Source: Wild Birds Guides: Ruby-throated Hummingbird by Robert Sargent available at Wild Birds Unlimited
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Source: Wild Birds Guides: Ruby-throated Hummingbird by Robert Sargent available at Wild Birds Unlimited
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
You may also notice in late June newly fledged hummers have to check out everything to see if it's food, so you may catch them with new feeders.
Then starting in the middle of July males begin to wander widely, and some are already heading south. So, before you know it you'll have hungry southbound migrants to feed!
Migration continues through the middle of October so there are plenty of opportunities to see hummers feeding. The migration south is a more leisurely trip than the race north. So you may see these new hummers at your feeder for a couple weeks before they catch a good wind to move further south.
Monday, June 28, 2010
I would leave the nest alone. About two weeks after hatching, the fledgling wrens leave the nest and don’t return. They usually fly straight and fast out of the entrance into nearby trees or bushes.
One day you’ll see the parents stuffing hungry mouths with juicy caterpillars and the next day the nest will be empty. So don’t stress and enjoy the show while it lasts or bring your cats indoors.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Little brown birds can sometimes be hard to identify when you just get a quick glance.
Both Indigo Buntings and Brown-headed Cowbirds live in similar habitats. The cowbird parasitizes or lays its eggs in indigos’ nests as well as other “host” species.
Both eat similar food and can be spotted at bird feeders.
Size is a good indicator. The Indigo Bunting’s shape and size (5 inches) is closer to a goldfinch, and the Brown-headed cowbirds’ (7 inches) is a little larger than a House Sparrow.
Color can sometimes help. Both females are a dull brown but the indigo is usually lighter. And if you look close you’ll see the indigo also has a two tone bill. The top is black and the bottom is a grey or tan. The cowbird has a black bill top and bottom.
Finally notice what birds are hanging around the bird you are trying to identify. Do you see a more distinguishable mate nearby? Cowbirds can also flock with blackbirds and starlings whereas indigos feed alone during the breeding season and with other indigos in the fall and winter.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
"I'm moving in. 'Nuff said."
Tree frogs are notorious for birdhouse squatting.
The first time I saw a frog in a birdhouse, that had been full of baby birds just a couple weeks before, it gave me quite a start.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
And if you have an ant problem we have an easy solution. There are 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.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Slugs belong to the Phylum Mollusca (the mollusks, which also includes squid, octopi, snails, clams, and oysters). Slug parts up close are very interesting (see diagram). Their skin is sensitive to water loss so they prefer cool, dark, moist habitats. If you’re not into looking under rocks and leaves, the best time to hunt slugs is just after sunset and in the early morning hours before dawn.
Slugs produce two types of mucus: one which is thin and watery, and another which is thick and sticky. The thin mucus is spread out from the center of the foot to the edges to help prevent the slug from slipping down vertical surfaces. The "slime trail" that a slug leaves behind helps other slugs find mates. The thick mucus spreads out to coat the whole body and provides some protection against predators by making it hard to handle. There are many predators of slugs including birds, reptiles, amphibians and ground beetles.
The Gray Field Slug Deroceras reticulatum is not native to North America, but has been in Michigan as long as the earliest European settlers. Their skin color can vary greatly and they can grow to be 5cm. Take a peek under your hosta plant leaf tonight and get up close to a slug. Fascinating creatures!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
However, contrary to popular belief, ostriches don’t bury their heads in sand when they are frightened. They are not timid birds.
The main defense of an ostrich is to outrun or kick predators. If that isn’t possible, like when sitting on a nest, the ostrich may hunker down and pretend to be a bush and hope her sandy colored head blends in with the ground. So it may just look like the ostrich has buried its head in the sand, because only the body is visible.
Another possibility of why this myth continues is because ostriches eat mostly roots, leaves, and seeds, as well as insects and small animals on the ground. To help grind up food in the gizzard, these big birds also swallow sand, pebbles, and small stones. People may have noticed them picking up pebbles in their mouths or foraging for a meal and believed that the ostriches were burying their heads instead.
So the story is based on the supposed stupidity of ostriches or of birds in general, but in reality reveals man’s lack of knowledge.
Thank you Genny that was a very interesting question!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Adult male birds' roles in raising their young differ greatly from one species to another. For example, male hummingbirds do nothing to help raise the young; their only contribution is to mate with the female and guard his territory. While the chickadee and nuthatch males feed their mates when they are incubating and brooding, and both adults feed the young.
But the Bird Father of the Year goes to the Downy Woodpeckers which have only one brood in the north. Downys nest in tree cavities that the male excavates. Then after 3 to 6 eggs are laid, both male and female share daytime nest duties. The males also incubate and brood at night and roost in the nest until their offspring fledge after two weeks. Once fledged, Downy males will also help feed the young and assist in leading them to food sources such as backyard bird feeders for the first few weeks.
Downy Woodpeckers are fascinating to watch as they propel themselves up the side of a tree, using their tail as a spring, hopping along, stopping from time to time to investigate a nook or cranny that may hide a juicy insect. Their bill is less chisel-shaped than that of other woodpeckers, and they use it like a pick for dissecting insect tunnels just under the bark. The bill is also used like a pair of tweezers to pick tiny insect eggs from the surface of leaves and bark.
To attract downys to your feeder, you can offer sunflower seeds, peanuts, suet, seed cylinders or mealworms. These energy-packed foods will entice your birds and their young to your yard for an up close view.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
I left my birdhouse up with the old nest from last year. I will be upset if I don't get a wren this year. Do they not use old nests? What should I do?
Thanks. ~ Ellen
Thanks for your reply. It was the middle of June last year when the Wrens came. I decided to clean out the nest as I have not seen any activity. I leave the birdhouse up all year round; it's hanging under my front porch. I still have the old nest twigs, so I'll put a few inside of it. Should I push the twigs inside or leave them sticking out? Here is a photo of last year's bird.
I got a few inexpensive bird houses at a crafts store; one is in the shape of a bird with a larger opening, about 1 3/4 inches wide. Is there any special place to hang them?
When you clean the house leave a couple sticks poking out the door. House wrens prefer their houses hanging from a small tree in the middle of a yard, or along the border of an open yard. They often choose houses closer to ground (5-10 feet) in open woodland close to twiggy bushes to give them cover and nesting material.
Birdhouses can be stationary or left swinging. The entrance hole should be 1 ¼ inch in diameter to keep out House Sparrows. If you purchased a house with a larger hole or it has been expanded by squirrels or other birds, we have metal portal protectors. Wild Birds Unlimited’s round 1-1/8" and 1-1/4" metal portals are suitable for the chickadee and wren houses and prevent sparrows from entering the house. Also avoid perches because wrens don't use them and they could be used to help predators gain access to the nest.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
If something happens to disrupt the success of the first batch, the birds might begin a new nest within a week. You don’t have to remove the nest in this case but broken eggs or dead nestlings should be removed immediately. If they want to try again in that box, it will give them a head start to have an existing nest. Also try to determine why there was a failure and how to prevent further tragedy.
By cleaning out a nest box you help deter parasite infestation and a predator’s ability disturb a nest that is built on top of old nests making it closer to the entrance hole.
To clean the nest box I usually place a plastic bag over the nest and just sweep it all in and twist the bag shut. You can rinse out the house with a water hose or diluted bleach spray. Make sure the drainage holes are unplugged and leave the house open to dry for a couple days. Finally dispose of the old nest in the trash and wash your hands thoroughly.
Taking care to clean your feeders and nest boxes makes you a responsible steward of nature. Thanks to Barbara S. for a very good question.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Records show that only 25% of young Robins survive their first year.
To protect its young, adult robins give alarm calls and dive-bomb predators that come near the young birds. And fledglings are able to fly short distances after leaving the nest and hide in bushes for protection.
Another thing, judging by the number of calls we receive each spring, unofficially some robins use humans as a form of protection. They like to nest in inappropriate places close to people in hopes that we'll scare away potential predators. And in this case one lucky, little guy found its way into your caring hands.
If you find a baby bird and don’t know what do, CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference. The following is a small list of the local rehabilitators:
- East Lansing, MI ♦ 517.351.7304 ♦ Cheryl Connell-Marsh ♦ birds and small animals
- Lansing, MI ♦ 517-646-9374 ♦ Tiffany Rich ♦ white tailed deer, squirrels, raccoons; Vet. Tech. on center.
- DeWitt, MI ♦ 517.930-0087 ♦ Wildside Rehab & Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
- Eaton Rapids, MI ♦ 517-663-6153 ♦ Wildside Rehab & Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
- Holt, MI ♦ 517-694-9618 ♦ Carolyn Tropp firstname.lastname@example.org ♦ Waterfowl, small birds and mammals
- Howell, MI ♦ 517-548-5530 ♦ Howell Conference and Nature Center ♦ All wild animals except bats, skunks, starlings, raccoons, pigeons, or house sparrows.
- Bath, MI ♦ 517-819-0170 (day) 517-641-6314 (evening) ♦ Denise Slocum ♦ Small mammals
For a complete list of Michigan Licensed Rehabilitators visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Saturday morning I noticed some birds in the juneberry tree outside my son's room. When I investigated, I saw a couple of Cedar Waxwings harvesting berries and immediately grabbed my camera. Here are a couple of shots.
~Mike Grimm, Fowlerville
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Wow you're going to have some very well cared for birds! You've asked a lot of questions so I'll just go down the list.
- What direction should the house face? In the northern states like Michigan, the birds prefer the early morning sun coming in the front of the house as it faces the east. However Eastern Bluebirds can nest in a bird house that faces in another direction. It's just not their 1st choice.
- Should I change the direction of the house? No, if the bluebirds have accepted the nest box and started to build, don't disturb the nest.
- Can I put a baffle on the pole? Wild Birds Unlimited has wrap-around baffles that go around 4"x4" poles or metal poles that wrap around pole without disturbing the house. If you already have a baffle, it would be alright to remove the house and put it back the way it was as fast as you can.
- When do I attach the Bird Guardian? The Guardian can be put on after the eggs have been laid. The instructions recommend monitoring the nest after you've attached the guardian. If the birds haven't re-entered the nest within 30 minutes, remove and attach it the next day, repeating as needed with continued observance. Once the pair have both been seen entering the box, you have success.
- How often can I check on my birds? I can tell you are a very caring landlord but let's not be too nosy. The bluebirds are tolerant of humans but it's best check on the nest no more than twice a week during active nesting season until the nestlings are 12-14 days old. After that leave the birds alone. We don't want the babies to fledge too early by accident. If you do find a fledgling on the ground, scoop it up and plop it back in the nest.
For much more information go to the Michigan Bluebird Society website at: http://www.michiganbluebirds.org/nestbox-basics#nest
Friday, June 11, 2010
You may want to put this in the blog or on twitter. In the MSU butterfly garden they just moved the flower titan arum because it is about to bloom. It is considered the largest flower in the world and stands about 5-6 feet tall. It smells like rotten meat but it only stays open for a day or 2 but even closed it is an impressive flower.
Dan, I found a little YouTube video of another titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum and I did check the web cam. The flower has already started to bloom! I took the picture below over the web.
You can visit the Deepwater Horizon Response site for more information regarding the situation. This is the official web site for the unified command of agencies involved in the response to the oil spill.
You will also find links to the many government agencies involved and ways to volunteer.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon encourage birders to mobilize and help survey Gulf Coast birds at their eBird site.
Source: Go to http://ning.it/aXRHnw for 11 powerful environmental messages
from various ad campaigns around the world.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Did you know that a lot of birds like peanuts? Nuts at the feeders attract some of the most interesting birds. The crazy antics of the woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees and nuthatches alone make it worthwhile to try feeding peanuts.
The peanut probably originated in South America and spread throughout the New World as Spanish explorers discovered the peanut’s versatility. It's a high fat, high protein food that makes a very nutritional treat. In fact peanuts are so popular with birds that several feeders have been invented for just peanuts. And I especially like the birds that come to my peanut bells.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Feeders are the easiest way to attract the American Goldfinch. We sell a variety of finch feeders. My favorites are the Mesh Finch Feeders. They not only let the finches land and feed in whatever position they choose, but they also allow air circulation to keep your Nyjer Thistle as dry and fresh as possible; something that's very important to these picky eaters. (Nyjer thistle is the common name used to identify a tiny black birdseed cultivated in Asia and Africa but is not related to the purple, prickly, Canada Thistle weed.)
Goldfinches eat a variety of seeds. Sunflower and Nyjer thistle are two of their favorites, but it has to be fresh. One way to check your seed is to pinch it with your fingernails and see if any oil comes out. The finches use their bills to twist the seed and sip the oil and then drop the shell. If your seed has dried out, your feeder will be skipped. (Wild Birds Unlimited receives a fresh load of seed each week).
Gardening Trick for Goldfinches
Habitat can be a key to attracting Goldfinches. In this case you do less work, not more. Don't worry about dandelions and don't cut off the tops of your Marigold, Zinnias, Cosmos, or Coneflowers...Goldfinches love them. The birds make the flowers dance as they flit from flower to flower looking for seed heads.
The American Goldfinch begins its breeding season in late July. They don’t use bird houses but you can provide nesting material like cotton or pet hair. The female alone builds a bark, weeds, vines, and grass nest held together with spiderwebs 30 feet up in a deciduous tree. Finally she lines the nest with soft cottons, hair, milkweed, thistle, or cattail fluff.
Then it's my favorite time of year. At the end of August, after a couple weeks of incubating and a couple weeks in the nest, the goldfinch babies visit the feeder with their fathers. Their high squeaky baby calls are so adorable, but also a little sad because it marks the end of nesting season.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Oh a mystery! If you remember my June 1, 2010 post, I talked about how only five species of hummingbirds have been spotted in Michigan. And of those five, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is the smallest bird. In fact it’s the smallest bird found in Michigan at 2.8–3.5 inches long and weighing 0.1–0.2 oz.
So what did you see? I suspect that it was a hummingbird moth also known as Sphinx Moth. There are many species of sphinx moths, that usually have heavy, football-shaped bodies and relatively narrow wings for a moth. The moths’ fast beating wings give them the appearance of small hummingbirds as they buzz flowers to drink nectar.
For more information on these mysterious moths go to: http://ning.it/bBN8cx
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Bluebirds may be attracted to the colors of their species but it's more likely that it’s a good place to hunt. A bluebirds' diet is made up primarily of bugs, usually spied from a perch. It’s characteristic behavior of bluebirds to fly down, catch prey and then return to their perch to eat. Do you have a lot of bugs in that area; maybe not with the bluebird on patrol?
If you don’t have a trampoline in your yard you can also place a couple 4 foot wooden stakes or “hunting perches” in your bluebird habitat. Bluebirds, as well as other birds, welcome a low perch to hunt insects on the ground. You may also notice bluebirds taking advantage of fence posts or garden statues.
Along with bugs, Eastern Bluebirds eat fruit from flowering dogwood, holly, mulberry, wild grape, Virginia creeper, pokeweed and Viburnum. If any of these plants are nearby, hungry bluebirds might stay close.
It’s hard to understand why birds do a lot of things. He may be attracted to the color, bugs, plants or if they are nesting close by, the bird may find the trampoline the perfect spot to patrol his territory. Whatever the reason, it’s a good observation. If anyone else has a different theory let us know in the comments below.
More information on the management of bluebirds can be found at the Michigan DNR: http://ning.it/b8Pg9Q
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Feeding your birds in the summer will not make them too lazy, too dependent or keep them from migrating at the appropriate time. All of these old myths have been dispelled by modern research and observation.
Birds with access to backyard bird feeders are able to spend less time foraging for food and more time engaging in activities that positively impact their survival and well-being. This additional time can be used to be more aware of threats from predators and to preen their feathers for flight and insulation.
Studies have also shown that birds with access to feeders during nesting season spend less time away from their nests looking for food. These birds will lay their clutch of eggs earlier and fledge one more chick per clutch than birds without access to feeders.
Summer bird feeding will bring new birds to your yard with interesting behaviors to observe and enjoy. Summer is actually the most heavily bird populated season in most of North America. Contrary to popular belief, recent research also shows summer to be the most abundant season for birds to visit feeders.
The summer visitors at your feeders will be featuring their brightest breeding plumage, and they will often be accompanied by their young offspring with duller feathers. Summer provides a fascinating opportunity to see adult birds feeding and interacting with their young, and it is an experience that you do not want to miss.
Source: WBU Nature News
Friday, June 4, 2010
"Out in the wild she'd eat a whole small animal such as a mouse or skink, but butcher's sausages are just too much of a good thing," said Gemma Watkinson, Sydney's Taronga Zoo wildlife hospital nurse.
Following a rigorous exercise regime, the kookaburra is winning her battle of the bulge, but still has to lose a little more before returned to her native habitat.
For the full story by Pauline Askin, Editing by Michael Perry go to http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6513ZJ20100602
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Saturday, June 5, 2010 - 9:00am - 6:00pm
Price: General Admission
International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is a celebration! It celebrates spring, and with it the return of millions of migratory birds to their breeding areas. Nearly 350 species of migratory birds travel between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Come on out to the Zoo to celebrate IMBD and Be A Tourist In Your Own Town. Potter Park Zoo in Lansing will have stations set up to teach you about mid-Michigan's migratory birds, and will have fun activities for the whole family!
To learn more about IMBD go to http://www.birdday.org/.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
For more information on the benefits of bats and how we depend on them for pest control, seed dispersal and to pollinate commercial products including bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, cloves, cashews and carob go to the Bat Conservation International (BCI) website: http://ning.it/dpjiDm.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Actually five species of hummingbirds have been sighted in Michigan. The most common hummingbird at Michigan feeders and gardens from April until October is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Ruby-throated get their name from the male's ruby-red feathers on the throat. The Ruby-throated male also has a forked tail that is not found generally on any of the other species of hummingbirds in Michigan. Both male and female have emerald colored backs and the female's neck and breast is white.
To attract hummingbirds you can use a feeder filled with sugar water. I talked earlier about the best hummingbirds feeders HERE.
You can also enhance your garden. Just a few of the flowers that hummingbirds like are: