Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

UV liquid marks windows, alerts birds

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation, Birding equipment, Birds in the backyard Updated: March 18, 2015 - 10:22 AM

The National Eagle Center in Wabasha uses the usual choices of window decals to discourage bird strikes on the very large expanse of glass covering its south wall. We have some of those decals on our patio doors. They work, sort of. We bought something at the center during a recent visit that might do a better job, a product used by the center in addition to those decals. It’s a small container of fluid, much like a Magic Marker. The fluid rollls on, and once dry leaves an ultra-violet track, visible to birds but virtually invisible to you. It’s called UV Liquid, price $19.95 for enough to treat several windows through the year. It should be washed off and replaced every two months or so, we were told. It is visible until it dries, then all but disappears. We’re giving it a try. If it works, it’s clearly a good idea. 

Eagle Center found window-strike solution

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation, Bird migration Updated: March 17, 2015 - 10:03 AM

You are looking (photo below) at a wall of glass, the entire south side of the National Eagle Center building in Wabasha, Minnesota. Lots of reflections in what is plain old window glass. The building is 100 feet from the Mississippi River, and faces due south, into the teeth of spring migration.

And how many birds die here each spring season? It used to be about 100, the small warning decals here and there on the glass (look closely) making little difference. That number has been reduced by 80 percent in recent years by one simple change: All — ALL — the lights in the building are turned off every night during migration months. Even security lights go dark. (A close look also will reveal the interior lights on the high ceiling.)

Eagle Center staff discovered that the birds — mostly night migrants, as is the usual case — were attracted to lights. Whatever was applied to the glass made little or no difference in the dark because the birds could see neither glass nor warnings. The birds flew to the light, even the smallest glimmer. 

Putting the building into dark mode made a big difference.

Baiting wildlife for photos

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation, Birding equipment Updated: March 14, 2015 - 2:47 PM

The magazine "Canadian Geographic" asked its readers: How do you feel about the use of baiting to capture wildlife photographs?

7% -- It's a great way to get stunning wildlife photos.

20% -- Seems a bit like cheating to me.

25% -- When used in moderation I think it's fine.

48% -- It's a selfish disruption that shouldn't be tolerated.

Purple Martin festival in June

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation, Birding equipment, Birds in the backyard Updated: March 13, 2015 - 10:26 AM

The fourth annual Outdoor Purple Martin Festival will be held in Columbia, S.D. (near Aberdeen) Saturday, June 13. Tickets can be purchased online at https://purplemartindakotas.yapsody.com/.

This is a chance to learn more about the birds and their ecological benefits. A hands-on how-to will introduce attendees to creation and maintenance of a martin colony, one box or more.

Martins are cavity nesters that need human assistance given the lack of natural cavities that would accommodate this colonial species. Martins also are prodigious consumers of flying insects. They make wonderful backyard guests, but do prefer nesting locations near water.

Breakfast and lunch socials will be available. Festival hours will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Overnight accommodations can be found by contacting the Aberdeen Area Convention and Visitors Bureau: http://www.visitaberdeensd.com.

Another attraction is Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a wonderful birding location. It’s located a few miles north of Columbia. Visit there on Sunday. Columbia is about a four-hour drive from the Twin Cities.

For more information, contact Perry D. Vogel, president of the Purple Martin Association of the Dakotas, and festival co-founder. His phone number is (218) 791-3689, email perry@purplemartindakotas.org. 

The event will take place at the residence of Paul and Joy Mammenga, 12345 396th Ave, Columbia.

You can find martin nesting equipment and supplies at www.shop.PurpleMartinDakotas.org.

Above, a pair of Purple Martins on the porch of their home. Below, a multi-cavity box hosting several pairs of martins. Martins also nest in simple gourd-shaped plastic houses hung from a pole. Examples of these can be seen at Memory Lake in Grantsburg, Wis. The box below is part of a martin colony maintained at the public beach in Wayzata.

CO2 for March 9 -- 401.84 ppm

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation Updated: March 10, 2015 - 10:04 PM

Carbon dioxide content in the air was 401.84 parts per million (ppm) on March 9. Measurements are taken daily at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. A year ago the measurement was 398.40 ppm. The annual daily CO2 content in 2014 was 398.55. For 2013 the number was 396.48. The value for the first week of March 10 years ago was 381.56. 


The project is under the direction of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego. You can find more information at www.http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/data/in_situ_co2/weekly_mlo.csv%20


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