Jim Morris
Jim Morris

Jim Morris has worked for newspapers, radio, television and various Websites for more than 47 years. He has been a writer, an editor, an editorial writer and a columnist. For 23 years, Morris worked for the Troy Daily News as sports editor, managing editor and executive editor. In 1994 he began working at the Dayton Daily News as an outdoor sports columnist and night sports desk editor. He retired from the DDN in January of 2010 and is now a freelance writer with his own Website for outdoors stories.


Feeding songbirds seems like a wonderful thing to do on winter days when birds are searching for food – or is it for my amusement (and something for the cats to watch)?

On days when I am writing my columns, about the closest I get to wildlife and the outdoors is the bird feeder that hangs outside of my office window.

I am going to tell you right off, I don’t know all that much about birds. I like birds. I have written columns that encourage the protection of birds, but sometimes I can’t tell one bird species from another.

I have plenty of little brown birds shoving each other out of the way to get to my feeder. My wife calls them “pigs” because she’s the one who often fills the feeders. She can fill the feeder on a Monday and then look out the window on Tuesday and it will be swinging in the breeze, empty as can be.

We do not have a plethora of large trees in our neighborhood, so the avian species are somewhat limited to one family of cardinals and a whole bunch of these little brown critters. OK, I do spot an occasional house finch (photo above) and rarely see a goldfinch.

I think it’s important to feed birds in winter, especially on very cold days and those days when snow covers most of the birds’ food sources. I doubt if any of these little “piggies” will starve to death if we didn’t put out feeders. They would just go to a neighbor’s feeder or work on some of the nearby croplands.

But on frigid days, it’s good to see a living creature putting food in its belly that will help warm its entire body.

And, of course, it’s enjoyable for me to watch the little guys chow down on the feeder just outside the window. (Our two indoor cats, Simon and Garfunkel, enjoy it too.)

Time to Take a Hike
One of the most interesting winter hikes to be offered in this area is scheduled for Saturday from 9-11 a.m. at the Little Miami River Gorge at John Bryan State Park. Guided groups will leave at 10 minute intervals and eventually cover six miles. Along the route, hikers will pass several historical sites and will experience living history encounters.

Start at John Bryan State Park, located on State Route 370, two miles east of Yellow Springs. Hot beans and cornbread will be available for a donation at the half-way point at Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve’s nature center. This event will take place regardless of the weather so warm clothing and sturdy shoes are recommended.

For more information, call the preserve manager at (937) 537-6173 or the park manager at (614) 949-7998.

For Kids: A Forestry and Wildlife Camp
High school students interested in nature are welcome to sign up for this year’s June 11-16 Forestry & Wildlife Conservation Camp at FFA Camp Muskingum on Leesville Lake in Carrolton, Ohio. It’s open to high school students who have completed the 8th grade through those graduating this year.

There is a $375 per camper charge. For information, visit ohioforest.org/?page=ForestryCamp. Possible scholarship information is included.

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