We went through a fairly significant short-term drought this summer here in State College, Pa., but nothing like the long-term drought that the southern Plains and Midwest have been suffering. Still, I wanted to do my part, and I wondered if the local birds needed help. I knew that I had read an article on AccuWeather.com about hurricanes relocating birds, but I hadn't heard anything about drought.
I found an article from the Globe Gazette in Mason City, Iowa, that said that drought can be devastating for birds, but you can help by putting out birdbaths and water feeders. My step-daughter is also into birdwatching and wanted to set up several feeders, waterers and bird baths under the porch. Woodstream, Inc., makers of the Perky-Pet® line of bird feeders sent us a few samples (see above) so we could see what would work best.
The birdseed in the feeders attracted the birds initially, but I've caught them bathing in the bird baths and drinking out of the water feeders occasionally (since the drought is over here, but fall is arriving, they've been concentrating on the food). The preferred feeder product for our local birds (by far) has been the Perky-Pets "Squirrel-Be-Gone™" wild bird feeder (pictured above). It was also the most amusingly packaged. The birds loved the multiple perches (can feed up to six at a time), and they were even forming a food line on the porch railing. Within a day or two, they had the feeder drained, no thanks to squirrels, because the feeder doesn't work under their weight.
We had high hopes for the Birdscapes "Copper Sip & Seed" (shown above, installed under the porch) because it was so artistic. Unfortunately, art trumped functionality, and after rain water got into the feeder, it turned the first two inches of seed into glue and the birds thought it was too much work to get the food. We're going to look into using a different type of food, to see if that helps.
The Perky-Pet glass "Antique Hummingbird Feeder" looked stunning against our lawn. I picked up some inexpensive Perky-Pet hummingbird nectar concentrate at Home Depot (who also sells the products reviewed here) and whipped up a batch.
Even though drought should bring hummingbirds intosuburban back yards, after a month we still hadn't seen anything other than bees at the hummingbird feeders. We looked at the Perky-Pet Blog for advice. They suggested planting certain flowers that will attract this bird type, so we're going to do that next spring.
Bird baths are important -- the Globe Gazette says that dirt is "deadly" for birds -- I assume because of the weight it adds to their flight. AvantGarden's "Hanging Birdbath" (left, above) was a great addition underneath our porch stairs, but even without direct sunlight, the shallow pan did frequently dry out. It was easy to refill it quickly with the hose.
Their "Lily Pad Birdbath" (at right) was nice-looking and lasted longer thanks to the reservoir that uses surface tension to release just enough water to fill it. It took some practice to figure out how to flip the water bottle over without getting the chain caught and spilling all the water, but I'm sure that's just part of the territory with upside-down reservoirs.
DISCLAIMER: These opinions are mine alone. Product was provided free of charge for this review.
Two days of rare September severe thunderstorms in Pennsylvania have dropped tornadoes and funnel clouds, and I was able to chase some of them.
There are quite a few notable low pressure systems or "cyclones" worldwide today. One of them, Typhoon Meranti, is the biggest in a while.
On the evening of September 5, 1996, as Hurricane Fran approached the North Carolina coast, I embarked on my first-ever hurricane storm chase trip.
Twenty years ago, Hurricane Fran roared into eastern North Carolina, and I was there -- and I've got the VHS tapes to prove it.
Until yesterday, Hurricane Wilma was the last Hurricane to strike the state of Florida, 11 years ago.
Hurricane Irene caused over $16 billion in damage in 2011. A the 5-year anniversary, I look back on my experiences with the storm.