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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reprieve from the Cold: Songbirds Aplenty

The sky was a gleaming blue today, the sun nicely bright and warming, as I set out, camera in hand, to observe our lake's nature wonderland. I was not disappointed. The colorful songbirds were out, a true harbinger of spring. See the results below.

In case you aren't aware, however, songbirds everywhere are diminishing in numbers because their habitat is changing both in the Southern hemisphere, where many birds migrate, and locally. I've personally observed the reduced bird populations as I visit forested areas and parks to photograph whatever I can find, and some days, I do not see or hear a single bird. 

As homeowners, we can play a small part in turning the tide by ensuring our properties are sustainably landscaped with the plantings that our local feathered friends thrive upon. We also need to reduce the use of  pesticides, another cause of the loss of songbirds. Our local birds need the daily nourishment of fruits, nuts, berries and seeds from native plants and trees. They also depend greatly on the local insects that need local vegetation and the lake itself to thrive. 

According to National Wildlife Federation Chief Naturalist Craig Tufts, "during the late spring and summer months, insects make up the great majority of many avian species' diets." He says the trick to enticing these birds to your property is to first learn which of them range in your area, and then to plant appropriate types of native cover that provide insect- and bird-attracting natural foods -- leaves, fruit, pollen and nectar -- to sustain both adults and their insect-dependent nestlings.

So if we all continue to plant native trees and shrubs, we can help sustain our Lake's wildlife for future generations. 

Anyone interested in more on the subject can read biologist Bridget Stutchbury's Silence of the Songbirds, where she explains in detail why our songbird populations are decreasing.  The book, published in 2007, has been compared to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

Downy woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpecker


American robin

House finch

House finch

Female house finch
This thrush, below, (hermit or wood?) was recently photographed at Riverbend Park.

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