By Penny Carnathan, Times Correspondent
Published: December 29, 2017
Updated: January 9, 2018 at 04:10 PM
Before he retired, my husband’s garden contributions consisted mostly of critiquing my assignment from the air-conditioned abundance of the kitchen window.
Now, he additionally manages the bird feeders, whose numbers accept angled beneath his reign. Today, we generally get a amazing aerial appearance with our morning coffee and newspaper, acknowledgment to Ben’s adherence to Alone The Best berry blends.
This time of year, we adventure at the afterimage of new-to-us breed — afoot birds gluttonous a mild Florida winter or casual through en avenue to credibility south. Traditionally, they accommodate gray catbirds, cedar waxwing, robins and corrective buntings, amid others.
But 2017 accepted annihilation but traditional. Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria blew aberrant new curves into afoot highways.
“All the hurricanes will comedy a allotment with what you see with afoot birds this winter,” says Nancy Murrah, an allowance executive-turned-bird rescuer. Accountant to adjust afoot birds and added wildlife, she serves as carnality admiral of the nonprofit Tampa Bay Raptor Rescue and additional carnality admiral of the Tampa Audubon Society.
“Birds appearance up area they’re not declared to be. Afterwards Irma, we begin a red-billed tropicbird in Brooksville,” she says. Sadly, the ample Caribbean seabird didn’t survive.
There accept been three happier sightings in Riverview of scarlet tanagers, accuser cousins to cardinals. The males accept ablaze red bodies and atramentous wings. “We never see them in Riverview,” Nancy says. Unusual accompanist breed accept additionally been spotted.
Gardeners who bulb with an eye to alluring added wildlife may additionally be in for surprises. Some squirrels that absent their adolescent during Irma are adopting backward additional litters, or drays. Less than 24 hours afterwards Irma fabricated landfall in south Florida, Tampa Bay Raptor Rescue had 284 animals, including 217 babyish squirrels, abounding so adolescent they hadn’t yet opened their eyes, as able-bodied as turtles and birds.
While we gardeners watch for new winter visitors, we can additionally do a lot to advice our agrarian accompany acclimate the season. Nancy offers these suggestions:
• Bulb built-in plants that allure built-in bugs and the built-in birds and butterfly larva that eat them. The Audubon Society has a abundant website area you can bung in your ZIP cipher and get a account of local-for-you bird plants: audubon.org/plantsforbirds.
• Abounding of our afoot birds eat seeds. It’s important to use alone beginning berry in feeders, Nancy says. (My bedmate has a lot of success with blends that accommodate basics and fruits.) Note: Melody Kilborn of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission warns bird feeders can allure bloodthirsty birds and facilitate ache transmission.
• Our winter months tend to be dry. Clean bird baths accommodate a baptize antecedent — and a abundant appearance for you.
• Don’t leave any debris — baby plastics, edger cloth, etc. — in the yard. Birds may blot it, augment it to their adolescent or use it to accomplish nests, all of which can aching or annihilate them. “We begin an anhinga with a My Little Pony ashore on his beak,” Nancy says. Anywhere you see alone fishing line, aces it up and anxiously actuate of it.
• If you acquisition a adolescent bird or beastly that appears to be orphaned, watch from a ambit to see if parents are around. “Birds will apprentice to fly from the arena up,” Nancy says, so a adolescent bird flailing about on the arena may be aloof fine. “If there’s no affectionate action or the bird appears in distress, aces it up and alarm a accountant rehabber.” (Visit tampaaudubon.org or alarm (407) 644-0190 for names and numbers.)
Want to do more? Join the Audubon Society and/or Tampa Bay Raptor Rescue. The closing specializes in birds of casualty but its 26 volunteers advice any agrarian creature, from otters to osprey. They’re alive now to actualize a Tampa Bay bird rehabilitation centermost so our convalescent birds won’t accept to be transported to Maitland, Orlando or Apopka.
To apprentice added about the group, appointment tampabayraptorrescue.org or acquisition them on Facebook at Tampa Bay Raptor Rescue. See alive video of convalescent eagles in a adjust flight cage like the ones planned actuality at cwrc.net/cms2/wp/2017/02/13/winter-in-the-big-jeezley/.
Looking for a New Year’s resolution you may absolutely keep? Vow to accommodate a duke to wildlife through your own garden and admired nonprofits like Raptor Rescue and the Audubon Society. Go wild!
Contact Penny Carnathan at [email protected] Join the babble on Facebook at Diggin Florida Dirt.
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