Nature Articles

Nature Articles2022-03-03T16:43:03-05:00

Migration – Not Just for Birds

Seasonal migrations are exciting times for us birders. In the spring, we anxiously await return of our breeding birds from their southern wintering grounds. In the fall, we're sad to see them leave. While birds follow that classic concept of animal migration, insects (having shorter lifespans than a migration period) were historically excluded from consideration. Their small size and weight were also believed [...]

Crane Flies – no they aren’t mosquitos!

These insects are a common food source for birds, and unjustly feared by people. Let’s get to know them! Introduction to Crane Flies Crane Flies are a great way to illustrate the diversity of our local bugs. This suborder of flies is abundant across Pennsylvania, and is an insect group unjustly feared by people. They’re important in my yard where [...]

Beaks and Bugs

Wait—are those birds carrying army pocketknives around??? Well, sort of. Birds don’t need to snatch our knives because they’ve got multi-tool knives built right into their bodies: their beaks. Birds’ beaks differ greatly depending on what they eat, but all beaks are strong while also remarkably light (flying creatures avoid hauling excess weight!). A beak is made of spongy bone inside, covered first by a [...]

Birds Have A Problem: Huge, Dirty Feet

Birds are affected by our “carbon footprints” —the amount of carbon pollution we put into the air through our energy and lifestyle choices. Carbon traps the sun’s heat around the Earth like a blanket.  An overheated Earth has more extreme weather—more hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and floods.  It’s like we’re putting big, hot, dirty feet into the sky. Climate shifts cause plant and [...]

Composting for Birds

Beautiful goldfinches with their lovely black wings are abundant now!  Did you know there’s another kind of “black gold” that YOU can create, and that it helps birds? “Black gold” comes from compositing—the natural way of recycling leaves, yard waste, and food scraps. Composting helps birds because it helps plants grow (birds really need plants!!).  Composting also reduces the air pollution that drives climate [...]

Flying and Cleaning

Our erratic climate can be disastrous for migrating birds.  Although scientists observe many birds adapting to climate change, “false springs” sometimes lure birds to migrate too early—followed by sudden, fatal “cold snaps” in the weather along their routes. Birds can also die or fail to breed from mismatches between previously synchronized—but now off-kilter—migration dates and the hatching or flowering of needed foods. But birds [...]

Love Bugs – Love Birds!

Do you love Birds?  And humans?  Then love a Bug! We don’t have lovebugs in Pennsylvania (they live down south), but we can all LOVE BUGS!  Here’s why: Bugs feed birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals (a possum can eat 4,000 ticks a week!).  Scientists report that, except for seabirds, 96% of North American birds feed insects to their young.  [...]

The Big Bucket Mosquito Solution: Just Dunk It!

Wren babies begging for food; Printed with permission from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Hidden in bushes and trees all over our region, parent songbirds will soon be feeding adorable little hatchlings.  The babies have fragile throats, so they need soft food.  Fortunately, nature provides the perfect squishy protein packets for the hungry little ones:  caterpillars!  For most songbirds, caterpillars are the main [...]

A Household Challenge: Give Plastic the Respect It Deserves!

Plastic pollution is a huge problem for birds.  Vast amounts of plastic in our waterways flow to the ocean and kill seabirds—hundreds of thousands of them yearly worldwide, according to the United Nations.  Plastics slowly breaking down on land get swallowed and consumed up the food chain.  The danger to birds is especially ominous because broken-up plastic absorbs other pollutants, such as pesticides:  plastic “pellets” become poison pills. Yet [...]

Buds for Birds – Be a Buddy to Birds – Plant Native!

Many of us embrace the beauty of the winter landscape when the first flakes of the year fall. By the time that February rolls around, though, we’re tired of snow and worn down by the effort of coping with the cold. Birds may not exactly share our emotions about winter, but as cold weather wears on, they also face extra challenges. Many insects are [...]

Birding Inclusivity: Birdability Birders

Last week, Virginia Rose shared her experiences of birding in a wheelchair with members of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and encouraged people with mobility challenges to get out into nature. Virginia and the co-host Freya had a great rapport – their conversation was funny as well as insightful. The speakers offered valuable advice for how birders and park visitors who don't have mobility challenges [...]

From Putting Green to Wildlife Oasis

To help waning bird and insect populations by educating the public on how native plants could be used to create a beautiful and ecologically functional garden, the Upper Dublin Bird Town, Wyncote Audubon and the Ambler-Keystone Branch of the Woman’s National Farm and Garden Association are creating a Native Plant Demonstration Garden in the new Twining Valley Park. Once a golf course, the park presented [...]

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