Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Simple Solutions for Saving Hundreds at the (Toilet) Tank

October is National Toilet Repair Month and is historically a time when many homeowners tackle repairs prior to holiday events and the arrival of houseguests.

(ARA) – Water conservation is becoming a household necessity due to more states declaring drought emergencies each year. Plus, not only does water conservation help the environment, but it also puts less strain on the pocketbook.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Palmer Drought Index shows from a recent governmental survey at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013, only five years away.

Homeowners can help reduce their water usage and shrink their water bill by looking at one of the biggest potential water wasters in the home -- their toilet. Repairing a leaky toilet can save up to 200 gallons of water a day or more than $365 a year on your water bill, depending on the varying cost of water in your area and the severity of the leak.

One way to identify a leaky toilet is to add a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If -- when the toilet is not running -- the coloring seeps into the toilet bowl, it signals a leak at the flapper. Another simple way to recognize toilet leaks is to install a Fluidmaster Leak Sentry Fill Valve or Leak Guard Fill Valve on your toilet. After detecting a leak, these valves “lock” the refilling of a tank without disabling the toilet. Homeowners are made aware of the leak because they have to push the lever twice to flush the toilet.

Other signs that a toilet is leaking include the sound of running water and the toilet turning on and off without being flushed. You may need to replace the flapper, the handle or adjust the water level in the tank to make sure water isn’t being wasted in your toilet.

Homeowners can also replace 3.5 or 5.0 gallons per flush toilets with low-flow or high-efficiency models, which use less water per flush, saving hundreds of gallons of water per week in a house.

For additional tips on toilet repairs, water conservation and information on products that save water, money and make an environmental difference, go to www.fluidmaster.com/waterconservation.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Glam, Gorgeous and Green Entertaining

(ARA) – So you’ve made the environmentally conscious choice to be green this year ... but with the holidays just around the corner, how will this decision impact your entertaining?

Maintaining discipline can be difficult during the ”season of indulgence.” Just as many diets might go out the window; so may your environmental self-discipline. However, maintaining a green focus during the holidays doesn’t have to mean bland food and brown, recycled napkins. Organic food can be delicious -- special enough to serve at parties -- and sustainable table linens can be glamorous. Green choices can actually enhance your guests’ experience in your home; rather than inhibit it.

“Green products are far from plain and unattractive. The ‘green movement’ has been embraced by the architecture and design community -- so there is an abundance of smartly styled, design-forward items that are also eco-friendly,” says Judy Riley, vice president of design at Moen Incorporated.

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you plan this year’s holiday party, starting with the two rooms your guests are sure to see -- the kitchen and the powder room. Some changes are quick and simple; while others have a longer-term impact that you can enjoy long after your guests are gone.

A Gorgeous, Green Kitchen
It’s a fact -- whether you’re entertaining two guests or 20 -- the one spot they’ll most likely congregate is the kitchen. And fortunately, making a green impact in this room is easy.

If you need to purchase a new table and chairs to accommodate a large dinner party, look for second-hand tables and refurbished chairs with character. And if you’re looking for a “green” kitchen remodel, Riley suggests:

* Installing cabinetry or built-ins made with certifiable, eco-friendly wood (meaning they were not made from rain forest materials or endangered woods).

* Using Zodiaq quartz counters, which are more eco-friendly than granite and are available in a palette of beautiful colors.

* Installing bamboo wood flooring, which provides the natural beauty of wood while also being environmentally friendly.

* If you’re setting up the bar for guests, a Moen AquaSuite filtering faucet in the kitchen will provide filtered water at your sink -- virtually eliminating the need for bottled water.

The Perfect Powder Room
After the kitchen, the next most-visited room at your dinner party is the powder room, or guest half-bath. To add a green flair here, Riley recommends:

* Enhancing the mood of your soiree with candles -- not only do they soften the lighting and add a festive flair; but they also are electricity-free.

* Incorporating ceramic tile in floors, countertops and walls. Some ceramic tiles are made from recycled products, such as discarded bottle glass.

* Installing electronic faucets or faucets certified to meet WaterSense criteria to conserve water. The hands-free Destiny electronic powder room faucet from ShowHouse by Moen features a sleek, minimalist design and a distinctly-styled spout that produces a sheeting water flow -- providing water only when it is needed.

Another earth-friendly option, Moen’s new Rothbury bath faucet, allows water to flow at an optimized 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm), versus traditional aerators that flow at 2.2 gpm. This faucet, certified to meet WaterSense criteria, not only reduces water usage by up to 32 percent, but it also is extremely stylish and available in a number of on-trend finishes.

Earth-Friendly Entertaining
Once your decorating is complete, it’s time to add a few, final green touches to your event:
* Invite an acoustic guitarist to play at the party -- not only will it give your event a more intimate feel, it will also conserve energy.

* Buy beverages in aluminum cans and glass bottles that can be recycled; and create a ”festive” reminder for guests to dispose of these items in a recycling bin.

Finally, remember that every little bit counts -- and by showing your guests a glamorous -- and green -- experience, you can empower them to follow in your eco-conscious footsteps.

For more information on Moen’s eco-friendly faucets or to request a Moen sustainability brochure, visit www.moen.com or call (800) BUY-MOEN (800-289-6636).

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Trees Fall Victim to Georgia's Drought

An increasing number of trees are falling victim to Georgia’s ongoing drought, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission. “The lack of rainfall is impacting shade trees and has also caused a decrease in timber production for the past growing season,” said James Johnson, GFC Staff Forester. “Both pine trees and hardwoods are dying, but species within the red oak group in urban areas are prompting the most attention. Homeowners should be taking preventive measures now,” he said, “because by the time obvious symptoms appear, it may be too late.”

Johnson said large trees require several hundred gallons of water each day to stay healthy, but any supplemental water applied will be beneficial. Trees should be watered thoroughly underneath their “drip line,” the area beneath the canopy where rainfall drips to the ground from the tree’s foliage and where “feeder roots” transport moisture to the trunk.

“Certain types of “gray water” can be used to sustain your trees,” explained Johnson. “Water from dish or clothes washing can be used without fear because they are diluted solutions that won’t harm the tree.”

Johnson said drought-stressed trees should not be fertilized because that can spur branch growth and put further strain on the tree’s limited water supply. One thorough watering each week is more effective than several light waterings, according to Johnson. “Trees suffering from the drought are also more susceptible to diseases and insects,” Johnson said, “so check them regularly to prevent damage.” Johnson recommended mulching to help hold moisture in the soil, which is especially beneficial for shallow-rooted species such as dogwood. As cooler weather approaches, trees will require less moisture and supplemental water isn’t necessary, according to Johnson.

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Fall Bird Walk at Sams Lake, Fayette’s Newest Preserve

Join fellow nature lovers on a fun and informative Bird Walk on Saturday, October 4th, 2008 at 9 am. Expert bird caller David Cree will lead the guided walk at the Sams Lake Bird Sanctuary, Fayette’s newest preserve just opened to the public by Southern Conservation Trust.

Sams Lake, donated to the Trust by the Sams family, is the site of a wetland restoration project recently completed by the City of Atlanta. Already the shallow ponds draw many native and migrating bird species, including green and blue heron, egrets, and hawks. You may also see wild turkey, deer and beaver.

Southern Conservation Trust is a local conservation organization that owns, manages and protects over 1300 acres of environmentally sensitive land in the Southern Crescent. As a community land trust the Trust also works with willing property owners to protect their land with a conservation easement that may provide significant tax benefits.

Saturday’s participants should bring binoculars and meet at the Sams Lake Preserve parking lot on Old Senoia Rd south of Fayetteville, between Harp and Hawn Roads, at 9 am. For more information about community conservation and Southern Conservation Trust, call 770-486-7774, email info@sctlandtrust.org or visit the website www.sctlandtrust.org.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Little Spider, Big Spider

Earlier today I caught some movement outside the window beside my computer. At first I thought it was just a spider moving across the outside pane. I glanced at it, made sure it wasn't inside with me, then went back to work.

A bit later I caught some motion again and took a closer look expecting to find this huge monster of a spider weaving a web.

It wasn't weaving a web, it was caught in a web. I watched for a minute or two then went back to work.

After a bit I stopped again as I caught some new movement out the corner of my eye. It was the tiny owner of the web coming to investigate what it had caught for dinner.
This tiny little light brown spider would get close to the bigger black spider (ugly thing) only to be deflected by one of its long legs. I watched for maybe fifteen minutes as the little one tried to come at the big one in various ways.
Finally I went back to work. Finally I noticed that the little one gave up. It must have been pretty hungry to try for so long! However, common spider sense must have gotten past the hunger pangs and it decided to leave the big guy alone.

Off and on I've watched as the big dude has thrashed about in the web trying to work itself loose. I debated on whether to go outside and help it out, but finally decided to let nature run its course and not meddle.

It's fighting hard for life. It has managed to do quite a bit of moving but it's not going anywhere. I don't know how long it will take for death to catch up, I imagine it will tire and stop its fight at some point, then the little one will move in for the big feast.

I suppose given the proximity of some bird feeders that one of my many birds could swoop in and steal my little spider's dinner.

It's going to be interesting to see the end of this saga. I can't help but feel for the big ugly black spider.

Whoops, I just looked up as it has managed to get partially free! Wouldn't that be a kicker if it somehow defied the odds and figured out a way to get loose from the web? I don't see it happening though as it's free swinging in the middle of the web and every step it takes will lead to another sticky string.

I'll keep you posted!

Tips for Dealing with the Wild Side of Fayette County This Fall

NF Note: Some tips from the HSUS as the wildlife in Fayette County becomes more visible this fall.

Autumn is here which means a wild feeding frenzy for wildlife in preparation for their long winter ahead. Deer, turkeys, squirrels, mice and raccoons are among the animals busy feasting on fallen acorns.

Laura Simon, field director of urban wildlife for The Humane Society of the United States explains, "These animals need to fatten up for winter, whether they are true hibernators like woodchucks or whether they merely hunker down and remain inactive during cold spells like raccoons. If wild animals do not go into winter in good condition, their chance of surviving times of minimal food and extreme cold lessen significantly. And, acorns are the hottest item in town! Even deer are leaving shrubs alone this time of year if they can get their acorn fix."

While this frenzy can sometimes mean frustration for homeowners, The HSUS has some tips for co-existing with the four most common human "side effects" of the season:

Problem 1: Holes in house siding

Woodpeckers drill mightily on house siding, looking for rotted wood and insects beneath. On cedar, this loud sound -- and resulting damage -- can be alarming.

Solution: Mylar

Attach silvery Mylar bird tape or balloons above where the drilling occurs, to scare the birds away.

Problem 2: Holes in the lawn

Squirrels are burying acorns and other nuts in the lawn.

Solution: Do nothing

Do nothing! These holes are merely cosmetic and do not hurt the lawn.

Problem 3: Garbage raids

Mammals like raccoons may tip garbage cans and skunks, opossums, crows and gulls may join in the feast.

Solution: Put garbage cans out in the morning of trash collection rather than leaving them out all night for nocturnal opportunists to tip. Use cans with secure lids to keep birds out or purchase an Animal Stopper™ garbage can which keeps the trash secure by holding the lid in place.

Problem 4: Porch visitors

People who feed pets outdoors are shocked by the appearance of opossums, skunks and others waiting for the free buffet.

Solution: Limit food

Feed your pets indoors only, or pick up and remove any uneaten food after 20 minutes of offering it outside.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Georgia Aquarium Welcomes Manta Ray

(oops, this should have gone in our All About Animals blog, not this one, but what could be more natural than fish? ;-)

The Georgia Aquarium announced late last month the addition of a manta ray to the 6.3 million gallon Ocean Voyager gallery, built by The Home Depot. The addition of the female manta ray, Nandi, makes Georgia Aquarium the only aquarium in the United States to ever house a manta ray and one of only four aquariums in the world to display this species. Nandi will join four whale sharks and thousands of other animals in the world’s largest aquarium exhibit.

“As the Georgia Aquarium grows as a tourist destination, our opportunity to promote conservation and education grows,” said Mike Leven, chief executive officer of the Georgia Aquarium. “The addition of Nandi, who inspired hundreds of thousands of people in South Africa, gives us the opportunity to elevate her as an ambassador for her species. Millions of people who may have never had the chance to see a manta ray will now have that chance at the Georgia Aquarium.”

Nandi, who measures more than nine feet across and weighs approximately 456 lbs, flew 9,000 miles on a chartered 747-200 aircraft from Durban, South Africa through Cape Verde, Africa, to Atlanta. The manta ray was under the care and supervision of Georgia Aquarium and uShaka Marine World professional staff and maintained by a highly advanced marine life support system.

“The Georgia Aquarium’s success in moving whale sharks across the world gave us confidence that this was the right thing to do,” said Dr. Mark Penning, executive director of uShaka Marine World. “We see this as a perfect opportunity to create an international partnership and continue Nandi’s incredible story, raising worldwide awareness about manta rays.”

Nandi was rescued from shark nets off the coast of Durban, South Africa, in April 2007 and rehabilitated by uShaka Marine World, the largest marine park in Africa. She has lived in uShaka for the past year, educating and inspiring conservation in more than 500,000 people.

Manta rays are the largest rays in the sea, but Nandi was young when she was rescued, measuring just more than eight feet across and weighing around 245 lbs. She had since outgrown her 580,000 gallon exhibit. In order to raise worldwide awareness about manta rays, Georgia Aquarium and uShaka created an international partnership to bring Nandi from South Africa to Georgia Aquarium.

“No one has ever done this before,” said Leven. “Flying the world’s largest ray, a manta ray, from one side of the world to the other and housing it in a U.S. aquarium for the first time is incredible. Having the opportunity to work with this animal and grow our understanding of this strange yet gentle giant will be an opportunity of a lifetime.”
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Green Roofs" Help Students Make The Grade

NF Note: Everyday we stumble across articles which have some thought provoking ideas for helping our environment. We wonder if this idea would work in Fayette County.

(NAPSI)-From starting school wide recycling plans to cleaning up area parks, today's students get high marks when it comes to helping the environment. Now a new program may help their grades go through the roof.

The initiative teaches students in grades 6 to 8 about green roofs--a roof that replaces traditional roofing with a living environment of plants and soil.

Among the benefits they offer, green roofs remove pollutants from storm water and reduce the amount of water that flows into sewer systems. The plants also store excess carbon from the atmosphere, lower radiant heat in the summer and create habitats for local wildlife. Additionally, green roofs provide extra insulation to buildings and last two or three times longer than traditional roofs.

The program, called The Roof Is Growing!, is run by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). It provides a lesson plan, workbook and an online interactive program designed to engage students on how green roofs cool cities, clean the air, create habitats and control storm water.

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the initiative is meant to inspire young students to think creatively and use their imaginations as future landscape architects or on any path they choose.

Of course, there are ways by which parents can get kids thinking green at home, too. Try these tips:

Make It Fun

Let your child decorate the recycling bins you have at home as you explain to her what items can and can't be recycled. You might even arrange for you and your child to tour the area recycling facility.

Take A Walk

Take your child for a walk in the woods to help him gain a greater appreciation of nature. If he has a favorite animal or habitat (deserts, jungles, etc.), encourage him to learn more at the library, at school and online.

Lead By Example

Be sure to recycle and take steps to protect the environment on your own. Setting a good example at home can help build Earth-friendly habits in kids that last a lifetime.

For more information, visit www.asla.org/greenroof.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Plan A Garden Makeover For Seasonal Savings

(NAPSI)-Designing your garden to conserve water can help weed out one cause of high utility bills.

Advance planning can save homeowners hundreds and even thousands of gallons of water during the growing season. Here are a few tips for a water-saving garden makeover from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

• Start early. Plan ahead so that all new plantings take place in the spring. Plants require much less water to get situated when they are planted during the cooler months.

• Go native. When deciding what to install in your yard, consider native and drought-resistant plants. They typically require less maintenance and little watering once established (sometimes none at all).

• Must mulch. Use compost when planting and cover the area with mulch afterwards. Compost helps keep the water by the plant's roots and mulch prevents evaporation. Make sure to leave some space around the base of each plant and resist creating mulch mounds around plants and trees.

• Less lawn. The average American uses 200 gallons per day watering the lawn. Consider replacing some of that grass with an attractive ground cover that is drought resistant, covers a large area and requires no mowing.

• Supersoak. Up to a third of all water from sprinklers can evaporate during the heat of the day. Instead, give your plants fewer, heavy soakings. If you use sprinklers, only use them in the morning.

• Gray is good. Recapturing gray water or rainwater can provide a free source of garden irrigation. These systems can be easily installed and even incorporated into irrigation systems.

• Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip irrigation systems water plants right at the root and serve as an efficient alternative to sprinkler systems. For maximum effectiveness, be sure to get a timer.

To learn more about reducing utility bills through landscape design or to find a landscape architect, visit www.asla.org.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Georgia Tech and Green: Game Day Recycling Effort

NF Note: Here is another great idea from Georgia Tech. Kudos to the students who are involved with this recycling project. I wonder if any of the schools in Fayette County or any of the student organizations at our middle and high schools are going to start this type of program?

Georgia Tech students are showing their game day spirit this fall by doing more than showing up to cheer on the Yellow Jackets.

“Football games bring thousands of people to campus to tailgate and watch the game, and in the past we just threw away tons of bottles, cans and cups every game,” said Student Government President Nick Wellkamp. “With Game Day Recycling, we give every tailgate party a recycling bag and ask them to recycle their glass, plastic and aluminum. This year, there are also recycling bins in the stadium and the private boxes, so that fans are encouraged to recycle during the entire length of the game day experience.”

The Game Day Recycling program is single-stream recycling, meaning that fans can just throw all of their recyclables into one bin or bag, rather than separating items out manually.

According to Wellkamp, this makes it much easier to recycle, and organizers have found almost all fans and tailgaters willing to participate.

Different student organizations will be volunteering to distribute bags for each game. For the first game, SGA volunteered to distribute bags, and IFC gave bags to all of the fraternity houses. The result was more than 1 ton of recyclable materials collected.

Wellkamp believes Game Day Recycling is an important initiative and students are getting involved because they care about the Georgia Tech community.

“The program extends Georgia Tech’s green efforts to all aspects of the community, including alumni and fans,” said Wellkamp. “Football games are large special events that have a huge environmental impact, and recycling all of our glass, plastic and aluminum can save tons of this material from going into landfills. Students are passionate about sustainability and proud that
Georgia Tech is becoming a leader in the field of sustainability.”

According to organizers, the biggest challenge is educating people so that they do not accidentally use the recycling bags as trash bags. Their concern is that they don’t want to get contaminated materials.

Wellkamp believes the program will be a success if Tech can get sustained student involvement and get fans and tailgaters to use the recycling containers properly.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Join the City of Atlanta in Partnership with Keep Atlanta Beautiful and Atlanta Public Schools in the Cans for Cash: City Recycling Challenge!

Note: This is Atlanta (obviously) but it's another one of those fun things that would be great to have happen in the various cities in Fayette County. We're just tossing it in here hoping someone might be interested in the idea and get a local group involved. We're "assuming" there's probably a similar effort for smaller cities.

The City of Atlanta in partnership with Keep Atlanta Beautiful and Atlanta Public Schools has entered the Cans for Cash: City Recycling Challenge, encouraging residents and public and private facilities to participate in the challenge by collecting aluminum cans during the month of October.

The Cans for Cash: City Recycling Challenge is a national contest that encourages like-sized cities to compete against each other in aluminum can collection for monetary awards. It is sponsored by the United States Conference of Mayors, Novelis Corporation, and Keep America Beautiful, Inc. The Challenge will award $5,000 awards to participating municipalities and four $2,500 awards (totaling $70,000) to Keep America Beautiful affiliates for furthering recycling efforts.

Winners will be announced January 2009, and awards will be presented at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter 2009 meeting. To sign up log on to one of the following websites: www.cansforcash.us.com; www.usmayors.org/mwma; or call 8-202-861-6760. Enrollment Deadline: September 30, 2008
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FDA Issues Draft Guidance on Regulating Genetically Engineered Animals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, today released for public comment draft guidance on the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) animals. The guidance document is intended to clarify the FDA's regulatory authority in this field, as well as the requirements and recommendations for producers of GE animals and products derived from GE animals.

The comment period for the draft guidance, titled "The Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals Containing Heritable rDNA Constructs," runs for 60 days and closes Nov. 18, 2008. The 25-page document is available online at http://www.fda.gov/cvm/GEAnimals.htm.

"Genetically engineered animals hold great promise for improving human medicine, agriculture, the environment, and the production of new materials, and the FDA has long been involved in their scientific evaluation," said Randall Lutter, Ph.D., deputy commissioner for policy. "Our guidance provides a framework for both GE animals and products made from them to reach the market."

Genetic engineering generally refers to the use of recombinant DNA (rDNA) techniques to introduce new characteristics or traits into an organism. When scientists splice together pieces of DNA and introduce a spliced DNA segment into an organism to give the organism new properties, it's called rDNA technology. The spliced piece of DNA is called the rDNA construct. A GE animal is one that contains an rDNA construct intended to give the animal new characteristics or traits.

GE animals can be divided into several classes, based on their intended use. They include animals that produce human or animal pharmaceuticals (biopharm animals); animals that serve as models for human diseases; animals that produce high-value industrial or consumer products, such as fibers; and food-use animals with new traits such as improved nutrition, faster growth or lower emission levels of environmentally harmful substances (such as phosphate in their manure).

Genetic engineering already is widely used in agriculture to make crops resistant to pests or herbicides. In medicine, genetic engineering is used to develop microbes that produce drugs and other therapeutic products for use in humans. In food, genetic engineering is used to produce microorganisms that aid in baking, brewing, and cheese-making.

Using the animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has been working with developers of GE animals to make them aware of their responsibilities to ensure that food from these animals does not enter the U.S. food supply unless the FDA has authorized such use.

The FD&C Act classifies "articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals" as drugs. An rDNA construct that is in a GE animal and intended to affect the animal's structure or function meets the definition of a new animal drug, whether the animal is intended for food, or used to produce another substance. Developers of these animals must demonstrate that the construct and/or any new products expressed from the inserted construct are safe for the health of the GE animal.

Under the draft guidance, in those cases in which the GE animal is intended for food use, producers will have to demonstrate that food from the GE animal is safe to eat. The FDA will review this information as part of its food safety assessment, consistent with that recommended in the recently adopted Codex Alimentarius Guideline for the Conduct of Food Safety Assessment of Foods Derived from Recombinant-DNA Animals. Codex is a worldwide food safety organization sponsored by the United Nations.

The draft guidance also describes a sponsor's responsibility in meeting the requirements for environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Depending on the species of animal and its intended use, the FDA will coordinate with agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and with other federal departments and agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, in regulating GE animals. The draft guidance indicates the areas in which the FDA will be working with those agencies to develop a coherent policy under the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology. USDA has published in the same issue of the Federal Register a "Request for Information" that seeks input on what types of actions and approaches it should consider under the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA) that would complement FDA's guidance. The AHPA gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to take specific actions to prevent the spread of diseases and pests of livestock.

"This is a cutting-edge technology that has significant implications, including real benefits, not just for human health, but also for animal health, such as developing disease-resistant animals," said CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D. "We look forward to the public comments to help refine our thinking and approach."

The draft guidance describes how the FDA may exercise enforcement discretion, that is, not require premarket approval, for some GE animals depending on potential risk, as we did after reviewing information about Zebra danio, aquarium fish genetically engineered to glow in the dark. For example, the draft guidance states the FDA's intent to exercise enforcement discretion for laboratory animals used for research and kept in confined conditions. The agency does not expect to exercise enforcement discretion for animal species traditionally consumed as food and expects to require approval of all GE animals intended to go into the human food supply.

The draft guidance describes how the FDA regulates heritable rDNA constructs, that is, constructs inherited from one generation to the next. Non-heritable constructs, such as those used for gene therapy to treat individual animals, may be the subject of a subsequent guidance.

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As Summer Winds Down, Yellowjacket Season Ramps Up

BUSINESS WIRE --Although early fall is typically marked by the return of packed schedules and back-to-school activities, it is also marked by the annual, though far less popular, return of yellowjackets. During this season, yellowjacket colonies are fully matured and begin to prepare their queens for starting new colonies during the winter months. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) warns that yellowjacket activity, especially during this time, will become increasingly aggressive and continue to pose a major health threat.

Yellowjacket colonies typically live in large nests underground or built in deep, hollow areas such as eaves and attics. Yellowjackets are a resilient pest and if a nest is removed improperly, it is likely that members of the colony will not only survive but quickly rebuild their nest. Further, these pests feed on sweets and proteins, which make them common invaders of outdoor activities where food and beverages are present.

“When a yellowjacket nest is disturbed or threatened, hundreds of yellowjackets will swarm to defend the nest,” said Greg Baumann, senior scientist for NPMA. “These types of attacks can pose a serious threat and, in fact, are responsible for a significant number of the 500,000 ER visits every year due to stinging insects. It is critical to not only prevent infestations but also to take the necessary action of calling a licensed pest professional if a nest should appear in or around your property.”

If you suspect a yellowjacket infestation in or near your home, the NPMA offers homeowners these tips:

* Do not attempt to remove the nest on your own or swing/swat at yellowjackets as this can cause an aggressive reaction and/or cause repeated stinging.
* Keep windows and doors properly screened.
* Promptly remove garbage and store it in sealed receptacles.
* If stung and you have a reaction, seek immediate medical attention as reactions can be severe.

For more information regarding yellowjackets or to find a local pest professional, please visit: www.pestworld.org.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Georgia Aquarium to Celebrate Sea Otter Awareness Week

Guests are invited to join the Georgia Aquarium in celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week Sept 21 – 27, 2008. The Aquarium, along with sea otters Oz and Gracie, will educate visitors regarding conservation efforts and facts about sea otters through exciting activities, interactive storytelling and educational information.

Throughout the week, Oz and Gracie will be profiled, highlighting their unique personalities and journey to the Aquarium. Guests will learn about the Aquarium’s rehabilitation efforts and 4R Program that is designed to positively impact the health and well-being of aquatic life from around the world. Additionally, biologists will be on-hand to conduct training and enrichment sessions with the sea others.

As a keystone species, sea otters play an integral role in the ecosystem and health of our oceans. They help maintain the balance among thousands of kelp forest inhabitants. Sea otters also act as an indicator species, meaning that their high rates of disease may be a warning for both marine ecosystems and human health. In order to help the plight of the sea otter, public awareness and education is imperative. Currently, they are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List and are protected by the Endangered Species Act and The Marine Mammal Protection Act. By becoming an advocate for sea otters and other aquatic life, individuals can make a difference by protecting and saving the marine environment that sea otters call home.
Daily activities for Sea Otter Awareness Week include:

· Arts & Crafts – Guests can create their own sea otter mask!
· Animal Interpreters – On-hand to educate guests about sea otters.
· Conservation Carts – Sea otter pelts and replica otter skulls will be available to touch and examine.
· Plus biologist sessions and enrichment activities with Oz and Gracie, storytelling, videos and more!

For additional information on Sea Otter Awareness Week please visit the Aquarium’s Web site at www.georgiaaquarium.org/visitUs/seaotterweek.aspx or call 404-581-4000.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

City of Atlanta to Participate in National Park(ing) Day

Note: We haven't received word that Fayette County was participating in this project, but it sounded kind of interesting. Not sure that putting a park in a parking place is going to gain any support in Atlanta given the fight for good spots in some places! Can you imagine what would happen if a large group of artists descended on City Hall in Peachtree City and turned all the spots into mini-parks? It made a few of us think back to the days of sit-ins... (yes, way back). Given the fact that this was sent out by the City of Atlanta, I'm sure they have their blessing, and I'm sure if someone out here decided to do the same they'd coordinate with the city or county government also. It would be fun to do something like this, wouldn't it? Maybe we'll pop the info in our Arts Across Georgia blog, too, just to see if some enterprising artist wants to take on the project. One more little note: Is anyone surprised the idea originated in California?

On National Park(ing) Day, Friday, September 19, 2008, volunteers in more than seventy cities across the U.S. will create more than four hundred temporary parks in public parking spaces. The goals of the event, according to organizers, are to celebrate parks and promote the need for parks in America’s cities.

National Park(ing) Day is sponsored by The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation nonprofit, based on an idea conceived by REBAR, a San Francisco art collective.

The City of Atlanta will host a Park(ing) Day park at City Hall, involving local artists, farmers and a demonstration solar panel.

“By turning parking spaces into instant parks, National Park(ing) Day creatively demonstrates how much our cities need parks,” said Will Rogers, TPL president. “Across America, cities are renewing their investments in parks, because civic leaders have come to recognize that close-to-home parks, gardens, and playgrounds are essential if we are to have cities that aren't just livable, but lovable.”

In 2007, National Park(ing) Day spawned more than 200 new parks in more than fifty cities nationwide and around the world.

National Park(ing) Day 2008 is a concept created by San Francisco art collective Rebar in 2005 to re-imagine the potential of the metered parking space. In 2006, in collaboration with TPL, REBAR founded “PARK(ing) Day”: a global exploration of the creative potential of streets.

Brief descriptions of all the parks planned for this year and photos from last year’s event can be found at www.tpl.org/parkingday.
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Be Aware: Mosquito Season Won’t End with Summer

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Just because summer is over, dont assume mosquito season is, too. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has warned that mosquitoes will be active through fall this year. Although mosquitoes are typically thought of as a summer pest, they will remain a problem at least until the temperature drops below 60 degrees, which most regions of the United States typically dont see until late fall or early winter.

More than a nuisance, mosquitoes also transmit disease including West Nile virus (WNV), which has resulted in more than 400 human cases and 5 fatalities this year alone. Halfway through the WNV season, these numbers are expected to rise.

NPMA urges public awareness and participation for effective mosquito control. Homeowners can play a crucial role in controlling mosquito infestations on their property by eliminating breeding grounds and conducive environments for mosquito activity, thereby reducing the risk of WNV and other mosquito-borne illnesses, said Greg Baumann, vice president of technical services and senior scientist for NPMA.

NPMA offers these steps for homeowners to take in order to control mosquitoes on their property:

  • Eliminate stagnant water that can collect on property, as it is a common breeding ground for mosquitoes. Pay particular attention to discarded tires, wheel barrows, pool covers, bird baths and flower pot basins that accumulate water. Turn over containers when not in use, and drill holes in the bottom of trash receptacles to allow for drainage.
  • Remove debris from gutters to prevent water collection.
  • Wear protective clothing and use insect repellent when outdoors.
  • If possible, stay indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are at peak activity.
  • If concerned about a mosquito infestation around your home, contact your local pest professional.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC) Expands Collection Program for the First Time in Seven Years

PRNewswire/ -- The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), a nonprofit, public service organization dedicated to recycling used rechargeable batteries, has expanded its rechargeable battery collection program for the first time in seven years to encompass a new chemistry, Nickel Zinc (Ni-Zn). Ni-Zn is now the fifth rechargeable chemistry recognized by RBRC, joining Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd), Nickel Metal-Hydride (Ni-MH), Lithium-ion (Li-ion) and Small Sealed Lead (Pb) rechargeable batteries.

Representing more than 350 manufacturers of rechargeable batteries, RBRC licensees comprise more than 90 percent of the rechargeable battery industry. PowerGenix, a manufacturer of non-toxic, safe, high performance rechargeable Ni-Zn batteries, has become the first manufacturer of Ni-Zn technology to become involved in RBRC's Call2Recycle program. The Ni-Zn rechargeable batteries will be branded with an RBRC Battery Recycling Seal, letting consumers and businesses know that they may be recycled at more than 50,000 RBRC collection sites in the U.S. and Canada.

"Since launching the program in 1996, we have collected more than 42 million pounds of rechargeable batteries through Call2Recycle," said Greg Broe, Interim Chief Operating Officer, RBRC. "Expanding the scope of the program to include the Ni-Zn battery chemistry is a logical response to advancements in the portable power industry and the proliferation of new battery chemistries in the marketplace."

"RBRC serves a valuable role, joining the world's major rechargeable battery manufacturers into a single body committed to act responsibly in support of proper resource utilization and environmental care," explained Dan Squiller, CEO of PowerGenix. "Licensing with RBRC is an important step in helping consumers identify local recycling opportunities available to them and positioning Nickel-Zinc to become a mainstream battery chemistry."

RBRC's Call2Recycle is the most comprehensive rechargeable battery and cell phone recycling program available nationwide. The program provides a convenient way to collect and recycle old cell phones and used rechargeable batteries found in cordless electronic products, such as laptop computers, cordless power tools, two-way radios, cordless phones, cell phones, digital cameras and camcorders. For more information and to find drop-off locations in your area, visit www.call2recycle.org or call toll free at 877-2-RECYCLE for local retailers and community centers that collect used rechargeable batteries.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's a September Morning, Peachtree City Style


One of our staff members caught these early September morning scenes in Peachtree City. Naturally, it's in Fayette County!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Fayette County Junior Master Gardener Open for Registration

Special to the Fayette Front Page

Have a child with a green thumb? Have a child who is interested in nature? Here's a wonderful program which is open to all children 3rd- 5th grades.


The Fayette County Junior Master Gardener team will meet in Fayetteville every two weeks on Thursdays starting November 2008 through April 2009 from 4-6 pm.

This group will be limited to 20 participants.

Applications will be accepted during the month of September. Registration forms and fee information are available at the Fayette County Extension Office 770-305-5412.

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Fall Home Decor Trends: One Part Nature with a Twist

(ARA) – As Mother Nature wows us with fantastic fall colors and scenery, the latest trends in fall decorating and entertaining bring the beauty of the great outdoors inside. Give your home some fall-time flare by adding nature-inspired decor with unexpected crafty details.

“This fall, decorating trends are inspired by nature, but the key is to use these elements in new and exciting ways. Interesting themes, new colors and surprising details are making fall 2008 distinctive,” says Susan Atchison, manager of trend development for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

Here are some decorating ideas and trends that you can try in your home:

1) Make pumpkins fun.
Pumpkins are the quintessential symbol of fall, but why not put a new twist on a classic? When ordinary pumpkins just won’t do, paint a collection of pumpkins and decorate them with scrollwork designs for instant I-did-it-myself appeal.

“Try painting artificial pumpkins, called Fun-Kins, a variety of colors. Rich blues and reds will provide a classic look. Then decorate with dimensional copper paint or iridescent brown paint,” says Atchison. “For a fun, brighter look, get inspiration from traditional prints by painting argyles, dots, checks, plaids and stripes in exciting color combinations for a fun mix-and-match pumpkin grouping that can be used year after year.”

2) Make it a crafty Halloween.
Halloween is a frightfully fun time, and with the holiday landing on a Friday this year, there’s bound to be a little extra celebration. Consider using inexpensive or leftover craft items to create frightfully fun Halloween decorations for little cost.

Atchison suggests making Jack-O-Lantern Illusions, which are made out of a quilt hoop that is painted orange with a fun jack-o’-lantern face hanging in the center with clear thread. They’re quick and easy and look fabulous hanging from the ceiling indoors or on trees outside.

3) A table aplenty.
Showcase the essence of fall’s natural beauty with a sparkling centerpiece everyone will adore. Fill jars and bowls with decorative fruits like apples and grapes, but add pizzazz with nontraditional fruits such as pomegranates or mangos.

“Put your own creative spin on the project by adding things you’ve purchased or found on a nature walk like pinecones, dried flowers or feathers,” says Atchison.

Add a special touch for your next dinner gathering by creating personalized handcrafted harvest place settings. Choose a decorative foam or plastic fruit and use copper paint to inscribe the guest’s name. Add a feather or other decorative detail and you have a tasteful place setting that turns into a fun take-home party favor once guests are ready to go.

4) Accents around the home.
Adding a touch of color throughout the home can transform it into an autumn environment in no time. Utilize colors to bring the feeling of the season into any room, from bathroom to kitchen to porch. Gorgeous golds and oranges, rich burgundies and browns, plus touches of teal and sage vividly reveal fall’s splendor.

Add a splash of color with a wine-toned table runner or visual appeal with a simple bunch of dried fall flowers filling the air with the pleasant aroma of the season.

“This fall, decor with a natural essence is popular, but be creative. Adding unique details to traditional items or utilizing colors in new and exciting ways can really make your house stand out,” concludes Atchison.

For more information and to get supplies for creating the perfect fall decor for your home visit www.Joann.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent



Craft Project Ideas

Craft 1) Scrollwork Fun-Kins
Skill level: No experience needed.
Approximate crafting time: 1 hour each plus drying time.

Supplies and tools:
* Fun-Kins Carvable Pumpkins, various sizes
* Acrylic paint in colors of choice
* Paintbrushes -- 1-inch and 1/2-inch flat
* Spray gloss varnish
* Dimensional paint, copper and iridescent brown
* Plate for paint

Directions:
1. Basecoat the entire pumpkin with acrylic paint. Let dry.
2. Shake the dimensional paint bottle to get a full load of paint at the nozzle. Beginning at the stem, create a swirl. Continue around the stem, varying the swirls, and building upon the original ones. Continue about a quarter to a third of the way down the pumpkin.
3. Add dots to the design, if desired.
4. Return to the stem and decorate it.
5. Set pumpkin aside to dry.

Tip:
Paint Fun-Kins Carvable Pumpkins in 2 stages -- first with stem up, second with stem down. When painting the bottom, stand it stem down in a container that supports it until it’s dry.

To get spray gloss varnish at the base, insert a disposable cup or other tall object inside the hole at the bottom to lift it from the surface. After spraying the surface that faces you, rotate pumpkin to get the other surfaces. Spray the stem from the top as well.

Craft 2) Jack-O’-Lantern Illusions
Skill level: No experience needed.
Approximate crafting time: 1 hour each plus drying time.

Supplies and tools:
* 14-inch, 16-inch and 18-inch quilting hoops
* Acrylic paint -- three different orange colors
* Foam brush
* Clear polyester thread
* Thin hand-sewing needle
* 9-by-12-inch craft foam, 3 sheets 3 mm thickness, black
* Tacky glue
* Scissors

Directions:
1. Paint inside and outside of all hoop sets and allow to dry thoroughly. Use a different color orange for each size. Two or three coats may be needed to achieve desired effect. Hang to dry.
2. Design jack-o’-lantern faces and cut out from black craft foam.
3. With clear polyester thread and needle, poke tiny hole through top of each face piece and tie to inner hoop to make face mobile.
4. Glue the outer hoop at right angles to inner hoop.
5. When dry, tie a piece of thread to hoop screw and hang.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Bicycle Miles Ridden at Repulican and Democrtic Conventions Tell The Tale

NF Note: We see people all over Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Tyrone on their bikes everyday. Wonder how many miles our citizens log in an eight day period? Let us know if you've got an estimate!

Miles ridden at both conventions? 41,724 miles in 8 days. Wow!
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Bike-sharing is the international social movement where bikes are positioned at designated stations throughout cities for individuals to use for short trips. It is a viable transportation alternative for those who prefer an environmentally friendly, cost-effective and healthy way to travel.

Humana pioneered the bike-sharing program in 2007 in its corporate hometown of Louisville, Ky. The initiative focuses on fun as well as health by encouraging people to get on a bike and ride with friends, just like when they were kids. Twenty-one percent of those riding at Humana were not previously involved in exercise activity.

BUSINESS WIRE --Delegates, visitors to Denver, Minneapolis and St. Paul, and residents of the host cities for this year’s national political conventions made it clear over the past two weeks that they enthusiastically endorse bicycle-sharing for the good of America’s health and environment.

“We’re thrilled with the energy we felt and the feedback we received from everyone who took a Freewheelin ride at the conventions,” said Jonathan Lord, M.D., Humana’s chief innovation officer. “From the young man who learned to ride a bicycle on his first Freewheelin ride to the gentleman who rode more than 100 miles in an effort to support hurricane victims, Freewheelin demonstrated the enormous potential of bike-sharing in the U.S.”

Before the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, with Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Gulf Coast, The Humana Foundation and Bikes Belong Foundation said they would jointly donate $10 for each mile pedaled at the RNC. The 15,141 miles ridden in Minneapolis and St. Paul translate into a donation to the American Red Cross hurricane-relief fund of $151,414.

Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, believes the success of Freewheelin at the conventions signals a turning point for bicycling and bike-sharing in the U.S.

“At each convention, elected officials from across the nation took rides, watched their friends and relatives have fun with Freewheelin, and witnessed the benefits of riding bikes for short trips,” Blumenthal said. “Now these same elected officials are returning home with new information and new enthusiasm about what bike-sharing could mean for their communities.

“When you consider that nearly half of all car trips in the U.S. are three miles or less, gas prices continue to hover at record levels, and Americans are getting more serious about protecting our environment, I’m hopeful we are seeing the beginning of a new golden era of bicycling transportation in our country.”

Dr. Lord, of Humana, added: “The obesity epidemic is causing a health crisis in our country. We eat too much and exercise too little. Promoting bicycling enables us to start down a new path in an effort to encourage Americans to take action if they want to live healthier lives.”

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

UGA Leads Effort to Swat Down Major Vegetable Disease

In the Southeast, thrips are tomato and pepper farmers’ No. 1 enemy. The tiny, plant-feeding bugs carry a disease that can devastate their crops. A $1.75 million grant will help experts with the University of Georgia and other universities in the region develop ways to stop the damage.

“The key pest for Georgia, north Florida and up through the Carolinas are no doubt thrips-vectored viruses,” said David Riley, a research entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It’s the one that will make or break the crop.”

Over the next four years, Riley will lead a multistate, interdisciplinary team of experts from CAES, the University of Florida, Clemson University and North Carolina State University. The goal is to drastically reduce the risk and damage of the tomato spotted wilt virus. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service will fund the effort.

Each university included in the grant has faculty working on ways to control TSWV and thrips in their state. This grant will provide the funding and direction needed to coordinate the efforts into strategies farmers can use throughout the region, said Terry Kelley, a vegetable horticulturist with UGA Cooperative Extension.

“Several individual variables that impact tomato spotted wilt virus on tomatoes and peppers have been identified in recent years. This grant will provide the means to look at combinations of these variables and determine the best overall system to use in combating it,” Kelley said. “Hopefully the result will be a strategy that growers can employ to reduce the impact of TSWV every season on their farms."

TSWV is mainly carried by tobacco thrips and Western flower thrips. The disease costs tomato and pepper farmers in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina as much as $100 million in preventive management and damage annually. The four states combined produce half of the nation’s fresh tomato and pepper supply, worth $1.3 billion annually. “This is the hot zone for tomato spotted wilt virus in the U.S.,” Riley said.

The virus can destroy 20 percent to 30 percent of a field in any year or all of a field in a bad year, said Bill Brim, a vegetable farmer in Tifton, Ga. The few TSWV-resistant varieties available to farmers now can succumb to the virus over time.

“This virus can devastate us.” said Brim, who is president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. “We’re excited about this grant. The research and work that will come from it will help us stay ahead of the game on this in the future.”

Riley hopes to develop a risk index, or a planning tool, that farmers can use to score their crop’s chances of getting the disease. By combining resistant plants, different types of plastics to cover planting beds, thrips population predictions, chemicals and chemical application times, farmers can reduce the damage the disease causes.

In the mid-1990s, CAES experts developed a similar index for the disease in peanuts. It helped farmers drastically reduce the damage it causes that crop annually.

“We won’t eliminate the virus. It will always be around,” Riley said. “But I am confident in time we will be able to eliminate the damage it causes.”

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

For the Birds: Feed ‘em in Fall to Welcome Them Back in Winter

(ARA) - Humans aren’t the only ones who look forward to the autumn harvest. Fall brings a bounty of natural foods for our feathered friends, too. But while they’re feasting on fall’s cornucopia of delicacies, birds are also planning ahead, taking note of yards with bird feeders that can help them weather winter’s cold.

Many of birds’ favorite foods are actually more abundant in the fall. Summer weeds ripen with seeds by October. Many berries only begin to emerge in late summer or early winter, and insects are plentiful. You may think there’s no need to feed your feathered friends during the fall, but if you want them to find your home in the winter, start feeding them in autumn.

The birds who visit feeders in the fall are scouting, becoming familiar with feed stations and making decisions about which back yards they’ll visit this winter. The feed you put out in the fall will let birds know they’ll be welcomed and fed in your back yard when serious cold weather arrives – and they no longer have the luxury of exploring for food.

Winter weather is hard on birds. Their calorie requirements increase, food becomes hard to find, snow covers up seeds, and ice storms seal away the tree buds and wild fruits. Tiny birds must eat a third to three quarters of their weight each day. When the temperature dips below zero, easy meals at a feeder can mean the difference between life and death.

An important rule of fall and winter feeding is to be prepared. By stocking up now on premium bird seed, bird lovers can help secure a wholesome food source for birds without having to brave stormy weather.

It’s important to stock your feeder with high-quality foods that will provide birds with the most fat, nutrients and energy. Look for a feed like Cole's that packs nutrition, preserves freshness and gives you the most feed for your dollar. Cole's Oil Sunflower is more than 99 percent pure and cleaned four times to ensure there are more seeds and fewer sticks in each bag. The feed is also nitrogen-purge packaged, just like potato chips, to ensure freshness and insect-free feed.

In addition to seed, serve up some suet either by itself or mixed with seed. Cole's Nutberry Suet is a seed blend mix of premium fruits, preferred nuts, nutritious insect suet kibbles, and whole kernel sunflower meats, which appeals to fruit and insect-loving songbirds. Or try Suet Pearls, which features sunflower seeds buried inside energy-rich suet. Suet Nuts is a nourishing blend of peanuts and berry suet that birds find delectable. These feed choices will provide fat and a high protein energy source to assist wild birds in weathering winter and may actually boost their chance of survival.

Just as birds need food year-round, they also look for water. This can be tricky in regions where water spends the winter as ice, but bird lovers can still help in a number of ways. Experts suggest leaving icicles on the eaves to provide a regular source of water for birds that will drink the drops as the icicles melt. Birds are drawn to running water sounds so spritzers or small fountains are also good. In the winter there are many quality bird bath heaters available to keep the water from freezing and they are more convenient than setting out water every day.

Don't worry about the birds if you have to be gone from your home for a while in winter. Birds are used to having a food source disappear. It might take them a while to rediscover your yard when you return, but they'll be back, grateful for your assistance.

For more ideas on how to help birds eat well through winter, and feed choices visit www.coleswildbird.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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