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A bird bottle brush like this can be bought for a couple bucks at a pet store or big box store. If you lengthen the handle with stiff wire it can be used to clean the inside of a finch feeder, reaching the bottom. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Amateur's Guide: Tales of an albino deer are ex-sighting

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With the frequent moisture we've been having this summer, it's easy to build up mold in your bird feeders, which can be toxic to our feathered friends.

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So a good rainy day chore is to bring them indoors, dump the seed and scrub them all down.

Real birders have a recipe for a water to Clorox mixture but since we're amateurs and we ignore them even for cooking, here's a common sense approach.

Put a small glug of Clorox in a sink full of water.

If it smells like a swimming pool, add a bit more water.

Generally you can't soak off the mold unless you're patient. But you can scrub it off.

Years ago I bought a handy dandy brush at an auto parts story. I was told it's a carburetor brush but another mechanic may set me straight. It's a long narrow cone brush with a wooden handle that fits especially well in finch feeders and goes around those pesky perches that won't come out.

You can also pick up a domestic bird brush at a pet store or big box store. They're for cleaning out bird water bottles. You can lengthen the brush by twisting a stiff piece of wire around the end so you can poke it all the way to the bottom of the feeder.

A stiff bristled toothbrush can be used the same way, but you need more wire, possibly coat hanger strength, to leverage the brush around the tube and down to the bottom.

If you soak your house-style feeders in a Clorox mixture, as with the tube feeders, rinse the dickens out of them when you're done and let them sit in the sun for a day before refilling them.

On those houses I use a vegetable brush with a handle to scrub off the crud.

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Probably the most exciting sighting we had came from Andrew Carmichael, who spotted an albino deer off Highway 34 west of the Dorset corner a couple days ago running into the woods.

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We've had ospreys circling overhead lately and I keep wondering what they're after. The eagle chicks across the bay have hatched and appear to be moving their home further back into the woods for next year.

The ospreys occasionally case that nest, but the eagle chicks are much too big to pick on.

But it mystifies me why the ospreys, who are on the other side of the bay, have concentrated on our neck of the woods. They can snag fish anywhere on the lake, and probably mice aplenty from any square inch of the forest.

But something is luring them to our sky. Readers may have some ideas.

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Itasca has all sorts of neat things for kids Wednesday, Aug. 18. Circle Time Under the Pines at 10:30 features pine needles. The junior naturalist program at 2 p.m. will transform kids into detectives looking for animal clues.

Wednesday night huddle up in lawn chairs to listen to north woods tales. Find out how the sun and Big Dipper were formed.

Send your animal sightings and nature photos to sarahs@parkrapidsenterprise.com.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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