Dear Sun Spots: We have been feeding and watching birds in our backyard for many years but a few weeks ago we started noticing how few that were coming to our feeders. We have been feeding summer and winter, using suet, black oil sunflower, thistle seeds. We have nothing but a few woodpeckers the last three weeks. Help! Can anyone give us some information on this sudden and complete change in our bird population? – Lost Birds, Turner.

Answer: Special thanks to Stan DeOrsey of the Stanton Bird Club for help with this inquiry. He notes that the change in local bird life noticed by many over the past few weeks is known as autumnal migration. Many of the birds found in our area over the summer leave after nesting and raising their young. They move south where their food supply will be unaffected by freezing temperatures; they are primarily insect eaters. Other birds are more or less full-year residents, such as our chickadees and some goldfinch, and they are currently attracted to the wild food supply, mostly fruits and seeds with a few remaining insects. These birds will return to your feeders as soon as their food supply is consumed or lost to snow cover.

Some people believe if they religiously fill their bird feeders, the birds will forgo their natural instincts and become dependent on the feeders. This is a myth. Over the past 20 to 100 years, unrestrained development coupled with air and water pollution have significantly reduced bird abundance and continues to do so throughout the world. “Our birds” are as much affected by human changes in North America as in South America.

DeOrsey leads a biweekly bird trip on Wednesday mornings. His next trip is Wednesday, Nov. 5, to look for migrating ducks on Sabattus Pond. The trip is free and open to the public. Simply meet at the Staples parking lot at the Promenade Mall in Lewiston at 8 a.m. Trips run until 11 a.m., but participants may leave at any time.

Dear Sun Spots: Thank you so much for helping the Livermore Falls Church of the Nazarene youth group raise, at last count, $210 in the short time that we have been fundraising for the 30-Hour Famine. Our goal is to raise $29,000 before April 24-25, 2009. We still need help. Please help us in saving children. Thank you. – Livermore Falls Youth Group.

Dear Sun Spots: I have read your column for some time and not sure if you can help with my request as I’m not sure I ever saw a request for a restaurant recipe. I have been to New England Inn in Jackson, N.H., on several occasions and just love their pot roast with cranberry in the gravy. Could you get the directions even if it’s for large numbers? I could work on dividing it. Thank you so much. – Ann, Greenwood.

Sun Spots believes you are referring to Tuckerman’s Restaurant and Tavern at the New England Inn & Lodge in Intervale, N.H., in the Mount Washington Valley. They offer a menu item called Shaker Pot Roast, which is lean certified Angus beef pot roast topped with cranberry and demi-glaze.

An employee at the inn forwarded our recipe request to the restaurant manager, but we have yet to hear from him. In the meantime, Sun Spots located a recipe for beef brisket with cranberry gravy that we hope you enjoy.

Ingredients: 2½ pounds beef brisket, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, a 16-ounce can of whole berry cranberry sauce, an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, ½ cup chopped onion, 1 tablespoon prepared mustard. Method: Rub brisket with salt and pepper; place in a 5-qt. slow cooker. Combine the cranberry sauce, tomato sauce, onion and mustard; pour over brisket. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender. Remove brisket; thinly slice across the grain. Skim fat from cooking juices; serve with brisket.

Dear Sun Spots: This message is for the person who purchased, from a community yard sale this past summer, an electric Farberware grill with rotisserie from which the rotisserie rod was missing. I was not aware that the rod was not in the box until I just found it while cleaning my garage. If you still have the grill and, since the turning rod is the most important part of the rotisserie, you might want it. If so, please contact me at 207-926-4260. Leave message if no answer. – No Name, No Town.

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