Birds very good at finding feeders

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: I couldn’t survive without your column.

Could you give me the address of the Audubon Society of Maine?

Maybe you can answer one of my questions.

I have a large birdfeeder that is made so I can see the birds, but they cannot see me.

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I would like to know how birds communicate from, say, small birds to large ones when food is available.

Where do all the birds go to sleep at night? I am nearly 90 years young, and I have never seen a bird sitting on a limb sleeping. So where are they at night?

I’ve always walked in the wood but never stirred up a bird! Thank you so much. — M.G.M., Livermore Falls

ANSWER: You can find Maine Audubon at 20 Gilsland Farm Road, Falmouth, ME 04105, 207-781-2330, maineaudubon.org.

As for locating feeders, birds are very good at finding food. Birds of all sizes are very big eaters (“eat like a bird” should actually mean someone chowing down) and in the winter must eat a great deal to keep warm.

Birds have a very poor sense of smell and rely primarily on sight. They also “talk” to each other, with calls indicating that a good food source has been found.

Sun Spots has guinea hens, which even though supposedly domesticated are rather wild and jumpy. To get them to return to the coop at night, she gives them their favorite treat of white millet. The minute they see it, they immediately start making a very specific noise that draws the others to the food source.

This also draws the regular chickens, even though they have a different “language.” Soon the entire flock is gathered and can easily be led into the coop.

As for where wild birds sleep, there was actually a story about this very topic in the Sun Journal on Sunday, Jan. 26 (Page B5). The author noted that birds do not sleep in nests and then specified where each type of bird (waterfowl, songbirds, etc.) bed down at night.

Many simply sleep on tree branches, camouflaged by the leaves or branches. They are doing their best to avoid predators, so it’s not surprising that you never see them.

Try this: When you are watching your birds at the feeder, try to see where they go when they fly back to the trees. You will soon notice that even when you know what part of the tree they flew to that they are still hard to see, and they aren’t even hiding then.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am a Lewiston resident and homeowner. I have seen a few tiny black ants in various parts of my house in the last week or so. What gives? It’s January! Has anyone else had the same thing happen? If so how have you addressed the problem? — David, Lewiston

ANSWER: At eHow.com, it says that black ants are versatile and persistent, living both indoors and out, but that if you have them inside in the winter they may be nesting within your home, although they can also come in with firewood. (Sun Spots sees mosquitoes in the winter from her firewood.)

For getting rid of ants she has had good luck with Terro. You can buy it by the bottle or in traps. The traps are small and can be slid under appliances and furniture so pets can’t get at them.

One key to getting rid of ants is knowing what kind they are. Sun Spots found a very good website from the University of Minnesota Extension with descriptions and photos, www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/what-to-do-about-household-ants/, that you may find useful.

Perhaps readers will have other suggestions as well.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Oxford Hills High School Class of 1964 is planning its 50th class reunion. We are lacking contact information for the following classmates: Kenneth Curtis, Paul Goss, Wayne Cyr and Grant Wolfe.

If anyone has information about these individuals, please contact me. — George Rice, 207-743-2285, gwrice@myfairpoint.net, 124 Cottage St., South Paris, ME 04281

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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