Friday, July 31, 2009
"When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us." ~ Arapahoe Proverb
Every Friday we show customer photographs on our blog. Send a .jpg to firstname.lastname@example.org to submit your photo.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Moving water also attracts more birds because the rippling motion catches their eye and they can hear the tiny splashes.
It operates silently on two D-cell batteries for up to two months of continual use. Just place in bird bath and go; no wiring and no plumbing. You can use it with our Wild Birds Unlimited heated bird bath in winter, too.
Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing sell the Aurora Water Wiggler which will light up at dusk and slowly shift through the color spectrum. A sensor on the underside turns the unit on at dusk. The lights will shut off after three hours and come back on the following evening.
I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.
And for all those do it yourselfers click HERE for plans to make your own water wiggler out of some common household items.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I came inside and picked up the book we sell at Wild Birds Unlimited called Spiders of the North Woods. I was surprised to find what I was looking for on page one. The caption below the photo of the bug was “not a spider: harvestman; also know as daddy longlegs.”
Harvestmen are not spiders even though they are eight-legged invertebrate animals and belong to the class of arachnids. The difference between harvestmen and spiders is the harvestmen have two main body sections and are of the order Opiliones rather than the order Araneae. They also have no venom or silk glands. There are over 6,400 known species of harvestmen worldwide.
Many species are omnivorous, eating primarily small insects, plant material, and fungi. Late summer and fall is when harvestmen are most commonly seen, which is most likely how their name was derived.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Have you heard about the sparrow spooker? I've had a lot of positive feedback from customers telling me it kept the determined sparrows away from their bluebird, chickadee, and wren houses.
Basically once the birds are committed to a nesting site you hang shiny flutter ribbon above the birdhouse (you can find this "scare tape" at our stores). Studies have shown that certain bird species, including house sparrows, will not fly under the ribbon. Our sister Wild Birds Unlimited store in Middle Tennessee talked about their experience with a sparrow spooker. Click HERE to read their beautiful blog.
Or for more detailed plans to make your own sparrow spooker, click HERE to visit the very informative Sialis.org website.
Sialis- http://www.sialis.org/sparrowspooker.htm May all your blues be birds!
Our Wild Birds- http://ourwildbirds.blogspot.com/2009/06/sparrow-spooker.html
806 Meadow Lark Lane
Goodlettsville, TN 37072 Phone: (615) 859-7597
Monday, July 27, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Not at all, it sounds like you had a very successful nesting season. Tree Swallows are typically single-brooded, although they may attempt a second nest if the first fails. After nesting they gather in wetlands where they build their reserves by feeding on insects to prepare for their journey south. Most leave Michigan by mid-August. They migrate in loose flocks by day and gather in large groups to roost at night. With the first signs of autumn, they migrate until they reach their wintering grounds which stretch from North Carolina, the Gulf Coast, and Southern California to Cuba and Guatemala.
Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Swallows (Hirundinidae)
Description: Tree swallows have iridescent greenish-blue on their head, shoulders and back, and a white underside. They have a short black beak and dark brown feet. Young tree swallows look similar to adults, but they are brownish above instead of greenish blue.
General: Tree Swallows arrive in mid-Michigan in March. They prefer open areas in the sun, pastures, fields and golf courses and nest in natural tree cavities, or man-made nest boxes, including those built for bluebirds. The bluebird and swallow are both native species and both desirable birds to have in your yard. One proven technique that allows both songbirds to nest together successfully is to set up pairs of boxes, no more than 10-20 feet apart. Since Tree Swallows will not allow another pair of swallows to nest within 20', the second box is free for bluebird use and the two species can co-exist, after some initial squabbling to sort out who gets which box.
Behavior: Tree swallows do not spend much time on the ground. They can often be seen perching in long rows on wires. They also spend much of their time in flight.To bathe, swallows swoop down over a body of water and lightly brush the water. To eat swallows catch mostly winged insects while in flight, but can forage on the ground for insects, spiders, seeds, and berries. A group of tree swallows are known collectively as a "stand" of swallows.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
There are Labradoodles and cockapoos. Why aren't there any Rob-a-dees or Stardinals? I mean how do they recognize one another so they can mate?
William Turner ~ The Rescuing of Romish Fox (1545)
You have a very interesting question. All animals with feathers are in the Class called birds or Aves and all the warm-blooded vertebrate animals with hair and females that produce milk are in the Class called Mammalia. Other Classes include Amphibians, Reptiles, and Pisces. Each animal within their class is then further defined by Orders, Families, Genera, and Species.
All dog breeds belong to the species Canis lupus familiaris. The dog is descended from the wolf and the evolution of such widely differing breeds has been heavily influenced by conscious human selection, in addition to natural evolution. On the other hand there are about 10,000 species of birds. So the difference between the American Robin and the Black-capped Chick-a-dee is similar to that between sharks and goldfish, or dogs and cats, or lizards and snakes.
Birds have an innate ability to recognize their own species and look for mates based on their song, color of plumage, and behavior or distinctive courtship displays. However closely related bird species can interbreed, producing hybrids. One example is the Baltimore Oriole which can hybridize with the Bullock's Oriole where their ranges overlap in the Great Plains.
Birds in captivity can also hybridize like the Harlequin Macaws, Catalina Macaws, and many others. However birds prefer their own species in general. So, sorry, I don’t think we’ll see Stardinals anytime soon. But if you do, send me a picture.
Friday, July 24, 2009
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." -William Shakespeare
~Nobel Laureate Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988)
Sometimes people are embarrassed because they don't know a lot about birds or have pet names for their backyard guests. There shouldn't be anything intimidating about birdwatching. It can be what you want it to be; fun, educational, entertaining, or a livelihood. I like it when people tell me stories about what they have observed about their birds. And if you have any questions I can help you find some answers.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
1. Locate feeders and birdbaths within 1-2 feet of them so they can't gather enough speed to cause significant injury or about 20-30 feet from windows so birds have time to change direction. Window feeders also alert birds to a window.
2. Window screens will reduce injury even if a bird flies into it. Use them where practical.
3. Decals like Window Alert placed on the outside of windows have had the most positive feedback from customers. Each decal contains a component which brilliantly reflects ultraviolet sunlight. This ultraviolet light is invisible to humans, but glows like a stoplight for birds.
If you do have a window strike and the bird is injured CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference. For a list of licensed rehabilitators click HERE. Or visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
8 x 6-1/4 x 8 inches.
- Holds 1/2 lb
- Deep dish holds two cups of seed, suet, fruit or mealworms
- Curved rim makes perching easy
- UV stabilized polycarbonate to prevent yellowing
- Open construction with clear view of birds on the feeder
- Cover overhangs dish and prevents runoff of rain into dish
- 3 high quality suction cups to hold feeder securely
- Drainage holes eliminate water from dish
- Lifetime Guarantee
- Made in the USA
Monday, July 20, 2009
Two scientist from Aix-Marseille University in France, Emmanuel Villermaux and Benjamin Bossa, conducted experiments on isolated water droplets. A high-speed camera captured each contortion of a solitary drop as it fell. Though the drop fell only a few meters, the researchers applied an upward air current to simulate the experience of a raindrop during its long fall from the sky.
The photos reveal a large drop flattening out like a pancake and then collecting air like a parachute until it eventually shatters into many smaller globules.
After creating mathematical equations to describe this shattering, the researchers found that the breakup of individual drops alone was enough to explain the staggering variety of raindrops — no collisions necessary.
Click HERE for video.
Aix-Marseille Université, IRPHE, 13384 Marseille Cedex 13, France
Institut Universitaire de France, 103 bd Saint Michel, 75005 Paris, France
Correspondence to: Emmanuel Villermaux e-mail: email@example.com
Most birds have hollow bones with internal struts that make them very strong. (Exceptions include swimming birds, like loons, which have solid bones to help them dive up to 150’ for food.)
Birds also have a smaller total number of bones than mammals. This is because many of their bones have fused together, making the skeleton more rigid. Birds do have more neck vertebrae than many other animals to help them groom their feathers. But overall it takes over 65 chubby chickadees to equal the weight of one medium squirrel.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Sora Porzana Carolina
Order: GRUIFORMES Family: Rails and Coots (Rallidae)
The Sora is an 8-10” marsh bird that has a black face and throat, with a short, yellow bill. The breast and nape of neck are gray. The back is mottled brown and the belly displays black and white barring.
It also has short, round wings which offer seemingly weak, but highly maneuverable flight through tangled vegetation. Its strong yellow legs, with long slender toes provide a strong walking and running ability amongst tangled wetland vegetation. Although this species prefers walking to flying, its long distance capabilities are evident in its migration to Michigan in mid-April and in September when it goes back to the Caribbean to winter.
The Sora is the most common and widely distributed rail in North America. It is commonly heard in many wetlands, but is rarely seen. Similar to other rails, the sora is a secretive species, hiding in the dense vegetation of its wetland habitat. The sora calls frequently, whistling and whinnying its calls to other soras, as well as in response to other rails.
Their diet consists of mollusks, insects, and snails picked from the ground and seeds of marsh plants, and duckweed found by probing soft mud with its bill. Their greatest threat is the destruction of the freshwater marshes where they breed: they have consequently become scarce in heavily populated areas. A group of soras are collectively known as an "ache", "expression", and "whinny" of soras.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
The easiest way for you to start to make friends with the birds is to establish a routine. I’m here at the Wild Birds Unlimited in East Lansing, MI every morning at 10am filling the feeders.
I usually make my imitation of a Blue Jay announcing there is food in the area. It’s not even close to a real jay call but they seem to understand.
Next I clean up the feeding area by sweeping the sidewalk or changing the birdbath water. The birds are super excited about the filled feeder and come around even if I’m still there fussing. I start sweet talking them about how pretty they look today or imitate some tweets as best I can. They give me funny looks but start to see me as harmless.
Now that the routine is established I start to become incompetent. I bring out their favorite bird food but don’t fill the feeder right away. When I see the birds waiting, I fill the feeder and hold it in my hand. The birds usually will come down to feed after a couple minutes. I hold as still as possible.
After a week of doing this I can come out with seed in my hand and the birds usually make the transition easily.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Fruit grows on trees, bushes, climbing plants and on shrubs and several species of birds love them. Purple mulberry splats decorate the sidewalk as the berry season begins in mid-Michigan and as the season progresses so does the color of splats. For birds, the range of fruit and the extended length of the season during which various types become available provides many songbirds a nourishing lifeline year round.
The quest for survival has led plants to develop delicious and ingenious ways of making the animal world compete in sending their seeds out to new lands. The yummy, bright colored, vitamin packed, flesh of the fruit conceals and protects the seed within. Birds and berries are a remarkable example of Mother Nature in action. Birds eat the produce and spread the precious seeds contained in the berry over a wide area. They extract or excrete the undigested seeds enabling the plant to grow and spread.
There is no doubt that plants are one of the world's most successful life forms. They are able to survive in virtually every environment imaginable, from the driest deserts to the wettest jungles. There are even tough “weeds” poking up through the cracks in the cement. Plants evolved countless methods of producing and spreading seeds. So don’t blame the birds for stealing all the fruit. They are being used in Mother Nature's master plan to spread tiny packages of genetic material across the land to ensure the survival of her planet of plants.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Click HERE to watch a full episode of PBS’s NATURE which shows how seasonal changes compel a wide variety of creatures, from whooper swans to monarch butterflies, to begin their epic migrations in the spring and fall covering thousands of miles and employing ingenious methods to reach their destinations.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
For more information, visit http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/
Monday, July 13, 2009
Their population has increased in Mid-Michigan due to its scavenging abilities. Some people view them as pests seen at many parks, beaches, golf courses, fast food restaurants, or grocery store parking lots. However their ability to thrive with all of the land developments is something to appreciate.
The Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
Order: CHARADRIIFORMES Family: Gulls, Terns, Skimmers (Laridae)
Description: There are differences in plumage depending on the 18-20” medium-sized gulls age. An adult is all white except for gray back and wings and wingtips that are black, but in the winter they usually have a pale gray hood. The legs are yellow, and so is the bill which has a distinctive black ring that gives the species its common name. Each juvenile has a wide brown band at the end of its tail, and the rump, head, and breast are more or less marked with brown speckles. A young bird also has brownish rather than gray wings, pink legs, and the end of the bill is entirely dark rather than ringed.
General: These noisy white birds are likely to be found along major rivers and large lakes in Michigan but despite the misnomer of "seagull" they can be drawn inland by easier pickings than they can find along the shore. A group of gulls has many collective nouns, including a "flotilla", "gullery", "screech", "scavenging", and "squabble" of gulls.
Behavior: Ring-billed gulls nest once a year in colonies on the ground, and sometimes in trees near inland lakes. Nests are built by both members of a monogamous breeding pair. Nests are constructed of dead plant material including twigs, sticks, grasses, leaves, lichens and mosses, and may be interspersed with those of other water birds. They have been recorded living as long as 23 years in the wild. However, it is likely that the majority of the birds average 3 to 10 years.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Glass hummingbird feeders with stoppers are beautiful in the garden among the flowers. There are some tricks I can suggest but because these feeders utilize a vessel filled with water resting on top of a small column of air, they may occasionally drip. Some recommendations to minimize dripping, so that you can truly enjoy your feeder are as follows:
1. Always fill the feeder completely full with cool nectar. Push the stopper in and invert quickly to avoid any air entering the feeder. Tube feeders operate on a vacuum principle. Only if the feeder is initially filled completely full will the vacuum form!
2. Only hang your feeder in the shade or partial shade. The cooler the feeder, the less likely it is to drip. If that isn't convenient Wild Birds Unlimited does have hummingbird shades.
3. Make sure to keep the feeder very clean by regularly cleaning the vessel with hot water and a bottle brush. Do not use soap as its residue may cause your feeder to drip. Try periodically using a vinegar rinse to thoroughly clean your feeder and then rinse well with hot water.
4. Last resort: place stopper assembly in very hot water to soften the tube. You can bend it slightly to increase the angle. This will stop dripping, but might make it more difficult for nectar to come down the tube.
5. If you've tried all these tips and it still drips try a different feeder like our best selling saucer feeders.
And you didn't ask about this, but if you have an ant problem we have an easy solution. There are functional and decorative ant moats you can add to any feeder. Simply fill the little container with water. Ants can't cross the water moat to reach your hummingbird feeders' nectar.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Source: http://www.sciencenews.org/ by SusankMiliushummingbird
During breeding season, the male Anna’s hummingbirds soar some 30 meters and then dive, whizzing by a female so fast that their tail feathers chirp in the wind. As the birds pull out of their plunge to avoid crashing, they experience forces more than nine times the force of gravity. “They look like a little magenta fireball dropping out of the sky,” says Chris Clark of the University of California, Berkeley.
Clark took advantage of the males’ predictable dive orientation, setting out a caged female, or even a stuffed female on a stick, to inspire birds to dive right in front of his video cameras. Males flew up and plunged over the female typically 10 or 15 times in a row, but one enthusiastic stunt flier completed 75 consecutive dives with a break of only a few minutes.
Analyzing the recordings revealed that birds at first flapped their wings as they dove. For a short period at their peak speed, the birds folded their wings and drilled down through the air at speeds up to 61 miles per hour.
Adjust for body length, and the world just got a new fastest bird, Clark says. The hummingbirds’ speed reached 385 body lengths per second, easily beating the peregrine falcon’s recorded dives at 200 body lengths per second. A fighter jet with its afterburners on reaches 150 body lengths per second, and a space shuttle screaming down through the atmosphere hits 207 body lengths per second. Then diving males stretch out their wings to pull out of their dive before crashing. If birds didn't have great strength for this maneuver, "their wings would just break off," Clark says.
Such prowess impressed Clark, but when he saw wild female birds watching the show … well. “Sometimes they looked bored or flew away,” he says. Males typically just kept on diving.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I am looking forward to the end of this week! I'd like to thank all the customers for your patience, and apologize for any inconvenience you experienced shopping at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing.
The first half of the week I was on the phone with AT&T trying to fix our Internet connection problems so I could process credit cards. If you heard me screaming "yes, no, DSL, PC, no, no, technical support, I don't know!..." I was talking to AT&T's advanced automated customer service system. I finally reached a person that put me on hold while I was transferred to another person who transferred me... well you get the idea. After two days on the phone they sent me a new router that was programed wrong & I spent another day on the phone trying to connect to the Internet. Time to breath easy? Not yet.
Next came the replacement of our air conditioner and furnace which was located in the ceiling of our back room (cat room) and for some reason this took three very long days to complete. The cats were not amused. In fact poor little Eli Bird stayed in the seed room terrified most of the time. Time to breathe easy? Please, yes!
And if you come in next week give Eli an extra cuddle. He deserves it.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Backyard birders in St. Louis, MO, documented bluebird fledglings from the first nesting help raise the nestlings of the next brood. Click HERE to see their photos. It’s rare but several studies show Eastern Bluebird fledglings occasionally stay around to help feed the nestlings in the second family.
Fledglings are grayish in color with a speckled breast. The blue color becomes much more prominent and the speckles on their breast disappear as they mature.
You can also watch a short video they made by clicking HERE.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Third, finches are notorious for leaving a tube feeder half full. Don't just top off your feeder with fresh seed. Empty the older seed (if it's still good) into a different container, fill the bottom of your feeder with new seed and top it off with the older seed. The birds will probably eat down to that certain level again and you'll have to repeat the process.
Fourth, there are a lot of natural sources available right now. They are vegetarians and will flock to any flowers that form seed heads like cosmos or black-eyed-susans.
Monday, July 6, 2009
The scientific name for the Nyjer plant is Guizotia abyssinica. Its bloom has yellow, daisy-like flowers, and before it is shipped into the country the Nyjer seed has been heat treated to prevent the growth of any noxious seeds. Even if it did sprout, Michigan’s growing season is too short to produce a flowering plant.
In the U.S. there are 20 different kinds of native thistle plants, but by far the most common thistle in peoples yards was actually brought over from Europe. Canada thistle, Cirsium arvense, is a vigorous, competitive weed that occurs in a wide range of habitats and is difficult to control due to its ability to regrow from its extensive, deep creeping root system. It is native to Europe and was apparently introduced to North America by colonists in the early 17th century. It is illegal to sell and by 1991 it had been declared noxious by at least 35 states and 6 Canadian provinces. Canada thistle is a 2 to 5 foot tall herbaceous perennial with branched, grooved and slender stems that become covered in hair as the plant grows. Numerous small, compact rose-purple or white flowers appear on the upper stems from June to Oct. forming round, umbrella shaped clusters.
So it’s alright to come in and ask for thistle seed because we know you want Nyjer seed. However we still have to label our seed Nyjer because the Agricultural department would come in and shut us down for selling thistle, a noxious weed seed.
Did you know the act of cloud watching is called nephelococcygia? The word comes from "The Birds," a play by Aristophanes written in 414 B.C. In this play, birds see shapes in the clouds. Another character basically tells them that are crazy for imagining this...hence the term nephelococcygia or “cloud cuckooland.”
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Ruby-throated hummingbirds can fly up to 27 mph and if they catch a good wind they can move up to 60 mph.
But the fastest living creature is believed to be the Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus, reaching speeds of at least 124 mph and possibly as much as 168 mph when swooping from great heights.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Happy Independence Day!
Friday, July 3, 2009
You might see more than one type of firefly in your yard. There are several species of fireflies in Michigan. Photinus is the most common firefly in our area with about 15 species. Each is about one half inch in length, and it produces a yellow-green flash. In the dark, you may be able to tell them apart by the color of their flash or distinctive flash patterns.
Click HERE to see the Museum of Science’s virtual habitat.
Spotting fireflies is a special preshow to the fireworks on the Fourth of July in mid-Michigan, but lately the numbers seem to be declining. The Museum of Science is asking for help from volunteers to track these amazing insects. If you would like to collect data for further research Click HERE. No special scientific training is required.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensisOrder: PASSERIFORMES Family: Mockingbirds and Thrashers (Mimidae)
Description: A little smaller than a Robin, its body is uniformly dark gray with the exception of a chestnut brown patch under the tail and a black crown, tail, bill, eyes, and legs.
Behavior: The catbird has adapted well to the widespread urban and suburban habitats created by people and is often seen in neighborhood gardens. An occasional visitor to peanut, suet, or fruit feeders, the catbird forages mainly on the ground, gleaning insects from litter and low bushes and eats fallen berries during late summer and fall. It pokes with its bill, turning leaves and twigs to find the food underneath.
It often announces its presence by singing a series of musical whistles and catlike meows, interspersed with imitations of other birds' songs. It may start singing before dawn, while it is still dark, and can continue until after dusk, being one of the last birds to settle in for the night. A group of catbirds are collectively known as a "mewing" and a "seat" of catbirds.
General: In Michigan Gray Catbirds live in dense thickets of shrubs of woodlands, and are occasionally found in residential areas. They prefer areas without many conifer trees. Most catbirds winter in the tropics of Mexico and Central America where fruit is quite abundant. About 80% of the catbird's winter diet is composed of fruit.