View of nest with four babies showing feathers on April 6, 2014

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Saturday morning April 7 I went out to look at the babies and the empty nest was on the ground. I felt devasted because some animal must have found the nest during the night or early morning. No sign of baby birds!

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Hungry Junco hatchlings on April 1, 2014 survived the rain storm last night.  More rain predicted for today.

The Junco pair is back again this year! They built a nest and laid four eggs in the same place in the boxwood bush by our back door. I’ve been checking the nest every day. We’ve had rain storms with more rain to come. Today one of the eggs hatched! You can see the open mouth of the little hatchling.

Looks like three of the eggs have hatched now. (later the same day)

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Great Backyard Bird Count 2014

Watching a Carolina Chickadee, Sandy Manter, TN, 2013 GBBC

What is the GBBC?

The 2014 GBBC will take place Friday, February 14, through Monday, February 17. Please join us for the 17th annual count!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are.

GBBC checklists can be accepted from anywhere in the world!

Everyone is welcome–from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.

Participants tally the number of individual birds of each species they see during their count period. They enter these numbers on the GBBC website.

New participants must set up a free GBBC account to submit their checklists or use login information from an existing account for any other Cornell Lab citizen-science project. You’ll only need to do this once to participate in all future GBBC events. Click “Submit Your Bird Checklist” at the top of this page or see How to Participate for more details.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon 

Myth: If birds eat uncooked rice, it can swell up in their throats or stomachs and kill them.

Fact: Plenty of birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks, sometimes called “rice birds,” are a good example. While rice is okay for birds, many wedding parties now throw bird seed instead.

Myth: Birds can choke on peanut butter.

Fact: There is no documented evidence for this. However, mixing peanut butter with grit or cornmeal will break up the stickiness if you are concerned.

Myth: Birds become dependent on bird feeders.

Fact: Birds become accustomed to a reliable food source and will visit daily. However, birds search for food in many places, so if your feeder goes empty, most birds will find food elsewhere. During periods of extreme ice, snow, or cold, the sudden disappearance of food might be a hardship; if you are leaving town during freezing weather, consider having someone fill your feeder while you’re away.

Myth: Birds’ feet can stick to metal perches.

Fact: This is not likely. A bird’s legs and feet are made up mostly of tough tendons that have little blood flow during cold weather. However, we’ve heard rumors of feet sticking to perches: if you observe this unfortunate circumstance, please take a picture and send it to Project FeederWatch.

Myth: Feeding hummingbirds in late summer can stop their migration.

Fact: Some people believe they should stop feeding hummingbirds right after Labor Day because the birds’ southward migrations will be interrupted. However, a bird’s migratory urge is primarily triggered by day length (photoperiod), and even a hearty appetite won’t make a bird resist that urge. In fact, your feeder might provide a needed energy boost along a bird’s migration route.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dark-Eyed Juncos inhabit our backyard year round here in northern California. A few weeks ago every time I went out our sliding glass door to the backyard a Junco would fly around and up into a tree chirping and fluttering, chirping and fluttering. Often another Junco would also fly nearby. I was trying to figure out why the Junco was near our back door everyday. I knew that birds often fly around and chirp to attract attention away from a nest or babies but I didn’t see any nests.

Well, guess what? I finally found a little nest in the boxwood bush by our back door. The nest was on the back side of the bush and concealed from sight. There were four little speckled eggs in the nest.

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A few days later the eggs hatched and here is a picture of the baby birds. I had hoped to get a photo of the birds moving around, with their mouths open begging for food, or chirping. However, this is the only photo I got of the newly hatched birds. I didn’t want to disturb the new hatchlings so I waited a couple of days before checking the nest again.

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And guess what? The nest was empty! I couldn’t find any trace of the baby birds or the broken egg shells. I hope the birds were mature enough to fledge the nest and not taken by night predators.

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These are photos of the parent Juncos.

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White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches visit my backyard birdfeeders. They are very easy to identify with a gray-blue back, white face, black or gray cap, and long narrow bill.

Excerpt from new Backyard Guide Series

The word “nuthatch” refers to their habit of wedging a seed in a crevice and then hacking or “hatching” it open by pounding at it with their chisel-like bill. Nuthatches are often referred to as “upside-down birds” because they forage by probing tree trunks with their heads facing downward. During their journeys down the trunk of a tree, they often pause, and then raise their head so that it is parallel to the ground—a unique posture among birds. The best-known family member is the white-breasted nuthatch, a bird of deciduous woods and tree-filled backyards. In woodlands, listen for the nuthatch’s nasal honking calls anytime. Males and females always forage near each other and, in winter, in a mixed flock with chickadees and titmice.

The white-breasted nuthatch eats both insects and seeds, varying its fare with the seasons. Insects make up nearly 100 percent of their summer diet, with seeds being added in fall and winter. Autumn’s extra seeds and nuts are sometimes stashed in tree bark crevices to be eaten later. White-breasted nuthatches will come to feeders for black-oil sunflower and other seeds, peanuts, or suet, but they tend to abandon backyard feeders almost entirely in spring and summer when insects are plentiful. Nuthatches are cavities nesters, but they seem to prefer tree cavities to nest boxes. Leaving old, dead trees standing—where this can be done safely—offers nuthatches potential foraging, “hatching,” and nesting sites.

From Western Birds: Backyard Guide
by Bill Thompson III and the Editors of Bird Watcher’s Digest

Porch-Swing-Bird-Feeder
I found the instructions to make this cute porch swing bird feeder at the Birds and Blooms website.

Porch Swing Bird Feeder
This porch swing bird feeder will delight people and birds alike!

Get into the swing of things with this unique bird feeder. We chose to use poplar, a wood commonly used for crafts, since this wood comes in the 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch thicknesses used in this project. That way, there’s no need to resaw the boards for thickness. You’ll find it with the craft woods at home improvement stores.

Here’s What You’ll Need
•One 1/4-inch x 6-inch x 36-inch poplar board
•One 1/2-inch x 6-inch x 36-inch poplar board
•4 feet of light-duty chain
•6-inch x 12-inch window screen
•Four screw eyes
•Two S-hooks
•1/4-inch staples
•5/8-inch, 7/8-inch and 1-1/4-inch brads

Recommended Tools
•Table saw
•Power drill
•Pull saw or backsaw
•Small square
•7-ounce hammer
•Small nail set
•Stapler
•Pliers

Download the instructions here.

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From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Watch Three Herons Grow Up in Eight Minutes – A video compiled from Cornell Lab’s Live Bird Cam of the nest of the Great Blue Herons of Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca, NY

“Through cool spring mornings and crashing summer thunderstorms, the Great Blue Herons outside our office windows raised a boisterous trio this year. Thousands watched the youngsters grow up (way up), until they were ready for their first flights in mid-July. The nest is now empty, but we’ve compiled some of the season’s best images so you can look back at the beauty, wonder, and humor of the heron family. Watch the highlights slideshow.”

Since 2009 and possibly earlier, the male has returned every year, but this year’s female appeared to me a new mate. This video slideshow features highlights from the season, following the pair as they court, lay eggs, and successfully raise three chicks.

For more about the herons visit http://allaboutbirds.org/cornellherons

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