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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

What is No-Mess Bird Seed?

My landscaper told me about your website. He says he uses a “NO MESS” bird seed from Wild Birds Unlimited and after he cleans up our yard, I should use it too. Can you tell me more about this? Do you sell this at your store? ~ Grand Rapids, Michigan

Well thank your landscaper very much for the recommendation. Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend bird seed is our #1 selling blend.

Our unique No-Mess Blend features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left. No hulls on the seeds make for a tidier feeding area, since there's no debris on the ground to clean up. Pound for pound, our No-Mess Blend offers the best value because you do not pay for the shells. The birds eat everything.

For the East Lansing  Wild Birds Unlimited store, customers’ preference by far is WBU No-Mess Blend.

Thank you for your prompt answer. We’re getting some major landscaping done right now. As soon as the yard is cleaned up I’ll stop by. I love the birds and this seed blend sounds ideal!

There is also an earlier post you might also find helpful: Time to Try Tidy Dining http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2010/09/time-to-try-tidy-dining.html

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How can I get rid of Red Squirrels?


How can we get rid of red squirrels in our yard.  They are destructive and tear up things to use for nests. - Bath MI area

I’m sorry I can’t be of much help. Please don’t live trap them. They are taking care of babies now and shouldn’t be separated from their young. Wild Birds Unlimited has feeders and houses with lifetime guarantees against squirrel damage. We’ll fix or replace any feeder with the guarantee. We also have poles and baffles that can stop squirrels.

You probably don't want to put up a squirrel house. Or maybe you do. The red squirrel is a very solitary little creature. In fact, each female takes it upon herself to defend a territory that ranges in between two and five acres. Not only do they defend their territory from other red squirrels, they also defend it from other species of squirrels.

A two weeks old squirrel baby (Sciurus vulgaris).
Two week old Red Squirrel
They breed from March until May, and then again from July until September. Their gestation period lasts for forty days, and then they give live birth to a litter of three to six baby squirrels. They are helpless and hairless when they are born and stay with their mothers through the summer.

I know certain wildlife can be a problem. We have bunnies in the yard that go around lopping the heads off our crocus. Our squirrels dig up plants, attack feeders, and destroy bird houses. The chipmunks dig in the garden and steal lots of bird food. Raccoons are the classic night-burglars and can cause lots of problems in the yard. But I love them all, even the occasional and sometime not so occasional stinky skunk.

They all have purpose. Bunnies can be prey for other animals and trim vegetation. Squirrels and chipmunks are also prey for hawks and other animals as well as seed spreaders. Skunks and raccoons are predators in their ecosystems and play a significant role in controlling lawn pests.

I’m sorry the squirrels are being so destructive in your yard. Michigan is a beautiful green place to live with lots of nature to observe. I have found that it is much easier to learn to coexist with nature rather than trying constantly to fight it.

I think we have to keep in mind that humans cleared their sheltering forests, cut down the dead trees they nest in, removed many of their natural food sources as well as natural predators, and otherwise upset the balance of their native environments.

The next time a Red Squirrel comes clambering around your home looking for nesting material or in search of food or shelter, try to see things from their point of view. They always seem to be angry about something. I wonder if they’re thinking “How can we get rid of those humans in our yard. They are destructive and tear up things to build their houses.”
Sarah
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Angry Birds Cause a Flap: Why do Birds Fight?

I just broke up two sparrows fighting on my back porch. They looked like they were going to kill each other. What can I do to stop the bird fights in my backyard? ~Indianapolis, Indiana

There are varied signs of spring: migrating birds passing through, new songs in the air, and the earth slowly waking up from its long winter nap. And there is another sign that is just as predictable which you’ve noticed, the bird battles.

The testosterone levels in male birds is up in the spring, territories are being determined, and battles break out. Two house sparrows in a seemingly endless wrestling match is not uncommon. It’s usually a bloodless battle that ends when they are distracted or one bird taps out.

Impression of bird fight left in snow
Male House Sparrows have a patch of black feathers at the throat and chest called a "bib" or a "badge". This patch of feathers increases in size with age. Usually a darker/larger bib signals a higher social status or fitness that will have the younger setting up challenges. My recommendation is to just let them do battle. If it goes on too long for your comfort, it’s OK to interrupt them with a loud shout.


Even though the house sparrows are known for being pugnacious birds, other bird species also make themselves conspicuous with their springtime actions. I’m getting ready for calls to come in about cardinals and robins attacking their reflection in the window. This is also a territorial behavior.

stoopid birdImage by abradyb via Flickr
When some birds see their reflection they believe it’s an intruder just their size so they’re not intimidated. For these birds, the battle seems even and they will continue to attack until something intervenes, and the sooner the better.

This domineering behavior should be curbed before it becomes just a bad habit. The objective is to shock the bird out of its pattern of territoriality. Most birds do stop after a couple weeks of window pounding in the spring, but it's better to try and deter the birds just in case it turns out to be an action that is performed so often that it becomes almost an involuntary response.

Some tips to deter bird window attacks:

• Cover the window with screens
• Shut the blinds on your windows when you are not at home and at night.
• Rub the window with a bar of soap to decrease the reflection.
• Hang balloons or Flutter Scare tape.* Anything that moves and repels the bird from that area will be effective.
• Post a hawk silhouette outside a window.* Hawks prey on birds, so their images will keep birds from flying towards your window.
• Install a window feeder.* This breaks the reflection and other birds interrupt the birds battles with himself.

*Available at Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing, MI
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mallard Nesting Behavior: Can I move the nest?

The green head and yellow bill of the male Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is a familiar sight to many people living in the Northern hemisphere. The female duck is brownish all over with mottled streaking of buff, white, and dark brown feathers. And right now you’ll see a lot of ducks around Lansing in twos. Momma and Poppa mallards are sticking close to each other as they look for safe areas to nest.

Mallards choose their mates in the fall but do not begin to breed until late March or early April. They typically nest on the ground, in tall grass and shrubs. There doesn’t have to be any water nearby and sometimes the nest site seems very inappropriate.

So how long do you have to wait for momma mallard to move on? The female typically lays one egg per day until she has accumulated a full clutch which averages 9-12 eggs. She lays an egg a day but doesn’t incubate the eggs until there is a full clutch. The first few eggs are laid in a shallow "scrape" in the ground. As laying progresses, the hen will add grass, twigs, and lots of her own down feathers to the nest, resulting in a well insulated and surprisingly well camouflaged nest bowl.

Once her clutch is complete she begins to incubate the eggs for 25-29 days. The male “drake” has probably lost interest by now and abandoned the female to join up with other males. During this time the hen leaves her nest for only about an hour in the morning and evening to feed.

After about a month all the viable eggs hatch within a 24 hour period. Then the hen marches her brood proudly to the nearest wetland to learn how to feed on gastropods, invertebrates, crustaceans, worms, many varieties of seeds, plant matter, roots and tubers.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fun Facts About European Starlings

European Starling in Summer
•In 1890’s, 100 starlings were released into New York City’s Central Park. It is said that Eugene Schieffelin wanted all of New York to see the birds mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare. Until that time, starlings were not native to North America.

•Since its introduction into North America, European Starling populations have grown to over 200 million birds and they can now be found coast to coast and in Alaska.

•When European Starlings molt their feathers in the fall, the new feathers have white tips, giving the appearance of “stars”. Over the winter, sunlight and weather dulls the speckled look as the tips wear off and the bird becomes uniform dark brown or black.


European Starling in winter
•The European Starling also has a seasonal change in bill color (yellow in the spring, black in the fall).

•European Starlings have a highly adaptable diet and eat a wide variety of foods, such as snails, worms, millipedes, and spiders, in addition to fruits, berries, grains, and seeds.

•To glean insects and invertebrates, you can watch starlings poking their beaks into the ground, opening wide to spread the soil and then picking out exposed larvae and earthworms.

• Baby starlings almost look like a different species. They are a dark gray and then start to grow a black and white spotted vest. Eventually they get their adult feathers before winter.


A juvenile European Starling (also known as Co...Image via Wikipedia
Juvenile European Starling
•In Starlings, the length of the intestinal tract actually varies depending on the season. It is shorter in the summertime when birds are mainly eating protein-rich insects and larger in wintertime when they are mainly eating seeds, which are rich in carboyhydrates.

•Starlings, as members of the Sturnidae family, are cousins to the Mynah bird and are outstanding mimics. Individuals have been known to mimic many calls and can even mimic human speech.

•Bird banding records show the longest known life-span for a Starling in North America to be over 15 years old.

• A group of starlings has many collective nouns, including a "constellation", "filth", "murmuration", "scourge", and "vulgarity" of starlings.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, March 26, 2011

5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses

It is entertaining and educational to watch birds as they go through the many stages of their lives, including choosing a nest site, making the nest, laying eggs, feeding their hatchlings, and then, watching the fledglings as they venture out on their own.

Many people are choosing to bring this experience up close by placing nesting boxes (bird houses) around their backyards to house some of the many birds that would normally be looking for a hollow tree cavity. The following are a few tips to help you have a successful nesting season.

1. Bird House Specifications - Things to look for when choosing a house:
• Designed for the bird’s size and nesting requirements.
• Ventilation holes to provide a release for heat build-up.
• Easily cleaned.
• Easily mounted or hung.
• Durable to withstand several seasons of use.
• Drainage holes in the bottom of the house.

2. Bird House Nesting Materials
Birds use a variety of materials to construct their nests. The wren starts his nest with a bundle of sticks, the chickadee likes lots of soft fluff on top of a moss base, the bluebird uses grasses and pine needles, and the tree swallow gathers large bird feathers to line a shallow nest of grass and roots. Usually there is no lack of these materials in the wild, but we have encouraged birds to use our houses by placing Birdie Bell nesting materials near the boxes.

Another trick is to stuff chickadee and woodpecker bird houses with cedar chips. They prefer birdhouses with something to excavate.

3. Bird House Direction
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. Put the houses where you can view them, but bird houses facing in easterly directions fledge more young than houses facing in other directions.

4. Bird House Location
Remember not all birds use bird houses. Cardinals, goldfinches, doves, jays, hummingbirds and orioles would never use a house because they build their own nests. Cavity nesters like chickadees and wrens like their bird houses placed 5 to 10 feet high in the cover of a bush or small tree.

Bluebirds and Tree swallows choose fairly open areas interspersed with trees and shrubs. Experts recommend that bluebird boxes be 5 feet high and spaced at least 300' apart.

To reduce the competition between bluebirds and swallows for houses it is recommended to pair houses. Setting up a pair of houses, with each house no more than 5-10 feet apart every 300 feet, is one proven technique that allows both songbirds to nest together successfully.

5. Bird House Protection
Wild Birds Unlimited has metal portal protectors that you can add to most houses to prevent squirrels from chewing the entrances larger.

To protect the nest inside the house from unwanted predators reaching in and stealing eggs, attach the Screw Mount Birdhouse Guardian. These will prevent squirrels, raccoons, opossum and cats from bending their arms to reach the resident birds. Crows, Blue Jays and grackles can't get their bodies through the guardian and are also deterred.

We also have baffles you can add to our Wild Birds Unlimited bird house poles or wood 4x4” poles. This will stop all squirrels and raccoons from climbing to the house.

If a bluebird family has already started to make a house and sparrows are harassing them put up a sparrow spooker. Basically once the bluebirds are committed to a nesting site you can 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. For more detailed plans to make your own sparrow spooker, click HERE or visit: http://www.sialis.org/sparrowspooker.htm

Happy birding!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Should my Bird Houses have a Perch?


I’m building my own bird houses. Do I or do I not put perches at the entrance? –Mesick, Michigan

I don’t recommend perches on bird houses. Natural cavities such as tree trunks do not have perches, so birds that use nest boxes don't need a perch either. A perch might also invite predators or other birds to attack or bother the parents and babies inside.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What do you feed robins?

An american robin (Turdus migratorius), taken ...Image via Wikipedia
I’m so worried about the robins in this cold weather. What can I feed them in this freezing ice storm? - Utica, Michigan
The America Robin (Turdus migratorius) is a very hardy bird capable of surviving temperatures well below zero. If you look at the range map you’ll see that there are winter populations of Robins in most states year round.

In the spring, robins usually leave their large nomadic winter groups and stake out a nesting territory. Their diet changes from mostly fruit, nuts and berries to worms and insects. During cold snaps I’ve seen them devouring our crab apples, Mountain Ash tree berries, and sometimes they venture under my feeders looking for nuts. They also appreciate open water.

You can feed robins chopped apples, suet, mealworms, or nuts on a tray feeder. I actually put a Wild Birds Unlimited Supreme Fare seed block that is full of pecans out yesterday morning for my robins and you should have heard all the happy chatter!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Millions of Birds Die Each Year at the Hands of Mr. Puddy Tat

Warm weather is right around the corner and some cats may be anxious to smell the spring air through the windows. Please let that be as far as it goes. Outdoor cats are estimated to kill 500 million birds per year.

Even the sweetest cats still have the instincts of their wild ancestors. When something flutters by, they must swat it down. Cats do what comes natural but you can help wildlife by restricting their access outside.

I just talked with the local wildlife rehabilitator and she told me she's raising two baby squirrels right now that a local lady's cat brought home. If you find an injured bird or squirrel click HERE for a list people that can help. Or for a complete list of Michigan Licensed Rehabilitators visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/

So keep your cat inside so they don't bring home any little surprises. It’s also healthier for them to remain inside the house. The American Bird Conservancy has developed a campaign – called Cats Indoors! – to educate cat owners about the damage their pets can do to songbirds, other wildlife and themselves by freely roaming the outdoors.  
For more information, visit http://www.abcbirds.org/abcprograms/policy/cats/

This doesn't mean that they can't enjoy a neat window feeder or a nice feeder set up outside. About half of our customers begin birdwatching as a way to entertain their cats during the day.
.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What birds are attracted to mealworms besides bluebirds?

Mealworms-Another treat to attract wild birds.

Wild Birds Unlimited in East Lansing, MI sells live and dried mealworms. Feeding live mealworms (Tenebrio monitor) as a special treat has become a very popular way to attract a different variety of wild birds.

WBU Dinner Bell feeder
If you haven't used mealworms before, they are the larvae of a beetle with a high protein level. Many birders believe the mealworms are used solely for attracting bluebirds. This is definitely not the case as many other species enjoy these little treats. Some birds attracted to mealworms include: wrens, robins, bluebirds, jays, sparrows, cardinals, woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, and even Purple Martins.

Single Cup Hanging Feeder
Mealworms can be offered from just about any bowl, and there are some feeders at Wild Birds Unlimited especially for feeding mealworms. The WBU Dinner Bell feeder is one of our most popular feeders.

A couple new feeders have also come out this year! The first is a Single Cup Hanging Feeder. It's a versatile cup that can hold mealworms or any other specialty food like suet nuggets, orange halves, grapes, apples, peanuts, or jelly.

Spiral Treat Tray Feeder
The second new feeder is the Spiral Treat Tray Feeder. Three cups spiral up the center rod and can be filled with mealworms or a variety of other treats.

How to feed birds mealworms:
Most people “train” the birds to come at the same time, same place every day. Some people whistle or wear a bright hat to signal the birds you are about to feed. Our experience has shown that the early birds like to get the worms. Birds are hungry in the morning and it’s always nice to start the day with a good breakfast. You can also feed them in the evening before they roost.

Start out by placing a teaspoon of worms in a feeder near where you see the bird perching. Sometimes I like to put them out with an apple slice. The worms can have a yummy last meal and the birds enjoy the juicy worms and may even enjoy the apple as dessert. As you get more birds trained to come you can increase the amount of worms to about a teaspoon of worms per bird per day. Once the birds have figured out where you are feeding, you can move the feeder short distances every day or so until it's located where you can view them comfortably.

Care of mealworms:
Our Wild Birds Unlimited 500 count medium mealworms come in a mixture of bran and can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator if they are fed.

To feed your mealworms remove them from the refrigerator once every 2 weeks and feed them an apple for 24 hours at room temperature. This is how they get their drink of water and will stay fresh and plump. Then remove any uneaten apple, add about one inch of bran, or crushed Wheaties to the container and place back in the refrigerator.
REMEMBER: To maintain mealworms keep them dry and well ventilated.
NOT TOO DEEP! -Maximum depth of worms and bran no more than 1 inch deep.
KEEP COOL! Ideally mealworms should be stored at 45 degrees, so store them somewhere cool.

Monday, March 21, 2011

When should I put up my hummingbird feeder?

The most frequently asked question in the spring is when to put out the hummingbird feeders?

In mid-Michigan you have to pay your taxes and put out your hummingbird feeders by April 15th. You can track the migration of the Ruby throated hummingbird on www.hummingbirds.net.

The hummingbirds we see in April probably won’t stick around but continue on to nest in the Upper Peninsula or Canada. The hummingbirds that choose to nest in our area (the regulars) usually arrive by Mothers Day, the second Sunday in May.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some Clever, Unusual, Bizarre, and Interesting Bird Nests

I photographed this Greater Adjutant (Leptopti...Image via Wikipedia
You might have grown up with the story of how storks bring human babies gently to their family. You might not know that the Greater Adjutant, a stork in India, has human help delivering its own babies.

The Greater Adjutant, the rarest of 19 species of storks on earth, is found in India and Cambodia. The name is derived from their stiff "military" gait when walking on the ground. There are only 800 of these five feet tall, large billed, bare headed birds left in the world. Their main diet is carrion and they can often be found on garbage dumps. The video below is from PBS’s Nature: The Beauty of Ugly and shows a little of their story. Watch the video: http://youtu.be/OBskuBPNcYo

Some other notable nesters:
  • Red-breasted Nuthatches dab globs of pine tree pitch/sap below the hole to restrict predator access.
  • Great Crested Flycatchers decorate the entrance of its nest with a shed snakeskin or a clear plastic wrapper to scare away predators.
  • Sociable Weaver or Social Weaver combines forces and takes over entire trees to build a large compound of community nests. Up to 300 pairs of birds come together to build giant mega-nests up to 25 feet wide, 5 feet high and with an individual room for every couple. As with a huge condo complex, there are multiple ‘basement’ entrances that lead up through clusters of chambers.
  • Black Kites use white plastic litter to line their nests, apparently to signal strength and aggression or to camouflage their white eggs.
  • Megapodes, also known as incubator birds or mound-builders, build a large compost heap of decaying vegetation and then bury their eggs inside to incubate.
  • 
    HoatzinImage by dermoidhome via Flickr
    Hoatzins, found in the rainforests of South America, nest in small colonies. They lay 2–3 eggs in a stick nest in tree branches hanging over water in seasonally flooded forests. Then if they’re threatened by a predator, the Hoatzin chicks leap into the water. When the danger passes they climb back into the nest. Hoatzin chicks have two claws on each wing to help them climb in the tree. These claws disappear as the bird grows older.
  • Bowerbirds are master builders. But they don’t actually build a nest, just a bachelor pad to woo females. When a female arrives to inspect the bower, the male struts and sings. If mating takes place, the female then flies off to build a nest close by, leaving the male to try to convince another female to join in a romantic tryst. The video below shows one elaborate structure. Watch the video: http://youtu.be/GPbWJPsBPdA

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Common Backyard Bird Nest Identification

The art applied to building a nest is very individual for each bird species.

Bluebird, Eastern – a neat, woven cup-shaped nest made mainly from fine grass or pine needles inside an old woodpecker nest or bird house.

Cardinal, Northern – Builds cup-shaped nest low in dense shrub from twigs, weeds, grass, and leaves.

Chickadee, Black-capped – Another cavity nester that starts building her nest with a moss base and tops it with animal fur or cottony plant fibers.

Cowbird, Brown-headed - Cowbirds do not build their own nest – Instead they lay one egg in several nests and let other birds foster their young.

Dove, Mourning – On the fork of a shrub or tree or sometimes on the ground or on an outside workbench or gutter. Doves are known for their inappropriate nesting sites. Nest is usually a fragile, shallow platform of twigs made by the male.

Goldfinch, American – Nests in August. At a fork of a deciduous tree the female builds a nest from grass and spider silk and lines it with plant down and hair.

House Finch – Messy cup-shaped nest made of twigs, grasses, plant fibers, leaves, rootlets, hairs, string and wool, lichens. Sometimes nest in wreaths on doors of houses or hanging plants.

House Sparrow – Tall messy nest made from a collection of loose litter, grasses, feathers and more stuffed into a bird house.

Hummingbird, Ruby-throated – Female alone constructs cup-shaped nests with a diameter about the same size as a quarter. They start to build with bud scales and spider webs and then camouflage the outside with lichen. To cushion the inside of the nest they use cotton or some other plant fluff like dandelions.

Jay, Blue – Male and female build bulky stick nest in a crotch of a tree or tall shrub.

Oriole, Baltimore – Nests high in deciduous trees. Female weaves a hanging pouch at the end of a branch from grasses, plant stems and grape vines and then lines it with fine grasses and animal fur.

Robin, American – Builds sturdy cup nest in coniferous or deciduous tree or shrub. Made from grass, moss and loose bark and cemented with mud.

Swallow, Tree – Inside a bird house they build a cup-shaped nest of grass or pine needles, usually lined with lots of fluffy feathers to cover the eggs.

Woodpeckers – Most of Michigan’s woodpeckers use their chisel-like bills to excavate their cavity nests in trees, and line it with woodchips. They will also use a bird house that is packed with wood chips.

Wren, House – Male fills a many bird houses full of twigs and lets the female choose. Females then take over building the nest with cottony spider cocoons, fine fibers and downy feathers.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, March 18, 2011

Third Eagle Hatches on Video


As this video starts, the empty shell is visible behind the 2 chicks. Later you will see the 3rd chick bobbling on the left as the older two eat. Mom will also feed it some towards the end of this clip.

Ever wonder how birds know how to build nests?

Is it an inborn ability all birds have to create an area for eggs? Research has found that the basics in nest construction are primarily instinctive, but birds’ building skills improve through trial and error.

Nests keep eggs and nestlings warm and safe from predators and bad weather. We usually think of them as grasses twisted into a bowl shape high in a tree branch but some birds build nests on the ground, some in bushes, while still others burrow into the sides of cliffs or trees. Barn swallows build mud pellet and grass nests around barns, while House Finches prefer to build near our houses in wreaths or hanging house plants. Wrens will build stick nests in almost any cavity, from empty bird feeders to man-made bird houses.

Sometimes you look at the crazy places birds build nests and ask, why? The answer may be as easy as they’re young. One Eastern Bluebird study in Michigan found the older birds quickly reaffirm the connection to their mate from the previous year and begin nesting earlier than first year males and females. As a result the more experienced birds get to choose the preferred nest boxes and the younger birds are relegated to the less perfect natural cavities or mailboxes.

Related Articles:
Bird Nest Basics http://bit.ly/sqNq0u
Is it too early to put up a birdhouse? http://bit.ly/tmN9rj
How do you know when a nest is abandoned? http://bit.ly/usMPY8
Goldfinches: The Last Birds Nesting http://bit.ly/sqafTq
5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses http://bit.ly/uWN7fE
Common Backyard Bird Nest Identification http://bit.ly/sVfipj

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wonderful Homemade Bird House

Hi, Sarah ~These nice folks stopped by the Wild Birds Unlimited store in  with their very first homemade birdhouse today! They had recently purchased a metal predator guard from us, which you can see if you look closely at the opening.

I asked them if it would be OK to post a picture on our blog and they agreed, so I snapped a couple of shots with my phone. Their names are Carl and Joyce Bliesener from East Lansing. Carl built the house and Joyce painted it. Teamwork! :) 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Where do you hang a bat house?

I saw the bat houses at your store and I was just wondering where you're supposed to hang them? Do they really work?

Bat Houses
Providing bat houses can help build the populations of many valuable bat species. In return the bats will consume half their weight in a night or as many as 600 or more insects an hour.

Bats find the bat houses just like birds find bird houses, by sight. If a house is in the proper location, meets the bats’ requirements and is needed, bats will move in on their own. The majority of bats that use houses are females using the house as nurseries.

In Michigan the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat are the most likely to use Wild Birds Unlimited bat houses which meet the specifications determined by Bat Conservation International and the Organization for Bat ConservationIn the northern two thirds of the U.S. and Canada, most bats migrate south in the winter. Most bats that inhabit bat houses in the summer will move to caves, or mines in the winter. Tree roosting bats will fly south.

Bat House Placement
Bat boxes should be hung at least 15’ above the ground-- the higher, the better. Houses mounted 20’ away from trees they are inhabited twice as quickly as those in wooded areas.

Research also shows that they are more successful if they have at least 8 hours of sun. The morning sun is most important. Bat houses should face the south or southeast.

In northern areas the top third of the house can be painted brown or black with a latex water base paint to aid in warming the box. In southern parts of the country, the boxes can be painted latex water base white, if there is too much direct sun.

Some Bat Facts
• Providing houses furnishes places for bats to roost, hibernate and raise young, in addition to, and when the natural sites are not available.
• Little Brown Bats, while hibernating can reduce their heart rate to 20 beats per minute and can stop breathing for 48 minutes at a time. Little Brown Bats can hibernate for more than seven months if left undisturbed.
• A group of bats is called a "colony"
• A baby bat is called a "pup"
• Bats are warm blooded mammals and nurse their babies with milk.
• A nursing little brown bat mother can eat more than her body weight nightly (up to 4,500 insects).
• They are the only mammals that can fly, but bats have fur and no feathers.
• Bats hang upside down so they can get high up and away from their predators and also to get an easy take off by just turning loose and flapping their wings.
Enhanced by Zemanta