Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winter Bird Feeding Tips

Backyard bird watching is a fun and interesting hobby for the entire family - and it can be enjoyed throughout all seasons! It's true that a lot of backyard birds have flown south for the winter, but don't forget that many other bird species stay through the long, cold months to stick it out with us. To help ensure you get the most enjoyment out of your efforts and provide for the birds to keep them coming back, here are some winter feeding tips

Keep feeders well stocked
Keeping feeders filled, especially at sunrise and sunset, are crucial to help birds survive cold winter nights.

Provide high-energy foods
Black-oil sunflower and suet are high-energy foods and great choices to make available in the winter.

Prevent ice and snow from accumulating on a bird feeder
It won't matter how much seed is in the feeder if the birds can't get to it. After a snowfall, sweep or shovel snow out from under your bird feeder so the birds can get at food that is on the ground.
Offer clean, ice-free water
Fresh, unfrozen water is crucial for birds and other wildlife during the cold of winter. When other sources of water are iced over, birds will flock to an open birdbath. To keep the water from freezing quickly, some folks fill their birdbath several times a day with hot water. But the simplest and most carefree method to supply ice-free water is to invest in an electric birdbath heater available where wild bird feeding supplies are sold. Some birdbaths are made with built-in heating elements for use in the winter. Whatever methods you choose though, do not use antifreeze in a birdbath - it is poisonous!

Friday, November 19, 2010

From our Wildlife Specialist, Joe Lehman

Can some animals predict our future weather patterns?
For centuries people have looked at animal behavior to forecast the weather. Sailors watched the movements of dolphins and sea birds, if they were heading toward a bay then a storm was approaching. Native Americans would check spider webs for spiders, if no spiders were found this would tell them ran was coming. Then again, it may be that animals do this all the time and people only took note or remembered this when bad weather came. But even today I hear of local residents who are convinced that many animals can forecast the weather. Some animals in southeastern Ohio come to mind.
One popularly believed predictor of the winter has turned out to be fiction rather than fact. Until recently, it was thought that the caterpillar known as the woolybear would be different colors in reaction to the coming winter; being darker in color the colder the winter would be. This has proven false. Instead, the different color bands are due to the developmental stage the caterpillar is in, and the black woolybears are actually a different species of caterpillar.
Squirrels are one. Squirrels spend a period of time from August to December hunting and hiding nuts for the coming winter. The level of activity is said to predict its severity. If they are always busy gather and storing then it is said we will have a harsh winter. Squirrels are also said to build their nests higher in the treetops if they expect a lot of snow.
Another animal is the Asian beetle, which is a recent immigrant to this country. This beetle is sometimes confused with our native “Lady Bug”, but is orange rather than red, and has fewer spots. Over summer the Asian beetle spends its time foraging, but in October and November, it begins looking for a place to hibernate for the winter. In mild winters, a crevice in tree bark or crack in an outbuilding will suffice. But for extremely cold winters the beetles need a warmer place to call home. The beetle seems to know if needs to find a hiding spot in homes and other heated buildings.
Hornets also come to mind. They seem to be able to predict severe weather patterns up to 6 months in advance. With that knowledge, they build their nests at different heights. If they sense a mild winter, the nest will be closer to the ground, but in cold, snowy winters, the nest will be built higher up in the trees.
Although not yet common in Ohio, the bear can also be observed to predict the coming winter. It is said that in milder winters they will sleep closer to the entrance of their den and their fur is not as thick, as apposed to a in severe winter they hibernate deep in their den and wear a thick coat.
Keep your eye on the activities of different species this fall and winter. They may be able to give us a “heads up” on the coming winter weather. And even if not, you’ll learn some interesting things about these animals and learn to enjoy and appreciate them more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Kennedy Family; Ed and Sandra, along with sons, Joshua and Dustin, with district technician Van Slack.
During the annual meeting, the Conservationist of the Year award was presented to Ed Kennedy of Kennedy Farms. The Guernsey SWCD partners with Farm Credit Services to recognize producers who have shown a commitment to conservation of natural resources on their operations. Mr. Kennedy was presented with a sign, provided by Farm Credit Services, to display on his farm to show his accomplishment.
Ed Kennedy raises corn and soybeans in a rotation along with oats, wheat and some hay. In 2006 he diversified by adding a swine finishing facility. The manure generated from the finishing facility is utilized on crop fields where oats and wheat are grown. Kennedy follows a comprehensive nutrient management plan which is beneficial both economically and environmentally. Over the years an agrichemical handling facility and roof runoff management has also been added. Ed has also worked with the district on plans for installing systematic tile drainage and grassed waterways to protect and conserve soil and enhance crop production.
Please join us in congratulating the Kennedy family for their efforts in conserving our precious natural resources.

Election Results

Blaine Neilley was re-elected to the SWCD board of supervisors during the annual meeting on November 4th. His term will begin on January 1st, and runs for 3 years.
Our sincere thanks to all who voted, whether by absentee ballot, or by coming to the election site.