Birding and more...Newsletter
2010 / Issue 7


Although Osprey are found almost everywhere in the world, one third of these spectacular birds reside in Canada! Ospreys are one of the largest raptors in southern Ontario. With a wingspan of almost 5' and a body length of 24" they are much larger than a Red-tailed Hawk, and comparable in overall size to the Turkey Vulture. These birds have a dark brown back and are white underneath, with a distinctive brown eye-stripe. Osprey feed almost exclusively of freshly caught fish. During the nesting season, the male does almost all of the hunting. In dramatic fashion the Osprey will plunge into the water and grab the fish (this can be witnessed frequently during the late Spring and Summer on the Moira River near Memorial Park). The Osprey have sharp spines on the soles of their talons which helps them to keep a grip on their slippery prey. In flight, the Osprey will rotate the fish so that it's pointing forward for better aerodynamics. The male will eat the head of the fish and then bring the body back to the nest for the female and any offspring. The size of the fish they catch is quite remarkable, and the Osprey has to be careful not to grab hold of a fish that is too large for it to lift, because they could get pulled down into the water and drown - although this is fairly rare. Usually the bird can loose its grip on a fish that's too big and fly off to try again another day. From 1940 - 1974 the use of DDT poisoned much of the fish of North America which consequently wiped out large numbers of Osprey. Also, lakefront development destroyed much of the Osprey's natural habitat and nesting sites, forcing them to nest on hazardous structures like hydro poles and television towers. Fortunately the Osprey has made a comeback! For many years now there has been a campaign, headed up by our Ministry of Natural Resources, to build nesting structures especially for Osprey. You can see them in many places around Belleville: at the corner of Dundas & Haig, on the north side of Dundas just east of Haig, at the foot of Reid St. in Memorial Park, near the bay shore in the Quinte Conservation Area, and at the corner of Massassauga Rd. and County Road 28 - just to mention a few. These great birds are easy to see, and captivating to watch.


Two of our readers,
Tina Pennacchio and Susan Rollinson,
 have just opened a new store
for Belleville

The store is called A PLACE TO PERCH.
It is located at 390 Front Street.

Elaine and I have visited the store and found it very impressive, with a great selection
 of high quality merchandise for those who
 enjoy birding in the wild or in their own backyard.


The Readers Patch is a space for your photos, stories, and/or comments.
Send anything you'd like to share with us to:


The newest addition to our Garden List
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (April 13, 2010)


Do you know which bird has the
most feathers?


With over 25,000 feathers!!

     What's New this week

New posts have been added to the Birding and more Blog.

New photos have been added to the Backyard Birds gallery, and the Birds in the Wild gallery.

New entries were also made to the Garden Bird List and to the Links to Other Sites page.

                  HOW TO
                    and for no cost.

Personally, I like squirrels. I think they're incredibly entertaining to watch. I also think Grackles and Starlings
(in small numbers) are beautiful birds, but I also appreciate that some people wish that these "pests" would just stay away. This article will show you a simple, no cost way to keep them out of your yard.

The problem always begins with feeders full of mixed seed, or peanuts, or suet, or sunflower seeds, etc. The feeders are intended to attract a variety of beautiful little birds but instead they are ravaged by Squirrels, Starlings, and Grackles - and no other birds have a chance. Typically, out of frustration, the home owner then invests in squirrel baffles, expensive squirrel proof bird feeders, and even motion detector sprinklers to try to win the war with these clever and relentless foes. I'm here to tell you there is an easier (and cheaper) way to do it.

Simply change the food that you put out in your feeders. No more mixed seed, peanuts and the like. Restrict your feeders to Safflower seed (which Squirrels and black birds hate), Nyger seed, millet, mealworms, and nectar. A couple of hopper style feeders with Safflower will attract Cardinals, House Finches, Chickadees, Doves, and Grosbeaks. Nyger seed in tube feeders is perfect for Goldfinches, and some of the other small birds. Millet on the ground will make the Sparrows, Juncos, and Doves happy. Then you have mealworms for the Bluebirds, and nectar feeders for the Hummingbirds and Orioles. The Robins will also show up, content to take their fill of earth worms, while the Squirrels, Grackles and Starlings will have to go elsewhere.


We've planted several shrubs in our garden just for their appearance and/or fragrance and as I list them here I realize just how many shrubs we have – and we're not done yet! I don't know what it is about shrubbery but for me it makes the garden, or at least plays a major role. For one thing, I do appreciate the privacy shrubs provide as they grow (and I have to confess I don't understand those who are happy with nothing marking their property boundaries or providing any private areas, but to each their own... ). For another, I love the luxuriant green growth, the irregular shape, the flowers that are so attractive, and the variety of colours and textures of the leaves. I just love shrubs!

As I've mentioned before, we have a  Butterfly Bush in our “front” flower island (the one closest to the patio). It basically grows from scratch each year (well, last year was its first year of “regrowth” and we have our fingers crossed for this year) and the flowers are a beautiful deep blue, almost purple. We also have two Goldflame Spireas, one in each of the islands and a Bridalwreath Spirea  at the back fence (I love the arching branches covered in white blossoms). The final shrub we have in the front island is a red Barberry at the base of our feeder pole (it might be a Crimson Pygmy but it was a shrub that had been planted at the front of the house and we moved it to that location, so I don't know for sure). A Mock Orange is planted close to our gazebo with the hope that its fragrance will drift our way as we relax on our glider. We're also hoping that it will actually have blossoms this year! In other locations around the backyard we have a Winter Beauty Dogwood, a Silverleaf Dogwood, a Hydrangea, and a Pink Cloud Beauty Bush. Last but not least we have two shrubs at the front of our house, a Smokebush and a Purple Sandcherry. We wanted different rather than matching but chose shrubs with leaves of a similar colour and think they will complement each other well.

I began this article saying that we picked these shrubs for their appearance and/or fragrance but even without fruit they provide shelter for the birds and are a valuable part of our bird-friendly garden.

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    Copyright © 2010 Garry Kirsch                                                          

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