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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Provide a safe habitat to encourage migrating birds

It can be an exciting time for Birdwatchers during the fall migration! Mid-Michigan gets a lot of traffic as birds make their long journey South for the winter. If you're not sure when the birds will make it to your area, BirdCast is a website that has real-time predictions of when birds migrate, where they migrate, and how far they will be flying.

When you think about migration you may not realize that a majority of small song birds begin their journey at dusk and fly throughout the night. There is no set date for migration, but birds are sensitive to weather conditions. They can literally be blown in your yard for a pit stop and then ride out on the next good wind.


To provide a safe habitat that will encourage migrating birds to stop at your yard, you just have to follow five easy steps:

1. Keep 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 busier the feeders, the safer your yard will appear to passing birds, which will result in more birds stopping to investigate. Most visiting warblers are bug eaters so you might see them at feeders that have suet or nuts.

2. Provide a Source of Water
Birds continue to need a source of water for drinking to maintain their metabolism during dry or 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. Warblers and other birds that aren’t normal feeder birds will also be attracted to a clean water source.

3. Protection from the Elements
As the sun goes down, some birds head for a perch in leafy bushes, evergreens, vines or dense brush piles for the night. You can also put up roosting and nesting boxes to give birds a warm, dry place to stay overnight. Shelter is also necessary for protection against natural predators, such as birds of prey and cats.

4. Keep feeders and feeding areas clean
To help reduce the possibility of disease transmission in birds, clean feeders and feeding areas at least once a month. You can purchase professional cleaners like Scoot at Wild Birds Unlimited, or use a mild one part vinegar to nine parts water solution to disinfect all of your feeders. Keep seed and foods dry by adding Feeder Fresh; discard food that is wet or looks moldy. Birdbaths also need to be scrubbed with a brush and water should be replaced every three to days to discourage mosquito reproduction. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every three to five days, or every other day in warm weather.

5. Reduce window collisions
It is estimated that between 100 million and one billion birds are killed every year in the United States when they crash into glass windows. And even one billion deaths might be a conservative estimate. Decals like Window Alert placed on the outside of windows have had the most positive feedback from customers. Each decal contains a component which brilliantly reflects ultraviolet sunlight. This ultraviolet light is invisible to humans, but glows like a stoplight for birds.

And to help enjoy the full benefit of songbirds passing through, consider getting a good field identification guide that contains color pictures or illustrations and a quality pair of binoculars.

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/H42e6s
- What seeds wild birds eat http://goo.gl/Un35yR
- What to do if you have soggy seed in your bird feeder http://goo.gl/kfTpi
- How to get rid of weeds under the bird feeder without using poisons http://goo.gl/fHlsE0
- Cats Indoors! http://goo.gl/YIOUpI
- How to Prevent Window Strikes during Migration http://goo.gl/KZRzKb

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