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, December 31, 2016

#Birds trying to rush through winter

Winter is my favorite time of year, especially after the New Year begins. It is a calm, peaceful time for me to regroup and re-energize. But I’ve barely had a time to sit back and the first signs of spring are already rushing ahead.

Today we had starlings in the ceiling of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing scoping out nesting sites. Squabbles and squawks about territory were going on early in the morning up where the air vent leads into building. They usually just fly in and out but we had one venture further to the ceiling tiles above the front of the store.

Dolly was sound asleep until, “tick, tick, tick”, the pitter patter of teeny feet crossed overhead. I cracked a panel open and the curious bird flew down to investigate. I was waiting with the camera to snap a photo of the exciting time. Two swoops through the store and I picked up Dolly, propped open the door and let him fly free.

Males select the nest site and then females choose a male with the best site. Resident males start checking out nest sites in winter until March. Starlings will nest in just about any cavity, but prefer holes in buildings (barns and open warehouses, signs, and in soffits) and in birdhouses and woodpecker holes or natural cavities in trees.

Related Articles:

Early nesters http://begins-and-ends.html
Great Horned Owl Courtship Begins http://owl-courtship-begins.html
Fun Facts About European Starlings http://bit.ly/KldcZK
How to deter mobs of blackbirds from bird feeders http://bit.ly/IaZlky
How do thousands of European Starlings fly without colliding? http://bit.ly/vwM3Ra
Starlings stealing shiny money from machine http://bit.ly/uKaP8b

Friday, December 30, 2016

Increase of American Robins

As many of you have noticed, the North American population of robins overwintering in Michigan is increasing each year. When robins are in their winter flocks they concentrate on berry bushes and fruit and nut trees. I always see them eating from my crab apple, Mountain Ash, and flowering pear trees, as well as under my feeders looking for peanuts and pecans.

If you want to supplement his diet you can put out a tray of apple slices, suet, suet nuggets, mealworms, or nuts.

And don’t forget the water. Birds need to drink and bathe too, even in cold weather. Dirty feathers lose much of their insulating properties, so a clean bird is a warm bird. A heated birdbath on cold days or a fresh bowl of water on warmer days is a big help.

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Photo Share: Flicker fights flurries to the feeder

Snow brings many birds to the feeders, even the less common feeder birds. Northern Flickers don’t make a habit of visiting bird feeders, but bad weather draws them in to search for an easy meal of suet or nuts and a visit to the bird bath.

In Michigan, the snow prevents flickers from their favored means of ground foraging. A flicker’s tongue is smoother and sticker than other woodpecker species. It is shaped less like a harpoon and more like a brush to sweep up one of their preferred foods, ants. But they still have a long, hard bill to chisel out ant colonies or beetles hiding in bark.

If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year resolutions are for the birds!

5 resolutions to keep your birds fat and happy all winter:

1. Clean Feeders - Feeders should be cleaned at least once a month, year round. Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) - East Lansing, MI will clean your feeder for $5.00. Or you can disassemble feeders and immerse them completely in a 1:9 vinegar: water solution for three minutes. Scrub with brushes (available at WBU), rinse thoroughly, and let air dry. Also clean the area around the feeders to help eliminate the build up around the feeder.
2. Fill Feeders – Throw out seed that is over 3 months old! It is dried out and will do your birds no good. Food is essential to provide birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition to endure the elements. An ample supply of fresh high-calorie foods is crucial to a bird's survival. Wild Birds Unlimited has fresh, regionally formulated seed blends to provide the most nutritious food for your birds.
3. Feeder/Hardware Maintenance - Check you feeders to see if there are any repairs that need to be done. Make sure feeders are hung so they are easy to reach and fill.
4. ProvideRoosting Spots - Nest boxes turn into roosting boxes in the winter for bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, and other birds that might stay all winter in mid-Michigan. You can put up roosting pockets woven of all-natural grasses available at Wild Birds Unlimited to offer essential protection in the winter.
5. Prepare Bird Baths - Birds also need a source for water in the winter. In our area, weather can turn cold fast and freeze the water in bird baths. It’s best to place a plastic or metal bath out with an added heater or a buy a heated birdbath. If you’re not sure what you need, Wild Birds Unlimited will give you accurate information on how to support our local birds. 

Related articles:
What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/z7Eurx
Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
What seeds do wild birds eat? http://bit.ly/wKyQNB
How can birds survive this cold weather? http://bit.ly/xbkaPP
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

No-mess birdseed not nuked but naked

Left: hulled kernel. Right: whole seed with hull
I heard that the No Mess Blend of bird seed has been nuked in some way so that the seeds will not sprout when they land on the ground. Is this true?
—Michael, Boise, ID


Our No-Mess Blends include a mix of seeds which appeal to a variety of birds that have had their shells and hulls removed. No shells. No mess. 100% edible!

Most seeds are protected by shells or hulls. De-hulled sunflower kernels have been mechanically processed to remove the hull. Once hulled (taken out of the shell) a high percentage of broken seeds usually results in their inability to sprout. So Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess blends are not nuked but naked.

Related Articles:
Advantage of shell free bird food http://advantage-of-shell-free-bird-food.html
Close-up look at the seeds wild birds eat http://bit.ly/IET0hP
How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://bit.ly/rTLSqJ
Seed Storage Cans and WBU Seed Scoops http://bit.ly/uBaSwO
The strange journey of the sunflower plant http://bit.ly/uFlz65

Monday, December 26, 2016

Why wild birds don't freeze to death

While the female Northern Cardinal is less colorful than the male,
her warm colors are still beautiful.
How to find food, water, shelter and avoid predators are essential to birds' survival.

Though food is scarce in winter, dehydration can be the biggest threat to birds. While birds can eat snow, it takes much more energy for for them to warm it to body temperature than it does for them to drink unfrozen water.

Water is not only important for hydration, but it also helps birds preen their feathers. During those freezing nights, they fluff their feathers to trap heat like a down jacket. Without water to conduct a proper preening, birds' feathers won't stay positioned. When feathers are in alignment, cold air can't pierce through to the skin, and make them lose body heat and freeze to death.

You can use a heated bird bath or add a heater to your existing plastic, metal or stone bird bath to make some water available even on the coldest day and attract birds that may not visit feeders very often. Heated birdbaths do not create warm water, but just keep it from completely freezing.

Related Articles:
What to feed birds in the winter http://bit.ly/tfT7Ca
Where Do Birds Go At Night? http://bit.ly/uoQOBw
Help Birds Beat Their Winter Woes http://goo.gl/ZlDTw
Are there heated birdbaths that are solar? http://bit.ly/tnTrK4

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Good day to watch the birds

One of the joys of the season is the opportunity to say thank you.
Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful season
and prosperous, healthy New Year.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

#Cat Wisdom

Do you hear the reindeer? No peeping Dolly!
The earlier you go to bed, the quicker Santa will visit! - Dolly

Friday, December 23, 2016

Photo Share: Love me some Doveys

The distinctive plaintive call of the mourning dove primarily suggests gloom and sorrow. Yet throughout history, the mourning dove has been portrayed as a positive symbol. Beyond their sorrowful song is a message of life, hope, renewal and peace.
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

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Decorate a Tree for Your Birds

While you are enjoying the many tasty treats that abound this holiday season, don't forget to share some goodies with the birds. Decorating a tree for our feathered friends and other wildlife is an activity the whole family can enjoy. Here are some fun and easy recipes f or making treats for the birds. 

Suet Stuffing
•1 cup chunky peanut butter
•WBU Choice Plus Blend, which has suet nuggets, cranberries, cherries, nuts and sunflower seed.

Mix peanut butter, seed blend together.

Pine Cone Feeder
1.Roll pine cones in Suet Stuffing
3.Hang with string or ribbon from a tree.

Bagel Feeder
1.Split bagels in half and harden overnight.
2.Spread Suet Stuffing on each side.
3.Tie a string through the hole, and hang from a tree.

Watch the video at:  https://youtu.be/birdtreats

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Significance of Northern Cardinal at Christmas

The red cardinal is easy to spot in a snowy landscape and is often associated with Christmas and the winter season. The Cardinals stay in Michigan year-round and don’t migrate. Older previously mated pairs will join flocks of about four to twenty birds. Except for a black mask and throat, the male cardinals are a cheery red all over including their bill.

The “Cardinal” name was derived from the vivid red plumage of the male, which resembles the robes of the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. The word comes from the Latin cardo, meaning hinge. Something that has cardinal qualities are of the greatest importance; other things hinge around it.

The Cherokee believe that the cardinal is the daughter of the sun. Legend has it that if you see a cardinal flying upward, toward the sun, you will have good luck.

The red robes of church bishops, red holly berries, Saint Nicholas's crimson suit, the beloved red poinsettia, and red amaryllis also bring this bright color into the season as a symbol of life: This year is dying, but another is soon to be born.

Related Articles:
- How the Christmas Tree tradition started http://goo.gl/hpYcTZ
- Edible ornaments for the birds http://bit.ly/tXDnSB
- Decorate a Tree for Your Birds http://bit.ly/t3QtGV
- The Tradition of feeding the Birds at Christmas Time http://goo.gl/7ODaQ
- When did Reindeer Learn to Fly? http://bit.ly/veTLpT

- Why green, red, and white are Christmas colors http://goo.gl/Swgzv6
- Why do people kiss under the Mistletoe and what is the plant's connection to birds? http://goo.gl/Cmqwvg

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Solstice marks the beginning of the new year for birds

Along with the cold winds and snows, birds must also face fewer daylight hours to forage at a time when they need to increase their calories to stay warm. The winter solstice, the longest night of the year, usually occurs on December 21 to 23 each year in the Northern Hemisphere.

But after the winter solstice this week, the days will start to get longer. For the birds it might be considered the beginning of the "real" New Year.

It's hard not to admire our hardy winter birds in Michigan. When I go out to fill the feeders in the morning and hear the nuthatches and woodpeckers “laughing,” I feel happy that they’ve made it through the night.

And remember if you feel a little guilty about just throwing away your Christmas tree, its usefulness can be extended by placing it outside near feeders for added shelter against the weather and predators. In a matter of minutes, the old tree is providing a new natural cover.

The birds had an advantage with the milder November and early December which allowed them to seek natural foods. Though it might seem strange to humans, wild birds prefer to forage over visiting feeders.

However, as the temperatures dip and natural food sources may become covered with snow or locked in ice, the supplemental food and water we provide is more widely appreciated and has a bigger impact on the birds’ survival.

Related Articles:
Groundhog’s Day on Feb. 2 is a "cross-quarter" day. http://bit.ly/vUF7Qk
Singing Birds Herald The Arrival of Spring. http://bit.ly/uJbzCe
Why do they call it Indian Summer? http://bit.ly/twFccE
Why do leaves change color in the fall? http://bit.ly/spkqnF
What’s the difference between a full moon and a new moon? http://bit.ly/tKg5gO

Monday, December 19, 2016

Winter towhee

I have an towhee under my feeder. Is that unusual for him to be here in the Michigan winter?
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
"Drink your tea!" That is the classic Eastern Towhee song, given by males. Male Eastern towhees have a black hood, back, wings and tail. The breast and belly are white and the sides are roufus. The female is similar, except she is brown where the male is black.

Towhees that nest in Michigan or Canada usually migrate to the southern United States for the winter. It is uncommon for one to stick around in the winter but don't worry. As long as there is food, water and a nice bush for them to roost they should be OK.

Towhees feed on various seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, acorns. They are also often observed feeding on the ground where they noisily scratch for food under bird feeders. A blend with sunflowers and peanuts, like the Wild Birds Unlimited no-mess blend would keep him fat until spring. https://youtu.be/mWVa08fpnXg

Sunday, December 18, 2016

You Can help your Birds Survive the Cold Weather!

Your feeders serve as a supplemental food source for birds except during periods of extreme stress. For example, in severe winter weather, feeders provide a source of food that enables them to survive from day to day. So make sure your foods are "worth their weight" with quality high-calorie, fatty foods.

You can attract insect-eating birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches to your yard by
offering nuts or suet cakes. While many seed eating birds like cardinals, doves, and juncos prefer sunflower chips or millet and finches also enjoy Nyjer (thistle). Birds in cold climates especially appreciate these high-energy foods.

Stop by our store for more expert advice plus quality foods that are "worth the weight" to help your birds thrive this winter. https://youtu.be/winter food

Related Articles:
Common winter birds in Michigan and their food preference: http://bit.ly/yp9YQA
How to choose the best suet cake http://bit.ly/xATYPQ
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh
How to winterize your bird feeding station http://bit.ly/xucuF8
Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/vZ6gzM
Why pay more for seed at Wild Birds Unlimited? http://bit.ly/xJZMFe

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Photo Share: Birdwatching #Cats

Coralee and the goldfinch
Provides hours of pleasure for my 3 kittys! - Rose Moon

Thank you for sharing your photos! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Photo Share: Birds Hungry today!

Low temperatures force birds to burn up to 10% of their body weight in stored fat each night to stay warm and this fat must be replaced every day. Be sure to keep your feeders filled with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide your birds with the crucial nutrition they need to survive. Studies indicate that sunflower seeds, nuts, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types.

Suet & Seed Cylinders also offer an easy way to provide birds with essential calories throughout the year.
Thank you for sharing your photo! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Photo Share: Caught in the act!

Thank you for sharing your photo! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Related Article:
Most Popular Squirrel-proof Bird Feeder http://most-popular-squirrel.html

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cavity nester birds

Why don't all birds nest in bird houses or natural cavities?

It seems like a good idea during the cold winters or rainy springs to have a cozy shelter. In reality many species of cavity-nesting birds have declined because of habitat reduction. In the eastern United States, where primeval forests are gone some birds like Eastern Bluebirds and Purple Martins depend almost entirely on man-made houses.

Over 80 species of North American birds excavate nesting holes with their bill, use natural tree cavities, re-use holes created by other species or utilize bird houses. Chickadees, woodpeckers, bluebirds, wrens, nuthatches, and owls are just a few of the birds that use birdhouses to keep warm in the winter.

Other birds like cardinals, jays, doves, juncos and finches roost in dense brush or foliage. I have a lot of backyard birds that like to sleep in the pine trees near the feeding stations. As dusk approaches there is a feeding frenzy. The goldfinches at my house sometimes stay too long. I watch them feeding furiously and then see them look up and notice sun went down. Some find shelter quickly in nearby bushes while others have been known to spend the night on a feeder or if it's windy, huddled in a corner close to the house or even burrow into the snow.

When the temperature drops below zero, sleeping birds need bellies full of high calorie foods to keep their little bodies warm right before bed and the first thing in the morning.
 
Related Articles:
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/z7Eurx
- Filling Up on Fatty Foods http://bit.ly/xbZ9lR
- Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
- Choosing the best bird seed http://goo.gl/jrpDX
- Why Don't Birds Freeze After They Take a Bath in the Winter? http://goo.gl/5ydpvy

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Common winter feeder birds in Michigan

A lot of new bird watchers are asking me what birds they might see at the bird feeders. I’ve listed some of the most common winter birds you’ll see in mid-Michigan and the food they like at feeders.
1. Northern Cardinal - Sunflower seed, Safflower, Peanuts, White Proso Millet
2. American Goldfinch - Nyjer Thistle, Sunflower Seeds
3. House Finch - Safflower, Nyjer Thistle, Sunflower Chips, Oil Sunflower Seed
4. House Sparrow - White Proso Millet, Oil Sunflower seed, Sunflower Chips
5. Dark-eyed Junco - White Proso Millet, Sunflower seed, Nyjer Thistle
6. Mourning Dove - Sunflower seed, Peanuts, Safflower, White Proso Millet, Nyjer
7. Tufted Titmouse - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Safflower, Suet, Mealworms
8. Black-capped Chickadee - Nuts, Sunflower, Safflower, Nyjer Thistle, Suet, Mealworms
9. Carolina Wren - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Safflower, Suet, Mealworms
10. Red-breasted Nuthatch - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Safflower, Suet, Mealworms
11. White-breasted Nuthatch - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Safflower, Suet, Mealworms
12. Downy Woodpecker - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Safflower, Suet, Mealworms
13. Blue Jay - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Suet
14. Red-bellied Woodpecker - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Safflower, Suet, Mealworms
15. Northern Flicker - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Safflower, Suet, Mealworms
16. European Starling - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Suet, Mealworms
17. Cedar Waxwing - Mealworms, Suet Nuggets, Berries and Wild Fruit
18. American Robin - Shelled peanuts, Suet, Suet Nuggets, Mealworms
19. Eastern Bluebird - Shelled peanuts, Suet, Suet Nuggets, Mealworms
20. American Crow - Peanuts, Sunflower seed, Suet
21. Cooper’s Hawk - Songbirds, Squirrels, Suet

Of course there are a lot more birds in Michigan during the winter and they don't just eat from feeders, but this gives you a start. For more information we have Birds of Michigan Field Guides or you can visit our online Bird Guide to identify birds at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/.
Related Articles:
- 10 Winter Finches in Michigan: http://bit.ly/oL3iCF
- Birds of Michigan Field Guide http://bit.ly/pXv5ZN
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/nImz5g
- How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh
- How to Prepare Your Yard for Winter Birdwatching http://bit.ly/q93Men
- What is the best bird feeder? http://bit.ly/qVr7i8

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What months deer mate

White-tailed deer are found from southern Canada to South America. Male deer, called bucks, are easily recognizable in the summer and fall by their antlers, which are grown annually and fall off in the winter.  

Female deer, called does, will go into heat for a 24 hour period usually in November in the northern portions of their range. The entire mating season lasts from October to December. They give birth to one to three young at a time, usually in May or June after a gestation period of seven months. Young deer, called fawns, wear a reddish-brown coat with white spots that helps them blend in with the forest.

Related Articles: 
White-tailed Deer prepare for winter http://white-tailed-deer.html
White-tailed deer in Michigan http://white-tailed-deer-in-michigan.html
Deterring Deer at the Bird Feeders http://goo.gl/nUzM3e
When did Reindeer Learn to Fly? http://bit.ly/veTLpT
Mammals have amazing strategies to cope with winter's cold http://goo.gl/KlJY1V

Monday, December 12, 2016

What a Day!

WOW! The Open House on Saturday was Crazy! At last year’s party we had 50 people and this year we had 50 people before the party even began. Did I expect such a large turnout? Obviously not. I quickly called in my Mom for help. She rushed over with a table full of unbelievably lovely goodies and also helped me keep restocking the seed bags. My brother soon followed to help with customers' questions and hunting for seed cylinders.

Because we are a small business and because we pride ourselves in having the freshest birdseed in town, full of the nutrition the birds need to survive the cold weather, I only order enough food that I anticipate I need for a week. That way nothing is stale. Unfortunately we ran out of many things. Fortunately, another load of seed will be delivered Tuesday and even more seed and cylinders on Friday. I think the secret is out about how convenient seed cylinders are to feed a variety of birds. The number of cylinders we order has doubled since last year.

People that shop at Wild Birds Unlimited regularly have to be the nicest group around! I want to thank everyone for making the day a HUGE success! You couldn’t have been more patient with me at the cash register. I kept going as fast as I could to keep the long line moving.

Thank you very much for your continued support of the Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing shop. I wish you every Happiness this Holiday Season and throughout the coming New Year!

Much Joy, Sarah

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Red-winged blackbirds in the snow

I'm just a backyard bird admirer and not overly knowledgeable about habits, but in the middle of the snowfall, we just had a female redwing blackbird at our suet feeder in Southeastern Michigan. Isn't that a rarity this time of year?
While not common, Red-winged Blackbirds have been known to make appearances in Michigan during the wintertime. Blackbirds usually leave Michigan soon after nesting season is over but they don't have to. Most fly to the southern and central states in huge male or female flocks, where they are abundant especially on farms.

Warmer temperatures and a greater supply of food and water could be some reasons a few Red-winged Blackbirds are still around. The cold doesn't bother them as long as they can find enough food. Perhaps it is another result of climate change.

Young males also stick around sometimes so they will be the first ones back to claim a nesting territory in late Feb or early March.

You can view the normal Range Map at: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-winged_Blackbird/id


Related articles:
- Fun Facts on Red-winged Blackbirds: http://bit.ly/q05Bos
- All about the Red-Winged Blackbird: http://bit.ly/qAeiyj
- Red-winged Blackbird info http://bit.ly/yQPs61
- Blackbird Battle http://bit.ly/xFsHIN
- Red-winged blackbirds attack hawk http://bit.ly/yaudwu

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Advantage of shell free bird food

Is there a benefit for the birds to have sunflower seeds without the shell?

Very good question! Birds will come any feeders with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide  them with the crucial nutrition to survive. Whether it has a shell on it shouldn't effect the number or variety of birds that frequent a feeder.

Benefits of shell free bird seed
The most obvious benefit of shell free bird foods is that the birds are able to eat the food faster and then move to a safe location to digest. Predators won’t have that extra few seconds of distraction while they crack the seed to pounce. There is about twice as much seed in a bag without shells because you aren’t buying the shells. This means it should last twice as long in the feeder. And because no waste birdseed has no hulls, the seeds don’t sprout weeds under the birdfeeders. With less mess, rodents won't be attracted to the area.
What are no-mess seed blends?
A good no-mess blend may also contain nuts or hulled millet; beware blends which promise a "waste-free" experience but contain filler ingredients such as cracked corn, canary seed, or wheat. While these ingredients may not have a shell, they appeal to a very limited group of birds and will often be rejected by the species commonly found in our yards. 

Which no-mess seed should I use?  
Both of the no-mess blends we offer have sunflower seeds and peanut pieces without the shell as the first ingredients. Sunflower for all the seed eating birds like finches and peanuts to attract all the bug eating birds like chickadees. Peanuts have a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content to attract a variety of interesting birds.

Our #1 selling Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess LM has a Little Millet (LM) added to attract all the ground feeding birds like the juncos, sparrows, and doves. The hull is removed from the white proso millet so it can’t grow. It is 100% edible.
 
Our Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess NM has a chopped- up Nutty Mix (NM) added to attract more of the forest birds to the feeder. The Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, pecan, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. Birds that would head for the peanuts and tree nuts are chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, wrens, robins, bluebirds, warblers and more.
 
I would recommend both blends highly! We sell at least a couple of tons a week. 

Related Articles:
What seeds wild birds eat http://bit.ly/IET0hP
How to keep moths out of bird seed http://bit.ly/IESK2h
How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://bit.ly/rTLSqJ
Seed Storage Cans http://bit.ly/uBaSwO
The strange journey of the sunflower plant http://bit.ly/uFlz65

Friday, December 9, 2016

Photo Share: Taken from the kitchen window

These are all your feeders near Eagle, MI. Very active today. - Mickey Burns 
Using your heater
Thank you for sharing your photos! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Related Articles:
Keep your feeders clean http://goo.gl/UGfVGT How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://goo.gl/AdJPBO
Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds http://goo.gl/vsBxVs
What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/rTCbHB

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Glass Bird Ornaments

Birds are considered a universal symbol of happiness and joy and are regarded by many to be a necessity on the Christmas tree. Because bird ornaments were difficult to create, few glassblowing families in Germany specialized in the making of these special pieces. Birds represent messengers of love and are the harbingers of good things to come.

Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing store has a selection of hand-blown glass bird ornaments  designed by Margaret Cobane, a Nationally recognized Michigan artist. She says, " My fascination with Christmas, nature, gardening and Santa is a recurring subject in much of my work. I especially like Santa because he is such a good, kind soul. I believe he is a symbol of goodness and generosity. My designs are created from my love of the season and all of the traditions that are dear to our hearts."  

Related Articles:
- How the Christmas Tree tradition started http://goo.gl/hpYcTZ
- Edible ornaments for the birds http://bit.ly/tXDnSB
- Decorate a Tree for Your Birds http://bit.ly/t3QtGV
- The Tradition of feeding the Birds at Christmas Time http://goo.gl/7ODaQ
- When did Reindeer Learn to Fly? http://bit.ly/veTLpT

- Why green, red, and white are Christmas colors http://goo.gl/Swgzv6
- Why do people kiss under the Mistletoe and what is the plant's connection to birds? http://goo.gl/Cmqwvg

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

5 tips to bird feeding

Backyard bird feeding is a great way to observe wildlife 
and an enjoyable activity for the entire family.
Who will I attract?
Just a few of the common winter birds attracted to feeders are cardinals, finches, juncos, doves, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, jays, starlings and sparrows.

What’s the best bird feeder?
Any bird feeder you choose should be easy to fill and easy to clean. Seed feeders obviously hold seed and attract a wide variety of seed eating birds. Suet feeders attract bug eating birds like the woodpeckers. Nyjer (thistle) feeders attract the finches. It is also important to keep your feeders filled with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide your birds with the crucial nutrition they need to survive. Studies indicate that Sunflower, Peanuts, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types. Cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo decrease the price per pound of a seed blend and suet but aren't eaten by the birds and are left to rot on the ground.

Where should I put the feeder?
The best place to put the feeder is where you can watch the birds easily. Try to find a place that's sheltered from the wind and away from cats and other predators. And the closer your feeder is to the window, the less likely birds will be hurt if they mistake the clear glass as a fly through.

When's the best time to start?
There is no best or worst time to start bird feeding. In general, whenever the birds are stressed they will appreciate a reliable food source. Typically, feeders serve as a supplemental source of food for birds in your yard. Fruit and nut bearing bushes and trees supply a natural food source as well as native flowers, such as coneflowers, black eyed Susan’s, and cosmos that are allowed to go to seed and stand through the winter. In the last couple months of winter the natural sources have gradually become more and more scarce and that's when birds may switch to utilizing feeders to survive from day to day.

How long should I feed them?
If you enjoy feeding birds, there is no reason to stop. You can do it year-round. Feeding the birds throughout the summer will not make them "lazy," or "dependent." Backyard bird feeding is an entertaining and educational pastime that can be enjoyed by children and adults. It provides a needed stress relief and brings families together. There is no designated time to feed the birds. Most people feed year round.

Related Articles:
- What Month Do You Stop Feeding The Birds? http://goo.gl/wuKbTI
- Keep your feeders clean http://goo.gl/UGfVGT
- Would the birds starve to death if I stopped feeding them? http://bit.ly/xOFgb9
- How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://goo.gl/AdJPBO
- Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds http://goo.gl/vsBxVs
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/rTCbHB

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

When Christmas lights became a thing

This year’s mild fall and the improvement of outdoor decorative lights has made the sparkly trip home almost too distracting. However on these dark days, I’m talking literally dark with December having the least amount of daylight, the bright lights can feel promising.

The custom of Christmas Lights goes back to the use of candles decorating the Christmas trees in early modern Germany. The idea of using lights is blend of the traditions from the people that celebrated Winter solstice by lighting candles to encourage the light to return after the cold, dark winter and the Christmas tradition of lights representing the Star of Bethlehem.

Thomas Edison brought us the first electric Christmas light display in 1880. In 1900, the first known advertisement for Christmas tree lights appeared in Scientific American Magazine. Decorating outdoor trees with electric lights became popular in the early 20th century followed by, strings of electric lights along streets and on buildings by the mid-20th century. In the United States, it became popular tradition to outline private homes with lights beginning in the 1960s.

Related Articles:
Edible ornaments for the birds http://bit.ly/tXDnSB
Decorate a Tree for Your Birds http://bit.ly/t3QtGV
A closer look at the holiday wreath tradition http://goo.gl/Y3cJ5g
The Tradition of feeding the Birds at Christmas Time http://goo.gl/7ODaQ
When did Reindeer Learn to Fly? http://bit.ly/veTLpT
How the Christmas tree tradition started http://goo.gl/r92VN
Holly's symbolism http://goo.gl/Dj5nOy

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cold snap heats up demand for wild bird seed

Did you notice an increase at the feeders before the snow fall? Our Michigan birds are equipped to withstand most winter weather. They preen and adjust their feathers to create air pockets that will help them keep warm. And eat high-energy, high-fat foods to stoke their internal furnace. 
 
The Importance of Keeping Your Feeders Full
Food is the most essential element, providing birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition they need. To stay warm, birds will expend energy very quickly, some losing up to 10% of their body weight on extremely cold nights, and this fat must be replaced every day.

The Importance of a Reliable, Open Source of Water

Birds continue to need a source of water for drinking to maintain their metabolism during dry, cold weather. Clean feathers help birds stay warm, and a bird bath is often the only way for some birds to drink and keep their feathers in top condition when it’s cold.

Related Articles:
What to feed birds in the winter http://bit.ly/tfT7Ca
Where Do Birds Go At Night? http://bit.ly/uoQOBw
How can birds survive this cold weather? http://bit.ly/uKZs6v
Food & water from bird feeders can impact birds’ survival http://bit.ly/tsnvpP

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Downy woodpeckers do not migrate

At about 6 inches, the Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America and the most frequent visitor to backyard feeders year-round. They like to eat peanuts, suet, mealworms, sunflower and safflower seeds.

Downys have a white belly and back and their black wings have white bars. Only the males have a red patch on the back of the head. And they are called downy because of the soft white feathers on their back. Downy woodpeckers are confused commonly with Hairy woodpecker, their larger cousins, which have similar plumage, but are around 9 inches.

They use vocalizations and body signals to communicate. They produce a variety of sounds, including "pik", rattle, scolding, "wad", "chirp", squeak, screech, and distress calls. The "pik" call introduces the rattle call, and these are used during aggressive interactions. Short calls, the "wad" and "chirp", are uttered by young birds. A longer note call, the squeak, is also uttered by young downy woodpeckers. The screech and distress calls are used to signal alarm.

Related Articles:
-How do I stop woodpeckers from pecking on my house? http://bit.ly/KGItqF
-What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/tcKasp
-Hairy Woodpecker vs. Downy Woodpecker http://goo.gl/WMH31
-How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://goo.gl/P2qRv
-How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI

Saturday, December 3, 2016

How to keep raccoons from your yard

The Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is known for its distinctive black mask and night time raids on bird feeders. While raccoons don’t hibernate, those that live in cold climates like Michigan, can hole up in their burrow or under decks for weeks at a time. During their long periods of sleep, raccoons do not eat. Without food, they can lose up to one-half of their total weight! To prepare for these difficult times, raccoons have to bulk up in late summer and fall to survive cold winters.

When they are awake they are always savaging. The territory of a raccoon can be as large as ten miles. This means he'll usually stay in your yard for a little while and then move on looking for different food, water, and shelter. Of course another one may replace the one that just left your yard or you may be free of raccoons for weeks.

To keep raccoons from your yard:
1. Bring feeders in at night- most raccoons and skunks forage at night and if the feeders are put away they will move on faster.
2. Use squirrel proof feeders- The Squirrel Buster Plus feeder deters squirrels, raccoons and large black birds. You can adjust the tension on the spring mechanism to have the feeder ports shut when unwanted guest attempt to feed.
3. Food Choice- Use a birdseed blend that has seeds that the birds in our area like to eat. Some cheaper blends are filled with milo and oats that are just kicked to the ground and left for the rodents to clean up. All of the Wild Birds Unlimited blends are formulated specifically to attract the widest variety of birds in mid-Michigan.
Other Good Food Choices
Pure Beef Suet with no seeds or Hot Pepper suet deters most animals but still attracts a wide variety of woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and wrens.
Safflower seed: You can start by offering safflower gradually, mixing it with the seed you currently use. Over time increase the amount of safflower until you are feeding straight safflower. The seed looks and tastes different from other bird seed, so it may take your birds some time to adjust. Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. Many favorite backyard birds - including cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches- savor safflower. Blackbirds, starlings, raccoons and most squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed. Safflower seed cakes and seed cylinders are also available at Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing, MI. 
Nyjer Seed – Nyjer, niger, and thistle are all common names used to identify a tiny black birdseed cultivated in Asia and Africa that is high in calories and oil content, and loved by American Goldfinches and avoided by most raccoons and squirrels.
4. Baffle Feeding station- The long, cylindrical design of our Raccoon Baffle specializes in deterring raccoons as well as chipmunks and squirrels from reaching your feeders. This baffle can be mounted to fit our Advanced Pole System® (APS). If you don't have an APS setup why not? The Basic APS Boxed Setup is an excellent way to get your bird feeding hobby organized. But we also have special wrap around baffles that can go around skinny poles too.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Preston isn't the only character

Which one is the true character? This Carolina Wren poses before he attacks the sunflower and nuts in the cylinder. Available for a short time only at Wild Birds Unlimited, Preston the seed character attracts a variety of birds.

Related Articles:
Holiday gift ideas for nature lovers: http://bit.ly/v8L2va
Number one selling pre-wrapped feeder for the holidays: http://bit.ly/uCrvbx
Lots of Neat New Items Coming into the Store! http://bit.ly/sJIgl6
Unique gifts for someone that has everything http://goo.gl/ZEHqc
Top 10 Gifts for Birdwatchers: http://bit.ly/uZojYY
A window feeder provides great entertainment: http://bit.ly/uT6S3u

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Beast! - A new indestructible suet feeder

Built by the same people that developed our innovative Advanced Pole System (APS), The Beast is a new indestructible suet feeder! Dan Panetti, the owner of the Mequon, Wisconsin Wild Birds Unlimited store introduced us to The Beast a few months ago. He actually gave one to my brother to test locally.

Here is how Dan describes The Beast suet feeder:
  1.  The Beast is a heavy duty suet feeder
  2. It weighs over 2 pounds - more than twice the weight of an average gray squirrel!
  3. The S hook on The Beast chain fits snugly on our poles making it very difficult for a critter to remove - in the video, you see it simply hanging on APS on my deck - a raccoon has never removed it!
  4. A semi permanent method for hanging on a tree branch is already figured out - essentially it makes the feeder one with the tree until you choose to take it down and refill - a raccoon absolutely cannot remove it!
Here is my brother's review of the feeder:
I put the feeder up in a "hot" spot for squirrel activity and used a peanut butter suet. Within a day, there was a squirrel investigating. He stayed on the feeder for quite some time while I watched and seemed to be eating something. Later when I checked the feeder, there was a very small amount of suet taken along the edges. A couple days later I again saw him on the feeder for a shorter time but he did not seem to get enough to satisfy him and I haven't seen any other squirrels on that feeder again. There is a lot of bird activity on the feeder though and the cake is lasting longer without squirrels feeding. I think the feeder will work very well as a squirrel proof suet option that is readily accepted by my suet eating birds of all sorts. 

The manufacturer describes the feeder as Squirrel Proof- Aggressively Tested against red, gray, fox, and flying squirrels. Raccoon Proof- In both cases use as directed. Extremely difficult for House Sparrows to use.
Watch Dan Panetti's video at: https://youtu.be/The-Beast!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stop sparrows from nesting in garage

We have a garage that the sparrows were nesting in and now they seem to want to continue to live there. Is there anything you can do to dissuade them?

House Sparrows like to nest and roost in any niche. While humans are very good at clear-cutting any natural bushy bush where birds like to hang out we are also very handy at creating several good unnatural spots for sparrows to squeeze into near our houses. Wild Birds Unlimited has shiny scatter tape to scare birds away or you could purchase a couple mylar balloons to float in the garage to encourage them to find a new domain. The best way to make everyone happy is make your garage less appealing while also providing them an appropriate bird house in which to live.

In the winter birds often seek protected places to roost or sleep. Dense vegetation found in thickets or the interior branches of evergreens serve as a windbreak and conceal the birds from night-prowling predators. Some cavity nesting birds like House Sparrows, bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and some woodpeckers will also roost together in nestboxes (birdhouses) in the winter. And Screech owls and squirrels are some other box-nesting species that like to stay warm in boxes.

The National Wildlife Federation wrote in one article:
Birdy, It's Cold Outside   http://nwf.org/providing-cozy-winter-roosts
It may seem obvious that a box is a warm place for a bird to sleep, but scientists like to confirm these things. Zoology professor Chuck Kendeigh did just that. More than 50 years ago, he noticed a house sparrow on the University of Illinois campus roosting each night in a box under the eaves of a building. Kendeigh rigged two recording thermometers to measure air temperature inside and outside the box, 24 hours a day, from December 20, 1949, to January 11, 1950—the coldest days of the year.

By day, when the bird was away, the temperature was the same inside and outside the box. When the bird went in at night, its body and its exhaled breath heated the small space. The colder it got outside, the greater the difference became inside versus out. At 18 degrees F outside, for example, the inside temperature was 29 degrees F.

That may not sound exactly toasty, but it makes a big difference to a bird. At those temperatures, Kendeigh calculated, the sparrow would burn 11 percent less energy sleeping indoors as opposed to outdoors. “The amount of energy thus conserved may make the difference between survival and death during periods of extreme weather during the winter,” he concluded. 


Related Articles:
Best Bird Houses http://bit.ly/AuLTJt
Homes for squirrels http:/homes-for-squirrels.html
October is the perfect time to put up an owl house http://put-up-owl-house.html 

Where bluebirds winter http://bluebirds-winter.html
How long it takes for chickadees to leave a nest http://chickadees-to-nest.html

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Wild Birds Unlimited Advanced Pole System® (APS) EZ-Attach SideDish™ Bird Feeder

The Wild Birds Unlimited Advanced Pole System® (APS) EZ-Attach SideDish™ Bird Feeder allows you to offer a variety of foods, whether it's mealworms, seed blends, fruit or our always popular Suet Snacks. This little tray is a versatile feeder that allows you to cater to many birds' tastes.

And thanks to our EZ-Attach design, adding this feeder to your pole setup is a snap. Just slip the EZ-Attach unit on an extension pole and pull down. You can also add an On-Guard roof to protect the food.

Related Articles:
Unique gifts for someone that has everything http://bit.ly/rqzyUK
Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/rQi13V
Why Wild Birds Unlimited has the best seed. http://bit.ly/uER81k
What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/rTCbHB
The best heated bird baths http://bit.ly/rGLQCm