Monday, June 22, 2009

They're Hatching!!

In case you did not bookmark Spike Odell's nest cam... The eggs are in the process of hatching! They "should" all hatch today :)
Watch live video from Bluebird Box Nest Cam on Justin.tv

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

North American Bird Phenology Program

Greetings!

The North American Bird Phenology Program (BPP) has continued to grow in office and online participants as well as cards scanned and transcriptions completed online. I am very proud to announce our current progress:

· Migration Cards Scanned in the BPP Office: 272,766
· Migration Cards Currently Available Online: 124,424
· Migration Cards Transcribed Online: 135,584
· Number of Online Transcribers: 1,329

To see a full list of the species that have been scanned in the office and how many cards have been scanned of that species, please visit: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/DataAndStats.cfm.
The BPP team: Kevin Laurent, computer expert, and Kinard Boone, website designer, and Eric Tuner volunteer programmer, are continuing to make additions and revisions to both the data entry process and website. Please see below to check out what we are working on and email me at jzelt@usgs.gov with suggestions!
The Frequently Asked Questions page has recently been updated. Please look for changes and email me with any further suggestions.

What you can expect to see soon:
· Participants can choose which species or which locations he/she would like to transcribe.
· Updated website coming soon with new homepage layout and additional content

In an effort to showcase some of the hardworking online participants from around the world, I would like to ask you all to send in photos of you transcribing migration cards. Please email along with the picture, along with your name and location. A handful of the photos will be selected and highlighted on the “Featured Photos” webpage.
In some exciting news, the BPP will be featured in the July/August issue of Audubon Magazine which is expected be released at the end of June. Pick up a copy!
Thank you to the office volunteers who take time each week to scan migration cards! It has become a challenge to keep up with the feverish pace of the online transcribers and I appreciate their dedication to keeping everything running smoothly. We are, however, always in need of additional office volunteers. If you are in the Maryland/Washington D.C. area, and would like to help, please contact the BPP Office.
Please contact me if you have any questions or comments and don’t forget to check out the BPP website for more information.

Sincerely,
Jessica Zelt

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bumble Bees

I was happy to see the St John's Wort starting to bloom - It just cracks me up watching the bumble bees dancing around through the stamen! Just look at the pollen baskets on his legs!!


He is one Busy Bee.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Spike's Bluebirds

Wild Birds Unlimited's good friend Spike Odell, installed a nestbox cam for your enjoyment! This live streaming video is a great way to get the "inside scoop" on the life of bluebirds.
Watch live video from Bluebird Box Nest Cam on Justin.tvCheck it out! The first egg (of this second nesting) was laid on June 7th. It looks like there will be only 4 eggs in this nesting.

Cornell Lab Contest

Cornell's "Celebrate Urban Birds" is having a fun contest -- Funky Nests in Funky Places. Get out your pictures of nests in strange places or try your hand at some art project - making a nest and enter to win from a neat variety of things from bug repellent wrist bands to several books - even a NEW Leica Camera!!

Check this one out from Denise Robeson in Lincoln, Nebraska:
"The dove thought it was an ideal location, apparently (right next to a lantern, you'll notice)! In my opinion, this bird's feathers are so smooth and perfect you almost can't tell the bird is "real" (not stuffed, or fake...)....but she is! She was also indifferent to my presence....caring less that I was inches away from her, taking pictures. If only all my avian subjects were so helpful! (Barn swallow mothers dive bomb me, when I even approach their nests of babies...!) I think the location of the Baker's Rack nest is especially funny, since Baker's racks are often found in kitchens, with cookbooks on them (for instance). Ms. Mourning Dove decided to cook up a little recipe of her own (for babies)!"

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nature Center Resources

Nashville has great resources for getting closer to nature. I have gone on many of the hikes at through Warner Park Nature Center, and was thoroughly pleased. If the new Shelby Bottoms Nature Center has as great a staff as Warner... watch out! Before today I didn't even realize that there is also Bells Bend Outdoor Center and Beaman Park Nature Center - both with their own full program schedules.

Tonight you have some great options for activities:

At Warner you can stop in listen to Bluegrass at the Full Moon Pickin' Party - or you can even join in for a jam session!!
7pm-11pm. Call 370-8053 for information.





At Shelby they are hosting a Bat Seminar and Bat Hike! "Bats eat bugs! Bats aren’t blind! Bats don’t even get caught in your hair. Learn all about these and other bat facts as well as a serious new threat to their health and how we can help. With luck, we will see a few of these mysterious winged mammals tonight!
7:30-9 pm. All ages Call 862-8539 to register.



Get out there and see something new!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Woody is HERE!

It has become all to apparent that the woodpecker young have left the nest. Our numbers of all the woodpeckers is WAY UP! We are going through at least 12oz of suet every single day! It has not been uncommon to have four and five woodpeckers waiting to use the feeders - Amazing. Considering the amount of damage that the woodpeckers have inflicted on my home, you may be interested to know that this is my favorite family of birds.

Very exciting - though all of my new sightings are exciting for me - We had 4 Pileated woodpeckers just twenty feet behind the house! Clearly, two must have been juveniles along with two adults. I was unable to get all four in one pic and :::again::: the pictures leave something to be desired, but here they are, and we were pretty hyped seeing them together. Naturally, they did not visit my feeder - as many of our customers know: Pam's Pileateds never visit the feeder, sure they are around, but they never eat what we offer. We have left our woods very natural - when trees fall we do not pull them out; so, they have lots of dead wood to peck around on for bugs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's This?!?

I've had such good luck with y'all... here you go:

What's This?!?




Crazy little bug is about 1cm long - quite small. It is living on the gate to my driveway. Oh, and it is a bit camera shy ;)

Answer: Wheel Bug Nymph

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kent's on Talk of the Town

Today Kent was on Talk of the Town talking about hummingbirds. Usually he is interviewed by Lelan Statom, so this was a bit of a switch.
video

Friday, June 5, 2009

Sparrow Spooker

My bluebirds are working on their second brood and as I did have some sparrow issues last time, I decided to see if I could somehow make the box less sparrow friendly this time...maybe dad wouldn't have to constantly be on guard and fighting off sparrows on a regular basis.

Anyway, I found plans for the "sparrow spooker" online at www.sialis.org/sparrowspooker.htm and decided to try it. Everything I read was very positive, but I was still skeptical. I put it together according the "design #4" (basically because I had everything I needed just laying around the house), checked the nest yesterday (2 eggs), placed it according to the info online and waited to see what happened.

I hadn't seen either bluebird go anywhere near the box after I installed the spooker (although I wasn't watching it constantly), but when I checked this morning, mom had laid a 3rd egg !! She slipped inside while I wasn't looking, obviously.


As I watched the box (with spooker flying in the wind) this morning, I shot this photo of mom inside the box - it obviously didn't bother her at all !! What a relief !! I'll keep you posted as to how well it actually keeps other birds away.

Quick, Hurry!

There I was, quietly sitting, drinking my coffee and watching Morning Joe. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a quick moving furry being. At first I thought, "Cat!" but then the being ran past the sunroom door, and I determined it was a raccoon.... with something really weird in its' mouth.

Why would a raccoon be carrying around chipmunk? Oh, my, grab the camera!! She is carrying a baby raccoon!! Quick, Hurry! She was hauling her bulk as quickly as possible to the back of the sunroom. Then, up the corner of the house to the roof she went with her babe.

You see, we have this little roof over our front door. The roof is attached to the house just below the eve of the home proper. What this does is create a little space - just the perfect size for a critter, like a raccoon, to have a dry, safe place to have her young. We believe that they have been using this space for a good many years.

What must have happened is this. The baby fell off the porch roof, and momma shot down to the ground to retrieve her baby. Then the only way back up is to run around the house, go up the corner to the roof of the sunroom, climb from the roof of the sunroom to the roof of the house, go over the top of the house and drop down onto the roof of the porch. I can't wait for these little guys to make it back down here on their own - the pups are always so cute and frolicky.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mystery Solved... Kinda...

The "What's This" pics are closeups of this turtle's shell. My simple answer to my own question is "Turtle." What type of turtle, you ask? I have NO idea, but s/he sure was a bigg'un! Turtle measured a full 14", stem to stern. S/he was Very covered in algae, and heading across the road, towards the creek. We NEVER leave animals on the road if we can at all help it. Subsequently, this guy got a lift into the grass in hopes of allowing her/him to continue the journey.

Can you ID my mystery turtle??

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What's This?!?

Saw this driving down the road on the way to the store. Had to stop and take some pics. :)


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Whoo Hooo!!! Purple Martins!!!!

Kent and I hit the store early today to try to get the hanging basket brackets attached to the house. I must say, it looks great, but MAN was it a pain to get the brackets attached to the brick! Anyway, as we were discussing the proper placement of the brackets in relationship to each other, the window boxes, the windows, and the deck, Kent suddenly says, "Martins!" This is soooo typical of us. We are doing something... anything, and one of us will hear "X" bird, and give the ID on the call. It's kinda funny, as we tend to do it while other folks are around too & usually they just don't "get it."

So, Kent states, "Martins!" and we both flip around to look at the gourd system that is very strategically placed on the edge of the back parking lot, between our store, Wild Birds Unlimited, and Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant. There they were, in and out of the gourds - so I ran and grabbed the camera. Lucky for me, one of them came back and posed at the top of the pole. I promise, this is not a "decoy martin."
I am very hopeful that they will return, and decide to nest with us. There are several successful colonies in the area, so although we are SO close to the mall, we may have a chance at helping these wonderful birds out. We will keep our fingers crossed through June - as there is still a chance for a new colony to start that late.

There are many things that people do not understand about these birds - ideas that have been perpetuated by some less than ethical, or simply misinformed, folks. If you want the real poop on these guys visit the Purple Martin Conservation Association site. We really like good science, and try to keep with that information.