Louise Imbeault



"The Backyard Classroom" ~ Biodiversity in an Urban setting

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Lamium maculatum

Posted by louiseimbeault on October 8, 2015 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (1)

These prolific plants are wonderful borders and flower twice per season. They grow in poor soil, well drained and shady. They have shallow roots that look like angel hair pasta. Bees love them.

This is the "lamium maculatum" variety in bloom.


Molting Surprise!

Posted by louiseimbeault on August 14, 2015 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Saw the most frightful sight. A Blue Jay's head dress (feathers) were gone, disappeared. He looked like a vulture - my mind was racing...never encountered such a phenonenon. Is the bird ill? Maybe stress/fear related feather loss? Lack of vitamins in their diet? 

So I called upon a local bird expert, who shared this quote:


"Each year FeederWatchers report several cases of bald-headed birds, mostly Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals.

One possible explanation for this phenomenon is an abnormal replacement of feathers (molt). Most bald-headed-bird reports occur in summer and fall, which are typical molting times. Many of these strange-looking birds may be juveniles undergoing their first prebasic molt, which produces the first winter adult plumage. For some unknown reason, the bald birds may have dropped all of their head feathers at once. Staggered feather replacement is the normal pattern.

 Other cases of baldness may result from feather mites or lice, or some environmental or nutritional factor. But no one knows for sure, and the condition has not been well studied. Fortunately, new head feathers grow in within a few weeks".

Hope you learned as much as I did. And please brouse the link below to learn more about our local wildlife and the cycles of nature. 


from a perpetual student of life



European Starling - Fun Facts

Posted by louiseimbeault on May 4, 2015 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

The European Starling was introduced into North America when the "American Acclimatization Society" for European settlers released some 80-100 birds in Central Park (New York City) in 1890-91. The head of this particular organization, Eugene Scheiffelin, desired to introduce all birds ever mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.

Rather than clamping their bill shut, starlings’ jaw muscles work to force it open giving them a great advantage when digging for grubs, worms, and bugs in the yard.

• Starlings, as members of the Sturnidae family, are cousins to the Mynah bird and are outstanding mimics. Individuals have been known to mimic the calls of up to 20 different bird species.

• Starlings have an impressive array of songs and may have a repertoire of over 60 different types.

• Starlings were at one time considered a game bird in Europe, and were hunted for food.

• Starlings often return to the same nest cavity to raise their young each year.

• Bird banding records show the longest known life-span for a Starling in North America to be over 15 years old.

Starlings can play an important role in reducing the numbers of some of the major insect pests that damage farm crops. They have a highly adaptable diet and eat a wide variety of foods, such as snails, worms, millipedes, and spiders, in addition to fruits, berries, grains, and seeds.

May 4th, 2015 source: http://www.wbu.com/education/starlings.html


Posted by louiseimbeault on February 5, 2015 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Egg binding refers to a common and potentially serious condition where a female bird is unable to pass an egg that may be stuck near the cloaca, or further inside the reproductive tract. Even though egg binding can occur in any female bird, it is most common in smaller birds such as lovebirds, cockatiel, budgies, finches and even pigeons as in photo.

The potential of an egg breaking inside the tract is high, which then can result in an infection or damage to internal tissue; and - if left untreated - death.

One of many reasons we need to feed birds good grain is that causes for this phenomena is low calcium diets, malnutrition and old age.

Cheers - hope you enjoyed this installment of the "Backyard Classroom".