By Dave Curry
Bald eagle sightings are not as rare as they used to be but they can still be inspiring.
Two were seen several times last week in a field near our backyard in Arbovale, working on a deer carcass. While eating carrion is not exactly inspirational, just the sight of our national bird is always enjoyable. Not too many years ago they were on the way to extinction in the lower 48 states due to hunting and poisons in the food chain. Current bald eagle numbers continue to increase every year and they have been removed from the endangered species list.
Most of the small song birds have migrated to their winter homes in South and Central America. So now is a good time to clean out the old birdhouses and nest boxes.
All birdhouses should be built with an easy way to get inside. The bottom or side may be hinged with a pair of nails or the top may be held on with a couple of screws. Open the box and remove all the nesting material, then scrape the inside with a putty knife or wire brush. Lastly, spray or dip the house into a 10% Clorox and water solution. This will sterilize the house and get it ready for new occupants next spring. Some may need to be cleaned again in the spring as many boxes are used as night roosts for woodpeckers, nuthatches and a few other of our winter resident birds.
While you are at it, check out the need for repair. Are any of the wooden parts split or rotten? Can they be salvaged? Does the roof repel water? Have squirrels or woodpeckers expanded the opening?
A few taps with a hammer and a new coat of paint can certainly extend the life of the nest box. Occasionally a new front, just a 4”x4”x1” piece of wood with an inch and a half hole hole, can be lined up with the original hole and scabbed on. That extra piece in front also helps to repel some predators and egg stealers like starlings. The inch and a half hole is perfect for bluebirds, tree swallows and a few other cavity nesters.
It’s also time to bring out the feeders and see that they are cleaned and in good repair. Lay in a good supply of sunflower seeds and suet and prepare to be entertained all winter.
In Other News
The recently completed three-day early bear season was eventful for many.
Trent’s in Bartow reported 15 bears checked in while the Marathon across the street reported five kills. Trent’s in Arbovale and McCoy’s in Hillsboro each recorded five gun-killed bears. And to prove that not all reports are metric, Chuck Workman at Appalachian Sports in Marlinton had checked in eight. The traditional bear season will begin on December 3.
Other hunting seasons are beginning to pick up speed. The second half of the split turkey season begins on October 29 and lasts for three weeks. Archery season for deer and bear continues till November 17 and buck whitetail season begin on November 19.