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, April 25, 2017

Best mealworm feeders

Do you have feeders for mealworms?

Wild Birds Unlimited has several varieties of mealworm feeders. The most important thing to look for is a tray or dish that has a lip at least 1 ½ inches high so the worms can't crawl away.

The rule of thumb is to offer about 15 mealworms per bird once or twice a day, as a supplemental food, unless severe weather conditions limit natural sources. That is usually one spoonful. A hundred or so worms offered morning and evening would be adequate for a bird pair with nestlings a week old.
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Chickadees, wrens, and orioles are pretty quick to figure out a new feeder. Bluebirds need a little time, but it's fun to watch nature up close, and you'll be amused at how quickly a relationship develops between you and the birds! 
Related Articles:
Ultimate Bluebird House http://bit.ly/xeGs0e
Feeding and Raising Bluebirds http://bit.ly/A39dAh
How to Protect My Bluebird House http://bit.ly/zI48Ts
5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses http://bit.ly/yNT6Ye
When is the best time to put up a bird house? http://bit.ly/yAI123
Bluebird House Designs http://bit.ly/w7FWRE

Monday, April 24, 2017

Interesting facts about cardinals nesting

Hi ...hopefully you can answer this ....I have a female cardinal that has nested by my back doorway and she is pretty well concealed in a small cedar tree. I saw her yesterday morning but was away most of the day and today I haven't seen her all day. I tried to look into the nest but it was too deep to see if there were any eggs. Would she just build a nest and then just disappear like that ?

I have tried to be careful and not disturb her.....she was tapping at one window for many days and I just read that she thinks it is another Cardinal, would that make her leave ?

Thanks for reading this as I would like to know why as it was such a thrill to have her build a nest it would be a shame if she did not return.
I think you just need to wait. If all goes as planned Northern Cardinals usually raise two broods a year, one beginning around March/April and the second in June/July. If a nest gets destroyed or if a mate is killed the nesting has to start over and can be delayed. However it is normal to see a lot of activity in the beginning and then nothing.

The nest building process begins with a cardinal’s search of a variety of trees and vines that would offer protection and concealment. Once a site has been selected the female first builds a platform using stiff, six inch long twigs. After the framework is done, a nice soft layer of leaves are applied to line the nest. Finally the female finishes her nest by adding a layer of fine grapevines or fine weed stems topped with very fine rootlets, grass stems or weed stems. She usually likes to build in the morning and the nest construction can take 3 to 6 days. The male cardinal may bring the female some twigs but the female usually builds the nest all alone while the male patrols the area.

Now during the egg laying time you may see her less frequently. The female cardinal lays an average of 3 eggs but she doesn’t sit on the eggs to incubate them until the last egg is laid so they will all hatch within 24 hours. Once her clutch is complete the female is the only one to sit on the nest and the male brings her food quietly. The eggs hatch after two weeks and activity will pick up again as both parents feed the chicks a diet that consists of many insects. The chicks begin leaving the nest 10 days after hatching and the parents will show their brood the way to water and continue to feed and teach the chicks for 25 to 56 more days.

Related Articles:
Northern Cardinal Fun Facts http://bit.ly/twE6NV
How the Northern Cardinal bird was named http://bit.ly/tSKZYs
Cardinal Bird Feeders Made in the USA: http://bit.ly/qXJPFM
How to Attract Cardinals: http://bit.ly/pjh7mO
What can I feed the cardinals to make them redder? http://bit.ly/rAArXw
What are the different types of cardinal birds? http://goo.gl/CUI43

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Woodpeckers dancing and other spring things

http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2016/04/calling-for-old-sam-peabody.htmlI've finally seen my White-throated sparrows. I say finally even though they are a couple weeks earlier than last year. White-throats usually follow the spring thaw. Once I see them I declare there will be no more frost.

The mild winter/early spring has brought many early visitors to my garden bird feeders and many more are still to come. Make sure your suet and seed feeders are clean and well stocked as well as keeping your bird bath clean and filled with fresh water.

Sometimes it is hard to keep the suet feeder full in the spring with new birds arriving before all the bugs pop. But yesterday I saw a pair of Downy Woodpeckers dancing! Downys live year-round in the same territory. They get a head start on courtship with drumming on trees as early as February to claim a nesting area and attract a mate. Their normal tap, tap, tap becomes a quite different unbroken trrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, lasting several seconds. Both male and female woodpeckers drum. If they were successful nesting the year before they reacquaint themselves quickly for another season.

After the drumming has united the pair, the actual courtship dance begins. This is what I was watching last night at the suet feeder. The boy puffed up his red patch behind his head and began weaving back and forth in front of the female with his bill pointing up. There was also a lot of flitting and chasing from one perch to another, and more waving and weaving of head and body. There was also a lot of excited chattering involved.

By the end of June I hope to see their babies at the feeders!

Related Articles:
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/rxU9cu
- What birds eat suet? http://bit.ly/q2Sfje
- How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI
- Filling Up on Fatty Foods: http://bit.ly/ob0NIq
- Michigan made suet feeders: http://bit.ly/rbKskX

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Brown bird with speckled chest running on the ground

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
I saw a new face in the garden… Along with the doves, robins, and White-crowned Sparrows visiting my Fly-thru feeder I saw a couple Wood Thrushes! Their size and movements are similar to an American Robin but they have warm cinnamon-brown back feathers and a creamy colored chest with brown speckles. Too Cute!

They will probably move on soon but I was glad they thought my yard was a safe stopover place. Wood thrushes spend winters in Mexico and Central America but nest in deciduous and mixed forests in the eastern U.S. where there are large trees.

The males are one of the first songsters to be heard in the morning and among the last in the evening, with their haunting ee-oh-lay song.

Related Articles:
Help migrating birds by creating stopover sites http:/help-migrating-birds.html
Sparrow with white stripes on head http:/white-crowned sparrow.html
A closer look at Mourning Doves http://mourning-doves.html
Male and female American Robin http:/american-robin.html
Best New Fly-thu Feeder http:/fly-thu-feeder.html

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cute Barred Owl babies in nestbox

Help Name the Barred Owl Nestlings
It's time to vote on the names of the three owlets on the WBU Barred Owl cam! For the fourth year in a row, Wild Birds Unlimited store owners from across the country have chosen their favorite names, only to let the public decide in a final tally. From now until Monday, April 24, the polls are open. We’ll announce the winning names the following day. Don't miss your chance—Vote here.

Don't stop there; check out how much these young owlets have grown. At this stage the cam often features the mother tearing up bits of prey to feed her nestlings. As the owlets mature, they''ll spend more time on the nest alone as the mother does more hunting. Watch cam.

Related Articles:
- Fun Facts on Owls http://bit.ly/t6elFd
- Amazing Vocals of the Barred Owl http://bit.ly/sguMqL
- Owl attacks on humans http://attacks-on-humans.html
- Small Michigan Owl Visits Neighborhood http://bit.ly/tlzaoN 

- How to spot owls more easily http:/spot-owls-more-easily.html

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fun Fairy Rings

Dress up your fingers and toes this summer with some cute seed rings. They are made by local garden fairies and will add a little whimsy to your wardrobe. They have a suggested price of at least $5.00 which will all go to animal rescue charities. Any additional monies are also appreciated greatly and will all go to local charities!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why no birds are incubating the eggs on the ground

We have 2 killdeer nests on our back patio. One with 5 eggs the other with only one. However I have not see the parents all day. Is it common for them to not incubate the nest round the clock? 

That is a good observation! The Killdeer parents don’t start sitting on the eggs to incubate them until the clutch (a hatch of eggs) is complete. So even though the first-laid egg spends a longer time in the shell than the last-laid, all the killdeer chicks develop at the same time and all hatch within 24 hours of each other. It takes 24 to 28 days of incubating for the chicks to hatch.

Try not to disturb the area very much. After egg-laying begins, Killdeer often add rocks, bits of shell, sticks, and other camouflage bits to the nest area. The Killdeer find the nest because they have a map in their head of where they placed every rock, twig, and shell.

Unlike most birds, killdeer parents do not feed their chicks. They are precocial birds which means they are well developed straight from the egg and are quickly able to stand and walk on their own. After the last egg has hatched, they lead the chicks to a feeding area full of insects. The chicks stay with the parents until they are able to fly. This happens when they are 20 to 31 days old.

If they had started to incubate and haven't come back something may have happened to the birds.

Related Articles:
- Killdeer nest abandoned http://goo.gl/qNkf3w
- What bird makes a ground nest in Michigan? http://goo.gl/2yc02
- What Do I Feed Baby Killdeer? http://goo.gl/fXiYD
- Nesting Questions http://goo.gl/pNt7V

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The recipe for nectar (sugar water): Do you need to boil it?

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. 
The recipe for nectar (sugar water):
  • Stir in one part ordinary white sugar into four parts hot water to dissolve the sugar.
  • 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.
  • Store unused nectar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This mixture imitates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds.

Make sure to change the nectar and wash your feeder at least once a week until the weather is above 70°F, then you should change the nectar and wash the feeder at least twice a week. These weekly washes can be with just hot water if you don't see any mold. But at least once a month the feeders should be thoroughly washed and rinsed. I like to use Hummeze but you could also use a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water to soak the feeder and then rinse very well.

Related Articles:

Hummeze cleans feeders http://clean-feeders for-hummingbirds.html
The best Oriole feeders http://best-oriole fdrs.html
What’s the best bee-proof hummingbird feeder? http://goo.gl/PcLeyD
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
My favorite hummingbird and oriole feeders http://favorite-hummingbird-and-oriole.html
 

Monday, April 17, 2017

My favorite hummingbird and oriole feeders

My nectar feeders are up! There are a lot of different oriole and hummingbird feeders. I even have a few different types myself. But if you were going to ask me what my favorite hummingbird and oriole feeders are I would have to say the saucer style.

Anyone that has feed birds nectar (sugar water) knows that besides some really cool birds, nectar can also attract ants, bees, and wasps. The saucer feeders, feeders that have the nectar in a bowl below a cover, are the best at deterring these unwanted guests.

If you are looking for a bee-proof, ant-proof, non-dripping, easy to clean, easy to fill, no muss, no fuss nectar feeder the saucer style feeders are the best! The HummZinger HighView™ feeder and the Wild Birds Unlimited Oriole feeder offers a perch that invites birds 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 cover shades the nectar from the sun, and the bright color  attracts hummers and orioles from a distance. Maintenance is also a breeze. The top  removes easily so the bowl can be cleaned quickly and thoroughly.

The HummZinger HighView™ feeder
* 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.

Wild Birds Unlimited Oriole feeder 
* High-impact polycarbonate bright orange cover. 
* The first feeder ever to accommodate nectar, oranges and jelly.
* Built-in ant moat
* Easy to fill & clean
* UV stable, dishwasher safe (top rack)
* Comes with bee guards

Related Articles:
The best Oriole feeders http://best-oriole fdrs.html
What’s the best bee-proof hummingbird feeder? http://goo.gl/PcLeyD
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
Examining The Hummingbird Tongue http://bit.ly/HoaxsI
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/H7xvp3

Sunday, April 16, 2017

One of the tiniest sparrows in Michigan

Photo via Wikimedia Commons
I adore watching and listening to the Chipping Sparrows in the spring and summer. They seemed to come back to mid-Michigan earlier than usual this year. One of smallest and friendliest of the sparrows, they are always busy, busy running around on the yard looking for weed seeds or bird seed under the feeders.

They arrive in mid-Michigan at the end of April and leave early November to winter in Mexico, Central America or the southern United States. These bold little birds will perch high in a tree and sing to mark their territory. The loud, trilling songs of a chipping sparrow are one of the most common sounds of spring and easily identifiable. The song is often described as the sound of an electric sewing machine. To hear the chipping sparrow’s song, visit HERE.

Related Articles:
Sparrows Native to mid-Michigan http://goo.gl/aqUL1
Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/0qggF
How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d
Chipping Sparrow Juvenile with adult male http://goo.gl/hTzxK