Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Calcium Supplements Aren't Just for Humans

Did you know that our feathered friends need calcium in their diet, too?  And that you can provide it for them with very little effort?

 "A dry chicken eggshell is about 78-94% calcium carbonate (CaCO3). Calcium carbonate gives shells hardness and strength."

You can supplement calcium by offering dry, sterilized, crumbled chicken eggshells (or crushed oyster shells which can be found at your local feed store) mixed in with mealworms, birdseed, suet, or simply spread on the ground, a rock, a platform feeder.  As a matter of fact, if you are supplying mealworms, your birds will need a calcium supplement because mealworms deplete calcium!

Spring is an essential time of year to begin offering eggshells as an assist to breeding females to ensure strong and healthy eggshells.  Throughout the summer, providing eggshells benefits both young and adult birds. "Calcium deficiency can cause developmental problems in growing birds. Lack of calcium can cause weak bones in adults."

To learn more, visit:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tree Swallow Housing Shortage

If you reside in the more northern climes, you still have time to treat the Tree Swallows to affordable housing!  Numbers are declining slowly as they lose their habitat to man and bird alike.  As cavity nesters, tree swallows can be found near water and prefer pileated woodpecker holes.  But between habitat destruction and the influx of starlings and house sparrows, their housing market is compromised.

Here is just one example of a set of plans to build a tree swallow house:


Use any wood which resists weathering for building nesting boxes.  A natural log effect can be achieved by using bits and pieces of wood with bark still intact.  These mill-slabs can be fouond in most sawmills, lumber yards, and firewood lots.  Slabs are usually cheaper than rouogh or dressed lumber.

The recommended minimum height above ground is 7 feet (2.1 meters)
 on a pole or in a tree in open areas near sight of water.

If you wish to paint your boxes, avoid bright colors.

Tree swallows are gregarious,
and an acre of land can accomodate up to 8 nesting pairs.
Their houses can actually be placed 10 feet apart.

A tree swallow usually lays 4 - 6 eggs, with an incubation period
of approximately 14 days.  The young leave the nest in about 16 - 20 days.

In my area, the tree swallows arrived mid-May of last year. 
My houses are going up next weekend just in case they are early.
I can't wait until I hear their sweet little chatter.

My favorite part about the return of the tree swallows? 
Being out in my kayak during the wee hours of the morning
while they swoop and circle around me catching their breakfast!

Click HERE for more interesting Nature Notes!
Thank you to Rambling Woods for this meme!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Mourning Cloak

You know it's spring when you spot a Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)!

Mourning Cloaks spend their winters frozen in"cryo-preservation" in tree cavities,
 beneath loose tree bark or in unheated buildings.
Wherever they can fit to protect themselves from the winter winds,
 they will almost always survive.

During the early spring months, they will seek a mate,
lay their eggs,
and then, unfortunately, they die.

They are thought to be the longest living butterfly
with a lifespan of 10 - 11 months.

For more interesting Nature Notes, visit Rambling Woods.