Thursday, 27 March 2014

Surprise In A Box

I was delighted to see my eastern screech owl friend using one of my roost boxes today. This sets a new record for late season use of the box. Previously, the latest date was March 23, 2009. So far, they have only used the boxes for winter roosting, never for brood.

In this area, bush lots are becoming ever more scarce as they are clear cut to make way for the planting of corn and soybean crops. Even existing fence lines and their trees are removed. Sadly for the owls, this greatly reduces the number of available tree cavity nesting sites, also competed for by starlings and squirrels.

March 27th, 2014, the latest seasonal use of this box by an eastern screech owl.

Soon these little juncos will head further north to raise their families.

Mourning doves at breakfast.

A visiting grey squirrel checks out the bird feeders.

As day breaks, this cottontail will soon hide for the day.

Was too slow off the mark in grabbing my camera,
so here is only the business end of a very hungry little skunk.
He went that-a-way!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Get Well Soon

Yesterday I noticed a male white-breasted nuthatch acting strangely. It was fluffed and clinging by only one foot to the perch of a roost box for hours. A healthy wild bird should not be so inactive during the day. Finally, it flew to another box. As the wind was gusty with snow squalls, it seemed to be seeking a wind break. Meanwhile, a female of it's species lingered nearby. Was she a relative or perhaps his mate? Later in the afternoon the injured bird flew to a feeder and ate some peanut pieces and black oil seeds. It's right leg was not bearing any weight and it teetered about. So, at least it could fly and forage. A downy woodpecker landed on the same feeder platform and the little nuthatch gamely stretched a wing in threat. Not a candidate for a human's rescue but still a bit worrisome when nature demands that only the fit will survive. Today this bird is much more active and I hope it's injured leg or foot will heal quickly. 

An injured male white-breasted nuthatch.

A female stays close by.

Unable to put weight on it's right side, but still taking meals.

Hope you recover soon, little one.

Not everyone has your best interests at heart!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Spring Equinox Arrives

The calendar says the Spring Equinox has arrived. Feels like we have finally crossed the finish line after slogging through an ultra gruelling winter marathon.

For the past few days a chipmunk has been venturing from his/her den and gathering seeds scattered under the bird feeders. No doubt, also checking out the status of fellow chippies.

Emerging from it's den.

All clear from the West!

All clear from the East!

Safe to venture forth!
This lone purple finch has joined a flock of gold finches.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Looks Bad. Looks Very Bad.

Just got back from an inspection of my honeybee yard. Bad news, I'm afraid. There is no sign of life in any of my six hives. In this area, we have had the coldest winter in twenty years. The climatologists blame a Polar Vortex. Anyway, despite having good success over the past five years of beekeeping, this winter has been a sad exception.

So, having dried my tears and ordered a couple of replacement nucs from a local bee breeder, I'll be making some adjustments to my wintering practices next time. It appears from the honey on the bottom boards that the colonies fell victim to perhaps their biggest wintering threat -- condensation.

One change I'll make is to place moisture wicking material on a screen directly over the top frames. Another change will be to allow more ventilation at the bottom entrance.

Too clean and too quiet.

Drips on the bottom boards -- a very bad sign.

Near the beeyard, a bluebird house awaits spring arrivals.

Indoor livestock Henry (left) and Ellie Mae
wearing lookalike white bibs.