The winter of 2022-2023 wasn’t bad but we had a lot of rain and wind heading into spring. Now the great part of the year is here and temperatures are just right, not too hot and not too cool. Nature has been waking up and, even though the big waterfowl migration is over, there are plenty of things to see.

For starters, Canada goose goslings are hatching out like crazy. They are such cute little guys, until they start to grow — and then, to me, they get really ugly. Folks like to watch them and take pictures but there is a need for caution here. That gander is very protective of his family and can get aggressive. In fact he can do serious damage with the spurs on his wing elbows, and his bite with that strong beak can cause a serious wound to any human who gets too close. Of course, if you are walking in an area where these families spend a lot of time, you have to be on the lookout for all the droppings they leave behind.

If you’re a bird feeder you may have noticed we have some new birds around now. The beautiful rose-breasted grosbeak has showed up at my feeder, and I was in a rush to get the grape feeders up once I started seeing Baltimore orioles. The grosbeaks like grape jelly, too.

Once I began seeing orioles, I knew the hummingbirds were close behind. Both of these species add color in the back yard and pleasure in our days. We must remember to take good care of them, though, and that means keeping those feeders clean and fresh. I change out the grape jelly and hummingbird food every five days, max. Hummer food will spoil quickly, especially in the sun. I only fill my feeders part way, just enough to last up to five days; that way the birds are safe and not as much food is wasted.

I also like to hang a number of hummer feeders around the house so that it is easier for various hummers to get to a feeder, especially the females who do all the brooding and caretaking of the young. Her time is limited and those pesky males like to hang around and drive all others away from “their” feeder. The solution is to have multiple feeders.

A problem with jelly and hummer feeders is they attract ants. This can be solved by making a moat to hang above a feeder so the ants can’t get to it. I use those small fruit cups, put a small hole in the center to push a piece of wire through and then have a hook bent in the wire above and below the cup. I seal the wire hole with silicon glue. Then I fill the cup with water and hang the feeder on the lower hook, and hang the whole contraption by the upper hook. Keep that moat filled with water!

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Bald eagles are hatched out now and the eaglets are beginning to develop pin feathers. A recent check of the nests that I monitor shows there were more nest failures this year. Last year was not good and this year doesn’t look good either.

One eagle nest on a state Wildlife Management Area is being used by a goose. This nest is very far out, almost impossible to see after the leaves come out, and impossible to get to. Thus the monitors are never sure what is produced from it each year. Last fall another nest was built nearer the dike and can be seen fairly well. It surprised me that two pairs of eagles would have their nesting territories so close to each other.

By sitting in just the right spot I could see both nests with my spotting scope just before the leaves came out. There was movement in the one way back but it was difficult to tell what was in it. The nearer nest held two eaglets, so I concentrated on the more distant one. Eventually I was able to see a Canada goose nesting there!

My theory is that there was an eagle nesting failure or two in the more distant nest, and so this past fall the pair of eagles built the new one, nearer the dike, and the goose found the older one to her liking.

Two other eagle nests that I monitor, off the state lands, have also been failures. So what is going on? Well, neither the state nor the feds are putting predator guards on the eagle nesting trees anymore. Some of the old guards have been torn off by wind and some trees never had one. There’s a high population of raccoons now and they are great at getting up to those nests (thus the guards), but there’s also a new guy in town now and he’s becoming more plentiful too.

The new guy, the fisher cat, is an efficient predator and a great climber; even though it weighs between 5 and 15 pounds it can catch gray squirrels in tree tops.

I believe the fisher cat is partly behind the eagle nest failures, even when there has been a guard on the nest tree, because this animal can scramble from tree to tree.

Check in next week to learn more about the fisher cat and the problems it may be causing.

Doug Domedion, outdoorsman and nature photographer, resides in Medina. Contact him at 585-798-4022 or

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