Friday, March 30, 2012

Tax Time!

I am writing today to remind you to do a few things. Some before it is too late and some earlier than normal.

Every year I use tax season as a marker for a few things. Yes, taxes is one of them but luckily I have Connie and an accountant (mostly Connie) to help me with that. But I'm not going to discuss taxes on a bird blog, don't worry.

Tax season happens to occur right at the brink of migration season.  An interesting thing happens at the bird feeders in our yard each year on or around April 1st: 

  • Chipping Sparrows arrive - those tiny, sprite birds with rufous caps and huge trilling songs.
  • Juncos - start to get agitated and annoyed with each other even though they spent the whole winter in gregarious harmony. You should appreciate these black and white beauties until you file your return because that is when they leave us and head north for the summer.
  • Towhees arrive - these giant sparrows are beautifully colored with black, white and rufous.  You may not see them in your yard but you know they are there when you here them tell you to "drink your teeeeaaaaa".
  • Flickers return - these woodpeckers act like Robins hopping around on your lawn looking for bugs but when they take off, you can see the beautiful yellow under their wings.  Flickers will be looking for nest holes now.
  • Goldfinches are actually turning gold after being dull dudes all winter. They will start returning in force to the thistle (niger) feeders for awhile.
  • Pine and Palm Warblers -- look and listen for these early migrants in your yards even though they don't actually go to the bird feeder.  Pine warblers sound like slower, louder Chipping Sparrow.  They are really yellow breasted with 2 wing bars.  Palm warblers are also really yellow right now and they pump their tails constantly.
  • Eastern Phoebes - speaking of tail pumpers, the Phoebe is a black, gray and white bird that also pumps its tail constantly.  They are named for their song which is a harsh sounding "Fe Bee!" emphasis on the Bee.  They will nest around buildings so don't be surprised to see one in your neighborhood.

If you like to look at ducks, now is the time to get to a lake, river, bay or ocean to see all of our wintering ducks with their new beautiful breeding plumage before they head north too. 

I normally hang my hummingbird feeder until after tax deadline day - April 15th (17th this year because the 15th is a Saturday) but not this year.  I have mine hung at home and at the shore already this year.  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds - the only type of hummer that is normal for our area - have been arriving all across the east coast since early March.  Here is a link to the migration map http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html showing dates of first arrivals.  Get your hummingbird feeder hung.  Remember the formula is 1 cup of boiling water with 1/4 cup of sugar mixed in. No dyes or food coloring.  Also remember to clean the feeder and use new food every week until it gets warmer, then clean and change every 3-4 days.  Failure to clean and change may result in giving your hummer fungal disease.
Oh, and file your taxes on time.  That's it for now.  I will be posting from the left coast next week.  I will be at a conference in San Francisco, then heading down the coast with Di to Los Angeles.  I hope we have good weather.
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