Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
March 2019                                                                                          Volume 3.19
Nature News
Bird of the Month

 
    

    
CANADA GOOSE
Branta canadensis
 
The big, black-necked Canada Goose with its signature white chinstrap mark is a familiar and widespread bird of fields and parks. Thousands of these geese migrate north and south each year, filling the sky with long V-formations. But as urban lawns have become the norm, more and more of these grassland-adapted birds are staying put in urban and suburban areas year-round, where some people regard them as pests.
 
Some populations of the Canada Goose are not going as far south in the winter as they used to. This northward range shift has been attributed to changes in farm practices that makes waste grain more available in fall and winter, as well as changes in hunting pressure and changes in weather.
 
Extremely successful at living in human-altered areas, Canada geese have proven able to establish breeding colonies in urban and cultivated areas, which provide food and few natural predators. The success of this common park species has led to its often being considered a pest species because of their depredation of crops and their noise, droppings, aggressive territorial behavior, and habit of begging for food (caused by human hand feeding).
 
During summer, Canada Geese are fairly easy to see in the waterways and grasslands of the Reno/Sparks areas, swimming in open water, resting near shore, or grazing on lawns or farm fields. They are often heard flying above, by day or night; if you study their honks you may notice the difference by sound when other species of geese or swans are flying.
 
Canada geese are primarily herbivores, although they sometimes eat small insects and fish. Their diet includes green vegetation and grains. The Canada goose eats a variety of grasses when on land. It feeds by grasping a blade of grass with the bill, then tearing it with a jerk of the head. The Canada goose also eats beans and grains such as wheat, rice, and corn when they are available. In the water, it feeds from aquatic plants by sliding its bill at the bottom of the body of water. It also feeds on aquatic plants, such as seaweeds. In urban areas, it is also known to pick food out of garbage bins. They are also sometimes hand-fed a variety of grains and other foods by humans in parks.
Some interesting facts about the Canada Goose are that these geese have very good eyesight. They can see more than 180 degrees horizontally and vertically which is very useful during flight and have mostly monocular vision. Also, Canadian geese have a large lifespan. As an extreme, some can live up to twenty four years in the wild. However, most die within the first year of their life because of predators.
 
 
Additional information on the Canada Goose or backyard birds can be obtained at Wild Birds Unlimited inside all Moana Nursery locations in Reno and Sparks.
 
Click here to go to the Moana Nursery Website for more information
 
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Great family project to attract & observe backyard birds.
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What Do Birds Need For Nesting?

 
 
There are some things that you can do to assist your backyard birds at this busy time of year. Below are 10 things you can do to help.

1. Keep your cat inside (and ask your neighbors to do the same).
Cats take an incredible toll on songbirds, but low-nesting species and their young are especially vulnerable to cat predation. Do the birds a favor and keep this unnatural predator away from places where birds nest.
2. Provide nest boxes. It may seem obvious, but a well-placed nest box can mean the difference between nesting success and failure for a cavity-nesting bird. It's hard for many species to compete with starlings and house sparrows, which can take all the best cavities. For great advice on being a landlord to the birds, read A Guide to Bird Homes, published by BWD Press (1-800-879-2473).
3. Hold off trimming hedges and shrubs. Lots of species use small hedges and shrubs for nesting. If you see a bird building a nest in such a place on your property, you've got a great excuse to avoid this bit of yard work for the next month or two.
4. Put out short pieces of fiber, string, and yarn. For birds that build woven nests (orioles, some sparrows, robins, and others), a few short pieces of yarn can come in mighty handy during building time. Offer the pieces in an onion bag or in a small basket. Keep the pieces shorter than two inches to reduce the risk of birds getting tangled in them.
5. Offer short pieces of pet or human hair in onion bags or put in obvious places. If you looked at a hundred bird nests, chances are that most of them would have some animal hair in them. It's soft, insulating, and easy to gather. When you groom your pet (or when you yourself are groomed), save the hair to spread around your backyard for the birds to use. Be sure to clip long strands of hair or fur into pieces no longer than two inches to avoid entanglement by nestlings' feet and legs.
6. Put out eggshells for birds. Eggshells help female birds replace calcium lost during egg production and laying. Save your eggshells, dry them out in the oven (10-30 minutes at 250 degrees), crumble them into small pieces, and spread the pieces on an open spot on the ground.
7. Continue to feed high-protein foods such as mealworms, peanuts, and suet.Don't stop feeding your birds, unless you want to miss out on some fabulous behavior watching. Energy-packed foods such as those listed above will lure your backyard birds (and their young) to your feeders. These young birds will learn at an early age where your feeders are.
8. Don't mow meadows or brushy areas between late April and mid-August. We keep our farm fields long and grassy all summer long, mowing only a few paths that we keep short all year. This means that field sparrows, prairie warblers, meadowlarks, and other birds can nest in peace. And our box turtles, butterflies, rabbits, deer, foxes, and other creatures appreciate our "farming" style, too.
9. If you find a nest - stay away. If you happen upon a bird's nest, don't linger, and don't make a return visit. We human beings leave scent trails wherever we go, and these scent trails can mean an easy meal to a hungry raccoon, opossum, fox, or other predator (We leave the same trails leading to our outdoor pet-food dishes, garbage cans, and compost piles). These predators are smart enough to follow these trails to see if they might lead to a snack. For the birds' sake, don't help to blow a nest's cover by visiting it repeatedly.
10. Provide water for bathing and drinking on hot days. Actually, provide water all year long, if you can-but make sure to keep it clean. Your birdbath may be the first place in your backyard a parent bird takes its offspring. Lots of family-style bathing takes place at summer birdbaths, and young birds can be dependent upon the only water source they know. So keep your bath filled and clean. Make sure the average water depth is less than three inches. Birds appreciate shallow water. 

 Nesting Time!  How Cool Is That?
 


Upcoming Events

Lahontan Audubon Society



Tahoe Institute of Natural Science



Go to Tinsweb website for full list of outings 


Nature Happenings

* Project FeederWatch continues, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw
* House Wren, Warbling Vireo and Yellow Warblers return this month.
* Cedar Waxwings, our winter residents, depart for their breeding territories.
* Barn and Cliff Swallows return by mid-month.
* Peak of spring waterfowl migration.
* Bald Eagles and Screech Owls are sitting on their eggs.
* Bluebirds begin nesting by the end of the month. Be sure to have their nesting boxes ready.
* Goldfinches begin to molt into their brilliant yellow plumage.
* Offer nesting material such as wool yarn, string cut in short lengths, sheep's wool and horse/dog hair.
* Get nectar feeders out and filled by April 15 for early hummingbird migrants.
* Notorious spring blizzards can blanket the region, making it very difficult for early migrants and early nesters to survive. Bird feeding is very important during these times.
* Lyrids meteor shower, late-April.
* Earth Day, April 22.

Feed Our Local Birds!
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509