The Dog Days Of Summer

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On top of everything else that is happening in the avian world, the birds have begun to molt. The loss of feathers is devastating; how can the proud blue jay scare away other birds with such a small head? He looks old, lost, and confused like a king that needs to be shuttled to his next appearance.

On a practical level, the molting process is crucial for proper flight and good insulation. Feathers are made of  90% protein so it is important that the birds consume insects, meal worms, peanuts, suet, and tree nuts to grow a strong new quill.

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Grackle in molt

The process of molting can take up to eight weeks and will drain a bird’s overall energy. I have been watching the activity at my bird feeders; even though the temperatures are so very hot, the birds are as active as when it was sixty-degrees colder.

Some of the birds have decided they still have time for another brood before the fall sets in. So it’s molt a feather, drop an egg. Yikes that is tiring.

 

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Cardinal in molt

 

All birds molt at least once a year although for some birds it is less noticeable, a feather here or there and the job is done. Some birds prefer to stay hidden in the trees, foregoing the usual banter around the bird feeder while the worst of the molt is taking place.

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Male Goldfinch molting from summer to winter plumage

But when it is all over, the bird is ready for migration, or winter, or whatever is ahead for the next many months.

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*You will be happy to note that if you love butterflies, you can join in with the NABA and help count them. I am afraid to hear the results as most of us just need to look around to get an idea of what is going on there.North American Butterfly Association

*Blackbirds are flocking and appearing at feeders: that would include the starlings and grackles.

*First brood of immature hummingbirds begin to show up at nectar feeders.

* Fall migration starts with returning shorebirds.

 

Happy Bird feeding and bird watching. There is nothing better for the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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