Watch Your Windows 10 Settings

A problem with the biyearly content packs is settings changes

The biyearly updates to Windows 10 have good points and bad points. They tend to come with new features, which depending on your interests can be a very good thing. They also come with problems, and I am not talking about the bugs which come standard in any new software.

The biggest problem I have with the updates is that settings are changed. I initially had problems with Bluetooth on my computer. Windows was turning the device off and forgetting about it. In diagnosing a problem, I discovered that my motherboard, targeted at all operating systems and not just Windows, wasn’t compatible with Fast Startup in the configuration I was forced to use. (The Windows focused mode didn’t like the SSD I was using). To avoid issues with improper shutdowns, I turned fast startup off. During my debugging I did a manual Windows Update in case the problem had been fixed in the update. It triggered that Spring’s Creators Update. After it installed, the error messages were back. The update, without any notification, had turned fast startup back on.

As a result of this, I looked through the various settings I have customized on my computer. This Spring’s problem was with the lock screen. While some of these changes are deliberate, other changes appear to be random. The important point is, while enjoying any new features you like, make sure that your settings have not been changed before they cause problems.

Tail Identification: May 16, 2018

Hiding on the far side of a feeder doesn’t always work.

With bird feeders, and seed blocks especially, you really begin to learn how to identify birds by their tails. Some birds spread their tails out while others neatly stack them. Then there is the positon that they hold their tail in (up, down, straight out). After a bit of time, you become familar enough with your local birds to be able to make a pretty good guess at identification from just the tail. This particular picture shows some of the body as well.The bird in question is a Tufted Titmouse. The above picture is from one of our other feeders a couple of years ago. In the case of the Tufted Titmouse, it is the color combined with the mostly stacked straight out position that typically gives it away.

Spring Bathing

Another sign of Spring is an increase in bathing

While there are some birds, like Bluebirds, which will take a bath any time the water is not ice, Spring usually brings with it an increase in the number of birds bathing in our birdbaths. Of our two birdbaths, this concrete bath is far more popular than our larger green plastic bath. We think that it is because the other bath has steeper edges. The more gradual concrete slope may feel safer for smaller birds (like the out of focus chipping sparrow) worried about getting in too deep.

And no, despite appearances, the Cardinal is not trying to drown itself. Though sometimes the bather has a great deal of difficulty taking off.And here is the greatest threat to the water in our birdbaths, the Brown Splasher (Brown Thrasher).

Meanwhile, They Are Leaving: March 28, 2018

Goldfinches leave our area just as they get their yellow back

Goldfinches (well the males) are bright yellow during the summer, but are fairly plain during the winter. Where we live they tend to leave about the same time as their summer color comes in. Sadly, we are just south of their summer nesting range.

Popular Seed Block

There is something in there that they like

A couple of years ago we started hanging a Pennington Seed block on a pole outside one of our windows. It seems like every bird in the area, including a number of surprising suspects has come by to try it out. Above is a Northern Mockingbird. At first it was only one, but the first one convinced its opposite number that there was something good here, and since that time I have frequently seen pairs of Mockingbirds visiting the seed block.

Here we have a Tufted Titmouse and a Red-headed woodpecker on the seed block at the same time. Once it is eaten down, we move what is left to one of the tray feeders, and it typically doesn’t take very long for them to find it and finish it off. The recent snows had an interesting side effect. Normally, the local chipping sparrows prefer to eat from the ground or trays. They will also use standard perches. They would come over and land on top of the seed block’s cage and try to reach the top of the seed block. However, when the snow covered everything else, they discovered it was possible to hang on to the side of the cage and get at the only visible seed (everything else was under snow). Since that time, several sparrows have remembered this, and they have continued to cling to the cage to eat. This has led to a second variety of jailbird.I am sorry about the lower quality. I didn’t want to scare it off, and the sparrows seem to be a bit “nervous” about eating here. Don’t worry, it had no trouble getting back out again without help.

Snow Days, Again

A Cold Southern Vacation

The birds really are not happy this year.Usually, we average about 1 chance of snow each winter. This makes a second, measurable snowfall very unusual. The juncos, like the male above,  come only for the winter, spending their summers in Canada. In our part of middle Alabama, we get a number of birds that turn up only in winter. This year their southern vacations have been a bit frosty. We made certain the bird feeders were full and seed was scattered on the ground so at least they were not hungry.This snowfall was even more uncommon. The snow stuck to the roads (yes, there is a street in the picture); not a very good thing when the heaviest road-clearing equipment is usually a sand truck. We had several days of frigid weather with temperatures in the teens. It was cold for the birds, and for the people too. We had to take precautions such as leaving cabinet doors open to make sure our pipes did not freeze. If it is very cold, we may leave a faucet dripping.