Cold Winter Warnings?

nestmaster(5b WA-USA)August 31, 2007

Howdy.... Looks like it is going to be a cold winter in our parts.... The Red Squirrels are packing away the 'pine' cones as fast as they can like they've not done since we lived here (15 years). I'm having to nearly daily clean off our driveway of all the Douglas Fir cones that the little devils are dropping from 6 or so Doug Fir in our front yard. I place the cones in separate piles in areas I see the squirrels scampering off to. These piles are usually gone within a week. I've been leaving the ones that they are tucking into our flower beds but these are starting to get a bit thick with cones - Oh Well - that's living in the woods. Just the last week they've even been putting them into a birdbath. It only takes them a couple of hours to fill the birdbath back up again when I clean it out and put in fresh water. My guess is that all the fir cone activity is due to a number of factors: 1) more Red Squirrels, 2) first year we've had an actual sprinkler system in the front yard (used to water by hose/sprinkler), 3) squirrel chasing dog in backyard (a kid's dog that is away at school), 4) just that kind of year for Douglas Fir, and maybe 5) we're gonna have a heck of a winter!

I've put some pix online at the link below. The driveway shot is the first bunch they brought down. I've raked the driveway twice and it is in this state again (maybe they are using me?!?). The birdbath is clean currently but has been this way (in pix) at least 5 times. Other pix are how deep they are piling them in the flower beds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Red Squirrels & Douglas Fir Cones

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Have you checked to see if any of the cones have seeds. This may be your squirrels way of telling you to get them some feed. My squirrels will have problems because the Easter week freeze zapped all of the acorns. What few nuts I have seen have no meats.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 9:37PM
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nestmaster(5b WA-USA)

I'm guessing they do have something to eat in them as we've watched them chow down on them. They leave quite a pile of leftovers!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 2:16PM
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Has anyone noticed that there are fewer and fewer goldfiches at the feeders.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 5:50PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Wow, those squirrels are collecting a lot of cones! I've read that they like to horde large caches of food. I find the red squirrels to be very entertaining. Such noisy, hyper little squirrels.

I haven't noticed any particular signs of an impending winter yet.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 10:14AM
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nestmaster(5b WA-USA)

Goldfinches and Pine Siskins are pretty susceptible to catching salmonella poisoning via feeders that aren't cleaned very regularly - much more regularly than most folks want to bother with. We found that we couldn't clean our feeders often enough so we quit using feeders. I now spread sunflower seed into a 20 foot Blue Spruce via a tall orchard ladder (3 legs). I do this around 2 to 3 weeks apart with about 2 gallons of seeds. We see the finches, and others, less often but we do see them regularly. Right now the finches are going after the sunflowers we planted this year. Since we also have Coopers Hawks in our area the Blue Spruce method offers the birds that feed there more protection.
Steve Baran - Chattaroy, WA

    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 8:07PM
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queenvalerie(Zone 5- Michigan)

Not only cold but a early winter. Canadian Geese are already flying over my house heading South for the winter. Squirrels are very busy these days collecting food for the long winter months to come. Robins are flocking together ready to head South.
Yep going to be a cold early winter in my parts of the woods.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 12:42PM
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Had the first flight of blackbirds come through yesterday morning. Normal time mid October and stay for several days. They left sometime last night. A while ago I was eating dinner watching a flock of robins eating on the poke berries. I did notice something strange though most robins have similar coloration but these had all kinds of color differences in the group, white streaks on breasts, dark heads and heads with little color, some had what looked like ruffs going around the necks, some had very light colored heads. There was even one that used it's tail like a mockingbird to sit on the light line. When the line wiggled his tail would be cocked under the line for balance.

Any idea's on this mixed robin flock. And no I waited until after I came inside to eat my rum ball.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 8:31PM
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nestmaster(5b WA-USA)

On the robins I'm guessing that some are in molt right now and shedding a few feathers. The older feathers will have sun damage and wear and be lighter colored. There can be quite a difference between the new and old feathers giving them an overall peculiar look.

Search for the word "molt" at the link I've included. It says that they may be just finishing their flight feather molt and in the midst of their body feather molt.

There's also the possibility that they got into something - wet paint????


Here is a link that might be useful: North American Robin

    Bookmark   September 14, 2007 at 9:25PM
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Most were smooth feathered not rough as during molt. If they got into paint they wandered into a spray it.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2007 at 12:11AM
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