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.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

#GivingTuesday for local wildlife rehabber

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. Wild Birds Unlimited store would like to encourage you to donate $5.00 to Nottingham Nature Nook (NNN). As a "Thank you" for donating at the store, we will give you a unique stocking stuffer FREE until we run out!

The "Good Luck" mini totes are so popular we always run out! So this year along with that traditional tote, I've also brought in "Santa's Reindeer" totes. These small 4 inch totes are filled with a tiny bag of birdseed, perfect to slip over a doorknob as a decoration or stuffed in a stocking as a gift.

The original has a wren on the front with the quote that reads: "It is a Scandinavian Tradition to feed the birds on Christmas Day to ensure Good Luck in the year ahead. Spread birdseed on your doorstep Christmas morning for Luck in the New Year."

http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2015/12/unique-stocking-stuffer-ideas.htmlAnd then we have a cute little girl kissing a reindeer with a quote on back reads: "Go outside on Christmas Eve and sprinkle this at night to nourish Santa's reindeer on their long and chilly flight. On Christmas when you wake up in the morning you will find the toys, treats & treasures that Santa left behind."

Nottingham Nature Nook (NNN) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in East Lansing that raises and releases wildlife babies as well as cares for injured adult animals. If you would rather donate directly, a check can be made to Nottingham Nature Nook (NNN) 16848 Towar Ave, East Lansing, MI 48823. (517) 351-7304 or visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donate/

Friday, November 29, 2019

Photo Share: Turkey Crossing Guard

One turkey became a crossing guard for more than a dozen turkeys to make it safely across a busy road.

Once everyone had made their way to the other side of the road, the watchful turkey joined his flock and they resumed their trek.

Video: https://youtu.be/

Related Articles:
What you call the red on a turkey's face and neck https:/Snood and Wattle.html
Turkeys in the suburbs https://turkey turf.html
Do turkeys drown in the rain? http://bit.ly/rWtgr5
Wild vs. Domestic Turkeys https://wild turkeys.html
What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN
Turkeys eat up to 200 ticks per day http://goo.gl/JEsug

Thursday, November 28, 2019

History of American Thanksgiving

History of American Thanksgiving
The first Thanksgiving Day was decreed by Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth Colony settlement in July 30, 1623. There were harvest festivals, for plentiful crops because that year the Pilgrim’s fall harvest was very successful after a period of drought. There was corn, fruits, vegetables, along with fish, and meat that was smoke cured over fires. The Governor proclaimed a day of thanksgiving that was to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native American Indians. But this was just a one-time event.

It wasn't until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed thanksgiving a national holiday. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday for Thanksgiving in the U.S.A.  Canada celebrates thanksgiving the second Monday in October.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Fun Turkey Trivia for Thanksgiving

If you are lucky enough to get a Thanksgiving card from a little grade schooler that has traced their hand to make a Turkey tail, here is some fun turkey trivia you can share with them:

- The turkey is covered by about 6,000 iridescence feathers of varying colors of red, green, copper, bronze and gold. The gobbler, or male turkey, is more colorful, while the hen is a duller color to camouflage her with her surroundings.
- A native of North America, the turkey is one of only two domesticated birds originating in the New World. The Muscovy Duck is the other.
- There are a few explanations on how Turkeys were named. One is that in the days when geography was a little sketchy, Europeans sometimes referred to any exotic import as Turkey (i.e. Turkey Bird, Turkey rug, Turkey bag).
- Today, wild turkeys are being reintroduced into many areas across the USA. Overhunting and the disappearance of their favored woodland habitat has resulted in the decline in turkey populations.
- Only Alaska and Hawaii don’t have native turkeys
- Turkeys don’t migrate. They can be seen grazing fields and woodlands during the day and roosting in trees at night.
- You can tell if you are on the trail of a boy turkey from a girl turkey by their poop. Male droppings are j-shaped while the female droppings are spiral or curly-cued. And the diameter of the droppings increases with age of turkey.
- Male turkeys are called gobblers, after the “gobble” call they make to announce themselves to females which are called hens. Other turkey sounds include “purrs,” “yelps” and “kee-kees.”
- Wild turkeys have very powerful legs and can run faster than 20 miles per hour and fly up to 55 miles per hour.
- When they need to, Turkeys can swim by tucking their wings in close, spreading their tails, and kicking.
- The average life expectancy for wild turkeys is one and a half years in the wild and 13 years in captivity. Besides hunters, the birds are prey to a variety of animals like raccoons, bobcats, foxes, eagles, owls and much more.
- To attract mates, males display their fan-like tail, bare head, and bright snood and wattle. They also perform a little turkey trot and make a distinctive gobble that can be heard a mile away. After mating males have little to do with the females.
- Females lay 4 to 17 eggs in a ground nest under a bush, incubate the eggs for up to 28 days and feed their chicks only for a few days after they hatch. Young turkeys quickly learn to fend for themselves as part of mother/child flocks that can include dozens of animals.
- The adult males, known as toms or gobblers, normally weigh between 16 and 24 pounds while the females, known as hens, usually weigh between 8 and 10 pounds. Very young birds are poults, while juvenile males are jakes and females are jennies. A group of turkeys has many collective nouns, including a "crop", "dole", "gang", "posse", and "raffle" of turkeys.
 
Related Articles:
What you call the red on a turkey's face and neck https:/Snood and Wattle.html
Turkeys in the suburbs https://turkey turf.html
Do turkeys drown in the rain? http://bit.ly/rWtgr5
Wild vs. Domestic Turkeys https://wild turkeys.html
What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN
Turkeys eat up to 200 ticks per day http://goo.gl/JEsug

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

What you call the red on a turkey's face and neck

The snood is the reddish fleshy protuberance on the forehead of turkeys, not to be confused with wattles, the reddish fleshy bits under the neck. When a male turkey is strutting during a courtship display, the snood engorges with blood, becomes redder and elongates several centimeters, hanging well below the beak. Female wild turkeys prefer to mate with long-snooded males, and male turkeys defer to males with relatively longer snoods.

In birds, wattles are often an ornament for courting potential mates. Large wattles are correlated with high testosterone levels, good nutrition, and the ability to evade predators, which in turn indicates a potentially successful mate.  

Related Articles:
Fun Facts on Wild Turkeys http://bit.ly/rI3Ki7
Why is a Turkey Is Called a Turkey? http://bit.ly/uKNZe5
Wild Turkeys came close to extinction in the 1930s: http://bit.ly/rgjosF
What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN

Monday, November 25, 2019

Turkeys in the suburbs


More and more turkeys are learning to live near humans. Or in reality, more humans have been encroaching on turkey turf. A varied habitat of both open and covered area is essential for wild turkey survival. They use forested areas as cover from predators and for roosting in trees at night. In the early morning and late afternoon Wild Turkeys forage for nuts, various seeds, berries, roots, grasses and insects. They tend to stay in winter flocks until April in our area. Winter flocks are divided into male and female (and her young).

Their breeding season is in March and April normally. Males may be seen courting in groups, gobbling, spreading their tail feathers and strutting. The dominant male will mate with several females in the flock but does not provide any parental care.

Females leave the group after mating to nest alone in the spring. Their nest is just a shallow depression scratched out in the ground covered by vines. A hen will lay a clutch of 10-14 eggs, usually one per day, that hatch after 28 days of incubation by the female alone. The young turkeys (called poults) stay with the female parent through the fall (males) or the early spring (females). 

Related Articles:
Fun Facts on Wild Turkeys http://bit.ly/rI3Ki7
Why is a Turkey Is Called a Turkey? http://bit.ly/uKNZe5
Wild Turkeys came close to extinction in the 1930s: http://bit.ly/rgjosF
What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Wild vs. Domestic Turkeys

Although wild and domestic turkeys are genetically the same species, that’s about where the similarity ends. The wild turkey in a sprint can outrun a galloping horse and fly distances of more than a mile, at speeds up to 55 miles per hour. The domestic turkey lost its ability to fly and run far due to selective breeding that created a larger breast and shorter legs than their wild cousins.

The separation of the wild and domestic turkey began hundreds of years ago. Turkeys were being raised in Mexico and Central America for more than 500 years before the Spanish traders arrived. They took Mexican wild turkeys, domesticated by the Aztecs, home to Europe in about 1519. The turkey then spread rapidly through Europe and was introduced in England between 1524 and 1541.

After the domestic turkey spread across Europe in the 1500s, the colonists who settled the New World brought these domesticated birds with them across the Atlantic back to the land of their origin.

However by the 1900's, due to habitat loss and over-hunting, Wild Turkeys actually disappeared from Michigan’s landscape. Because turkeys do not migrate on their own, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reintroduced them in the 1950s from Pennsylvania. Gradually the Wild Turkey population in Michigan grew and is now is home to over 200,000 birds.

Related Articles:
Fun Facts on Wild Turkeys http://bit.ly/rI3Ki7
Why is a Turkey Is Called a Turkey? http://bit.ly/uKNZe5
Wild Turkeys came close to extinction in the 1930s: http://bit.ly/rgjosF
What do Turkeys Eat? http://bit.ly/uUiDsN

Saturday, November 23, 2019

You are never too young to get joy out of feeding the birds

I hear people commenting "I love feeding the birds! I must be getting old." so often I wonder when people began to think feeding birds was only something grandparents did?

A lot of people like to feed birds, both young and old. More than 40 percent of Americans make it a regular habit. Originally bird feeding began as a beneficial relationship. We helped birds survive the winter so they could go on to eat insects that bugged us and threatened agricultural production in the summer. Soon this kind act of inviting “feathered guests” turned into welcoming our “personal friends” to spend part of the day with us and de-stress.

Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. As the holiday season comes into full swing, it is important to take time to relax and rid yourself of some of that seasonal stress. What better way than to enjoy bird watching in your own yard!

I’ve always fed the birds. You can learn a lot from the birds and other little visitors that frequent feeders. I was captivated by the natural world early and have never lost interest. If you have just begun to enjoy watching birds make sure to involve all the little ones in your circle of family and friends so they don't miss out either.

It is never too early to learn about nature. Taking time to really get to know the birds who share our world builds respect and compassion for nature and all living things. Almost any habitat has a variety of birds to capture children’s interest year-round. With experience, kids refine skills in concentration, observation, and learn to deduce the hows and whys of bird behavior. And just have fun too!

Related Articles:

Why is the Dove a Symbol of Peace? http://t.co/Br4EnlB
Why should we care about birds? http://bit.ly/MFC0yr
Why feed the birds? http://goo.gl/NlZrU
Nature's impact on our well-being https://natures-impact-on-wellbeing.html
Santayana's Law of Repetitive Consequences: Loss of the Passenger Pigeon http://bit.ly/sUPlXj

Friday, November 22, 2019

Birdseed Pinecones

Who doesn't remember rolling pine cones in bird seed and decorating a tree for the birds? Now you can reminisce with all your family and friends by passing out Birdseed Pinecones.

Birdseed Pinecone Pair is a Tweet Treat
Wild birds Unlimited has large natural pine cones coated in tasty, energy-packed millet and sunflower seed, then tied with twine to drape easily over a branch. A fun and natural way to decorate an outdoor tree, wrapped in a clear gift bag with green garland and a red raffia tie that's ready for gifting.
 
Product Details
Pinecones, white millet, black oil sunflower seed, red millet, gelatin, jute
Approx. 5" W x 9" L
Made in USA


Also Available for a limited time:
Other adorable ornaments available for a limited time include a festive birdseed hearts, stars, and bells. Simply hang these mixed seed ornaments on outdoor trees for birds to enjoy!

While you are feasting indoors during Thanksgiving you can start a new tradition of setting the table for the birds outdoors.

Related Articles:
Share Nature's bounty http://bit.ly/tgPkrv
Make edible ornaments  http://bit.ly/tXDnSB 

Decorate a Tree for Birds http://bit.ly/t3QtGV 
Filling Up on Fatty Foods http://bit.ly/tUElnw
10 Gifts for Birdwatchers: http://bit.ly/uZojYY
Unique gifts for someone that has everything http://goo.gl/MBsT2V

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Food for wintering wrens

I was watching out the window when a Carolina Wren zoomed the feeder. It poked and pushed until it was the only one feeding. The sparrows and squirrels stood off to the side to wait their turn. Carolina Wrens seem to be bursting with energy and I enjoy having them in the yard.

Our Carolina Wrens do not migrate but are very sensitive to cold weather. Severe winters result in a marked decline in their numbers. Having a known source of food is essential for providing wrens with the energy, stamina, and nutrition they need to survive. For this reason, it is a good idea to put out a feeder to help these birds (and other bird species as well) survive the winter.

Carolina Wrens are primarily insect eaters, but suet, peanuts, seed cylinders and mealworms are good substitutes for scarce insects during winter. They can be attracted to your feeders by providing a brush pile close to your feeding area. I have a pine tree and a bushy viburnum to give the birds cover. They feel more secure with a place to seek refuge nearby.

I also have a wren house that it can sleep in at night. A good idea to encourage Carolina wrens to stay and feed in or near your yard is to provide houses or roosting pockets near the bird feeders. Roosting pockets are little shelters, much like birdhouses (but smaller and not meant to be used as a nesting site), where the birds can roost and hide from the wind chill. The combination of roosting pockets and bird feeders during winter is one sure way to attract Carolina wrens in your area. So take a second look at all those brown birds that are visiting. That bossy one is probably a wren.

Related Articles:
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/yAR4pm 
- Quick Fun Facts on Wrens http://bit.ly/v5XVoU
- Surviving Winter, the Bird Way http://goo.gl/SF0Yga
- Roosting Pockets: Warm Shelter from Frosty Winds http://goo.gl/QOPbMw

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

My favorite window feeder

I'm afraid to put up a window feeder because I don't want birds to hit the window.

It's thought that birds hit windows because they try to fly through to the trees they see reflected on the glass surface but do not realize that a hard, transparent surface lies between them and that apparent perch. When a feeder is attached, it helps birds realize there is no fly through before it’s too late. 
Window feeders are exciting because they bring the birds up close for study. Wild Birds Unlimited has Window Feeders that are ideal for offering seeds or seed blends. They are simple to attach to your window with suction cups, are easy to fill and clean, and are backed with a lifetime guarantee.

Two tips: 
1. To enhance suction, a tiny dab of cooking oil may be rubbed on the rim of the cup.
2. To reduce mess, use Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess Blend. This is a blend that has all the shells removed and leaves no mess under the feeder.
Some other tactics to prevent window strikes are:
  • Decals like Window Alert placed on the outside of windows have had 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.
  • Locate feeders and birdbaths about 20-30 feet from windows so birds have time to change direction or within 1-2 feet of them so they can't gather enough speed to cause significant injury when flying to escape a predator.
  • Window screens will reduce injury even if a bird flies into it. Use them where practical.
If you do have a window strike and the bird is injured CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference.
For a list of licensed rehabilitators in mid-Michigan click HERE.
For a complete list of Michigan Licensed Rehabilitators visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/
Or to search for a local wildlife rehabilitation group by zip code at: http://www.wildliferehabber.org/

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

How some birds prepare for winter

Chickadees, nuthatches, some woodpeckers, jays, and crows all plan ahead for those rainy and snowy days. These birds not only eat lunch at our feeders, they also take doggie bags away.

Extra seeds and nuts will be secreted away in the crevices of tree bark, in knotholes, or in the ground for them to retrieve and eat at a later time. They hide hundreds of seeds all over their territory, in a behavior known as scatter-hoarding to help them survive if food sources become scarce.

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. Below is a little more detail on some of your favorite birds' caching behaviors.

  • Cache seeds (in the shell and out), nuts, insects and other invertebrate prey
  • Food is typically cached about 100 feet from feeders
  • May carry off several seeds at a time, but each item is stored in a separate location
  • Store food in knotholes, bark, under shingles, in the ground and on the underside of small branches
  • Prefer to cache nut pieces and hulled sunflower seeds, because they are easier and faster to cache
  • Food is typically cached about 45 feet from feeders
  • Store food in bark crevices on large tree trunks and on the underside of branches
  • Cache sunflower, peanuts and safflower one seed at a time
  • Food is typically cached about 130 feet from feeders
  • 80% of the time seeds are removed from their shell before hidden in tree trunks
  • Cache acorns, peanuts in the shell, and sunflower seeds
  • They can carry several nuts at one time in their esophagus.
  • A single blue jay can cache or hide as many as 5,000 acorns up to 2.5 miles from their original source and retrieve them when needed.
  • Jays cache nuts by burying them singly in the ground in their territory.
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

Monday, November 18, 2019

Best Winter Bird Food

There are a lot of people beginning to bird feed right now. I am asked all the time about the best bird food blends. For mid-Michigan, sunflower seeds and nuts are a favorite for feeder birds. The sunflower seeds, peanuts or tree nuts can be served with or without of the shell, loose or in seed cake form. Lately I've been using a lot of seed cylinders because they are so easy to offer, less messy, and last longer.

I also offer Nyjer Thistle for my finches. Nyjer® (pronounced NYE-jer) is a trademarked name for a little black seed used by the wild bird feeding industry that is favored mainly by the finches. Like most feeder birds, finches also eat sunflower but a separate area with a finch feeder lets flocks of these little birds eat in peace.

And while woodpeckers eat nuts, once again, if I offer a separate area for suet. This allows woodpeckers a place to eat comfortably. Peanut butter suet is my favorite suet. To choose a suet that attracts the widest variety of birds, the first ingredient should always be rendered beef suet. Some people feed straight suet only. If you want to offer more protein and flavor, the next ingredient should usually be peanuts or tree nuts.

Then sometimes I like to treat my birds to some mealworms. Insects like mealworms are naturally a part of many songbirds’ diets. You can feed them separately in a tray feeder or just mix them in with your loose seed blend. Serving dried mealworms with your seed may even attract new species that aren’t attracted to seed alone like bluebirds and robins.

Or if you’d like the benefits of dried mealworms without the extra step of mixing them in with seed, you can also try serving a Wild Birds Unlimited Bugs, Nuts & Berry or Flaming Hot Feast Seed cylinders. These cylinders offer wild bird visitors a bountiful variety of enticing seeds, nuts, and worms to attract a number of species. The ingredients are bound together safely and compactly with gelatin and easily slip on to the Seed Cylinder Feeder. The birds can't scatter the seed and there is no waste or mess to clean up on the ground.

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/bluebird feast


 

Related Articles:
- Filling Up on Fatty Foods http://bit.ly/xbZ9lR
- All-in-one seed cylinder food for the birds! https://Bugs nuts and berries.html
- 10 Winter Finches in Michigan: http://bit.ly/oL3iCF
- 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 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Old world Christmas bird ornaments

I just finished unboxing this year's bird ornaments. Wow, they are gorgeous! I know these beautiful blown glass bird ornaments from the original artwork of the Cobane Studio, in Lake Orion Michigan will disappear fast. I only bring them in once a year.

Birds are considered a universal symbol of happiness and joy and are regarded by many to be a necessity on the Christmas tree. Because bird ornaments were difficult to create, few glassblowing families in Germany specialized in the making of these special pieces. Birds represent messengers of love and are the harbingers of good things to come.

Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing store has a limited selection of hand-blown glass bird ornaments designed by Margaret Cobane, a Nationally recognized Michigan artist. She says, "My fascination with Christmas, nature, gardening and Santa is a recurring subject in much of my work. My designs are created from my love of the season and all of the traditions that are dear to our hearts."

Related Articles:
- How the Christmas Tree tradition started http://goo.gl/hpYcTZ
- Edible ornaments for the birds http://bit.ly/tXDnSB
- Decorate a Tree for Your Birds http://bit.ly/t3QtGV
- The Tradition of feeding the Birds at Christmas Time http://goo.gl/7ODaQ
- When did Reindeer Learn to Fly? http://bit.ly/veTLpT

- Why green, red, and white are Christmas colors http://goo.gl/Swgzv6
- Why do people kiss under the Mistletoe and what is the plant's connection to birds? http://goo.gl/Cmqwvg

Friday, November 15, 2019

Photo Share: Cold robin

Maintaining fluffy feathers, foraging, and eating are the main winter activities of birds that stay in the colder north. For American Robins, fruit, nuts, and berries left on trees and bushes are a welcome sight. Their beaks also poke in leaf litter to find any insects or overwintering larvae. Robins are wanderers in the fall and winter months. They go where there is food and water available. That could also mean heated bird baths or bird feeding stations that offer nuts or mealworms.

Related Articles:
- All-in-one heated bird bath http://heated-birdbath.html
- What to feed birds in the winter http://bit.ly/tfT7Ca
- Where Do Birds Go At Night? http://bit.ly/uoQOBw
- Help Birds Beat Their Winter Woes http://goo.gl/ZlDTw

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mob of big black birds at the feeder

I've had a lot of comments about big black birds descending on the feeders after the recent snow. They are starlings in their winter wardrobe. The European Starlings are year-round residents in Michigan. In the winter you may notice them lining up on the power wires while you drive or thousands of them doing mesmerizing synchronized dances in the sky before dark.

I often get questions on starlings in the winter because they look different with their spots. In the fall after they molt, their new plumage is a glossy iridescent black with white tips, giving the appearance of many stars. By spring the white feather tips have worn away, so that they are a more uniform dark bird. And the Starling in winter has a dark brown beak that changes into yellow as breeding season approaches.

In the winter a starling’s diet switches from bugs and suet to more fruits, nuts, berries and seeds. Their intestines actually lengthen, and the wall of the gizzard increases in thickness to better absorb the nutrients. Like the robin and bluebirds, feeder visits are less frequent for most people in the winter unless there is a winter storm that covers their natural resources.

To deter starlings you can switch up your bird food choices:

- Use pure beef suet with no seeds
- Switch to straight safflower seed: Start by offering safflower gradually, mixing it with the seed you currently use. Over time increase the amount of safflower until you are feeding straight safflower. The seed looks and tastes different from other bird seed, so it may take your birds some time to adjust. Safflower is a small, white seed that is high in protein and fat. Many favorite backyard birds - including cardinals, chickadees, finches, doves, woodpeckers, titmice and nuthatches- savor safflower. Blackbirds, starlings, and squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed.

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

Rule for hanging bird feeders

The magic numbers in hanging a bird feeder is 3 and 30. Windows that reflect the sky and trees around them or that are very transparent can confuse birds, causing them to see a clear flight path, rather than an obstruction.

Prevent collisions by placing feeders either closer than 3 feet or more than 30 feet from a window. A feeder that is 3 feet prevents a bird from building up enough momentum for a fatal collision, while one within 30 feet or more from a window is a safe distance from confusing reflections.

Breaking the reflection of your window helps, too. On the outside of the window place static-cling Window Alert decals that reflect ultraviolet light that is visible to birds, but not to humans—about four inches apart.

Birds are most likely to eat where they feel safe from predators, including free-roaming cats. Place feeders near a brush pile, evergreen tree, or bush. Birds can fly quickly a few feet to reach the safe cover, yet predators cannot use it to hide within striking range of the feeder.


Related Articles: 
- What Month Do You Stop Feeding The Birds? http://goo.gl/wuKbTI
- Keep your feeders clean http://goo.gl/UGfVGT
- Would the birds starve to death if I stopped feeding them? http://bit.ly/xOFgb9
- How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://goo.gl/AdJPBO
- Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds http://goo.gl/vsBxVs
- What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/rTCbHB

Check your seed after snowstorm

What do you do if you have frozen seed in your bird feeder?

I'm sure the sudden 5 inches of wet snow resulted in a lot of frozen seed in Michigan bird feeders. Make sure to always check your feeders after bad weather. Give it a good shake to toss the seed around. If it is too frozen, bring in the feeder, clean it and fill it with new seed.

To prevent the seed from freezing again add Feeder Fresh to the seed. It is a desiccant that absorbs any water that gets into the feeder. The seed flows freely and the birds are happy. You can also add a weather guard to cover the feeder. This also shelters the feeder as well as the birds that are feeding from bad weather.

Related Articles:
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/umlwXg
Prepare Your Yard for Fall Bird Feeding: http://bit.ly/pkJUmW
Do I need to clean my bird feeder?: http://bit.ly/nYKz40
Best foods for birds in winter http://bit.ly/6fkng
How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://bit.ly/tRYvG9

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Backyard Birdsong Guide

I’m so excited one of the most innovative bird books is back in print! The Backyard Birdsong Guide by Donald Kroodsma is the book for any nature lover, both new and experienced. This book is also great in forming a love of birds and bird songs with young people.

So what is so great about this guide? It not only gives you vivid descriptions of birds, their behaviors, and exquisite illustrations and range maps, it also has digital audio of the birds’ calls and songs! It is an audio field guide. Listen to the songs of the most common birds in your area while learning about their habits and hang outs.

Find out what Black-capped Chickadees are thinking as they give their unmistakable namesake call, or why many songbirds have dialects that vary from region to region. Or what about the common House Sparrow? Most human listeners might call their cheep monotonous and tiresome. Yet listen closely and you’ll hear a subtle but treasured variety of cheeps there.

The author Donald Kroodsma discovered birds in a local Michigan marsh during his last semester at Hope College. That summer he attended University of Michigan “Bug Camp” at Pellston, taking both “baby birds” and “big birds” courses simultaneously. He was asked to record a few birds for Cornell’s Library of Natural sounds which started him on a life-long journey to understanding birdsongs.

And as with all Cornell Lab Publishing Group books, 35% of the net proceeds from the sale of Backyard Birdsongs supports projects at the Cornell Lab, such as children’s educational and community programs.

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/Cfgc6b
- How do you become a birdwatcher? http://bit.ly/rquunU
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- What are the Best Binoculars: How to Choose Optics http://bit.ly/vZW26j
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/vUZynL

Monday, November 11, 2019

#VeteransDay: Thank You For Your Service

Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served have sacrificed and done their duty.

We Honor and Thank Veterans for your service.

Related Articles:
Patriotic Red, White and Bluebird http://goo.gl/OQrUY 

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War Pigeon Remembered http://t.co/5yiXSNS
Why is the Dove a Symbol of Peace? http://t.co/Br4EnlB
War Birds http://t.co/t7WJp99

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Birds flock to feeders when snow flies

Watch for birds flocking to the feeders during bad weather. Our first fall cold front is coming in heavy. 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 Seed Cylinders are another way to offer sunflower chips, peanuts, tree nuts, and fruit to all the seed, nut and fruit loving birds. Cylinders are a tidy dining option that a lot of birds will enjoy.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Mourning dove migration

While mourning doves are common at the bird feeder all year-round in Michigan, the doves you see in winter may not the same as the ones you see in summer. Mourning Doves begin to move south from September to November, with immature doves moving first, followed by adult females and then by adult males. Doves that breed in Michigan migrate to wintering grounds in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi or to wintering grounds in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Mourning doves that breed further north migrate through Michigan. Some of these doves winter in Michigan.

They like to feed early in the morning along with the cardinals in the winter and are also usually the last to feed at dusk. They eat a variety of seeds, insects, and berries. They especially like safflower seeds. They stuff their crop until it bulges and then fly off to digest slowly. They'll pick up seeds from the ground unless your feeder has a large perching area for them to feed comfortably.

If a hawk flies by, you see the doves blast off into the air making a whistling sound as it goes. This high-pitched whistle comes from the bird’s powerful wings. It is believed that the whistling is a built-in alarm system, warning others that danger may be near, while simultaneously startling a would-be predator.

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Birds Don't Sweat: http://goo.gl/zerp7

Friday, November 8, 2019

Squirrels furiously preparing for winter

There are several theories about squirrels’ behavior in the fall and the upcoming winter weather. For example, an abundance of overly plump squirrels is alleged to indicate a tough winter to come. A couple other theories indicating exceptionally harsh temps on the horizon include seeing squirrels furiously gathering of food or building nests higher in trees than usual. Unfortunately there is zero hard evidence to back up any of these theories.

But according to the Farmers’ Almanac’s famous long-range weather outlook, it’s going to be a long, cold winter, with plenty of snow.

At a glance:
- Colder-than-normal conditions are predicted with above-normal snowfall predicted for Great Lakes.
- The coldest weather will arrive end of January, with blustery and bitter winds, and widespread snow showers.
- Stormy winter conditions will hang on even through the official start of spring, especially for the East.

Winter food for squirrels include apples, nuts, berries, pinenuts, fungi, as well as food they've put in storage. Some food is cached for short periods, especially those made near the site of a sudden abundance of food which can be retrieved within hours or days for reburial in a more secure site. Others are more permanent and are not retrieved until months later.

Squirrels have very accurate spatial memory for the locations of these caches, and use distant and nearby landmarks to retrieve them. Smell is used partly to uncover food caches, and also to find food in other squirrels' caches. However, scent can be unreliable when the ground is too dry or covered in snow.

If you want to give your squirrels a treat Wild Birds Unlimited makes it easy with a special Wildlife Blend made to feed squirrels in a platform feeder or nut box. Or we have cracked corn, whole corn, corn on the cob, as well as peanut pieces and peanuts in the shell.

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- Why are Squirrels Called Squirrels? http://bit.ly/yhktkr
- How many species of squirrels are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/yYt6Nb
- How high can squirrels jump to bird feeders? http://goo.gl/XuvwNe

- How squirrels remember where they've buried nuts https://goo.gl/65ESYa

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Why I smell snow in the air

I am seeing snow birds (Dark-eyed Juncos) under all the feeders and that means snow is on the way. Yesterday, going in and out of the store loading seed in to peoples' cars, I could actually smell snow in the air. I would describe it as a light, clear scent.

According to a couple sources: Cold weather slows down molecules in the air, and with less molecular activity, certain smells become less pungent. That means “smelling snow” is, in part, just smelling fewer odors outdoors. Then the added humidity right before a snow storm stimulates your trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve allows you to feel things like hot, cold, tingly spice, and cool mint. It is a completely different sensory system, but contributes to what we think of as our sense of smell.

So in the end, you can thank the cold weather, the humidity, and your own nervous system for the unique sensory experience of smelling oncoming snowflakes.

Sources:
https://www.mentalfloss.com/smell-snow
http://physicsbuzz/smell-of-snow.html


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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

How birds choose a nut

Many animals feed on seeds, acorns or nuts with shells.  How do the animals know how much and what quality of food is hidden inside?
For birds that cache food items for later, a new study published in Journal of Ornithology suggests that some birds may be able to "weigh" peanuts and maybe even "shake" peanuts while handling them in their beaks to determine the quality. Drs. Sang-im Lee, Piotr Jablonski, Maciej and Elzbieta Fuszara, the leading researchers in this study, together with their students and helpers, spent many hours delicately opening shells of hundreds of peanuts, changing the contents and then presenting them to the jays in order to see if the birds can figure out the differences in the content of identically looking peanut pods (peanuts in shell).

"When we presented the jays with ten empty and ten full identically looking pods (pods without or with three nuts inside), we noticed that after picking them up the birds rejected the empty ones and accepted the full peanuts, without opening them." says Dr. Sang-im Lee of Seoul National University. A series of similar experiments with identically looking normal nuts and nuts that were 1g heavier (pods with some clay added) confirmed that jays always were able to distinguish and preferred the heavier nuts.

In another experiment the researchers prepared one type of peanut pods by opening the shell, removing two out of the three nuts and closing the shell again. The second type of pod was prepared by opening a small pod, which normally contains only one nut, and closing it. "The jays figured out that the larger pods did not weigh as much as they should and the birds preferred the smaller pods, which weighed as expected for their size," comments Dr. Fuszara. They behaved as if they knew that "something is wrong" with the larger nuts.

So how do they know it? When they shake the nuts in their beaks, the birds produce sounds by opening and closing their beaks around the peanut shell for brief moments. The researchers think that the jays also take this sound into account. "Our next goal is to disentangle the role of sound relative to the perception of "heaviness," and to determine if jays use the same sensory cues for acorns -- their natural food," conclude Dr. Lee and Dr Jablonski.

Story Source:
Materials provided by Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at Seoul National University.

Journal Reference:
  1. Piotr G. Jablonski, Sang-im Lee, Elzbieta Fuszara, Maciej Fuszara, Choongwon Jeong, Won Young Lee. Proximate mechanisms of detecting nut properties in a wild population of Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina). Journal of Ornithology, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s10336-015-1193-6

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Dark-eyed Juncos have arrived!

This male Northern Cardinal thinks the Dark-eyed Junco has gotten way too close to his sunflower seeds and is suggesting that he should keep moving.  Photo by Jocelyn Anderson
I was filling the feeders last night and was happy to see the juncos! 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.


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Monday, November 4, 2019

Why some birds don't migrate

When the snow begins to blow you may wonder what the birds that don’t migrate south for the winter are thinking. Birds are actually very hardy creatures built to withstand cold temperatures as long as they find food.

Birds have many adaptations to help them survive bad weather. 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.

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Sunday, November 3, 2019

Geese are moving around


It’s common to see shifting flocks of Canada Geese in a long, honking, irregular “V” across sky in the fall. Some of these geese wedges are found year round flying to mid-Michigan’s riverbanks, ponds, golf courses and farmlands. They eat aquatic vegetation, grasses and grains. If one area freezes or their source of food is depleted, they fly to more hospitable grounds. From September to November we also see some Canadian and Upper Peninsula geese that do migrate down to the southern U.S.

The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is one of the most recognizable birds in Michigan. At 16-25 inches long with a wingspan of 50-68 inches, both the male and female are large long-necked geese with black bills, black heads and necks with white throat patches that extend up the cheek. The body is brown with a brownish-white breast and belly. At least 11 subspecies of Canada Goose have been recognized and as of 2004 some of the smaller subspecies were designated their own species like the Cackling Goose. Few people realize that, at one time, the very large population of Canada Geese in the Great Lakes region was almost hunted to extinction.

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