About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Vegetarian Vampire Bird

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Sphyrapicus varius, ...
It is early afternoon and the trees are enjoying the autumn breezes blowing through their leaves. All of a sudden there is a nasal mewing "me-ah" and then a tree finds itself under attack.

The distinctive slow irregular drumming sound of the feathered tree vampire, also known as the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, can be heard as the bird bores shallow parallel wells. Nothing can be done to stop the bird as he laps up the blood (sap) that oozes out of the neck of the tree. The attack is rarely fatal for the victims but BEWARE, repeated attacks can shorten a little tree's life.

Look for the blood red crown:
The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius is a little larger than the Downy Woodpecker. Although named yellow-bellied, the light yellow feathers on the birds’ underside aren’t what most bird watchers will see first. They have black and white barring on the back, a wide white stripe on each black wing, a blood red crown, a black line through the eyes and a black bib. The males also have a red throat.

Sap itself makes up only about 20% of the overall diet of this species, though at certain times, the figure can be 100%. They don’t suck sap but actually have a tongue that has a feathery edge to allow the birds to lap sap. Sapsuckers also consume insects, fruit, leaf buds, seeds and suet.

Other birds like the hummingbirds, kinglets, warblers, and waxwings can also take advantage of the sap wells that these woodpeckers drill, especially during migration.

According to AllAboutBirds.com, “The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker in eastern North America that is completely migratory. Although a few individuals remain throughout much of the winter in the southern part of the breeding range, most head farther south, going as far south as Panama. Females tend to migrate farther south than do males.”

Related Articles:

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pumpkin bird feeder

As you start preparing for the holidays, don’t forget about your birds! Here are a few ways to take advantage of seasonal items to attract birds to your yard:
1. Squash and pumpkin seeds Whether you are carving a pumpkin, or preparing a pumpkin pie, set aside the seeds. Nuthatches love them, and many other birds will eat them as well. You also may have noticed squirrels rearranging the face of your Jack O’Lantern as they have quick nibble.
2. Apples When you are making apple pies don’t throw away the apple cores. There are a number of birds which may be attracted to apples, including House Finches and cardinals. You can also roll birdseed in with extra pie dough and bake it in the shape of a bagel. When cool hang from trees. The pie crust usually has lots of fat which is substitute for the insects that birds eat but are not plentiful in cold weather.
5. Nuts Many insect eating birds greatly appreciate this high protein food. Too much salt isn’t good for the birds, but a few leftover party nuts mixed with other bird seed can be a treat. You can also collect nuts from the trees in your neighborhood, including acorns and walnuts.
6. Peanut Butter Smear peanut butter on a tree trunk. You’ll be surprised how many cute birds this will attract up and down your tree. Or spread Peanut butter on pine cones, old bread, or cookies. Then roll them in birdseed and hang them on your bushes with raffia string.
7. Ornamental Corn Autumn decorations for your home can also provide the birds with food. Blue Jays and Squirrels will enjoy ornamental corn. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

How to treat your birds

From sunrise to sunset, songbirds spend most of their time foraging for food. Finches are mainly vegetarian and look for dried seed heads from flowers and grasses. Birds that like spiders, insects, insect eggs, larvae and pupae search in fallen leaves or in the crevices of tree bark for food in the fall. The dip in the number of bugs available to consume means that many birds that overwinter in Michigan add more fruits, nuts, and berries to their diet as we approach winter. Landscape that has a lot of trees, bushes, flowers, and vines that produce food is a good way to see birds year-round. I also supplement their diet with seed cylinders, loose seeds and suets.

Sunday I come to the Wild Birds Unlimited store to play with Dolly (cat) and watch the birds. The store is closed on Sundays so I like to toss a handful of seeds out the front door so we can see them up-close through the glass. Then I thought I would treat the birds. I took a handful of nuts and put them on the windowsill. I hadn't done that in over a year. I told Dolly we might have to wait awhile for the birds to find them. It was less than a minute before they found the nuts and less than 5 minutes before the ledge was picked clean!

Related Articles:
- Birds of Michigan Field Guide http://bit.ly/pXv5ZN
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/nImz5g
- How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh
- How to Prepare Your Yard for Winter Birdwatching http://bit.ly/q93Men 
- What is the best bird feeder? http://bit.ly/qVr7i8

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Pink cardinals

I am wondering why I have pink cardinals this year? What causes cardinals to vary in their red color?

This is a good question. I've noticed a conclave of peachy cardinals at my feeders this fall also. They are probably younger birds. A Northern Cardinal's crimson color is dependent on the food he acquires from the environment, his age, and health.

The red color of the cardinal’s feathers is the result of pigments called carotenoids. The amount of the pigment ingested, and then deposited in the feathers as they molt in the fall, influences the quality and depth of their red coloration. No cardinal is their brightest in the fall. New feathers have tips that 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. And less efficient foragers and first year cardinals often have a duller red or pinkish feathers. This is very normal.

You may also still see some late season juvenile cardinals with dark beaks and patchy feather colors like they've been rolled in ashes. The baby boys will eventually grow warmer winter feathers to look more like normal adults.

Right now they are looking for a lot of weed seeds, fruits, nuts and berries in the wild. At the feeders you can provide highly nutritious and protein packed foods like sunflower and safflower seeds as well as peanuts or seed cylinders.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Black cat adoption at Wild Birds Unlimited

Found him in the Wild Birds Unlimited seed delivery!
He's a handful

Cats Protection, an animal charity, started National Black Cat Day on October 27th to recognize the beautiful black cats in our lives and raise awareness of those still waiting for a loving home. I've always found black cats to be very lovable and exceptionally smart.

How many people does it take to rescue a kitten?

On September 11th I came in to the Wild Birds Unlimited store and heard a constant, mournful, wailing coming from under the two tons of seed from our bi-weekly delivery. With a flashlight I saw two huge green cat eyes peeping out at me. But I couldn't convince him to come out!
Newton and Scout sleeping the good sleep after hours of running around the house.
I called my mom and she called my brother and sister. Then with my mom sweet talking the kitten and my dad and nephew helping me unload the seed as fast as possible, we were able to rescue the baby and bring him indoors. My brother volunteer to take it home that night and the cat is now living happily ever after, with a big orange brother to keep a close eye on him and take care of him.
I'm sure he'll grow into those ears.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Photo Share: Carolina Wren

• You can increase your chances of attracting Carolina Wrens to feeders by providing a brush pile close to your feeding area. They feel more secure with a place to seek refuge nearby.

• A single male Carolina Wren can sing up to forty different songs – up to 3,000 times in a single day.

• A female Carolina Wren is unable to defend her territory alone if her mate dies, so she spends much of her time watching for predators as they forage together.

• A pair bond may form between a male and a female Carolina Wren at any time of the year, and the pair will stay together for life. Members of a pair stay together on their territory year-round and forage and move around the territory together.

• Suet and Nuts will attract them to feeders when insects are scarce. If you don't have a feeder, stuff some suet in the bark of a tree.

If anyone would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Friday Photo posts.

Related Articles:
Cute Woolie Bird Houses! http://bird-houses.html
Male vs female House Wrens http://male and female wrens.html
Do the same House Wrens nest in the same house every year? http://bit.ly/uDBbIb
Hanging & Placement of Wren Bird Houses http://bit.ly/rBLsGQ
House Wren vs. Carolina Wren http://house-vs-carolina-wren.html

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Expect an invasion of migrants

Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar - Member of the Flickr Bird Brigade Activists for birds and wildlife Description: Finally got a Lincoln's Sparrow without a twig in the way.

The Lincoln’s Sparrow, best identified by the fine streaks on its buffy chest, bears the name of Thomas Lincoln, a young companion of John J. Audubon on his voyage to Labrador, Canada. Throughout the breeding season, Lincoln’s Sparrows primarily eat arthropods including spiders and larvae and adult beetles, flies, butterflies, mayflies, and leafhoppers. During winter, their diet consists of small seeds and invertebrates and they will occasionally visit feeders.

The middle of October normally sees an annual invasion of native sparrows in mid-Michigan as they migrate further south. Many species of Sparrows are classified as short-distance migrants or birds that nest in way up north in the boreal forest but winter no further than the southeastern US.

Three well known visitors in the spring and fall are white-throated sparrows, white-crowned sparrows and dark-eyed juncos. Other common migrating sparrows through Michigan include the chipping sparrow, field sparrow, Savannah sparrow, fox sparrow, swamp sparrow, clay-colored sparrow, Vesper sparrow, lark sparrow, grasshopper sparrow and Lincoln's sparrow. Look for migrations days that follow northwest cold fronts, but never bother on days with winds anywhere out of the east. 

Related Articles:
White-throated Sparrow fun facts
Sparrows Native to mid-Michigan http://bit.ly/oy9XGz
Which one of these birds is not like the others? http://bit.ly/qM1LQt
What birds winter in Michigan? http://bit.ly/rqQgU2

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Dark-eyed Juncos forecast a change in the weather

I was filling the feeders last night and was happy to see a new batch of White-throated Sparrows. And then mixed in with the flock, I spotted my first junco of the season! With the approach of freezing weather, juncos are sure to appear all over mid-Michigan. Watch for a huge influx of juncos flashing their distinctive white outer tail feathers.

The Dark-eyed Junco is a medium-sized sparrow with dark gray plumage on its head, breast and upper parts which contrast with the white, outer tail and white belly. The female and immature juncos are less slate colored and tend to be browner than the adult male.

These small birds prefer cold climates to nest, but begin migrating south to mid-Michigan starting in September. The juncos we see all winter in the Lansing area are typically males. Studies show winter junco flocks are 80 percent male in Michigan and 72 percent female in states further south. Males risk harsh winters in the northern states in order to be the first ones back to their upper Michigan and Canadian breeding grounds to stake out a territory in the spring.

So as the weather changes we may wake up to a flock of females one day and males the next until the birds settle in for winter. Juncos migrate at night at very low altitudes in flocks up to 100 individuals. Other birds like white-crowned, white-throated, fox, and tree sparrows may accompany the juncos. Flock composition can change from day to day during migration. Juncos prefer to forage and roost in groups during the day and may depart en masse at night but do not stay together during flight.

Juncos, like many other members of the sparrow family, eat a variety of insects and seeds mainly on the ground. What seeds they prefer can differ across the country.

Sunflower seeds, millet, safflower, peanuts and peanut butter suet are some of the most popular foods that attract juncos to tray or ground bird feeders. You’ll also see the juncos scratching for grass seeds or insects in leaf litter and pine needles.

Related Articles:
Fun Facts About Juncos http://bit.ly/pgewJn
What birds like Safflower seed? http://bit.ly/puRjIr
Sparrows Native to mid-Michigan http://bit.ly/nURO99
Do the same birds show up at the same feeders year after year? http://bit.ly/GMaOYV

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Small brown bird on finch feeder

As winter approaches, keep your eyes open for Pine Siskins. Most years, siskins do not stray too far from their breeding territories in the northern tier of the United States and across Canada into Alaska unless there is a shortage of food. Pine Siskins eat conifer seeds (such as spruces and pines) and catkins (such as birch and alder) in the North. However this year’s reported shortage of cone crops will push the birds south in search of food.

Siskins are streaky brown finches with a small, sharply pointed bill and faint yellow splashes near the wing tips and tail. They mix in with flocks of goldfinches at Nyjer® (thistle), Seed Cylinder and sunflower feeders. Siskins brighten up a drab winter day with their loud and cheerful "zzziip" song. The word "Siskin" is of Scandinavian origin and means "chirper". You can expect their numbers to increase along their southern range into February and early March as they look for more sources of food.

Related Articles:
- Birdwatching: Look for the Out-of-Towners http://bit.ly/q6Pkco
- Where do you place finch feeders? http://bit.ly/p4XHU4
- How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/ow20ZD
- What birds migrate from Michigan? http://bit.ly/qa0CVU

Monday, October 22, 2018

Why the birds aren't migrating

Birds have always been very good indicators of environmental change. This morning I heard the chuckle of an American Robin up in the crab apple tree. It took me a moment to identify the sound because most robins leave my territory by September to gather in large flocks looking for fruits, nuts and berries in the woods. If food is abundant, I am lucky enough to have robin flocks occasionally visit me in my mid-Michigan area throughout the winter. Robins are surprisingly hardy birds, capable of surviving temperatures well below zero. But most robins migrate to the central and southern states from November until late March.

I've also had customers remark that Red-winged Blackbirds showing up at their feeders. While not common, Red-winged Blackbirds have been known to make appearances here during the fall and winter. Blackbirds usually leave Michigan soon after nesting season is over and most fly to the southern and central states in huge male or female flocks, where they are abundant especially on farms. Over the last decade, warmer temperatures may be one reason we are seeing Red-wings still around. 

Carolina Wrens, Northern Flickers, and several other bird species at feeders in eastern North America have also started expanded their northern wintering range to regularly include Michigan. While birdwatchers may gain some extra birds at their winter feeding stations, they may also lose some in the restructuring of communities of birds. Evening Grosbeaks' population has decreased 91 percent since 1967 according to the National Audubon Society and are a rare winter visitor now. Will our now common winter visitor, the Dark-eyed Junco, follow suit? 

Related Articles:
Cardinals move north: http://goo.gl/kiMcIW
Most common winter birds in Michigan http://goo.gl/kPTb9v
Do birds know winter is coming? http://bit.ly/uVAtWL
Why are the birds eating so much in the fall? http://bit.ly/v0OC23
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/vSdpFt 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Birds looking to fill their winter cupboards

Because of this year's poor cone, nut, and seed crops, it is going to be a bad year for the birds as well as the squirrels and other little mammals that don't hibernate. I threw a scoop of Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess bird seed out for the squirrels this morning because it was so chilly. He took a nut, walked two feet away and buried it (actually just patted it in the grass a couple times) and grabbed another. Squirrels plan ahead and bury nuts and seeds at various locations and return to them throughout the year when food is scarce. Chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers, Blue Jays, and some other birds also plan ahead for those rainy and snowy days. They not only eat lunch at our feeders, they also take doggie bags away.

I watched the cutest Red-breasted Nuthatch grab a nut from the squirrel pile and secret it away in the crevices of the tree bark, right outside my window! He'll probably hide hundreds of seeds all over his winter territory, to retrieve later. It is a behavior known as "scatter-hoarding" and it is a bird's backup plan if food sources become scarce or the weather is too bad to forage.

Each seed is placed in a different location and neurobiologists have discovered that the part of the bird brain that processes spatial information increases in fall to help them remember where they hid each yummy morsel and shrinks in the spring. Not only can they accurately remember the location of each seed they hoard a month later, they also remember the quality of items they initially stored, making more of an effort to retrieve the best food.

Recent research has shown that a consistent and reliable source of food helps birds to
build body fat reserves, reduces their physiological stress and helps to maintain a healthy body condition. By providing easily accessible, quality food, you can help your birds with their caching needs in the fall so they will stick around your yard all winter.
Related articles:
- Birds Move Trees http://bit.ly/oPqFgG
- Screech Owls cache uneaten prey items in cavities http://bit.ly/pJ7jCP
- Red-Bellied Woodpecker stores its food in the barks of trees http://bit.ly/nqYS7j
- Mine! All Mine: Why Squirrels Hoard http://bit.ly/qFANnl
- Michigan’s Top 20 Winter Backyard Birds http://bit.ly/qq5xu1
- What birds migrate from Michigan? http://bit.ly/ngkPX3

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Beast suet feeder has many advantages

We created our own suet cage because the openings on the retail ones are too big. However, the raccoons and some other animals have managed to pry the suet out through bars. Are there alternatives?
Built by the same people that developed our innovative Advanced Pole System (APS), The Beast is an indestructible suet feeder!

The Beast suet feeder has many advantages:
  1.  The Beast is a heavy duty suet feeder with openings too small for little mammal mouths to reach in but perfect for birds. The bars are so thick there is no way for critters to bend or chew through the feeder.
  2. It weighs over 2 pounds - more than twice the weight of an average gray squirrel!
  3. The S hook on The Beast chain fits snugly on our poles making it very difficult for a critter to remove - in the video, you see it simply hanging on APS deck set-up - a raccoon has never removed it!
  4. You can also convert the Beast into a starling stumping suet feeder. By hooking the chain to the edge of your suet cage the weight of the feeder is balanced and the feeder hangs level horizontally. Blackbirds can’t cling to the bottom of the cage to feed. This is a quick fix to keep the voracious blackbirds from eating all your suet in the spring. 
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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Large sparrow with white stripes on head

We had our first frost yesterday and guess who showed up this morning mixing in with the House Sparrows. The White-crowned Sparrows have come for a short visit! White-crowned and White-throated Sparrow usually visit for a couple weeks in the fall right when the weather is going to turn freezing. They will return in the spring on their way north just when the weather is going to unfreeze. They breed all along the upper parts of Canada and winter along the southern United States.

At 7 inches, these are some of the largest sparrows that come to our feeding areas. Their size and the bold black and white racing stripes on their head make the White-crowned Sparrows a happy addition to the usual suspects in the yard. 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.
White-crowned Sparrows have about 10 different calls. During migration you will usually hear their high thin seet or sharp pink call.
Related Articles:
White-throated Sparrow fun facts http://white-throated-sparrow-fun-facts.html
Sparrows Native to mid-Michigan http://bit.ly/oy9XGz
Which one of these birds is not like the others? http://bit.ly/qM1LQt
What birds winter in Michigan? http://bit.ly/rqQgU2

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Frozen birdbath!

Did you wake up to a frozen birdbath? Now is the time to put out your heated birdbath. The Wild Birds Unlimited heated baths have a built-in, fully grounded heater that is thermostatically controlled to conserve energy. As soon as temperatures reach freezing the bath will turn on to heat the water just enough to thaw ice. You can mount it easily to deck rails or place it in a stand sold separately.

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

So when temperatures drop think about adding a heater to your bird bath or switch to an all-in-one heated bird bath to provide an open water source. Water sources in winter are an easy way to attract a variety of birds including the American Robin, Eastern Bluebird and other birds that don’t usually visit feeders.

Related Articles:
- Are there heated birdbaths that are solar? http://bit.ly/tnTrK4
- Last Minute Gifts for Birdwatchers http://bit.ly/tXwHJ8
- How to Prepare Your Yard for Winter Birdwatching http://bit.ly/uduvLm
- Attracting Bluebirds in the Winter http://bit.ly/sw0H6P
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/vSkLTn

Fun facts about bird feeding

1. All birds fly south in the winter - In general, it's estimated that of the over 200 species of birds nesting in Michigan, about 90 percent migrate to some extent. Whether it’s from the U.P. to mid-Michigan or from our state to Mexico or Central America depends on the bird. Some permanent or non-migrating backyard birds are Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Black-Capped Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatches, and House Sparrows.
2. Don’t start feeding birds until it snows - Birds have a varied diet and the best way to help them develop brighter plumage is to create a habitat with lots food high in fat in protein in the fall. Young birds like chickadees 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 birdseed blend now, you will attract lots of birds that will remain in the same general area for the rest of their adult lives.
3. I can use last year’s seed this year - In warm weather or if you store your seed inside buy no more than 2-3 weeks supply of seed at a time. And never pour old seed on top on new. During the winter, foods will generally be fine for at least 3 months if stored properly in a cool, dry place.
4. Birds will eat any seed - Food is essential to provide birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition to endure the elements. Our Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI are dedicated to offering fresh, top-quality seed that is also sifted to take out all the sticks and field debris. Our no-waste bird seed blends are made from 100% edible seed and have been exclusively formulated for the feeding preferences of our local birds. No cereal fillers—just fresh, high-quality seed your birds will love. We also carry a wide variety of other bird foods—Seed Blends, suets, seed cylinders, mealworms and more. We do not include cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo that decrease the price per pound of a mix but aren't eaten by the birds in Michigan.
5. Heated bird baths are like hot tubs for birds - If your area freezes like mid-Michigan, you can provide a heated birdbath for your birds. This isn’t like a hot tub. The bath just remains free of ice and open to the birds. Most people understand the importance of water for drinking but many do not realize just how important it is in bathing for birds. Because feathers are critical for flight and insulation, birds keep them well-maintained. A good part of a bird's day is spent just cleaning and grooming its feathers by bathing, scratching, and preening.
6. Bird houses are only used in the spring - At night or during bad weather birds often find shelter in tree cavities, birdhouses, or under the eaves of houses. Bird houses left up all winter also might attract young birds scouting out future nesting sites.

Related Articles:
What birds like peanuts? http://bit.ly/zispJK
What seeds do wild birds eat? http://bit.ly/wKyQNB
How can birds survive this cold weather? http://bit.ly/xbkaPP
Why pay more for seed at Wild Birds Unlimited? http://bit.ly/xJZMFe
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Flock of teeny tiny birds under the bush

Keep your eyes open for a little bird that flutters in the pines and bushes. It's time for the Ruby-crowned Kinglets to pass through mid-Michigan on their way to the southern and southwestern United States and Mexico for the winter. These teeny, tiny birds make the chickadee look big!
Photo taken outside Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing, MI

They forage actively in trees or shrubs, mainly eating small insects and spiders, some berries and tree sap. They may hover over a branch while feeding and sometimes fly out to catch insects in flight. They flash their little red crest occasionally when agitated or in display.

They often come to birdfeeders if you feed suet, or a blend with nuts like the Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess Blend.

Little groups of kinglets usually migrate by night, so you may wake up to discover your yard is a migratory stopover for the birds to rest and feed in evergreen tangles during the day. They are well camouflaged but sometimes betray their presence with lovely alto songs and flashing wing movements and hops like they are buzzing on caffeine.

Related Articles:  
Bird gangs form in the fall http://bird-gangs-form-in-fall.html
Why feed birds in the fall http://goo.gl/Jq4Aj
You get more birds if you feed year-round http://goo.gl/IsJKJ
Shilly-shallying Golden-crowned Kinglet: Adorable! http://goo.gl/d50zT
Black-capped Chickadee: Nature’s Backyard Charmer http://goo.gl/ji1vh

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

How late do hummingbirds stay in Michigan

Rufous Hummingbird
I still have one Hummer. She has actually slowed down on her nectar intake. I plan on keeping the food full and clean. My question is "does anyone else have hummers around"? Is it not very late for her.

My last hummer was on October 10th, but it’s not unheard of for hummingbirds to still be around even until November. The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common hummingbird in Michigan. We also have reports of the Rufous Hummingbird especially in the fall. They aren’t as common as the ruby but are the most widely-distributed hummingbird in North America. They winter in Mexico but these feisty birds can survive in extremely cold temperatures if there is food available.

The rule of thumb is if you haven't seen a hummingbird for two weeks in the fall it's safe to take your feeder down. Depending on where you live it is usually at the end of September to the middle of October. The hummingbirds aren't in as big a rush to go down south as they were to find nesting grounds in the spring but they will leave us when the weather conditions are right for traveling down south.

Related Articles:
· Don't take your feeders down on Labor Day http://bit.ly/vawleL
· Do hummingbirds migrate together? http://bit.ly/rVOJVm
· Hummingbird chauffeured to Florida http://bit.ly/qSZYhK
· The Best Hummingbird Feeders: http://bit.ly/qgukNI
· How fast can a hummingbird fly?: http://bit.ly/qimFPY
· When did people start to feed hummingbirds?: http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR

Monday, October 15, 2018

Where all the cardinals have gone

My cardinals have gone away. Had tons this summer and I would say 99% have disappeared. I have a few bluebirds that arrived about the time the cardinals left. Could they have run them off. I miss the cardinals.
I have an abundance of Northern Cardinals this year! They are the first bird to visit my feeder in the morning and the last to stop by and grab a bite at night. The increase in the number of birds chipping in the evergreens foreshadows a change in seasons. By late summer, nesting is over and cardinals relax their territory boundaries. The birds sing less but are forming winter flocks that use "chip" calls to communicate.

Just because you are not seeing cardinals this week doesn’t mean a flock won’t fly in next week. After young cardinals leave their natal home they don’t have a set territory and can move around freely in search of food. They can drop in several older cardinals' established groups only to drop out again in search of a territory that can sustain them with enough food and shelter.

While cardinals are figuring it all out, bluebirds remain in their family flocks and can forage their usual territories until spring when they disperse.

I also have had an increase of chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, jays and all the other bug eating birds that over-winter in Michigan. They are having a horrible year. The cold spring, dry summer, and now a fall that isn’t producing enough pine or tree nuts means they are looking to our feeders to supplement their diet. The 2018-2019 Winter Finch Forecast predicts it is going to be one of those years we're are going to see a lot of birds! Keep your feeders clean and full of fresh food.

Related Articles:
What can I feed the cardinals to make them redder? http://bit.ly/rAArXw
What are the different types of cardinal birds? http://bit.ly/v0IBhS
Northern Cardinal Fun Facts http://bit.ly/twE6NV
Cardinal Bird Feeders Made in the USA: http://bit.ly/qXJPFM
How to Attract Cardinals: http://bit.ly/pjh7mO
Birds of Michigan Field Guide http://bit.ly/uMSTs6

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Peak migration of the Field Sparrows through Michigan is mid-October

Field Sparrow photo via Wikimedia Commons
Pay attention to flocks of sparrows under your feeders. Mid-October is the Field Sparrows peak migration through Michigan. They winter in most of the south eastern states below Michigan. You may see these smaller, warm-colored birds foraging in flocks that contain multiple species of sparrows during migration.

Field Sparrows eat mainly grass seeds, throughout the year. Grass seeds make up less than 50% of their diet in the summer, but more than 90% in the winter. In the summer they also eat adult and larval insects and spiders. At the feeders they would look for millet, or sunflower seeds.

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How to get rid of sparrows http://goo.gl/9tAwkY

Saturday, October 13, 2018

October Song Sparrows

I spotted another sparrow among the House Sparrows at the feeders. It was a Song Sparrow eating No-mess blend bird food at the feeder.

Song Sparrows often have a dark spot in the center of their streaked breast and dark feathers under the bill that look like mutton chops. The Song Sparrow lives up to its name, being one of the most persistent singers throughout the spring and summer. The scientific name Melodia means "melody" in Greek. Click here to hear the song.

All of October Song Sparrows migrate though mid-Michigan. In recent decades, mild winters and an abundance of backyard bird feeders have enticed an increasing number of Song Sparrows to overwinter in Michigan. Sunflower seeds, millet, peanuts and peanut butter suet are some of the most popular foods that attract Song Sparrows to tray or ground bird feeders.

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Friday, October 12, 2018

Photo Share: Geese in flight

When it gets dark we think of most birds tucking in a bushy spot or tree hollow to sleep. But during the spring and fall migration many birds take flight at night including geese.

Geese fly at both night and day but most usually begin at dusk. They move in a V formation, with experienced individuals taking turns leading the flock. Migrating flocks include loose groups of families generally.

Geese have excellent memories and vision especially with the full moon, allowing them to spot and remember landmarks on the ground and in the sky. Their ability to see in the dark is 12 times greater than ours.

Their autumn migration can be seen from September to the beginning of November. We usually see some Canada Geese year-round in mid-Michigan as long as there is unfrozen water. However some geese that breed in the High Arctic fly through Michigan to the southern United States for winter.

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- Why geese sleep in the water http://goo.gl/X9gV9
- Why do geese fly in a V formation? http://goo.gl/h1icv

Thursday, October 11, 2018

How long birds sleep on average

Where’s Dolly (Cat)? That is one of the most frequently asked questions at Wild Birds Unlimited, East Lansing, MI. Dolly has lived at our store for many years, but as you may know cats require 16 to 20 hours of sleep each day to function without crankiness. I need about 8 hours a night and what about birds?

Sleep requirements vary slightly for different species. Most of our backyard birds are diurnal, meaning they’re awake during the day and asleep at night. On average those birds probably need about 10 to 12 hours of sleep each night. Nighttime predators on the prowl, however may mean birds only get short little bursts of sleep. Many sleep with only half a brain and one eye open, always on the lookout for danger. Keeping one half of the brain at rest is called unihemispheric slow-wave sleep (USWS). But don’t worry they follow Dolly's lead and can take “cat naps” in the day if needed.

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Why geese sleep in the water http://why-geese-sleep-in-water.html
Where birds go at night http://where-birds-go-at-night.html
Do birds snore? Watch the video http://do-birds-snore-watch-video.html
What birds see at night http:/what-birds-see-at-night.html