TRAIL CONDITIONS: Entire trail system was groomed and tracked Friday evening. Trails icy in spots. Diagonal tracks are set but not deep. Good in most areas, all areas still passable. Skate Ski lane should be fast. It’s a bit nippy out there today.
On the final day before their Winter Break, first grade students from Sawyer School came out to Crossroads to decorate an evergreen tree for the animals. They brought edible ornaments: fruit, sunflower seeds, and pine cones slathered in peanut butter. Which brought up that perpetual question: is peanut butter good for birds?
People and animals need to eat food to gain energy—to stay warm, to move, to think, to stay alive. Wild animals have to spend most of their time searching for food, just to consume sufficient calories to live another day. We humans, on the other hand, have food available all the time (especially during the holidays) and many of us eat more calories than we need. Extra food energy is stored in our bodies as fat.
High calorie, fatty food keeps birds alive in cold weather. And peanut butter is a high calorie, fatty food. Should a bird consume more food than it needs, it too will be stored as fat. But in birds, fat is stored, not around the heart or belly, but right under the skin where it serves as an insulating layer that keeps the bird warm on long winter nights.
Wild birds are not going to die of obesity or heart disease, but might they choke to death? If you go on the Internet, you will find all sorts of sites telling you not to use peanut butter because birds will choke to death on the sticky stuff.
Actually, many years ago, there was a case of a scientist finding a couple dead birds in his yard. When he did the autopsies, the birds had peanut butter in their little mouths and throats. So he reported to the world that birds choke on peanut butter.
In science, a single observation (or the results of a single experiment) is not taken as truth. For scientists to believe something, the same observation must be made repeatedly by different people. Considering how many schoolchildren and Scouts make peanut butter pine cones every winter, one observation of two dead peanut butter-eating birds in 45 years doesn’t seem very conclusive. Maybe the two birds were sick from something else and peanut butter just happened to be their last meal.
Besides that, when birds eat peanut butter… cold peanut butter, they peck at it. The dainty bites that go into their beaks at any given time wouldn’t be big enough to coke them.
So peanut butter is absolutely safe? I didn’t say that. When the weather is warm, peanut butter can be very messy and get all over birds’ feathers. Not good. Melted peanut butter is not all that good for trees either.
Birds like peanut butter. It’s easy to eat. It’s a great high energy winter food for birds. And winter will be here some time now, BUT not forever, and area gardeners already are thinking about spring.
Next Tuesday, January 19, at 7:00 PM The Door County Master Gardeners will bring Kori Zawojski, Co-Owner of Sunnypoint Gardens, to Crossroads present the free lecture: “What’s New for 2016”. She will discuss this season’s garden must-haves in annuals, perennials, and shrubs. This will be the 5th year in which Kori has presented this very popular program, complete with sun-filled colorful pictures, Master Garderners suggest that this program “ should help us all get through the cold winter weather while waiting for spring..”
Crossroads is a donor supported preserve welcoming learning of all ages to programs in science, history and the environment. The Collins Learning Center located at 2041 Michigan, is open 2:00-4:30 daily and during special events. Trails at Crossroads, Big Creek Cove and our Ida Bay Preserve are free and open to the public. When there is snow, walkers are asked to avoid designated ski trails.
Thursday, January 14
1:00-3:30 Ski For Free
The Crossroads Ski for Free program lends, free of charge, an array of ski and snowshoe equipment (much of it brand new!) in sizes to fit age 3 through large adult on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00-3:30. When trail conditions permit, go to the Crossroads Maintenance Building where our volunteers will fit you with equipment, share a few pointers and a trail map and send you out the trails. When you have finished, return the equipment and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. This program is sponsored by Friends of Crossroads and Door County Silent Sports Alliance.
Sunday, January 17
1:00-3:30 Ski For Free
The Crossroads Ski for Free program lends, free of charge, an array of ski and snowshoe equipment (much of it brand new!) in sizes to fit age 3 through large adult on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00-3:30. When trail conditions permit, go to the
Crossroads Maintenance Building where our volunteers will fit you with equipment, share a few pointers and a trail map and send you out the trails. When you have finished, return the equipment and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. This program is sponsored by Friends of Crossroads and Door County Silent Sports Alliance.
Tuesday, January 19
7:00 Master Gardener Lecture: “What’s New in 2016”
The Door County Master Gardeners Association announces its
second free public program for 2016. Members of the public are invited to hear Kori Zawojski, Co-Owner of Sunnypoint Gardens, present “What’s New for 2016”,covering this spring’s newest plant variety introductions and the latest in garden trends. You will be able to get a sneak peek at this coming season’s garden must-haves in annuals, perennials, and
shrubs. Lecture Hall of the Collins Learning Center.