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.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Why the Birds have stopped feeding

All of our "regulars" have stopped feeding. We saw a pair hummingbirds for a couple of weeks, and now, not even a siting? They were using the feeders. The chickadees used to deplete the window feeder daily and now if they eat a quarter of the oilers, that is a big day. Put up an oriole feeder in hopes to attract one. No luck yet. The 7 pairs of cardinals we usually have, dwindled down to about 2. Is it just because everyone is busy nesting right now and things will pick up once the babies hatch? Bugs are more plentiful now? Can't remember this significant of a drop off before.

It’s not unusual to have hummingbirds disappear from your feeders for a time. After their long migration, hummers and other birds were hungry and appreciated an easy meal to rebuild their energy fast. Feeders become very handy in the spring when natural resources are scarce. However a lot more food sources soon became available and the females started to nest.

If a Ruby-throat nests near your feeder she may appreciate quick bites to eat while incubating eggs but hummingbirds’ visits to distant feeders may become less frequent. If the activity at your feeder has stopped, you should still continue to clean your hummingbird feeders twice a week and change the nectar.

Cardinals, chickadees and other birds that live in Michigan year-round are early nesters. They have probably had their first batch of babies and are now taking them away from the natal territory for a two week survival training course. Don’t worry this is the time you may see babies from other yards coming to the feeders.

Also thankfully it looks like the cold weather is finally going to leave us for a while. The rains and now the warm weather brings a lot of bugs, a favorite food for many growing families. And vegetarians like the American Goldfinches are also enjoying soft spring leaves as well as a plethora of dandelion and grass seeds.
Right now life is good for the birds. They will still visit but not as often. Studies have shown that birds with access to feeders during nesting season have more success than birds without access to feeders.
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And, don’t forget to maintain a birdbath. Water is a powerful attractor and will increase the number and variety of birds coming to your yard. In fact parent birds will often bring babies to the bird bath as their first road trip.
  
Thank you Holly for sharing your photos for this post. If anyone else 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:
- Can birds become dependent on bird feeders? http://goo.gl/GZYpke
- Do we stop feeding suet in the summer? http://bit.ly/GKWSRt
- Feeding Baby Birds http://bit.ly/GSHKwY
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://bit.ly/GKYw5q

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Little Poser: The Proud American Robin


The robin brings hope to a lot of people by showing up in the beginning of the year and being bold, bright and musical in the bleakest months. Then as we begin weeding and watering in the garden they are right there with us picking up pesky bugs. 

Thank you Greg for sharing a photo of your little poser! 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 29, 2014

Stokes Field Guide to Birds review

I saw an American Redstart female at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, Michigan. They are a medium sized warbler that are fairly easy to recognize once you’ve seen one. Their quick movements and bright yellow spots on the tail when they fan it open are obvious identifiers.

Then I saw an olive-yellow warbler. There are so many yellowish wood-warblers that look similar at first glance they are sometimes hard to identify. These small warblers that tend to live in woodland habitats are seen most often in our yards in the spring and fall as they stop over during migration. This is when it’s handy to have a good field guide to determine which bird is gracing you with their presence. I like the Birds of Michigan books, one by Ted Black and one by Stan Tekiela and now I just found an excellent book that helps me put a name to the infrequent birds that visit my yard.

Donald and Lillian Stokes have a wonderful Field Guide to Birds of North America or Eastern Region that we now carry at the Wild Birds Unlimited store. What I like the most about the book is that each bird species is identified with several clear photographs that show all feather coloration of each species of bird, including male, female, summer, winter, immature, morphs, important subspecies, and birds in flight.

It is helpful in identifying confusing warblers, thrushes and sparrows. Then as we come up to baby season, I’ll be opening up this book quite often to show customers baby pictures of robins, starlings, cardinals and others babies that confuse people because they don’t look like their mommas and poppas at first.

Stokes Field Guide to Birds also gives detailed descriptions of songs, important behavioral information, key habitat preferences and much more. Whether you are a backyard birdwatcher or experienced birder, you will appreciate the excellent information provided in these books!


Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Cfgc6b
- How do you become a birdwatcher? http://bit.ly/rquunU
- Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/vPOMx1
- What are the Best Binoculars: How to Choose Optics http://bit.ly/vZW26j
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/vUZynL

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Smart Birds Open Doors

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Grant Hughes an amateur photographer from British Columbia, Canada recently observed something brilliant!

He was worried about swallows nesting in the underground parking garage when it was converted to a campus bike center with automatic doors sealing them inside.

However the swallows learned quickly how to trigger the motion detectors to open the doors and go in and out whenever they wanted. Smart birds! Watch the video on YouTube: http://youtu.be/gs6n4XKApqc


Related Articles:
Why are “black” birds considered bad by most people? http://goo.gl/P9O0ge
Bird Nest Basics http://goo.gl/tjFCnQ
Debunking a turkey myth http://goo.gl/k48lyk
The use of Jay as a slang for country bumpkin http://goo.gl/8vAMXF
Crows: Are they Feathered Apes? http://goo.gl/oRzHSK

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Photo Share: The birds are hungry!

We're hoping they will bring the babies
to eat when they do fledge.
Our bluebirds are doing so great,
we no longer check on them so they won’t fledge early.






I forgot to mention the bluebirds now come to the deck when I whistle and eat at that plate. 

The orioles now know the whistle and come too

Interesting how smart they are! - Holly


Thank you Holly for sharing a little bit of what is going on in your yard! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.