Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ben Brzielke, A Bird Expert

This past Wednesday the Manassas chapter of NARFE held its monthly meeting and Jack and I attended to hear Ben Brzielke speak about attracting birds to your property. Ben Brzielke who was born in Germany but who now lives near Waterford, Virginia shared some of his bird knowledge with us. For example, did you know that starlings are not a native American bird? In the 1930's a Shakespearean festival was held up in New York state and for this event hundreds of starlings were imported to the United States from England. So American starlings are actually English birds.

Ben also knows a lot about other wildlife besides birds. For example, did you know that if you build a brand new pond and don't add fish or frogs to it, you will still eventually end up with fish and frogs? Canadian geese and ducks who can fly from one pond to another will get fish eggs and frog eggs caught on their webbed feet and when they then fly and land on a brand new pond they deposit the eggs from their webbed feet. Whala-----there you have the eggs that will hatch and give you fish and frogs in your new pond.

Do you know which gender of bird will return first to your yard? It is the male. He scouts the area in March and when he finds a suitable territory for mating and starting a family he then goes back and brings the female to the suitable territory in April. In April there is lots of mating and nest building. In May the eggs appear in the nest and then the baby birds.

In these three photos above Ben is holding up a store bought birdhouse. Ben says that when you buy a birdhouse look for one that has a deep bottom underneath the bird hole in the box. That way predators cannot reach in to harm the eggs. The predators could be a raccoon, a snake or another bird. Male house wrens can have a harem of three females so they need three houses or nests so they will go to a birdhouse that already has a nest with eggs and peck holes in the eggs to kill the babies and to drive the adults away. Then the house wrens will build their nest on top of the old nest with the damaged eggs. Ben told us that he has even seen them build a nest on top of a dead baby bird. Ben who lives on a large farm says I've seen it all over the years! Amazing!
Tomorrow I give you Ben's tips for cleaning out your birdhouse and why you should do it. Plus he told us something I never knew about hummingbirds. I'll share that with all of you tomorrow. In the meantime go enjoy the birds in your own backyard.

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