Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bluebird Buddy Box Check

Saturday morning was absolutely gorgeous. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Friends of Lake Arrowhead State Park have a Bluebird Buddy program. Individuals or groups can sponsor a bluebird box for $50 a year.
Greg, Larry and Terry check out one of
the bluebird boxes at LASP.

Me with my bluebird box--empty so far.

Saturday Greg Mucciolo, Terry McKee, Larry Snyder and I visited 15 boxes to affix sponsor names, get GPS coordinates for each box and check the status of nesting. We found one box with newly hatched bluebird chicks, 3 with wren nests and several with wasps.  You too can find your bluebird box with the GPS coordinates. Terry is emailing each sponsor updates on the nesting activity in their box.

Greg has maintained the boxes at the park and other locations for several years. He will be returning to soap the inside of the boxes with Ivory soap to discourage the wasps--birds can't use them when they are full of these stinging critters. The Ivory soap is nontoxic but makes the surface so that the wasps cannot affix their nest to the wood, so they leave to find other accommodations.
Lots of gorgeous wildflowers at LASP
While we were checking the boxes, we saw some glorious wildflowers and did manage to see a few birds including: killdeer, Harris's sparrow, northern mockingbird, western meadowlark, song sparrow, ladderbacked woodpecker, northern cardinal, Carolina chickadee, mallard, American robin, eastern bluebird, turkey vulture, eastern phoebe, house finch, white-crowned sparrow, red-tailed hawk, savannah sparrow, white pelican, Canada goose, red-winged blackbird, European starling, and red-bellied woodpecker. On 1954 outside LASP we saw some gadwall in a tank.

This is a great spring for getting outside, so take advantage before the summer heat sets in.

Good birding!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Hummingbirds/Purple Martins

Purple martins by Dori, Wikimedia Commons
Hummingbirds and purple martins are arriving. Purple martins have been reported all around and even north of us. If you have a purple martin house, be sure to evict the starlings and house sparrows and keep them out until the martins arrive.

For those who love the hummingbirds, it's time to clean out your feeders and get them up. Our most common hummingbirds in this area are the ruby-throated and black-chinned hummingbirds. They are very similar in appearance. Appropriate native plants are the most important food source you can make available to these tiny birds with a big attitude. If you haven't already done so, head to your local nursery and pick up some hummingbird friendly plants--coral honeysuckle, crossvine, sage, etc.

Ruby-throated hummingbird, William H. Majoros
Used by permission, Wikimedia Commons
If you don't have the space or ability to garden or just want to draw the birds to a place you can more easily watch them, hang a hummingbird feeder or two or more. It is very important the feeder be kept clean. You do not have to buy expensive hummingbird nectar. Just dissolve 1 part white sugar in 4 parts boiling water, allow to cool and pour into your feeder. You do not have to color the water red--and in fact, most people advise against it. If there is some red on the feeder, the birds will find it easily.

Be sure to change the water regularly and clean the feeder thoroughly each time. Never allow your water to get cloudy. Right now, with the cooler weather, you can probably leave your sugar water up to three days. When it gets really hot, you will probably want to change it every day.

I hope you are able to attract and enjoy these beautiful birds this summer.

Good birding!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bird Walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park

The first bird walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park was this morning. The rain was kind enough to hold off until around lunch, so it was a decent morning although overcast. We didn't see a lot of birds, but it was still a nice time.

The only other person who came was Mike, one of the readers of this blog. We had a nice walk of a little over an hour. The Bewick's wrens were singing all over. We are on the border between the eastern and western meadowlark territories. I tend to see/hear more eastern meadowlarks. Today the meadowlarks were singing and they were westerns.

We saw: northern cardinal, eastern phoebe, Canada goose, American coot, white pelican, great blue heron, northern mockingbird, mourning dove, Eurasian collared dove, western meadowlark, Bewick's wren, red-winged blackbird, northern flicker, white-crowned sparrow, field sparrow, great-tailed grackle, common grackle, killdeer, double-crested cormorant and red-bellied woodpecker. We also saw a duck species, some gulls and some small peeps--all were too far away and in too poor light to make a positive ID.

After Mike and I split up--he to visit the prairie dogs and I to do a little more birding--I went over to the area around the equestrian camping area. I had some good luck there, adding robin, kestrel, dark-eyed junco, house finch, Carolina chickadee, eastern bluebird, and ladder-backed woodpecker

I didn't get any decent pictures of the birds, although perhaps Mike did. I did get more next pictures to add to my collection as well as this nice picture of one of the prairie dogs (right) and a pretty wildflower (left)--I have not idea what kind it is, but it was interesting, so I took a photo.

We'll be continuing the bird walks on the second Saturday of each month. We start the summer schedule in April, so the walk will start at 7 AM.

Good birding!