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, November 13, 2012

We're Irrupting . . . with Birds!

Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Siskins and Evening Grosbeaks have arrived! Have you seen these birds? If not, you will! This is an irruptive year, meaning that birds’ natural food supplies in Canada are low and many species of birds must head south to find food for the winter. When you throw these "invaders" together with the usual winter bird residents in mid-Michigan, you should have a fabulous year at the feeders!

Most of these new birds spend their summer isolated in Canada’s boreal forest so they don’t seem to have any fear of humans. They stay close as I fill my feeders and seem fascinated by the never-ending food at feeders.

Every morning may bring in a new bird. I first heard the ehh, ehh, ehh of the Red-breasted Nuthatch in October. The happy laughing call of this bird that is only about the size of my thumb brings me joy every morning. Adult Red-breasted Nuthatches have gray backs with rust-colored breasts. They have black caps, white stripes above the eyes and what looks like a black mask over the eyes. In winter, you can see them walking upside down on the trunks of trees as they look for bugs, as well as seeds of fir, pine, and spruce trees. They are also common visitors at peanut, sunflower, mealworms, and suet feeders.

You’ll never know when you’ll come face to face with the unexpected bird at the feeders. The Pine Siskins slip seamlessly into goldfinch flocks feeding from the finch feeders. At a first glance, siskins appear to be very small streaked sparrows with faint yellow patches on their wings and tails, not always visible. But Pine Siskins are very social birds and have a cheerful "zzziip" song.

Like a rock-star, the Evening Grosbeak is a noticeable winter visitor during irruption years. They are a large, robust finch with a body that glows dusky yellow, a brownish black head with black crown and a heavy conical beak that is a pale greenish yellow and appears too big for its body. It flies on black wings that flash brilliant white patches. Once a flock descends they can empty a sunflower feeder in a very short time but they are such handsome birds we are happy to spoil them when they grace us with their presence.

Feeders are a great way to attract all these fabulous birds to your yard. We have many styles of feeders that are ideal for these birds & the foods they love! Come by the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, Michigan and we will help you decide what you need!

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