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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

How to keep grackles away from bird suet feeders

Grackles raid my cage suit feeders. I mounted one upside down tight against a board and they still fly in, stab and fly off with large chunk in their beak. I want my woodpecker back.

Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing has a caged squirrel/blackbird proof suet feeder that limits the access to only small birds and birds that can feed upside down like woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice.

The 1 inch-diameter cage keeps out squirrels and blackbirds. Springs hold the top down so squirrels can't lift it open while the smaller woodpeckers, as well as chickadees and nuthatches, can easily fit through the mesh to dine on the suet inside. It holds up to 2 suet cakes.

Or switch to pure beef suet with no seeds. The woodpeckers will eat straight suet but not the blackbirds.

Related Articles:
- What birds eat suet? http://bit.ly/q2Sfje
- Can I make my own suet? http://bit.ly/rsc1JT
- How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI
- Filling Up on Fatty Foods: http://bit.ly/ob0NIq 
- Can I feed suet year-round? http://bit.ly/I4Ow8l

Monday, May 30, 2016

Photo Share: Interesting photos

Thank you Mark 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.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dickcissel: Miniature meadowlark

Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Dickcissels are an irruptive bird species that may be common in Michigan one year and absent the next. Though Dickcissels eat insect mostly in Michigan, seeds and grain form the main part of their diet on their South American wintering grounds. Unfortunately each year large numbers of birds are killed by pesticides which may explain partially the Dickcissel's pattern of absence and abundance.

The birds migrate from southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America to their breeding range rather late. Early birds arrive in May, but most arrive in early June.

This "miniature meadowlark" with a black V on its chest, is a bird of the prairie grasslands. From an open perch in a field, the Dickcissel's song is a sharp dick dick followed by a buzzed cissel. In flight they call a short, buzzy fpppt.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Robin bird nest

I didn't take my wreath down in time. When will the robin give me my front door back?

Robin eggs are incubated by the female for about 2 weeks before they hatch. Then she'll feed the birds for about 2 weeks in the nest.

Before you know it, they'll all leave at the same time. The young birds plop from the nest before they can fly and run across the lawn and hop to low bushes for protection.

They will follow their parents and beg food from them for another two weeks after fledging from the nest, and become capable of sustained flight. 

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

Friday, May 27, 2016

Photo Share: European Starlings

"If you can make it in here (NYC), you can make it anywhere." That phrase has never been more true than for the European Starlings.
In 1890’s, 100 starlings were released into New York City’s Central Park. It is said that Eugene Schieffelin wanted all of New York to see the birds mentioned in the plays of William Shakespeare. Until that time, starlings were not native to North America.

The birds multiplied rapidly and now there are over 200 million starlings found coast to coast year-round.

Thank you Mark 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:
- Do birds warm their feet on telephone wires? http://bit.ly/t7k91r
- Fun Facts About European Starlings http://bit.ly/rSQtFD
- How do thousands of European Starlings fly without colliding? http://bit.ly/vwM3Ra
- Amazing moment bald eagle chases down & catches a starling http://bit.ly/tnPo6z
- Starlings stealing shiny money from machine http://bit.ly/uKaP8b

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Oriole nesting habits

I'm not getting as many orioles anymore. Where are they?

Baltimore Oriole chick from Wikimedia Commons
When orioles arrive in the spring they are super hungry. The diet of the Baltimore Oriole consist of insects, fruits, and flower nectar. After a long migration they take advantage of food offered at feeders. You can attract orioles to eat from your backyard feeder by setting out orange halves, grape jelly, sugar water, suets, or mealworms.

While they are busy nesting they may visit your feeders less often. But if you keep your feeders clean and full of fresh foods they will come back eventually and bring the new kids.

According to AllAboutBirds.com: "Baltimore Orioles build sock-like hanging nests, woven together from slender fibers. The female weaves the nest, usually 3 to 4 inches deep, with a small opening, 2 to 3 inches wide, on top and a bulging bottom chamber, 3 to 4 inches across, where her eggs will rest. She anchors her nest high in a tree, first hanging long fibers over a small branch, then poking and darting her bill in and out to tangle the hank. While no knots are deliberately tied, soon the random poking has made knots and tangles, and the female brings more fibers to extend, close, and finally line the nest.

Construction materials can include grass, strips of grapevine bark, wool, and horsehair, as well as artificial fibers such as cellophane, twine, or fishing line. Females often recycle fibers from an old nest to build a new one. Males occasionally bring nesting material, but don’t help with the weaving. Building the nest takes about a week, but windy or rainy weather may push this as long as 15 days."

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Too many birds at my feeder

The birds are eating me out of house and home! Will they slow down soon?

After a long migration or harsh winter, birds are hungry and appreciated an easy meal to rebuild their energy. Feeders are very welcome in the spring when natural resources are scarce. However as a lot more food sources became available, there should be a drop in the numbers of starlings and blackbirds visiting.

Thankfully it looks like the cold weather is finally going to leave us for a while. The rains and now the warm weather brings a lot of bugs, a favorite food for many growing families. And vegetarians like the American Goldfinches are also enjoying soft spring leaves as well as a plethora of dandelion and grass seeds.
 .
But, don’t forget to keep your feeders clean to keep your birds healthy. And provide an area with a birdbath. Water is a powerful attractor and will increase the number and variety of birds coming to your yard. In fact parent birds will often bring babies to the bird bath as their first road trip.

Related articles:
- Can birds become dependent on bird feeders? http://goo.gl/GZYpke
- Do we stop feeding suet in the summer? http://bit.ly/GKWSRt
- Feeding Baby Birds http://bit.ly/GSHKwY
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://bit.ly/GKYw5q

Monday, May 23, 2016

Female orchard oriole pictures

Photo of female Orchard Oriole on a Trumpet Vine from Wikimedia Commons
There are 9 oriole species in North America. The Baltimore Oriole and the Orchard Oriole are the 2 species that nest in Michigan as well as the Eastern half of the U.S.

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

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

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

Unfortunately their population has been in decline in the central U.S.A, possibly due to loss of habitat and pesticides used in orchards.  

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Gray bird with black cap and tail

Gray Catbird photo from Wikimedia Commons
May is a busy time with local birds nesting and a number of species still migrating through mid-Michigan. I’ve already seen baby chickadees and House Finches at my feeders and some chickadees are getting ready for a second round of nesting. It isn't too late to put up a bird house.

Then last Monday we had a a Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) visit outside the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing. These birds get their name from the catty mew calls it produces. Their genus name Dumetella is based upon the Latin term dūmus (small thornbush-dweller) which refers to the species' habit of singing when hidden in undergrowth. Listen for the distinctive mew call of the Gray Catbird, or for its imitation of several species during a long, seemingly improvised series of notes at the top of a dense, tangled thickets.

In summer, Gray Catbirds eat mainly ants, beetles, grasshoppers, midges, caterpillars, and moths. They also eat native fruits from trees and shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry. You may see catbirds at the jelly and fruit feeders you put out for the orioles and also at the suet, nut and mealworm feeders.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Some tips to keep your mealworms at their best

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

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

Right now several customers are feeding mealworms to train bug eating birds to bring their babies up close.
 
Some tips to keep your mealworms at their best:
  1. Mealworms don’t like a drastic temperature changes. If it is very hot outside, leave your mealworms at room temperature. Then when you place them in the feeder they don’t go into shock.
  2. Feed mealworms at the same time. Get your birds into a routine of breakfast and dinner feeding so they know when to come and gobble up your offerings.
  3. Shade your feeder. Place your feeder in the shade or add a weather shade over the feeder to protect the mealworms from the sun.
  4. Protect the worms. Chop up some room temperature apples and place them in your feeder with the mealworms. The apples give the mealworms water and help them hide from the sun. Most birds also enjoy chopped fruit.
Related Articles:
What's the Best Way to Attract Orioles http://bit.ly/MP2Wa8
How to Attract Bluebirds http://bit.ly/MP3lJK
What birds are attracted to mealworms besides bluebirds? http://bit.ly/M19jqc
Why Wild Birds Unlimited has the best mealworms http://bit.ly/MP3dtH

Friday, May 20, 2016

Photo Share: 4 of our baby blue birds successfully hatched :)

Nest Building - It takes from 5-14 days for the bluebirds to complete the nest. The female does most of the work. The male prefers to perch in a nearby tree and sing. Grass and straw are the preferred nest material. If you discover moss, fur, or sticks and leaves in a house, the nest is probably being built by one of the other small, cavity nesting species (Chickadee, Titmouse, Wren, Nuthatch).

Egg Laying - Egg laying takes from 3 to 6 days. One light blue egg is laid each day until the clutch is complete. The most common clutch size is 5 eggs, but 3, 4, or 6 eggs is not uncommon. 2 or 7 eggs in a clutch is rare.

Incubation - The female incubates the eggs for 13 or 14 days. She starts incubating on the day she completes the clutch. For this reason, the eggs will all hatch on the same day.

Nestling Stage - The baby bluebirds will remain in the nest for approximately 15 days. They will be brooded by an adult bird every night, and on cool days until they are fully feathered. During the nestling period the youngsters will be fed by both parent birds. They do not leave the house during this time. All droppings are removed from the house except on the day the young birds fledge (fly from the nest). Once the young birds fledge they do not return to the nest.

Fledgling Stage - At the end of the nestling period, the young birds fly from the nest. They will be fed by the parent birds for another 7 to 14 days. During this period you will see them in the vicinity of the house. Very soon after the nesting cycle has been completed the parent birds will start over. They may raise as many as 3 broods in a season.

Above information from: The Eastern Bluebird - Management Guide by Charles Kennedy
Photos from 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.

Photo Share: Late bloomers



Most of my goldfinches have completed their spring molt and males are now bright yellow and jet black. I've only seen a couple late bloomers that are holding some of their darker brown winter feathers.

Now that their molting is finishing up and the dandelions are blooming, you'll see the frenzy at the feeders die down a little until the goldfinches begin to nest in the late summer.



Thank you Mark 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, May 19, 2016

Tiny hummingbird feeders

Hummblossom hanging with weather guard and ant moat
Bigger isn't always better. Nectar (sugar water) can spoil after only a few days. Sometimes you can't wait for the hummingbirds to drink the feeder dry. You have to change the nectar at least once a week when the temperature is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and at least twice a week if it is hotter. Sometimes in the suburbs a small feeder fits better.

Tiny feeders are also ideal for placing a grouping of feeders nearby, so territorial hummingbirds can each pick their own feeder.

The beautiful HummBlossom is a mini 4-ounce capacity feeder that has a HighView™ perch that invites hummingbirds to rest comfortably as they drink from any of four feeding ports while also offering an unobstructed view of the birds. A bright colored cover attracts hummingbirds from a distance and is removed easily so the bowl can be cleaned quickly and thoroughly.

Hummblossom staked in garden with weather guard & ant moat
And this year Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing has the Aspects HummBlossom Accessory Kit! This allows you to either hang or stake-mount an Aspects HummBlossom feeder with the protection of a 7inch diameter weather dome and ant-moat. Magnetic adapters allow the accessories to be detached with ease for filling and cleaning. The hardware is solid brass and dome and ant-moat are constructed of durable polycarbonate. It is also backed with a Lifetime Guarantee and made proudly in USA.

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wildlife Rehab Center of Minnesota volunteer and lucky patient

Here's a photo taken of me volunteering in the avian nursery at Wildlife Rehab Center of Minnesota with "Arlene," a female Cardinal, just before she was released back into the wild. This is my fourth year volunteering in the avian nursery at WRCMN. It's the most beautiful and precious part of my life. Peace and best wishes, PJ Bovio

Volunteering with wildlife undergoing medical and rehabilitative care is incredibly rewarding and can also be heartbreaking. You'll learn more than you thought possible about wildlife.

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.

Mallard duck nesting behavior

Feathered visitor nesting in your yard this spring? 

MI-DNR offers advice:mother duck swimming with babies
Michigan residents may get a surprise this spring in their garden, flower box or even in the landscaping by their office building. Bird nests can be found in some unusual locations.

Ducks' nests, particularly mallard nests, seem to appear just about everywhere in the spring. Female mallards commonly will build nests in landscaping, gardens or other locations that humans may consider inappropriate, but the duck may think otherwise.

While finding a duck’s nest in an unexpected location may be a surprise, there is no need for concern. “She will be a very quiet neighbor and with her cryptic coloration, she may go largely unnoticed,” said Holly Vaughn Joswick, Department of Natural Resources wildlife outreach technician. “Leave the duck alone and try to keep dogs, cats and children away from the nest.”

If she is successful and her eggs hatch, the mother will lead her ducklings to the nearest body of water, often the day they hatch. “Don’t worry if you do not live near water – the mother duck knows where to take her ducklings to find it,” added Vaughn Joswick.

You can expect the female mallard to sit on the nest for about a month prior to the eggs hatching. If the nest fails on its own – something that happens regularly – Joswick advises to just wish her luck on her next attempt.

goslingsCanada geese sometimes build nests near houses or in parks, often near water. Similar to mallards, Canada geese will lead their young to water soon after they hatch. Adult geese can be quite protective of their nests and their goslings and may chase people or pets away by hissing and running or flying toward the intruder. If possible, try to avoid the area. If this is not possible, carry an umbrella and gently scare the bird away.

Those who have been fortunate enough to have a bird’s nest built in their yard, in a tree or on the ground, may have noticed that the baby birds are starting to outgrow their nests. Baby birds learn to fly through trial and error. They may feel they are ready to fly, but their flight feathers might not have fully grown in yet. It is common to find baby birds on the ground after an attempt to fly. If this is the case, please do not touch them. Their parents will continue to take care of them, even when they are on the ground.

Touching a baby bird will not cause the adults to abandon it; however, if you move a baby bird the parents may be unable to find and care for it. It is better to leave the baby bird alone to be raised by its parents.

In the event that you find a chick on the ground that is sparsely feathered, it may have accidentally fallen from the nest before it is ready to fledge (learn to fly). If you know where the nest is, you can put the chick back in the nest ONLY if you can do so safely.

Birds, their nests and their eggs are protected by law and must be left alone. Unless you have a license, taking a baby bird or eggs from the wild is breaking the law. The Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act protects migratory birds and their nests and eggs.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including birds, in Michigan.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cape may warbler migration

Female Baltimore Oriole feeding alongside the little Cape May Warbler male
Cape May warblers nest mainly in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They like the mature forests that are at least 50 years old for a secure nesting habitat. But as they migrate through mid-Michigan from May until June, you may see them at your suet, fruit or nectar feeders as well as your bird bath.

The Cape May's semi-tubular tongue is unique among wood warblers and allows them to feed on flower nectar while wintering in the tropics and during migration.

They are named after Cape May, New Jersey, where Alexander Wilson first described them. But after that first time, Cape May Warblers were not recorded in Cape May for more than 100 years. 

Related Articles:
Michigan warblers begin migrating http://goo.gl/37QhV
Michigan's Kirtland's Warbler Continues to Exceed Recovery Goal http://goo.gl/Q3xQ0
Small Mysterious Black & White Bird Visits Mid-Michigan http://goo.gl/VOl3s
When is bird migration over? http://goo.gl/1Fiq6
Blackpoll Warbler: Greatest warbler migrant http://goo.gl/GcST

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bird's nest with blue eggs

Hi, I spend a lot of time out in the woods in the spring banding woodcock chicks. My setter pointed this ground nest the other day and I would like help identifying the owner. I saw a small dusky brown bird walk away from the area but not sure want it was. My dog has pointed more than one Thrush nest and the eggs are white and she is a larger bird than the one I observed. This was a very clever nest placement and had my dog not pointed out I would never found it. These eggs were blue and I didn't see any specks on them. I have attached pictures. Thank you, Judy

The Hermit Thrush is a small brown bird on the head and back, with a reddish tail. The underparts are pale with distinct spots on the throat and smudged spots on the breast.

Nest Description from https://www.allaboutbirds.org/Hermit_Thrush
The female builds the nest from grass, leaves, pine needles, and bits of wood, with mud and lichen around the outside. It is often on the ground, in a natural hollow and well hidden by overhanging branches or surrounding low vegetation. She lines the nest with finer plant materials and willow catkins. The finished nest is 4–6 inches across, and the cup is 2–3 inches wide and 1–2 inches deep. The female takes 7–10 days to build the nest.

Eggs
3-5 eggs are common. Pale blue or greenish blue, occasionally flecked with brown or black. Incubation is by female, about 12 days.

Related Articles:
- How many birds die during migration? http://bit.ly/M2xXwa
- Keep your eyes and ears open for new birds http://bit.ly/M2y5vU
- Photo Share: Wood Thrush http://bit.ly/M2yazv
- Birds of Michigan Field Guide http://bit.ly/uMSTs6
- Orange and blue-black robin-like thrush http://goo.gl/KHKCMo

Sunday, May 15, 2016

No hummingbirds at feeder

Hummingbirds are truly one of the most fascinating groups of birds on the planet and it’s not too late to put up a feeder! Hummingbirds don’t need feeders to survive, but they might appreciate a reliable source of food with this cold spring we’ve been experiencing. Also these incredible little birds are fascinating to watch and a hummingbird feeder can bring them up close.

When they aren’t at the feeder, hummingbirds find nectar from a variety of flowers as well as sap from trees. Throughout the day a hummer drinks more than half its body weight in nectar. But that pointy hummingbird bill isn’t only for lapping nectar; it’s also made for snatching bugs out of the air. They use the flexible tip of their bill to capture insects and insect eggs from the ground and on plants. They love spiders and spider eggs.

This spring foraging for natural foods has been good with the abundance of flowers and natty bugs available to eat. Visits may be less frequent until females begin to incubate their eggs in June. Then they will appreciate quick bites at the feeders between sittings. Just make sure to clean your feeder and change nectar once or twice a week for the best results.

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

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Look for Blue-Winged Warblers and Golden-winged Warblers

Blue-Winged Warbler
This is a great time to bird watch! Spring warbler migration begins in early April with the return of the Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers. During peak migration in mid-May, you may see or hear several species of warblers a day.
Some cold days in May, warblers are desperate to find insects to eat. These hungry and exhausted warblers often forage low and in the open. I’ve often seen them stopping by to fuel up on my suet feeder in the spring. Another good reason to always keep suet feeders full!
.
Golden-winged Warbler
The Blue-Winged Warbler is a common migrant in May. It prefers shrubby fields and willow swamps. Listen for the male’s buzzy two-parted beeee-bzzz song.

The Golden-winged Warbler is also a common spring migrant during the second and third week of May. Their preferred nesting area is overgrown fields. The male’s song is a high buzzy bee bee bee. From a distance their silhouette may be confused with a chickadee.
 
For a list of more Michigan warblers come in to check out our Birds of Michigan Field guides.

 Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Gmn0b
- Michigan made suet feeders: http://bit.ly/rbKskX 
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/yAR4pm
- Best field guide for Michigan birds http://bit.ly/vPOMx1
- What are the Best Binoculars: How to Choose Optics http://bit.ly/vZW26

Friday, May 13, 2016

Photo Share: Eastern Bluebirds move in to slot-nest birdhouse

I could not believe how long he sat there but I have a good selection to pick from. I will send more of other birds. - Mark

The only house I’ve found to deter sparrows some of the time is the Slot Box nest. The Slot Box design, as the name suggests, has a small slot below the roof for birds to enter instead of a round or oval hole. According to research at the University of Kentucky, bluebirds will use a slot entrance while sparrows prefer the round opening. In addition, sparrows don't like these shallower boxes and bluebirds don't seem to mind. Another advantage, is that the slot design makes it much easier for bluebirds to escape from the house in case a house sparrow enters to attack the bluebird. However field experience has shown that sparrows can adapt to many nesting locations and the slot box won’t deter all sparrows.
Thank you Mark 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, May 12, 2016

Photo Share: Blood-red bird with jet-black wings

We had a Scarlet Tanager come today:) He came this morning and ate at the suet feeder. He came this evening and I was able to get his picture. He is waiting in the bush to come into the feeders. We hope he stays with us this summer. What a treat!
We have 2 indigo buntings also foraging along the side of the woods. I’m still trying to get a good picture of them. They aren’t coming to feeder yet anyway. - 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.

Ant moats for hummingbird feeders

If you feed hummingbirds, you know that the nectar can attract a line of ants from your feeder to the ground. You can help the hummers eat in peace if you install an ant "moat" between the feeder and the hanging hook. An ant moat is a small cup-like device that hangs between your feeder and your hook. Just like a water moat protects a castle, fill an ant moat with water, and it creates a barrier the ants can’t cross to get to the nectar. We carry several styles of ant moats, however most people choose to go with our popular hummingbird feeders that have built-in ant moats.
.
My favorite hummingbird feeder is the HighView™ mini saucer style. These hummingbird feeders are easy to fill and more importantly easy to clean. The saucer style is leak proof and bee resistant and the built in ant-moat stops ants from reaching the nectar. The feeder has high perches that invite hummingbirds to rest comfortably as they drink from any of three feeding ports while also offering an unobstructed view of the birds.
.
The built-in ant moats blocks crawling insects and the patented Nectar-Guard tips (optional) on the feeding ports of our saucer feeders prevent bees, wasps, and other flying insects from contaminating nectar.
.
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/II7dy

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Big black bird like a crow

The Common Grackle is a large black bird with yellow eyes and iridescent purple and bronze head feathers. When naturalists first came to explore North America it was difficult to determine to which genus grackles belonged. In between the size of a crow and starling, the common name, grackle, came from gracula, which is Latin for the Jackdaw or small crow.

They are resourceful foragers. In Michigan, Common Grackles thrive on bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, frogs, salamanders, mice, and other birds like sparrows around farms, fields and large lawns. They sometimes follow plows to catch bugs that are exposed, pick leeches off the legs of turtles, steal worms from American Robins, or saw open acorns with the hard keel on the inside of the upper beak.When they first arrive they are very hungry and eat a variety of seeds and suets from bird feeders.

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Baby bird fell out of nest, now what?

Please forward to your friends and print the article below for future reference:
Spring is a busy time for a lot of animals as new families are created. If you encounter young animals that look distressed, take a few minutes to assess the situation. Wild animals rarely abandon their young.

If you find a baby bird that is too young to fly, put it back in the nest if possible. The mother will appreciate the help.

However, if you find a baby bird that is old enough to fly, but isn't, chances are it is learning. If you look, you will see the mother nearby. Leave these older birds alone and let them learn to fly undisturbed.

If you're still not sure what to do with a baby bird or a bird that is injured, CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference.

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:
http://www.baby_bird_out_of_its_nest_video.html

Monday, May 9, 2016

Black and white warbler migration

Black-and-white Warblers look similar to nuthatches at first glance. When I spotted him in the viburnum bush he was feeding on insects moving up, down, and along branches in every direction. On second glance I could see that this bird looked a little smaller and more delicate than a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Black-and-white warblers are one of the easiest warblers to identify. They are a little smaller than a House Sparrow at 5 inches long and they have very obvious black and white stripes like a referee’s shirt. The females and young look a little duller and have a dark gray cheek instead of black.
.
Keep your eyes open for them migrating through from May to early July mid-Michigan area from and then again in the fall from late August through October. They are common in mature and second-growth deciduous forests during the summer throughout the eastern United States and Canada, and they have an unusually extensive winter range that extends from Florida to Venezuela and Colombia.
 
Their gentle oscillating song sounds like the squeaky wheel of a car coming to a stop. So keep your eyes and ears open for new birds visiting your yard. All birds need water and a lot of these bug eating birds enjoy Peanut Butter Suet or the nuts they can pick out of the No-mess blend bird seed. It is helpful to feed the birds during spring migration because a busy yard full activity will call in the migrating birds to rest. If other birds are there, they know your yard as a safe stopover.
 
Related Articles:
Michigan warblers begin migrating http://goo.gl/37QhV
Yellow warbler eating bird seed http://goo.gl/pbGV8W
Small Black & White Bird Visits Mid-Michigan http://goo.gl/VOl3s
When is bird migration over? http://goo.gl/1Fiq6
Blackpoll Warbler: Greatest warbler migrant http://goo.gl/GcSTE

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Red bird black wings and tail

If you have ever seen a brilliant flash of red, impossibly brighter than a cardinal, most likely you caught a glimpse of one of Michigan's neotropical migrants, the Scarlet Tanager. Over 250 species of tanagers can be found in South America. The scarlet tanager is the only one of these species to summer in Michigan.

As their name implies, the males are a bright scarlet red with black wings during the breeding season, while the females tend to be a more camouflaging olive-green. They prefer to live in mature forests with a high percentage of oaks foraging for caterpillars, moths and beetles.

Scarlet tanagers are considered very beneficial to humans because they consume many insect pests. Some people have even called them the "guardians of the oaks". During migration in the spring and fall keep your eye out for them as they stop in your yard for suet and drink breaks.

Related Article:
What is That Red Bird with a Black Head? http://bit.ly/L4tpl5
Black and White Bird with Red Head http://bit.ly/JFQDAq
Black and White Bird with Red Chest http://bit.ly/JXmkBC
Sexually dimorphic Northern Cardinals: Why male and female cardinals are a different color http://bit.ly/JFQXiw

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Best bird seed to attract birds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 6, 2016

Photo Share: Platform bird feeder

A tray feeder brings a lot of ground feeding birds up to eye level. Here a little brown female House Finch and two red male House Finches as they feast along side a White Crowned Sparrow. 
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, May 5, 2016

Sparrow with white stripes on head

They're here! I woke up this morning to a beautiful chorus of White-crowned Sparrows. I've been seeing and hearing a couple for a few days, but a whole flock of White-crowns arrived this morning at the feeders. These sparrows with bold black and white racing stripes on their head make them a happy addition to the usual suspects in the yard. At 7 inches, these are some of the largest sparrows that come to our feeding areas.

Right now they are eating my No-mess blend bird seed. Mainly ground feeders, they scritch and scratch the dirt looking for leftover sunflower seeds and millet. They also eat weed seeds, berries, buds and moss.

Mid-Michigan isn’t a nesting territory for these birds. We only see them from late April to late May and sometime in September to November. White-crowned Sparrows have about 10 different calls. During migration you will usually hear their high thin seet or sharp pink call. They breed all along the upper parts of Canada and winter along the southern United States.

People sometimes confuse them with their close relative the White-throated Sparrow but they do not have the white throat markings. Watch the video:  https://vimeo.com/127154774
White-crowned Sparrow from Andy McGann on Vimeo.

Related Articles:
White-throated Sparrow fun facts http://white-throated-sparrow-fun-facts.html
What birds migrate from Michigan? http://bit.ly/ums5ME
White-crowned Sparrows Like New Songs http://bit.ly/uzPZmV

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Female indigo bunting pictures

Photo by Dan Pancamo

Indigo buntings are small birds about the same size as goldfinches. Females and young are brown with buff wingbars. The Indigo male can look almost black until the sun hits and you view the most brilliant blue bird. They are a common migrant and breeder in Michigan from May until September.

Indigos like a variety of food, including small seeds, nuts, berries, insects, mosquitoes, flies, aphids, small spiders, buds, goldenrod, thistle, grasses, and herbs. At my feeders they like the Nyger Thistle and the No-Mess blend which has the sunflower chips, peanuts, and millet without the hulls.
Female Indigo Bunting at nest

The only way to get them to stay the whole summer is if you live in an area where they like to breed. Indigo buntings nest in brushy and weedy habitats along the edges of farmland, woods, roads, and railways.

According to allaboutbirds.com: Male Indigo Buntings whistle a bright, lively song of sharp, clear, high-pitched notes that lasts about 2 seconds. They are voluble, singing as many as 200 songs per hour at dawn and keeping up a pace of about one per minute for the rest of the day. Notes or phrases are often repeated in pairs: "what! what! where? where? see it! see it!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Do hummingbirds nest more than once a year

How come I can never find a hummingbirds nest? Do they nest like regular birds?

Hummingbirds' nest are so well camouflaged and so very, very tiny most people will never discover their location.  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds only nest one time a year. The female alone constructs a cup shaped nest with a diameter about the same size as a quarter. She starts to build with bud scales and spiderwebs and then camouflage the outside with lichen. To cushion the inside of the nest they use cotton nesting material, or some other plant fluff like dandelions.

Courtship is very brief and then two white, pea-sized eggs are laid two or three days apart, which the female will incubate from 60 to 80 percent of the day for 10-14 days. After the babies hatch, the spider web nest stretches to contain the growing nestlings. When they leave the nest, 18-22 days later, the chicks are twice as large as their mother which was stressed by raising them.

If a Ruby-throat nests near your feeder she may appreciate quick bites to eat while incubating eggs. When the chicks hatch, they need a lot of protein, so their mother spends a lot time foraging for small insects and spiders. Throwing old banana peels in the garden as compost will attract fruit flies for the hummingbirds and fertilize your garden.

After the chicks leave the nest, mommas will bring these newly fledged hummers to feeders and you can watch them check out everything to see if it is food. It usually takes them awhile to figure out what’s food so fledglings are fed by their mother for another 10 days.

Young hummingbirds will look similar to a female, but as young males begin to mature in late summer look for a few random red iridescent feathers on the throat. And the young are very healthy looking. Their feathers are full and shiny whereas the parent birds look a little haggard.

If you keep your feeders filled and fresh you should have hummers visiting from April until usually the end of October.

Related Articles:
Hummingbird Information on Habitat and Habits http://bit.ly/It2WwE
Where have my Hummingbirds gone? http://bit.ly/IHzxy3
How Do I Know If It's a Baby Hummingbird? http://bit.ly/IHzCSh
Gardening for birds http://bit.ly/It58nR
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/FQ9kxU