Protecting Garden Birds From Magpies

Magpies can be desired and detested in equal measure, depending on the person and situation. On the one hand, they’re uniquely intelligent birds, with a well developed social system accompanying their well developed appetites. Unfortunately, they’re not only incredibly hungry, but predatory to boot. A small flock will happily devour an entire rabbit left gutted in the garden, so it’s no surprise the ease with which they crack open eggs waiting to hatch, or even kill the live young of other birds around the garden. If you want to keep the other species safe you can read on for a little info on deterring the creatures.

First up, a very simple a cheap system for deterring magpies from your garden. Oddly enough, these socially advanced creatures absolutely cannot abide being looked at by other animals, particularly those they can’t identify. In Australia the birds have been known to attack children in the street, who then took to strapping paper eyes to the reverse of their caps. The magpies see the false eyes, spook easily and are quick to back away.

This is an easy method to adopt, and there are a few ways to expand upon it to make it even more effective. Start off by making a few sets of paper eyes at home. Once you’ve got a few pairs start posting them up around the garden. Trunks and walls are best, a nice flat surface where they’ll enjoy a lot of visibility. Fasten them on with sellotape for longer-lasting results.

The tape actually plays into the best way to improve the technique. Magpies are more likely to spook from objects which reflect light well. Not only are they bright, but they better represent the glistening effect of an actual eye. The best value for money solution you’ll find requires two types of object. A thread of string and any loose CDs and DVDs you’ve no intention of keeping. String the CDs together into long hanging ornaments, then affix them to walls, trunks and branches. They’ll turn in the wind, reflecting randomly while also resembling a circular eye, complete with pupil.

In small domestic gardens these techniques will prove successful enough at scaring off the pesky, predatory birds. So long as you maintain good lines of sight so a pair of eyes or reflective CDs are constantly in view the magpie population should quickly begin avoiding your property. In larger areas setting up a large number of these items tends to be an inefficient use of your time. Instead consider a scarecrow with reflective eyes. They’re an old standby, and the appearance of a conscious human does wonders deterring these birds.

Francesca has been writing about UK wildlife and garden birds for years, from providing them with shelter to keeping them safe from predators. Now serving as a featured contributor to Garden Bird, a premier supplier of bird feed and care accessories, she hopes to expand her audience even further.

The Importance of the Right Reptile Lighting

It is no secret that your cold-blooded creatures are in desperate need of an outside source of heat to survive. In spite of this knowledge, it is often too surprising to learn that more owners still believe that any reptile lighting is enough. This is a common misconception since the wrong brand could lead to serious illness, and even death. One of the obvious ways to prevent this is to learn for yourself the different types of luminosity, which is available in the market. It is also a great idea to study the physical make-up of the species you own to get a clear grasp of its toleration to heat.

First of all, you have to consider the dimensions of your reptile cages and terrariums before settling on any type of lighting. Once you’ve already determined the exact measurements of your pets’ home, it will now be easier for you to choose the precise length, and even type, of the device that your cold-blooded friends need. Of course, you also have to consider the shape of the glass case. For example, if you’ve settled for the usual, rectangular frame, then the fluorescent strips are the perfect piece for you. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to go for a circular or a hexagonal bowl, small bulbs would suffice.

Before you install a particular type of lighting, you are required to make an inventory, if not a mental note, of the reptile supplies, which are kept inside the terrarium. This list includes the permanent items, such as your decorative pieces, substrates, food and water dishes, and the like.

By doing this, you are given a clear idea on the kind of device, as well as the power of its radiance and heat, which you need to set up. However, if you find that a particular bulb suits the needs of your cold-blooded friends well, while the ornaments cannot handle the warmth, it will be wiser to replace the items with more durable ones.

Your choice of reptile lighting should also be suitable to the species of cold-blooded creatures you keep. For example, ordinary pets, like the iguana and lizards, require less heat, and they are happy with a mere basking lamp. On the other hand, snakes also need less warmth, while the small crocodiles mandate more radiance constantly.

The reptile lighting for you also depends on its setup procedures in the sense that you should choose a model, which is not too tedious for you to install. You may decide on a brand, which is meant to be fixed inside the terrarium in the same way that you would do your decorative adornments.

Finding the perfect lighting to give your reptiles a comfortable home is not a problem when you have already considered every aspect, which may affect your purchase.

The Basics of Goldfish Care

Caring for goldfish isn’t all that different from caring for any other fish. A clean home with room to grow, meals delivered to their front door, and maybe some decor to give the place a bit of class is about all they ask for. None the less, some of their requirements do vary a bit from those of most other common aquarium fish. They’re not hard to meet, but doing so is key to keeping a happy and healthy goldfish.

Size
The number one thing that seems to slip past most people looking to keep goldfish is that they get BIG. Even for smaller varieties expect adults to reach about 8 inches in length with some easily passing a foot. This of course means that fish bowls, which goldfish are so commonly portrayed in, are virtually worthless for keeping goldfish (or any other fish for that matter). Really anything under 30 gallons is too small for even a single goldfish long term and if you want more than one the tank will need to be even bigger. Without adequate room to grow fish will become stunted, leading to health problems and most likely an early death.

Climate
While they’re typically sold alongside a bevy of various other species of tropical fish, which tend to prefer what could be thought of as tropical temperatures, goldfish are actually considered a cold water species. In fact they can tolerate temperatures close to freezing, although in the aquarium something in the mid 60s to low 70s in preferred (or roughly 18 to 23C). Even though they do just fine at lower temperatures a heater still isn’t a bad idea, however. Temperature swings are never a good thing for any fish. A heater ensures things don’t change too rapidly on particularly cool days.

This doesn’t mean your goldfish have to live alone, though. There are lots of other fish out there who enjoy a cooler temperature. White Cloud Minnows are quite popular coldwater fish, and the common Zebra Danio is quite adaptive and does just fine in cooler water. Just make sure they’re not too small as your goldfish may mistake them for a tasty snack! Some species of loaches and plecos are compatible as well, though care should be taken if you’re keeping a pleco and goldfish with frilly tails as the pleco may harass them.

Upkeep
Goldfish also differ from most common aquarium fish in that they are quite messy. Their digestive system works a little differently from other fish and can be considered somewhat inefficient. Add to this that they are just plain big fish and it’s easy to see why they need a lot of filtration to keep their tanks clean. Generally you’ll want about double the filtration that you would normally want for the tank size. Good circulation and mechanical filtration are of particular importance for keeping the bottom of the tank free from waste. This also means that regular upkeep is all the more important. Even with a good filter the substrate tends to get quite dirty necessitating vacuuming.

Along with their unique digestive system comes a need for unique food. When picking a food for your goldfish make sure to get something specifically sold as goldfish food. Normal tropical foods will likely prove too hard to digest leading to a messy tank and malnourished fish. But, just like other fish, they will get bored with the same thing day after day so don’t forget to change up their diet every now and then. You can even branch out into fresher alternatives. Goldfish are quite fond of peas and may accept other cooked vegetable bits.

So, to recap, or if you’re just looking for a quick guide to goldfishes’ needs:

-Goldfish get big and thus need a big home. Expect them to reach at least 8″ and need at least 30 gallons.
-Goldfish are coldwater fish preferring temperatures in the mid 60s to low 70s.
-Goldfish are messy- include extra filtration and be prepared to clean their tank weekly.
-Make sure to feed your goldfish food formulated specifically for them.
-As a side note: koi are not goldfish. They are related, but get much too big for the average home aquarium.

A goldfish tank offers a unique aesthetic not found in most other aquariums- large brightly colored peaceful fish. They’re an iconic species; instantly recognizable by just about anyone even from across the room. While their needs do differ a bit from most other common aquarium fish, they’re really not all that hard to meet. Fulfill those and you’ll have a happy goldfish for many years to come.

Choosing a Winning Barrel Racing Futurity Prospect

When selecting a barrel racing futurity prospect, the first thing I consider is the horse’s pedigree. Are the bloodlines in the prospect’s pedigree statistically proven to win in futurity competitions? The sire with the most winning futurity horses is Dash Ta Fame. There are horses sired by Dash Ta Fame that have not won and there are horses not sired by him that have won, but statistically his offspring perform better, and I prefer to stack the odds in my favor. Most people are misinformed to think that an average mare can produce an outstanding foal if bred to an outstanding stallion. I disagree. The truly phenomenal horses, come from outstanding mares, therefore, I heavily weigh the dam’s side of the pedigree. I consider whether she was a great performer herself, or if any of her previous foals have performed well. Both sides of the pedigree should be able to stand on the own merit, and should not be used to compensate each other.

Next, I study the prospect’s conformation, how its body is built. There are specific attributes that better equip barrel horses to perform their jobs. I look for a big, round, dark, “soft,” kind-looking eye. An eye with this appearance signifies intelligence. I want a nice slope to the shoulder, a steep shoulder indicates a short stride without much reach. That being said, the angle of the shoulder and the hip should match, indicating the horse will be able to collect effectively in training. Moving down from the hip to the hocks, I prefer a lower hock set to a higher one. This allows a horse to get underneath itself for the turn, and should be powerful pushing off with its hind end. Moving further down to the pasterns, I look for a well-balanced pastern. Too long and the horse will be more prone to injuries, too short and the horse’s stride will be hampered. The overall legs should not be too finely boned, as this will lend the horse towards more injuries. I also study the back and underline. I prefer a short back and long underline. This indicates speed and agility. I do not consider height too much when selecting a prospect. There is not a perfect size for winning. I have seen pro horses winning that are anywhere between 14- 17 hands. I prefer mine to be between 15.0-15.3, but that is a personal preference. Short horses can be just as fast as the tall horses if they have the conformation to do so. That is what is important. Barrel racing, especially futurities, asks a lot of the horses’ bodies. Selecting a prospect that is naturally better equipped to perform the task will only give you an advantage in the arena, as well as aid in preventing injuries.

There are advantages and disadvantages to selecting your prospect from the race track. The disadvantages could be endless if you do not buy from a reputable trainer. The horse could already have soundness issues. It could be mentally pushed too hard, therefore will be unable to adapt to barrel training. They could be infusing the horse with illegal substances. These instances, unfortunately, do happen at race tracks, but can be avoided if you know where you should be purchasing. If you buy from a reputable trainer, the advantages include that the horse has already been taught to run. Some people see babies out in the pasture with their moms frolicking around and assume horses naturally know how to run. This is not the case. Horses have no idea how to run at the speed needed for competition and must be trained to do so. When they come from the track, you do not have to include that in your barrel training. Another advantage is that they have already been exposed to the newness of hauling and travelling to new places. Track horses are well seasoned, whereas horses that have not been to the track must slowly adjust to the experiences of hauling.

The Best Spring Feed for Your Birds

Spring is certainly an important time for bird feeding. Many migratory species will be passing through your garden on their way back home, and you can expect to see new nests and hatchlings springing up around your area when mating season kicks off. Birds have specific nutritional needs throughout the period, however, so it’s worth taking the time to note just what you should be providing.

Mealworms

These are an old standby, and an excellent source of live feed. Unlike their larger, crunchier brethren, mealworms are both protein heavy and moist. They benefit smaller birds the most, and you can expect to see them surge in popularity during mating season. Adults will bring them back to the nest to sustain their young, as they’re one of the most nutritious and edible feeds out there.

Remember, they can easily go off if left outside for too long. Consider soaking them in water for a little extra moisture on hot days, as long as they’re all eaten quickly. As always, be sure to clean up any uneaten remnants to prevent disease.

Fruit

If you grow a variety of plants in your garden, there’s every chance you have a few apples and pears going spare through spring. These large, meaty and moist fruits are particularly suited to feeding larger birds, capable of digging in more effectively. The high water content will certainly benefit them in hotter weeks, and slicing up a few to leave on the feeder will keep a lot of birds happy.

As an interesting idea for presentation, consider slicing a fruit in half and impaling It on the branch of a tree. This will move larger birds into the canopy, while producing a pleasant natural appearance. Just be sure not to leave any sliced fruit out for longer than a few days. In the heat and rain of spring it’s quite easy for them to rot, so dense trees and covered feeders are a nice touch.

Seeds and Nuts

As ever, nyger seeds make for a great investment, and are extremely popular among the majority of finch species. They’re very fatty for their size, but will need a specialised feeder to hold them in.

Peanuts are a regular feature of any feed mix, but will require special attention if you intend to leave them out in the spring. They’re heavy in fat and protein, but be sure not to make the mistake of leaving out salted nuts, birds can’t process the salt and will suffer for it.

Remember, whole peanuts can easily choke a newly hatched bird, so either crush up your nuts or leave them in a mesh they cannot be removed from whole. Any other small seeds and nuts will suffice, sunflower hearts being another high nutrition treat.

Choosing Suitable Aquarium Decor For Little Girls

Not many would care to admit it but the world of aquarium decorations tends to be a little male oriented. Looking at all the different tank ornaments from a distance you can see that they make up such themes as Pirates, Sunken Shipwreck, Greek Ruins, Skulls and more. This is not to mean that those themes are not stuff that girls would not be interested in. My own daughter is crazy about pirates, especially since Captain Jack Sparrow made it on the movies. But younger girls might not yet be into things that portray thrilling adventure or hulking ancient creatures. They may be looking for softer, more colorful alternatives and you might feel a little hard pressed searching for ornaments that would get them interested in fish keeping.

There still are some really cool options if you want a lively, colorful theme for your little girl. We’ll look at some of the best options that would guarantee your little daughter loves the aquarium you got for her and stays interested in it for a long time.

The first option would be castles. Which little girl does not dream of becoming a princess when she grows up. My tween daughter may be a tough tomboy right now but as a little child, she used to dress up in her prettiest princess outfit with her little tiara prancing around the house everyday. With the castle theme, what you would want to look for are ones that are more colorful and fun. There are numerous realistic castle decor on sale, but these tend to look gloomy and most in ruins. They make awesome looking decor in the eyes of an adult but may be a little too morbid for a little girl. Try to get colorful ones that allow the fish to enter inside as the cave would be a great benefit to the fish.

Another really cool suggestion would be the Dora the Explorer collection. Dora has numerous fish tank decor pieces that you could use in the aquarium, showing her in various poses and outfits. You can even get the other characters from the show such as Boots her monkey friend as well as her cousin Diego. Match these up, place them with some rocks and aquatic plants and they would look exactly like a scene from one of the cartoon shows.

Next we have the Atlantis theme. Ignore the ruins and temples for this one. You should focus more on getting a mermaid or two. Then add on one of the colorful caves that you could get, with tiny corals and anemone painted on them which will look really eye catching. To complement the theme, if there is some space to spare, you could add a couple of sea creatures. Get the fun looking cartoonish ones, such as sea horses and starfishes to create a really fun theme.

The final option would be fairies. Honestly, there are very few fairy tank ornaments on sale. But if you wish, you could get some resin home ornaments that can be placed inside the aquarium. Just ensure that there are not metal parts and that the ornaments are not hand painted without a layer of protection that prevents the paint from wearing out and leaking into the water. You may want to check out the Faerie Glen Bubble collection, which in my opinion are some of the most gorgeous fairy ornaments on sale today.