This weather is for the birds...
I have nothing to report this week from the outdoor scene. No one but the hardiest would brave the kind of weather we’ve been having.
The birds have been feeding heavily here, trying to keep their body temperatures up. The total count at my feeders is down somewhat this year because I was later than usual getting them up. I suspect some of my birds are feeding elsewhere in the neighborhood.
For instance, I’ve only counted two pairs of Cardinals instead of the usual dozen or so I’ve had in past years. I’ve only had a couple of pairs of Jays also, but I’ve never had many of those. I’ve switched completely to black sunflower seeds in my feeders and that has helped weed out some of the nuisance birds. And the mourning doves seem to like the leftovers that fall to the ground. I’ve got plenty of doves.
Some of my favorites still come in good numbers including the Goldfinches and Titmouse, and the various sparrows. Another of my favorites is the Carolina wren, but they can be a little bothersome. They like to fly into the open door of the garage or the house and its a chore to get them out. Last Christmas Eve, one got into the house and we chased it for a good half hour before the wife was able to catch it in her hand and put it outside.
Several kinds of tree-clingers are regular visitors to the suet cakes. I have had both the white breasted and red breasted nuthatches, the Downy and Redbellied woodpeckers and another woodpecker I’ve yet to identify. I think it might be a Hairy woodpecker, but it could be another Downy.
I keep my Audubon Society Field Guide (Eastern Region) close at hand to help me with my IDs, but I’ll admit I don’t know all the feathered friends that come to supper. When I looked out the window a couple of minutes before starting to write this column, there was a fat squirrel sitting atop one of the feeders chowing down on sunflower seeds.
This week from Kentucky Afield, new writer Kevin Kelly talks about some of the projects the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources will be undertaking this year.
The department’s Fisheries Division is working to jumpstart fish populations in Lake Cumberland and its tailwater in anticipation of the lake returning to its normal level in 2014, following a dam repair project which began in 2007. The division also is investing significant resources to add more fish cover to the state’s best muskie lake.
At the Wildlife Division, a new deer study launches this year along with continued research to bolster the state’s bobwhite populations. Here’s a look at what’s ahead for 2014.
Department biologists are partnering with two University of Kentucky graduate students to determine why the deer population lags in parts of southeastern Kentucky.
Researchers will fit 60 female deer in Clay County with radio transmitters then release the does back to the woods. The transmitters will enable researchers to track each deer’s movement and determine if it has given birth.
Fawns produced by the does will be caught this spring and receive their own radio tracking collars.
The department is stocking more and bigger fish in Lake Cumberland and the tailwater below Wolf Creek Dam in anticipation of the lake returning to normal levels this year.
The prolonged drawdown was prompted by emergency dam repair work that started in 2007. While the lake remained low to help reduce stress on Wolf Creek Dam, bushes and trees that grew along its banks will provide good fish cover once it is flooded by the lake’s rising water.
A project to improve and reroute Hatchery Creek downstream of the dam should get underway this year. Contractors will build a new one-mile channel featuring numerous pools and riffles extending to the Cumberland River.
A research project at Peabody Wildlife Management Area in western Kentucky is leading the way on the northern bobwhite quail restoration front.
The Fisheries Division this year will launch a major fish habitat project at Cave Run Lake.