Gilford Public Library

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Hibernating Bears

by Max Fisher, 12/20/2022


With the world covered in a layer of the cold wet stuff it can be an enticing proposition to hunker down in a nest of blankets and wait out the storm. For us humans pulling on a couple of layers and braving the icy landscape is a more common occurrence. However, for our fur covered ursine neighbors it is an evolutionary strategy to conserve energy and endure the harsher conditions.


Depending on the area they are found, bears can hibernate anywhere from two, all the way up to seven months. Binging on the bounties of nature leading up to their sedentary marathon will allow them to build up the fat stores necessary, roughly four to five inches of body fat, to make it through to the other side of the winter months. Many think it’s a non-stop sleepy time palooza when a bear hibernates, however, a bear’s sleep is broken up by periods of activity theorized to prevent pressure sores and to change location should their den become unsuitable.


While we don’t undergo the gluttonous bolstering of our caloric intake, roughly five times their usual daily consumption, I think we all deserve to do a little hibernating during the blistering cold months. The bears have it right.



To discover more about this fascinating behavior:

Bear Hibernation: Five Fun Facts

The Science Behind the Beauty of Winter Sunsets

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 12/13/2022


As winter approaches with its shorter hours of daylight, one wonder of nature to appreciate is the sunsets this time of year. They are more vibrant with amazing sky scapes of deep pinks, oranges and purples. 


The science behind these extraordinary skies defines what happens to the light. Light consists of different colors, each with its own unique wavelength. Blues and green waves are shorter which leads to more bouncing, scattering and ultimately being filtered out. The longer waves of reds and oranges are what thrills the spectator.


In addition, there is less humidity and cleaner air in the winter, The hazy sunsets of summer are caused by the humidity and particles which typically wash out the colors. Rainfall helps to clear out these particles. Also, in winter, the Earth’s rotation is closer to the sun, with its angle allowing the sunset display to last longer to the delight of viewers.


To discover more:

The Science Behind Those Picture-Perfect Sunsets

Anting-Another One of Nature’s Mysteries

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 12/6/22


A fascinating behavior to observe among birds is the process of “anting”, where a bird utilizes an ant in the process of grooming their feathers. More than 200 species of birds have been observed anting. This process can be active, where the bird like a bluejay actually takes an ant, and wipes its feathers with it. A more passive example is when a bird, like a Wild Turkey, will actually crouch on an ant hill, wings and tail spread, and allow the ants to meander through its feathers.


There is some debate over the years as to the purpose of this behavior. The most common theories revolve around the need for comfort or maintenance of feathers. Some scientists believe that the fact that this behavior is most commonly observed in the late summer or fall, it is related to the heavy avian molting and resulting skin irritation occurring with feather replacement.


Another more recent theory is that anting helps to control parasites such as lice and mites.


To discover more about this fascinating behavior:

Anting is Widespread and Fascinating But Its Purpose is Uncertain


Video showing a bird anting:

Anting! Birds, Formic Acid Bath

When the North Wind Doth Blow...Part 2

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer 11/29/22


NH winters can be long and challenging with its ice, snow and wind for birds that don’t migrate. Bird feeding stations are one of the ways we can help support our feathered neighbors. But it’s important to maintain them to ensure adequate and safe supplies.


Here are some simple ideas to help keep your feeding stations available, appropriate and safe for your avian visitors.

1.   Most importantly, provide a water source. Birds don’t have saliva, so they need a water source to help digest their food. Make sure you clean the water several times a week to keep it bacteria free. If you don’t have a heater, you can replace it in the morning and later in the day.

2.   Clear off accumulation of snow and ice and make sure openings are clear. Take out frozen or wet seeds as these can become moldy and cause infections in the birds.

3.  Replenish seeds frequently. During long winter nights, birds expend more energy to stay warm and need energy rich foods. With less daylight hours, they have a shorter time to search for available food sources.

4.   Clean snow and ice from the ground areas around feeders. Ground feeders like cardinals, doves, grosbeaks, sparrows and juncos like to eat the fallen seeds.

5.   Make sure feeders are not broken or damaged in order to keep birds safe from harm.


If you love to watch the birds, providing for them appropriately can bring a plethora of opportunities for enjoyment and entertainment in the long months ahead. A local resource is Steve White, a Birding Expert and Business owner of Wild Bird Depot in Gilford.



For more information:

Don't Forget Water for the Birds in Winter


How to Maintain Your Bird Feeders in Cold Weather

When the North Wind Doth Blow...Part1

by Wendy Oellers-Fulmer, 11/15/2022


With snow predicted this week in NH, we might wonder about how to best support our feathered neighbors who do not migrate. When snow buries and limits natural food sources, bird feeders are one way to provide sustenance on harsh winter days. Keeping the feeders up til Spring can also help birds on their migration back north.


It makes a difference what type of food you offer as well as the feeder. Bird feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes, attracting different species.


Tube feeders can be filled with sunflower, safflower, and mixed seeds as well as peanuts. These will attract chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, goldfinches, pine siskins, purple and house finches.


Suet Feeders will invite woodpeckers titmice, nuthatches, and chickadees as well as some occasional visitors like wrens, creepers and warblers.


Hopper Feeders holds birdseed and dispenses it into a tray at the bottom of the hopper.


Platform Feeder attracts the most kinds of birds, but has a drawback in that the seeds are not protected. Rain can cause the seeds to get wet, causing foster fungal and bacterial growth.


Nygier Feeders (aka thistle feeders)attract goldfinches, pine siskin and common redpolls.



To discover more about the benefits of different feeders:

How to Choose the Right Kind of Bird Feeder