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, April 30, 2016

Photo Share: New faces at the bird feeders

Hi Sarah, Everyone appears to be a week early here for us;) The chipping sparrow’s were first sometime last week we have 4 running around at the bottom of the feeder. They are not afraid of humans much like the pine pine siskin’s. We still have a couple siskin’s as of yesterday. Song Sparrow came last week also.

I know Mark was in and told you we had 2 male Orioles come on Monday. I had the jelly and worms out just in case and they decided on both when they arrived. We are awaiting the rest of the Oriole gang. 

The Hummingbird showed up Monday evening in and out so quick I missed getting his picture, he must of been a traveler as I haven’t seen him back yet. Tuesday the white-crowned Sparrow and Wed the male Grosbeak arrived. Just wanted to share what we are seeing so far. The bluebirds have 2 eggs as of yesterday I expect to see a third today. Busy exciting spring. We say goodbye to our Juncos and most Siskins our Red Breasted Nuthatch and Welcome all our summer residents. -Holly
Thank you Holly 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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Photo Share: Flying jewels

These are a couple left over from last year. I have like a kazillion but a lot are blurred and out of focus. Hope to do better this year. - John
Excellent photographs! Hummingbirds are amazing little creatures, capable flying of up, down and backwards with their wings flapping between 15-200 times per second! You must have a great deal of patience to capture these flying jewels.

Thank you John 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.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mystery of migrating monarch navigation solved

A new study suggests how Monarch Butterflies may process information to determine which way to migrate in the spring and fall. Each fall, monarchs migrate over 2,000 miles to the relative warmth of central Mexico. This journey, repeated instinctively by generations of monarchs. “Their compass integrates two pieces of information — the time of day and the sun’s position on the horizon — to find the southerly direction,” said Eli Shlizerman, a University of Washington assistant professor.

Shlizerman, partnered with colleagues at the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts to model how the monarch’s compass is organized within its brain.

Monarchs use their large, complex eyes to monitor the sun’s position in the sky then combine that information with an internal clock in their antennae to help them navigate in the southwest direction.

Their model also suggests a simple explanation why monarch butterflies are able to reverse course in the spring and head northeast back to Michigan. The four neural mechanisms that transmit information about the clock and the sun’s position would simply need to reverse direction.

“And when that happens, their compass points northeast instead of southwest,” said Shlizerman. “It’s a simple, robust system to explain how these butterflies — generation after generation — make this remarkable migration.”

In addition to Reppert, other co-authors on the paper were James Phillips-Portillo at the University of Massachusetts and Daniel Forger at the University of Michigan. Shlizerman’s work was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Washington Research Fund. Additional information can be found at the project’s blog.

Resources:
Related Articles:
- Do Monarch Butterflies just wake up in the spring? http://goo.gl/5tkUk
- Monarch migration route http://goo.gl/L66ty
- Punctuation Butterflies: The First Butterfly of Spring! http://bit.ly/JHUpG1  
- How Fast Does a Monarch Butterfly Fly? http://bit.ly/ywhpZr
- Did you know butterflies have ears on their wings? http://bit.ly/x04qEi

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hand blown glass hummingbird feeder

Parasol Hummingbird feeders are unique to many feeders on the market. They work hard to be environmentally friendly, while also being beautiful in design. They make the perfect gift for family and friends, and look fantastic in gardens, yards, and porches. Here are two of my favorite hummingbird feeders offered by Parasol.

Little Droplets a new feeder by Par-a-sol

Cute Droplets™ are perfect little hummingbird feeders for any garden. It holds 6-ounces of nectar, includes an "S" hook for hanging and hummingbird feeding information. The many colored designs are an adorable addition to your hummingbird feeder collection. The recycled glass has an opening with a vibrant red feeding flower from which the hummers feed. The top placement design of the flower prevents leaks and drips, so bees and wasps aren’t attracted to the feeder.

Parasol Pixie Hummingbird Feeders by Par-a-sol

Add a storybook look to your backyard with the Parasol Pixie Hummingbird Feeders. The enchanting feeder lends whimsy to your backyard with its rounded shape and two wing shapes extending from the back. It holds 4 ounces of nectar, and a red, glass feeding flower inserts into the neck. Made from recycled glass, this hand blown vessel and flower add environmental awareness to your garden along with style. Each Parasol Pixie Hummingbird Feeder is individually hand-blown and will vary slightly in size and shape, demonstrating the individual artisan-ship of the creator. Measures approximately 4-5/8" x 2-3/4" x 3-3/4" high*. 3 oz capacity.

* Artisanal hummingbird feeders made from hand-blown recycled glass
* Whimsical nectar feeder attracts hummingbirds and compliments
* Great gift at a great price for any hummingbird or wild bird lover

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators for Lansing, Michigan

Remember to leave Michigan’s wildlife in the wild

baby rabbit in the grass
With spring in full swing, Michigan residents may be noticing an increase in sightings of nestlings and baby animals. For example, baby cottontail rabbits, squirrels and raccoons are a common find this time of year.

DNR wildlife technician Hannah Schauer explains, "A nest full of young rabbits may look helpless, but staying in the nest is their best chance for survival. However, we appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help.” If you find an animal that seems to be abandoned or injured, call for expert advice first!

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. A list of licensed rehabilitators can be found by visiting http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/ or by calling your local DNR office. Below are a few local numbers to call for help:
  • East Lansing, MI ♦ 517.351.7304 ♦ Cheryl Connell-Marsh ♦ birds and small animals
  • Lansing, MI ♦ 517-646-9374 ♦ Tiffany Rich ♦ white tailed deer, squirrels, raccoons; Vet. Tech. on center.
  • DeWitt, MI ♦ 517.930-0087 ♦ Wildside Rehab and Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
  • Eaton Rapids, MI ♦ 517-663-6153 ♦ Wildside Rehab and Education Center ♦ birds and small animals
  • Holt, MI ♦ 517-694-9618 ♦ Carolyn Tropp cctropp@aol.com ♦ Waterfowl, small birds and mammals
  • Howell, MI ♦ 517-548-5530 ♦ Howell Conference and Nature Center ♦ All wild animals except bats, skunks, starlings, raccoons, pigeons, or house sparrows.
  • Bath, MI ♦ 517-819-0170 (day) 517-641-6314 (evening) ♦ Denise Slocum ♦ Small mammals 
And if you are outside of Michigan:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Brown-headed Cowbirds scout for nests

Adult female and male Brown-headed Cowbird


I saw a male and female cowbird scouting my yard yesterday. Brown-headed Cowbirds parasitize the nests of other birds. It looked like the ones I spotted had their eyes on a cardinal couple. The female Cowbirds wander about, laying up to 40 eggs per season (April to June) in as many nests of different bird species as they can find. They lay one egg per nest, each day for about 7 days, then rest for several days before another egg-laying sequence.

Human development of the land has caused fragmentation of forest habitat and resulted in a great increase in the edge habitats favored by Brown-headed Cowbirds, and a reduction of forest-interior habitats where they don’t like to venture. As a result, a number of forest birds' nests are now being used by Brown-headed Cowbirds at an increased rate.

There are 144 different host species documented that raise Brown-headed Cowbird young. Several published studies on the subject have found adult cowbirds check in with young cowbirds while the youngsters are still living with other species. The adult cowbirds help teach fledglings cowbird-specific behaviors before they leave their foster homes.
Eastern Phoebe nest with 5 phoebe eggs & 1 Brown-headed Cowbird egg via Wikimedia Commons
In late summer cowbirds flock together with other cowbirds. Chatter calls, as well as other visual cues help with recognition of their own species. The theory is that cowbirds and other parasitic birds possess a simple behavioral trait or cue that is species specific and helps them recognize themselves as cowbirds. 
Related Articles:
- How Do Cowbirds Learn to Sing? http://goo.gl/n6kYS 
- How Do You Tell a Female Indigo Bunting from a Female Cowbird? http://goo.gl/SpQUX

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Black white bird red chest

Look who’s showing up at the bird feeders!
If you don’t fill the feeder in the spring and summer you are going to miss seeing some really neat birds up close. I can't wait for the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks to arrive!

A relative of the Northern Cardinal, the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks migrate north in April and May in search of breeding grounds in Michigan, southern Canada and the northcentral and northeastern United States. They are a Neotropical migrant, and will return to Mexico, Central America, and South America as early as August.

The name “grosbeak” is from the French word grosbec and means “large beak.” Most are very hungry during migration and take advantage of food offered at feeders. It's quite a sight to see the distinctive black and white male bird with a bright red chest. The females resemble a large brown sparrow with a white eyebrow.

They are very common feeder birds at the beginning of spring preferring sunflower, safflower, suet, fruit, and nuts. I usually find them at my Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend. As the bird establishes its nesting territory and the weather changes, over half of their diet is made up of insects. But they always are attracted to the water in a bath.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak nests in deciduous and mixed forests. But the bird is still a bit of a mystery. Its life history has not been well-studied and little is known on their migration routes, dispersal, habitat use, and nutrition during migration and on wintering grounds. Even the species name ludovicianus which means "from Louisiana" doesn't make sense because it is just a migrant there.

If you don’t see them at your feeder keep your ears open. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology describes the Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) song like that of the robin, only as sung by an opera singer, being mellower and more sweetly melodic.
Related Articles:
Large brown sparrow-like bird http://bit.ly/IrwgVk
Juvenile Rose Breasted Grosbeak http://bit.ly/IoVuSG
Average dates for birds return to Michigan the in Spring? http://bit.ly/IMYNQe
When is bird migration over? http://bit.ly/IMZ7OQ
What to know about feeding birds in the spring http://bit.ly/I5s6h9

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How to make hummingbird nectar

Hummingbird and oriole nectar recipe
To make nectar that is a little bit stronger than flower nectar, use a ratio of 4:1. That would be four parts water to one part plain white sugar. You may be tempted to use honey, turbinado sugar, drink mixes or brown sugar, but this is not a good idea. These sugars contain too many minerals for the hummingbird's system and can cause illness or death.

Powdered or confectioners sugar should not be used either. Powdered sugar has cornstarch added to it and that will cause the nectar to ferment.

Color isn’t required. There have never been any scientific studies done to prove red dye harms hummingbirds, but they come to clear nectar (sugar water) so leave it clear just in case the red is bad for the birds.

Nectar (sugar water) recipe
1 cup granulated sugar
4 cups water

1. Pour sugar in hot water. It's not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don't come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.
2. Stir or shake the mixture until dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and let it cool.
4. Fill your hummingbird feeder and refrigerate any unused nectar for up to 2 weeks.
5. If the hummingbirds do not come to the feeder within a few days, you can try moving it to another location near plants that have brightly colored flowers.
6. Be sure to replace the nectar and clean the feeder thoroughly once every three to four days. If you leave it out longer the sugar water could go bad and hummingbirds will boycott your feeder for a long time.

If you don't want sugar in your house or you want an easy to dissolve sugar Wild Birds Unlimited has Best-1 instant nectar. It doesn't have any coloring or preservatives. Or if you are recipe challenged we also have premixed sugar water.

Related articles:
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/II4RQ4
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
Hummingbird Information on Habitat and Habits http://bit.ly/H2Ua9s
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/H7xvp3
Fun Facts About Hummingbirds http://bit.ly/II5sBl
Photo Share: Strange visitor at the high-perch hummingbird feeder http://bit.ly/II7dyy

Friday, April 22, 2016

Photo Share: The lunch table where all the cool orioles hang out

Spiral Three Cup Feeder This is a versatile three-cup feeder with a durable a powder coat finish. You can use the cups for orange halves, chopped fruit, nuts, mealworms, jelly and more.

You will want to have your feeders out early so when orioles are in the area, they will stay around. Orioles are insect and fruit eaters. They usually stay hidden in the trees eating and singing out their beautiful whistling notes. They can be drawn down from their perches with foods like orange slices, BirdBerry™ Jelly, mealworms and occasionally nectar feeders.

Related Articles:
Best place to hang oriole feeder http://goo.gl/InLH8p
Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
Tips and tricks to make your suction cups stick. http://t.co/a3wv0x0
Favorite Oriole feeders http://t.co/OjG4Lz4

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Calling for Old Sam Peabody

I heard a White-throated Sparrow today! You may hear the birds before you see them. I always think White-throated Sparrows have a song that sounds like a chickadee yodeling. Birders describe their song as "Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody" and "poor-wet-wetter-chee-zee".

They are the one bird I watch for to tell me when the weather is about to turn. They show up in mid-Michigan right when the weather is going to stay above freezing. They can be spotted hanging around for a couple weeks before they continue to their nesting grounds in upper Michigan and Canada.

The White-throated Sparrow is medium sized sparrow with brown streaked upper parts, plain gray underparts, and has a conspicuous white throat and yellow lores above the eyes between black-and-white or black-and-tan stripes on the head.

White-throated like to scratch on the ground with a series of quick kicks when they feed and remind me of chickens. Our regular no-mess blend would be a good choice of food to attract these sparrows as they migrate.

Be on the look-out for the White-crowned Sparrows too. They usually pass through around the same time as the White-throated. Their visits to feeders tend to be early and late in the day.
Related Articles:
White-throated Sparrow fun facts http://white-throated-sparrow-fun-facts.html
Sparrows Native to mid-Michigan http://bit.ly/oy9XGz
Which one of these birds is not like the others? http://bit.ly/qM1LQt
What birds winter in Michigan? http://bit.ly/rqQgU2

Edible bouquet for mom birds


Delicious and delectable premium bird seed coat these wooden houses. Then they are hand decorated in the USA with sweet spring fruits. A delightful treat for your favorite backyard birds and a thoughtful gift for any bird-lover. There are assorted styles, but I only brought in a couple dozen for the season. Only the early birds will be able to take home these adorable edible bird houses!

Ingredients:
Each house might contain a mixture of Millet, Black Oil Sunflower, Safflower, Canola, Strawberry, Papaya, Kiwi, Apricots, Mango, Blueberries, Talloberries, & Gelatin.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Attracting Cedar Waxwings

The Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing attracts a lot of Cedar Waxwing, along with robins, grosbeaks, orioles, hummingbirds and cardinals all because of the fruit trees. The flowers and fruits of native trees attract a variety of colorful songsters.
Cedar Waxwings just hanging out between munching crab apples
Crabapples (Malus species)
  • Season: Fall fruiting; winter-persistent fruits
  • Description: Medium-sized trees, with attractive blossoms in spring. Choose a variety with small fruits (easier for birds to swallow)
  • Food type: Flower buds, flowers, fruit, seeds
  • Attracts: Robins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks, finches, many others
  • Also provides: Nest sites, cover
Read more about some of the favorite plants and trees for birds: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/the-best-plants-and-trees

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to keep chipmunks out of bird feeder

I have a shepherd's hook with a cylinder feeder that I can't keep the chipmunk off. Is there something I can do to stop the chipmunks?

The easiest way to deter the chipmunks from your feeder on a pole is to put on a baffle. The ultimate 18-inch wrap-around black metal Squirrel Baffle at Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing is made of textured powder coated steel. It baffles critters from chipmunks to raccoons by making it impossible for them to climb around it to reach the feeder. The baffles fit any 1/2-inch to 1-3/8-inch pole or shepherd hook and are easy to install. Just secure the black coupler below the feeder, 4 to 5-feet above the ground and wrap the baffle around.

The Eastern Chipmunks (Tamias striatus) are found throughout Michigan. These small (6-8in) ground squirrels are reddish brown with a white racing stripe bordered by two black stripes down its side. Its loud “chip, chip, chip” can be heard as it forages for seeds, insects, fruit and nuts.
A chipmunk spends much of its day collecting and storing seeds, using its tongue to shift the seeds backwards and stuff them between their teeth and the extensible skin in the cheek area. The capacity of these cheek pouches increases with maturity. When the cheek pouches become full, the chipmunk deposits the seeds in its nest or buries them in shallow holes.

Many people are frustrated by the amount of food they take away from bird feeding stations but chipmunks also eat a lot of bugs and small rodents and are a valuable prey item for a variety of species including hawks, owls, falcons, foxes, snakes, cats and weasels.

If you have the Wild Birds Unlimited Advanced Pole System (APS), you can use either the wrap-around baffle or the stove-pipe baffle. Both baffles work. The wrap-around works on any pole, the stove-pipe only works on our 1 inch poles, but some people prefer he long, cylindrical design.

Related Articles:
The 25 known species of chipmunks in the world http://goo.gl/mAs2T
How much food can a chipmunk hold in his mouth? http://bit.ly/yD6Bn8
When do Chipmunks hibernate? http://bit.ly/yIfqFT
How many species of squirrels are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/A2wG1g
Will Safflower seed keep squirrels and chipmunks off my bird feeder? http://bit.ly/wYGDBi

Monday, April 18, 2016

Male and female American Robin

Do you have a picture of a male and female robin? I recently heard the male is a brighter orange then the female.
American Robin Male and Female
The American Robin is a very familiar bird in mid-Michigan and over most of North America, running on lawns and often nesting near our homes. The male's beautiful dawn song can be heard in spring and summer, often beginning just before first light.

It can be hard to tell male and female American Robins apart but there are subtle differences. Males are slightly larger than females, with a dark gray or black head, brown on their backs, reddish breast, and white under their tail feathers. Their throats are white, streaked with black and they have white crescents above and below their eyes.

Females are slightly paler in color than males, paler belly and browner back feathers. Young American robins have dark spots on their breasts and are also paler in color than adult males.

In the early stages of courtship, females may be pursued actively by one or several males. The female does most of nest building with some help from male. Females build the nest from the inside out, pressing dead grass and twigs into a cup shape using the wrist of one wing. Other materials include paper, feathers, rootlets, or moss in addition to grass and twigs. Once the cup is formed, she reinforces the nest using soft mud gathered from worm castings to make a heavy, sturdy nest. She then lines the nest with fine dry grass. The finished nest is 6-8 inches across and 3-6 inches high.

Related Articles:
Robin building a nest http://why-i-have-mud-in-bird-bath.html
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 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Yellow-bellied sapsucker holes in trees

Although insects make up part of its diet, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is better known for its boring of numerous holes in the bark of live trees to obtain sap, hence the name sapsucker. The yellow-bellied sapsucker is the only member of the woodpecker family to cause these shallow type of holes in a row.

On my trees the sapsucker seems to like to drill patches of several shallow rows across and several shallow rows down. These neatly organized patches of holes well up with sap that the sapsucker laps up with their brush-like tongue (not sucks). He also eats any bugs that happen to get trapped in the sticky stuff.
hummingbird sipping sap
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers arrive back in mid-Michigan in April from their wintering grounds in the southern U.S., Mexico, West Indies, and Central America. These fresh drilled holes produce sweet sap sources that also benefit migrating hummingbirds, waxwings, and warblers while traveling.

The breeding range of the yellow-bellied sapsucker extends from mid-Michigan up and across the northern United States from east of the Rocky Mountains to Maine and into Canada and Alaska.

Related Articles:
- Sapsucker Overwinters in Michigan http://bit.ly/nnidNh
- Hummingbirds follow the sapsuckers during migration http://bit.ly/oqUDia
- How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/obAc2U
- Fall Trees Reveal Their Secrets http://bit.ly/nHeb9z
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Vampire Bird http://goo.gl/ipdib

Saturday, April 16, 2016

What kind of bird seed to buy

What is the best bird seed mix to use in the spring?

I use the Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess blend year-round. It keeps all the birds happy and doesn't mess up my garden too much.

Best Bird Seed
For seed eating birds in Michigan studies indicate that Black-Oil Sunflower, Sunflower Chips, Peanuts, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types. At the East Lansing  Wild Birds Unlimited store, customers’ and birds’ preference by far is WBU No-Mess Blend. But if you are overwhelmed by the arrival of hungry blackbirds in the spring, switch to straight safflower seed for a few weeks until they leave to forage for bugs in the yard.

No-Mess Benefits
Our unique No-Mess Blend 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.


Safflower Benefits
If you switch to an all safflower seed diet for a few weeks, squirrels, blackbirds, starlings, and crows will leave your feeders alone. It may take awhile for the other songbirds to accept the change but it is a favorite with cardinals, house finches and chickadees. And gradually the rest of the songbirds will switch over to safflower.

Related Articles:
Close-up look at the 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 and WBU Seed Scoops http://bit.ly/uBaSwO
The strange journey of the sunflower plant http://bit.ly/uFlz65

Friday, April 15, 2016

Photo Share: Worlds longest working cat

Senior store cat
"It was all a misunderstanding"

It isn't an official Guinness world record but JB has been to work every day for over 21 years. That has to be a record for the longest working cat!

Ms. Moon (today's excellent photographer and a loyal customer for all those years) likes to reminisce about the time when J was just starting out in his new position as store cat. According to Moon, he caused an uproar when he innocently wanted to take a break in the sun. Unfortunately the sun that day happened to be in the parking lot. As J likes to tell it, it was all just a misunderstanding blown way out of proportion.
Second-in-command

Today his seniority has afforded him a position behind the counter with a heating pad, while Eli "Birder" holds down the back of the store.


Related Articles:
My Favorite Weed: All About Catnip http://goo.gl/txqoL
The Trials of Living in a Bird Store http://goo.gl/1hzvES
Cats Indoors! http://goo.gl/B64Go
Do You Take Your Cats Home at Night? http://goo.gl/gm8mP
A window feeder is the best way to entertain indoor cats http://goo.gl/iWHHo

Black cats are good luck  http://goo.gl/l4W230

Photo Share: American Goldfinch bright yellow

Most of the goldfinches have almost finished exchanging their dull winter feathers for their bright yellow spring colors. Finding that extra energy to go through a complete molt in the spring means there has been a feeding frenzy at my feeders lately. They are so fun to watch!

Many people don't realize that the American Goldfinches are not bright yellow all year. In fact they are the only finch in North America to go through a complete molt two times a year.In the spring the male turns bright yellow with a black cap, wings, and tail, and white rump. The female keeps the duller brown color and lacks the black cap. The American Goldfinch’s legs, feet and bill also change from a dark grayish brown to a buffy yellow orange color.

Related Articles:
When Do the Goldfinches Return? http://bit.ly/ytfupb
Why birds molt http://bit.ly/zvLuu3
Feeding Goldfinch http://bit.ly/yptDDi
Goldfinch Fun Facts http://bit.ly/yWunjT
How to Attract More Goldfinches http://bit.ly/zgmwRk

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Waves of native sparrows migrating to Michigan

Many native sparrows tend to be early migrants, with large numbers arriving in mid-Michigan in early April. Look for Chipping Sparrows, Song Sparrows, Fox Sparrows, Savannah Sparrows, Field Sparrows, and coming soon to our yards will be the White-crowned and White-throated sparrows.

Smaller birds such as sparrows, warblers, vireos, and thrushes are typical nocturnal migrants. It is common to find your yard filled with newly arrived migrants that came during the night each morning. By traveling at night, they can pause at sunrise and devote the entire day to feeding and resting.

Female junco photo from Wikimedia Commons
The first arrivals in March and April tend to be males on their way to stake out their nesting territory. Exceptions would be certain populations of Song Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco males that overwinter in Michigan. The females and young that migrated south are beginning to show up now. The female juncos are paler in color and somewhat browner than the adult male; juveniles also have streaked breasts.

A lot of these sparrows like the sunflower, peanuts, and millet in the No-mess blend bird seed. They tend to scratch for fallen seeds underneath bird feeders, particularly if they are close to cover.

Related Articles:
Song Sparrow http://song-sparrow.html 
Savannah Sparrow http://savannah-sparrow.html
Hearty little Field Sparrow http://field-sparrow.html
Be on the lookout for White-throated Sparrows http://white-throated.html
Sparrow bird with white head and black stripes http://white-head-and-black.html
Dark-eyed Juncos leave mid-Michigan http:/dark-eyed-juncos.html 
Do I need to change my bird seed when the seasons change? http://my-bird-seed-when.html 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Oriole jelly feeder

I don't know if I have orioles. Is there a beginner feeder that is cheap so I can just try it out? I would love to see an oriole in my yard!

Baltimore Orioles are found in open woodland, forest edge, orchards, and stands of trees along rivers, in parks, and in bird friendly backyards. Planting native trees that flower in the spring is one way to attract the attention of an oriole flying over. Baltimore Orioles seek out nectar from flowering trees in the spring and ripe fruit in the summer. Planting bright fruits and nectar-bearing plants, such as crab apple, cherry or pear trees, or raspberries, native honeysuckles, cross vines and trumpet creepers, can attract Baltimore Orioles year after year.

You can also appeal to an oriole’s sweet tooth by putting out orange slices or BirdBerry™ Jelly.  Wild Birds Unlimited has a variety of inexpensive dish or tray feeders that can be filled with fruit or jelly.

One of our most popular beginner feeders is the Oriole Flower Feeder. Orioles can feed from the orange bowl or orange halves.

This flower feeder has a dual purpose, small bowl for grape jelly and two pegs for orange halves. Just sit back and watch the birds flock your feeder. Feeder is powder coated black with an ornamental jewel hanging from the center.
  • Small feeder to hang anywhere
  • Looks like a flower but serves as a feeder
  • Cup will hold jelly or mealworms for Orioles
  • Pegs for orange halves
Related Articles:
Best place to hang oriole feeder http://goo.gl/InLH8p
Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
Tips and tricks to make your suction cups stick. http://t.co/a3wv0x0
Favorite Oriole feeders http://t.co/OjG4Lz4

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Best place to hang oriole feeder

My favorite oriole feeder and the one we sell the most of in our mid-Michigan Wild Birds Unlimited store offers three ways to attract orioles: nectar, oranges, and jelly. The sugar water is in the saucer, the jelly goes into little jelly troughs built into the cover and the orange goes down the middle hook of the feeder. It's easy to clean, easy to fill and attracts a lot of orioles. There is also a weather guard that is sold separately.
Or you could go with the Poly-lumber feeder made from recycled milk jugs. It has lifetime guarantee to never crack, split or fade, stainless steel screws, thick, heavy-duty acrylic roof to allow Orioles to see the food and protects it from rain, and two removable cups to dispense BirdBerry™ Jelly and two pegs for orange halves. Cups also may be used to feed mealworms, peanuts, chopped fruit, suet nuggets, or a variety of other foods.

Tips to attract Orioles to your backyard!

- In plain sight: As many of us are drawn to the Golden Arches, orioles have learned to slow down for red and orange feeders. When placing the oriole feeder, put it in the open so the birds can see it while flying over or near a flowering tree.

- Earlier is better: It is better to hang your feeder too early rather than too late. I’ll put my feeder up at the end of April even though I never see them until the first week in May in mid-Michigan.

- Keep it fresh: The nectar/fruit/jelly must be fresh! The nectar recipe for orioles is the same as hummingbirds – 1 part white sugar to 4 parts plain water (no dye!). I also like BirdBerry™ Jelly because it is lower in sugar than store brand jelly and contains no corn sweetener or artificial ingredients and is higher in fruit and fruit juice.

- Offer mealworms: Orioles eat insects, especially tent caterpillars, and as an extra protein treat you can serve them live mealworms in a tray feeder.

- Birds need water: Hang your feeder near a birdbath. After a long journey they need water to hydrate and preen their feathers.

- Keep it clean: Rinse it with hot water every few days and then refill your feeder with fresh juice. This is especially important in warm weather, when it can spoil quickly.

- Building materials: Have nesting materials out and ready to help encourage Orioles to nest in your yard. The Birdie Bell offers a variety of nesting materials like string and cotton.

- Don’t give up: If you don’t attract orioles in your first year, keep at it. Once one bird finds the feeder, the word will spread!

Related Articles:
Can birds predict the weather? http://bit.ly/w3bhs8
Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
When can I expect my orioles to arrive? http://goo.gl/OHrCc

Monday, April 11, 2016

Best no-drip, bee & ant proof hummingbird feeder

If you are looking for a bee-proof, ant-proof, non-dripping, easy to clean, easy to fill, no muss, no fuss hummingbird feeder the Aspects line of saucer style feeders are the best! The HummZinger HighView™ feeder offers a HighView™ perch that invites hummingbirds to rest comfortably as they drink and allows us an unobstructed view of the bird. The built-in ant moat blocks crawling insects and the patented Nectar-Guard tips (optional) on the feeding ports prevent bees, wasps, and other flying insects from contaminating nectar. The raised red flowers around each port deflects any rain from falling into the feeder and the bright red cover attracts hummers from a distance. Maintenance is also a breeze. The top  removes easily so the bowl can be cleaned quickly and thoroughly. It’s constructed in the USA of a poly-carbonate and backed with a lifetime guarantee.

* HighView perch for optimal viewing
* Built-in ant moat
* Easy cleaning and filling
* Drip and leak proof
* Features nectar-level indicator on bowl
* Raised flowers divert rain
* Bright red cover constructed of UV stabilized polycarbonate
TIP: Hummingbirds like to perch while they eat to help conserve energy for migration, but a perch is not required.

Are you ready for hummingbird season? Check the map at http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html to see where the have been sighted! Watch the video: https://youtu.be/hqn6LDaUazg

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Black bird with orange under wings

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Eastern Towhees are strikingly marked, oversized sparrow of the East, feathered in bold black and warm reddish-browns. You'll likely see them under bushes foraging for food in the spring and fall as they migrate to forest edges, overgrown fields and woodlands, and scrubby backyards or thickets.

Towhees eat many foods including seeds, fruits, nuts and insects. At the feeder you could attract them with the sunflower, peanuts and millet in our No-mess blend.

Eastern Towhees live in Michigan from late March to mid-November. They are often heard before they are seen. The name "'towhee'" a simulation of the bird's call when disturbed. But during the spring nesting season the males sing 'drink your tea' loudly from exposed perches.

Related Articles
Black bird with white belly and brown sides http://blackandbrownbird.html
Wild brown bird in Michigan with orange under bellies. http://wild-brownandblackbird.html
Birds that Eat Apples http://birds-eat-apples.html

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Robin is king of the nuts

I put out a little pile of No-mess blend bird seed for the robin to pick out the peanuts. The doves and starlings tried to sneak a bite while he wasn't looking but he declared himself king of the nuts!
 
Related Articles:
- What robins eat if there are no worms http://what-robins-eat.html
- 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

Friday, April 8, 2016

Photo Share: Feeding Eastern Bluebirds

Hi Sarah, Thought you might like these, our same pair of bluebirds are back and have started building there nest. I got a few pictures today of him when I took them out there worms. She wasn’t sure of the camera today. I will take more as the season goes. I haven’t been able to take pictures this winter we have all our windows bird friendly which isn’t camera friendly;) Holly

Thank you Holly 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
It's not necessary to feed birds but as you can see it's fun to watch nature up close, and you'll be amused at how quickly a relationship develops between you and the bluebirds! 
 
Bluebirds are primarily insect eaters in the spring and summer. The rule of thumb is to offer about 15 mealworms per bluebird once or twice a day, as a supplemental food, unless severe weather conditions limit natural sources. 100 or so worms offered morning and evening would be adequate for a pair with a box of nestlings a week old.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hummingbird swing video

What are hummingbird swings?
Hummingbirds hover and hum around feeders and flowers about 20% of the time. The rest of the time they are perched on twigs and other suitable perches like a swing! There are several to varieties of swings. The latest addition is a red swing that has a cute silver hummingbird charm.

Where should I place my swing?
Hummers like to survey their domain--they choose perches near their food source or their favorite garden area. The best place to hang your swing is in an open area near a feeder. Try to keep your swing at the same height or higher than the area that overlooks the hummer's food source (nearby feeders or flowering plants).

Collect them all!
You don’t need a hummingbird swing to attract hummingbirds to your yard but they are so adorable that they have been flying off the shelves. And they make great gifts! Besides the original swing we also have the copper and arbor swing in the collection at Wild Birds Unlimited in East Lansing, Michigan. Hummingbirds aren't the only ones that like to swing. Watch your hummingbirds, finches, and I even had a Blue Jay try and take his turn on the swing.
See it in action on the video: https://youtu.be/DXQhRRXgK-k
 
Related Articles:
Do hummingbirds migrate together? http://bit.ly/H7x9yB]
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
Hummingbird Information on Habitat and Habits http://bit.ly/H2Ua9s
Examining The Hummingbird Tongue http://bit.ly/HoaxsI
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/H7xvp3
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/INmPKZ

When to put up your hummingbird feeder

When do I put up the feeder? Are they migrating to Michigan soon? What is the best hummingbird food recipe? Should I make it stronger in the spring?~ Lansing

There is a lot of excitement about hummingbirds!
 
 When do I put up the hummingbird feeder?
The days are getting longer and people are anxious for the arrival of certain birds and flowers. If you check out the migration maps at www.hummingbirds.net you’ll see that Ruby-thoated hummingbirds begin to travel north as early as the end of February.
 
Hummingbirds migrate alone, each to their own internal clock and map. As the weather warms individuals will begin to reach Michigan in mid-April and the final ones will arrive in June. I always say in mid-Michigan you have to pay your taxes and put out your hummingbird feeders by April 15th. The first hummingbirds probably won’t stick around but continue on to nest in the Upper Peninsula or Canada. The hummingbirds that choose to nest in our area (the regulars) usually arrive by Mothers Day, the second Sunday in May.
 
 Do I make the nectar recipe stronger to give them more energy?
It's not necessary to make your sugar solution stronger. The 4:1 ratio of water to white sugar is the closest to the favorite flowers that hummingbirds visit. That would be four parts water to one part plain white sugar. Click HERE for more details. 
 
In Michigan you can attract hummingbird from mid-April to the end of October. Migrating birds follow their own schedule usually, based on the weather.
 
 Related Articles:
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://goo.gl/MK3AU
Fun Facts about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds http://goo.gl/jcjcr
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/L4yY3i
Why the color on a hummingbirds’ throat flashes http://bit.ly/JZ31qX
When did people start to feed hummingbirds?: http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR