In late summer and early fall, many birds start their migration as they head south for the winter. The baby birds have fledged, and now it is time to make the long journey. There are several ways in which you can help birds and many of these ways are similar to how you can help when you encourage birds to make their home, only this time of year they may just be passing through.
Evaluate your property. Habitat diversity is important as it encourages many more variety of birds to visit your yard. Create a habitat full of native evergreen and fruit bearing trees, shrubs, and vines. Utilizing native plants is better for the environment and requires less maintenance.
Migrating birds will be looking for shelter and food which can be provided by dead trees and brush piles. Food can be as simple as insects which may also be attracted to flowers and other plants. Your habitat is best if you have a variety of plants that flower and fruit at different periods of the year. Some birds will even appreciate the winter blooming plants!
All birds need some water. Moving water will attract birds, keep the water fresher and prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. Consider adding a water feature like a bird bath with a water wiggler. If you want something a little more complex, you can build a pond with a waterfall, or add a running creek.
When you are thinking about using weed killers make sure that you don’t use any herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides as these types of products can kill a bird.
Out on the wildlife rich waters of the San Juan Islands in Washington State, owner and tour guide Tim Thomsen leads a group of kayak enthusiasts as they take in the breathtaking sights of the regions Orca whales, porpoises, otters, bald eagles and other wildlife.
San Juan Kayak Expeditions, now in its 30th season – resides in the picturesque town of Friday Harbor, Washington. Specializing in multi-day tours, these sea excursions offer 3 and 4 day coastal and island adventures. These trips blend various outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, kayaking and kayak sailing into one exciting adventure. Each trip spends a day and a half in Orca whale territory, giving you the most up-close and personal encounter with the whales. If a guided tour is not what you’re seeking, top-of-the-line fiberglass, double sea kayak rentals and gear are available if you prefer to venture out on your own. Kayak rentals are also available for larger groups for reunions, families, scout troops and educational groups.
Sea Kayak Sailing is another exciting activity, exclusive to San Juan Kayak Expeditions. Specially designed and patented, created by the company’s owner, this sail can enhance your speeds at sea from three to eight knots. This exhilarating sport has been incorporated into the kayak expeditions for the last ten years, and given the right weather conditions, sea kayak sailing can be one of the most exciting experiences of your life.
If you’re looking for that perfect outdoor adventure, one that is truly unique and one-of-a-kind, come and check out San Juan Kayak Expeditions. It’s a trip you’ll talk about for years to come.
For more info on these amazing San Juan Island coastal tours and how you can book your own trip, visit: www.sanjuankayak.com
San Juan Island, Washington may just be one of the most popular whale watching destinations. Within close proximity to both Lopez and Orcas Island, these whale watching excursions draw people from all corners of the globe in hopes of seeing Orcas (aka Killer Whales) in action. Orcas live in pods of up to 50 whales, and though they are found in all the oceans of the world, these whales prefer cooler water temperatures, which is why the waters off the Northwest Coast provide one of the highest sighting percentages for whale watching tours.
Maya’s Westside Charters, based in scenic Snug Harbor, is one of San Juan Island Washington’s most popular whale sighting services. Captain Jim Maya, owner and founder, has been captivating tourists with his chartered tours since 1997 and has many previous years of guiding tours of the Orcas on the waters of San Juan before he began his company.
Maya’s whale excursions consist of a 3-hour tour, getting you as up-close and personal with the whales as possible. Picturesque sunset tours, photo expeditions and private tours are also available. Captain Jim Maya’s belief when venturing out to sea is that a smaller boat is better. Usually no more than 6 passengers are on a tour at one time, allowing better and more close up views of the whales.
As of the 2007 season, a 30 foot Glacier Bay catamaran, “The Peregrine” is what carries the Captain and its passengers at sea. This is an exceptionally quiet ride with outstanding visibility for all passengers, which makes for one ultimate whale sighting experience.
Throughout Jim’s tours, many other wildlife and sea mammals may be seen along the way. It’s not uncommon to spot harbor seals, sea lions and various birds of the wild. This is one trip for which you won’t want to leave your camera behind.
For more information on reservations and prices of these guided tours, please go to: www.mayaswhalewatch.biz
Bird Guy, Chris Caviezel
Winter is here in most places. Birds need food to stay warm so be sure to feed the birds first thing in the morning after a cold night or late in the day just before a cold night. Birds will need more calories to stay warm and consequently your birds that come to your feeders, Cardinals, Chickadee, Nuthatches and House Finches will want Black-Oil Sunflower seeds — its like an electric blanket for the birds!
Click to read a full article on how birds stay warm in the winter.
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As a warm blooded creature, a passerine (songbird) has a body temperature that varies between 102 degrees Fahrenheit and 112.3 degrees Fahrenheit. During periods of extreme cold, its temperature may drop drastically. How does a bird control its body temperature so it won’t freeze when the ambient temperature plummets below the freezing mark? How does it find warm places to sleep?
A bird’s coat of feathers forms its primary defense against cold. Passerines’ feathers are so thick that very little skin is exposed to air, which prevents body heat from escaping. A system of muscles connected to each feather enables a bird to raise or lower its feathers. When the environmental temperature falls, a bird “fluffs” its feathers much the same as we “fluff” a down jacket increasing the air spaces. The more air spaces, the better the insulation.
Birds have other means of retaining heat. Sometimes a bird draws one leg up into its belly feathers. Ground feeding juncos, sparrows, and some finches lower their bodies to ground level to cover their feet with feathers. You also may see a bird with its head and bill tucked back into its scapulars, or feathers along its shoulder.
A bird can increase its body heat by stimulating muscle activity through shivering. A bird that shakes all over is revving its engine to stay warm.
Some birds – bluebirds and chickadees, for example- sleep in groups on extremely cold nights, transferring heat from one body to the next. In some instances, birds find tree cavities or nest boxes for this sort of group sleeping.
Some species – such as swifts, nighthawks, and hummingbirds – reduce their energy requirements by going into a state of torpor. This lowers their body temperature by several degree to a level near that of the air.
Most birds that come to our backyard feeders stock up on seed and suet shortly before retiring for the night. This fuel stokes their fire so to speak.
As winter approaches do you leave the screen windows on? Of course not! Likewise it’s common sense that if we want our feathered friends to use (and benefit from) the nest boxes we have in our yards, we must winterize them.
First clean out the season’s nests that may have gotten damp, filthy or infested with blowflies or lice. Then, layer 3-4″ of clean dry meadow grass in the bottom of each house. Wood shavings can work well too, but don’t use sawdust as it retains moisture when wet.
Second, plug the air vent holes (and drainage holes) in your houses with flexible weather strip. You can get weather strip (Moretite is one brand) in most home/hardware center stores. It comes in a putty- like cord that you simply press in with your fingers and it comes out easily in the spring.
Who will use your house if properly winterized? Downy woodpeckers seem to be one of the most common winter tenants, even though they prefer to carve their own nest cavity. You can tell they have visited when you find some of the feathers they shed. Their feathers are long with very flimsy shafts with gray barbs and a grayish white tip. Chickadees and titmice will sometimes leave droppings and a few feathers behind while bluebirds leave a few regurgitated seeds. It’s not uncommon for 6-9 bluebirds to emerge from one box. Nuthatches and Carolina Wrens are some other common visitors to winterized homes.
If you want to provide even more winter housing, check out the Winter Roosts at BirdFeedersOnly.com!