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, July 31, 2018

Yellow canaries or gold finches go south

I live in Alberta, Canada. Do yellow canaries or gold finches birds go south for the winter. I am now home more so have started feeding the birds. I have quite a few that I am feeding. I quite enjoy it. Thank you, Pat
https://ebird.org/region/CA-AB/media?yr=all&m=#amegfi
American Goldfinches are widespread during the summer months in Alberta, Canada
To record the birds you see or to find out how widespread certain bird populations are in your area you can go to eBird.com. I searched your area and found the American Goldfinches are very widespread May until October in Alberta, Canada. So it looks like some move further south, but some remain all year.

We're lucky in mid-Michigan. The reported numbers remain pretty constant:
https://ebird.org/barchart?byr=2017&eyr=2017&bmo=1&emo=12&r=US-MI-065&spp=amegfi
Goldfinches are widespread year-round in mid-Michigan


Goldfinches nest in late summer and early fall. Depending on where you live, they nest at the end of July to September in the fork of a deciduous shrub or tree. They delay the start of their nesting behavior until the thistles and other flower come into bloom so they can anticipate an abundant and reliable supply of seeds for their young. The female builds a compact cup nest of fibers, grass and spider silk and lines it with plant down and hair. So keep your WBU finch feeder filled with fresh Nyjer® (thistle) seed to welcome the American Goldfinches to your backyard refuge.

It's a joy to see a flock of goldfinches raining down to the feeder or dancing in the flowers in search of seeds. And the happiest sound in the late summer is the call of baby goldfinches!

Related Articles:
European Goldfinches http://bit.ly/Q2Cu37
Goldfinch Migration http://bit.ly/MzGSPD
Are Goldfinches here in the winter? http://bit.ly/PZu5ML
Goldfinches: The Last Birds Nesting http://bit.ly/PZuejj
Bird of the week: American Goldfinch http://bit.ly/PZum2a

Monday, July 30, 2018

How to pronounce Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is Michigan's largest woodpecker at sixteen and a half inches in length and a wingspan up to 30 inches. Its size, sleek black back and wings, offset by a red crest, are obvious field marks. The males have a characteristic red "mustache", which is actually a stripe near the beak. The female's stripe is black.

There is some confusion on how to pronounce "pileated". Some lean toward "PIE-lee-ate-ed", while others say "PILL-ee-ate-ed". Both pronunciations are accepted. The name comes from the brilliant scarlet crest of feathers on the top of its head, called a pileum (PIE-lee-um). The genus name, Dryocopus means "oak tree cutter".

Pileated Woodpeckers are known for the large holes or excavations they produce while foraging for food and producing their nest cavities. The holes can be greater than a foot in length. They are searching for carpenter ants and wood-dwelling beetles, a favorite snack. During their quest, they produce large holes that are relied upon by many mammals, birds, and reptiles for shelter and nesting. They also will eat fruit and nuts. Pileated Woodpeckers will frequent peanut and suet feeders at homes near their territory in the woods.

Though Pileated Woodpeckers are not in any imminent danger, there is reason for concern. Pileated Woodpeckers rely heavily on big trees for their nest cavities. They prefer large dead trees within mature forests. With many areas losing large trees due to disease and clear-cutting, one should watch this species closely. Since so many other creatures depend upon this bird for survival, it would be devastating, if it was lost.

Related Articles: 
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/tcKasp
- Michigan made suet feeders: http://bit.ly/rbKskX
- How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/tJ7e6S
- Fun Facts about Woodpeckers http://bit.ly/tQ5lwt
- How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Appreciate the joys of nature

Are you ever going to take a vacation? I've been asked that question a lot lately. I don't know where I would go. I get so much joy right where I am, just watching the nature all around me every day.

Take this little guy for example. What do I get out of this relationship? Every morning I sit down to read my emails, then I get that feeling that someone is watching. I glance out the window and see this squirrel flat out hanging from the V in the tree. I think he's so funny, I grab the camera but as you can see he he straightens up when he sees that I see him. He was just waiting for me to finish that sit down part of my morning so I could get to the good part where I refill the "bird" feeders.

Jays are also all over right now introducing their kids. They are making all sorts of calls and squeaky noises. Some have interesting new hairdos. And House Sparrows are gathering now that their nesting season is almost over. Large family flocks are hitting the feeders hard this year because the dry weather didn't produce as many bugs for them. When I hear them in the evenings it's like I'm listening in to a huge family reunion.

New chickadees are coming to visit too. When I was filling the feeder last night I heard one softly talking to himself. He seemed to be almost practicing words like a toddler. All chickadee species give chick-a-dee calls and whistled fee-bees but an often-overlooked chickadee vocalization called the gargle may actually be more accurately called the traditional song.

And the hummingbirds are all over! If you didn't have any hummers in the beginning of the season, make sure your feeders are clean and full of fresh nectar. Boys are loading up to go south and there are a lot of females showing their kids around. These birds have memories. If they see your feeder now, they will remember it next spring.

I could go on and on about the wonders all around me every day, and so could you. Summer is a busy time but remember you don't have to go to a specific destination to appreciate the joys of nature.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Photo Share: Barn Swallows under porch


I have been watching this nest, one of two, of barn swallows that have nested under my parents porch. What a treat, such pretty birds. I took this picture yesterday. They are so cute, getting ready for the big leap. Thought you and your readers would enjoy these pictures as much as I do. Puts a smile on your face, doesn't it!!

Thank you for sharing. It made my day! 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 Article:
Barn Swallow Babies http://bit.ly/LZPY8G
What is a brood patch on a bird? http://bit.ly/LZQ3sO
Barn swallow and tree swallows at the Wetlands! http://bit.ly/LZQ5AT
How Do Birds Lay Eggs? http://bit.ly/H8omO0
Blue and orange bird making mud nest http://goo.gl/ZQJae
 

Friday, July 27, 2018

Nature Notes: Silent Spring, Silent Summer

2018 is the Year of the Bird. Watching the all treasures of nature, including the ones on the wing, can be astonishingly beautiful. Sometimes you just need to take a minute reassess and appreciate what is all around. Faina, a customer at Wild Birds Unlimited and a volunteer at Nottingham Nature Nook wanted me to share a few of her thoughts and worries.

Dear Sarah, I have been busy, fostered number of bird babies for Cheryl, didn’t even had time to take pictures. Now, babies I fostered fledged and they are back at the Nook, with Cheryl.
I have time to do write a little, and here is some, in the attachment. Take a look, if you like to publish it on your website.
Thank you, Faina


Silent Spring, Silent Summer.

Have you noticed that our summers became silent? Do you hear cicadas? Grasshoppers? Crickets? I don’t. It’s eerily silent on hot summer days and nights, only sound of lawnmowers assaults me these days.
 

We are about two months away from 56th anniversary of the Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. We came long ways from the days of DDT but, unfortunately, it seems we came the full circle and arrived to the same place by a different route. 

I came to the US from Russia in 1991 and we lived here in Lansing area since then. I remember the chorus of frogs as soon as ice melted in spring, some mosquitos (way less than I was used to in Russian north), lots of grasshoppers, crickets, air thick with cicada zing in summer, crickets marching into home in search of overwintering place in fall. I remember lots of frogs leaping across the road as we drove home on humid summer nights. We have bought our home in Bath Township 2004. First years we lived here we had our first floor windows all smeared with frog belly prints.
 

All this disappeared. I don’t hear frogs in the spring, no cicadas, no crickets, no grasshoppers. It is all silent now. And do you want me to tell you what is next? I think you can guess. The next is disappearance of song birds. Silent Spring #2 is coming. 

What I have in abundance is flyers from lawn maintenance services with offers to do a ‘mosquito spray’. There is no such thing as ‘mosquito spray’ that kills only mosquitos, these insecticides kill all insects, those we see as good for us, humans, and those we see as pests for us, humans. The key word is ‘for us, humans’. We totally disregard other living creatures, their needs, their health, their lives. We do not think about whole complex picture of life, about consequences, We think only about our comfort. And we let other living, breathing birds and animals to pay the price.

Since late 1990s neonicotinoids became the most widely used pesticides. These are marketed as ‘non–toxic’ for birds and mammals, toxic only for insects. Perhaps. I do not have access to the studies on direct neonicotinoids toxicity for birds and mammals. But these are still deadly for birds in another way. They just starve birds and all other insectivorous animals like frogs, fish, bats, you name it. And insectivorous plants are starved as well.


With exception of some finches all passerine birds feed 100% insect diet to their young. It does not matter how much seed we put into birdfeeders during winter, spring, summer and fall, if there are no insects around, there will be no young birds. They will die of starvation. And dry mealworms will not substitute for a normal, natural diet of diverse live insects those birds require. Even if we start to put live mealworms into birdfeeders it will not do much good, since mealworms are low in calcium and other vital vitamins and nutrients. The health of new generation of birds will be compromised, few of them will make it through winter and migration. Those little birdies need a diet of variety of live insects, there are no substitutions for that. Not to mention the costs of mealworms considering how much bird babies consume every day. Very few people will be able to afford it.


 And there is a category of birds that do not come to the birdfeeders at all, obligatory insectivorous birds. Swallows, purple martins, swifts, flycatchers, nightjars. They are getting starved to death in front of our eyes and it seems nobody takes notice. Just consider for a moment: the cumulative area of private, municipal, and corporate lawns in the US is almost equal the area of agricultural land. Plus golf courses. It is a lot of land. One lawn is a drop in an ocean, all together drops make the ocean. One plastic bottle is nothing, all together they choke the Earth.

If the current trend of using ‘mosquito sprays’ continues, we will go around hand–feeding mealworms to insectivorous plants in marsh areas and praise volunteer heroes doing this tough job. May be it is better to avoid this situation and stop killing insects, just live with mosquitos as people did for millennia before us? Use ways of private protection, or simply ignore them. As for viruses spread by mosquitos, I believe it is better to push for vaccine development than to starve birds to death.

At the end I would like to add a very personal note, if you are still with me.
I was born and lived the first 37 years of my life in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, Russia. A place where more than 600,000 people died of starvation during the siege in WWII. My father was a survivor, I knew other survivors, the city was full of memories of the siege. Death of starvation is slow and horrible.


Do we want it for innocent and beautiful birds? Really? Than why are we doing it?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A lot of bullying going on at work

I've been seeing a lot of bullying going on outside of the Wild Birds Unlimited store. The doves seem to be in a mood every year after nesting. Male Mourning Doves poof up their neck feathers and chase other doves around on the ground. Dove fights have to do with establishing a pecking order. When nesting season is over at the beginning of fall, doves tend to gather together in loose flocks. The social structure is determined by a series of challenges between the birds. The bird that retreats the fewest times is considered dominant. The dominant bird has fewer challenges than the middle ranking birds throughout the winter and dominance is not related to whether the bird is male or female.

At the end of winter the birds separate into male and female groups and dominance within the single sex groups is established. All the boys are attracted to the dominant female as they now mingle only at feeding sites. But the dominant male soon scoops up the dominate female and form a pair bond for the season. They are the first to pair, establish a territory and nest.

During courtships males perform a noisy flight display and then approach the female with a bow and a coo. Once she accepts the male they preen each other and stay very close. The male sometimes “drives” the female. He follows close behind and gives her a peck when she stops walking in areas where other males might be around.

Many chases or fights now are a result of an unmated male trying to gain the attention of a female. Males also chase pairs away from the territory that they’ve claimed for the season. It’s like the Jersey Shore reality show (dove version) right in your own backyard.

Source: Ecology and Management of the Mourning Dove by Thomas S. Baskett

 Related Articles:
Why is the Dove a Symbol of Peace? http://bit.ly/wMKEKF
How Do You Keep Doves From Dominating a Feeder? http://bit.ly/zDAwR2
Do Birds Sip or Slurp? http://bit.ly/N6syCY
Mourning Dove nesting facts and figures http://goo.gl/WeLWy

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Just feed the birds - It makes a difference

6 steps to make the future brighter for birds

Habitat loss, disease, severe weather, window collisions and many other factors contribute to the decline in bird populations. Here are six steps you can take to make the future brighter for birds:

Land development is changing the habitat available for many birds. You can help by landscaping with native plants that provide natural food sources, shelter and protection predators. Man made feeders, nest boxes and bird baths also benefits birds.

2. Prepare a proper menu
Food is essential to provide birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition to endure the elements year-round. Wild Birds Unlimited has regionally formulated seed blends to provide the most nutritious food for your birds. The first ingredient in our top 4 seed blends is sunflower seed, the favorite of most of the backyard seed eating birds.
To help reduce the possibility of disease transmission in birds, clean feeders and feeding areas at least once a month. Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing will clean your feeder for $5.00 or you can disassemble and scrub your feeders at home. Keep seed and foods dry by adding Feeder Fresh; discard food that is wet or looks moldy. Birdbaths also need to be scrubbed with a brush and water should be replaced every three to days to discourage mosquito reproduction. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every three to five days, or every other day in warm weather.

4. Birds and chemicals don’t mix 
Many pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are toxic to birds; avoid using these near areas where birds feed, bathe or rest.

5. Keep cats away from birds 
Outdoor cats are estimated to kill 500 million birds per year. Even the sweetest cats still have the instincts of their wild ancestors. When something flutters by, they must swat it down. Cats do what comes natural but you can help wildlife by restricting their access outside. A lot of our customers start bird feeding to entertain their indoor cats. It is a challenge to keep indoor-only animals stimulated and engaged mentally. A window feeder is one solution.

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

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

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How much food do chipmunks store

I like the chipmunks. Perhaps it is better to say I like to watch my cat watch the chipmunks. But they are lively little creatures and I admire their work ethic. They spend all day gathering mounds of food to sustain them through tough Michigan winters. Chipmunks can hoard up to 8 pounds of seeds for the winter.

During hibernation, chipmunks can seem like they are dead. Their heart rates can drop from 350 beats per minute to around 4 beats per minute, and their body temperature can drop from 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius) to as cold as 40 F (4.44 C), according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Recently a chipmunk discovered my seed cylinder feeder. It took him three days to go through one medium sized cylinder. This gave me the perfect opportunity to test out a HOT Seed cylinder. Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing, MI is now carrying Hot Pepper Cranberry, Hot Pepper No-mess, and Flaming Hot Feast Seed Cylinders. I have a fly-through feeder any critter can feed from but I wanted to leave the cylinders for my woodpeckers and cardinal (birds).

One bite and the poor chipmunk turned around and never returned. Poor baby. But now I know the hot seed cylinders do keep chipmunks away but still feed a variety of birds. Listen to chipmunks call: https://youtu.be/ESJaPmfbius
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, July 23, 2018

Best way to keep bird bath clean

In late summer the sun shifts and dirty rain falls. That's when my bird bath in front of the Wild Birds Unlimited store begins to grow green algae. I know I'm not the only one because people come in frequently in July and August looking for a solution to keep the bird bath clean. So I've assembled 5 tips to maintaining your bath.

1. Find a Better Birdbath When you’re choosing a birdbath, look for one with a basin that you can clean easily. Make sure it has a nice lip for birds to perch and a gentle slope to the middle, no deeper than 2 inches. A textured bottom also makes for easy gripping.

2. Replace Water Frequently  The best way to keep your bird bath clean is to change the water every other day. This prevents algae build-up, mosquito development, and keeps the water fresh.

3. Use a Birdbath Cleaning Brush Wild Birds Unlimited has an 8" brush that is well suited for scrubbing birdbaths without scratching. It has stiff, tough polypropylene bristles that will do the job well, and features a comfortable molded poly handle.

4. Remove Stubborn Stains Mix 9 parts water with 1 part of distilled white vinegar. The natural acidic ingredients of vinegar will break down any existing algae, while not harming any birds or animals that visit your birdbath. To remove any stubborn stains pour warm water with Mix 1/4 cup of borax in two cups of hot water, stirring with a spoon. Pour the mixture into the birdbath. Borax kills mold and mildew and helps remove stubborn stains. Rinse thoroughly after.

5. Prevent Stains from Returning If you add a cap-full of Bird Bath Protector, a bio-enzymatic product specially formulated for birdbaths, it prevents algae and hard water stains. Our Bath Protector is non-toxic, biodegradable and safe for wildlife, aquatic life and plants. Algae spores transfer to your birdbath from objects that fall out of nearby trees and will grow at a faster rate when exposed to direct sunlight. The best placement for your birdbath is an open, shaded area away from trees. Watch the video: https://youtu.be/TjbgujQCb_4?t=5s
Related Articles:
- Why Birds Preen http://bit.ly/wcoC9d
- What kind of bird bath is the best? http://goo.gl/tXz65
- Do Birds Sip or Slurp? http://bit.ly/yAHTTV
- Why is bird poop white? http://goo.gl/zQXiT
- The best heated bird baths http://bit.ly/xkyLlW

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Dolly #cat invites her friend for breakfast

It is important to start the day out right. Dolly likes to commune with nature. This morning she had an extremely intense encounter filled with a range of deeply intertwined and conflicting emotions that included excitement, curiosity, and frustration.

Dolly had an extended, mostly one sided conversation, with a plump Mourning Dove that was at times overwhelming, but at the same time uplifting. It was interrupted by an energetic chipmunk that burst in between the two. When he locked eyes with Dolly, age-old genetic impulses kicked in and the two suddenly froze. The chipmunk blinked first and Dolly shot forward (to invite him in politely for breakfast) only to be stopped by the screen door. Well, perhaps he had a previous engagement. She’ll ask again tomorrow.

Related Articles:
These are the Dolly (Cat) Days of Summer https://goo.gl/mcP8uG
Birds invading the store http://rush-through-winter.html
My Baby isn't fat http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2017/11/my-baby-isnt-fat.html
Indoor cats with bird-watching windows. http://indoor-cats-dont-get-bored.html
Wild Cats Unlimited http://wild-cats-unlimited.html
Dolly talks to the birds http://yank-yank.html

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Photo Share: Typical kid sticking her tongue out at the camera

I was so pleased this morning to see a daddy Red-bellied Woodpecker feeding his little gray chicklet in the tree outside the Wild Birds Unlimited store! I put a peanut butter suet in the microwave for ten seconds to soften it to cookie dough consistency and then filled all the knots in the tree for them to find.

I took a picture of her first taste of peanut butter suet. Her tongue was in and out, in and out. I think the final verdict was yummmm.

Male and female Red-bellied Woodpeckers both spend a lot of time and energy taking care of their young. They both excavate the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the chicks for up to 10 weeks after they leave the nest.

Red-bellied woodpeckers hunt for food on tree trunks and limbs. But Males forage primarily on trunks, while females forage higher on the trees than males primarily on tree limbs.

Related Articles:
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/tcKasp
- Michigan made suet feeders: http://bit.ly/rbKskX
- How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/tJ7e6S
-
Red-Bellied Woodpecker stores its food in the barks of trees http://bit.ly/nqYS7j
- How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI

Thursday, July 19, 2018

IMPORTANT! Please share with all your friends: Emergency numbers

Recommended Wildlife Rehabilitators

Cheryl at Nottingham (517) 488-7451 or (517) 351-7304
Carolyn Tropp (517) 927-7578
Wildside Rehab. Center (517) 663-6153

Well Dolly (cat) had a day today. Someone from the shop down the way from Wild Birds Unlimited said a bird with one leg was sitting on the sidewalk and other than "taking a shovel to its head" she didn't know what to do. Well once I picked my chin up off the ground, I took a little trot down there to find a baby robin. It had both legs but looked like it was less than a week off the nest. Ordinarily I would suggest you just leave baby robins alone. 

When American Robins first leave the nest they can't fly. They are nurtured in their nest until they are about 2 weeks old. Then their parents begin a 2 week basic training course to teach their offspring to hop, sleep on sheltered branches at night, forage for food, and learn how to fly.

But this baby had been on the sidewalk for awhile, it was panting, it looked like it had a bump on his head, there was no greenery nearby, and I didn't want anyone with a shovel to happen by. I brought it back to the store. Dolly heard it crying. We put it in a box and sent it over to Nottingham with 5000 mealworms to recover.

What to do if you find a Baby Animal or Bird (information from Nottingham Nature Nook)
  1. Call an experienced Wildlife Rehabilitator Immediately!
  2. Keep the baby in a quiet, dark, warm and safe location to avoid further stress.
  3. Do Not Attempt to Feed or Give Liquids of Any Kind to the Baby! Do not ever give cows’ milk to any baby – this can cause diarrhea and Aspiration Pneumonia if done incorrectly!!

Birds:

  • Replace an infant bird back in the nest if you can find the nest and reach it safely.
  • Bird nests that have fallen can be wired back in the tree as close to the original site as possible.
  • Fledgling birds are learning to self-feed and fly, and are usually on the ground for long periods of time with parents nearby. Children and pets should be kept away from fledglings. Do Not pick them up!

Mammals:

  • Young animals will explore away from their nest or den. If you see a young animal on the ground moving and crying, observe them quietly from a safe distance (for less than an hour) to see if a parent retrieves them.
  • Wild babies only need help if they are cold, injured, dehydrated or emaciated. However, mother squirrels will rarely retrieve a baby that has fallen from the nest.
  • If you find a nest of baby bunnies pour a ring of baking flour around the outside of the nest and wait 10-12 hours to see if there are footprints in the flour. If you do not see footprints contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • If you find a fawn, do not approach it or attempt to touch it. Does’ will leave their fawns in a safe hideaway during the day and will not return until night. If a dog or person scares the fawn, it will usually run and hide in a different location. When the mother returns at night, she will call out to the fawn until she locates it. Fawns may lie in the same location for several days. As long as the doe feels it is safe, she will not move her fawn. Please contact us before doing anything with what you believe is an injured or abandoned fawn.
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 ♦ 517-488-7451 ♦ Cheryl Connell-Marsh ♦ birds and small animals
  • Holt, MI ♦ 517-694-9618 ♦ Carolyn Tropp ♦ Birds and mammals except raccoons.
  • Eaton Rapids, MI ♦ 517-663-6153 ♦ Wildside Rehab Center ♦ birds and small animals
And if you are outside of Michigan:

Help birds develop healthy feathers with the right foods

More Colorful Birds -The Northern Cardinal, one of the most colorful birds, needs to eat the right foods now to acquire bright plumage coloration next year. At the feeders they are looking for nuts, sunflower, or safflower seeds. Their new feathers don’t come in bright. The tips of the new body feathers are brown/gray and make the cardinals appear a bit dull or more camouflaged in the winter. These dull colored tips wear off in time to leave them more colorful for breeding season in the spring.

Territories are forming - Birds are staking out their winter territories right now. Young birds like chickadees, woodpeckers, and titmice find new territories to hook up with other young birds at the end of summer and join local adults to form winter flocks. If you are feeding a good bird food you will attract lots of birds that will remain in the same general area for the rest of their adult lives.

Related Articles:
What seed is best for attracting the colorful birds? http://goo.gl/SAA35
Wild Birds Unlimited seed blends http://goo.gl/lF0rr
What seeds do wild birds eat? http://goo.gl/MjUCA
When should I feed the birds? http://goo.gl/IvocS

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What birds eat bugs

In mid-Michigan most songbirds eat bugs like caterpillars, beetles, grubs, other flying or creeping insects and spiders. The exception is the finches. American Goldfinches eat seeds almost exclusively. Main types include seeds from plants in the family Asteraceae: sunflowers, thistle, asters, etc., as well as grasses, and trees such as alder, birch, and elm. At feeders finches prefer Nyjer® and sunflower seeds.

To attract bug eaters in to your yard you can offer mealworms, suet, and seed cylinders.

Bug Eaters

Below is a list of common backyard birds and some of the insect pests they eat. Next time you see or hear a bird in your yard, you can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that they're foraging for bugs and keeping your garden healthy.
https://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2017/01/what-to-feed-bluebirds-in-winter.html

- Bluebirds: grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, larvae, moths, flies
- Cardinals: beetles, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, stinkbugs, snails
- Chickadees: aphids, whitefly, scale, caterpillars, ants, earwigs
- Grosbeaks: larvae, caterpillars, beetles
- Nuthatches: tree and shrub insects such as borers, caterpillars, ants and earwigs
- Orioles: caterpillars, larvae, beetles, grasshoppers
- Sparrows: beetles, caterpillars, cutworms
- Swallows: moths, beetles, grasshoppers
- Titmice: aphids, leafhoppers, caterpillars, beetles
- Warblers: caterpillars, aphids, whitefly
- Woodpeckers: larvae, beetles, weevils, borers

Related Articles:
What birds are attracted to mealworms besides bluebirds? http://bit.ly/M19jqc

What birds eat suet? http://bit.ly/q2Sfje
Can I feed suet year-round? http://bit.ly/I4Ow8l

Nyjer (thistle) isn't related to Canada Thistle http://bit.ly/Nt8Xxu
Which seeds are preferred by wild birds? http://bit.ly/zchLgB 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Birds grow new feathers

Have you ever tried to get your hair to stand on end to style it? I watched a bird outside the Wild Birds Unlimited store this morning poof up his feathers in order to preen them. The control of every feather was amazing. Feathers are dead like our hair but birds can control the muscles at the base of each follicle which is connected to network of tiny muscles in the skin.

Feathers allow birds to flirt for mates, communicate or camouflage, as well as fly and protect them from the elements. Fossil evidence suggests that feathers probably evolved from scales. Birds still have scales on their legs.

A bird's feathers undergo wear and tear and are replaced periodically during the bird's life through molting. New feathers, known when developing as blood, or pin feathers, depending on the stage of growth, are formed through the same follicles as the old ones were fledged. Although feathers cover most parts of the body of birds, they arise only from certain well-defined tracts on the skin.

It takes a lot of energy to build new feathers. So many North American songbirds wait until after migration and nesting is completed, to grow new feathers. You can offer quality suet, seed, seed cylinders, or mealworms to help birds grow strong, colorful feathers critical to their next year of survival.

Related articles:
- Types of Bird feathers http://goo.gl/W9rzP
- Why Birds don't Freeze After They Take a Bath in the Winter: http://bit.ly/mPa0Y8
- How small birds stay warm in the winter: http://bit.ly/q3dDqj
- Why birds molt: http://bit.ly/ox5Hwi
- Blue Jays aren't blue: http://bit.ly/pMN37k
- Fossils of colored feathers: http://bit.ly/nc2UeA

Monday, July 16, 2018

Bird Weight

How do the weight activated squirrel proof feeders work? Why don’t they shut down when 4 birds sit on the feeder?

Most birds have hollow bones with internal struts that make them very strong. (Exceptions include swimming birds, like loons, which have solid bones to help them dive up to 150’ for food.)

Birds also have a smaller total number of bones than mammals. This is because many of their bones have fused together, making the skeleton more rigid. Birds do have more neck vertebrae than many other animals to help them groom their feathers. But overall it takes over 65 chubby chickadees to equal the weight of one medium squirrel.
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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Birds with wings spread out in sun

Right now a group of baby birds with new plumage and in late summer adult birds that are growing new outer feathers, often sun themselves. Like ironing our clothes, the heat of the sun might help make it easier for birds to shape their new feathers. And along with easing discomfort associated with molting, the sun may also help dislodge parasites so the bird can preen them off more easily.

Some ways birds maintain feather quality is through water, dust, and sun bathing. Instinct to sunbathe is not always to warm the body. Like humans they probably enjoy a few rays but their main reasons for sunning is probably to keep their feathers in top shape.

Most birds have a preen gland or uropygial gland at the base of the tail. With their beak, birds realign the barbs correctly, remove any dirt or parasites and apply preen oil. If the bird sunbathes the oil is exposed to the ultraviolet light from the sun. Then the uropygial gland secretions convert to an active form of vitamin D which is ingested with the next preening. This may explain in part why some birds sunbathe.

Related Articles:

Types of Bird feathers http://bit.ly/w0U1M6
Dirt baths help birds stay clean http://bit.ly/rJR7Ex
Why birds molt http://bit.ly/rGaqRL
Why do bluebirds bathe more than cardinals? http://goo.gl/ZdYRS
Birds Don't Sweat: http://goo.gl/zerp7

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Photo Share: Beautiful bee on my sunflower

Incredibly the squirrels have left me some sunflowers in front of the Wild Birds Unlimited store. I've enjoyed watching birds, butterflies, and bees as they stop by to see this giant yellow flower.

The bright, large flower heads of sunflowers present a nectar and pollen mother lode for pollinators, like bees. Each flower head's central disc contains many smaller tubular disc flowers, each with its own supply of nectar and pollen. The showy outer ray petals help attract the pollinators. Bees go from flower to flower within the disc, becoming covered with pollen. They then pollinate other sunflowers as they go from plant to plant. The success of sunflower as a crop for seeds and oil depends on bees. 

Related Articles:
Sunflowers Up-close: The Strange Journey of an American Plant http://bit.ly/uFlz65
Which seeds are preferred by wild birds? http://bit.ly/zchLgB
How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://bit.ly/rTLSqJ
Seed Storage Cans and WBU Seed Scoops http://bit.ly/uBaSwO

Sunflower seeds benefits http://sunflower-seeds-benefits.html

Friday, July 13, 2018

Good luck bird superstitions

Birds have long been related to the supernatural as they spend their lives between the earth and the heavens. In honor of Friday the 13th, here are 13 bird superstitions.

1. When you hear a Cardinal sing, your sadness will soon be lifted. When a red bird shows up, help is on the way. When you see a red bird in winter, you will prosper in spring.
2. If a bird poops on you or anything you own, it’s said to be good luck.
3. Ancient Romans believed birds flying to the right meant good vibes. A bird flying toward you meant good luck. The higher the birds flew, the better the future.
4. Sailors believe that seeing an albatross while at sea is a sign of good luck.
5. Birdcalls from the east are good for romance, while calls from the west offer all-around good luck.
6. It is good luck if a blackbird makes a nest on your house.
7. A robins sighted near a house foretells good fortune for the inhabitants of the house.
8. To hear a duck quacking is a most fortunate omen, indicating the coming of prosperity.
9. If a feather falls in front of you where no birds are present, it is a gift from your guardian angel.
10. In Ireland, sparrows are thought to be on friendly terms with the fairies.
11. Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet that the cock crows through Christmas Eve until Christmas morning so no evil spirits will spoil the holy day.
12. Seeing a yellow bird in flight means you will be free.
13. If you see a blue bird early in the morning you will have a happy day!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Where to place finch feeder

The most important place to hang a feeder is where you and your family can watch it easily. That said, I’ve found the goldfinches feel more comfortable with the feeder in or near trees. These tiny social birds can be skittish about predators around a feeder. They perch at the top of a tree, check out the area and then filter their way down to a feeding station when it appears safe.

American Goldfinches like feeders that have Sunflower seed or Nyjer® (thistle).  I prefer to feed the straight Nyjer® (thistle) in my finch feeder for a couple reasons. First it does not grow weeds and has been heat treated to prevent the growth of any noxious seeds. Second, it is a seed that attracts goldfinches mainly, while other birds as well as squirrels and raccoons avoid feeders full of only nyjer.

My favorite feeder is a Mesh Finch Feeders. Several birds can feed at a time, the seed airs out, it's easy to clean, easy to fill, has a lifetime guarantee, and is made in the USA. However if you're thinking of switching feeders remember that it may take several days for Goldfinches to accept a new feeder. If you don't see any action, shake the feeder and check the seed to make sure it's still fresh. You may have to change the seed if they haven't found it in a month's time.

But this is a very good time to feed them! Goldfinches nest in late summer and early fall. This is when you will see a dramatic increase in the number of finches in your yard. It's a joy to see a flock of goldfinches raining down to the feeder or dancing in the flowers in search of seeds. And the happiest sound in the late summer is the call of baby goldfinches!

Related Articles:
Prevent soggy seed in your bird feeder http://goo.gl/kfTpi
Nyjer (thistle) isn't related to Canada Thistle http://bit.ly/Nt8Xxu
Bird of the week: American Goldfinch http://bit.ly/PZum2a
How to Attract Goldfinches http://bit.ly/A6CwjB
How often do you clean a bird feeder? http://bit.ly/wTk0c7 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Why there are so many blackbirds

This has been a particularly bad year for blackbirds. The late spring and dry summer didn't produce as many bugs as normal. Many have had to supplement their diet at the feeders.
I’m watching the Common Grackles bringing babies up to the store window. One more week and they will be gathering in flocks to go back south. A big black bird about a foot long with yellow eyes, grackles can frighten other birds with their intimidating look. They can also be quite beautiful when the sun hits and their feathers. Up close these blackbirds have highly iridescent feathers, with varying colors from blue to purple to green to bronze, depending on the light. Females generally lack the strong iridescence shown by males and juveniles are a dark brown all over. Those dull baby feathers will be replaced by black adult feathers in the next several weeks.

Common grackles migrate in mixed-species flocks with red-winged blackbirds, European starlings, and brown-headed cowbirds. They need a lot of food right now for their young ones and also for them to complete a full molt of feathers.

Related Articles:
- How Grackles got their name http://goo.gl/zGBBaO
- Common Grackles facts 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