Nature Happenings

* Project FeederWatch continues, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw

* Christmas Bird Count is this month, birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count

* Watch for Bald Eagles along the rivers.

* 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 its hunt for food in the winter darkness.

* In preparation of the earliest nesting period of any bird (late-January through February), Great Horned Owls can be heard hooting at night in courtship.

* 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.

* Geminid Meteor Shower is mid-month, December 4th- 17th

*See if you can find our four members of the thrush family that reside here in the winter - the Hermit Thrush, Varied Thrush, American Robin and Western Bluebird.
Fun Facts About Doves
  • Like all birds, Mourning Doves are unable to sweat, so to stay cool during hot weather … they pant just like a dog. Panting requires the doves to drink a great deal of water due the excessive loss of moisture to evaporation.
  • Doves are one of the few species of birds that drink by sucking up their water instead of taking a bill full of water and letting it trickle down their throat. It can suck up its total daily requirement in less than 20 seconds.
  • Despite being one of the most widespread game birds in North America, with over 70 million shot annually, the Mourning Dove is still one of the 10 most abundant birds found in the United States with an estimated fall population of over 400 million birds.
  • Death from non-hunting related causes (weather, predators, disease, etc.) are believed to take four to five times the number of Mourning Doves each year than hunting does. It is estimated that between 50-65% of all Mourning Doves die annually.
  • The average life span for an adult Mourning Dove is 1 ½ years. The oldest known free-living bird, discovered through bird banding research, was over 31 years old. This is the record life span for a North American bird that lives on land.
  • Both Mourning Dove parents feed their young on “crop milk,” a yogurt-like secretion produced by the walls of their crop. It takes both parents to provide enough food for the growing nestlings. If one parent is lost during the nestlings’ first seven days, the young will not be able to survive on the food produced by the lone remaining adult.
  • Mourning Doves’ have been clocked at flying speeds between 40-55 mph.
  • The Mourning Dove’s large crop enables it to feed on a large quantity of seeds in a short amount of time, thus limiting the amount of time it is vulnerable to predators.
  • The feathers of a Mourning Dove are loosely attached to their skin and serve as a means of escape by easily pulling free when grabbed by a predator.