Our two new hives are thriving in spite of the rainy cool weather. We started them both with several frames of honey, and they have been bringing in pollen like crazy for the new brood. Pollen is coming in from many sources including epimedium, forget-me-not, and arugula.
Here you can see pollen stores for the larvae, as well as capped brood and new honey. We installed the bees on April 2, so the first batch of babees should be hatching this week. We are running one regular hive and one FLOW hive this year, so stay tuned.
Birding in the Rio de Plata: Great Kiskadee, Dusky-legged Guan, and the (not-so) Giant Wood Rail.
(images of Kiskadee and Guan from "All About Birds" and "Animalia Life"
Evening hike to the river and birding from the sunny B&B on stilts
Find out more at Cornell Lab of Ornithology Neotropical Birds
I wanted to share with you the gentlest and most elegant way to install a package of bees into your beehive. If you have ever shaken honeybees out of their box, you know it is both exciting and a bit frightening, but it also is a little rough on the bees. We have been employing this new, improved strategy for the last several years, and hope you will give it a try.
First, we readied each hive by putting two frames of honey into each deep, along with the already built-out frames in our two empty hives. Then we just removed the can of syrup (no longer needed) and carefully placed the queen in her little cage and the open box of bees into each hive (having first removed the cork on the queen cage and replaced it with a bit of marshmallow). We then put the lid on and give the bee-girls a couple days to release the queen, and Voila! Happy Bees.
What a lazy way to load the hives. We loved it.
Package of bees, waiting to be installed
Package on its side; queen cage and syrup removed
Ready for the cover: let rest for two days
This year we expanded our GBBC (from only our backyard) to include a walk around the frog ponds at Magnusen Park. We have recently picked up Siblings Guide to Ducks and "Duck-like" birds; this enabled us to ID some cool-looking duck dudes: Hooded Mergansers, American Wigeons, and Ring-necked ducks. Our total species count over the four days was 33 species.
I have to admit, my favorite bird of the 4-day count was the tiny male Downy Woodpecker, who we first heard, then spotted, in the woods near the frog ponds. I do not have a photo of this little red-capped beauty, but instead have posted two action shots of the Northern Flicker, who came to dine with three of his buddies on the last day of the count. I love those elegant dappled feathers.
Please join me this year, in Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Great Backyard Bird Count.
Invite your friends!
Just about everyone I know has been suffering through this winter's cold and flu season.
My remedy includes hot toddies, as well as sending lovely local bird note cards to friends and family.
Birds of Note Postcards
Don't forget to top them off with USPS postcard and Forever bird stamps!
This female Yellow-rumped Warbler has been gracing us with her presence this winter. She is hard to capture on camera, as she rarely alights. Today I managed to catch her in action using my "sports" setting, telephoto lens, and a tripod.
All photographs posted on BeePeeking ©Tracey Byrne unless otherwise noted
Do you like birds?
Do you have curiosity and patience?
Can you tell a duck from a songbird? An owl from a raptor?
Congratulations! You have the basic skills to be a birder!
Backyard Birding 101
You do not have to travel far, nor do you have to invest a lot of time or money to improve your birding skills. Expedite your learning by observing the birds in your backyard and neighborhood and develop a friendly relationship with them.
To enhance your budding bird awareness:
1. put up a bird feeder or two: suet and seeds will attract a greater variety of species
2. invest in a decent pair of binoculars (or borrow from a friend)
3. familiarize yourself with a few different birds guides
4. keep a journal for notes, tallies, and nature drawing
I suggest that you find a window, hang your feeder(s) outside of it, pull up a comfortable chair, and give the birds a week or two to discover your treats. Then, all you have to do is set yourself down regularly to watch your "bird TV". After a few weeks, you will be amazed at what you have learned.
It is helpful to have a list of the birds that are likely to be visiting your backyard, as this will save you time as you begin to record the numbers and habits of the birds you see. You will notice that you get regulars, and these will be your gateway birds-the ones that you can identify by the way they move, sing, and their flight patterns-in addition to knowing them by their color and size. Once you get three or four solid regulars, you will find that you'll use these birds as your basis to compare and differentiate.
I have several favorite tools for ID, from my Project FeederWatch poster to Sibley's Field Guide to Birds of Western North America. A good book for novice birders is Birds of Seattle and Puget Sound, which has lovely illustrations of 125 birds and includes ID tips, notes on habitat and food, songs and calls, and similar bird species.
For those of you who partake in urban adventuring, I would like to suggest Sibley's folding guides; I have Backyard Birds of the Pacific Northwest and Backyard Birds of the Pacific Northwest Coast tucked in my birding bag (along with binoculars and camera), which you can purchase at either Seward Park Audubon Center or the Washington Park Arboretum gift shop.
That should do it:
Ready... Set... Bird!
To find out more visit BirdWeb, Seattle Audubon's Guide to birds of Washington State