February 2012

Wood Ducks-Mississippi's Official Waterfowl

The Wood Duck is the official waterfowl of the state of Mississippi. The particular law declaring the wood duck as the state waterfowl is found in Chapter 3 of the Mississippi code which deals with official state holidays and emblems.  In 1974, the Mississippi General Assembly passed Title 3, Chapter 3, Section 3-3-25 which reads as follows: “the wood duck (Aix sponsa) is hereby designated the state waterfowl of Mississippi”

Spotting Bald Eagles Becoming More Common

Bald eagles are indeed making a comeback. Our national symbol was officially taken off the endangered species list in 2007. Officials now believe there are nearly 10,000 nesting pairs of this bird, and this number does not include those that have not reached sexual maturity. Since bald eagles can live up to 30 years in the wild, this means we are likely to see an upswing in population numbers for some time to come.

Things to Consider when Hunting Wood Ducks

Hunting wood ducks takes a certain amount of skill along with perfect timing. When hunting these birds, it’s best to do so during the early morning hours and have one or two companions to help you. Choosing the right location and using certain props to help lure the ducks out of hiding can also contribute to your success. Here are a few things to consider whenever you are hunting this waterfowl:

The African Grey Parrot: What You Need to Know

African grey parrots are a delight to the people who love this bird for all its quirks: both the good and the bad. I have heard many funny stories revolving around greys such as the one told by my Mom's friend where her parrot would mimic her dogs' barking so well that she would rush out on a regular basis thinking they wanted in after she had just let them out. She would find, instead, that the dogs were not there; it was her parrot that “barked.”

 

African greys are one of the most intelligent parrot species around and is said by experts to have the capacity to understand full sentences. These parrots can learn to identify common household objects, according to Dr. Irene Pepperberg, an authority on the African Grey parrot species. Two types of Greys are distributed as pets, the Congo (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) and Timneh African grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh.) The Congo grey originates from the northwestern part of Tanzania, the southeastern regions of the Ivory Coast and the southernmost part of the Congo in Africa. The Timneh grey hails from the western Ivory Coast and also has a livable habitat in Sierra Leone.

Wood Ducks are Amazing from Birth

One of the most amazing things about wood ducks involves when they leave their nest. Hatchlings are attended to for only a short time before they leave their birthplace. The mother wood duck covers them for a few hours to make sure they are warm and dry first. Less than 24 hours after hatching, the baby birds fall directly to the ground below, sometimes tumbling as much as 60 feet from the air without being harmed.

When the mother duck is ready for her hatchlings to leave the nest, she will descend from it first. After making sure the area is secure from predators, she will call up to her babies to let them know it’s time to come down. The fact that these babies instinctively know they are to leave the nest is quite amazing in itself. They freefall from the nest, or when using nesting boxes they fall from a hatch in the bottom of the box itself. Wood ducks do not begin to fly until they are around 8 to 10 weeks old.

Bird's Memory Critical to its Survival

"When winter arrives, the Clark’s Nutcracker returns to the area where it previously buried pine nuts."

One of the most amazing birds is that of the Clark’s Nutcracker. This tiny creature has an amazing memory, with its ability to recall seemingly minor details months after they occur. In fact, the bird’s incredible memory is a key component to its survival during the winter months.

The Clark’s Nutcracker dines primarily on pine seeds. This bird has a special pouch in the lower part of its beak where it can store and carry these seeds. During the summer, the animal will pick up thousands of pine seeds and then bury them in the ground. The Nutcracker may do so in hundreds of locations in order to provide enough food to survive on during the winter months.

Red Parrot Types

With Valentine's Day is just a couple of days away I thought I would take inspiration for this post from one of the popular valentine colors. More specifically, I decided to see what red parrots I could drum up. Two came to mine: the red lori (Eos bornea) and Scarlet macaw (Ara macao.) The macaw and lori differ in size but offer owners a delightful personality.

 

Red lories are small birds that reach 12 inches in size and hail from Indonesia. They sport a brilliant red coloring over their entire bodies. Lories are best known for their attention seeking ways and will bond with more than one member of your household. However, the tiny parrot does tend to favor one person for its care. This avian needs a diet that's low in protein and iron; mostly eaten through fruits and nectar. Lories have a tendency to get hyper, according to birdchannel.com, and may decide to attack anything they perceive as a threat which can include your dog, vacuum cleaner or a toy it doesn't like.

The Vanishing Blue Jay

Blue Jays are an interesting bird to watch during the winter months. Their bright blue feathers add a touch of color to an otherwise bland winter landscape. Many birders anxiously anticipate their arrival in the winter and are disappointed to see them leave in the spring. Where do these birds go when warmer weather arrives?

The truth is that Blue Jays are not normally migratory birds. Even so, some of them will occasionally migrate south for the winter. Some of them may migrate every other year, while others do not ever leave the area they were born in. It seems that Blue Jays are more likely to migrate when they are young than when they get older.

Harry Potter Snowy Owls Take Up Residence Further South

Snowy owls (Nyctea scandiaca) spotters are currently reveling in a somewhat unusual find. It seems the birds have taken up residence much further south than is what's considered normal during the winter months. People who live as far south as Kansas and Missouri reported sightings of the white owl, according to the New York Times in an article titled “Bird-Watchers Revel in Unusual Spike in Snowy Owl Sightings” written by Jim Robbins.

 

One theory as to why the Harry Potter owls are flying south this winter involves a possible decline in the bird's main food source, which is lemmings. Another reason for the migration may come down to a factor known “as an interruption,” An interruption in the owl's migration pattern occurs every couple of years but usually involves less birds than the thousands that people have seen throughout the last couple of months, according to the New York Times article. Either way, or for what reason, I recommend checking the skies every so often if you live north of the Mason-Dixon line.

State Agency Aims to Help Wood Ducks

Massachusets Department of Fish and Wildlife provides advice and resources for conservationists

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife actively encourages residents of this state to help wood ducks. On their website, they claim that residents often ask the department for ideas on how to help wildlife. The agency often recommends that people who are interested in preserving wildlife build nest boxes for the state’s population of wood ducks.