Midwest birding guide geared to novices
One of Ohio's top birders, Bill Thompson III, has published the "Midwestern Birds Backyard Guide." (November 4, 2013)
"Midwestern Birds Backyard Guide" is geared toward beginners, offering them tips for attracting, observing and identifying birds. Thompson, editor of the magazine Bird Watcher's Digest, offers guidance on such basics as choosing binoculars, creating a backyard habitat and feeding birds.
He also whets the appetites of novice birders by providing pictures and descriptions of 55 birds they're likely to see in Midwestern backyards. He describes markings, sounds and behaviors that help in identifying the birds and explains where the birds are typically found, where they nest and what people can do to encourage them to visit.
There's even a list of birding hot spots in the Midwest for those who are ready to venture beyond their yards.
"Midwestern Birds Backyard Guide" is published by Cool Springs Press and sells for $17.99 in paperback.
WHAT'S NEW: EARPLUGS DESIGNED FOR YARD AND GARDEN WORK
Crescendo Gardening earplugs are designed to block much of the noise produced by the power equipment used for lawn and garden maintenance.
Lawn mowers can produce 95 to 105 decibels and chain saws, 100 to 125, according to Dynamic Ear Co., the Dutch company that makes Crescendo earplugs. That's louder than the limit of 85 decibels considered safe in a working environment.
The gardening earplugs reduce noise by 24 decibels. The design also has an open-air passage that keeps the ear ventilated for comfort and minimizes the feeling of obstruction.
Both the ear tips and filters are washable.
Crescendo Gardening earplugs are available for $19.95 at Ear Plug Superstore (www.earplugstore.com), with discounts for larger orders. Shipping is extra.
Q&A: OVERWINTERING GERANIUMS
Q: I've read that you can keep bare-root geraniums over the winter. How do you do that?
A: Annual geraniums, which aren't true geraniums but rather members of the genus Pelargonium, can survive most of the winter without soil and with just periodic watering.
Here's how to store them in a bare-root state, the Iowa State University Extension says:
Before the first frost, dig up the plant and gently shake the soil from its roots. Place the plant inside an open paper bag, or hang it upside-down from rafters in a cool, dark place.
Two or three times during the winter, soak the plant's roots in water for an hour or two, and then return it to storage.
In late March or early April, pot the plant, water it thoroughly and cut back the dead stem tips. Keep it in a sunny window to wait for new growth to start, which may take several weeks.
(Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the chosen queries. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.)
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