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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to have more colorful birds at your feeder

For more colorful birds in the spring, feed your birds better-quality food in the fall. Most backyard birds, with the exception of American Goldfinches, go through only one full molt a year in the fall. They replace their tired old feathers with a new set that will last until next fall.

You may have noticed that the European Starlings have more speckles on them right now than they did during the summer. The new feathers have whitish tips, giving the bird the appearance of “stars” covering their body. Over the winter sunlight and weather dulls the speckled look and then the bird becomes uniform dark brown or black. Just in time to impress the females in the spring.

Eastern Bluebirds and Northern Cardinals, two of the most colorful birds in the area, also produce a new set of feathers in the fall. The tips of the new body feathers are brown/gray and make the bluebirds and cardinals appear a bit dull in the winter. These feather tips also wear off and leave the birds much more colorful in the spring.

Feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation. At the feeding stations during cold weather the birds are looking for seeds that provide the most calories too. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a landmark study of bird food preferences in 1980 for several bird species and found most backyard songbirds exhibited the greatest preference for oil sunflower, peanuts, safflower, nyjer, and millet. They avoid buckwheat, milo, oats, wheat, canary, flax, rapeseed, and rice.

Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess Blend is our best selling blend. It has everything the birds want and leaves no messy shells behind. For more info on our unique No-Mess Blend bird seed which features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left, click HERE.

Whatever seed, seed cake, or suet you choose at Wild Birds Unlimited, we guarantee it will be fresh and a healthy choice for our local birds. And now you know that birds with a better-quality diet have better-quality plumage.

Related Articles: 
Why birds molt http://bit.ly/qz4yGE 
Goldfinch colors http://bit.ly/ofhIFU
Types of Bird feathers http://bit.ly/oTXSmm
Why Wild Birds Unlimited has the best seed! http://bit.ly/pzAB24

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