About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Top 10 Frequently Asked Bird Questions

My neighbor told me not to feed in the summer. We just got back from Florida and won't be here in the winter. She also said birds won't use a swinging birdbath. Susie~ East Lansing

I hear this all the time. If you enjoy watching the birds up close go ahead and feed the birds while you are in Michigan. Typically, feeders serve as a supplemental source of food for birds in your yard. Bugs, fruit and nut bearing bushes and trees supply a natural food source as well as native flowers, such as coneflowers, black eyed Susan’s, and cosmos that are allowed to go to seed and stand through the winter. Don't worry that you can only feed part of the year. Birds are very savvy and always have several sources of food and are really fun to observe.

Now "birds don't use swinging baths" is a new one to me. Water will actually attract more species of birds than feeders and we sell lots of hanging birdbaths at Wild Birds Unlimited. Make sure the bath has a nice edge, is shallow and deepens gradually to no more than 3 inches in the middle. Place the bath in a safe location where predators can't sneek up on unsuspecting bathers. Birds are vulnerable when their feathers are wet and heavy, but a slightly swinging bath shouldn't concern the birds.

Now you've got me thinking about some of the other questions I often hear from customers at our stores:

1. Do I Add Red Dye to my Hummingbird Nectar?: You don't need to add red food coloring to hummingbird nectar! In fact Wild Birds Unlimited recommends a simple 4:1 water to white sugar recipe. Click here for a more detail instructions.

2. Do I Have to Clean my Feeder?: Please keep your feeders clean! Nectar feeders need to be cleaned at least once a week and seed feeders at least once a month. Click here to read more on cleaning feeders.

3. If I Touch a Baby Bird Will the Mother Abandon Him?: If you find a baby bird that is too young to fly, put it back in the nest. The mother will appreciate the help and not abandon the baby. If you're not sure if the baby is hurt call for help before you do anything. For a list of licensed rehabilitators click here.
4. Is it OK to Feed Suet in the Summer?: Commercially prepared suet cakes are safe for year round feeding. If it is hung out in the sun use a suet dough with a high melting point or a seed cake available at Wild Birds Unlimited. Besides the usual woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees, during the spring and summer you may even attract orioles, warblers and more with suet. And the reason I feed suet in the summer is to watch as harried parent birds bring their babies up close and try to convince them to feed themselves. Click here to read more on feeding suet in the summer.

5. Can Birds Choke on Peanut Butter?: There are no documented cases of birds choking on peanut butter. If you smear peanut butter on a tree trunk you’ll be surprised how many cute birds this will attract up and down your tree. Or spread Peanut butter on pine cones, old bread, or cookies and roll them in seed for bird treats. Click here for more fun ideas.

6. Do Birds Explode After they Eat Rice?: June brides don't worry about the birds eating wedding rice. There are no documented cases of birds suffering from eating rice probably because it’s a natural food grown all around the world. It's really no different than the birds eating any other grain like millet or wheat. Click here to read more on this wedding ritual.

7. Should I Stop Feeding the Birds to Encourage Them to Migrate?: In the fall there is an instinctual clock that tells certain birds when to head south. People still disagree over the precise mechanism within the bird that causes this. Most sources say that that food supply is not a factor and there is no reason to take down feeders to stimulate migration. Click here to read more on migration.
8. Do Any Birds Stay in Michigan During the Winter?: Not all birds migrate south. There are a lot of birds that that are permanent residents and some birds from Canada that think Michigan is the perfect wintering ground. Click here for a list of some common feeder birds you might see in the winter.

9. Do Birds Feet Freeze To Metal Perches?: Unlike humans, birds don’t have sweat glands in their skin to produce any moisture to freeze to metal in the winter. Heat and moisture are accumulated in sacs, transferred to the lungs and eliminated through the mouth. To read more click here.

10. Do Hummingbirds Migrate on the Backs of Geese?: I hear this question so often in the fall that it actually inspired me to start this blog. To read my very first blog about how hummingbirds make their journey down south all on their own click here.
Do you have a question about birds, bird feeding or about the store? If your question isn't answered on our web log http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/, please e-mail us at bloubird@gmail.com.

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