May 26, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 21 July 2011 12:34
Can your bird feeder attract more than birds?
Definitely, as Richard Herstein of Ridgefield found out earlier this month.
On Sunday, July 10, he awoke to find his Droll Yankee Flipper feeder stand bent at a 90-degree angle.
“I’ve continued to fill it with black oil sunflower seed during the summer months for as long as I can remember, and had just refilled it on Saturday,” he said.
“Probably time to remind your readers — of which I’m a regular — that they run the risk of attracting the occasional wandering bear if they feed the birds between, say, April and October.
“When shown the photo, my older brother reminded me that I should have known better than to tempt Mother Nature by feeding the birds during the summer.”There is no question that bears love bird feeders. In June, in my duties as a newspaper editor, I was listening on a radio scanner to the Redding police one morning as they tracked a bear roaming around the center of their town. (They were particularly concerned because the bear was situated between two still-in-session schools; they got everyone inside at both.)
At least twice, Redding police officers noted that the bear had stopped in a yard to check out a bird feeder.
Richard lives on West Mountain in Ridgefield, an area known for visits by wandering Black Bears — it’s just across the state line from the well-forested Mountain Lakes Park in Westchester. Back in 2008, mountain-man Rob Kinnaird had a couple of his feeding stations destroyed by a bear. Redding residents also told us their two feeders were “flattened” by a bear around the same time.
Particularly in the spring and fall, local police and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection receive reports of wandering bears. This is sort of remarkable because, as late as the 1970s, bears were considered “extirpated” — gone — from Connecticut. But in the 1980s, they began to reappear, attracted, no doubt, by the return of forests. Fields and pastures that had been parts of farms for a couple centuries were disappearing as trees — and houses with trees in the yard — filled them up. Our populated suburban communities are much more bear-friendly today than our rural agrarian towns were a century or two ago. Plus, you can’t hunt bears.
At certain times of the year, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation says, bird feeders are involved in up to 80% of the bear nuisance reports from. Especially in areas that tend to have a lot of bears, state wildlife officials invariably recommend taking down feeders in spring, summer and fall.
“Black bears are generally shy and secretive and usually fearful of humans,” says Connecticut DEP. However, “If they regularly find food near houses and areas of human activity, they can lose their fear of humans.” Even then, “unlike Grizzly Bears, Black Bears are seldom aggressive toward humans.”
Although bears in most of Fairfield and Westchester Counties are still occasional, there have been sightings in Redding, Weston, and Wilton in the past month (perhaps the same animal). Especially if you live near a lot of woods, and you don’t like the idea of a Black Bear paying a visit to your yard, you should consider taking down seed feeders from the yard or on decks. (You can always substitute hummingbird feeders mounted outside or on house windows.)
One other reminder for those who fear bears: They are attracted to the drippings found on and under barbecue grills. A few years ago, The Ridgefield Press published a picture of a Black Bear on someone’s deck one morning, checking out the grill. Keep those outdoor barbecues clean.
The recent article here about the nesting chimney swifts halting renovating of an antique New Canaan chimney was of more than passing interest to Hartwell Self, who was born and raised in that house 80 years ago.
“We always remember those Chimney Swifts, spring and summer,” Mr. Self said, supposing the current family is descended from ones in his childhood.
Mr. Self, who lives nearby his old homestead, agreed that the big stone chimney is probably ideal for swifts. It has a huge throat. “We used to climb down that ourselves as kids,” he said.
Songbirds of the Northeast, with John Root, including recordings and photos, Tuesday, July 26, 6:30 p.m., free, Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street (Route 35), 203-438-2282.
Bird Banding: Bedford Audubon has several bird banding sessions in Hunt Park Sanctuary during July; if you are interesting in observing, call for dates or email for dates and times, tjohansson @ bedfordaudubon.org or 914-232-1999.
Norwalk Island Birdwatching Cruises, aboard the C.J. Toth Quest ferry, with guide, Sundays, July 24, Aug. 7, Saturday, July 30, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 7:30 to 10:30, Adults $22, kids $12, Norwalk Seaport Association, from ferry dock at Water and Washington Streets, South Norwalk, seaport.org, 203-838-9444.
Sharon Audubon Festival, nature walks, displays, talks, music, food, more, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14, 9 to 5, Audubon Sharon, (860) 364-0520 or check www.sharon.audubon.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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