Monday, October 16, 2017

Best insectivores

The year-round birds seen in our area sometimes vary their diet with seed but insects often are at the top of the menu. Sometimes birds such as cardinals and chickadees will eat insects and feed them to their young for the protein. Other birds that predominantly favor insects are absent during the colder months because there are few insects to be had.

Gray Catbird has snagged a caterpillar
Here's a short list of who's who among common insect eats (in no particular order).

Gray Catbirds eat ants, beetles, grasshoppers, midges, caterpillars and moths.

Chipping Sparrows eat insects and seed that has fallen onto the ground. You may see them picking insects off shrubs and trees.

Downy Woodpeckers are always on the move searching  for small bugs as they peck away bits of wood under which the insects lie.

Yellow Warblers have wonderful songs. Their favorite meals are caterpillars. They also eat moths, mosquitoes and beetles.

Northern Mockingbird with a morsel
Northern Mockingbirds eat beetles, earthworms, moths, butterflies, ants, bees, wasps and grasshoppers.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, in addition to sipping nectar from flowers, eat small spiders for necessary protein.

Baltimore Orioles are colorful migrants sometimes seen in backyards. Besides nectar and fruit, they eat man insect species including tent worms.

Wrens are regular backyard residents who eat mostly insects and spiders.

Nuthatches and Brown Creepers climb down and up trees searching for insects in the bark.

Native sparrows demonstrate a hop-front-scratch-back dance to loosen soil to locate insects.

Do you have a lawn service that sprays insects or shrubs? That may make your lawn look nicer but you'll be eliminating an excellent source of food for the birds—and thus see fewer of them.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Products and seed are flying off the shelf!

A reminder: The Bird House is closing on Tuesday, October 31 after 14 years in business. 

eed is still available as long as it lasts but other products are dwindling as each day goes by. Dave received the last shipment of seed on Thursday, October 12. He has had his longest-running seed sale in the history of the store—six weeks long—as a thank-you to the many customers who have been so generous and loyal over the past 14 years. 

Seed and suet will available until October 31st or until supplies run out. 

Products such as hardware and feeders are on sale for up to 50 percent off. We are not able to accept special orders requests. Most fixtures are on sale. You might find them handy organizing your basement or garage. Many items already have been sold.

The only exception are the slat walls—those wood-colored horizontal walls that used to hang products for visibility's sake. Builders, hobbyists and homeowners who'd like to tidy up their basements can purchase the slat walls if they make arrangements by October 31.  The slat walls are avilable at $20 apiece. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Bird symbolism

Bald Eagle
In many cultures around the world, birds are seen as a supernatural link between Heaven and Earth. In the Middle East and other part of Asia, birds symbolize immortality. In East Indian mythology, birds represent departed souls. In Christian art, birds often are depicted as saved souls.

Eagles represent power, resurrection and courage. They embody faith and inner reflection. In ancient Greek and Roman times, artists depicted a soaring eagle carrying a soul to Heaven.

Cranes are associated with long life, health, happiness, wisdom and good luck. In Asian culture, white cranes can travel to the heavens. In China, cranes flew with the gods to the "isle of the Immortals."
Sandhill Crane

The dove is regarded as the sign of peace and life. It was the bird Noah released after the flood in order to find land; the dove returned with an olive leaf, a sign of life and renewal. The Hebrew story acquired the meaning of peace during the Christian era. As Christian icons, the dove also symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

The hawk is represented as warlike, the opposite of the peace of the dove. However, treatment of the hawk as warlike is a secular and relatively recent term, entering the popular American culture during the 1800s.

In some societies, the falcon is a protective guardian and companion of hunters. In ancient Egypt, the falcon was associated with the Eye of Horus and the god Ra. Horus was believed to appear in the form of a falcon-headed god. He could see all because one eye was the sun and the other was the moon.

In dreams, owls represent wisdom, insight and virtue. However, the owl can also be an omen of death and darkness. An owl's hoot foretells future heartache and warms that deception or death lies ahead.

The nightingale, with its evening song, is the bird of love, sheltering secret lovers from prying eyes. Because it sings all night, it was once thought to not sleep at all. Legend tells of a reluctant shepherdess who kept postponing her wedding date. This caused the fiancĂ©e so many sleepless nights that he finally turned her into a nightingale to condemn her to a sleepless life.

The nightingale's song is cherished around the world and considered to be a good omen for poets, writers and singers.

The raven features prominently in another love story: a man's devotion the death of his beloved Lenore, as the poet Edgar Allen Poe tells the tale. Having entered the brooding man's chamber, the man asks the raven his name. "Nevermore," replies the raven to repeated demands, enraging the man. Poe leaves it unclear as to whether the raven knows what its word means or whether the bird gets pleasure out of the man's loss. The poet Homer and the Bible both refer to ravens, the former depicting the ability to erase memories and the latter suggesting a source of medicinal cure.

Peacocks represent spring, birth, new growth, longevity and love. The peacock's beauty is welcome in temples, royal gardens and, according to one Muslim tradition, the Gates of Paradise. The eye patterns in the peacock's tail feathers represent the stars, universe, sun moon and "the vault of Heaven."

The sparrow is a symbol of rebirth, resurrection and the mother goddess. The long battle of Troy was forecast when nine sparrows, one for each year of war, were eaten by a snake. As a Christian symbol, the sparrow represents the concern of God for the least among His people. Sparrows are always under God's protection.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Annual seed sale continues until store closes

The Bird House's final seed sale is continuing until the store closes later this month. We'll continue offering 15 percent off on favorite seed and suet.

The Bird House is closing its doors after 14 years in business now that Dave has reached retirement age. In addition to seed and suet, you can find bargains of up to 50 percent off on certain merchandise. But hurry. Items are flying off the shelves (most of which, by the way, also are available for sale).

A shrinking selection of bird houses, bird feeders, all-weather bird baths, accessories, books, puzzles and gift-giving items remain available but if you wait, you may find that favorite item gone forever.

The store will close on October 31 (or perhaps sooner, depending on whether seed and merchandise run out). Sales are final, with no returns.

The Bird House has had seed sales twice a year but this sale is the longest in the store's history. It is a great way to stock up! We want to give customers a big thank-you for their patronage and friendship.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Lehigh Valley bird sightings for September 29

Bake Oven Knob in Lehigh County is the place to be at this time of year. Thousands of raptors have begun their annual migration south, and they use the ridge of the Blue Mountain as their guide. The topography of the ridge makes it easy to see the birds as they soar close to the mountain.
Broad-winged Hawk

Dave DeReamus, of the Eastern PA Birdline, compiled a list of birds seen at Bake Oven Knob and other locations in the Lehigh Valley for the period ended September 29. The Lehigh Valley Audubon Society sponsors the Eastern PA Birdline.

Bake Oven Knob, Lehigh County
Bald Eagle, 7 on September 14 and September 15; 8 on September 18; 17 on September 29.
Northern Goshawk, 1 on September 21.
Broad-winged Hawk, 1,627 on September 15; 2,604 on September 17; 1,476 on September 18.
Peregrine Falcon, 1 each on September 18, September 26 and September 28; 6 on September 29.

Upper Mount Bethel Township, Northampton County
(along National Park Drive)
Ruffed Grouse, 2 on September 10.

Jacobsburg State Park, Northampton County
Philadelphia Vireo, 1 on September 10.

Lower Nazareth Township, Northampton County
(at the Koch Toyota retention pond)
Stilt Sandpiper, 1 from September 14 to September 18.
Baird's Sandpiper, 1 on September 15.
Pectoral Sandpiper, 11 on September 18.
Philadelphia Vireo

Little Gap, Northampton County
Ruffed Grouse, 1 on September 20.
Red-headed Woodpecker, 1 on September 18 and September 20.
Olive-sided Flycatcher, 1 on September 13.
Philadelphia Vireo, 4 on September 13; 1 on September 17; 2 on September 20; 3 on September 21; 1 on September 22.
Orange-crowned Warbler, 1 on September 12.

Beltzville State Park, Carbon County
Great Cormorant, 1 on September 21.
Connecticut Warbler, 1 on September 13.

Green Lane Reservoir, Montgomery County
(at the Walt Road area)
Black-crowned Night-Heron, 1 on September 16.
Black Tern, 1 on September 16.
Black Tern

(at the Church Road area)
Caspian Tern, 2 on September 20.

Deep Creek/Knight Lake, Montgomery County
Sandhill Crane, 4 fly-bys on September 29.

State Game Lands 157, Bucks County
(on Haycock Mountain)
Red-headed Woodpecker, 3 on September 12 and September 13; 1 on September 21.

Lake Nockamixon, Bucks County
Philadelphia Vireo, 1 on September 13 and September 16.

Peace Valley Park, Bucks County
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, 1 on September 12.

To report bird sightings to Dave DeReamus, send an e-mail to with the word "Birdline" in the subject heading.

Audubon trip to Leaser Lake on October 7

Waterfowl and woodland species are migrating at Leaser Lake, and now is a good time to watch them. The Lehigh Valley Audubon Society is sponsoring a field trip to the lake on Saturday, October 7, from 8 to 11 a.m.

You are apt to see a wide range of passerines, a category of birds that include orioles, cuckoos, videos, warblers, tanagers, buntings, finches, mockingbirds, thrushes, flycatchers and wrens.

Meet at the North Launch at the lake, the parking lot closest to the ridge. The lake is located off Ontelaunee Road in New Tripoli, Lehigh County. Carpooling is a good idea. Participants will drive around the lake, stopping at key points for walks. The terrain is relatively flat, making walking easy. Bring a snack if you wish.

If you have a spotting scope, please bring it. If you don't, you can always borrow a peak through someone else's scope. 

Frank Dickman will lead the event. To RSVP, visit the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society's meet-up page. The event is free and open to the public.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Lehigh Valley bird sightings for September 10

Golden-winged Warbler
Here are the Lehigh Valley bird sightings through September 10. The list was compiled by Dave DeReamus of the Eastern PA Birdline, which is sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society.

Lake Minsi, Northampton County
Sanderling, 3 on August 29.

Monocacy Nature Center, Northampton County
Gold-winged Warbler, 1 on August 30.

Little Gap, Northampton County
Northern Bobwhite, 1 to at least September 4 (probably an escaped bird).
Connecticut Warbler, 1 on August 31.

Beltzville State Park, Carbon County
Sanderling, 1 on September 6.

Lehigh Gap Nature Center, Carbon County
Blue Grosbeak, 2 on August 28.

Bake Oven Knob, Lehigh County
Bald Eagle, 6 on August 30; 21 on August 31; 6 on September 7; 8 on September 9.

Leaser Laker, Lehigh County
Caspian Tern, 2 on September 2.
Blue Grosbeak, 1 on September 1 and September 5.

Wescosville, Lehigh County
(along Krocks Road)
Little Blue Heron, 1 to at least August 30 (immature).

Deep Creek/Knight Lake area, Montgomery County
Little Blue Heron, 2 to at least September 4; 1 immature bird on September 9.

Lake Towhee, Bucks County
Trumpeter Swan, 1 on August 28.

Lake Nockamixon, Bucks County
American Pipit, 2 on September 6.

Peace Valley Park, Bucks County
Golden-winged Warbler, 1 on September 1.
Connecticut Warbler, 1 on September 4.
Blue Grosbeak, 1 on August 29.

To report bird sightings to Dave DeReamus, send an e-mail to wth the subject heading "Birdline."