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 26, 2012

Debunking 10 bird myths as winter approaches

1. Little birds hitch rides on bigger birds to journey southNo birds ride on the backs of other birds to go south. Even the littlest birds in Michigan, the ruby-throated hummingbirds, migrate thousands of miles south each fall to reach their winter homes in Mexico and Central America under their own power. They fly about 23 miles a day by themselves, not in flocks or on the backs of geese.  
2. All birds fly south in the winter - In general, it's estimated that of the over 200 species of birds nesting in Michigan, about 90 percent migrate to some extent. Whether it’s from the U.P. to mid-Michigan or from our state to Mexico or Central America depends on the bird. Some permanent or non-migrating backyard birds are Downy Woodpeckers, Black-Capped Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatches, or House Sparrows.  
3. Don’t start feeding birds until it snows - Birds have a varied diet and the best way to help them develop brighter plumage is to create a habitat with lots food high in fat in protein in the fall. Young birds like chickadees and titmice find new territories to hook up with other young birds at the end of summer and join local adults to form winter flocks. If you are feeding a good birdseed blend now, you will attract lots of birds that will remain in the same general area for the rest of their adult lives.  
4. I can use last year’s seed this year - In warm weather or if you store your seed inside buy no more than 2-3 weeks supply of seed at a time. And never pour old seed on top on new. During the winter, foods will generally be fine for at least 3 months if stored properly in a cool, dry place. At Wild Birds Unlimited, we guarantee our bird food will be fresh and a healthy choice for our local birds.  
5. Birds will eat any seed - Food is essential to provide birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition to endure the elements. Our Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI are dedicated to offering fresh, top-quality seed that is also sifted to take out all the sticks and field debris. Our no-waste bird seed blends are made from 100% edible seed and have been exclusively formulated for the feeding preferences of our local birds. No cereal fillers—just fresh, high-quality seed your birds will love. We also carry a wide variety of other bird foods—suet and no-melt doughs, seed cylinders, mealworms and more. We do not include cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo that decrease the price per pound of a mix but aren't eaten by the birds in Michigan.  
6. The birds will starve if stop feeding them - Some people believe that once you start bird feeding, it should be continued. Or that feeding your birds in the summer will 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. Bird feeding is a fun and educational hobby. Birds appreciate the food but never become dependent on your feeder unless there is a severe storm that prevents them from foraging.  
7. Birds’ feet will stick 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.  
8. Heated bird baths are like hot tubs for birds - If your area freezes like mid-Michigan, you can provide a heated birdbath for your birds. This isn’t like a hot tub. The bath just remains free of ice and open to the birds. Most people understand the importance of water for drinking but many do not realize just how important it is in bathing for birds. Because feathers are critical for flight and insulation, birds keep them well-maintained. A good part of a bird's day is spent just cleaning and grooming its feathers by bathing, scratching, and preening.  
9. Bird houses are only used in the spring - At night or during bad weather birds often find shelter in tree cavities, birdhouses, or under the eaves of houses. Bird houses left up all winter also might attract young birds scouting out future nesting sites.  
10. Hawks in the yard will kill all my birds - Ultimately, the only thing you can do when a hawk comes to dinner is wait it out. Most hawks that settle in at feeders do so for two or three weeks and then they are off again to different territory. The presence of hawks at your feeders should in no way cause you to discontinue feeding birds. Just take a few simple steps to protect them and enjoy a season of bird feeding. 

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