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Old-fashioned winter likely taking a toll on birds

Posted 25 January 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

Judging by my conversations, our somewhat “old-fashioned” winter has raised the level of concern about our winter birds. After all, they cannot seek refuge in front of a woodstove! They are dealing with “it” 24/7, and many have to do a lot of feeding to maintain body heat under the conditions we have been experiencing.

Many of us don’t worry about bluebirds in winter, as it is assumed they have migrated. That wasn’t the case with the ones seen at five different locations in Orleans County during the past month. In two instances, males were taking advantage of the break in the weather to inspect potential future homes. Just before our latest wave of single digit days, one was singing as though it were spring.

The nest box survey results for 2013 recently arrived from the New York State Bluebird Society. Region 1 (one of the largest, including a large part of western New York ) led the 10 regions with a reported 1,688 bluebird fledglings. Region 1 includes Genesee, Niagara and Orleans counties. The next closest region was Region 8 (the Capitol region) with 905. Orleans County accounted for 384 of the 1,688 (down about 75 from 2012). We also reported 209 tree swallows.

These numbers are far below the number of birds that actually fledged, as most are likely not reported.

For bluebirds that make it through winter, a new nesting season may begin in our area in early March, depending on the weather. April is normal.

The Orleans Bluebird Society meets in April and October each year.

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent
Albion