Last winter a water problem was discovered in the crawlspace. Ground water was coming up pretty high and slowly rotting out the support beams. First thought to be a lack of ventilation – but it turns out this had been a longstanding problem.
Over the summer a sump pit was dug, a pump and float switch added, and drain hose was run outside, across the side yard. A simple outlet was created with gravel. It pumped all winter long, even during snowy weather, and is pumping right now. The water pools around the gravel and ultimately sinks into the ground.
Flocks of resident birds gathered there all winter, particularly during really cold weather. While this is near the bird feeders, there were many birds (like robins) who don’t typically use them. Every time the pump ran, birds would swoop down and take a dip, or drink, and otherwise frolic in the temporary pond. Leaning towards burying a bird bath or some kind of large shallow form near there for summer so the water will be able to pool longer.
This is clean, filtered ground water, it flows so it doesn’t freeze, and will be cooler in summer months. The best thing… it’s going to good use for the birds!
Me neither as they must be covered in snow and awaiting the big thaw. So this is April? Wisconsin, Minnesota, somewhere like that. Goldfinches are already shedding worn winter feathers and turning yellow, while other common resident birds are nesting in much of the country. Once again, will winter ever end?
Yesterday brought our first butterfly to the yard, but unfortunately the consecutive, way below normal night temperature this year zapped established lantana that was seven years old. You could always count on butterflies around those shrubs. Yes, that’s how big they were, mature shrubs.
Erratic weather is largely attributed to climate change, but many folks don’t see it that way. Mudslides, volcanoes, drought and rising sea levels to name a few effects are pretty apparent and scarily becoming the norm.
In the bluebird world, trail monitors found a record number of dead bluebirds in the KY area. A very late spring being the culprit after such a rough winter… there were simply no natural food sources available. Someone was inquiring about a feeder the other day and said “no rush, it’s for next year, we don’t really feed birds in summer”. We’ve come across many folks like that, but here’s the reality: weather directly affects food sources and bird’s survival rates.
Last summer through a wicked drought, we witnessed a male cardinal feeding a fledgeling from a platform feeder containing sunflower hearts. From ground to platform and back he flew feeding his offspring. It was a strange sight, as others were reported this winter too. Cardinals hanging on suet feeders, and ground-feeding juncos up at black oil feeders. Many of the migratory birds were in for a harsh surprise upon arrival into the gulf states. No flowers, no berries, no insects, simply an equation for starvation after a long journey like that.
Closer to home, resident birds braved a very tough season as well. Feeders were non-stop with activity for the most part. Although thistle feeders didn’t see too much traffic, other feeders containing finch mixes did… and a lot! Once the olive drab fliers began their molting process, straight nyjer became goldfinches’ food of choice and overnight, thistle was and is being devoured daily!
The good news is this seed has come down in price a little bit, and if you can manage the larger bags, like 20-to 40-pounders, you’ll save even more money this summer. Unlike other birds, goldfinches feed nestlings and fledgelings thistle-almost exclusively.
So if you’re not really a “summer feeder”, you may want to rethink maybe just one or two feeders this summer… the bird families sure will thank you!
Take your hummingbird feeders a step further by helping Audubon track the tiny sprites this season. All habitats and feeders are welcome; from the old bird brain hummingbird feeders to honeysuckle and trumpet vine to colorful annuals providing food…. watch near fountains too, another favorite of this flying jewel!
NEW YORK, NY (April 1, 2014) – With spring officially upon us, the National Audubon Society invites birders and nature enthusiasts across the country to help track the health of hummingbird populations with Audubon’s Hummingbirds at Home app. This citizen science project utilizes the power of volunteers to compile data at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone.
Every spring, numerous hummingbirds migrate long distances and must eat several times their weight in nectar daily to stay alive. Hummingbirds visit our yards every year, looking for nectar from our gardens and feeders. As flowers bloom earlier because of warming temperatures, the impact on hummingbirds which rely on nectar could be significant. The degree to which hummingbirds are able to adapt to accommodate these changes is not completely understood. Hummingbirds at Home was designed to bolster current research by collecting data from volunteers across the country that offers important insight on the effects of climate change and the birds’ well-being.
“Increasingly people are seeing the impact of climate change in their own backyards, from early blossoms to extreme weather,” said Dr. Gary Langham, Chief Scientist at Audubon. “This is a fun, family-friendly citizen science project that works in the classroom or in the kitchen.”
Hummingbirds at Home differs from other bird monitoring programs in that the focus is on recording the species, nectar sources, and feeding behavior observed. In the case of bloom timing mismatches, Audubon hopes to eventually learn if alternate nectar sources, like feeders, make a difference in hummingbird breeding success and survival.
Participants can get involved by spending a few minutes as frequently as they wish to collect invaluable data from feeding areas in their gardens and communities. Audubon’s Hummingbird at Home app makes it fun and easy. There is no cost to participate and using the free mobile app or website makes it simple to report sightings and learn more about these remarkable birds. For more information visit, www.hummingbirdsathome.org.
The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more at www.audubon.org and @audubonsociety.