Thursday, June 21, 2012

Banding Kestrel Chicks

American Kestrel nestling ©HvHughes

Last March, PKM Electric Co-operative helped us put 10 kestrel nest boxes on retired utility poles and then installed them around the Agassiz Valley Water Resources Project impoundment and Agassiz Audubon property.

Ben Pahlen, Chris Derosier, Dane Hanson and Joe Marcotte

When the kestrels returned this spring, we had high hopes that they'd nest in our boxes.

American Kestrel on a power line © HvHughes
Aaron Wall and Ben Gubrud check nest boxes

We did our first nest check on June 5th:   5 eggs in one of our boxes!  Another had one egg.

Female with 5 eggs ©Ben Gubrud

On June 18th we checked again.  The box with one egg was a disappointment.  We could smell it before we opened the box.  The egg had been abandoned - and it was stinky rotten.

Abandoned kestrel egg ©HvHughes

The box with the five eggs was in good shape:   Five chicks!

Female Kestrel on 5 chicks ©Aaron Wall

Today we invited the news media and WAO school students to help Tim Driscoll, a raptor researcher from Grand Forks and John Loegering from the University of Minnesota, Crookston install leg bands on each of the chicks.   If these chicks return to nest here next spring, banding is the only way we can identify individual birds.

WDAZ reporter Lezlie Johnson tapes the action
Julie holds a kestrel chick while Tim puts on the band
WAO teacher, Marlys Swanson holds a kestrel chick

WAO students and teachers - and two of the reporters who came to cover the story got up-close and personal looks at the chicks before the birds were returned to their nest box, unscathed.

Katie Davidson, Crookston Times

Check out the story Lezlie Johnson filed... click here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Feed The Birds This Summer

Baltimore Oriole at Grape Jelly   © Hv Hughes

Now's the best time to feed wild birds.


Most songbirds feed insects to their nestlings.  When we get a couple of rainy days in a row, birds can have a tough time finding enough food.  Supplemental feeding helps.

There's more to see in the summer.  Their plumage is at its best.  Species diversity is high.  Wait long enough and they'll bring their fledglings to the feeders.

What’s best for summer feeding?  That depends who you want to see.

          Goldfinches:  sunflower (chips/hulled or black oil)
          Siskins:  Nyjer thistle
          Orioles:  grape jelly and sugar water (4 parts water to one part sugar)
          Hummingbirds:   sugar water (4 parts water to one part sugar)
          Woodpeckers:  peanut butter suet
          Bluebirds and other thrushes:  mealworms

Summer is a great time to attract wild birds – but be careful how you do it.  Food can spoil and birds can get sick if you don’t keep your feeders and bird baths clean.  If you don't have the time to keep it clean - just plant trees, shrubs and flowers.  Don't use pesticides and herbicides.  And keep your cats indoors.

Agassiz Audubon is selling bird seed, feeders and poles this summer.  Stop by and take a look at who's been visiting our feeders... and pick up a bag of seed.

Have we got a deal for you:  A 50-pound bag of locally-grown hulled sunflower for only $30!

Email or call first to make sure our seed sales person is on-site ... 218-745-5663.