildlife and nature to enjoy.

Get out there and and train your eyes and ears to different sights and sounds.

I know many of you have been doing just that and are taking on a new appreciation for the natural world as well as some nice pictures as well.

I've mentioned this before.............................

In years past and even some days now, I struggle with fall and the thought of winter.

Spring is where it's at for me, when things come to life.

But, without Autumn and Winter there would be no Spring as I know it.

So, even when I'm having a down day and there were a couple last week, I can still look around me in Awe of "His mighty works".

What's new on the snippet list today?

Of course we are all aware of fall migration.

Fall migration doesn't get the publicity of spring migration, but migrations ar happening almost 12 months a year.

Yes, something is in migration almost always.

Fall migration doesn't get the headlines like spring migration.

Partly because Spring migration is fast and we are eagerlly waiting the spring arrivals.

Fewer studies are done on fall migration so there is less to know and understand about many of our birds.

Here is a sad thing about all the migration treaties.

Not one is based on the use of pesticides or toxins.

A few years back, "Diazinon" was banned from all phases of agriculture (even golf courses).

Not only was "diazinon" proving harmful to birds by killing off insects, but was also killing earthworms.

Research also showed the deadly insecticide causing tumors and cancers in pets, that the chemical was being absorbed through the padded feet of our pets.

Well, 2 + 2 meant people were absorbing the toxins as well.

So, the Feds banned it completely ..........................................

Not just Diazinon, but many other chemicals have been banned and find their way to third world countries.

Except, many of these chemicals have and are finding their way to third world countries.

Nations that are clueless or want to get a jump on things and use the stuff like we used DDT back in the mid 1900's

We don't often hear about this, but the results show a great loss of avian life in some locations.

From hawks to hummers and everything in between.

Whose to blame?

The chemical companies trying to make a quick buck?

Third world nations trying to reach the 20th century (never mind the 21st)?

Is it worldly greed for wanting more for less?

What about all the chemicals still used everyday at home that account for millions of bird deaths?

Just something to think about.

Do you feed mealworms?

If you don't grow your own, you may have noticed a shortage of mealworms this past season.

For some unknown reason, major growers are having crop failures or major die offs this year creating the shortage.

Suppliers from California that supply up to 70% of the mealworms are having a tough go of it this year.

No word yet if it is a virus or the bran that they grow them in may be bad.

I don't have Bluebirds, but if you do and you feed mealworms, you may want to learn how to grow your own.

To be continued.........

Some more reality.

According to the 'National Sunflower Association", Don't expect much of a drop in price on sunflower seeds or products this fall.

The same old story on the cost of fuel and transportation.

The increase in using sunflower oil in cooking, more sunflower oil being processed to feed the growing need.

Fewer acres of sunflowers were planted as farmers try to cash in on the bio-fuel craze (not as effective as they want you to believe).

And the floods from this past Spring that caused crop damage and late planting.

Yes, all play a part in keeping the prices high.

Look for sales and stock up if you can.

Here is something to go along with the feed...........................

Train your birds to feed when you want them to feed.

Plant trees, shrubs and flowers that offer fruits, seeds and even insects for your feathered buddies.

While on the subject........

Birds that migrate to your area are now staking out their feeding territories. Be sure to have your feeders out if they aren't by now.

As fall migrations begin to ramp up, see if you can find the time or a local area to take in some sights.

Many species of birds have staging areas where 1,000s or 10's and even 100's of thousand of birds congregate.

Sometimes these areas are a local sanctuary or wildlife preserve. Sometimes it may be a National Park or maybe you have your own secret spot.

Get out and enjoy something special if you can.

I know I plan to do so.

When you are outside enjoying a late summer or fall day, keep an ear to the sky.

You just might hear something.

When you are outside on a quiet evening, you may hear the migration of any number of species that take advantage of night flights when predators are at their lowest point.

If the moon is out and bright enough, you may even see birds fly through the moon light.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

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

If you have made mistakes...there is always another chance for may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down.

Mary Pickford (1893-1979) Canadian Actress

I love a good positive thought, don't you?

One that makes you think.

Once you think about it and put it into action, so much can happen.

All you need to do is change your thinking and go after it.

Now that is worth smiling about.

In the wild kingdom, a mistake often means death. If the critter lives, you can almost bank on it that it will not make the same mistake again.

We have choices to pick ourselves up, dust our selves off and take another step.

The choice is yours.

Get up or stay down.

Smile or frown.

Smiles are easier and the view standing is much better than the view from the ground.

Smile with each step you take and share your smiles.

Things begin to happen with a simple smile given to others.

Until next time my friend.

"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

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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