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Re: trains in the garden/birds

In a message dated 01/01/2003 8:28:09 AM Eastern Standard Time, 
holmesbm@usit.net writes:

> Also saw the WSJ article.  I don't fill my feeders during the warmer 
> weather when insects are out...feed during the winter, after some 
> frosts.  I am wondering if that will help with the problem...the birds have 
> to rely on nature during 3/4 of the year...I have tried to include some 
> native plants that provide food for birds and butterflies.  The article 
> also pointed out that predators (cats and hawks, for example) use the 
> feeders as a stakeout for birds.  Also, that since many feeders are near 
> buildings, birds often fly into buildings, killing or incapacitating 
> themselves.  So far, I have not seen the cats very successful...don't know 
> about the hawks...my feeders are under some canopies so the smaller birds 
> have more cover.  Any thoughts?

I readily admit that we feed the birds for the pleasure we get from seeing 
them.  However, bird people indicate that small non-migratory birds really 
depend on us for food in very cold weather.  Following is an excerpt from an 
article in my garden club's newsletter earlier this year. My opinion is that 
the WSJ people are urban types and not nature lovers.  Auralie

  We frequently discuss and marvel at the amazing stamina of migratory birds 
and butterflies that travel thousands of miles each year to find food and 
mild climates. We are also sympathetic with, and mildly amused by, 
hibernating animals like bears and woodchucks. But we tend to pay little 
attention to the "common" birds that flock to our feeders all winter long.  
Oh yes, we enjoy them, and keep the feeders filled in bad weather, but do we 
really appreciate how amazingly hardy these small creatures are?  How would 
you like to spend the night in a tree when it's 10 degrees out and the wind 
is blowing?
  Without going into technical details of animal metabolism, consider these 
basic situations. Small creatures, with greater surface (through which heat 
is lost) in proportion to body mass, must have higher metabolic rates than 
larger ones. Very small creatures must have high metabolic rates, and must 
consume much more food in relation to their size.  Some, such as hummingbirds 
are able to become torpid at night, that is lower their body temperatures and 
metabolic rates.  In cold weather all nontorpid birds must operate at well 
above their basal metabolic rates to maintain body temperature.  Small 
nontorpid species, such as chickadees and their relatives, titmice, are in 
serious danger of freezing if they do not eat enough to maintain their body 
temperatures through the long, cold nights.  These facts apply to all the 
small birds that frequent our feeders in the winter.  That's why it is 
important to fill the feeders at night or very early in the morning when the 
nights are very cold  

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