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A chickadee feeds from a suet feeder in our region on April 9, 2011. Photo provided by Mandi Rawson.

It's been interesting to hear the questions this fall from local people concerned that birds weren't coming to their backyard bird feeders.

We had a couple of posts on our Facebook page last month from readers asking what was going on, one questioning whether mosquito spraying had killed them.

Those asking the questions apparently hadn't been in the woods much, because my ventures afield this fall found plenty of birds in their normal habitat -- the forests where their natural food can be found. My last snowless hike in early December found plenty of chickadees, sparrows and others in a section of

It was a big year for the so-called "mast" crop of acorns, nuts, berries and other foods that wildlife, including birds, eat. So they had no need to leave

We put out bird feeders in the winter, once the snow cover arrives. That is when they can use the food, when the ground is covered. (The state Department of Environmental Conservation recommends taking feeders in during the warmer months, as they attract bears and aren't needed by birds most years.)

When I put my feeders and suet out last week we had plenty of chickadees, a cardinal, a blue jay and an eastern bluebird. The fluffy snow actually kept the squirrels from getting to them easily, so the birds have been able to enjoy without the competition so far this winter.

-- Don Lehman



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

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