OUTSIDE: The book is standard for bird identification | Sports


April 6 would have been my mother’s 89th birthday, and while I will always think of her on that day, I started a new tradition in her honor: filling and hanging my hummingbird feeders.

Dad got credit for the feeders in their house south of Festus because it was his job to keep them filled. He enjoyed watching the birds fly to the roost and forage for seeds, but Mom seemed to have a personal relationship with visitors outside her kitchen window.

For more than two decades, the hummingbirds.net website created by Fenton’s Lanny Chambers has tracked the migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds across North America. A change in the computer program that ran the site unfortunately suspended service, but you can still visit to learn more about hummingbirds, feeders, and see map data compiled for over 20 years.

Hummingbird arrival dates for the Jefferson County area range from late March to mid-April, but the sweet spot is around April 6. The migration map hasn’t been updated since 2018, but it does link to journeynorth.org, which tracks hummingbirds and dozens of other species.

One of my favorite perks of writing this outdoor column is the ability to review new books before they’re released to the public. When I was offered an advance copy of All About Birds Midwest, from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, I jumped at the chance.

At first glance it reminded me of the Peterson Field Guide for Eastern Birds which was a reliable reference book in my mom and dad’s house. Roger Torey Peterson published his first guide in 1934, and the copy I inherited is dated 1980. I still use it as a reference, but Cornell’s book sets a new standard.

Instead of Peterson’s illustrations, the new book features several detailed, enlarged photographs of each bird. Each page contains a range map and a detailed description, including bird identification keys: size and shape, colouration, behavior and habitat. A special note on each species is also included.

Published by Princeton Press, the All About Birds series contains books for California, Texas and Oklahoma, the Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast, and Midwest. Missouri marks the southern boundary of the Midwest Book, which extends east to Indiana, west to Kansas, and north to the Dakotas and central Canada.

The Midwest book highlights 221 of the region’s most common species. Details and images are taken from the AllAboutBirds.org website, run by the Cornell Lab, which also offers a free bird identification app called Merlin.

The book’s introduction covers tips for beginner birders, the basics of good bird photography, tips for attracting birds to your backyard feeder, features of a good birdhouse and ways to get involved. in the protection of bird species.

According to the new book, “The ruby-throated hummingbird is the only breeding hummingbird in the eastern United States and Canada. These precision-flying creatures sparkle in bright sunlight and are common in bird feeders and flower gardens in In the fall, they head south, and many of them cross the Gulf of Mexico in a single flight.

Hummingbird feeders come in a variety of shapes and styles. Finding one with a look you like should be easy. An important consideration is ease of cleaning, because while filling the feeder is simple, keeping the feeder clean and the nectar fresh is essential.

The standard sugar water recipe calls for four parts water and one part sugar. There is no need to boil the water and plain white cane sugar is the best bet. Homemade nectar, which should never be made with honey, brown sugar, fruit or other substitutes, can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Adding red food coloring to water is not recommended, but most prepared nectar mixes contain red coloring. There’s little evidence that artificial color is harmful to small birds, but it doesn’t have to be, so why take the risk?

John Winkelman is marketing director for Liguori Publications near Barnhart, Mo., and associate editor for Outdoor Guide Magazine. If you have story ideas to share for Leader’s outside news page, email [email protected], and you’ll find more outside news and updates at johnjwink.com.


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