Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bears & Bird Feeding

States on the east coast are putting out warning on bears and bird feeders. As many black bears come out of their dens from hibernation, bird feeding stations are attractive to them.

Vermont is going as far as to tell people to stop feeding birds:

"We are asking people to stop feeding birds from April through late October," said Fish & Wildlife's Col. David LeCours. "Also, don't leave pet food outside, wash down your barbecues when done, and secure your garbage containers. And above all, never purposely leave food out for bears. Feeding bears may seem kind, but it is almost a sure death sentence for them."

Massachusetts and New Hampshire are also warning to bring in feeders due to black bear activity.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Salmonella In Wild Birds Unlimited Mixes

In an update about the Wild Birds Unlimited bird seed recall, here is the latest from Steve Troxler, the Commissioner for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

"Test results of bird food from Wild Birds Unlimited, the retail source of the seed in question, indicated that Wild Birds Unlimited Wildlife Blend bird food with the specific manufacturing date code of 81132200 2916 08124 was positive for Salmonella. Also, Wild Birds Unlimited Woodpecker blend sold in 5-pound bags at a North Carolina store was positive for Salmonella. The bird seed Salmonella strain isolated during testing is different from the strain that is implicated in the current peanut product recall. These test results also indicated that the strain of Salmonella in the bird seed is different from the strain found in dead wild birds that have been examined by the NCDA&CS Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to date."

It is good news for WBU that the particular strain in their bird seed is not the same strain found in the dead birds. However, in the statement from Troxler, it goes on to say that even though this is not the same strain that can affect wild birds, this strain does have the potential to infect people and other animals and that was the main reason for the recall.

You can read the full statement here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nikon & Wild Bird Supply Sponsorship

Nikon® Sport Optics is pleased to announce its partnership with Freeport Wild Bird Supply in sponsoring the 2009 Spring Hawkwatch at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, Maine.

In 2007 and 2008, this project was sponsored and conducted by the Wild Bird Center of Yarmouth. Due to the loss of this business to fire in January, owners Jeannette and Derek Lovitch are opening Freeport Wild Bird Supply (hopefully April 1, 2009) to serve the backyard birdwatcher and birding community. Via the Freeport Wild Bird Supply, Derek and Jeannette will continue their work promoting birding opportunities in Maine, including the hawk count, which hosted 919 visitors in 2007.

This year, Freeport Wild Bird Supply is excited to partner with Nikon to continue this important project, where valuable data is collectedwhile providing an enjoyable and educational experience for visitors. "Nikon is proud to provide optics and financial support for the Hawkwatch at Bradbury Mountain State Park ", said Jon Allen, General Manager of Nikon Sport Optics.

"Supporting conservation and education is a cornerstone of the Nikon Birding Program."

As hawkcounters themselves in their previous lives, Jeannette and Derek are thrilled to help launch the field biology career of up-and- coming birder Danny Akers from Ankeny, Iowa. The project is pleased to introduce Danny as the third hawk counter for the Bradbury Mountain Raptor Research Project. He will be stationed at the summit from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily from March 15 to May 15, 2009.

The goal of the project is to document raptor migration by identifying and counting all raptors that pass by the mountain. Last spring, counters recorded 3,713 hawks, including 96 Bald Eagles, 369 Ospreys and 1,463 Broad-winged Hawks.

Over a period of years, these data can be analyzed to determine trends in species numbers as well as changes in distributions, which when studied in conjunction with other monitoring sites across the continent, give a broad scale idea of what is happening with raptor populations.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oregon Birdseed Levy

This just in from editor, Mitch Whitten:

Oregon would levy a 10 percent tax on backyard birdseed to help fund a state conservation fund if a new bill becomes law.

The tax would be applied to wholesale prices and could begin as early as January 1, 2010, according to the text of House Bill 3303. Defining the target of the tax, the law states that “‘birdseed’ means any mix of seeds designed to be fed to wild birds, including millet, milo, sunflower and thistle seeds.”

Funds raised by the tax on birdseed would support the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Conservation Strategy, “a blueprint and action plan for the long-term conservation of Oregon’s native fish and wildlife and their habitats through a non-regulatory, statewide approach to conservation,” according to the department’s website.

“[The Strategy] was developed by ODFW with the help of a diverse coalition of Oregonians including scientists, conservation groups, landowners, extension services, anglers, hunters, and representatives from agriculture, forestry and rangelands,” the website says.

One of the tax bill’s chief sponsors is State Representative Chris Garrett, a democrat elected last year from Lake Oswego, an affluent community south of Portland. According to his website, he has also proposed bills to “address algae outbreaks in Oregon rivers, and develop new mechanisms for ecosystem protection.”

The proposed Oregon birdseed tax is reminiscent of a similar episode from the late 1990s. Then, wild bird feeding industry leaders were concerned about the possibility of a national tax on birdseed.

A coalition of nature products leaders, including Swarovski, Commercial Packaging and Perky Pet, helped to avoid such a tax by forming the Migratory Bird Conservancy, a non-profit designed to raise funds to purchase and protect birding habitat. The MBC became defunct several years ago, however, for lack of support.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bird Seed Prices

Here's an interesting article from the Associated Press regarding the rising cost of wild bird feed in recent months. Here's an interesting excerpt regarding the reason behind the rise in nyjer prices:

"Two factors tightened the supply and drove prices up, said Gordy Kribs, senior trader who specializes in birdseed imports for North Pacific Ag Products in Portland, Ore.

Some 30 to 50 percent of the Indian nyjer crop was wiped out by rainstorms in January. In turn, Ethiopian contractors, seeing an opportunity to capitalize, withheld shipments of their nyjer in hopes to securing higher prices, Kribs said.

Nyjer, known to attract colorful finches, has typically traded at 50 to 60 cents a pound on the wholesale market. It is now trading above $1 a pound, Kribs said. Retail prices, meanwhile, jumped from about $60 per 50-pound bag in December to the current $80 level.

India has begun shipping some of its surviving crop, and Kribs said he expects prices to moderate in the next month or so."

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bird Seed Recall In Southern US

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Food and Drug Protection Division issued a statement that Burkmann Feeds is voluntarily recalling a seed blend that they make for Wild Birds Unlimited called Wildlife Blend, due to concerns over deaths of wild birds due to salmonella.

The bags carry the manufacturing date code of 81132200291608124. The bird food is sold exclusively at Wild Birds Unlimited.

An investigation was initiated after salmonellosis was found in dead wild birds throughout North Carolina. The department is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine the source of contamination. Burkmann Feeds is based in Kentucky.

Officials advise consumers to throw out the bird food, avoid touching unsealed bags and wash their hands thoroughly if they do touch unsealed bags.

You can read more about this story here.

UPDATE: Wild Birds Unlimited has issued a press release concerning the recall:

Initial tests have established no correlation between any bird deaths and the recalled food; a different strain of Salmonella was found in deceased birds in North Carolina than what was detected in the recalled food.

“Wild Birds Unlimited is committed to keeping everyone safe and informed about issues that may affect the hobby of bird feeding,” said Jim Carpenter, founder and president of Wild Birds Unlimited. “People’s safety and the health of wildlife are our primary concern.”

You can read the full press release here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Forbes Reports Trade Issues Over Nyjer

From Forbes Magazine:

A shortage of the popular nyjer (NIGH-jur) seed is forcing backyard bird feeders to pay about $80 for a 50-pound bag, about $20 more than the retail price in December.

The owner of the Wild Bird Habitat stores in Lincoln and Omaha says the shortage is blamed on a trade issue between India and Ethiopia, the two countries that produce most of the nyjer.

Dave Titterington said India traditionally sets the price for nyjer seed and Ethiopia sells it for a little less. But a 30 percent crop loss in India reduced supplies, and Ethiopia increased its prices as a result.

Many are finding that their Nyjer seed is going down faster than ever as large flocks of pine siskins visit feeders all over the US including Texas and Florida. Many northern states are also experiencing huge flocks of common redpolls descending on feeders as well. Normally, these are welcome visitors, but with the cost of seed, many who feed birds are finding it hard to keep up with the demand at the feeders.