June 19, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 26 May 2011 12:34
Sharon Coates of Redding is enjoying one of the marvels of modern technology: A tiny digital camera, small enough to fit in a birdhouse.
“One of our favorite gifts this past Christmas was a new birdhouse that came installed with a camera,” Sharon writes. “In early March we drilled a hole through our kitchen wall and connected the camera to the TV overlooking our kitchen table.“Numerous birds investigated the new house and just as we were about to give up, a pair of titmice finally began building a nest. After all this excitement, we had a couple of days of no activity and were afraid that Tilly and Tim (I like to name our feathered friends) had decided to build elsewhere.
“But no, as we were finishing dinner one evening, one of the titmice flew into the house. We quickly turned on the camera and were delighted to watch Tilly fussing with the nest, rearranging the twigs and then she went into some interesting gyrations, wiggling her rear and, lo and behold, an egg appeared....and then another and another.
“We are sure there are at least four eggs, although titmice can lay as many as five to seven in one brood. Now we are waiting, and watching.
“We have been surprised at how often Tilly leaves the nest, and I tend to worry when I think she is gone too long! However, she is always there in the evening and early morning.
“The next couple of weeks will be anxious ones as we await the emergence of the baby titmice. It will be such fun to see Tim and Tilly feeding their new family and to watch them grow.
“We are so grateful to our son, John, and his family for sending the perfect gift that has already brought such fun to us.”
Interested in joining Sharon in snooping on the private lives of birds? There is a passel of products out there, ranging from simple and inexpensive to sophisticated and pricy. Google “birdhouse camera” to check them out. Some come with microphones so you can listen in, and some come with automatic video recording devices to you don’t miss what happened while you were away. Most are designed to see in very low light. Some are motion activated so they turn on only when something is happening. Both hard-wired and wireless models are available.
Speaking of snooping on nesting cavities, Shelby Pike’s camera has been working from the outside, eyeing a Pileated Woodpecker that started to dig a hole in a dead American Elm in the front yard recently.
“He gave up on that hole and started another one under and worked on it till he made it into a new home. He sits inside waiting for a mate, I think or hope! He really is something to watch!
“The other day when I mowed the lawn, he was not happy with me but I guess he’s going to have to learn to live with it! When I went to take this shot of him he just looked at me and blinked!”
Pat Warren of Darien, who operates Wild Bird Unlimited stores that town and in Bedford Hills, observes, “the American Goldfinch is in his glory now — the bright yellow flying through the yard and landing on the finch feeders is great. This is an easy feed to do — it can hang almost anywhere because the squirrels are not crazy about the nyger (thistle) seed, usually.
“There is a maintenance requirement for finch feeding, however: the seed must be kept dry, moving and fresh. Moisture may cause the seed to clump, and eventually turn bad with mold or mildew.
“This can be prevented by being sure to rotate the seed in the feeder every time it’s filled. If there is some seed in the bottom of the feeder, that is still dry and moving, put it in a temporary container, fill the tube with fresh seed, and put the older seed back in on top (this is rotating the seed). If the seed in the tube is clumped and stuck, clean it out and be sure to clean the feeder out.”
Birds in their Habitats, workshop that includes info on Audubon at Home and Important Bird Area programs, Saturday, May 28, 9:30 to noon, $12 adults, kids free, RSVP Ted: 203-869-5272 x230, Audubon Greenwich, 613 Riversville Road, greenwich.audubon.org
Early morning bird walks, various locations, Tuesday, May 31, 7:30 to 9:30, Bedford Audubon, for details bedfordaudubon.org
Copyright 2011 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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