Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bird Feeding

We have started feeding the birds for the winter. We were starting to get worried since it's gotten so cold quickly this year, we figured starting sooner than later was for the best.

This year we got smart. Do you know how expensive bird seed has gotten? Don't buy bags of mixed birdseed. They contain a lot of filler, such as red millet. Most birds won't eat it. It gets kicked onto the ground, where stays until it rots. (Look around the base of your bird feeder come Spring, you'll see what I mean.) Mixed birdseed is not a bargain. Buy the seeds you know your birds want.

To maximize the number of species that visit our feeders, we offer a variety of food. And offer it at different heights. We have feeding stations on fence posts, on the pole that holds a very tall bird feeder and DH has mounted old satellite dishes on poles. We can see the bird feeding station from any window on the back side of the house and from the back breezeway mud room.

Most birds that stay in cold regions in winter eat seeds. They have to. Insects are hard to find in freezing weather. Here is a selection of seeds that attract a wide variety of birds;

The over all favorite is sunflower seeds. It attracts cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, goldfinches, purple finches, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches. It's good to put most of your sunflower seeds in hanging feeders. It's safer from squirrels and raccoons that way. For the past two days we starting seeing our first cardinal... it was Mr. Cardinal... didn't see the Mrs. until the following day. What a joy to see those two.

Get black sunflower seeds, sometimes called oil seeds, rather than the grey-and-white-striped sunflower seeds sold for people to eat. They're higher in oil content, softer shelled, and cheaper.

Nyger has replaced thistle as the most popular seeds to feed goldfinches. Goldfinches adore nyger. Dozens of goldfinches will be visiting your nyger feeder at once, which is quite a sight on a winter day. Niger is a black seed, so tiny and light you can blow away a handful with a gentle breath. Niger is also expensive, over a dollar a pound! We don't want to waste this precious seed. We bought a hanging tube with tiny holes, designed especially for nyger.

Safflower is a white seed, slightly smaller than black sunflower seed. Chickadees, titmice, chickadees, and downy woodpeckers eat it.

The great thing about safflower seeds is that squirrels don't like them! (We have one grey and one black squirrel who have started visiting the bird feeding area... DH got out his slingshot to scare them away.) Neither do grackles, blue jays, or starlings. I bit into a safflower seed myself once and bout gagged me!

You can buy seeds at feed stores, nurseries, supermarkets, and some hardware stores. I buy everything except the costly nyger in 25-pound bags and store them in the back breezeway in a huge trash can.

Oh and once you start feeding the birds, don't stop till Spring. Some birds may become somewhat dependent on your feeder for food, especially some migrants that might have traveled farther on to a more dependable food supply. By feeding birds, you are also concentrating many of them in a small area. If you suddenly stop feeding, the birds will have to look for natural food sources which may result in overtaxing the available supplies in that area. Hungry birds will move on in search of food and it may take some time to lure other birds to your feeder. Keep your feeder filled at all times.

Happy birdwatching!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Halloween!

By Harry Behn

Tonight is the night

When dead leaves fly
Like witches on switches
Across the sky,
When elf and sprite
Flit through the night
On a moony sheen.

Tonight is the night

When leaves make a sound

Like a gnome in his home
Under the ground,
When spooks and trolls
Creep out of holes
Mossy and green.

Tonight is the night
When pumpkins stare
Through sheaves and leaves
When ghouls and ghost
And goblin host
Dance round their queen.
It's Halloween.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

History and Lore of Halloween

All Hallows’ Eve
This day was known as Samhain to the ancient Celts—the death night of the old year. It was a turning point that marked the end of summer (life and light) and the beginning of winter (death and darkness).

This is the day when all the saints are honored—especially those who do not have a day of their own. The idea probably began in the 4th century as a way to honor Christian martyrs whose names were unknown.

Traditionally, All Saints’ Day features chestnuts, gingerbread, and doughnuts. The round shape of the doughnuts was said to symbolize eternity, a nod to the saints whose lives are celebrated.

On random wires the rows of summer swallows
Wait for their liftoff.
They will soon be gone
Before All Saints’ and before All Hallows’,
The changing time when we are most alone.
May Sarton (1912–95)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October's Ending

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight, the water
Mirrors a still sky.

William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

This is the time for Scorpios, those born between October 23 and November 22. Some of this week’s birthday people include;
artist Pablo Picasso (25th)
game show host Pat Sajak (26th)
inventor Isaac Singer (27th)
Microsoft founder Bill Gates (28th)
hockey player Mike Gartner (29th)
actor Henry Winkler (30th)
poet John Keats (31th)
Scorpios are considered passionate, intuitive, emotional, and determined. They excel at analysis and research. Scorpio’s ruling planet is Pluto.

PS Some of my very best friends are Scorpios.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October Moon

The Full Hunter’s Moon, which occurs this year on October 22, is always the first full Moon following autumn’s Harvest Moon.

In pioneer days, after the vegetables were stored for the winter, it was time to go farther afield looking for wild game. Deer were fattening up, and Native Americans and farmers sought a store of good venison for the cold winter days to come.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Orionids Meteor Showers

I was outside last night taking Gracie for a late night pee break around about 3. I was headed back inside when I happened to look up. What caught my attention was I noticed the Big Dipper was in a different place from where it had resided all summer long. All of sudden I saw a bright light streak through the northern night sky. Was it a meteor I asked myself? Or, was I just imagining it? I was doing some quick thinking trying to remember if this time of year had meteor showers. And, then I saw another one. All within the space of less than a minute. WOO HOO! Now I was sure I had seen a couple of meteors. Then it was bang.... a twosome again. And, another and another in quick succession. I was thinking to myself, I have got to go in and look to see what these meteors were all about. Here's what I found out...

Meteor Showers Meteor Shower

The Orionids Meteor Shower has been occurring each year consistently in October. Every year the dust particles and debris of Halley’s Comet enter the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of 90,000+ miles per hour. Even though Halley’s Comet is in orbit around the Sun and was closest to Earth in 1986 on its 75-76 year orbit the remnants still remain in its path. The Earth crosses through this dusty path each year and this trail of debris consistently produces the Orionids Meteor Shower.
Orionids Meteor Shower

Orionids Meteor Shower Radiant

The Orionids Meteor Shower has already started to produce activity in the morning skies around the northern hemisphere. It started October 2nd and will be active until early November. The Orionids has a few days before and after the peak that are more active than other days. This is a unique feature called a “submaxima”. Viewers can anticipate the strongest activity to take place in the morning of October 21st, but the period of days that lead up to the peak and after the peak called “submaxima activity” means that strong outbursts may occur between October 18th and October 24th at any time.

So who would have guessed it that I would be outside on the night before the strongest activity of the Orionids Meteor Shower? If it's a clear night... go outside and watch the showers. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the show.

As Jack Herkimer (of the Miami Planetarium) was fond of saying as he closed his show... "KEEP LOOKING UP! "

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October Winds

Listen! the wind is rising,
and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings,
now for October eves!

Humbert Wolfe (1886–1940)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Polaris and Finding North

At this time of year, you’ll find the Big Dipper near the horizon.

Look for seven major stars: four in the "bowl" and three in the "handle." The two stars on the outside of the bowl are called the “pointer” stars. They always show the way to Polaris, a bright star that is also called the North Star, which lies in the handle of the Little Dipper.

Here's how to find north:
1. Find the Big Dipper.
2. Find the pointer stars.
3. Find Polaris.
4. Look straight up.
5. Turn your body toward Polaris.
6. Now, you're facing north!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spiders and Jack-o-lanterns, oh my!

The hollow winds begin to blow,
The clouds look black, the glass is low;
The soot falls down, the spaniels sleep,
And spiders from their cobwebs peep.

Dr. Edward Jenner (1749–1823)

Did you know that the jack-o’-lantern dates back to medieval Ireland? Its legend involves an Irishman named Jack who was too stingy to go to heaven and too mischievous to go to hell.

Jack had to wander Earth until Judgment Day with a lantern made from a hollowed-out turnip with a live coal inside. Children started making these lanterns on Halloween; in the New World, people switched from turnips to pumpkins.

Riddle: How do you fix a jack-o’-lantern?
Answer: A pumpkin patch!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bird Feeder Wreath

  • Gather some vines, dried sunflower heads, herbs, tall grasses, and flowers with seed heads.
  • Start with a straw or vine wreath base, or make your own using grapevines, Virginia creeper, or branches from weeping willow.
  • Attach medium-size sunflower heads all around the wreath, securing the flowers to the base with floral wire, if needed.
  • Stick assorted flowers (coneflowers, zinnias, black-eyed Susans, or any others with a good supply of seeds) in between the sunflowers. Baby corn is another great addition.
  • Finally, stick herbs and grasses all around, and you are ready to hang the wreath where the birds will find it and you'll enjoy watching them eat.
This year I am going to be minus the sunflower heads. The birds have already devoured them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Folklore tales for October

■ Much rain in October, much wind in
■ For every fog in October, a snow in the winter.
■ Full Moon in October without frost, no frost
till full Moon in November.

Consists of culture, including stories, music, dance, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, customs and so forth within a particular population comprising the traditions (incl. oral traditions) of that culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those express genres are shared. The academic and usually ethnographic study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics.

Wikipedia definition

Little old me...

My photo
An american yankee up past the 49th parellel.


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