Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowy Owls Make An Appearance This Winter

Snowy owls are making quite the appearance in the eastern US this winter. The arctic species has pushed so far south, it caught the attention of USA Today.

From the Associated Press:

In Tennessee, birders armed with spotting scopes and telephoto lenses scrambled from as far away as Georgia and Alabama to see the first snowy owl reported in that state in 22 years.

The owl showed up in early December in the fields surrounding a General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. Sightings were still being posted on the Tennessee Ornithological Society's Web site in late January.

Birding hot lines lit up in northern Virginia with the sighting of a young male snowy owl in early December. The bird later died after it was found, sick and weak, and brought to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro.

Rarely seen south of northern Ohio, snowy owls have also been reported this year in Kansas and Missouri, according to the national bird reporting Web site.

Snowy owls nest on the ground in the Arctic tundra and many of them stay there year-round, while some winter in Canada and the northern United States. They tend to show up in greater numbers in the U.S. every three to five years, pushed by crashes in the population of lemmings, the hamster-like mainstay of their diet.

But that doesn't appear to be the reason for this year's influx.

"This year it appears the lemming population was really good," said Laura Erickson, a biologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca. "When lemmings are abundant, snowy owls have a very successful breeding season."

As a result, the owl population grows so large that many of the young males move farther south to stake out feeding territory. An individual adult snowy owl may eat three to five lemmings per day, or up to 1,600 per year.

Snowy owls aren't uncommon in winter in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but they're far more plentiful than usual this year, Erickson said. At the airport in Minneapolis, biologists have had to trap and move snowy owls for fear they'd be sucked into a jet engine, she said.

Read the full article here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Droll Yankee Feeders

Droll Yankees had a display of their new line of easy to clean bird feeders. One is the Onyx Clever Clean® line of feeders.

The feeders offer a new port style on DY feeders. Above is the sunflower port tube feeder. Still a nice wide area for a black oil sunflower mix to flow through, but the perch is a coated U-shape design, making it easier for small birds to feed--they can face the food and eat, as opposed to turning and twisting their heads to get at the food as with previous designs. The perch is also more attractive to larger ground feeding birds like the cardinal.

The port for the Nyjer/thistle feeder shows a unique flower pattern. It gives a finch four places to get food in one port and is a more artistic design from your standard Nyjer tube feeder. The design will also help people who feed a fine chips finch mix, since squirrels and downy woodpeckers both have a tendency to widen holes on the old style design. However, that's not the most exciting feature of the feeder. The bottom of the Onyx Clever Clean feeders, snaps apart easily for any customer to remove the base and clean out the feeder. Watch a video demonstration:

But the Onyx feeders weren't the only new style from DY.

It's not quite available yet, but the Droll Yankee Ring Pull tube feeder will be available soon. A bit more economical in price compared to the Onyx line, this line is a sturdy tube feeder that comes apart. The center of the tube is held together with a long rod. You unscrew the rod and all the ports come apart for super easy cleaning. There is probably a greater risk of an overzealous customer losing pieces, but overall is an exciting design.

Watch your supplier for these exciting Drolly Yankees feeder.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Birdwatch America 2009

It was a slightly more subdued crowd at Birdwatch America this year. Overall traffic from both buyers and vendors was down, which wasn't too surprising given the current economic forecast. But many vendors showed up--some new faces and many reliable standbys. The winner for Best New Product was a new comer to the show called Cast Paper Art.

Cast offers cards and ornaments that can either be offered as food for birds or a potential garden for bees or birds the following spring. Their line of Blooming Expressions are ornaments crafted from 100% recycled cotton, fresh flowers, and wildflower seeds. When the ornament is planted, it grows into perennial wildflowers.

Recycling and sustainable products were key at this year's show. Almost every booth mentioned how much recycled product or sustainable supplies were used in the manufacturing of their products.

The winner of best booth at the trade show went to Texas Butterflies. Their colorful display of large decorative butterflies wowed the crowed, causing them to get the most votes. Also, the winner of Best Website went to Woodstream Corp.

Urban Expositions is committed to making the show better than ever and a meeting was held the following day with many well know feeder manufacturers and others involved with the show to make it better for buyers and vendors in the future. If you attended BWA (or if you did not) what will make you attend the next show?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Some New Year Tips For The Small Business

From Small Business Weekly:

Investigate your lender. Few banks are increasing lines of credit, but if your financial institution itself is in bad shape, "open up discussions immediately," says Allan Tepper, a CPA and finance consultant to small companies. "If they're not there for you, consider alternative lenders." You might also approach a credit union: Their lending is up 36% over last year.

Tighten your belt, but make sure the cost-cutting measures don't show. Make Internet calls instead of using traditional phone carriers, and e-mail documents (in a secure file format) instead of printing and mailing them. Save energy by turning off computers and printers. In northern climes, program the thermostat to fire up the heat just before the workday begins and shut it off an hour before it ends, suggests Jennifer Kluge, president of the National Association for Business Resources, a membership association in chilly Warren, Mich.

Barter. Elizabeth Donley, CEO of Stemina Biomarker Discovery in Madison, Wis., barters with her software consultant: He does statistical and Web site work for her company, and in exchange, she lets him run his business out of her excess office space. That's netting her company $50,000 in savings over the length of the 15-month contract. If you can't work it out on your own, examine organized barter exchanges and networks (there are hundreds). Just be sure to put all agreements in writing and record them for tax purposes.

Liquidate inventory. "Call it a 'The Economy Stinks Sale,' " says Lenzer Kirk. Most business owners know what it would take to make an offer "that customers would find impossible to refuse," Rice says. If doing so can garner enough of a reaction, it just might hold you over for the short term.

Let customers know this isn't a normal business practice, which will make it easier for you to raise prices later. But bear in mind that, in commodity businesses, some customers will disappear when prices go back up.

Read the full article and all of the great tips here.