Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
January 2018                                                                                          Volume 1.18

Check out our updated Wild Birds Unlimited Website
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Nature News
Bird of the Month
Common Name: Spotted Towhee
Scientific namePipilo maculatus                         
Spotted towhees are smaller than a robin, standing at about 8 inches. Like many songbirds the male has striking plumage. His head and upper parts are black. They have a thick pointed, black bill, and fire red eyes. The sides are rufous, and the breast and belly are white. White spots stand out on the black back, and wings. The long tail is black with large white spots at the corners which are visible in flight. The female is similar, but has brown where the male has black.
Spotted towhee's main diet is seeds but they also eat insects and fruit. They eat insects including ground beetles, weevils, ladybugs, darkling beetles, click beetles, wood-boring beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars, moths, bees, and wasps. They also eat acorns, berries, and seeds including buckwheat, thistle, raspberry, blackberry, poison oak, sumac, nightshade, chickweed, and crops such as oats, wheat, corn, and cherries. In fall and winter, these plant foods make up the majority of their diet. 
Although they do search for food in trees they mainly forage on the ground. They scratch
the ground by kicking both feet backward at the same time to uncover food.
These birds prefer to forage in bushes with leaves on the ground, making quite a
racket as they rustle through the leaves. If you have a seed feeder near bushes
towhees may search for seeds fallen, or sprinkled on the ground. Having a seed cylinder with mealworms and berries is a good way to attract these birds to your yard. 
In the Truckee Meadows and surrounding areas, look for spotted towhees in open, shrubby habitat with thick undergrowth. Spotted Towhees are also at home in backyards, forest edges, and overgrown fields. Their warm rufous flanks match the dry leaves they spend their time hopping around in. The birds can be hard to see in the leaf litter, so your best chance for an unobstructed look at this bird may be in the spring, when males climb into the shrub tops to sing their buzzy songs. Their song is a long buzzy chweeee. In some areas the bird is called a chewink because of the sound of their alarm. Other sounds are shenk, chup-chup zedededee, and a cat-like meew call.


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Jim's Birdacious Bark Butter
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Bark ButterĀ® Bits are bite-sized nuggets made from suet and other high-quality ingredients your birds will love. Will attract a variety of birds, including many that do not normally visit feeders.
Now in Hot Pepper varieties also!
Upcoming Events

Lahontan Audubon Society
Friday, January 5
8:00am Field Trip - Diamond Creek Pond Area
Tuesday, January 9
6:00pm LAS Board meeting
Tuesday, January 16
4:00pm Birds & Books
Friday, January 19
8:00am Field Trip - Damonte Ranch Wetlands Field Trip
Tuesday, January 23
6:30pm Program Meeting - Herons and Egrets of NAS Fallon - Jerry Fenwick
Tahoe Institute of Natural Science

Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Count
Friday, January 12, 2018 09:00am-12:00pm
The Tahoe Institute for Natural Science (TINS) will be coordinating the 37th annual mid-winter Bald Eagle count on Friday January 12, 2018 from 9am to 12pm, and you are invited to participate. There are 26 stations located around the Lake Tahoe basin, and we would like to get these completely filled as soon as possible!  When responding, please select three preferences for survey station options (if unsure, please leave a comment regarding the general area of the lake you might prefer, where you are coming from, etc.)
TBY Waterfowl Outing
Sunday, January 21, 2018 09:00am-12:00pm
The Tahoe Big Year is upon us! Join the TINS staff on the first Tahoe Big Year outing as we explore the Tahoe Keys for waterfowl of all types. We will make our way through Cove East and if we have time, head over to explore Pope Marsh. Make sure to take notes, because this walk is sure to reveal new birds for the Big Year.

Nature Happenings


* Project FeederWatch continues, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw
* Watch for Bald Eagles along the rivers.
* Beaver mating season.
* Rather than search for worms in the frozen soil, large winter flocks of robins will visit fruit trees for food.
* Cedar Waxwings will visit yards in search of fruit, often staying for hours before moving on.
* Juncos will hunt for fallen seed, often before dawn.
* The smaller the bird, the earlier it hunts for food in the winter darkness.
* Listen for Great Horned Owls' "hoot" as they pair up for mating season.
* Now through late March is a difficult time for birds; providing food and an open source of water is important.
* Winter is a great time to look for birds' nests. Admire the craftsmanship, but leave the nest in place.
* Aldo Leopold's (Father of Wildlife Conservation) birthday Jan. 11
* Quadrantid Meteor Shower early in the month. See up to 60 falling meteors per hour!

Feed Our Local Birds!
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