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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Wildlife Talk
Thread started 02 Apr 2017 (Sunday) 20:09
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Share your habitat improvements and projects for Wildlife

 
Grizz1
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Joined Apr 2011
Northeast Missouri
Apr 02, 2017 20:09 |  #1

Please share any projects, ideas, and improvement to wildlife habitat you may be involved in that helps make life less difficult for the animals and birds that so many of us enjoy photographing.
I've been involved in conservation and habitat development for many years on land I own in NE Missouri. The practices should vary greatly in other regions so share your labors in helping wildlife where you live.
No matter what size the project may be, every little bit helps our friends survive.
Below are photos of an area I've set aside for wildlife, it is 50 acres in size, all in one tract. I also try to provide good habitat on my home farm but my efforts here are less permanent and tend to change yearly benefiting prairie birds and animals.

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2942/33401281730_c8316d81ee_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/STyi​nL] (external link)IMG_0863 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
The main water source is in the middle of the 50 acres, a pond that is used by many different species but a favorite for Wood Ducks.
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3842/33745227586_85913a7549_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TpX7​uJ] (external link)IMG_0867 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
The larger timber is a hardwood mix of Hickory and Oak mainly with small scattered amounts of Mulberry, Cottonwood, Cedar, Locust,Hackberry and Ash.
Timber Stand Improvement, (TSI), has been completed on all the large timber stand. It was done in different years so the change would not affect the wildlife all in one time period.
On this ridge I have built a permanent type blind to observe wildlife from and shelter for me during rain storms if working in the area.
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2910/33745188526_e06d907543_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/TpWU​Th] (external link)IMG_0851 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
There are open areas that can be planted in small grain or tilled for weed or native plant production.
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3855/32943042334_785f3003b7_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/Sc4G​Lw] (external link)IMG_0850 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
This particular open ridge is the most popular for White Tailed deer and the Eastern Wild Turkey. I usually rotate it from a mixed grain crop to Ladino Clover, Clover for 3 out of 4 years then back to grain. This photo shows a new stand of Clover trying to emerge. The size is 1.3 acres, surrounded by timber with a Cedar thicket on one side..
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2858/33401410960_c52dfe3909_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/STyX​MS] (external link)IMG_0854 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
The photo above shows an open area that has native grass established, here it is Little Bluestem, a small amount of Big Bluestem and a few Purple Coneflowers. I try to burn these areas annually to retard the growth of woody plants and promote the Native grasses. Notice how it tends to grow in clumps at the base and is loved by ground nesting birds then later in the fall as bedding areas for deer. Another opening is getting a decent stand of Indian grass established, a grass that reaches a height of 8 or more feet tall.
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2917/33401333720_23de2f2aae_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/STyy​Q9] (external link)IMG_0859 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
I do harvest several cords of firewood yearly from my timber stands but always try to be careful to leave den trees and like to leave dead standing trees for cavity nesting birds and animals. This tree has been home for many squirrels for 3 years now. It's almost unbelievable how numerous the woodpeckers are in these woods.
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2885/33417936440_9d7c5f2aee_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/SV2E​eW] (external link)IMG_4535 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
We also use bird feeders at the home site, it is easier to observe the many different species, take photos and let others watch them without walking through my woods. I don't start feeding early as some folks as I know they have plenty to eat and places to find shelter away from the house. I do not feed animals from feeders, instead plant food plots for them away from the home site.
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2830/33401318400_c64159abee_b.jpg
[IMAGE'S LINK: https://flic.kr/p/STyu​h1] (external link)IMG_0860 (external link) by steve findling (external link), on Flickr
This dead snag was home to a Red Headed Woodpecker family 3 years ago, a black Squirrel 2 years ago and last year Red squirrels had taken it over. At dusk this past fall I observed 4 young Reds enter this den tree, a small fight broke out each time another entered but they settled down and went to sleep as darkness fell.
There is much enjoyment for me to see Wildlife use the areas I'm trying to provide and improve for them, my goal is to have as many different species as possible find their food and shelter here on my property. It is a pleasure to help others do this as well if they choose on their property. This spring burning for native grass stands and building brush piles are my priority, weather permitting.
I would like to improve my photography skills as well and share the results of the birds and animals that call my place home.

Steve
2 Canon 60D's, 70D 18-135,-55-250, Sigma 150-500 OS,Sigma 50mm 1.4 ,Sigma 120-300 Sport,Sigma 10-20. 580EXII

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johnohio
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Joined Aug 2005
Apr 03, 2017 13:35 |  #2

I like the way you think Steve. Many of us enjoy the outdoors and the wildlife it provides. To me it only makes sense to do what we can to make it better for ourselves and future generations. Thanks for your efforts and bringing awareness about it.

John




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KT29
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Joined Sep 2010
N.Idaho
Apr 04, 2017 22:58 |  #3

Steve, your rehab work looks well planned and very well executed. A lot of great work on your part. Will be interesting to see how these areas look in five years and how the wildlife is using these areas. I look forward to seeing more updates on your progress.ߙ


Terry

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Tom ­ Reichner
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Omak, in north-central Washington state, USA
Post has been edited 8 months ago by Tom Reichner.
Apr 05, 2017 00:02 |  #4

Grizz1 wrote in post #18317918 (external link)
I do harvest several cords of firewood yearly from my timber stands but always try to be careful to leave den trees and like to leave dead standing trees for cavity nesting birds and animals.

What you say here is so very important. Some people think that when a tree dies, its usefulness is gone. But they couldn't be more wrong! Some trees don't become a very valuable part of the ecosystem until they die! That's right - there are some trees that are far more useful in death than they ever whilst alive. Den trees for cavity nesting birds are a prime example of this.

I try to urge folks to save the snags and not cut them down. Otherwise, the cavity-nesting birds will have to travel elsewhere to establish nests. Or, worse yet, they will not be able to find a suitable nest, and therefore will not nest at all. The availability of suitable nest sites are the limiting factor for several bird species.

.


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Grizz1
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Northeast Missouri
Apr 05, 2017 16:24 |  #5

KT29 wrote in post #18319791 (external link)
Steve, your rehab work looks well planned and very well executed. A lot of great work on your part. Will be interesting to see how these areas look in five years and how the wildlife is using these areas. I look forward to seeing more updates on your progress.ߙ

Thanks Terry, we have been working on this project for more than 5 years already. The plan was made with a Forester and she divided the 50 acres into unequal sections, 7 in all and only one section was to be done each year. By the time we got to section 5, I could see the results that we were looking for. Each stage of Timber growth supports different plants, amount of light,etc, and so supports different animals and birds. The time has come that just about every animal native to my region calls this place home for at least part of the year.

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18319824 (external link)
What you say here is so very important. Some people think that when a tree dies, its usefulness is gone. But they couldn't be more wrong! Some trees don't become a very valuable part of the ecosystem until they die! That's right - there are some trees that are far more useful in death than they ever whilst alive. Den trees for cavity nesting birds are a prime example of this.

I try to urge folks to save the snags and not cut them down. Otherwise, the cavity-nesting birds will have to travel elsewhere to establish nests. Or, worse yet, they will not be able to find a suitable nest, and therefore will not nest at all. The availability of suitable nest sites are the limiting factor for several bird species.

.

Tom you are absolutely correct and please keep informing people with your knowledge.
On my farm, this timber had not changed for over 50 years and I was told it could be more productive with some guidance and hard work. Growing hardwood logs is a slow project but I was told there were other benefits for wildlife and outdoor activities during those years. When we thinned the thick timber stands it promoted under story plants like blackberries, gooseberry and young trees. This benefits all my wildlife. The old mast trees only produce food one time each year, the White Oak about 1 out of 5 years so I now have much more browse for deer, ground cover for all and new trees starting to grow. Less trees per acre is actually producing a larger acorn crop because my stand was too thick. Dead snags left standing take nothing away, no nutrients, water or sun light, instead add much by attracting insects, dens for small animals and birds. They will eventually fall and continue to feed a different group of wildlife for awhile before returning to the soil as nutrients for the new generation of trees.
I'm fortunate to have neighbors doing the same thing on land that joins mine, 57 acres to my West, 100 acres on the North and 60 acres East of mine.


Steve
2 Canon 60D's, 70D 18-135,-55-250, Sigma 150-500 OS,Sigma 50mm 1.4 ,Sigma 120-300 Sport,Sigma 10-20. 580EXII

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Grizz1
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Northeast Missouri
Apr 05, 2017 20:40 |  #6

I will also mention that no one has to have a large area to get involved, it could be a nesting box for Bluebirds or planting some wildlife friendly plants or shrubs in your backyard that can benefit our wild friends.
Manicured lawns that have become the norm in many areas look great but provide next to nothing for nature. In many cases more fertilizer, chemicals, fuel and labor are spent per acre on lawn care than we farmers do on our row crop land.
Two years ago my Wife asked me to build a Pergola on the end of our porch. Honestly, I had to first learn what a Pergola was before I began construction. I built a rustic 12 x12 structure from peeled Cedar trees taken from my farm, planted Trumpet Vine and Honeysuckle at the 4 corner post and last fall had Hummingbirds feeding on their migration South. This summer the vines should take over the entire structure and hopefully I will be photographing hummingbirds often.


Steve
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Larry ­ Johnson
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Post has been edited 8 months ago by Larry Johnson.
Apr 13, 2017 21:04 |  #7

I built a bluebird box and made some hummingbird feeders for my little yard. Hoping they get some use.
Piled up some brush for the neighborhood rabbits and allowing a small area to grow naturally all summer for them and monarch butterflies if milkweed takes root.


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Larry ­ Johnson
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Jun 07, 2017 13:28 as a reply to Larry Johnson's post |  #8

Happy to report that two of the nest boxes I put up are being used. I don't recall the exact date this spring that I put up the first bluebird box, but by April 19, wrens had already built a nest in it. They haven't laid eggs though. About a month after putting up the first box, I added three others. Bluebirds claimed one of them in 10 minutes and I'm happy to report that they moved in and the late clutch is about to hatch. A few snaps of the different nests and of the bluebird eggs are below. I checked on them today and she was surprised to see her sitting on the eggs eventhough I knocked on the box a few times before opening. She didn't budge when I opened the door. I clsed her back up quickly.

Wren Nest. Made of twigs. I believe it was built by House Wrens

IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4267/35121588176_276fb67fa3_c.jpg

Bluebird nest with eggs. Nest made of material much smaller than twigs and somewhat weaved together.
IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4254/34775105050_d26a3a173f_c.jpg

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60D, canon 18-135 EFS, and 1.4 extender in the bag.
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Grizz1
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Jun 07, 2017 19:19 |  #9

Nice shots Larry and good to see your nest boxes are being used. The Bluebirds are a joy to watch and listen to as they raise a family, I bet you will get many opportunities to photograph them in just a few days.
Larry, I have two boxes at the East farm that appear to hinge in the front as yours do, they were held shut by a sliding latch and had a squirrel open one box and destroyed the nest. The squirrel ate the eggs and flipped the nest out to the ground so I put a screw through the side so that won't happen again. The bluebirds moved to another box and began building there. The box that was tampered with has a wren trying to build in it now. Just thought I'd mention this to you, I sure did not expect the problems that the easy to open latch seemed to cause.
Hope to see some Bluebird pics from you in the days ahead.


Steve
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Larry ­ Johnson
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Jun 07, 2017 20:02 as a reply to Grizz1's post |  #10

Steve, thanks for the heads up about squirrels. There are plenty of them around. I've noticed that they don't come around as much now that the bluebirds have claimed the territory. That's fine by me because they love to dig up the yard. One evening I watched the male bird dive bombing a squirrel when the squirrel approached to close to the box. Poor guy didn't know which way to run. Ha. They don't bother the rabbits at all.

Initially I was looking for a latch that would allow me to open the box without a screwdriver. I decided to just keep one screw as the latch system so that I wouldn't open it often. All of my boxes are on metal posts. Two are on short chain-link fence posts (no fence remaining) and two on 1/2" conduit. Haven't seen squirrels on them yet.

I'll post up some pics when I get some good ones, maybe even a video or two. I've taken a bunch already, but I'm not really wowed by them. The birds like to perch in branches that I strapped to a pole holding my hummingbird feeder near my kitchen window. From the branches they scope out prey and pounce on insects on the ground and immediately return to the perch. Got a shot of one with a worm, but it's not up to par to post.


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Grizz1
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Jun 07, 2017 20:13 |  #11

I noticed the metal pipe holding the bird house, that's an excellent idea, should prevent snakes from climbing to the box as I've seen that happen on rough wood post. Nearby perches you have no doubt will be used and appreciated by the Bluebirds. Well done!
In a previous post you mentioned making hummingbird feeders, I'd be interested in seeing one you made when you have time.


Steve
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Larry ­ Johnson
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Jun 07, 2017 20:46 as a reply to Grizz1's post |  #12

The pipes weren't my idea. It was part of the plan I followed. Actually, my boxes are a hybrid of two plans I found online. This is the first year I've ever put up boxes or feeders, so I did some research before doing so. I wasn't sure that 1/2" conduit would be strong enough for the box. It does sway when there's a breeze, but the birds don't seem to mind.

The homemade hummingbird feeders are simple and not much to look at. I just used small maple syrup glass jars. After cleaning, drilled a hole in the cap and inserted a piece of tubing. Used a flame to put a permanent bend in the tubing. Some of them leaked because I didn't have a good seal around the tubing. Trial and error. Bailing wire wrapped around the jar is used to hang it. Put a slot in the bottom of a red solo cup and slid it down over most of the jar as an attractant. Put up several, but didn't see one bird. After a month I bought a commercial feeder that was on sale. Still haven't seen one bird. I hear lots of people around this area reporting lack of hummers at feeders this year. My commercial feeder remains hung, but empty. I removed the others.


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Ain't Nature Grand!
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Larry ­ Johnson
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Jun 11, 2017 09:56 as a reply to Grizz1's post |  #13

Here's a shot of the bluebird box from the outside. I believe that's the female poking her head out. She does that in the evening as the sun shines on the entry. I need to make a blind soon so that I can get some closer shots.


IMAGE: https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4197/34427715633_b4782fc469_c.jpg


The design was based primarily on the "2-Hole Mansion" plans by Linda Violett http://nestboxbuilder.​com ...-plans-for-bluebirds.html (external link)
except I attached the pole to the back as shown in some of the other designs on that site. Also, I added an inner roof for several reasons. The main box is made of leftover red cedar fence slats, but the roof top is just scrap pine that people use for closet shelves. The 2x4 attachment on back that receives the pole is scrap treated lumber. I don't have a drill press so I went through several of these to get a straight, plumb hole. The dimensions of mine are not according to the plan. I just used the lumber that I had available.

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60D, canon 18-135 EFS, and 1.4 extender in the bag.
flickr (external link)

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Larry ­ Johnson
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Post has been last edited 6 months ago by Larry Johnson. 5 edits done in total.
Jun 14, 2017 13:05 as a reply to Grizz1's post |  #14

Here's a short video of the parents entering the nestbox with a meal for the chicks. First the female, then the male enters shortly after she leaves. I'm a little disappointed with the image quality of the gopro. It's an older model, but has a quality sandisk card.


_______________
Ain't Nature Grand!
Shooting 7D2 with Canon 400mm, f/5.6.
60D, canon 18-135 EFS, and 1.4 extender in the bag.
flickr (external link)

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Grizz1
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Jun 14, 2017 22:10 |  #15

Larry you have done well with the nest box and I bet you are enjoying watching those busy Bluebirds. They sure reduce the insects in your area don't they?
I need to make time and take some new photos of my projects, some are a great success, some not doing well because of dry weather. My trumpet vines are blooming, Hummingbirds are coming in, have one nest box with newly hatched Bluebirds and another that will hatch soon but haven't taken a photo in the last month. Hope to get motivated soon with my camera and capture some of the birds/animals that call my place their home.


Steve
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