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Just Outside My Door 11/03/11

November 9, 2011
We had the same weather last week as we did the previous week until Thursday. It had rained and we got a scant covering of snow on Wednesday and we awoke Friday morning to find that Jack Frost had visited us during the night. Since I hadn’t covered any flowers except the geraniums in the big kettle on the front lawn, he killed the annuals in the flower beds. I didn’t mind however, because now I could clean them up before winter.

I dug the geraniums up on Friday plan to plant them in my window box and keep them inside all winter. Did you know that one can put vinegar in the water you use to water them? My mom always did that and they bloomed all winter. I do that too and greatly enjoy its bright blossoms when the outdoor color scheme is pure white except for some of the birds that visit us on our back porch.

Speaking of birds, because the price of black sunflower seeds has more than doubled this year, we haven’t fed them the past couple months except for the suet cakes and the humming bird feeder. The latter is still hanging for the birds that stop by for more “fuel” as they migrate. But I haven’t seen any recently so I thing it’s time to take it down. We purchased several 50 pounds bags of seeds when the Farmer’s Mill had it on sale in August and will start feeding all the birds again when winter really comes for I wouldn’t miss them for anything when the new season arrives.

Speaking of birds, the Northern Flicker, which is classed as a woodpecker though it is least like them, is one I don’t see real often. An article in the November – December Bird Watcher’s Digest, written by Stephen Shunk, it is “the clown of woodpeckers” and he calls it “flicker.”

A flicker is not like its tree-climbing cousins because it spends most of its time on the ground. It probes with its bill into underground tunnels that hide its favorite food, which is ants, Shunk says. He also relates, “Flickers eat more ants than any other bird in North America, and they are handily equipped to so.” Shunk gives a lot of detail about how the woodpecker tongue is designed and that, “it is one of the most amazing adaptations in the animal world and a flicker’s tongue defies imagination.” Its sandpaper-like tongue enters the ant burrow many time per second, and when it does it gets saliva on at and ants can’t overcome it. According to the, “Stokes Field Guide To Birds,” flickers are in our area in winter, but I have only seen them in warmer weather. Perhaps they are in the woods during colder weather though I wouldn’t think they’d find any ants there.

Shunk gives still more information in his article about the flicker and the full article can be found in the aforesaid Bird Watcher Digest at P. O. Box 110, Marietta Ohio 45750 or email or in a store or library.


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