Question from Monique in Hudson, QC

I wanted to buy a heated bird bath but have had so much conflicting information. Is there a real problem with birds getting wet during winter?  Also, what bird bath is best for me to buy?

Watching birds enjoying a bird bath in summer brings me a great deal of pleasure. Being able to also provide a safe and reliable source of clean water means the birds in my own area can depend on this resource. But once the freezing weather begins we often stop offering water, hoping the birds find a source elsewhere. The lake, streams, puddles and eventually snow provide that essential water resource. However, having a heated water bath provides a real winter time treat for the resident birds. Unfortunately, this can bring some hassles.
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Question from Debbie in Hudson, QC

A Canada Goose has obviously been wounded, its wing hangs down on one side and is unable to fly. If we approach it, it heads into the lake and we don’t know how we can catch it. Do you have any suggestions?

It is so hard to watch this happening and simply stand by. Unfortunately, as much as you want to catch the goose it is determined you are not going to. The lake offers it safety and a rapid retreat happens as soon as it feels threatened. Also a frontal assault reinforces that you are a threat, so instead, set up a feeding station. There are a few considerations. The end goal is capture with the bird caught in either a wire cage or trapped in a fenced area. It also needs to be where the bird has easy access and the food is visible. If necessary start feeding it closer to the lake and slowly move the food source to your chosen site. Cracked corn, mixed grains and even wild bird seeds are suitable foods. If you have snow already covering the grass, any greens are a great treat. Spinach and lettuce also show up well as a cue to the bird that food is available.
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Question from Michele in Hudson, QC

What do you think about maintaining my bird feeders over the summer?

Bird feeding is a very popular activity and one that certainly helps our neighborhood birds, especially in winter. The question of feeding through the summer is, to my mind, a personal one.

When we feed in winter, we support our local birds with high energy snacks. In doing so, we help birds to survive through very difficult times by adding to their caloric intake. The foods we offer do not make a complete diet and our backyard birds will still eat a great range of foods that they forage for in our gardens and surrounding areas. Most song birds are highly insectivorous for a great part of their lives, and are in fact, totally insectivorous when young. Research has even indicated that those species we thought of as herbivores have surprised us by the large percentage of insects they need to consume to ensure healthy growth. Once adult, they include a wider range of foods in their diets. So cedar waxwings will start to forage for fruits, hummingbirds will drink nectar and woodpeckers and cardinals will actively seek seeds and nuts. The most important part of their diet is still the wide range of insects they will consume over the course of their day. Insects provide the required level of proteins and fats to help maintain their health and high metabolic rate. The seeds and suet we offer are rather like the quick energy fixes we get from a chocolate bar. Neither is a whole diet, although I suspect some teens think so!
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Question from June in Hudson, QC

How do you run a rehab centre? How much funding does the government provide?

The short answers – on a wing and a prayer and, very little.

I have been asked this question so many times, especially the question about funding sources and the assumption we get government grants. So, let me give you a peek into the workings of a rehab centre, specifically Le Nichoir. So what do you do when you find a bird in need of attention? Enter Le Nichoir. The phone call that you make to the centre will hopefully be answered immediately, unless the staff are busy as baby birds can be very demanding patients. If the bird needs human help, you will be invited to bring it to Le Nichoir. On admission, we try to gather as much information as possible, especially since the centre is obliged to submit an annual report to both the Provincial and Federal governments. To be allowed the privilege of doing rehabilitation, Le Nichoir pays an annual fee to the Provincial government. Ironically, Provincial government officials refer calls to the centre but provide no financial help. The Federal government has made a small student grant available annually. Generally, this represents six weeks of wages at the minimum salary with the remainder made up from the centre’s budget.
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Question from Denis in Saint-Clet, QC

The following questions and answers were first published in the Hudson/Saint-Lazare Gazette and are reprinted here with permission.

We have had a heron hunting for frogs in the drain in front of our place for the past few days. Last year we had a similar situation and unfortunately we eventually found the bird dead beside the road. What are my options should this bird need help?

In July and August young herons are busy leaving the nest and trying to make their own way in the world. In doing so, they face many trials, not the least of which is learning to hunt. So this is a very stressful time for these young birds. While in the nest young herons are fed fish by their devoted parents. You have to be devoted to barf up partially digested fish to youngsters armed with sharp beaks and a poor aim! But well fed they are and so much so that they are often heavier than their parents when they leave the nest.
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