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Time is running out to apply for our mini-grants!

2015 December 11
by Michelle Santillan

Do you hear what I hear? The holidays are coming, and with that, the presents, the hot cocoa, and children playing in the snow (and if you don’t have snow, children playing in general). Soon, the countdown for the New Year will begin, but before it starts, remember to apply for a mini-grant!

Sometimes the best gifts are helping others and spending time with them, so why not get some help to do just that? Celebrate Urban Birds is offering monetary grants ranging from $100 to $750 dollars to help anyone who wants to plan a fun activity to help people learn about birds and the environment. No previous experience is necessary, and we have the resources to help you out along the way! Furthermore, your event will be featured on our website to inspire others to learn about birds with their communities. All you have to do is think of an outdoor community event that incorporates the arts and focuses on learning about focal birds and greening or habitat creation. Besides this, a 10-minute observation and data collection of the focal bird species is required, which is simple and makes for an exciting activity to do at your event.

 

If you want some inspiration about what activities you can do, check out our Events page and our past mini-grant winners! More information about our mini-grants can be found here. If you have any questions, visit our FAQ or send us an e-mail at urbanbirds@cornell.edu. The last day to apply for a mini-grant is December 31, 2015, so make it your new year’s resolution to do an event that will leave a lasting impression on others!

Lifeworks Services, Inc. and Minnesota Veterans’ Home go birding!

2015 December 2
by Laura Pineda-Bermudez

Lifeworks Services, Inc., a non-profit that works alongside adults with disabilities, was one of our 2015 mini-grant winners. This year, they partnered with Minnesota Veterans Home. and did some really cool activities!

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Once a week, between May and August, a birding event took place on the property owned by the veterans’ home. The 128 acre span of land has nature trails, a biking path, an outdoor pavilion, a garden, and a screened porch, which was perfect to get the residents outdoors.

The weekly birding events were led by birding mentor Kevin Smith. A beautiful mosaic was also designed and placed in the newly created Edible Native Garden. The mosaic is a favorite art medium for the Lifeworks clients since it fosters collaboration and allows people of all skill levels to participate!

A Lifeworks representative commented on the impact of this event on the surrounding area:
“After the presentation you could truly feel the good energy coming from the garden. I think it will be a blessing not just to the environment and the birds, but the people living there as well.”

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

The wonderful energy that is felt coming from the garden really reflects the wonderful relationships built between the two organizations this summer. This union between Lifeworks and the Minnesota Veterans Home tremendously impacted the lives of all of the participants. Teaching people with developmental disabilities and mental or physical illness has allowed these adults to find a life-long hobby. This offers them an opportunity to become an expert at something and interact and give back to the natural community around them.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

Photo credits to Lifeworks Services, Inc.

To read the full story about the event, please visit our webpage here.
For more information about Lifeworks, click here.

Bird feeding in the winter

2015 November 23
by Marilu Lopez Fretts
B. Bowen Carr via Birdshare. Bullock’s Oriole in New York! Photo taken in Columbia County, NY on January, 11, 2009. Flickr link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mudder_bbc/3189235561/in/photolist-5RPEC2-vG8xJf-x8n9GH-kikEE8-qu4s8e-kBkRSu-xQHUw8-riLVKt-pWCnja-dtZnfi-rTvgpj-qFb3vm-x6fhAy-aHb2ii-ro3SWL-mns5np-r34Rbp-r9reoq-n7UWEr-j6VNTx-jsYD3Q-qHmpKz-8XU1ZH-4Yf83i-raHGTJ-k6UEYR-5qfh7m-rrwgMD-rh2fHb-5Tbhtv-qWnVrN-qF4WmW-qfjvXi-dW6TNP-ruwNjz-qXyTS5-oPeJK8-oPZP4F-miJnWV-qUpqsx-8jvuLP-qVY84M-dG9rCp-pGBxTB-hcqPZu-rb26rR-oxG3xs-qj17iU-pVmQqt-qQkkRN

Photo by B. Bowen Carr via Birdshare.
Bullock’s Oriole in Columbia County, NY.

Winter represents a difficult time for birds in many parts of North America. Cold days with long and even colder nights, barely any vegetation, no insects to eat… What can you do to make their lives easier?

One thing you could do is set up a backyard feeder and enjoy bird watching from home. If you live in an apartment, try to place a hanging birdfeeder from a window or balcony, if possible.

What do birds eat in the winter months? Non-migratory birds shift their diets to seeds and fruits to survive. So this is your opportunity to set the table and invite your feathered friends! The question is: what to feed them?

The commercial mixtures that you can find in most supermarkets may have a high percentage of “filler seeds,” but you can create a low-cost mixture yourself. Black-oil sunflower seeds are a favorite of most species. They are nutritious, high in fat, and easy for small birds to crack.

Dried corn and white proso millet are favored, also. Some birds, like cardinals, appreciate safflower, while other birds enjoy peanuts.

Other high-energy foods birds appreciate are peanut butter or suet (beef fat). Beef suet is available in most supermarkets.

Other birds such as robins, bluebirds and waxwings, prefer fruits. Offer them sliced apples, oranges, and other fresh fruit or frozen berries. You can place fruit on a plate or shallow bowl on a platform feeder or on the ground. If you feed the birds dried raisins and currants, make sure you soften them by soaking the dried fruit in water first.

For more information about bird feeding this winter, visit Feederwatch.