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, February 5, 2013

Birds are the best part of winter!

In Michigan, birds are one of the best parts of our winter wildlife, especially with this brown winter we’ve been experiencing. New bird sightings are always exciting! I defy anyone not to be charmed by the discovery of a group of bluebirds at the heated birdbath.

Holly from Bath, Michigan had just such an experience and shared some fabulous pictures. She wrote, “I thought you might like these for your blog. Such a great year to watch the birds due to the irruption! This is our first year to have the bluebirds. They appreciated the water.”

Every fall and winter we have a fresh infusion of avian species, as birds from colder northern climates fly south to winter with us. They range from the great flocks of wild geese and eagles, to the smaller winter finches, juncos, waxwings, red-breasted nuthatches and more.

Holly also sent a wonder photo of a relatively new winter arrival, the Common Redpoll. They are an abundant breeding bird in northern Canada during the summer, and are seen in Michigan primarily in the winter during irruptions. Redpolls have a pouch in their throat that allows them to gather large amounts of food quickly, and then retreat to a safe place to process the food. A frequent visitor to backyard feeders, this lively bird is extremely social and constantly moving. Even when resting at night, members of the flock fidget and twitter.
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Then there are the titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, BrownCreepers, and woodpeckers which do most of their foraging on trees are sometimes called a tree-foraging guild. This group of mixed species fly together only in the winter for protection and to forage for food. Woodpeckers and nuthatches usually have laughing “eh eh eh” call which brightens any morning you are out in the cold filling the feeders.
Thank you Holly for sharing your observations on the blog! If you also enjoy the birds the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Wild Birds Unlimited is asking you to spend at least 15 minutes observing and counting birds during the third weekend in February. This Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) helps get answers to several questions.

Scientists use the GBBC information to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations. The longer data is collected, the more meaningful it becomes in helping scientists investigate far-reaching questions, like:

• How will the weather influence bird populations?
• Where are winter finches and other “irruptive” species that appear in large numbers during some years but not others?
• How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
• How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
• What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?
For highlights of past results, visit http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/science-stories

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