The Quarterly Community eNewsletter of Bird Town Pennsylvania
Spring 2023
Welcome to “Bird Beat”
Welcome to “Bird Beat,” the quarterly eNewsletter of Bird Town Pennsylvania. Bird Beat is a seasonal communication (summer, fall, winter and spring) for individuals working to use native plants in their properties for the birds, pollinators, and other beneficial creatures that enhance the ecosystems in which we all live. Many of you have received one or more forms of habitat recognition or certification from Audubon, the National Wildlife Federation, or another organization. Bird Beat also includes family-friendly games, movie and book reviews, and fascinating information about birds.

Bird Beat offers timely tips for native plant enthusiasts like you, along with links to resources, events, and ideas to engage your families, friends, and neighbors with the wonders that your native gardens, from container gardening to full blown meadows, evoke. Along with other engaging information about springtime, this edition features several articles about that most astonishing of migrators, the ruby-throated hummingbird. We hope you find Bird Beat informative and valuable. Please share this newsletter with any folks you think would like to subscribe to future editions. Note that you can unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. We invite your comments and suggestions for future topics at
Buzz Pollination is Just for Bees
By Karen Campbell

The cow says moo, the bird says tweet, and the bee says buzz. But there’s much more to the buzz than meets the ears! It’s also a sound that some bees produce while performing a special skill called “buzz pollination,” or sonication.

Over half of our native bee species can perform this skill. And even though only a small portion of plants (between 6 to 8%) rely on this type of pollination, that’s an estimated 20,000 species of flowering plants in 64 plant families. It’s also important for several agricultural products including tomatoes and blueberries.

Click here to learn more fascinating facts!

Planting to Attract Hummingbirds
By Barbara Malt

Have you ever considered where our beloved Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are when they aren’t with us in Pennsylvania? Our hummers mostly winter way down in southern Mexico and Central America. Most of them get there by making a 600-mile nonstop flight across the Gulf of Mexico!

Hummingbirds need the right food and in sufficient amounts to fuel their migrations north and south. They need energy for nesting and raising their young, too. In fact, with wings regularly going at over 50 beats a second and hearts working at up to 1260 beats a minute, just being a hummingbird is highly energy intensive.

Ruby-throats will soon be arriving back in our state, so click here to learn how to provide good food sources for your hummingbirds.

You Can Grow Your Own National Park!
By Heidi Shiver

The Homegrown National Park program is calling on all homeowners to contribute towards the goal of 20 million acres of native plantings in the US, which would represent half of the green lawns of privately-owned properties. Habitat loss is a profound problem for birds and many other kinds of wildlife, so please consider participating to be part of the solution!

Click here to learn how you can develop your own Homegrown National Park!
Spotlight on Community Science:
May 13 is the Global Big Day!
By Heidi Shiver

The Global Big Day and World Migratory Bird Day are biannual celebrations of the birds around you.  Both will take place on May 13 this spring.

This year’s conservation theme for World Migratory Bird Day is water, since clean water is so essential to bird survival.

The Global Big Day is organized by Cornell University’s eBird program, BirdLife International, and Global Birding.  Each of these organizations highlights the need to support migratory birds and protect their habitats.

By participating in the Global Big Day, you are also automatically celebrating World Migratory Bird Day, as birders, scientists, and educators around the globe all work together.

Click here to learn how you can participate. It's easy and fun!
Do This! Not That!
By Christine M. Du Bois

Scientists estimate that domestic cats kill 2.4 billion birds in the U.S. every year (billion–that is not a typo!). Much of the carnage comes from feral cats, but pet cats that are allowed to roam outdoors do plenty of killing too. In fact, after habitat loss, cats are the biggest threat to America’s wild birds.

The cats are not at all to blame! They’re only doing what their natural instincts tell them to. We humans are the ones who’ve introduced domestic cats to environments where they can cause harm. Out of respect both for our cats’ supple, clever skill as predators and for how hard it is, even in the best of circumstances, for a wild bird to survive, we should take some basic steps. It’s really not so hard to love your cat and love your neighborhood’s birds at the same time. Click here to learn how.
Sense of Wonder:
Celebrity Interview with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird
By Christine M. Du Bois 

Bird Town Pennsylvania: Thank you, Mr. Ruby-throat, for taking the time to be interviewed today. We’re aware of how incredibly busy you are.

Ruby-throated Hummer: You really aren’t that aware, unless you can imagine yourself running constantly here and there to get each item for every one of your meals at 9 miles per hour, every day of your life. And when I say here and there, I mean sometimes you need to snatch food at 1,000 or more different locations in a single day—so you have to do each snatch really, really fast.

BTP: Wow, that takes a lot of energy—I feel tired just thinking about it. What do you mean by 1,000 or more different locations?

Click here to find out what else Mr. Ruby-throat had to say. He didn’t hold back—he really spoke his mind!
Kids’ Corner
By Christine M. Du Bois

Did you know that you can find rubies in Pennsylvania?! Ruby-throated hummingbirds, that is—and lots of other cool birds.  All over our state there are “hot spots” for bird watching—places where birds like to show up.  Think of it this way:  Bird Town Pennsylvania is group of towns and cities that take care of birds, but birds also have extra “towns” of their own.

So click here to play a rhyming game about Pennsylvania's birding hot spots!
Birdwatching: Classic Movies about Birds

“Hummingbirds: Jewelled Messengers"
By Heidi Shiver

The remarkable lives of hummingbirds are beautifully captured in this 55-minute documentary shot primarily in the highlands of Brazil. With the help of stunning slow-motion photography and video, British broadcaster and natural historian David Attenborough explains details of hummingbirds’ lives—from their acrobatic flying, mating displays, defense of territories and nectar stores, to their raising of young and migrating, all of which are mesmerizing to watch.

Click here to learn more about this exhilarating film.
A Sourcebook for Success:

A Northern Gardener's Guide to
Native Plants and Pollinators
Book Review by Karen Campbell

A Northern Gardener’s Guide to Native Plants and Pollinators strikes at the heart of what we strive for in Bird Town PA— creating wildlife habitat in our yards. While we encourage everyone to start by adding a few native plants, this enjoyable book is a guide to taking the next step—to go “from plants… to plant communities.” And it explains why creating habitat is important while emphasizing that everyone’s small contributions will add up to make a difference.

Lorraine Johnson and Sheila Colla have arranged their book into short, digestible sections that are easy to pick up and read whenever you have a few moments. The Illustrations by Ann Sanderson are gorgeous ...
Click here to learn more about this inspiring AND practical book.
Looking Ahead!

  • Look for our Summer edition of “Bird Beat” in June for information on how you can support bird families with valuable adjustments to your property.
  • Be sure to check our website for more resources:
  • Encourage others to sign-up to receive “Bird Beat,” our eNewsletter.

Do you live in the Lehigh Valley? Click here to find out about the Lehigh Valley Bird Town Coalition's rewarding activities!
EDITOR'S NOTE: We welcome suggestions and content for the Bird Town Bird Beat. Submissions can be sent to for consideration. Note that submissions will be accorded full consideration but do not ensure inclusion in the newsletter.

President: Heidi Shiver
Vice President: Phil Witmer
Secretary: Janet Krevenas
Treasurer: Tom Price
Board Member: Steve Saffier
Board Member: Lauren Diamond
Liaison to PAAC: Leigh Altadonna

Bird Town's Bird Beat e-newsletter editorial team
Christine M. Du Bois, layout
Karen Campbell, blog publisher
Leigh Altadonna, editor emeritus and consultant
Christine M. Du Bois, editor
For image credits, click here

Kids' Corner Answer Key is below the puzzle itself.