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8570Lack of birds at feeders...

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  • Bob
    Feb 1, 2006
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      This for me is a good indication that the mild winter is being kind to the
      birds. This is simultaneously providing some relief on our pocketbooks.

      My feeder is untouched as well, lately.

      While it is fun and great entertainment to see birds at the feeders there
      are costs to some of the birds for such concentrations and dependent
      activity.

      Predators will concentrate at these for the 'fast food' approach and disease
      issues associated with birds concentrated at feeders is well documented.

      Birds do secure a variety of more natural food by gleaning more sources in
      the environment. This translates often into fewer insect outbreaks
      associated with the typical 'monocultures' or often less diverse urban
      habitat. Fewer cankerworm pupae translates into less pesticide spraying and
      so forth.

      The spring migration begins shortly with the local races of Horned Larks
      arriving perhaps from areas nearby to begin their breeding cycle in March
      and April.

      The local races breeding cycle is triggered by a specific series of
      consecutive days with certain temperatures. If a cold snap occurs the
      process begins when these specific conditions present themselves again.

      Being continuous breeders, the local races have much to gain by being
      present as early as possible while the ones from the far north only have one
      cycle and therefore have no great hurry to arrive in an environment which is
      hostile to breeding typically into late may or early June.

      Migration is often a hazardous event fraught with adjustments to new
      conditions. Mortality is high for smaller birds. Some species do proceed
      slowly while many accomplish this dash quickly to minimize the mortality.
      The idea is one of timing though as arriving too soon for an insectivore is
      deadly.

      These are of course theories about Horned Larks based upon my observations
      of wintering birds near the farm in the southeast where I began birding in
      my childhood.

      One of the factors that may create identification confusion is the fresh
      plumage of the newly arrived Horned Larks. These more brightly colored birds
      may suggest Northern races.

      I have seen a smaller group of what appears to be the local race of Horned
      Larks already just west of the Airport. I can't recall if any were reported
      on the CBC? I know that I have not seen these in this area this winter.

      During March the Mountain Bluebirds begin to arrive and the entire migration
      pace quickens.

      Good birding
      Bob
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