I’ve been feeding birds since I was a small fry. It’s addictive — only this addiction is healthy for you and beneficial for birds.
After you observe your first Baltimore oriole you naturally want to learn more. I love to communicate with the species as if we are connected. We are on this planet together.
Anyway, a few years ago the following conversation occurred. I tell no lies ...
Huey likes redI stepped outside to enjoy the rain. It’s not an anomaly in our region, at least this past spring.
My hummingbird feeders have been out since the last week in April. When the birds arrive, I plan to be the perfect host.
On May 2, a very bright fellow did test out my feeder.
“Yum yum,” he says. “Nice mixture. Not too many carbs. Not heavy on the sugar to fry my liver.”
As I stated, I was out in my yard at 6:30 in the morning when I heard the familiar hum. I’ll call him “Huey.”
Huey hovered at the feeder, stabbing the little holes for nourishment. He — and yes, it was a male — looked at me and zipped over to within a foot of my face. I was startled. What the heck was Huey doing? What was he thinking?
“You have a flower on your shirt,” he hummed. “I want a little nectar.”
“It’s not a flower,” I told him. “It’s a lobster.”
“It’s red, and that means nectar, or why would you place these red plastic feeders all around your yard?” Huey countered. “Let me have a taste.”
My attire for this drab morning was a denim shirt and a little red lobster was embroidered under the name New Harbor, Maine. I was promoting Maine, or making some sort of statement of my travels; I don’t remember which. The shirt did not impress me as much as it did Huey.
The little red lobster measured about a half-inch, perhaps only a quarter-inch — pretty gosh darn small if you ask me.
Huey, being a flying machine no bigger than my thumb, thought the lobster held saccharine in its claws. He hovered inches away from the lobster logo, which put Huey inches away from my face.
“Reads my lips buster,” I announced. “You are in my space.”
Huey, still humming like a Boeing 737, did not follow me around the corner of the house. He went back to the plastic feeding machine, where the real sugarcane was available.
I Bird NY ChallengeNow, on to more serious birding news.
Birding is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy. From Montauk to Buffalo, New York is home to a vast array of habitat that supports over 450 different bird species. Bird-watching is one of the fastest-growing outdoor recreational activities that can be enjoyed by all ages and experiences, plus it’s a great way to get outdoors.
Are you 16 or younger and live in New York state? If you have an interest in birds, try the I Bird NY challenge. Find 10 common New York bird species and you will get a special certificate for taking the challenge. You also will be entered into a random drawing for birding accessories. Download our I Bird NY Beginner’s Challenge form in English or Spanish to get started today.
The Experienced Birder Challenge — If you are already a birder, take your birding to the next level by taking the I Bird NY Experienced Birder Challenge. Find any 10 (or more) different bird species to complete the challenge. Find a lifer? Let us know.
Both challenges are open through Sept. 30. All entries must be received by Oct. 14.
Getting Started: You don’t need a lot to get started bird watching, just a good pair of binoculars (guidance under Learn More), a desire to be outdoors, and a destination. Some people like to use a checklist/life list of common species they might find around their home so they can keep track of what they have seen or heard.
There are checklists you can download or use online. Some common ones include (links leave DEC website):
• Clements Checklist of Birds of the World — Downloadable formats from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. Visit www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/.
• eBird — An online tool by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society to keep track of bird lists. Visit https://ebird.org/home.
• New York State Ornithological Association — Options to order copies or download and print a PDF document. Visit https://www.nybirds.org/Publications/ChecklistNYS.htm.
You can also do a Google search to find more checklist resources. See our list of bird species fact sheets for information about some species you may see nearby.
Huron youngster nets huge pike
“I was whistling for a bird in the tree,” Adelaide Dennis said while fishing with her father, Aaron; mother, Leah; and sister, Zoe. “The bobber went down, and I almost fell in. My dad said it was probably stuck on a weed and it was OK and ‘I’ll be right over.’”
It was not a weed.
The 7-year old, who pointed out she would be 8 in August, hooked a monster pike.
The family was fishing on the shoreline of East Bay when the 30-inch northern pike decided it wanted the sunfish bait. The very animated young angler described the fight.
“It must have taken five minutes to land,” Adelaide said. “Dad had to go in the water to catch it. I have a bruise on my stomach from fighting the fish. It was so big it didn’t fit in the bucket.”
The North-Rose Wolcott Elementary School third-grader lost her hook and bait the day before; after cleaning their catch, Adelaide and her dad found the hook and the small sunfish in the pike’s stomach.
When asked what kind of rod and reel she used to land such a monster fish she said she didn’t know.
“It was Dad’s rod,” she noted
“What’s up next for your fishing adventures?” I asked.
“Well, maybe a bass,” she said after a long, thoughtful pause.
Online hunter education expanded
New York’s online hunter education program that started in April has been extended through Aug. 31 due to in-person classes remaining canceled because of the coronavirus.
Since the online course was implemented, more than 24,000 hunters have completed it, up about 20% from normal. Of those completing the course, about 40% have been women. Nearly half of those certified are 30 or older.
The Department of Environmental Conservation announced that, starting July 15, it will make an online bowhunter education course available. DEC is partnering with Kalkomey Enterprises to offer the online hunter education courses. The cost for each course is $19.95.
For more information, visit www.dec.ny.gov.