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.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

American Robin nest in a yard

American robins average two broods in one year. Unfortunately only a quarter of those that do fledge survive to November. From that point on, about half of the birds alive in any year will make it to the next.

These birds will return to the same territories from season to season. Sometimes they build a new nest on top of their old one. The female lays 3-7 light blue eggs that are incubated for two weeks and the young leave the nest in about another two weeks.

Both parents feed the babies. A robin might make 100 feeding visits to its nest each day. That's why a good territory is important to robins in spring.

Baby robins can't fly well when they leave the nest. They must build up muscles and grow adult feathers to be strong fliers. The babies are capable fliers just 10-15 days after fledging. 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.

Their camouflage markings help disguise babies from predators. If they are scared or want to avoid detection, they squat in on the ground with their head up. And they blend right in with their environment.

Related Articles:
- Why Robins are Attracted to Water http://bit.ly/qP9aTs
- Bird of the Week: American Robin http://bit.ly/pnUKqk
- Fun Facts About The American Robin http://bit.ly/n9CSni
- Why robins are called Robin Redbreast and not orange breast http://goo.gl/OB4iT

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Birds have evolved alarm signals to warn of danger

Dr. Erick Greene, a professor of biology at the University of Montana, has shown that animals such as birds, mammals and even fish recognize the alarm signals of other species. Some can even eavesdrop on one another across classes. Red-breasted nuthatches listen to chickadees. Dozens of birds listen to tufted titmice, who act like the forest’s crossing guards. Squirrels and chipmunks eavesdrop on birds, sometimes adding their own thoughts.

Dr. Greene says he wants to better understand the nuances of these bird alarms. His hunch is that birds are saying much more than we ever suspected, and that species have evolved to decode and understand the signals. Dr. Greene turned to chickadees, which are highly attuned to threats.

A 2005 study published in the journal Science demonstrated how black-capped chickadees embed information about the size of predators into these calls. When faced with a high-threat raptor perched nearby, the birds not only call more frequently, they also attach more dee’s to their call.

Studying the phenomenon, he documented a “distant early-warning system” among the birds in which the alarm calls were picked up by other birds and passed through the forest at more than 100 miles per hour. While admittedly the study is fascinating, what benefit does this information provide?

Birds must make a trade-off with their time between eating and being vigilant. Alarm calls help the group share that responsibility. But when birds cannot hear predators or alarms well, each must spend more time listening and less time feeding. Noise alone (traffic and other human disturbances), has harmful effects on many of the birds.

Most migratory birds worldwide are in decline today, and noise pollution hampers their ability to hear information such as warnings and forces them to change their behavior. This work could have important implications for conservation.

Original Article: When Birds Squawk, Other Species Seem to Listen

Related Articles:
- New blue-eyed owl discovered by MSU researcher http://goo.gl/4FdZYR
- New MSU Study: Biofuel grasslands better for birds than ethanol staple corn http://goo.gl/D2yODK
- Free Downloads of Bird Sounds from Around the World via MSU http://goo.gl/ZKEKmk
- Black Squirrels’ history begins at MSU http://goo.gl/Ryxnqx

Friday, May 29, 2015

Photo Share: Hummingbird moth

Hummingbird moths mating
Hummingbird moths fly and move just like hummingbirds. They can remain suspended in the air in front of a flower while they unfurl their long tongues to sip their nectar from flowers. Often mistaken for baby hummingbirds, they even emit an audible hum. 

The adults may start flying in early spring, when the bluebells (Mertensia) are still blooming; but you will have a better chance to see them when they are most active, in the summer when the bee balms are in bloom.

Source: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/hummingbird_moth.shtml
Thank you Holly for sharing your interesting photo! 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.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The babies have fledged! Should I clean out the birdhouse?

If the birds have been successful in raising their young in a nest box, the babies will fledge and then there is at least a two week break before they might begin to raise another brood. I always call it their family vacation time. You can clean the nest box at this time while the baby birds are shown the territory and taught how to forage on their own.

If something happens to disrupt the success of the first batch, the birds might begin a new nest within a week. You don’t have to remove the nest in this case but broken eggs or dead nestlings should be removed immediately. If they want to try again in that box, it will give them a head start to have an existing nest. Also try to determine why there was a failure and how to prevent further tragedy.

By cleaning out a nest box you help deter parasite infestation and a predator’s ability disturb a nest that is built on top of old nests making it closer to the entrance hole.

To clean the nest box I usually place a plastic bag over the nest and just sweep it all in and twist the bag shut. You can rinse out the house with a water hose or diluted bleach spray. Make sure the drainage holes are unplugged and leave the house open to dry for a couple days. Finally dispose of the old nest in the trash and wash your hands thoroughly.

Related Articles:
5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses http://bit.ly/xETceZ
Common Bird House Problems http://bit.ly/wrWzyN
Which Way Do You Face a Birdhouse? http://bit.ly/AD43TW
Don’t use treated lumber to build a birdhouse http://bit.ly/x2pIG0
When do birds begin nesting? http://bit.ly/wbJ3kE
DO NOT Collect Dryer Lint for the birds to use as nesting material! http://bit.ly/wC5HcO

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What to do with the hummingbird feeder while on vacation

What should you do with your hummingbird feeders if you are going on vacation for a week?.

Hummingbirds are wonderful to attract to a backyard garden and a joy to watch. These sparkling jewels of summer are easy to love and so we should always feed responsibly to keep them healthy.

If you don’t have a trusted house sitter that can clean and change your nectar twice a week, then take the feeder down. It is better for a hummingbird to fly by and see no feeder that week than for them to eat fermented nectar. When you come home put up fresh nectar and they will return.

Hummingbird feeders must be kept clean and free from mold and fungus, or the tiny hummers could get sick. The more often you clean them the easier they are to maintain. Bring your feeders inside and rinse them once a week when the temperatures are below 70 °F and at least twice a week when the temperatures are above 70 °F.

We have several easy to clean feeders and brushes to scrub out those tiny ports. It is best to clean your feeder with hot tap water and use brushes to scrub the sides. If you use soap or put the feeder in the dishwasher, rinse thoroughly so there is no residue left behind. Inspect the feeder carefully for black mold. If you see any mold growth, soak the feeder in a solution of one part vinegar to 9 parts water for one hour and then scrub and rinse again.

To make nectar, mix one part ordinary white sugar to four parts water. Bring the water to a quick boil to dissolve the sugar, then let the mixture come to room temperature before you fill your feeder. You can mix up a large batch of nectar to keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

If the nectar becomes cloudy, it has spoiled and needs to be replaced. When the feeder is hanging in the sun or outside temperatures are high, the sugar solution may spoil in just one day. To keep the nectar from fermenting it is better to keep your hummingbird feeder in the shade or add a shaded weather guard to keep the sun from spoiling the nectar.

Related Articles:
- When to take hummingbird feeders down and many other FAQ http://goo.gl/7xANk
- Do hummingbirds migrate together? http://bit.ly/rVOJVm
- The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/L4yY3i
- What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://goo.gl/MK3AU
- When did people start to feed hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR
- Flowers that attract hummingbirds: http://bit.ly/wkhlJn

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How long before doves leave the nest

The day before Mother's Day I discovered a pair Mourning Dove's had built a nest in one of my hanging flower pots on my front deck.  The first egg was laid that night and the next morning the 2nd egg. On Mother's Day they would fly away from the nest whenever I got too close, but each day I would go out and stand near them, talk to them and move closer and closer over the 2-weeks. 

This past Saturday the first egg hatched.  I haven't been able to tell if the 2nd one hatched, but I can now stand less than 2 feet from the nest and look the bird in the eye and they just sit there (probably wondering what I'm saying to them).

I've been trying to figure out which bird is the dad/Burt and the mom/Pippa - I usually see one with a longer tail and iridescent neck feathers sitting on the nest, and always assumed that was Pippa.  That is actually Burt isn't it? 

The day the first egg hatched, the bird I thought was Pippa started looking a bit disheveled (like the stuffing in a feather pillow - feathers poking out), was this in preparation for the hatchlings?

I would like the doves to stay and make my porch their home but I want to take down the ugly planter they are nesting in.  When can I do that and replace it with a larger planter without causing them to fly away and never return?

Once the baby birds have fledged you can replace the planter.

Both male and female mourning doves share in incubating and feeding their young. Mourning Doves sit on their eggs for about 2 weeks, feed the babies in the nest for about 2 weeks and then care for their young for about a month after they've fledged. Once they leave the nest they won’t return unless they want to build another nest a month later.

Males are larger than females and show more color with a bluish cap, pink chest and neck feathers and three white outer tail feathers. The female is graced with an olive gray cap and a tan breast. Neck feathers can be greenish or pinkish with one or two white outer feathers. Juvenile Mourning Doves look like the parents except for a little white at the end of each feather and a lack of iridescent feathers.

The male usually incubates from mid-morning until late afternoon, and the female sits the rest of the day and night. When not on nest duty they eat enough to fill their bi-lobed crops and then fly back to digest.

While most birds meet their chicks’ protein needs by bringing back insects, doves feed their newly hatched chicks a fat- and protein-rich “crop milk.” This whitish fluid comes from liquid-filled cells that slough off the lining of the crop, a portion of the esophagus. After 5 or 10 days, the chicks switch to a diet of regurgitated seeds or fruit.

Related Articles:
Why is the Dove a Symbol of Peace? http://bit.ly/wMKEKF
How Do You Keep Doves From Dominating a Feeder? http://bit.ly/zDAwR2
How Mourning Doves defend their nests http://bit.ly/LiE7TH
Do Birds Sip or Slurp? http://bit.ly/N6syCY
Mourning Dove nesting facts and figures http://goo.gl/WeLWy

Monday, May 25, 2015

A rather large blackbird

The Common Grackle is distinguished easily by its iridescent purple and bronze plumage. One interesting fact is the Grackles often roll around on ants to make them secrete formic acid, which is thought to kill parasites. This is called anting, and grackles are frequent practitioners among the many bird species that do it. Besides formic acid from ants, the Common Grackle has been observed using various other substances, such as walnut juice, mothballs, lemons, limes, marigold blossoms, and choke cherries in similar ways.

Common Grackles do well in human landscapes, using scattered trees for nesting and open ground for foraging. They eat mostly seeds, particularly agricultural grains such as corn. Other seeds include sunflower seeds, acorns, tree seeds such as sweetgum, wild and cultivated fruits, and garbage. In summer, one-quarter or more of a grackle’s diet may be animals, including beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, frogs, salamanders, mice, and other birds.

Related Articles:
   - Bird of the Week: Common Grackles http://bit.ly/OzgUjw
   - How to keep grackles away: http://bit.ly/Q1q0GI
   - Why is the blackbird associated with evil and ill omens? http://bit.ly/OzhBtb
   - When black birds fly south http://bit.ly/Q1qDAk
   - Bird Basics: How are birds classified? http://bit.ly/Q1reSr

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Orioles can disappear while building a nest

Hello, I live in mid-Michigan and I put up a Oriole feeder with 2 orange slices and grape jelly for food.  We started getting Orioles coming to it for about 2 weeks.  Then I put up our Hummingbird feeder which is about 3 ft. from the Oriole feeder.  We have not seen a single Oriole at our Oriole feeder since.  Do the Hummingbirds scare the Orioles away?  Nobody that I have asked around our neighborhood knows the answer.  Do you have any idea?  Thank You.    Bill

When orioles arrive in the spring they are super hungry. After a long migration they take advantage of food offered at feeders. Later while they are nesting and feeding young, the diet changes to more bugs for the added protein. Baltimore orioles eat primarily caterpillars, including many pest species like tent caterpillars. This means they are foraging for food, building nests, and incubating eggs instead of visiting your feeders.

Don't worry, often the adults will bring they're young to the feeders once they've left the nest. So be prepared for a return after a couple weeks absence. Or you can add live mealworms to some of the food you offer.

Mealworms are the larvae of a beetle with a high protein level. Many birders believe the mealworms are used solely for attracting bluebirds. This is definitely not the case as many other species enjoy these little treats. Some birds attracted to mealworms include: wrens, robins, bluebirds, jays, sparrows, cardinals, woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, and yes even orioles.

The diet of the Baltimore Oriole consist of insects, fruits, and flower nectar. You can attract orioles to eat from your backyard feeder by setting out orange halves, grape jelly, sugar water, suets, or mealworms.

A hummingbird won't deter an oriole from coming to the feeder.

Related Articles: 
- Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
- Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
- Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
- When can I expect my orioles to arrive? http://goo.gl/OHrCc

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Eagles are symbols of power and majesty

The United States started the trend for national birds when it made the Bald Eagle its avian representative over 200 years ago. In 1789 George Washington became our Nation's first President and the American Bald Eagle became our Country's official bird.

President John F. Kennedy later wrote: "The Founding Fathers made an appropriate choice when they selected the Bald Eagle as the emblem of the nation. The fierce beauty and proud independence of this great bird aptly symbolizes the strength and freedom of America."

When America adopted the bald eagle as the national symbol, the country may have had as many as 100,000 nesting eagles. The first major decline of the species probably began in the mid to late 1800’s, coinciding with the decline of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other prey.

Although they primarily eat fish and carrion, bald eagles used to be considered marauders that preyed on chickens and domestic livestock. Consequently, the large raptors were shot in an effort to eliminate a perceived threat. Coupled with the loss of nesting habitat, bald eagle populations declined.

In 1940, noting that the species was “threatened with extinction,” Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act, which prohibited killing, selling, or possessing the species. A 1962 amendment added the golden eagle, and the law became the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Shortly after World War II, DDT was hailed as a new pesticide to control mosquitoes and other insects. However, DDT and its residues washed into nearby waterways, where aquatic plants and fish absorbed it. Bald eagles, in turn, were poisoned with DDT when they ate the contaminated fish. The chemical interfered with the ability of the birds to produce strong eggshells. As a result, their eggs had shells so thin that they often broke during incubation or otherwise failed to hatch. DDT also affected other species such as peregrine falcons and brown pelicans.

By 1963, with only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles remaining, the species was in danger of extinction. In addition to the adverse effects of DDT, some bald eagles have died from lead poisoning after feeding on waterfowl containing lead shot, either as a result of hunting or from inadvertent ingestion.
 
Today, there are almost 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the contiguous United States. Bald eagles have staged a remarkable population rebound and have recovered to the point that they no longer need the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

For more information about Bald Eagles, visit All About Birds- the Cornell Lab of Ornithology online bird guide.

Related Articles:
Bald Eagle Information http://t.co/o4ugzs2
Nesting Eagles http://t.co/vpj99ZV
Terrified Geese Have Eyes on the Sky http://t.co/pqsWQqE
Amazing moment bald eagle chases down and catches a starling in mid-air http://t.co/U3CT5Sh
Michigan DNRE asking drivers to watch out for bald eagles http://t.co/A9R33zI

Friday, May 22, 2015

Photo Share: Walking Stick

There are over 3,000 species of stick insects, often called walking sticks, which range in size from a tiny half-inch-long to a formidable 13-inches-long. Many stick insects feign death to thwart predators, and some will shed the occasional limb to escape an enemy’s grasp. Little is known about stick insects, making it difficult to declare the vulnerability of their status in the wild.
Stick insects are among the best camouflaged of all creatures, with a body shape that mimics the branches of their home.
Source: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/stick-insect/

Thank you Holly for sharing your interesting photo! 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.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Keep mold away from 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.

As soon as the weathers turns hot and humid, 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

 
Related articles:
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/II4RQ4
Where to hang my hummer feeders http://bit.ly/H2U4P4 
Habitat and Habits of hummers http://bit.ly/H2Ua9s
Nectar recipe for hummingbirds http://bit.ly/H7xvp3
Summer Bird Feeding Tips http://bit.ly/KIv38a

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Photo Share: Bee House

Mason Bee House
One tip for bee nest placement , don’t put by the birds we found out quickly with one nest block the woodpeckers and jays ate them ;0 -Holly
Leaf cutter bee

Thank you Holly once again for sharing your interesting photos! 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. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Baby Bunnies not abandoned

Rabbits hide their nests in plain view, sometimes right next to the house, as well as in brush piles or long grass. They construct the nest with fur and grasses which helps to keep the babies warm in between feedings. If you come across a nest of wild bunnies, and the mother is nowhere to be seen, please DO NOT disturb them. This is normal behavior. By removing them from the nest, you are reducing their chances of survival greatly. The mom will only return at night.

Rabbit mothers nurse their babies for approximately 5 minutes a day.  Mothers will be in the nest early in the morning and then again in the evening. The milk is very rich and the babies “fill up” to capacity within minutes. Mother rabbits do not “sit” on the babies to keep them warm as do some mammals and birds. Baby bunnies don’t leave the nest voluntarily until around 4 – 5 weeks old.   

Source:  http://rabbit.org/faq-orphaned-baby-bunnies/

Related Articles: 
The origin of the Easter Bunny http://goo.gl/egBze5
How rabbits survive the winters http://goo.gl/l7ASdp

Thank you Ruth for sharing your adorable photo! 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. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why there is a dip in the numbers of birds in your yard

Where did the birds go? I was filling the feeder every day and now it seems like the birds have left me. - Haslett, MI

It’s not unusual to have birds disappear from your feeders for a time. After a long migration or harsh winter, birds are hungry and appreciated an easy meal to rebuild their energy. Feeders are very welcome in the spring when natural resources are scarce. However a lot more food sources soon became available. That doesn't mean you should stop feeding. Studies have shown that birds with access to feeders during nesting season have more success than birds without access to feeders.

Once birds settle down, claim a territory and begin nesting, activity at the feeders will drop until the birds bring their new babies up to visit. Then look out for a frenzy of activity as busy momma and papas try to teach their kids to feed themselves at the feeders.

You may again see a dip as birds take their youngsters away from the natal territory for their survival training course. But don’t worry, this is when you may see babies from other yards coming to the feeders.

The birds are very happy right now. 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.
 .
But, don’t forget to keep your feeders clean to keep your birds healthy. And provide an area with 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.
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

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Orchard Oriole song

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
The smallest of North America’s orioles, the Orchard Oriole gleans insects from leaves and also feeds on fruit and nectar in orchards and gardens. They are not as common at feeders as the Baltimore Oriole but can be seen in open woodlands along river edges, as well as along marsh edges, lakeshores, and farms.

The Orchard Oriole males are mostly black on the head, back, wings and tail. Their breast, rump and wing epaulets are a rich chestnut. Females are greenish yellow with two white wing bars and no black. And immature males look like females, but have black around the bill and throat.

Watch for them as they hop among scattered trees. Male Orchard Orioles sing a whistled, chattering song to attract females. After they arrive in late April, they build their hanging, pouchlike nests, raise one brood of babies and then head back to Central America by the end of July.

Unfortunately their population has been in decline in the central U.S.A, possibly due to loss of habitat and pesticides used in orchards.  
Related Articles: 
- Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
- Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
- Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
- When can I expect my orioles to arrive? http://goo.gl/OHrCc

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Baby goldfinches don't arrive until fall

I have a tiny yellow finch at the feeder. Is it a baby already? ~ East Lansing 

Actually American Goldfinches don’t nest until late in the summer. Michigan is lucky to see goldfinches year-round. In the spring goldfinch males exchange their dull olive green plumage for their striking yellow and black coloring. The female’s dull yellow-brown shade also brightens slightly during the summer.

Goldfinches can be hit or miss at the feeders in the spring and summer. After a long winter they can now gorge on fresh leaves and weed seeds. The American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) is a bird of many aliases: wild canary, yellowbird, lettuce bird, and thistle bird, just to name a few. Ask a gardening enthusiast and you might hear the name “lettuce bird” due to the birds' practice of nibbling at the tender young leaves of this vegetable. Another descriptive name is “thistle bird.” It has long
been known that thistle plants and goldfinches are almost inseparable, and even its genus name, Caruelis, is from the Latin word carduus, which means “thistle.”
Goldfinches delay the start of their nesting behavior until the thistles and other flowers come into bloom so they can anticipate an abundant and reliable supply of seeds for their young. The female builds a compact cup nest of fibers, grass and spider silk and lines it with plant down and hair at the end of July to September in the fork of a deciduous shrub or tree. They prefer hawthorn, serviceberry or sapling maples. 
So to keep these beautiful bright songbirds visiting your yard be sure to offer fresh Nyjer® (thistle) seed and keep your feeders clean. Goldfinches can be very finicky but their bright color and beautiful song make them well worth the effort to try and please.
Related articles:
What is Nyger Thistle? http://t.co/Gg2AxQg
Where are my finches? http://t.co/FRqa7eo
Goldfinch colors: Why aren't all the goldfinches yellow? http://t.co/c57skHi
Is There a Way to Attract More Goldfinches to My Yard? http://t.co/RB1cqWf

Friday, May 15, 2015

Photo Share: Attracting Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

Hi Sarah,  it's great to see that these birds have returned to our feeders in Michigan. - Rodney Campbell
A long-distance migrant, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks fly to North American breeding grounds from Central and northern South America winter grounds. Most of them fly across the Gulf of Mexico in a single night, although some migrate over land around the Gulf.

They often visit bird feeders, where they eat sunflower seeds as well as safflower seeds and raw peanuts. As soon as they begin nesting their diet becomes more "buggy" based and you'll see them less at seed feeders.

Thank you for sharing! You can see more of Rodney Campbell’s work at: http://rodney-campbell.artistwebsites.com/art/all/birds/all 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.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tips to keep mealworms fresh

Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) are used widely as a live food source for wild birds like warblers, bluebirds, orioles, chickadees, wrens, robins and woodpeckers. High in protein and fat, they bring a lot of the bug eating birds up close.

Mealworms hibernate at temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees, so they can be  stored easily in your refrigerator for lengthy periods of time if you bring them out and feed them a mixed salad every couple weeks.

Right now several customers are feeding mealworms to train bug eating birds to bring their babies up close.
Some tips to keep your mealworms at their best:
  1. Mealworms don’t like a drastic temperature changes. If it is very hot outside, leave your mealworms at room temperature. Then when you place them in the feeder they don’t go into shock.
  2. Feed mealworms at the same time. Get your birds into a routine of breakfast and dinner feeding so they know when to come and gobble up your offerings.
  3. Shade your feeder. Place your feeder in the shade or add a weather shade over the feeder to protect the mealworms from the sun.
  4. Protect the worms. Chop up some room temperature apples and place them in your feeder with the mealworms. The apples give the mealworms water and help them hide from the sun. Most birds also enjoy chopped fruit.
Related Articles:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Not too late to start feeding hummers!

I'm worried I haven't seen my hummers. Did I put the feeder up too late?

Hummingbirds are truly one of the most fascinating groups of birds on the planet and it’s not too late to put up a feeder! Hummingbirds don’t need feeders 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.

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 lapping nectar; it’s also made for snatching bugs out of the air. They use the flexible tip of their bill to capture insects and insect eggs from the ground and on plants. They love spiders and spider eggs.

During migration hummingbirds fly about 23 miles a day by themselves, not in flocks. Individual adult males get the urge to migrate first, followed soon after by the females. It is astonishing that a bird that weighs as little as a penny with the brain the size of a BB can travel thousands of miles all alone and end up in the right place every spring and fall since the last ice age. Banding studies show that each bird tends to return every year to the same place it hatched, even visiting the same feeders.

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.

Related Articles:
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://goo.gl/MK3AU
Fun Facts about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds http://goo.gl/jcjcr
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/L4yY3i
Why the color on a hummingbirds’ throat flashes http://bit.ly/JZ31qX
When did people start to feed hummingbirds?: http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hissing Cardinal

Do cardinals hiss?

A lot of animals hiss, including birds, as a defense mechanism. Whether it is an imitation of a snake hiss to evoke fear or an innate reaction to a stressful situation, this distinctive noise gets hair-raising notice from humans to horses and everything in between.

While most birds hiss when they feel threatened or are trying to defend a nest, Northern Cardinals also use a whiny call or hiss frequently to show their displeasure of other birds trying to displace them from their proper place at the feeders.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Watch for warblers!

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.

 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 10, 2015

Black-faced yellow bird with brown wings

I saw this bird at the oriole feeder. Can you identify it?

It is an Orchard oriole first summer male. You can read more about them at: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Orchard_Oriole/id. Second year males are similar to adult females, but have a solid black bib and black between the eye and bill. How much black adult plumage varies considerably between individuals, with some males of this age having blacker feathering than others. 
http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2013/06/there-are-two-oriole-species-found-in.html

Adult males are black above and rich reddish-chestnut below. They have a black head and throat, with a reddish-chestnut patch at the bend of the wing. Females are greenish yellow with two white wing bars and no black.

Orchard Orioles eat about the same thing as Baltimore Orioles. They like nectar, slices of oranges or offerings of fruit jelly (although provide small amounts at a time so it doesn’t get too messy). They are also insectivores, so a shrubby backyard may provide enough insects and spiders to attract them.

Related Articles: 
- Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
- Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
- Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
- When can I expect my orioles to arrive? http://goo.gl/OHrCc

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Why Wild Birds Unlimited offers the best seed

Just as people have diverse dining preferences, wild birds also have different food tastes. These preferences can be indulged to attract the greatest variety of birds to your backyards.

The average backyard can be visited regularly by 15 to 20 different bird species. Offering a good seed blend is the best way to see a large variety of birds.

Wild Birds Unlimited offers several unique blends that are formulated specially for birds in our area, and all blends are free of cereal fillers.

Fillers such as milo, wheat and oats, are ingredients not preferred by most birds and are generally, left uneaten and found in a pile on the ground. These fillers add bulk to the bag and lower the price, but they are undesired by the birds, and a waste of your money.

By offering your birds Wild Birds Unlimited seed blends, you are providing the highest quality calories and making sure that every penny that you spend is going towards feeding the hungry friends outside your windows.

Related Articles:
How to choose the best suet cake http://bit.ly/xATYPQ
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh
Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/vZ6gzM
Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds http://goo.gl/xUGKA

Friday, May 8, 2015

Photo Share: Male and Female Baltimore orioles


Hello, I'm not a great photographer like my cousin, Rodney Campbell, but I did get a couple of shots of the Baltimore Orioles who have been visiting this week!  I bought an oriole feeder at Wild Birds Unlimited this year and it certainly was a smart purchase!  I love their songs, too. - Jan Darling
 
Thank you Jan Darling for sharing your wonderful photos! 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.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Photo Share: Orioles and siskins overrun feeders

Some orioles like oranges and some like jelly.
Pine Siskins flock to thistle or nyjer feeders and
other small seeds such as hulled sunflower seeds.
 

And a first year Rose-breasted Grosbeak male!
Thank you Mickey for sharing your photos. 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.