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Q: I’m looking for an inexpensive winter project to do with my 2-year-old grandson, who lives near a marsh and is interested in birds.
A: It’s great that you are looking for ways to nurture your grandson’s interest in birds and nature. How about creating a homemade bird feeder together? Then all you’d need to buy would be some seed.
Here’s a site with a video showing how to build a feeder from a plastic milk jug: www.squidoo.com/homemade-bird-feeder (you’ll need to scroll down the page). Here’s another “how to” site, this one for a fairly elaborate feeder made from a plastic bottle: www.recycle-crafts.com/homemade-bird-feeder.html.
Fill either one with black oil sunflower seeds or safflower seeds and sit back and watch the birds come to feed. Hang the feeder so squirrels can’t reach it, either from a branch with a squirrel baffle above the feeder, or from a pole sunk in the ground.
Q: Woodpeckers have almost completely stripped the bark from a tree near my yard. Is this usual?
A: It’s not unusual for woodpeckers to strip all the bark off a tree in the process of looking for insects beneath the bark. The woodpeckers aren’t killing the tree; instead this almost always indicates the tree is already dead or dying.
Q: What size prey does a red-tailed hawk eat?
A: Even though they look quite large, red-tailed hawks weigh only about 1 ½ pounds (males) to up to 3 pounds (large females). These hawks like to catch prey and lift off to eat it in safety, but they can only lift about half their weight. Their diet is made up of small to medium-sized rodents, rabbits, pheasants and quail, as well as snakes and squirrels.
St. Paul resident Val Cunningham, who leads bird hikes for the St. Paul Audubon Society and writes about nature for local, regional and national newspapers and magazines, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.