Avian Flu Outbreak

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Can I Feed the Birds Yet?

Avian Flu Update for September 2022 As of September 2022, the avian flu has yet to be found in songbirds. Our research from reputable source...

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Bird Report October 5, 2022

 

The Backyard Wildbird and Nature Store

 

Nanaimo Bird Report

October 5, 2022


“EXPLORE NATURE” --- GO BIRDING:

To report your sightings phone the Store at 250-390-3669 or e-mail us at thebackyard@shaw.ca. Please remember, when reporting a sighting to leave your name and phone number along with the date the species was seen and location of your sighting.
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Harlequin Duck (R. Hocken)

Tuesday October 4, 2022:

The Tuesday Bird Walk went up to the Englishman River Estuary, Shelly Road. The weather was sunny, winds calm, tide was out and on the way in and 14 degrees. A few highlights from the walk were, Yellow-rumped Warblers feeding the shrubs along the trail, many flocks of Pacific Loons flying, past and 3 Common Murres was seen out in the strait, along with two Humpback Whales moving north.

15 birders saw and heard the following 47 bird species:

Canada Goose

American Wigeon

Mallard

Harlequin Duck

Surf Scoter

White-winged Scoter

Common Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser

Common Loon

Pacific Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Common Murre

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Downy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

American Crow

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper

Bewick’s Wren

Pacific Wren

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Horned Grebe

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Red-tailed Hawk

Bald Eagle

Merlin

Kestrel

Killdeer

Short-billed Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull

California Gull

American Robin

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Spotted Towhee

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

House Finch

Purple Finch


Yellow-rumped Warbler (R. Hocken)

Sunday October 2, 2022:

Unfortunately, the Sunday Bird Walk was cancelled this week and will also be cancelled for October 9, Thanksgiving Weekend.

A flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers were seen on the Maki Road Trail, along the Nanaimo River.

Bushtits on a suet feeder

Backyard Bird Notes: 

With the continuing warm dry weather one thing the birds are looking for is water. There are no water puddles or small streams for the to drink from as they have all dried up. Providing a simple shallow water source to your backyard will attract a variety of birds. Songbirds prefer a shallow water source so they can easily wade into the water, like a saucer from a planter that is an inch or so deep. Place it in an open area where birds can see it but still a few feet away from a shrub or tree if they need shelter. Change the water regularly, and clean with the bleach solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Birds have great hearing, and the sound of moving water helps to attract them. Birds can hear the simple dripping sound of water from a great distance and will be attract to the water. Adding a fountain or dripper to your water source will help the birds find your backyard. Make your own dripper with a pop bottle. Tie a string or wire around the neck of the bottle so it can be hung above your water source. Poke a small pin hole in the bottom, fill with water and replace the cap. Hang over your water source and slowly unscrew the cap to achieve a slow steady drip.

If you have any birds to report or need help identifying, just email or call the store, thebackyard@shaw.ca or 250-390-3669, toll-free 1-888-808-BIRD (2473).

The Backyard Bird Walks

Our bird walks go out Sunday mornings in Nanaimo and Tuesday mornings in Parksville and Qualicum Beach area, are easy walks that go for two to three hours (back for lunch is the plan). Bring binoculars and a field guide. The walks are weather pending.

Please check our blog (www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com) for any cancelations.

The Tuesday Bird Walk, October 11, 2022

The Tuesday Bird Walk will be Going to Little Qualicum River Estuary (Marshall Stevenson Estuary), stopping first at the Brant Veiwing Stand in Qualicum Beach.

Meet at the Parksville Tourist Information Center parking lot, located by Hwy 19A, Northwest Bay Road and Franklin’s Gull Road in Parksville, at 9:00 am or meet at the Brant Viewing Stand at the end of Qualicum Beach at 9:15am or at the end of Surfside Drive off of Kinkade Road at 9:45. Weather cooperating.

The Sunday Bird Walk, CANCELLED

This week’s Sunday Bird Walk will be cancelled but will resume on October 16th.

Check the blog for updates and location.

For cancelled bird walks due to weather, please check The Backyard blog at www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com on the day of the bird walk. A notice will be up before 8:00am if there is a cancelation.

Good birding! Colin Bartlett

Birds and Water



With the out of season dry weather, natural water sources for birds can be harder to find. If you're unable to have bird feeders set out, a simple, easy to maintain alternative is to put out some water. Having a source of fresh water for your backyard birds is a great way to attract more birds, especially with the recent dry weather. Not all birds will come to feeders but all birds need water, especially when natural water sources aren't as readily available.

A water source can be as simple as a shallow dish filled with water every morning. If you use a bird bath, make sure to choose one with a shallow dish and gently sloping sides. Birds can have issues judging water depth and like to wade in rather than jump. If your dish is deeper than 2", you can add some rocks to create shallower places for birds to perch. 

When placing your bird bath or shallow dish, keep in mind that birds find everything by sight and sound. Having your bath in an open area with trees or bushes 8-10ft away. The nearby shrubbery provides cover when necessary but is far enough away to let the birds find the water and spot predators easily. The nearby perching area also allows potentially waterlogged birds to have somewhere safe to dry off enough to fly. Having the cover any closer ca give predators somewhere to hide and make it more difficult for the birds to spot danger.

Adding a bird bath or other water source to your yard does not mean instant birds as they will need time to find it. Birds have great hearing, so adding the sound of moving water can help them find it faster. Additions such as drippers or bird bath fountains can make enough of a sound to draw birds in. A simple homemade solution to create this dripping sound is poking a hole in the bottom of a 2 liter pop bottle and hanging it above the feeder. Birds don't need a loud sound, this simple slow drip is enough to get their attention. 

When putting out a water source, keep in mind that you do need to clean it regularly. Once a week or more often if you notice it getting dirty. Using 1 part bleach with 9 parts water, or a 1 to 1 ratio of industrial white vinegar and water (cleaning vinegar found in hardware stores) to disinfect and clean feeders can help prevent the spread of disease among your backyard visitors.

Enjoy your birds!



Wednesday, 28 September 2022

 

The Backyard Wildbird and Nature Store

Nanaimo Bird Report

September 28, 2022

“EXPLORE NATURE” --- GO BIRDING:

To report your sightings phone the Store at 250-390-3669 or e-mail us at thebackyard@shaw.ca. Please remember, when reporting a sighting to leave your name and phone number along with the date the species was seen and location of your sighting.
*********************************************************


Surf Scoter (R. Hocken)

Tuesday September 27, 2022:

The Tuesday Bird Walk went up to Deep Bay. The weather was sunny, winds calm, tide was going out and 14 degrees. A few highlights from the walk were, a pair of Marbled Murrelets seen close to shore at the point, a Western Grebe just of the shore near the mailboxes, and lots of scoters and Bonaparte Gulls to see.

13 birders saw and heard the following 49 bird species:

Canada Goose

Harlequin Duck

Northern Pintail

Surf Scoter

Black Scoter

White-winged Scoter

Common Merganser

Common Loon

Pacific Loon

Red-necked Grebe

Horned Grebe

Western Grebe

Pelagic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Black Oystercatcher

Killdeer

Bonaparte’s Gull

Short-billed Gull

Thayer’s Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull

California Gull

Marbled Murrelet

Pigeon Guillemot

Rock Pigeon

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Downy Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

American Crow

Steller’s Jay

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

American Pipit

American Robin

European Starling

Brewer’s Blackbird

Spotted Towhee

Golden-crowned Sparrow

White-crown Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

House Finch

American Goldfinch

House Sparrow


 White-crowned Sparrow, juvenile, brown & tan instead of black and white markings

(R. Hocken)

Sunday September 25, 2022:

The Sunday Bird Walk went to Maki Road Trail in South Nanaimo. The weather was sunny and 13 degrees. We saw a Northern Harrier flying around the estuary and then followed a thermal up providing great views of the bird. A few other raptors seen were, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Bald Eagle, Merlin, and a Kestrel. There were a few ducks on the marsh including an American Coot and a Greater Yellowlegs was seen on the riverbank for the trail.

18 birders saw and heard the following 37 bird species:

Mallard

Green-winged Teal

Common Merganser

Hooded Merganser

American Coot

Pied-billed Grebe

Pelagic Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Northern Harrier

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Merlin

Kestrel

Killdeer

Greater Yellowlegs

Glaucous-winged Gull

Anna’s Hummingbird

Belted Kingfisher

Pileated Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

Common Raven

American Crow

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Brown Creeper

Bewick’s Wren

American Robin

Cedar Waxwing

European Starling

Spotted Towhee

Song Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Golden-crowned Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Red-winged Blackbirds 


House Finch (R. Hocken)

Backyard Bird Notes:

It is interesting how the birds react to a slight change in the weather. Today with the cooler overcast day we are hearing more birds and seeing a little more activity at the bird feeders. The mornings have been very quiet but with today’s overcast weather it is great to hear all the chatter again. One species to watch for is the Dark-eyed Juncos who will start moving in for the winter. There’s always lots of activity going on when they are around. Also watch for the Spotted Towhees and Song Sparrows returning.

If you don’t have time to tend to the garden this fall, that is ok. The birds will enjoy the seeds produced from the flowers left over the winter.

Question, can I put my feeders out? Yes, you can feed the birds. According to the Canadian Food inspection Agency “The use of bird feeders is still safe but they should be removed from areas that are open to poultry and other domestic animals”, https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/migratory-game-bird-hunting/avian-influenza-wild-birds.html#toc3 . Clean your bird feeders regularly, at least once a month, with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Use this mixture to also clean your bird bath and hummingbird feeders. Also remove old bird seed from under your bird feeders.

If you have any birds to report or need help identifying, just email or call the store, thebackyard@shaw.ca or 250-390-3669, toll-free 1-888-808-BIRD (2473).

The Backyard Bird Walks

Our bird walks go out Sunday mornings in Nanaimo and Tuesday mornings in Parksville and Qualicum Beach area, are easy walks that go for two to three hours (back for lunch is the plan). Bring binoculars and a field guide. The walks are weather pending.

Please check our blog (www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com) for any cancelations.

The Tuesday Bird Walk, October 4, 2022

The Tuesday Bird Walk will be Going to Englishman River Estuary – Shelly Road.

Meet at the Parksville Tourist Information Center parking lot, located by Hwy 19A, Northwest Bay Road and Franklin’s Gull Road in Parksville, at 9:00 am or meet at the end of Shelly Road in Parksville at 9:10am. Weather cooperating.

The Sunday Bird Walk, CANCELLED

This week’s Sunday Bird Walk will be cancelled but will resume on October 16th.

Check the blog for updates and location.

For cancelled bird walks due to weather, please check The Backyard blog at www.thebirdstore.blogspot.com on the day of the bird walk. A notice will be up before 8:00am if there is a cancelation.

Good birding! Colin Bartlett

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Clear Skies - The Moon, Planets, ISS, and Satellites

 Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars


The very bright “star” that is visible in the evening in the southeast and then high in the south around midnight is actually Jupiter.  On Sunday, Sept. 26, it was at opposition, which means it was directly opposite the Sun in relation to the Earth, however it will remain bright in the night sky for some time.

Given that it is so bright, it is a good target for binoculars.  Jupiter has four bright moons, the so-called Galilean moons in honour of Galileo who first observed them through a telescope.  They have very short orbits around Jupiter so their relative positions change noticeably from night to night.  It can be quite interesting to observe them over a few nights with binoculars as they do the celestial dance from one side of Jupiter to the other.

Saturn is not as bright as Jupiter but it can be picked out in the southeastern or southern sky though the evening.  It is only about 25 degrees above the horizon at its highest (around 10:30 p.m.), but it is a bit brighter than any of the stars near it in that part of the sky.  With any small telescope or spotting scope you may be able to make out its rings. 

Mars is now rising in the east northeast just after 10 p.m.  It will rise a bit earlier each evening and will become brighter and brighter as it does so.

Venus and Mercury rise in the east just ahead of the Sun, so cannot be easily seen right now.

 

The Moon helps identify the planets

We had a New Moon on Sept. 25, so in a couple days you can look for a thin crescent Moon low in the west just after sunset.  It will reach First Quarter (half-lighted) on Oct. 3.  On Tues/Wed, Oct. 4 & 5, you can use the Moon to help you find Saturn.  On Tuesday, Saturn will be just the width of your fist at arm’s length to the upper left of the Moon.  A day later, it will be a bit closer but to the Moon’s upper right.

On Friday, Oct. 7, Jupiter will be a fist’s width to the upper left of the Moon, and on Saturday, Jupiter will be only half that distance to the Moon’s upper right.

On Thursday, Oct. 13, the Moon will be just below the Pleiades, a pretty little star cluster, which by the way is what is represented by Subaru’s logo.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Moon will rise around 9 p.m.  Reddish hued Mars can be picked out very close to the Moon’s lower right throughout the rest of the evening.

 

International Space Station (ISS)


There are several evening passes of the ISS between 8 and 10 p.m. over the next week or so for Vancouver Island and the lower BC mainland.  Here are the best of them.

Tonight (Sept. 26), ISS rises in the west at 8:01 and climbs very high towards the north, skirting very close to Polaris, the North Star, at 8:05, after which it will drop towards the eastern horizon, disappearing at 8:09.

Tuesday, 27 Sept., ISS will rise in the WNW at 8:50 and climb almost directly overhead, passing between the two bright stars that make up the top of the Summer Triangle, Vega and Deneb respectively.  Shortly after passing Deneb, ISS will fade from sight as it enters Earth’s shadow.

Wednesday, 28 Sept., ISS rises in the WNW at 8:00 and climbs very high in the north, passing by the end of the handle of the Big Dipper five minutes later, and then crossing through the Great Square of Pegasus in the east before fading from sight at 8:08.

Sept. 29, Thursday, will see the ISS rise in the WNW at 8:49, climb past bright Arcturus low in the west, and then finish our tour of the Summer Triangle by passing very close to Altair, the lowest of the three bright stars making up this shape.  Moments later it will fade from sight as it enters Earth’s shadow.

The final great pass will be on Friday, Sept. 30.  ISS will rise in the WNW at 8:00, climb above Arcturus, pass through the four stars that make up the “drinking cup” shape in Hercules, and then pass through the Summer Triangle, disappearing just above the ESE horizon at 8:07.

 

SpaceX Star Link Satellites

Some of you have been observing lines of satellites crossing the night sky.  These are constellations of small satellites, each set launched by SpaceX on a single rocket.  They continue to orbit in their close configuration which provides us with a rather unusual sight. 

 

Clear skies.

David

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Can I Feed the Birds Yet?

Avian Flu Update for September 2022

As of September 2022, the avian flu has yet to be found in songbirds.

Our research from reputable sources such as Bird Studies Canada, the Cornell Lab of OrnithologyEnvironment and Climate Change Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency concludes that there is currently still very little to no risk of songbirds catching avian flu.

It is safe to continue feeding your backyard birds as long as you do not have poultry, or waterfowl  visiting your feeders. Just be sure to keep the area clean and disinfect feeders once a week with a 10% bleach solution, or a 50% cleaning vinegar solution (industrial white vinegar found in hardware stores, different from cooking vinegar) and remove any old bird seed on the ground. If you do have backyard chickens but keep them at a distance from your wild bird feeding area, you can continue feeding but we recommend you be careful to keep your chickens and backyard birds well away from each other.