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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Photo Share: Looking up, looking down

If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.  

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Best bird feeder poles

The Advanced Pole System -
Looks Great, Stays Straight!
Wild Birds Unlimited patented Advanced Pole System (APS) is comprised of interchangeable hardware pieces, that lets you add or subtract bird feeders, birdhouses and other bird feeding accessories, giving you the ability to create and customize your bird feeding station with over 3,000 combinations — it is all up to you!

How Does It Work?
It’s easy! Just insert a screwdriver into the hole at the middle of the 4-foot Base Pole and twist it into the ground using the convenient corkscrew auger connected at the bottom of the pole. Next slide the Stabilizer onto the Base Pole and push into the ground. Tests show the stabilizer holds the pole straight in up to 35 MPH wind gusts. Plus, it is lawnmower-friendly.

Get Creative!
Create your own unique setup by selecting the bird feeder, birdhouse, bird bath, or bird feeder supplies you want. The APS parts fit together easily, and no special tools are required. Birds will flock to your new APS station in no time. So, sit back and enjoy the show.

It’s Flexible!
The APS was designed to accommodate all feeders with many hanging accessories from which to choose. Suet feeder, peanut feeder, tube feeder, wooden feeder, one feeder, many feeders — the Advanced Pole System is the ultimate solution to all your birdfeeding needs.

Don’t have a yard?
Use the Advanced Pole System to create a birdfeeding station on your deck. It’s that flexible! For more information click HERE or come in to the stores and we can help you build the best bird feeding system. Now is the time to install the new system!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cicada mania not coming to Michigan until 2021

If you’ve seen the news lately you may have heard about the emergence of the amazing 17 year cicadas due this year in the eastern United States.

Magicicada septendecim female (Brood X). by C. Simon
According to Michigan State University Extension, “Officially known as periodical cicadas, there are seven species of these large, tough and noisy insects in the United States. Three species have a 17-year cycle and four species have a 13-year cycle. There are 15 different “broods” of periodical cicadas in the country, with differing geographic ranges and cycling. The brood of adults that is emerging this year (2013) in many eastern seaboard states is Brood II. Brood X, the one that exists in several Midwestern states including Michigan, is not due for an emergence until 2021.

The life history of periodical cicadas is one of the most fascinating in the insect world. To start with, very few insects have long lives – most complete their life cycles in one year or less, so a 17-year life span is remarkable. One would expect that the variability of environmental factors such as temperature, food availability or quality, etc., would allow some individuals to mature ahead of others while others might be delayed, but the coincidence of adult emergence in the proper cycle year by billions of individuals shows that there is an astounding synchrony and consistency to their developmental pace.

The adult cicadas feed on stems and branches of plants by sucking out sap, and even at high numbers this is not particularly injurious to plants. However, there is great harm done to trees in the process of laying eggs. Females use their sharp ovipositor to insert eggs under the bark of branches, causing a die-back of the branch beyond the point of injury. This damage can be very widespread and destructive to trees in forests, landscapes and orchards. In a few weeks, tiny immature cicadas called nymphs hatch from the eggs and immediately move to the ground and burrow into the soil. The nymphs, depending on the species, will spend the next 13 or 17 years below ground feeding on sap from the roots of woody plants.”

For more information on periodical cicadas and their relatives:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Pine Siskin's most recognizable call is an upsweeping zzzzzziiip!

I've understood that Pine Siskins are supposed to be relatively common around here, but until the last year I never (knowingly) saw one.  Since then I saw them three other times, and I've been actively looking for them.... But now in the last few weeks I've seen them quite often.  Is this an unexpected bonus of leaving my feeders up later than I have in the past?
The Pine Siskin, a member of the finch family, is closely related to the Redpoll and the American Goldfinches. It is normal to see siskins in mid-Michigan from October until the end of May.

They are an irruptive species that can be common in mid-Michigan some winters and scarce in others. We had a lot of siskins come down south this winter because the seed crop was so bad in Canada last year. So it's not unusual to see the siskins this time of year, but the numbers are definitely up.

They eat mainly seeds, young buds, and some insects. In a part of their esophagus called the crop, the Pine Siskins can store up to 10% of their body weight in seeds that they will digest overnight, providing extra energy to survive in very cold temperatures.

They also can protect their young from cold with nests insulated heavily with thick plant materials. During the breeding season, females incubate their eggs and hatchlings continuously, while being fed by their male mate. Pine Siskins breed mostly in coniferous forests of the upper part of Michigan, Canada and at higher elevations further south.

I will miss their loud and cheerful "zzziip" song when they leave. (The word "Siskin" is of Scandinavian origin and means "chirper".)
pine-siskin call:

Powered by mp3skull.com 
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Bald Eagle watches over veterans at the cemetery

When amateur photographer Frank Glick drove through Fort Snelling National Cemetery early one morning, he spotted a bald eagle through the mist, perched on a gravestone.

Read the full article by: Jon Tevlin, Star Tribune, “The eagle couldn't have picked a better person” at: http://www.startribune.com/local/124543223.html 

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pigeons' perch

Buildings are used for nesting as are cliffs a...Image via Wikipedia
Pigeons that you see hanging out under bridges and on statues are the feral descendants of domesticated Rock Pigeons introduced to North America by early settlers.

In their native land of southern Europe, North Africa, and into South Asia, the  Rock Pigeons nest along coastal cliff faces.

In their non-native land, pigeons have adapted to nesting under bridges and artificial cliff faces created by tall buildings with accessible overhangs and perching on giant sculptures that serve as substitutes for natural ledges.

Rock Pigeons are a large, highly variably colored dove also called the Domestic Pigeon, Homing Pigeon, or Rock Dove. 

Now the Rock Pigeon is a year-round resident across the United States, seen in the city area, in parks, and in some backyards. They are ground feeders and will feed from bird feeders if possible.

Parent birds feed the young regurgitated liquid known as crop-milk for the first few days of life just like the Mourning Dove. A group of pigeons has many collective nouns, including a "band", "dropping", "loft", "passel" and "school" of pigeons.
 
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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Robin song in the urban jungle starts really early

The best part of spring for me is waking up to bird song. But you have to wonder why the American Robin and Northern Cardinal start singing at dawn. Are they just early birds or perhaps think this the best time to sing a solo?

A recent article by Mark Blazis pondered the advantages of the early bird. He and ornithologist Andrew Vitz theorized that many female songbirds lay their eggs in early morning and that a male sings at that time to reinforce the bond with the female, while simultaneously dissuading other males from jumping into the nest.

Research by biologist Mark W. Miller also found that in 1929 the first robin songs began about 45 minutes before sunrise, but 84 years later with our neighborhoods flooded in artificial light, robins tended to break their silence more than an hour earlier.

I was watching a robin furiously gathering mud and dried plant litter at the edge of the drainage ditch at the Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing store yesterday. Females build cup-shaped nests from long coarse grass, twigs, paper, and feathers woven together and then line the inner bowl with mud, smearing it with their chest and later adding fine grass or other soft material to cushion the eggs.

In Michigan, American Robins breed once or twice yearly. The breeding season extends from April through July. Blazis writes that sex and singing are inextricably connected and once a robin’s second clutch has hatched, romantic courtship will be replaced largely by parental duties. Then the early morning passionate birdsong will drop dramatically.

But don’t worry, just as the robins end their courtship the American Goldfinches begin theirs!

Sources:
Outdoors: Predawn bird songs fading soon by Mark Blazis http://ning.it/LT6Xvk
American robin song by Patterson Clark http://goo.gl/ERk2f

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Photo Share: Feeding baby robins

"Good parents give their children Roots and Wings." --Jonas Salk
Poppa shows off his brood of three proudly!
The customers at the East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited store were treated to the view of Mr. and Mrs. Robin and their three babies today.

When American Robins first leave the nest they can't fly. They are nurtured in their nest until they are about 2 weeks old. Then their parents begin a 2 week basic training course to teach their offspring to hop, sleep on sheltered branches at night, forage for food, and learn how to fly.

Baby robins are very vulnerable before they can fly. To help ensure that the baby robins in your yard are safe, keep cats indoors and don't use unnecessary pesticides in the lawn and garden.

It's a big world out there and it’s amazing how quickly these young birds learn to be independent.

They were eating some peanuts but then I offered them mealworms
and momma and poppa couldn't grab enough!
Fat and happy
If you spot a baby bird in your yard, the best thing to do is probably just leave it alone. Call for help before you do anything.

For a list of licensed rehabilitators click HERE
Or visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/
Or to search for a local wildlife rehabilitation group by zip code at: http://www.wildliferehabber.org/ 

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

I have a lot of bird baths

As you may know I have a lot of feeders; some for the finches, some for the woodpeckers, a couple for the cardinals and other seed eating birds and even one for the squirrels. What you may not know is that I also have several bird baths.

We all need water and the migrant bird species that I've seen taking a break at my baths are amazing! Some of the birds we are seeing now are the ones that go way north to nest and then turn around to winter way south. These hemisphere-trotting birds are remarkable in so many ways and one of the easiest ways to attract them is with a bird bath.

Adequate fluid replacement is important for endurance athletes. So it makes sense that the first thing migrating birds look for is water.

I have several baths and a pond at my suburban home. Do you need that many water areas? All my baths are always active. Some are low to the ground, some are tall, some are shallow, and some are deeper. It’s fun to watch which bath different bird species will choose.

And I can’t wait for the babies to show up! Many of our local mid-Michigan birds are feeding young in the nest which will fledge over the upcoming days and weeks. If you’ve bird watched long enough, you’ve noticed that often the first place parent birds bring their babies is to the bath.

The bird watching has been very exciting recently and the yard is about to get even busier. Anyone interested in birds has not been disappointed this spring. I recommend having at least a couple baths in your yard for the birds and for your bird watching entertainment!
 
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Plant some milkweed

Milkweeds attract a wide variety of pollinators like hummingbirds and are the sole food source of monarch butterfly larvae and their relatives. Where you once saw milkweed along roadsides and in farm fields here in Michigan, today manicured lawns, and the herbicides used to prepare fields crops has created a shortage of food for the Monarch caterpillars.

You can find several varieties sold at garden centers. Their flowers produce a strong and beautiful fragrance in the spring and fluffy seed pods in the fall that the goldfinches love to uses as nesting material.

Common Milkweed is a perennial native to Michigan and much of the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. It prefers well-drained soils and full sunlight and is very easy to identify with its big broad meaty leaves and tall stem and tight starry flower clusters that look like exploding pink fireworks. It also bleeds a milky white sap wherever broken much like dandelions.
Monarch caterpillars like Milkweed because it contains a variety of chemical compounds that make them poisonous to potential predators. The adult monarch and monarch larvae are both brightly colored serving as a warning to potential predators that they are poisonous. Unsuspecting predators only need to taste a monarch butterfly or larva once to learn not to eat them again. Most animals quickly spit them out.

Female monarchs may lay only one egg per plant, which hatches into a caterpillar in about five days. Tiny little larva or caterpillars emerge and begin eating milkweed. Once fully grown the caterpillar forms a chrysalis and emerges as butterfly two weeks later.

Spring is a critical time for monarchs. Their numbers are at their lowest point at this time of year. The old generation is dying. A new generation must grow and survive. You can track their migration on the Monarch Butterfly Migration Map.

Resources:

Related Articles:
- Do Monarch Butterflies just wake up in the spring? http://goo.gl/5tkUk
- Monarch migration route http://goo.gl/L66ty
- Punctuation Butterflies: The First Butterfly of Spring! http://bit.ly/JHUpG1  
- How Fast Does a Monarch Butterfly Fly? http://bit.ly/ywhpZr
- Did you know butterflies have ears on their wings? http://bit.ly/x04qEi

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tiny brushes to clean hummingbird feeders

Mold is very bad in hummingbird feeders. Remember to change the nectar in your feeder every 2-4 days, regardless of whether the nectar has been used. In hot, humid weather you might even have to change the nectar every other day.

I find the more often I change the nectar the easier it is to maintain the feeder. You won't be battling any black mold and you'll have a lot more hummingbirds and orioles.

To clean the hard to reach places you can use a pipe cleaner or we have special little brushes for cleaning feeders at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Now that we are in the hot and humid weather, you should soak the hummingbird feeder for about 5 minutes in a Scoot, active enzyme cleaner once a week. Or use a one part vinegar to nine parts water solution to clean the feeders. Then rinse your feeders thoroughly.

Also make sure your nectar solution is the proper proportion.
 
Nectar (sugar water) recipe
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup water

 
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Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Hummingbird time

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds begin migrating into Michigan mid-April and by Mother’s day they have probably settled into their nesting territories.

If you haven’t put your feeder up, what are you waiting for? It’s not too late! Hummingbirds don’t need your feeder to survive, but they might appreciate a reliable source of food with this cold spring we’ve been experiencing. Also these incredible little birds are fascinating to watch and a hummingbird feeder can bring them up close.

Only about 50% of all hummers survive their first year. Cold weather takes a toll on all hummer species because their high-energy requirements don’t allow them to go without food for long.

When they aren’t at the feeder, hummingbirds find nectar from a variety of flowers as well as sap from trees. Throughout the day a hummer drinks more than half its body weight in nectar. But that pointy hummingbird bill isn’t only for sipping nectar; it’s also made for snatching bugs out of the air.

Hummingbirds eat a lot of insects and spiders. They are excellent hunters. Hummingbirds can catch insects in flight, or pluck them from leaves, or catch spiders from their webs. (Sometimes I suggest throwing old fruit or banana peels near your hummingbird feeders to attract fruit flys for the hummers.)

When a hummingbird goes for an insect, it rushes at it with its mouth wide open, and the lower half of its bill can bend downward, even though it has no joint. But they're so fast it takes a camera that films 500 frames a second to capture the move.
 
PBS’s Nature produced an interesting documentary that explains how these tiny birds survive. You can watch the full episode, Hummingbirds: Magic in the Air, online at: http://video.pbs.org/video/1380512531/

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blue black and white bird with a white wing spot

Customers have been reporting sightings of the Black-throated Blue Warbler at the suet feeders. A common migrant through mid-Michigan May through the beginning of June, these birds are a treat to see!

Males look dark black on top with a white wing spot and white belly. But when the sun hits, the feathers on his back turn a dark blue. The female which is olive brown and tan with a faint black eyebrow, looks very different in appearance from the male.

Black-throated Blue Warblers nest in northern Michigan. We see them in the spring and then they’ll pass through mid-Michigan again mid-August to late September.

The Black-throated Blue Warbler forages in low vegetation, sometimes catching insects in flight. They eat mainly beetles, caterpillars, butterflies and moths, flies, bugs, and spiders.

They build an interesting nest using cobwebs and spit to glue bark together and line it with soft moss, pine needles and animal hair. The nest is usually constructed in a shrub 3ft off the ground in large undisturbed deciduous and mixed-deciduous forests up north.

Listen for their slow, wheezy, rising song of I’m lay-zeeee throughout the day during migration.

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Gmn0b
- Do we stop feeding suet in the summer? http://goo.gl/KM80C
- Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/vPOMx1
- Warblers in Michigan http://goo.gl/WMMGs

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tips to help choose the best backyard binoculars

Need help in selecting a good pair of binoculars. Basically for back yard. Can you help?

Answer these questions to get a better handle on what you really need:

How much magnification do you need?
Making the image 8 or 10 times closer with binoculars is the most popular choice.

8x binoculars work well in all terrain and in a wide variety of situations because images tend to be brighter with wider fields of view. The large view makes it easier to follow fast moving birds in thick woodland environments, scan for animals from a distance, and to follow action in sporting events or at the theater.

10x binoculars give you more detail for viewing raptors, waterfowl, and large wildlife, and are preferred for observing at longer distances and in more open terrain. Keep in mind that you need a steady hand. It takes very little hand tremor to affect your view.

Do your binoculars need to be waterproof?
Most standard binoculars will stand up to light rain and humidity. But if bad weather is a possibility, then get a waterproof binocular.

Will you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses?
Constantly taking your glasses on and off is not only frustrating, but it will slow you down when tracking fast-moving birds. Twist up eye cups allow you to twist the eye cups up to give you the perfect eye relief when you aren’t wearing glasses and twist down the eye cups when you wear glasses.

Full Size Binoculars or Compact?
Compact binoculars (like Vortex Vanquish 8x26 binoculars) are small enough to fit in a pocket while you're at work in the yard. These small binoculars will be bright enough for daytime use and, if light gathering isn't an issue, are easier to travel with and take along for walks, concerts and football games.

Full-Size Binoculars (like Eagle Optics Denali 8x42 or 10x42 binoculars) will provide better image quality than compact binoculars. Full-size binoculars will gather enough light to show good color and definition from dawn to dusk.

Our most popular binocular is:
Eagle Optics Denali 8x42 Roof Prism Binocular

Field of View: 408 feet/1000 yards
Eye Relief: 18 mm
Close Focus: 7.0 feet
Weight: 21.9 ounces
Dimensions (HxW): 5.4 x 5.0 in.
Weatherproofing:Waterproof/Fog-proof

The Denali's crisp, contrasting views work hard when scanning across open fields. Phase correction enhances resolution, contrast, and overall sharpness. Fully multi-coated lenses provide maximum brightness and true colors.

Denali is waterproof and fog proof for durability you can count on in any weather. Waterproofing seals optics against water damage. Fog proofing prevents fogging of internal lenses. Ergonomic styling provides comfortable handling. Twist-up eyecups adjust for full-field viewing even with eyeglasses.

The Eagle Optics Denali 8x42 Roof Prism Binocular comes with:
Rainguard, tethered objective lens covers, neck strap, carry case, and an Eagle Optics Platinum Protection Unconditional Transferable Lifetime Warranty.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Photo Share: Cute Canada Warbler

The Canada Warbler is little yellow and gray warbler with a white eye ring and black speckled neck. These warblers come in to mid-Michigan at the end of May and look to nest in wet low-lying areas of a mixed woods.

Hikers might see them pop up occasionally from dense shrubs. Females build a loose cup nest on mossy stumps or upturned trees. By August most are done nesting and are already on their way back to their wintering grounds in South America.

Listen for the song of this bird, a loud chip chewy sweet dichetty and low chup's calls.

If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.  

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Gmn0b
- Do we stop feeding suet in the summer? http://goo.gl/KM80C
- Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/vPOMx1
- Warblers in Michigan http://goo.gl/WMMGs

Some good reasons to feed suet in the spring

Spring is a time when a lot of birds fly thousands of miles to return to their Michigan nesting grounds. When they reach your yard they are exhausted and looking for a quick high protein meal to help them recover. Some cold days in May, I've seen different warblers, wrens and my regular woodpeckers stopping to fuel up on my suet feeder. Another good reason to always keep that feeder full!

To choose a suet that attracts the widest variety of birds, the first ingredient should always be rendered beef suet. Some people feed straight suet only. Straight beef suet will deter starlings and blackbirds at the suet feeder if they become overwhelming.  If you want to offer more protein and flavor the next ingredient should usually be peanuts or tree nuts.

Never, never buy suet where milo, oats, wheat, processed grain by-products or artificial flavorings are in the ingredients. These filler ingredients are used to make a cheaper cake but the birds have to pick around and pick out all this filler to reach a little suet.

All of the suets at the Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing, MI store are made with only the highest quality processed beef kidney fat. It is the most concentrated source of energy you can offer wild birds.

Our best seller is the peanut butter suet cake, which has only three ingredients: rendered beef fat, chopped peanuts and peanut butter. Again, no milo, no wheat, no corn, and no millet - no filler ingredients!

If you have a problem with squirrels or other wildlife eating your suet try our Hot Pepper Suet. It has rendered beef suet, ground peanuts and capsicum pepper. Capsicum contains capsaicin, a chemical that that doesn’t harm but can produce a strong burning sensation in the mouth of squirrels. Most mammals find this unpleasant, whereas birds are unaffected.

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Gmn0b
- Do we stop feeding suet in the summer? http://goo.gl/KM80C
- Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/vPOMx1
- Warblers in Michigan http://goo.gl/WMMGs

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Watch for Indigo Buntings

Male Indigo Bunting
Indigo Buntings are a dark gray or black bird about the size of a goldfinch. When the sun hits the male his feather structure refracts the sun to make him appear a brilliant indigo blue.  In mid-Michigan, we often see them at the finch or sunflower bird feeders.

Buntings can travel thousands of miles in the spring from their southern wintering grounds to their breeding grounds at the top of Florida to the bottom of Canada and as far east as Maine and as far west as Nevada. They will stop in many yards on their journey looking to refuel. Migration takes place in April and May and then again in September and October.
Indigos like a variety of food, including small seeds, nuts, berries, insects, mosquitoes, flies, aphids, small spiders, buds, goldenrod, thistle, grasses, and herbs.

Female Indigo Bunting at nest
At my feeders they like the Nyger Thistle and the No-Mess blend which has the sunflower chips, peanuts, and millet without the hulls.
The only way to get them to stay the whole summer is if you live in an area where they like to breed. Indigo buntings nest in brushy and weedy habitats along the edges of farmland, woods, roads, and railways.

According to Birds of Michigan by Ted Black, “Raspberry thickets are a favored nesting location for many of our Indigo Buntings. The dense, thorny stems provide the nestlings with protection from many predators, and the berries are a convenient source of food.”

Related Article:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Small yellow bird

Arriving in mid-Michigan in the beginning of May from Central and South America, the Yellow Warbler is a common migrant that might mistakenly be called “wild canary.” At about 5 inches long, these bright yellow birds have dark bills, and olive green wing-tips and tails. During breeding season there are also faint red breast streaks on the male.
They are bug eaters and like to glean caterpillars, aphids, beetles and other invertebrates from leaves as they flit from branch to branch on the edges of woodlands.

Unfortunately their nests are among the most parasitized by the Brown-headed cowbird. Cowbirds deposit their eggs in nests of other birds’ species so that their cowbird chicks will be fostered. The cowbird eggs typically hatch earlier than their host’s eggs which gives them a competitive advantage over the other hatchlings.

Some Yellow Warblers will abandon their nest once a cowbird has left an egg. To just kick the out the cowbird egg could result in a cowbird attack on the nest and holes pecked in all the warblers own eggs. So warblers try to avoid the cowbirds all together or another tactic the warblers take is to build a new nest on top of an old nest that has a cowbird egg. Some nests end up looking like a bizarre, multi-layered high-rise nest.

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Gmn0b
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/yAR4pm
- Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/vPOMx1
- Warblers in Michigan http://goo.gl/WMMGs

Monday, May 13, 2013

Warblers in Michigan

I just wanted to write to thank you for all your help in choosing the best feeders and food for my yard. It’s incredible to live in the city, and see such good birds. I think it’s because we’ve switched to the “good stuff” at Wild Birds Unlimited. We are amazed and also sorry for those people who just don’t notice the beauty that is all around. I have my Michigan field guide and next I’m going to invest in your binoculars to get a closer look at of some of those new birds that keep showing up in town.~ Lansing, MI

Yellow-rumped Warbler AKA Butter-butts
This is a really great time to bird watch. Spring warbler migration begins in early April with the return of the Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers. During peak migration in mid-May, you may see or hear several species of warblers a day.

The endangered Kirtland's warbler is one of the rarest members of the wood warbler (Parulidae) family. It nests mainly in northern Michigan and just recently in Wisconsin and Ontario, but nowhere else on Earth.

Male Kirtland's warblers arrive back in Michigan from the Bahamas between May 3 and May 20, a few days ahead of the females. The males' song is loud, yet low pitched, ending with an upward inflection.

Some cold days in May, warblers are desperate to find insects to eat. These hungry and exhausted warblers often forage low and in the open. I’ve often seen them stopping by to fuel up on my suet feeder in the spring. Another good reason to always keep that feeder full!

Kirtland's warbler
The Blue-Winged Warbler is a common migrant in May. It prefers shrubby fields and willow swamps. Listen for the male’s buzzy two-parted beeee-bzzz song.

The Golden-winged Warbler is also a common spring migrant during the second and third week of May. Their preferred nesting area is overgrown fields. The male’s song is a high buzzy bee bee bee. From a distance their silhouette may be confused with a chickadee.

For a list of more Michigan warblers come in to check out our Birds of Michigan Field guides or go to: http://www.michiganaudubon.org/education/identification_guide/warblers.html

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Gmn0b
- Michigan made suet feeders: http://bit.ly/rbKskX 

- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/yAR4pm
- Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/vPOMx1
- What are the Best Binoculars: How to Choose Optics http://bit.ly/vZW26j

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Photo Share: Mother and son watching nature

Happy Mother's Day Weekend! 
"Pretty Silhouette" by Steve Hillebrand at Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri

Saturday, May 11, 2013

How birds find feeders

Birds are amazing creatures and can find new feeders several different ways just like humans find restaurants.

Everyone has a friend that likes to tell you about the new "hot spot". Some birds fly in flocks and may send out a scout bird to forage for new feeding sites.

Or if you see a line around the block for a restaurant, you may get in line yourself to check out the food. Some solitary birds see a lot of birds at a feeder and go see what all the fuss is about.

What if you see the "Golden Arches" on the way home from work? You know what's inside. Some birds already eat at the neighbor's house and may see your familiar feeders on the way home.

It may be a matter of hours before birds discover new feeders or a matter of weeks. The variation depends on habitat, number of nearby feeders, and the kinds of birds in the area. Chickadees, and House Sparrows are especially quick to locate new feeders. Also if you switch feeders the birds may be cautious to try that feeder. To encourage the birds to use new feeders tempt them with scattered seeds on the ground. 
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