Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bat Deaths from WNF


Disturbing news from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concerning the health of North American bat populations.   An agency  news release dated January 17th of this year reported that since White Nose Fungus (WNF)  was first detected in 2006 at Howes Cave near Albany, NY, an estimated 6.7 million mammals have died in 16 northeastern states and Canada.  Wildlife experts predict the disease will soon spread as far west as Oklahoma and threatens at least three species-- the little brown bat; the tri-colored bat; and the northern long-eared bat--with extinction. 

Named for the way it covers their snouts like baby powder, WNF is caused by an aggressive flesh-eating fungus that eats through the skin and membranes of bats.

Photo courtesy Al Hicks, New York Department of Environmental Conservation

When you consider that one million bats can consume  nearly 700 tons of harmful insects per year, the agricultural ramifications of this disease are disastrous.

The most frightening aspect to this story, however, is found in the following  statement from Bat Conservation International:

“Scientists across North America are searching desperately for solutions, but they have thus far found no way to cure WN Syndrome or to slow its relentless advance across the continent.”

Good grief!  First the honey bees, and now the bats!  What in the world is going on and why can’t anyone do anything about it?!  Surely the best and brightest minds from our greatest universities and think tanks can get to the bottom of these crises.  It’s been interesting to peruse the comments sections from the bat article and read the theories that have been offered up, such as:  wind turbines; cell towers; chem trails.  What do YOU think?

Bat Conservation International Press Release: 

Washington Post story:  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Canadian Black Bears

Thanks to our friend Nina for finding this wonderful wildlife video.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

There "Snow" Season Like Winter!

Photobucket Photobucket


January Snowfall


Finally, snow! A little over two inches of pristine white powder arrived last evening into today.  The “flurries” caused a “flurry” of activity at the feeders and brought in a new flock of adorable Dark-eyed Juncos.  Welcome feathered friends!


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Going to Bat for Bats


Bon Bon Pond is proud to join the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the Convention of Migratory Species (CMS) in their efforts to promote awareness and appreciation for the world’s bat populations.  These organizations have launched a two-year campaign to help protect one of the planet’s most maligned, misunderstood and mistreated mammals.

Thanks in large part to the Dracula story and sensationalized news reporting, bats have received an undeserved reputation as evil, disease carriers.  Recognized as a friend to farmers and outdoor enthusiasts, insectivorous bats consume millions of harmful pests each year.  Fruit and nectar consuming bats are equally as important, thanks to their pollination and seed dispersal services. Together, bats worldwide  play an important part in preserving the planet’s ecosystem.
Did you know . . .

PhotobucketA single Little Brown Bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes in a single hour, and is one of the world's longest-lived mammals for its size, with life spans of almost 40 years.

PhotobucketBats are more closely related to humans and other primates than they are to rodents. Several studies indicate that the Old World Fruit Bats and Flying Foxes may actually be descended from early primates such as lemurs.

PhotobucketThere are over 1200 known species of bats, just about 25% of all mammal species. Most of these bats are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

PhotobucketMost bat moms give birth to only a single pup each year, making them very vulnerable to extinction. Bats are the slowest reproducing mammals on earth for their size.

PhotobucketContrary to popular myths, most bats have very good eyesight, have excellent echolocation so they do not become entangled in human hair, and seldom transmit disease to other animals or humans.

PhotobucketThe world's smallest mammal is the Bumblebee Bat of Thailand which weighs about as much as a dime and is critically endangered due to habitat loss.

PhotobucketBats are very clean animals, and groom themselves almost constantly (when not eating or sleeping) to keep their fur soft and clean, like tiny cats.

PhotobucketThe 30 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats from Bracken Cave in Texas eat 250 TONS of insects every summer night. They sometimes fly up to two miles high to feed or to catch tailwinds that carry them over long distances, and can fly at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour.

PhotobucketA single colony of 150 Big Brown Bats can protect local farmers from up to 33 million or more rootworms each summer.

PhotobucketMany important agricultural plants, like bananas, peaches, bread-fruit, mangoes, cashews, almonds, dates and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal. 

PhotobucketAll mammals can contract rabies; however, even the less than half of one percent of bats that do, normally bite only in self-defense and pose little threat to people who do not handle them.

PhotobucketNearly 40% of American bat species are in severe decline or already listed as endangered or threatened. Losses are occurring at alarming rates worldwide.

PhotobucketProviding bat houses can help build the populations of many valuable bat species that eat many crop-damaging insects, such as cucumber and June beetles, stink bugs, leafhoppers and corn worm moths. Bat houses furnish places for bats to roost, hibernate and raise young.

For more amazing bat facts, please visit:


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ol' Man Winter Returns to MN


It had to happen.  Minnesota finally experienced its first below zero temps of the season.  The cold came back last night with a vengeance.  The temp reached 12 below in the twin cities with wind chills around negative 30.  While conditions are a bit more moderate here in the St. Croix River Valley, it’s still viciously cold.  I hope and pray that all pets have been placed indoors and that locals are looking out for our precious wildlife. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday the 13th


More Pine Siskins!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pine Siskins return to St. Croix River Valley

Winter came back yesterday!  Along with snow flurries, temps in the teens and blustery winds, the new years first flock of adorable Pine Siskins have arrived.  Hungry and thirsty, they attacked the nyjer thistle socks and lined up along the rim of the heated bird baths.  Such sweet, animated, friendly little fliers!   Its always a treat to play cold-weather host to these charming birds.  Now, all we need is some serious snow and it will really seem like winter.

*Sorry for the poor quality photo but LaBonBon has a rotator cuff injury.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bon Bon Pond Theme Song Returns!


Click the console 
on the right 
to hear the 
Bon Bon Pond 
Theme Song.

Record Temps Continue

 It’s 54 degrees in Stillwater, MN on January 10th.  Unbelievable!  Beautiful day to head outside and spend some quality time with my feathered friends.

Want to get up close and personal with the birds?  Drop down to the ground.  When you make yourself lower and smaller you pose less of a threat.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Please Help Operation Migration!


They Need Our Support!
Due to bureaucratic red tape, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has halted Operation Migration, the annual aviator-led program that uses a bird-like plane to lead captivity-raised whooping cranes to their winter home. The government agency brought this year’s migration to a grinding stop in Alabama while it investigates a technicality over both the pilots' status as paid contractors and the classification of aircraft used. 
Operation Migration is asking for public support to resume the migration IMMEDIATELY.  Please sign the group’s guestbook and make your voice heard.  Supportive comments will be collected and forwarded to the FAA.

Full Story: 

Operation Migration Guestbook
Support Operation Migration:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Make It a Great One!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Artistry of Trees


Like Joyce Kilmer, I adore trees.  There are many species around Bon Bon Pond—most importantly, the majestic oak savannah which rings the water.  These hard woods are the heart and soul of the area as they secure the shoreline plus provide food and shelter for the wildlife.  

Even after its life has ended, the mighty oak continues its service to nature, both attracting insects to feed the wild birds and offering its trunk for roosting/nesting cavities. Unless a deceased oak directly threatens the house, it is never removed but rather left to perform its invaluable service to the ecosystem and awe inspire us with its God-given beauty. 







Wednesday, January 4, 2012

In the Spotlight


The nutcracker suite is not just a seasonal treat around Bon Bon Pond, thanks to a tiny tuxedoed-acrobat named “Picoides pubescens.”  Commonly called the Downy Woodpecker, this outgoing year-round resident  delights with a “bird ballet” each and every day. I never get tired of observing his undulating avian arabesques and pirouettes as he flits from oak to asp and poplar to pine.

Perhaps no other in the ornithological class has benefited more from intense birding efforts around Bon Bon Pond than the Downy.  The past three years have seen the species explode in population.  These people-friendly fliers dominate the suet feeders and have a hankering for peanuts and sunflower hearts. 

The smallest and most abundant species of the Woodpecker family, these white and black beauties are just a little over six inches with a small bill.  Males are distinguished via a red nape patch. Downy pairs produce one brood each year.  White it’s said the clutch size is between three to eight white eggs, I’ve never seen more than five hatchlings. They nest and also roost in dead trees where they excavate cavities.

Darling Downys consume large numbers of harmful insects such as beetles, ants, and weevils. It upsets me that these beneficial birds often get such a bum rap—mostly from property owners who are outraged over damage to homes, barns and other buildings.  A Google search will turn up three basic reasons for Downy drilling:  (1) insect infestation; (2) marking territory during breeding season; or (3) searching for a mate.  Around Bon Bon Pond most of the drilling occurs in the fall and winter which pretty much eliminates possibilities two and three.  I remain convinced that the much-maligned Downy is in search of insects and as such is actually an invaluable aid to homeowners, alerting us when rotting boards needs to be replaced.    

Downys and their other woodpecker cousins can also help us identify trees that are in danger.  If you notice intense woodpecker attention--especially to elms, apples or ashes--it’s a good idea to have the tree examined by an accredited arborist.

However you interpret their activities, please remember all woodpeckers are classified as migratory, nongame birds and are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. 

Listen to the Downy Woodpecker call and drum: