February 18, 2009
At the Peaks of Otter last week, I saw a Yellow-bellied sapsucker for the first time all winter. It's very strange that I had not seen one , given the remarkable consistency of its fall arrival for the past six years, between October 4 and 6. At Sweet Briar College the next day, I saw a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a flock of Cedar waxwings, both for the first time this winter. Perhaps I'm just not getting outdoors as much as usual...
On the other hand, we have had Pine siskins at our feeder several times for the past few weeks, an unusually high frequency for that erratic winter migrant.
From John Spahr of the Augusta Bird Club:
There have been a number of reports from southwest Virginia of multiple Pine Siskins and other finches being found dead in the yard. All have come from homes with bird feeders. The epidemiology suggests possible (not proven) salmonella poisoning. This could be from contaminated and unclean feeders. Feeder hygiene is always prudent for those who feed birds and can prevent a number of transmissible avian diseases.
Also, Scotts has recently recalled some products, specifically suet mixes containing peanuts, due to potential salmonella poisoning. See bizjournals.com.