About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply 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, 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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Home yummy home

Peter Peter pumpkin eater
Large birds and small mammals will eat pumpkin seeds if you offer them in your yard. Pumpkins are 90% water, which means they break down easily and quickly. This makes them a great addition to your compost pile.

Every autumn, squirrels start to bulk up by gorging on excess amounts of nuts, berries,  fruits and vegetables and even insects to help them survive the cold winter months. They also bury food to retrieve when it is scarce. Squirrels don't hibernate, they have to gain weight to help insulate themselves from the cold. 

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Edible ornaments for the birds http://bit.ly/tXDnSB
Decorate a Tree for Your Birds http://bit.ly/t3QtGV
Let's all share Nature's bounty http://bit.ly/syPNzh
Filling Up on Fatty Foods http://bit.ly/tUElnw
Anna and Evan pick pumpkins http://goo.gl/e31Af

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Starlings are mocking us

Every morning as I walk in to Wild Birds Unlimited I hear voices above my head. Sometimes it's a little disturbing hearing starlings discussing things (about me?) while perched up high on the wires.

European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are exceptional mimics, including human speech. As allaboutbirds.com explains: Starlings are relatives of the mynah birds, and like them they have impressive vocal abilities and a gift for mimicry. They can warble, whistle, chatter, make smooth liquid sounds, harsh trills and rattles, and imitate meadowlarks, jays, and hawks.

Male and female starlings use about 10 kinds of calls to communicate about where they are, whether there’s danger around, and how aggressive or agitated they feel. Among these are a purr-like call given as the bird takes flight, and a rattle that starlings make as they join a flock on the ground. Two types of screamlike calls indicate aggression and are often accompanied by flapping wings. They also make metallic chip notes to other flock members and when harassing or mobbing predators.

Females sing, particularly in the fall. Songs often include imitations of other birds, including Eastern Wood-Pewee, Killdeer, meadowlarks, Northern Bobwhite, Brown-headed Cowbird, Northern Flicker, and others.

Related Articles:
Fun Facts About European Starlings http://bit.ly/KldcZK
Bird of the week: European Starling http://bit.ly/KXORtK
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

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Uninvited guest meme

Me, I’d love to feed the whole world. But I know that some people have trouble with uninvited guests like hawks, squirrels, House Sparrows, starlings and blackbirds at the bird feeders.

If you switch over to straight safflower seed you will decrease the activity of all those guests except hawks. Safflower is a small white seed about the size of oil sunflower that is savored by Cardinals, House Finches, Black-capped Chickadees, and more. Blackbirds, starlings, squirrels, and sparrows avoid safflower. When you start feeding safflower there will be a dramatic drop in the number of birds at the feeder but then different birds will appear gradually.

It’s also important to buy suet without seed in it because that's what the sparrows like. Our Wild Birds Unlimited Peanut Butter Suet contains just suet and peanuts no seed or we have the straight beef suet that the just the chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches like. And the Hot Pepper Suet repels all mammals including squirrels.

Most squirrels, House Sparrows, hawks, starlings and blackbirds also leave the finch feeders alone when you feed straight Nyjer thistle. If they still are a problem you can use an upside down finch feeder. Goldfinches can eat upside down comfortably. The feeding port is below the perch and the goldfinches have to hang by their toes to reach the seed.

If you’re still overrun with flocks of sparrows and starlings, hawks may actually help you take care of a few of those unwanted guests. Unfortunately they may also tote off a couple of the birds you like.

To deter hawks, place your feeders where there is ample natural protection. Evergreen shrubs and trees can provide an easy escape for the birds. Federal and state laws prohibit the capture, killing, or possession of hawks and owls. So keep in mind that hawks may eat a few sparrows and squirrels but only tend to settle in at feeders for two or three weeks and then they are off again to different territory. Ultimately, the only thing you can do when a hawk comes to dinner is wait it out.

If you want to attract the widest variety of birds, Wild Birds Unlimited has several other blends that are formulated to attract the birds that live in our area. We do not include cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo that decrease the price per pound of a mix and aren't eaten by the birds in Michigan. Wild Birds Unlimited blends actually end up costing less to use while attracting more of the birds that you want to watch.

The only blend I use is Wild Birds Unlimited's unique No-Mess Blend which features seeds that have had their shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left. No hulls on the seeds means no hulls on the ground and the seed won’t sprout either.

Pound for pound, our No-Mess Blend offers the best value because you do not pay for the shells. The birds eat everything. One 20# bag of No-Mess contains at least twice as much seed as a bag with shells.

Whichever seed you choose to use, you'll know Wild Birds Unlimited always has fresh bird food full of the high fat and protein the birds need right now. Tons of seed comes in every week.

Related Articles:
- 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
- Best food for birds in the winter http://goo.gl/WXXcp

Friday, November 25, 2016

Photo Share: Tufted Titmouse

Tufted titmice are active birds often seen flitting about in trees and searching beneath twigs for insects or bug larvae. They travel and roost during the winter in small mixed flocks of titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, Brown Creepers, and woodpeckers.

At the feeders they are attracted to sunflower seeds, nuts, suet, seed cylinders and mealworms. Tufted Titmice typically select one seed from a feeder at a time. They shell it and hide the kernel within 130 feet of the feeder from which they obtained it under bark or under objects on the ground.

Males are dominant over females and they form pairs that persist until the death of one of the mates. The titmouse family bond is so strong that the young from one breeding season will often stay with their parents long enough to help them with nesting and feeding duties the following year.

Related Articles:
- Is it “Titmice” or “Titmouses”? http://bit.ly/yImBcF
- Why is the Titmouse Tongue So Short? http://bit.ly/yds9Mm
- Tufted Titmouse fun facts http://bit.ly/AfIA7H
- Bird guilds: How different birds band together to survive http://goo.gl/d0VzDD
- How to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count http://goo.gl/Bc2uGD

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving to all

History of American Thanksgiving
The first Thanksgiving Day was decreed by Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony settlement in July 30, 1623. There were harvest festivals, for plentiful crops because that year the Pilgrim’s fall harvest was very successful after a period of drought. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. The Governor proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians. But this was just a one-time event.

It wasn't until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln prclaimed thanksgiving a national holiday. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday for Thanksgiving in the U.S.A.  Canada celebrates thanksgiving the second Monday in October.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Iridescent Ocellated Turkey

A relative of our Wild Turkey, the Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) is a more colorful species residing primarily in the forests in Mexico. Males of both turkey species have a distinctive fleshy wattle or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak (called a snood). They are among the largest birds in their ranges.

However Ocellated turkeys feathers are iridescent green, bronze, blue, and black and they have a featherless powder-blue head speckled with red and orange fleshy nodules. They also have tail feathers with the green-blue 'eyespots' edged in a metallic bronze color, from which its name is derived (ocelli or 'eye' in Latin).

Related Articles:
Fun Facts on Wild Turkeys http://bit.ly/rI3Ki7
Why is a Turkey Is Called a Turkey? http://bit.ly/uKNZe5
Wild Turkeys came close to extinction in the 1930s: http://bit.ly/rgjosF
What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Frozen bird seed in the feeder no more

What do you do if you have frozen seed in your bird feeder?

I'm sure the sudden rain and then freeze resulted in a lot of frozen seed in Michigan bird feeders. Make sure to always check your feeders after bad weather. Give it a good shake to toss the seed around. If it is too frozen, bring in the feeder, clean it and fill it with new seed.

To prevent the seed from freezing again add Feeder Fresh to the seed. It is a desiccant that absorbs any water that gets into the feeder. The seed flows freely and the birds are happy. You can also add a weather guard to cover the feeder. This also shelters the feeder as well as the birds that are feeding from bad weather.

Related Articles:
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Prepare Your Yard for Fall Bird Feeding: http://bit.ly/pkJUmW
Do I need to clean my bird feeder?: http://bit.ly/nYKz40
Best foods for birds in winter http://bit.ly/6fkng
How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://bit.ly/tRYvG9

Monday, November 21, 2016

Roadkill cardinal is crow's lunch

While all my common feeder birds seemed to be tucked in some shelter away from the high winds on Sunday, I watched a family of American Crows dancing around the Wild Birds Unlimited, East Lansing parking lot. They were riding the winds, bouncing around in leaf piles. Then all of a sudden there was a lot of caws.

One crow was bouncing from tree to tree trying to keep something away from his nosey siblings. I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture of the crow with something flattened, floppy, round and red. Yikes! Perched in the tree, feathers began to fly as the crow picked at a roadkill cardinal.

I was sad the cardinal was killed but happy the crows could utilize the roadkill to sustain themselves in this cold weather. Crows are remarkably adaptable birds that will feed on a wide variety of foods, including seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, bugs, worms and many kinds of animals such as mice and roadkill.

Related Articles:
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How Do I Deter Crows at the Feeder? http://bit.ly/LWbhMB
Why are “black” birds considered bad by most people? http://bit.ly/LWbxeD

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Northern Flicker at heated bird bath

Northern Flickers are medium sized woodpeckers with black-barred brown back, yellow under the wings, and black tail. Flickers in mid-Michigan have black polka dots on the belly and a black bib under their long bill. The males also have a black “mustache.”

The Northern Flicker is becoming a common winter resident in mid-Michigan. Most of our flickers usually shift further south in the winter but more and more have been sighted at the feeders and baths just in the last decade.

Unlike most other woodpeckers, Northern Flickers are mainly ground feeders, eating ants, termites, caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, other insects, spiders, berries, seeds, and nuts. In the winter they like to feed from suet, nut, and seed cylinder feeders.

Flickers will roost in any open cavity in a tree, birdhouse, or they often drill holes in barns or find a spot under the eaves of houses for winter roosts. Larger birds, such as flickers and other woodpeckers, like to roost alone. At this time of year you’ll notice that flickers are the earliest of the backyard birds to retire at night, sometimes going to their lodgings an hour before sundown. But they go out soon after sunrise, unless there is bad weather.

Related Articles:
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- Northern Flicker Stops by for a Surprise Visit http://bit.ly/Aouqjf
- Fun Facts about Woodpeckers http://bit.ly/yGoOUc
- Why Flickers Flick Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/Ar0Rin
- How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/x5PGT1

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Get ready for the cold weather

What does all this warm weather mean for the birds? Nothing right now. They have feeders and can also feast on a lot of natural foods. Unfortunately it means that come the last couple months of winter, the natural sources their eating now won't be available and birds may switch to utilizing feeders to survive from day to day.

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.

When it gets cold, birds flock to feeders to build up their energy reserves. A seed blend with sunflower seeds and peanuts is great to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content. At Wild Birds Unlimited that would be our most popular WBU No-Mess Blend or WBU Choice blend.

Suet or seed blocks are also great foods to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm. I would recommend our peanut butter suet.

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

Friday, November 18, 2016

Photo Share: Fall Birds

Wild birds are making decisions about which back yards they will visit this winter. Even though natural food sources are plentiful right now, birds are definitely taking note of which yards have food available. What you do as the days grow shorter lets the birds know where to go when that first storm hits. And beautiful, hungry, thankful birds can brighten any dreary winter day.

At Wild Birds Unlimited you will get the very freshest seed, blended regionally for your backyard birds, with no filler grains. Fillers such as milo, wheat and oats, are ingredients not preferred by most birds and are generally, left uneaten and found in a moldy pile on the ground or attract rodents. These fillers add bulk to the bag and lower the price, but they are undesired by the birds, and a waste of your money.

Regardless of the season, the bird species you attract is determined primarily by the seeds you offer. To provide the most beneficial foods to meet birds' nutritional needs, the birds in Michigan should be fed fresh Sunflower seeds, White Proso Millet, Safflower, Peanuts, Nyjer® Thistle, or suet or seed cakes.

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

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tree swallows flock in fall

If you you have a large grassy yard in the country or on the edge of a golf course, you can put up a Tree Swallow box every 50 feet. Tree swallows breed between May and September in mid-Michigan. They raise one brood per year. In the fall however they gather in massive flocks after they fly south. They spend the winter in southern North America, primarily in Florida, and along the Caribbean coast of Central America.

They are especially fond fruits of waxmyrtle and bayberry bushes that grow in sandy soils near seacoasts. They are one of the very few birds able to digest the energy-rich waxy outer coatings of these berries. Watch the video: https://youtu.be/
Related Article:
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How Do Birds Lay Eggs? http://bit.ly/H8omO0
Blue and orange bird making mud nest http://goo.gl/ZQJae

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Watch for Purple Finches

The Purple Finch looks very similar to the more common feeder visitor, the House Finch. But during winter Purple Finches venture from the woods to a wider variety of habitats, including shrublands, old fields, forest edges, and backyards.

Purple finches are social during the winter, and often form flocks of 2 to over 200 with others of the same or different species. Common mixed-groups include other finches such as pine siskins or American goldfinches. These groups often roost in conifers and are frequent feeder visitors throughout the winter months. Watch for them at your Nyjer (thistle) feeder or feeders that offer sunflower or safflower seeds.

The males are rosy pink with brown on the back and the females are brown birds with coarsely streaked bellies, a whitish eyestripe and a dark line down the side of the throat.

Related Articles:
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Where do you place finch feeders? http://bit.ly/qr78Dd
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/rT5Hfj
Why male and females are a different color http://bit.ly/ueILUf
The difference between House Finch and Purple Finch http://difference-between-house-finch.html

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Peanuts are a good high-energy food for wild birds

360 Degrees of Pure Mmmmmm
The peanut wreath is our number one selling pre-wrapped feeder for the holidays. It not only makes a unique host/hostess gift, the birds love it too. Hang it in your favorite tree and watch peanut loving birds, like chickadees and woodpeckers, fly in for a meal. It's durable, yet it remains flexible so birds can pull out the whole peanuts. Multiple size openings make it possible for a variety of birds to feed. This versatile bird feeder is also great for offering fruit, corn on the cob, or nesting material.

Providing peanuts is a great addition to the choices you offer your backyard birds. Peanuts are a high-energy food and are enjoyed by a wide variety of birds such as cardinals, woodpeckers, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, jays and more.

I usually fill this feeder while I can sit down and watch because once the birds discover the nuts, there is a flurry of activity until it’s empty.

For a limited time we also offer seed wreaths, seed bells, seed pinecones, seed cylinder characters, and much more at the Wild Birds Unlimited stores in East Lansing, MI. Come on in today to see what's new!
Wild Birds Unlimited Macomb uploaded a great video of the Peanut Wreath Feeder in action:
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Remarkable complexity of the bird nose

Birds' beaks come in an incredible range of shapes and sizes, adapted for survival in environments around the world. A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances reveals, that the insides of birds' bills are filled with complex structures that help them meet the demands of different climates.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Raymond Danner of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and his colleagues from Cornell University and the National Museum of Natural History used CT scans to examine the conchae of birds.

“I remember the entire team assembled for the first time, huddled around a computer and looking in amazement at the first scans. The high resolution scans revealed many structures that we as experienced ornithologists had never seen or even imagined, and we were immediately struck by the beauty of the ornately structured anterior conchae and the neatly scrolled middle conchae,” said Danner.

“This study highlights the remarkable complexity of the rostral conchae in songbirds,” according to Jason Bourke, a researcher from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences who was not involved in the research. “Thanks to the use of innovative techniques like diceCT, we are now able to really appreciate just how complicated bird noses can be.”

Raymond M. Danner, Eric R. Gulson-Castillo, Helen F. James, Sarah A. Dzielski, David C. Frank III, Eric T. Sibbald, and David W. Winkler (2016) Habitat-specific divergence of air conditioning structures in bird bills. The Auk, 134 (1): 65-75.

Researcher contact:
Raymond Danner, dannerr@uncw.edu, (910)-962-7895

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Unfreeze the bird bath water

Most people understand that birds need to drink but many do not realize just how important it is that birds also bathe, especially in the winter. A good part of a bird's day is spent grooming their feathers by bathing, scratching, and preening. The feathers covering the body give the bird a water resistant, aerodynamic shape for efficient flight. And properly fluffed up feathers also trap body heat close to the skin.

So when temperatures drop think about adding a heater to your bird bath or switch to an all-in-one heated bird bath to provide an open water source.

Heated bird baths are not like a hot tube. The Wild Birds Unlimited heated baths have a built-in, fully grounded heater that is thermostatically controlled to conserve energy. As soon as temperatures reach freezing the bath will turn on to heat the water just enough to thaw ice. You can mount it easily to deck rails or place it in a stand sold separately.

Water sources in winter are an easy way to attract a variety of birds including the American Robin, Eastern Bluebird and other birds that don’t usually visit feeders.

Related Articles:
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- How to Prepare Your Yard for Winter Birdwatching http://bit.ly/uduvLm
- Attracting Bluebirds in the Winter http://bit.ly/sw0H6P
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/vSkLTn

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Migration on Mourning Doves

While mourning doves are common at the bird feeder all year-round in Michigan, the doves you see in winter may not the same as the ones you see in summer. Mourning Doves begin to move south from September to November, with immature doves moving first, followed by adult females and then by adult males. However many male doves don’t migrate at all, and remain in mid-Michigan to get a head start on establishing a good breeding territory early in the spring.

They like to feed early in the morning along with the cardinals in the winter and are also usually the last to feed at dusk. They eat a variety of seeds, insects, and berries. They especially like safflower seeds. They stuff their crop until it bulges and then fly off to digest slowly. They'll pick up seeds from the ground unless your feeder has a large perching area for them to feed comfortably.

If a hawk flies by, you see the doves blast off into the air making a whistling sound as it goes. This high-pitched whistle comes from the bird’s powerful wings. It is believed that the whistling is a built-in alarm system, warning others that danger may be near, while simultaneously startling a would-be predator.

Related Articles:
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Why do bluebirds bathe more than cardinals? http://goo.gl/ZdYRS
Birds Don't Sweat: http://goo.gl/zerp7

Friday, November 11, 2016

Photo Share: Fluffy Red-breasted Nuthatch

This fuzzy little Red-breasted Nuthatch is a little chilly this morning. On cold days in November it is common for birds to "fluff up" to trap air between their feathers and bodies to create a natural layer of insulation that acts as a buffer from the winds and wet. Just like our fluffy jackets.

In fall and winter they tend to eat fewer bugs and more plant matter like conifer seeds. At the feeders they like suet, sunflower seed and nuts. They hang out with foraging flocks of chickadees and other nuthatches and are especially fond of the No-mess Nutty Mix Blend.

Related Articles:
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- Fascinating Nuthatch Bill-Sweeping & Wing Fanning http://bit.ly/s4MWlV
- Facts every backyard birder wants know about Nuthatches http://bit.ly/tBbDbQ
- Black and white bird walking upside down on a tree trunk http://goo.gl/RUCT6O

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Gingerbread house for the birds!

We are introducing another couple decorative seed cylinders to add a little fun to your backyard bird feeding. Dash the Gingerbread Man is sure to remind you of one of your favorite childhood story books. It is a solid seed character decorated with strawberries, blueberries and cranberries.

And a solid seed Gingerbread House decorated with sweet fruits and pecans is sure to attract a variety of feathered friends to feast. The roof is made from pecans. These nuts are a very high energy food and the birds appreciate a good meal during this stressful time.

While only here for a limited time, you can replace the fun-shaped cylinder with our exclusively-formulated No-mess, Supreme Fare and Safflower seed cylinders here year-round. 

If you don't have a baffled Wild Birds Unlimited Advanced Pole System and worry about the squirrels, you can choose to use the Safflower or Hot Pepper cylinder to keep squirrels away.

I can tell you that Seed Cylinder feeders are undemanding. They are easy to clean, easy to fill, leave very little mess and attract a wide variety of birds. The feeders are popular with beginners and for people like me who have been feeding birds for over 40 years. They also make great gifts and cylinders are a nice way to introduce someone to feeding birds.Related Articles:
Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
Exciting New Bird Food at Wild Birds Unlimited Stores http://goo.gl/LpVQne
Why don't chickadees stay to eat at the feeder? http://bit.ly/AkKThH
What to feed birds in the winter http://bit.ly/rCdQqM
Holiday gift ideas for nature lovers: http://bit.ly/v8L2va
Feeding the birds will not make them dependent. http://goo.gl/dqYQu

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Homes for squirrels

Nottingham Nature Nook (NNN) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) wildlife rehabilitation center in East Lansing, MI. The Nook raises and releases orphaned wildlife, as well as caring for injured adult animals and birds that are brought in by the public.

Right now they have over 40 squirrels ready to be released, but they need nestboxes. The release of wildlife is a very crucial time. Experienced squirrels know how to build leaf dreys and locate tree hollows to survive Michigan’s harsh winters.

These orphans need a helping hand with a manmade cedar nestbox.

Wild Birds Unlimited has these nestboxes available. If you would like to purchase a box to donate to the Nook, I know it would be appreciated greatly!

Wild Birds Unlimited is also still accepting monetary donations at the counter to help support the animals that have to overwinter at the Nook.
Or checks can be mailed to Nottingham Nature Nook (NNN) 16848 Towar Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823 (517)-351-7304.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Extra-super moon!

On November 14, 2016, the moon becomes full within about two hours of perigee—arguably making it an extra-super moon. It can be as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than an apogee full moon. The full moon of November 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016 but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century. The full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034.

Source:  https://science.nasa.gov/news-articles/2016-ends-with-three-supermoons
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The difference between full moon & new moon http://difference-between.html

Monday, November 7, 2016

Dark, splotchy sparrows of dense thickets

Fox Sparrows that nest across northern Canada and Alaska, migrate at night to the southeastern United States. On their way they south they stop for a couple weeks in Michigan in October to early November.

They tend to feed on the ground underneath bird feeders, particularly if they are close to cover. Encouraging shrubs or berry bushes to grow at the edges of your yard, or keeping a brush pile, are good ways to provide places for Fox Sparrows to forage.

The overall reddish brown appearance of the Fox Sparrow inspired taxonomists to name it after a red fox. Fox Sparrows are generally rust-brown above with a mix of rust and gray on the head, and heavy brownish splotches on the flanks and the center of the chest. The bill can range from yellowish to dark gray.

Related Articles:
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Chipping Sparrow Juvenile with adult male http://goo.gl/8U5Ud2
How to get rid of sparrows http://goo.gl/9tAwkY

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Watch for an invasion of Evening Grosbeaks this winter

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Evening Grosbeaks are an irruptive species, meaning their migration is irregular, linked to the availability of food in Canada. They may be come down looking for food one year and nearly nonexistent the next.

When the snows begin to fly Evening Grosbeaks may descend unannounced on the backyard bird feeders in large winter flocks. They like the same foods as our Northern Cardinals - sunflower, peanuts or safflower. 

These large and black birds were once only thought to sing at night so were given the name Evening and they have a large beak or in French, gros bec.

Related Articles:
Fun Facts About Evening Grosbeaks http://goo.gl/JCzRq5
Goldfinch Migration http://bit.ly/pEuMKo
House Finches: Those Year-round Red Heads http://bit.ly/opD7kb
Birdwatching: Look for the Out-of-Towners http://bit.ly/q6Pkco
10 Winter Finches in Michigan http://goo.gl/C9WUqx
Where do you place finch feeders? http://bit.ly/p4XHU4

Saturday, November 5, 2016

What to look for when choosing a bird feeder

Tips on how to choose the best feeders for winter:
  1. Any feeder you choose should be easy to fill and easy to clean.
  2. Look for quality. Most Wild Birds Unlimited feeders come with a Lifetime Warranty.
  3. Determine what birds you want to attract. There are certain feeders that are made for specific birds (i.e. finch feeder, squirrel proof feeder).
  4. Decide where you are going to put the feeder. Is it going to hang in a tree, on an Advanced Pole System, on a window, or off a deck? The best place to put a feeder is where you can view it easily.
  5. Look for a feeder you don't have to fill every day. Large capacity feeders like the Quick Clean Big Tube, Squirrel Buster Plus, and the Ranchette Retreat Hopper will all stay filled for at least a week. And our most popular winter feeders are the ones that hold our seed cylinders. I used to call it the lazy man feeder until someone took offense. For people that aren't able to get out to fill feeders often during our harsh Michigan winters this feeder is ideal. It is a heavy cylinder of solid seed held together with gelatin.
Tips on how to winterize feeders I already have:
  1. Weather Guards are designed to keep snow and rain from spoiling your seed in the tube. It's a clear plastic dome that slips on top of most tube feeders. It will not deter birds from feeding, in fact, many enjoy feeding under the shelter and out of the wet weather. It has a lifetime guarantee and is made in the USA.
  2. Trays not only catch seed falling from feeders but they also makes it more comfortable for ground feeding birds to eat at an elevated level where we can observe them. Attach a tidy tray to your seed tube or Catch-a-Seed trays with hopper bird feeders.
  3. Feeder Fresh can be added to the seed when you fill a feeder. It absorbs moisture and is safe for birds. Made from non-toxic absorbent sand, Feeder Fresh keeps the seed and feeder dry, preventing molds from forming, and thus reduces the chance of Aflatoxin and other mycotoxins.
Wild Birds Unlimited doesn’t just sell the best bird feeders and bird food. We also give you accurate information about our local birds. If you have specific questions, don't be afraid to ask. We are Your Backyard Bird feeding Specialist®, here to help bring you, and nature together.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Photo Share: Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is a very appealing visitor at the feeder. Often with flocks of chickadees, most Tufted Titmice live their entire life within a few miles of their birthplace. They forage for insects, spiders, snails, various berries, acorns, and flower seeds.

Wild Birds Unlimited's No-mess blend is very attractive to titmice. In fact the shelled sunflower and peanuts in the blend are the favorite of many feeder birds. Tufted Titmice typically select one seed at a time and hide it within 130 feet of the feeder, under bark or under objects on the ground. You can also add a suet, seed cylinders or mealworm feeders to keep these birds happy.

Males and females form pairs that persist until the death of one of the mates. The titmouse family bond is so strong that the young from one breeding season will often stay with their parents long enough to help them with nesting and feeding duties the following year. They are fairly confident birds and can be trained to come at the sound of human voices and take food from their hands, though not as easily as their cousins, the black-capped chickadees.

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Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
Why is the Titmouse Tongue So Short? http://bit.ly/yds9Mm
Tufted Titmouse fun facts http://bit.ly/AfIA7H

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chickadee has eyes bigger than his stomach

Birds love pumpkin seeds, but is it better than a peanut? Birds and small mammals will eat pumpkin seeds and other squash seeds if you offer them in your yard. A tray or fly-through feeder allows you to offer a variety of kitchen scraps like apple cores, dried fruit, mixed nuts, or pie crusts. Or just turn your jack-o-lantern into a snack-o-lantern for wildlife! It’s fairly easy to make, and the squirrels and birds will love it.

Mid-Michigan's chickadees are non-migratory and will be around all winter. New fall and winter flocks have been forming for awhile. Flocks can consist of 2 to 18 birds. Normal suburban flocks range from 6 to 10 birds over a territory of 20 to 50 acres.

From sunrise to sunset, the chickadee spends most of its time foraging. Suet, seeds and nuts provide a lot of calories to produce energy in cold weather. As winter approaches, they begin hiding or caching food for the winter. In a behavior called "scatter-hoarding," chickadees choose a treat and then leave quickly to hide it under tree bark or dead leaves.

The amazing thing is that they can accurately remember the location of each seed they hoard. Not only that, they also remember the quality of items they initially stored, making more of an effort to retrieve the higher quality food.

Related Articles:
- How to get the chickadees to stay at the feeder longer http://goo.gl/2lwK5I
- Quiz on Chickadees http://goo.gl/0cI03 
- Bird Guilds: How different birds band together to survive http://goo.gl/jAtN5 
- Fun Facts about the different Chickadees in North America http://bit.ly/zIDkCi 
- Not a Shy Bird: How the Black-capped Chickadee Communicates http://goo.gl/1rlnh

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Squirrel funny

Who can be mad at that face? Yeah I mean he's always mad at me, saying some rude things right through the glass, but he's just so cute! Small but aggressive, red squirrels are most at home in conifer forests where they prefer a diet of cones supplemented with a variety of seeds, fruits, nuts, berries, truffles and other fungi. Perhaps like many other animals around the world, he's angry because his forest home has been cut down and he's had to settle into a subdivision.

As fall approaches they become highly active all day in preparation for the food shortages. They will store up green pine cones in piles or middens under logs, at the base of trees and underground. As the temperatures drop, squirrels become less active. They will hole up in hollow trees, bird houses, leaf nests or occasionally underground nests. Hopefully not the attic.

On average only 22% survive one year. If they do make their first year, life expectancy increases to an average of 2.3 years and with a maximum lifespan of eight years.

Related Articles:
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How can I get rid of Red Squirrels? http://goo.gl/DgXw4
How Many Species of Squirrels are in Michigan? http://goo.gl/ZWalH
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Can Squirrels and Birds Eat Together? http://goo.gl/tEyrj

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

New bird under the feeder with a white crown

I saw a cool sparrow today! The large bold black and white stripes on the head of the White-crowned Sparrow brightens any fall day. They  nest in the upper parts of Canada but migrate through mid-Michigan in the first couple weeks of November. They end up spending the winter below Michigan, over much of the continental U.S. and Mexico. 

White-crowned Sparrows tend to visit feeders early and late in the day. They enjoy millet and also will eat sunflower chips and peanuts. Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess blend would be a perfect seed choice. They tend arrive with a half dozen other sparrows to rest, reload and take off again in a few days. While migrating, their average travel distance is about 70 miles per day.

You may hear the birds before you see them. Birders describe their song as "poor-wet-wetter-chee-zee".
Making a brush pile in your yard is another good way to encourage this species to spend more time in your yard.
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