Remember the birds during these colder months
Around this time last year, I wrote a column about how much I look forward to getting snow, and then we got some, and in response I got a few emails thanking me for my intervention with the weather gods.
As of Wednesday, it looks like we might be in for precipitation of the white flakey kind this weekend, but just a dusting. If by chance the forecast changes and we get a couple of inches, then there’s no need to send me a thank you note. You’re welcome!
When cold temperatures and winter weather are upon us, it’s time to make sure your bird feeders are stocked and your birdbath has liquid water in it.
I just read some interesting facts from Wild Birds Unlimited about how birds survive the cold, windy days and dark and even colder nights of winter.
In Southern Maryland in January, a small songbird will have to sustain itself through 14 hours of darkness each night by using only its fat reserves for body fuel.
Songbirds can use up to 75 to 80 percent of those reserves in just one winter night. That means they need to refuel the next day.
According to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, smaller birds like chickadees need to eat up to 35 percent of their weight in food each day. For bigger birds like blue jays, that number might be closer to 10 percent of their weight.
During the summer months, birds eat more naturally available food like insects and fruits, but finding food in winter is more challenging because natural foods become scarce. And the extremely rainy growing season we experienced last year negatively influenced how much natural food is available. That’s where kind-hearted people come in.
It doesn’t take much. Just a feeder you buy at the store or one you make with an old milk jug out of the recycle bin will work along with fresh seeds from any store, big box or bird feeding specialty store.
Black sunflower seeds are relatively inexpensive and happen to be the perfect food to offer. They’re high in energy and can be cracked open by small songbirds. In fact, most of the species of birds that will
visit a birdfeeder will eat them. Suet is another food you might want to offer in winter.
Other things you can do to help birds is offer fresh water and shelter. Birds still need to bathe in the winter to keep their feathers clean. Clean feathers provide the best insulation from harsh outdoor conditions. You can buy a birdbath heater, or you can just put a pie plate out on your deck railing and crack out the ice and refill it several times a day with fresh, cool water to give the birds a place to clean up.
And if you’ve still got your not-so-live-anymore Christmas tree still up, this week would
be a good time to find it a new spot outdoors. Your old tree can provide birds a place to shelter from winter wind and precipitation, along with a safe place to hide from predators.
Make a fortune with one catch
Do you think 2019 is going to be your year? If you’re a lucky bass fisherman, your catch might give you a lot more than just bragging rights, to the tune of thousands of dollars.
That’s right. Hale Lures/Stanley Jigs is offering a $100,000 bounty to the first angler who catches a new IGFA World Record all-tackle largemouth bass on any Hale Lure or Stanley Jig bait in United States public waters through Dec. 31, 2019.
You might remember a very famous fish that was caught on a Stanley Jig and a Hale Craw combo in Lake Fork in 1986. That lunker’s name was Ethel and she weighed in at 17.86 pounds, setting a new Texas state record.
Ethel lived out her remaining years in a tank at Bass Pro Shops headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. When she died in 1994, Bass Pro Shops held a memorial service in her honor which was attended by hundreds of people, including company founder Johnny Morris.
Mark Stevenson’s state record with Ethel lasted six years. In 1992, Barry St. Clair broke the record with an 18.18-pound bass caught in the same impoundment on a live shiner.
You probably won’t catch any largemouth bass that big in Maryland, so maybe a trip down south is warranted. After all, you could pay off your mortgage with a prize like that.
You won’t be able to use live bait if you want to win the bounty. Any of Stanley’s major baits such as the Big Nasty Jig, New Mud Puppy and Awesome Twin Spin are eligible for the prize.
The winning fish must certify 22.4-pounds or larger. And don’t forget the fine print that mentions that the winner must pass a polygraph exam before any money exchanges hands.
For more information, go to https://fishstanley. com/ and click on the “$100,000.00 Largemouth Bass Bounty” tab.