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December 2022

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Bird is the Word: January 2022

Photo credit dfaulder, Wikipedia Commons Rough-legged Hawk.

Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count


The Annual Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count wrapped up, and I had a wonderful time birding around Questa. Our group started at the Red River Fish Hatchery, where we saw the resident Kingfisher searching for his breakfast. Later, a Bald Eagle swooped no more than 20 feet above our heads as we walked the Pescado Trail. It was the closest I’d ever been to an eagle in the wild, and it was a breathtaking sight. We finished at the BLM Wild Rivers Recreation Area, where a couple of Red-Tailed Hawks and a Golden Eagle were soaring on the high winds, like surfers in the sky. A special thanks goes out to Mary Jo Kelly for being our fearless leader and organizing this local expedition.


While the Christmas Count event is now over, we encourage readers to get involved with the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count, which will be held Friday, February 18 through Monday, February 21. No experience is necessary, and you are welcome to watch feeders from home or to venture outdoors. Visit birdcount.org for more details on how to participate.
Birds will thank you for providing suet, a nourishing treat during the cold season, by populating your yard and filling it with song. For the culinary inclined, here’s an easy DIY suet recipe, as an alternative to store-bought suet cakes.

Homemade Suet Recipe


You will need a suet mold. Cardboard milk or juice cartons work best because they are waxed inside. Plastic Tupperware can be used with a wax paper lining for easy removal. Silicon ice cube trays work, too.


Ingredients:
1-1/2 C shortening
1 C instant oats
1 C nut butter
3 C birdseed
1/2 C cornmeal


Steps:

  1. Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Melt vegetable shortening together with nut butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until combined.
  3. Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients and stir together.
  4. Spoon into your mold of choice and freeze for 1-2 hours to allow it to set. After that, it’s ready to put in your feeder!
    Substitutions and additions (since this recipe has a lot of room for customization):
    Vegetable shortening can be replaced with lard
    Chopped nuts and dried fruit can be added (be sure to use plain nuts, since salt dehydrates birds)
    Cornmeal can be substituted with whole wheat flour, or use more oats.
    Have fun experimenting with different combinations and seeing which bird friends you attract. Black-Capped Chickadees love black oil sunflower seeds. Stellar Jays love nuts and fruit. Woodpeckers are sure to show up to eat suet, regardless of what you put in it!

Author

  • Bryce Flanagan

    Bryce Flanagan moved from Sacramento, CA to Taos County in 2016, and has lived in Questa for two years. He's passionate about the unique and beautiful wildlife of our state and is a regular contributor to the Questa Del Rio News.