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March-April 2005 Report

MARCH, the tangled month of winter cold with hints of Spring.

Northward migration has begun from the tropics to breeding areas in the States for many species, with the prospect of courtship and early nesting.

American Bald Eagles are incubating, in the largest tree-nests of all birds of the world [Width: up to 2.9 m. (9.5 ft.) Depth: 6 m. (19.5 ft.)]*.

Missouri is home to the largest wintering population of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 States. They come for the plentiful fish in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. The river dams keep the water from icing over, making winter feeding easy. Many now stay but are still subject to human predation.

Photo courtesy Terry Weymouth,
St. Louis, MO, Ted Shanks NWR.
 

NESTERS ARE COMING. THINGS TO DO:

Bluebirds are nesting this month. Set up your bluebird nest boxes. Raise purple martin houses. It's courtship time for ducks. Put up wood duck houses. Hawks are pairing. Many birds are winging North to seek territory. By the 20th, day and night are equal in length for the first day of Spring/Vernal Equinox.

How You Can Help The Travelers And Your Backyard Residents

1. Keep your cats in. They're deadly and in danger themselves.

2. Avoid pesticides and herbicides on your lawn and garden--even some of the comon over-the-counter pesticides are deadly to birds.

3. Mark your picture windows with decals or cut-outs--birds collide with windows and are injured or killed.

4. Make an oasis for your birds by providing a variety of plants, shrubs and trees that produce food through all the seasons. (Check with your local nursery, garden club, nature center, or bird club for your area.)

 

Don't stop putting out seeds, suet, and water. Your birds are still dependent upon supplemental feeding.

Gardening for birds is not hard. Wild birds need what you need--quiet surroundings, food and water, and safe places to rest at night or raise a family.

Red-bellied Woodpecker. Photo courtesy Bill Dickson.

HANDY LIST FOR FEEDING AND PROTECTING YOUR BIRDS--

good for many other species.**

  Birds Feeders & Foods Nesting Places Favorite Food-bearing Plants
American Goldfinch Prefers hanging feeders. Canary seed, nutmeats, peanut butter mixture, suet, sunflower seeds, thistle seeds* Shrubs and trees, such as blackberry and dogwood; usually near thistles, using thistledown to line the nest Flowers, trees, and weeds for seeds, especially alder, birch, dandelion, primrose, sunflower, sweet gum, and thistle
American Robin Prefers ground feeders. Cheese, currants, cut fruits, peanut butter mixture, rasins,* suet Shrubs and trees, such as apple, dogwood, and hemlock; also uses roofed shelf 6" x 8" x8" under eaves of building Fruit producing plants, such as American holly, pyracantha, and red cedar; a lawn for insects and worms
Bluebirds Use most feeders. Cheese, chopped unsalted peanuts, currants, fine cracked corn, rasins, small berries,* suet Birdhouse 5" x 5" x 9.5" with 1.5" opening; place on post in open areas, such as fields or large lawns with trees Fruit-producing plants, such as American holly, bayberry, pyracantha, red cedar, and sumac
Chickadees and Titmice Prefer hanging feeders. Canary seed, nutmeats, pumpkin seeds, suet, sunflower seeds,* unsalted peanuts* Birdhouse 4" x 4" x 10" with 1 1/8" opening for chickadees; for titmice, 1 1/4" opening; place high in large trees Fruit-producing plants, such as bayberry, blueberry, and mulberry; birch, elm hemlock, oack, pine, and spruce trees for acorns and seeds
Dark-eyed Junco Prefers ground feeders, Canary seed, fine cracked corn,* millet,* suet, sunflower seeds, thistle seeds On ground under fallen branches or logs, under tree roots, or in ferns, long grasses, and weeds Flowers, grasses, trees, and weeds for seeds, especially birch, chickweed, hemlock, and thistle
Evening Grosbeak Prefers tray feeders. Fine cracked corn, pecan meats, sorghum, sunflower seeds,* unsalted peanuts High in coniferous trees, such as fir, pine, and spruce; occasionally in deciduous trees, especially ash and maple Autumn olive, box elder, dogwood, elm, and wild cherry for buds, fruits, and seeds
House Finch Uses most feeders. Canary seed, cut fruits, millet, nutmeats, suet, sunflower seeds," thistle seeds Birdhouse 6" x 6" x 6" with 2" opening; place high on post in semishaded area; also nests on building ledges Plants and weeds for seeds, especially knotweed, mustard and thistle, cactus, elderberry, and honeysuckle for buds and fruits
House Wren Does not frequent feeders but may come for suet Birdhouse 4" x 4" x 8" with oblong opening 1" x 3"; place on post or side of building, or hang from any tree branch Plants that attract insects, such as birch, larch, oak, and dead or dying trees
Hummingbirds Use hummingbird feeders. Boiled sugar-water solution of one part sugar to four parts water Cactuses, shrubs, trees, or vines, including alder, beech, hackberry, hemlock, spruce, and wall ivy Brightly colored, tubular flowers for nectar, especially columbine, trumpet creeper, and other red flowers
Jays: Blue, Scrub and Steller’s Prefer ground feeders. Fine cracked corn, nutmeats, rasins, suet, sunflower seeds,* unshelled peanuts* Shrubs and trees, especially blackberry, fir, hemlock, oak, and spruce Fruit-producing plants, such as blackberry, elderberry, grape, rasberry, and eild cherry; beech, oak, and pine trees for nuts, acorns and seeds
Northern Cardinal Uses most feeders. Barley, fine cracked corn, millet, nutmeats, suet, sunflower seeds,* unsalted peanuts Dense shrubs, small trees, thickets, or vines, including crab apple, elderberry, hawthorn, and trumpet creeper Fruit-producing plants, especially American holly, dogwood, grape, pyracantha, and red cedar
Rufous-sided Towhee Prefers ground feeders. Barley, canary seed, millet,* nutmeats, rolled oats, suet, sunflower seeds, thistle seeds On ground under grasses, weeds, or shrubs, or in low bushes, trees, or vines, such as blackberry and viburnum Fruit-producing plants, such as blackberry, blueberry, and huckleberry; oak and sweet gum trees, grasses, and weeds for acorns and seeds
Song Sparrow Uses most feeders. Canary seed, fine cracked corn, millet,* sorghum, sunflower seeds, thistle seeds* On ground under grasses or shrubs, or in low bushes, trees, or vines, especially barberry, hawthorn, and ivy Fruit-producing plants, especially autumn olive, dogwood, elderberry, and red cedar; grasses and weeds for seeds
White-breasted Nuthatch Uses most feeders. Fine cracked corn, nutmeats, pumpkin seeds, suet, sunflower seeds* Birdhouse 4" x 4" x 10" with 1.5" opening; prefers shaded areas high in large trees Plants that attract insects, such as birch, larch, oak, and dead or dying trees; beech, oak, and pine trees for nuts, acorns, and seeds
Woodpeckers Prefer tree-trunk feeders. Cheese, cut fruits, meat scraps, nutmeats, peanut butter mixture, suet* Birdhouse 7" x 7" x 18" with 2.5" opening for flickers. Woodpeckers also nest in old or dead trees. Plants that attract insects, such as birch, larch, and dead or dying trees; beech and oak trees for nuts and acorns
   
*Preferred foods
   

**National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C., 1983

Click here for advice on successfully planting trees.
Click here for a list of fruiting trees good for birds and people.
Click here for espalier, how to grow trees in very small spaces.
Click here for useful bird garden books.

Do You Have A Story?

Send your anecdotes, projects and photos to Wild Birds for the 21st Century, 7376 Pershing Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63130. Please include your name and postal address. Photos will be returned if a self-addressed envelope is included.

 

--Wild Birds For the 21st Century
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