Archive for Thursday, January 3, 2008

Feathered friends plentiful around Lawrence for January

January 3, 2008


Attracting birds

Marty Birrell, nature education supervisor at Prairie Park Nature Center, offers some tips for attracting a variety of birds and for providing them water during the winter:

¢ Use a seed mixture high in safflower oil or use black and oiled sunflower seeds.

¢ Niger and thistle seeds will attract finches.

¢ Birds will use water sources through the year.

¢ Buy a heater for bird baths.

¢ Otherwise put water out several times a day to prevent it from freezing.

Migratory birds may seem more prevalent than usual in the area, and some local bird experts said that's because many ducks and Canada geese are on a delayed timetable.

"I saw a flock just on Saturday and again on New Year's," said Marty Birrell, nature education supervisor for the Prairie Park Nature Center. "They are still coming from the north."

Mike McFadden, district wildlife biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, said a warm fall postponed migration. Recent winter storms spurred many birds to begin their annual flights south.

Canada geese usually arrive in Kansas in late November, with peak numbers of 300,000 to 450,000 birds during the first half of December, according to the department's Web site. This year's totals so far were unavailable.

Chris Lecuyer, Clinton Lake area manager for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, is responsible for counting the number of water fowl at the lake every two weeks. On Friday, Lecuyer estimated more than 1,500 ducks and more than 2,000 Canada geese.

"This year is a good year," he said. "There is a higher number of all water fowl species."

If northeast Kansas doesn't receive another freeze, Lecuyer said he thinks this may be as far south as most of the birds go.

In other parts of Lawrence, people have seen an increase in the number of smaller birds as well.

A local bird-watcher, Joyce Wolf, who is a 25-year member of the Jayhawk Audubon Society, said in addition to the hundreds of Canada geese she sees in fields that surround her home near Stull, west of Lawrence, she has seen dozens of small species, including goldfinches.

Wolf tracks the birds in her yard daily for a Cornell University Ornithology bird tracking Web site called She counted 30 different species in December and 14 on Wednesday.

"It just seems like there's been a lot of birds," she said. "We had 94 species for the Lawrence Christmas count, the day after an ice storm with snow on the ground."


Frederic Gutknecht IV 10 years ago

It seems waterfowl only fly as far south as needed. As long as they can feed and roost on water, they're happy enough to remain in cold climes. Corn allows them to remain north of where they used to winter. A dash of earth warming adds to the lure and security of these cold times.

A long migration is a tough gig. It leads to desperation and death. Clever birds prefer to ride out the cold snaps and save their energy for breeding. They probably also learn that it's a bit safer to remain on familiar grounds and in locales where they will not encounter shot streams.

Backyard feeding has allowed many smaller birds to stay farther north than they would have in the past.

Does trickle-down economics work?~) Nothing works in the long run. Such is the nature of nature. No matter...I guess. We ain't trilobites, f'r he'v'ns sake!~)

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