Food for thought

Which bird-feeder style is best? Which food is best?

There are answers to these common questions at

Provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, bird preferences are illustrated. Information has been collected from reports submitted by thousands of backyard birders.

Choose the white-breasted nuthatch, for instance. Learn its geographic distribution — they're here. Learn its food preferences — black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, suet, peanuts, peanut hearts and mealworms. Feeder styles? Nuthatches are not choosy about feeders; most styles do the job.

Similar information is available for our common feeder birds, plus feeder birds found in other parts of the U.S.

Learn also how you can contribute to the science of bird feeding.

Black vultures in line of fire

Black vultures, southern cousins to our turkey vultures, are moving north into Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky in growing numbers, putting themselves on a hit list in the process.

Although protected by law like other U.S. birds, black vultures now can be shot in some circumstances because of attacks on baby farm animals, according to St. Louis Public Radio. Calves and lambs are being killed shortly after birth by the birds, usually scavengers. State departments of natural resources are allowing the birds to be shot to lessen the problem.

A spokesperson for the Missouri Farm Bureau called the vultures "aggressive, nasty birds."

Conservationists say climate and habitat change are causing vulture numbers to rise.

Black vultures are extremely rare here. There are no reports of similar behavior by turkey vultures, migrants soon to return to Minnesota.