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Buglips the Birdman


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Starlings aren't so bad around here, though we do get them. There are mockingbirds everywhere, and I love them. We have crows a-plenty, and they are one of the few pest animals I actively go out of my way to shoot when the opportunity presents itself (the other being armadillos). One of the more problematic species we have are Barn Swallows, since they can, and will, build nests every single place they conceivably can get to. I love sitting and watching them dart around though.

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I believe Singapore has had a crow-hunting brigade for some time, now...almost three decades, I think. It's one of the few ways you can own a gun privately, there. Their crows are so bad they even bring in urban hunts.

 

North America also has a tradition of hunting crow, though it's far less organized...

 

Auburn has organized several events that are aimed at thinning the flocks but few have helped. The latest study implies that the downtown street lighting changes are the cause of the sudden influx. They switched from 70s high over head sodium style back to old school two lamp lower street lights. The effect brings back some "Wonderful Life" feel to downtown and did help reinvent the local business market down there but overall it increased the amount of light. This supposedly enticed the crows to move from the outskirts (plazas, dealerships, etc.) to downtown to roost.

 

lamp2.jpg

 

Back to topic though:

 

I like the idea Gobbo. The cans make a enticing nesting point. I live in town and have one tree. One large maple. The starlings (or the mock-sparrows mentioned) hang in my bushes because I have box elder bugs living around the front of my house. The bushes and the box elder bugs are all targeted for termination this summer. The bushes are overgrown from the previous owner and the bugs are nesting in my walls. New bushes are going to be Dwarf Burning Bushes (one at each front corner) and a mix of smaller flowering bushes. We love to landscape each year so we'll see how it all turns out. See separate post for that topic.

 

I know the fiancee is looking forward to putting up bird houses out front and in back so input on that will be welcome.

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Both Starlings and Hose Sparrows (actually a type of weaver and not a true sparrow at all) are invasive species that come from Eurasia and do enormous damage to our native wildlife, especially other birds. Neither are protected (at least in the US). The House sparrows likely came over roosting in the masts of ships. Starlings were intentionally released here by someone who thought they were pretty. :grr:

Not because they were pretty. Because they were mentioned in the works of Shakespeare, and the fellow thought that every bird that Shakespeare mentioned should be in North America.

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Birdhouses can be a nice touch to a backyard or garden, and can make an area more friendly for little winged friends.

 

But!

 

You have to put a bit of thought into it and extra care first. A lot of people will make or buy birdhouses and just stick them up hoping for residents. But a poorly-planned birdhouse can lead to some horrific discoveries and turn out to be deathtraps for bird families.

 

So the very first thing to do if you're thinking about a birdhouse is to do a little bit of research on local birds to determine what kind you'd like to attract. Then get a house for them. And only them. This is important. Say you want to attract Bluetits. They're nice little birds. What you want to then do is get a house with a small enough opening that only they can get in. If it's big enough for a larger bird, one might come along and kill all the nestlings. A lot of birds have an instinct to do this, because eliminating the competition gives their own offspring better odds.

 

Second, placement. The best thing for a birdhouse is to mount it on a pedestal. A suspended, freehanging house may be too easily disturbed by wind. Now you have to think home defense. For real. If you mount on a pedestal, you'll need to make an umbrella underneath. Wire might do, or spiky bits. The idea is to make it difficult and unpleasant for something to climb up from below looking for a snack. I've seen birdcam video where everything's nice and cozy, the nestlings are huddled, and then you see a great big raccoon hand pop in and grope around looking for dinner. It usually gets it.

 

Predators are smart, and many of them have learned that birdhouse = snackbox so they'll look for them specifically. If you want to give little feather friends a hand, you want to be careful to do it right. Working out a plan can save you a gruesome discovery later.

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Ours will go on top of fence posts. We don't have racoons (they are a rare thing in Alberta thus far) The idea is to have a few bug eaters (rocky mountain bluebirds prefered) to keep watch over our fruit trees and berry bushes. Umbrellas for the posts aren't an issue, just bit of scrap tin will do the trick. add in hinged bottoms so i can clean them out after the year is over, and they should do the job nicely.

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The following is the best book I have ever found on the subject; it's well worth the money: http://www.amazon.com/Woodworking-Wildlife-Homes-Birds-Animals/dp/1437915930/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367005164&sr=1-1&keywords=woodworking+for+wildlife

 

My wrens usually hatch out 2 to 3 broods a season. I love watching the little ones fledge out. Come to think of it, I should go out and see if my pair are back for the year yet. Usually, the male is singing by now, but it has been a very cold late spring this year and there are no bugs for them yet.

 

Andy

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