[Mnbird] Catching up

Kim Wilcox wilco001 at umn.edu
Wed Sep 8 19:46:09 CDT 2021

I've been meaning to share this for a while.... Over the past month or so,
we've had a melanistic ring-necked pheasant visiting our yard, feeding
under the bird feeders. I first spotted it one late afternoon, scurrying
across the yard while I was sitting on the deck. It was in the shade and at
the time, lacking long tail feathers. I managed to get the binos up for a
second or two before it was obscured by a tree. What was most prominent was
a bright red area on the face. So I thought, well, that should make for an
easy ID! But, while the male ring-neck pheasant has that red patch, I sure
hadn't seen the white neck-ring. Other than the red patch, it appeared very
dark all over. I got another quick glimpse the next day. My husband spotted
it the following day, and did some Googling, coming up with the melanistic
form. It appears to be a male. We've been seeing it very frequently. If
seen in the sunlight, it is beautifully iridescent. Over the past week,
long tail feathers have been emerging. I wish I could include some images,
but I think they would get scrubbed. I did add it to iNaturalist with some
images: inaturalist.org/observations/92850962. You can also see images at
https://www.pheasant.com/birds/melanistic-mutant-pheasant, and

On a different note, the hummers have been busy, both at the flowers and
the nectar feeders. But a few days ago, I observed a new behavior (to me,
anyway). We have a jelly cup feeder near one of the hummingbird feeders.
Several times I saw a hummer checking it out. At one point, a female landed
on the edge of the cup, and dipped down a couple of times before the bees
chased it off! I can't know for sure if it actually sampled the jelly, but
it was fun to see. ;-)

Also, there was a suggestion on MOU-NET about using peppermint oil in the
exterior of hummingbird feeders to keep the hornets off. I didn't find
peppermint oil at Cub, so I decided to try peppermint extract, which
includes peppermint oil. I have small tube feeders with those yellow bee
guards. I used a Q-tip to apply the extract to the bee guards. I haven't
noticed any bees on them since, but I haven't been watching very often! I
will pick up the actual peppermint essential oil this week. Maybe it will
work on the jelly feeder, too - the extract hasn't stopped the bees.

Happy September!

Kim Wilcox

Kimerly J. Wilcox, Ph.D.
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