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.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The #GreatBackyardBirdcount (#GBBC): American Goldfinch

Get to know your birds before The Great Backyard Birdcount (#GBBC)

Came in to Wild Birds Unlimited today to see a finch sleeping at the feeder
American Goldfinches turn up their metabolic furnace to keep their body temperatures stable on extremely cold winter nights. This means they have to load up on fat-rich seeds (like sunflower or Nyjer thistle seeds) especially first thing in the morning and right before bed. Sometimes on cold, short days you may see a finch that was feeding too late to find shelter and chooses to stay at the feeder or nearby until light.
Winter Plumage
Unlike many birds, goldfinches molt their body feathers twice a year. They have bright, attractive yellow feathers in the spring before breeding and much denser olive brown feathers after nesting in the fall. The color of the legs, feet and bill of the American Goldfinch change with each feather molt too. In winter plumage, their legs, feet and bill are dark grayish brown. In breeding plumage they change to a buffy yellow orange color.

American Goldfinches are partial migrants, meaning only part of the population migrates annually and if it is a rough winter they can become nomadic. Their winter range includes southern Canada and stretches south through the United States to parts of Mexico. During heavy snowstorms they may move further south to find food only to move back when the weather clears.
Summer Plumage

American Goldfinches are common feeder visitors and prefer Nyjer® (thistle) and sunflower seeds. I have dozens of goldfinches right now attacking my window feeder full of No-Mess Blend, a seed blend full of sunflower seeds without the shell.

They also appreciate the heated bird bath. The goldfinches drink frequently and will stay close to reliable sources of water because of their almost exclusive diet of seeds.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is a free, fun, and easy event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations. Participants are asked to count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the four-day event and report their sightings online at birdcount.org. Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from beginning bird watchers to experts, and you can participate from your backyard, or anywhere in the world.

Related Articles:
- Where are my finches? http://t.co/FRqa7eo
- European Goldfinches http://bit.ly/Q2Cu37
- Goldfinch Migration http://bit.ly/MzGSPD
- Are Goldfinches here in the winter? http://bit.ly/PZu5ML
- Bird of the week: American Goldfinch http://bit.ly/PZum2a

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The #GreatBackyardBirdcount (#GBBC): Mourning Dove

Get to know your birds before The Great Backyard Birdcount (#GBBC)

Mourning Doves Zenaida macroura are a medium-sized wild bird with a grayish brown back, a buff underneath, black spots on the wings, and a black spot shaped like a comma below and behind the eye.

They have a small, thin black bill, red legs and dark brown eyes. Males are larger than females and show more color with a bluish cap, pink chest and neck feathers and three white outer tail feathers. The female is graced with an olive gray cap and a tan breast. Neck feathers can be greenish or pinkish with one or two white outer feathers.
The Mourning Dove’s common name comes from their mournful cooing song. Their scientific name Zenaida honors Zenaide, Princess of Naples and the wife of Charles-Lucien Bonaparte, who was a naturalist and the nephew of the French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.

The Mourning Doves are one of the most abundant and widespread native birds in North America and common year-round at Michigan bird feeders. They like to live near human dwellings and as our population has grown over the years so has their population.

Despite their fragile look, the Mourning Dove is a swift, direct flier whose wings whistle as they cut through the air at high speed. When they bursts into flight, their wings clap above and below their body.

Mourning doves are not picky eaters but feed more comfortably on feeders with large perching areas. Ground feeders, tray feeders and hopper feeders all allow room for doves to perch. They eat a variety of seeds, insects, and berries. Any bird seed blend with a lot of sunflower seeds would be a good choice to attract doves.

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
- How Mourning Doves defend their nests http://bit.ly/LiE7TH
- Do Birds Sip or Slurp? http://bit.ly/N6syCY
- Mourning Dove nesting facts and figures http://goo.gl/WeLWy

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The #GreatBackyardBirdcount (#GBBC): House Sparrow

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature and make a difference for birds. It’s free and easy. To learn more about how to join the count visit www.birdcount.org.

Get to know the House Sparrow before The Great Backyard Birdcount (#GBBC)

Female and male House Sparrow
House Sparrows can be found all across the world. They are so common in most cities that they are sometimes overlooked. Their name House comes from their success with the living near human habitations.

Male House Sparrows have a rusty-brown colored back and wings with black streaks, a gray head, buff cheeks and belly, and a black bib. Females are a plain buffy-brown overall with striped buff, black, and brown back.

Between 1874 and 1876 a few House Sparrows were brought over from England and were released in Jackson and Owosso, Michigan to control insect infestations on crops. They quickly multiplied into thousands as they raised three to five broods per year regularly, each brood averaging around five babies.

However in many other parts of the world the house sparrow has been in decline since the 1970’s. They are even considered an endangered species in the Netherlands. Similar drops in population have been recorded in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Italy and Finland.

At the feeders you will see the House Sparrow eating mainly sunflower seed, millet and cracked corn.
The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with Wild Birds Unlimited, as a sponsor! The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers like you helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible. Learn more about the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) http://learn about-great-backyard-bird-count.html

Related Articles:
- Why should we care about birds? http://goo.gl/4iD8a
- How to get rid of sparrows http://goo.gl/9tAwkY
- How to participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count http://gbbc-is-coming
- Book Recommendations for Michigan Birdwatchers http://bit.ly/x5t2gv
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/ywWdfL

Monday, January 28, 2019

The #GreatBackyardBirdcount (#GBBC): European Starling

I've noticed an interesting visitor occasionally the past few months. It's back again in today's storm. A single starling visits the feeder with a large flock of sparrows. If I were better with photos, I'd send one.Why this stray single flock buster? - Amy 
Photo from Wikimedia Commons
January is when males begin to get antsy. Solitary males wander off to check on nesting sites they've used in the past to see if it is still available and search for other potential nesting sites as back-ups. Starlings show a high degree of fidelity to breeding sites.

Starlings usually gather in large flocks and leave our feeders in the fall when their diet switches from more animal matter to plants. Their intestines lengthen, and the wall of the gizzard increases in thickness to better absorb the nutrients from more fruits, nuts, berries and seeds. Like the robin we rarely see them visit the feeders in the winter unless there is a winter storm that covers their natural resources.

Starlings and House Sparrows seem to get along pretty well. Both are non-migratory and hang out in the same areas. They like human dwellings and human scraps. And they are both very savvy.

Get to know the European Starling before 

European starlings are highly vocal all year long and only go silent when they are molting in the fall. The songs of males are highly variable and have many components. They warble, click, whistle, creak, chirrup, and gurgle. European starlings are also accomplished mimics, often copying songs or sounds of other birds and animals (geese, hawks, cats), or even of mechanical sounds. Other calls include a "querrr?" sound used while in flight, a metallic 'chip' that warns of a predator's presence, and a snarling call made while attacking intruders.

Adult starling males and females mature to a length of about 8.5 inches and weigh about 3 ounces. Over the winter sunlight and weather dulls the speckled look and the bird becomes uniform dark brown or black. Both sexes also have reddish brown legs, and seasonal changes in bill color (yellow in the spring, black in the fall). Males sport a bluish spot at the base of their beaks, while the female displays a reddish pink speck.

European Starlings are omnivorous and can adapt to numerous kinds of food. In the spring starlings require large quantities of bugs, suet or nuts to meet their high protein needs. You will see them patrolling the lawn for invertebrates in the soil. Their pointed bill is adapted perfectly for probing food from the ground and catching insects. 

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

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The #GreatBackyardBirdcount (#GBBC): Northern Cardinal

Get to know the Northern Cardinal before 
Except for a black mask and throat, the male Northern Cardinals are red all over including their bill. The females are less recognizable. They are shaped like the male but are a duller grey brown color and have only warm red accents on the tips of their crest, wings and bill.

Cardinals are a delightful year-round resident in mid-Michigan and prefer tangled shrubby bushes and evergreens in yards with feeders. They form faithful pair bonds, and will visit feeders together commonly in the early morning and evening. Both birds sing to one another throughout the seasons with soft, bubbly whistles and when females incubate eggs in the spring the she keeps in contact with the male by singing on the nest, to inform her partner whether or not she and the young need food. So if you see the bright red male cardinal, look and listen for the "chip, chip, chip" of the less conspicuous female cardinal.

Cardinals prefer to feed on the ground so if you can "raise the ground" by feeding cardinals on tray feeders, hopper feeders or any feeder that gives them a comfortable feeding position they'll be happy. Their favorite food is oil sunflower, nuts, safflower and fruit. Wild Birds Unlimited has a wide variety of cardinal friendly feeders.

More about the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) http://learn about-great-backyard-bird-count.html

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, January 26, 2019

Put out your winter roosts

Now is the perfect time to put up a bird house. Certain birds like bluebirds, chickadees, wrens, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers may begin to look for a place to nest as early as February, while there is still snow on the ground! Much better to be too early than too late. Also with a cold front moving in, houses can offer shelter. Sometimes more than a dozen birds will pile into a single box to conserve heat.

Wild Birds Unlimited, East Lansing has roosting pockets too! Woven grass or felted wool pockets designed to prevent the birds' body heat from escaping and its entrance hole is near the bottom so the rising warmth doesn't escape.

You can mount your houses on poles available at the store or on a fence post and hang roosting pockets from tree hooks in sheltered spots, out of prevailing winds. South-facing houses receive the most warmth from the winter sun.

Related Articles:
Cute Winter Bird Houses! http://cute-winter-bird-houses.html
Roosting Pockets: Warm Shelter from Frosty Winds http://goo.gl/QOPbMw
Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
Why Don't Birds Freeze After They Take a Bath in the Winter? http://goo.gl/5ydpvy
Poles to mount your Bird House http://poles-to-mount-house.html
Surviving Winter, the Bird Way http://goo.gl/SF0Yga

Friday, January 25, 2019

Photo Share: Cardinal red in the morning

Where's Dolly (cat)? Dolly and I love to sit in the back room of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing because it has a large window with a crabapple tree just outside. A lot of birds like the fruit in the tree, especially the Northern Cardinals. We have a pair that we eat breakfast with every morning.

In the winter, Cardinals eat more seeds and berries since there are fewer insects. Some other native trees that attract cardinals are dogwoods, serviceberry, plum, cherry, hawthorn, hackberry, red cedar, mulberry, and sumac.

While feeding, Northern Cardinal males dominate females and adults dominate juveniles. He eats first and then watches the area while she takes her turn. Pairs tend to remain together throughout winter either on breeding territory or in flocks.
 If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

About the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

Launched in 1998, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and display the results in near real-time to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

Will you participate? On February 15-18, 2019, simply tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see in any location, anywhere in the world, for at least 15 minutes!

Click here for more info on how to get started.

In 2018, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in more than 100 countries counted more than 6,400 species of birds on more than 180,000 checklists!

Why count birds?

Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. Scientists use data collected to investigate far-reaching questions, like:

• How will the weather and climate change influence bird populations?

• Some birds, such as winter finches, appear in large numbers during some years but not others. Where are these species from year to year, and what can we learn from these patterns?

• How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?

• How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?

• What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?

The Great Backyard Bird Count is powered by eBird. The count is made possible in part by founding sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Flickers' territorial display

I see two flickers going around and around the tree. How do you tell the males from the females?

Northern Flicker males in Michigan can be identified by a black mustache stripe at the base of the beak. These medium sized woodpeckers have a gray head with a red V on the back of the neck, a black-barred brown back, black polka dots on the belly, a black bib under their long bill and bright yellow feathers on the undersides of their wing and tail.

Flickers dancing around a tree together could be a male and female getting to know each other or two males performing a territorial display. Now that you know how to tell the difference between the males and females you can distinguish between the two.

Before breeding season, rival flickers may face off in a display where the boys face each other, bills pointed upward, and bob their heads or chase each other around or through branches of a tree while a prospective female watches. Females may chase other female rivals around the trees too.
Two Northern Flicker males in a territorial display from Wikimedia Commons
Related Articles:
- Northern Flicker Roosts Alone in the winter http://bit.ly/zouUF6
- Northern Flicker Stops by for a Surprise Visit http://bit.ly/Aouqjf
- Fun Facts about Woodpeckers http://bit.ly/yGoOUc
- Why Flickers Flick Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/Ar0Rin
- How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/x5PGT1

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

How birds survive single digits

During these windy, cold nights you might wonder where the birds that don’t migrate south for the winter sleep. Birds that nest in cavities like sparrows, chickadees, woodpeckers, wrens, and nuthatches tend to sleep in tree hollows, man-made nest boxes or roosting pockets far away from many predators. Other birds like cardinals, jays, doves, juncos and finches roost in dense brush or foliage. I have a lot of backyard birds that like to sleep in the pine trees near the feeding stations. If the wind is blowing, they go to the other side of the tree and avoid it.

Most birds will fluff up their feathers to cover their feet and create air pockets that will help them keep warm like a down jacket. Birds that perch also scrunch down to sleep because that automatically makes the toes grip their perch and stay locked. In the legs of most tree-dwelling birds, tendons extend down the leg behind the ankle to attach to the tips of the toes and when their knees bend, the tendons are pulled taut, making the toes on their feet clench. Even on windy nights, this grasp cannot be released until they wake up and their limbs are straightened again.

Another way birds combat the cold is by shivering. This converts muscular energy into heat for the short term, but the energy must be replenished shortly thereafter. By keeping your feeders filled with high energy, high fat foods you can provide your birds with the vital nutrition they need to survive. High on the list of best choices to meet this nutritional need is suet or seed blocks and certain seeds like peanuts, sunflower  and nyjer seed.

Related Articles:
What to feed birds in the winter http://bit.ly/tfT7Ca
Cavity nester birds http://cavity-nester-birds.html
How can birds survive this cold weather? http://bit.ly/uKZs6v
Build a nest box in winter, and watch baby birds in spring http://nest-box-in-winter.html 

Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
Attracting Birds with Roost Houses http://roost-houses.html

Monday, January 21, 2019

Squirrel Appreciation Day: Why you should celebrate squirrels

Why are squirrels such an important part of nature?
Many people look at squirrels and see the cute and cunning furry creatures and may not realize the important role they play in the world.

1. Many squirrels help in forest regeneration. When they bury seeds and nuts as a way to cache food for use later in the season, some are not recovered and grow.

2. Like most rodents, tree squirrels have a relatively short lifespan. Most live only a year or two. Hawks, owls, foxes and coyotes all depend on squirrels as a food source.

3. Researchers can look at tree squirrel populations to measure just how well a forest ecosystem is faring.

4. Scientists may develop a new drug that can limit the brain damage caused by strokes based on research on how ground squirrels hibernate in the winter, and the way their brains function while they do.

5. Squirrel antics at bird feeders has generated many family businesses. Building the better bird feeder that deters the squirrels’ tendency to disassemble and investigate bird feeding stations and develop food that only birds like has created jobs all across America.

Related Articles:  
How many species of squirrels are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/yYt6Nb
Black Squirrel History & Facts http://bit.ly/AxiqPz
"Frisky" Fox Squirrels http://bit.ly/AndeTw
Why squirrels chew http://bit.ly/AjVzFW
Black squirrel with a blonde tail http:/black-squirrel-with-blonde-tail.html
Origin of National Squirrel Appreciation Day! http://bit.ly/AhqkBg
Fascinating Squirrels facts http://squirrels-in-mid-michigan.html
How squirrels were introduced into the neighborhood http://squirrels-were-introduced.html
How squirrels remember where they've buried nuts http://squirrels-remember.html
Invasion of American Killer Squirrels http://invasion-of-american-killer-squirrels.html
The World's Largest Squirrel http://largest-squirrel.html
What Happens after you Hang up the #1 Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder? http://what-happens.html
People Interrupt Mr. Squirrel's Holiday Shot! http://people-interrupt-mr-squirrels-holiday.html

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Photo Share: Odd white-winged sparrow

We have an interesting house sparrow visiting our feeder here in Lansing with white feathers on the side of its wings as well as in its tail. When it flies, you can really see the flash of white in both wings and tail. Odd!- Jennifer Otto

Cool! I have a similar male House Sparrow in front of the Wild Birds Unlimited store (https://bird-with-no-tail.html). He started out with no tail and it grew back white. Occasionally a bird will lose feathers in a close call with a predator. When this happens the new feathers sometimes grow in white and then change back to the normal color at the next regular molt.

Or this kind of white coloring could also be leucism. Leucism refers to an abnormality in the deposition of pigment in feathers. There is some disagreement as to whether the condition is genetic or caused by pigment cells that were damaged during development. Whatever the cause, the condition can result in a reduction in all types of pigment, causing pale or muted colors on the entire bird. Or like your bird the condition can cause irregular patches of white, and birds with these white patches are sometimes described as “pied” or “piebald."

Thanks for the info. I'm more inclined to think it is leucism as each wing is identically white on the outside edge.

Thank you for sharing your observations! 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.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Birds by the numbers: How long do songbirds usually live?

How long do songbirds usually live, for example the chickadee?

The lifespan of songbirds can vary. Most common backyard birds on average live between 2 and 5 years. However, the maximum lifespan recorded for many of these birds is much higher.

To look up a particular bird, I go to the University of Michigan's site (https://animaldiversity.org/). It gives a lot of averages. For example it's estimated that the Black-capped Chickadee has an average lifespan of 2.5 years with the oldest on record being 12.5 years old, based on information they've gathered from the Bird Banding Laboratory.

While chickadees are one of the more adaptable birds and 12 years in impressive, during that first year there is a steep learning curve. Then once they reach breeding age, their survival chances are better. Premature deaths can be caused by window collisions, toxic chemicals, including pesticides, accidents, diseases, loss of food sources due to habitat destruction, predators, or many other factors. And let's not forget about weather.

Chickadees choose to be year-round residents in Michigan. This choice means they expend more energy than tropical birds and even more than migrating birds to survive. The cheery chickadees make the winter blues less blah. That's why as the temperatures dip and natural food sources may become covered with snow or locked in ice, I am happy to offer them a few treats to make the day easier for them.

Related Articles:
What to feed birds in the winter http://bit.ly/rCdQqM
What is Bird Banding? http://bit.ly/tcXuhs
Migration vs. Hibernation http://bit.ly/szXjkl
What Do Black-Capped Chickadees Eat? https:/chickadees-eat.html
Why do some birds live longer than others? https://some-birds-live-longer.html
How many birds die during migration? https://birds-die in migration.html

Friday, January 18, 2019

Photo Share: Preparing for snow

Watch for birds flocking to the feeders before bad weather. Are you ready for the first snow of the new year? Studies show the average bird forages for food about five hours per day to meet their energy requirements. In severe weather bird feeders can be important. High on the list of best choices to meet the nutritional needs of birds is suet and certain seeds like peanuts, sunflower seeds and nyjer seed. Our most popular Wild Birds Unlimited No Mess Seed Blend is filled with many of these high fat seeds and nuts making it an ideal food, along with suet, to offer your birds.

The Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Seed Cylinder is another way to offer sunflower chips, peanuts, tree nuts, and fruit to all the seed, nut and fruit loving birds. No-Mess Seed Cylinder is a tidy dining option that a lot of birds will enjoy. No shells means no mess and no wasted food, making this seed cylinder a great value. This 100% edible cylinder is great near flower beds patios and decks.

Also if there is an available source of open water, birds can conserve their energy for heat and survival during cold winters. Besides helping birds digest food properly, water helps birds keep their feathers clean and in top condition for effective insulation.

Related articles:
- Why Don't Birds Freeze After They Take a Bath in the Winter? http://goo.gl/5ydpvy
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/z7Eurx
- Filling Up on Fatty Foods http://bit.ly/xbZ9lR
- Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
- Choosing the best bird seed http://goo.gl/jrpDX
- How can birds survive this cold weather? http://goo.gl/4v2d4

Thursday, January 17, 2019

When does nesting begin?

Squirrels are acting squirrelly and I am hearing the starlings squabble and squawk in the rafters of the Wild Birds Unlimited store. These are just a couple signs that the new year of nesting has started.
Nesting season can vary depending on the species of bird, the weather conditions, food availability, and many other variables. Some larger birds like owls, hawks, and eagles may begin courting in December and nest in January and February.

Other birds that winter in Michigan may begin to sing and scout for good nesting territories as early as late January. A reliable source of food like bird feeders may contribute to a bird deciding to nest early in your yard.

Black-capped Chickadees, Eastern Bluebirds, and woodpeckers may begin scouting out bird houses soon. Northern Cardinals and American Robins usually nest anytime from March to August. In some areas the Mourning Doves nest almost year round because they feed their young “crop milk”. And by the end of February we'll get calls about birds making their nests in holiday wreaths. Anyone who places hanging plants on a covered porch in the spring or leave a holiday wreath hanging on the door may find that by April a female House Finch has begun to build a nest in it.

If a bird starts to nest and a cold front moves in, they may suspend their nest building activities and then continue when the weather is more favorable. This may happen especially with inexperienced and excited first year nesters. Research has found that the basics in nest construction are primarily instinctive, but birds’ nesting skills improve through trial and error.

Other birds that migrate in to nest in Michigan usually begin nesting in May. Birds like House Wrens, Tree Swallows, Baltimore Orioles, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds come in hungry but get right down to business and begin nesting as soon as possible.

To help the birds you can keep your feeders clean and full of fresh seed. Stressed birds are susceptible to disease. Make sure your bird houses are ready for occupancy too.

Video of bird looking good: Starling changing over to yellow bill and losing his stars in anticipation of nesting season: https://youtu.be/HmG2DBQwCqk

Related Articles:
Bird Nest Basics http://bit.ly/sqNq0u
Is it too early to put up a birdhouse? http://bit.ly/tmN9rj
How do you know when a nest is abandoned? http://bit.ly/usMPY8
Goldfinches: The Last Birds Nesting http://bit.ly/sqafTq
5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses http://bit.ly/uWN7fE
Common Backyard Bird Nest Identification http://bit.ly/sVfipj

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Introduction of squirrels to the neighborhood

January 21 is National Squirrel Appreciation Day and I was watching the squirrels acting squirrely in the yard today. January and February is when squirrels begin looking for mates. You'll see them zig zagging around the yard with the males following females and fighting with other males.

People tend to react to squirrels in one of two ways, either they see them as cute and entertaining, or they make it a lifelong quest to keep the critters out of their bird feeders. Songbirds and squirrels have similar tastes in food, so it’s no surprise that they are constant companions to backyard bird feeding.

You can blame urban planners for the introduction of squirrels into the neighborhood. It’s hard to imagine, but in the 1800’s squirrels were shy little woodland creatures that supplied meat for early settlers. Overhunting and clearcutting the land for development nearly decimated nesting populations.

Then as cities developed and people moved away from caring for farm animals, public green areas were developed. Numerous naturalists, zoo directors, educators, park designers, and poets persuaded the public of the squirrels' value as members of the urban community. Because squirrels appeared to be responsive to human charity, they held a special place in the community. And by the early twentieth century, Eastern gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) had become the most visible non-domesticated mammals in American cities. The arboreal rodents were protected, sheltered, and fed by the humans who treated them as public pets.

The urbanization of the squirrels in the United States between the mid-nineteenth century and the early twentieth century was an ecological and cultural process that changed the squirrels' ways of life, altered the urban landscape, and adjusted human understandings of nature, the city, and the boundaries of community. Even the East Lansing black squirrels were introduced in the 1960s at the request of MSU President John A. Hannah to add character to the campus. They have now spread widely past the campus borders to bring their natural charm to your neighborhood (which I hear about daily).

Sources: 
The Urbanization of the Eastern Gray Squirrel in the U.S: http://jah.oxfordjournals.org
Black Squirrel History at MSU: http://goo.gl/k1H1p5

 Related Articles:
- How do I keep squirrels off my bird feeders? http://bit.ly/yiZsML
- Squirrel proof bird feeder reviews http://bit.ly/waJs9o
- Why are Squirrels Called Squirrels? http://bit.ly/yhktkr
- How many species of squirrels are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/yYt6Nb  
- Squirrel Fun Facts http://goo.gl/M3mT2M
- Why squirrels chew http://bit.ly/AjVzFW