Saturday, July 31, 2010


Although the official thermometer in Wichita Falls (which must be in the shade) has not yet hit 100 degrees, it is HOT. Last I saw today, the official temperature was sitting at 99. We haven't had much rain, even with the clouds and showers that have popped up around the area all week. The birds need water.

If you have a birdbath, be sure to keep it full. Most bird baths are too deep for our song birds, so be sure to put some rocks in the bottom to make pools or very shallow places for the birds to stand or sit. I have a flat piece of rock propped on the edge that slants down to the center of the bird bath, and the birds often stand on it when drinking.

At this time of year, water is a no-fail way to get birds to your yard.

Good birding!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Double-crested Cormorants

Well, they're not supposed to be here in July, but there were two small flocks of double-crested cormorants at Lake Wichita on Sunday. They were on the pilings in the boat ramp and spillway areas. Of course, I was thinking I don't see them in the summer, but I didn't take a picture. They were too far off to get a good picture with my camera, but I should have made an attempt. I will go back to see if they are still there--probably not.

Good birding!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Do You Feed Birds in the Summer?

Photo by Jim Conrad, Wikimedia Common
I feed birds all year around, although I cut back substantially in the summer time, only keeping a couple of feeders going to attract birds to the yeard so I can see them.

It is just as important to keep your feeders clean in the summer as in the winter. We have been having doves (especially white-winged doves shown in the photo) coming in to Wild Bird Rescue extremely emaciated. We have checked for trich, but there is no sign. The best guess from the symptons is aflatoxin from a fungus that grows in seed when it is hot and humid--the perfect description of our weather over the past month. Although the humidity is starting to drop, it is still unusually humid for our area over the summer.

Store your bird seed in a clean, dry place if possible. Clean and disinfect your feeders weekly. This will help prevent aflatoxins and other diseases that pass from bird to bird.

Also, many of you are trying to attract hummingbirds. The sugar water mixtures we feed are very prone to breeding harmful bacteria, especially in the heat. Replace your nectar every three days. preferably before it develops a cloudy appearance. Clean and disinfect at least once a week. If you feel you are throwing away a lot of sugar water, mix only half as much at a time.

We all enjoy watching the birds in our yard. In return we should do our best to keep them healthy.

Good birding!

Save the Date: Texas Ornithological Society Meeting

An official "Save the Date" announcement was posted to TEXBIRDS this morning about the next TOS meeting, 13 - 16 Jan 2011.

I go mainly for the field trips; evening speakers include John Defillipo, Byron Stone, and Kenn Kaufman (I just bought Kenn Kaufman's field guide for my son-in-law for his birthday--don't tell him.)

Pencil date in. Registration information should be posted in November.

Good birding!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ornithological Society Meetings

Since Wichita Falls is so close to Oklahoma, I subscribe to the birding listserv for that state as well. A Save the Date message came out this AM that the Oklahoma Ornithological Society (OOS) Fall Meeting will be Oct 15 - 17 in Stillwater, OK.

Unfortunately, I will be just coming back from HR Southwest and just don't want to make a quick turn, although these sorts of meetings are normally informative, fun and inexpensive. Watch for details on the OOS website.

The next Texas Ornithological Society meeting is next January in Ft. Worth according to their website. They do have some good field trips coming up, however.

Good birding!

North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club Meets Tonight

With vacation, the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club meeting came up awfully fast. The meeting is tonight at 7 PM at the NALC building on Southwest Parkway (next to Wichita Valley nursery.) No specific program topic was listed in the Cardinal newsletter, but there will be a short program, an opportunity to talk about sightings and some refreshments. The meeting is always open to the public. Come and meet some other bird watchers in the area. The group is small, friendly, and has birdwatchers from beginner to expert.

Good birding!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Last Post of Vacation

I got back last week from vacation and have had a few people ask me about the days after my last vacation post--I guess some folks do read this blog. Anyway, I did not have a single chance to go purposely birding the entire trip. However, in addition to the birds I posted previously, I did see a crested caracara in flight in Florida and a field full of ibis (both white and glossy) in Alabama. So although I didn't see a lot of birds, I did have the opportunity to see a few good ones. A fair number of red-tailed hawks were active along the roadways as well as large numbers of vultures, both turkey vultures and black vultures.

Since I got back, I have been avoiding the heat (heat indices over 100 are not my idea of nice weather). However, the birds out back have been singing away. The Bewick's wren was singing his heart out this AM. Don't forget to keep your water features full for the birds--they need the water when it is this hot.

Good birding!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Swift Night Out Coming Up

Photo from Wikimedia Commons, taken by National Park Service.
The Austin-based Driftwood Association is hosting a "Swift Night Out" the weekend of August 6, 7, 8. Chimney Swifts are among my favorite birds; our chimney swift tower at Wild Bird Rescue hosts a breeding pair every year.

The Swift Night Out is a project to collect information on chimney swifts. If you have some time, consider participating, especially if you are lucky enough to have a roost in your chimney.

Good birding!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


I was sitting at a gas station on the Florida panhandle while my husband gassed up the car and saw a large flock (31) of crows fly in and land on the wires overhead. I noticed they looked a little bedraggled. However, the calls were what initially attracted my attention. In Wichita Falls, the only crow we have is the American crow, which has the stereotypical "caw" call we associate with crows. However, these were fish crows, which have a lower, softer "uh uh" sound. I used to see these crows frequently when I lived in Virginia, but this was flock was the first I have seen in many years.

Spent the night in Alabama--on to Houston today!

Good birding!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Just drove into Florida today. Three sandhill cranes at the side of the road. That was pretty exciting. Hope I get some birding time soon!

Good birding!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

What's Up With This?

Eastern Bluebirds are generally birds of the countryside. For example, in Wichita Falls, you see them in the county but not inside the city, and the "city" isn't really all that urban. I have seen occasional bluebirds in Lake Wichita Park, but that is pretty much it.

We're on vacation and got stuck in a traffic jam in Atlanta (I-20 E, just outside the Loop 285) and decided to pull off as soon as possible and find a motel for the night. As my husband is checking in what do I see? I had to get out my binoculars to be sure, but there it was, a male Eastern Bluebird at the side of the road.

In addition to the bluebird, I saw a brown thrasher carrying food to its young. Two good birds for anywhere, seen in Altanta, GA.

Good birding!