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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

My Favorite #SquirrelAppeciation video!

Over 50% of the time, after people purchase one of the squirrel-proof feeders here at the East Lansing bird store they come back within the month asking for a feeder to feed the squirrels. People start to feel sorry for the poor, fluffy-tailed, pudgy-wudgy, squirrels. Sometimes they are embarrassed after years of complaining about the wily critters. However, once they purchase the best squirrel-proof feeder from us, they find themselves missing the drama of trying to outwit the squirrels.

Well on January 21, let’s not be embarrassed anymore. That is National Squirrel Appreciation Day and you can celebrate by giving them some Critter food the squirrels love.

I like the squirrels. I have so many in my yard, they pack a pathway in the snow between all the bird feeding stations. More than any kind of wild mammal, they seem comfortable around humans, like outdoor pets. They can be very entertaining too.

And even though I work at a "bird store" I appreciate people that have kind words to share with me about squirrels. That's why one of my favorite videos is one where kind people took the time to not only notice, but help.  A story about a big squirrel and a baby squirrel: https://youtu.be/1jByfWOLmjo 




Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Squirrels are named for their bushy tails https://squirrels-are-named-for tail.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Uncommonly colored Fox Squirrels https:/uncommonly-colored-fox-squirrels-brown.html
#SquirrelAppreciationDay: Why you should celebrate https://why-celebrate.html
How much squirrels eat https://how-much-squirrels-eat.html
Portrait of a Gray Squirrel https://GraySquirrel fun facts.html
 

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Bald Eagle population continues to grow

The Bald Eagle continues to overcome adversity and fascinate nature lovers.

Forty years ago, our national symbol was in danger of extinction throughout most of its range. The Endangered Species Act, the federal government’s banning of DDT, and conservation actions taken by the American public have helped bald eagles make a remarkable recovery.

When America adopted the bald eagle as the national symbol in 1782, the country may have had as many as 100,000 nesting eagles. The first major decline of the species probably began in the mid to late 1800’s, coinciding with the decline of waterfowl, shorebirds, and other prey.

Although they primarily eat fish and carrion, bald eagles used to be considered marauders that preyed on chickens and domestic livestock. Consequently, the large raptors were shot in an effort to eliminate a perceived threat. Coupled with the loss of nesting habitat, bald eagle populations declined.

In 1940, noting that the species was “threatened with extinction,” Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act, which prohibited killing, selling, or possessing the species. A 1962 amendment added the golden eagle, and the law became the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

Shortly after World War II, DDT was hailed as a new pesticide to control mosquitoes and other insects. However, DDT and its residues washed into nearby waterways, where aquatic plants and fish absorbed it. Bald eagles, in turn, were poisoned with DDT when they ate the contaminated fish. The chemical interfered with the ability of the birds to produce strong eggshells. As a result, their eggs had shells so thin that they often broke during incubation or otherwise failed to hatch. DDT also affected other species such as peregrine falcons and brown pelicans.

By 1963, with only 487 nesting pairs of bald eagles remaining, the species was in danger of extinction. In addition to the adverse effects of DDT, some bald eagles have died from lead poisoning after feeding on waterfowl containing lead shot, either as a result of hunting or from inadvertent ingestion.
 
Today, there are almost 10,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the contiguous United States. Bald eagles have staged a remarkable population rebound and have recovered to the point that they no longer need the protection of the Endangered Species Act.

For more information about Bald Eagles, visit All About Birds- the Cornell Lab of Ornithology online bird guide.

Related Articles:
Bald Eagle Information http://t.co/o4ugzs2
Nesting Eagles http://t.co/vpj99ZV
Terrified Geese Have Eyes on the Sky http://t.co/pqsWQqE
Amazing moment bald eagle chases down and catches a starling in mid-air http://t.co/U3CT5Sh
Michigan DNRE asking drivers to watch out for bald eagles http://t.co/A9R33zI

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mutant Chicken with Bird Teeth

Modern birds are characterized by feathers, a beak, and no teeth, although ancient birds did seem to have the pearly whites. Around 300 million years ago, the ancestor of all modern vertebrates gave rise to two lineages, the mammals and the reptiles/birds. The oldest reptiles, such as crocodiles and alligators, had cone-shaped teeth. So did the earliest birds, called archosaurs.

Then, around 80 million years ago, modern birds emerged without teeth. It turns out that while developing a beak, birds lost their teeth.

Normal chick (left), mutant jaw (right) shows teeth
CREDIT: John F. Fallon and Matthew P. Harris
John Fallon of the University of Wisconsin was able to conduct an experiment in 2005 that induced tooth growth in normal developing chickens by tweaking the genes. The chicks were not allowed to fully develop, but their teeth looked like reptilian teeth and shared many of the same genetic traits.

A direct application of this research could be re-growing teeth in people who have lost them through accident or disease.

Source:
The Development of Archosaurian First-Generation Teeth in a Chicken Mutant - http://www.cell.com/current-biology/

Related Articles:

Is there a bird without feathers? http://bit.ly/t9C55s
Types of bird feathers http://bit.ly/w0U1M6
Types of bird bills http://bit.ly/tgfc0q
Did birds evolve from dinosaurs or reptiles? http://bit.ly/vnyzr4

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Yawning is contagious even between birds

WARNING: You are going to yawn by the end of this article! 

Yawning is contagious in humans and some non-human primates. A study investigated the possibility that yawning and stretching was also contagious in birds. The social, flock-living birds were videotaped and the times of all yawns and stretches for each bird were recorded.

Analyses suggest that the clustering of these behaviors is due to social influence. If the birds saw their neighbor stretching and yawning, it cued them to do the same. This study provides the first support for contagious yawning and stretching in a non-primate species in a natural context.

YAWN! 

Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Squirrels are named for their bushy tails https://squirrels-are-named-for tail.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Uncommonly colored Fox Squirrels https:/uncommonly-colored-fox-squirrels.html
Portrait of a Gray Squirrel https://GraySquirrel fun facts.html
How much squirrels eat https://how-much-squirrels-eat.html

Friday, January 17, 2020

Introduction of squirrels to the neighborhood

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
 

Thursday, January 16, 2020

How to celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day!

This winter has been a roller coaster ride for backyard bird watching. 2020 started with unseasonably high temperatures, heavy rains, sleet, and snow storms, all in the same day. These weather conditions definitely impact bird feeder activity. One week I'm looking at a full feeder and no birds and the next day the feeder is empty within an hour!

The good news is I've begun to see birds getting excited as the days lengthen. Increased birdsongs and aggressive behaviors are a couple ways birds respond physiologically to environmental cues. January and February is also the time we begin to see squirrel chases and dance competitions to determine dominance.

Squirrels also have another reason to dance. January 21 is Squirrel Appreciation Day! To treat the squirrels on their special day you can give them your apple cores, maybe with a little peanut butter. Or you can also pick up some Wildlife blend, or peanuts at Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing store
today.

I'm sure the squirrels are pretty pleased with themselves that their cuteness warranted them an appreciation day. Just don't tell them that all of February is National Birdfeeding Month.

Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Squirrels are named for their bushy tails https://squirrels-are-named-for tail.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Uncommonly colored Fox Squirrels https:/uncommonly-colored-fox-squirrels.html
Portrait of a Gray Squirrel https://GraySquirrel fun facts.html
How much squirrels eat https://how-much-squirrels-eat.html
 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Michigan Squirrel Species

There are eight members of the squirrel family living in mid-Michigan. They are all omnivores (eating seeds, insects, fruit, and nuts) except the woodchuck which is an herbivore (eating grasses and dandelions).

1. Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger)
Usually observed in yards or traveling electric lines. They range from 18-27 inches from head to tail, and are the largest tree squirrel to be found in our Michigan neighborhoods. Their color can vary, but they are generally cinnamon colored with a tan underside.

2. Gray Squirrel (Scierus carolinensis)
This large tree squirrel measuring 16-20 inches is slightly smaller than the Fox Squirrel. Color varies from white to gray to red to black and to sometimes patchy. They are generally black in the East Lansing area. It spends most of its life in the trees of suburban yards and parks.

3. Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
Known to many Michigan tree-stand hunters as the "Tattle-tail of the Forest", this small tree squirrel is easily identified by to its small size of 12-15 inches from nose to tail, making them slightly larger than a chipmunk. Their size might make you think that they are a juvenile fox squirrel, but this is not the case. Their color is a solid reddish brown with a whitish underbelly.
.
4. Northern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) and
5. Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans)
The flying squirrel is rarely seen due to their nocturnal habits. Northern (7-9”) and Southern (5-7”) Flying Squirrels appear nearly identical but for their size and range. This species can be identified by its flattened tail and the excess web of skin that is between its front and rear legs. These squirrels don’t actually fly but glide from the top on one tree to the trunk of the next.

6. Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus)
Found throughout Michigan, this small (6-8in) ground squirrel is reddish brown with a white racing stripe bordered by two black stripes down its side. Its loud “chip, chip, chip” can be heard as it forages for seeds, insects, fruit and nuts. During the winter it is a light hibernator that wakes every 2-3 weeks and eats from its stash stored in its elaborate tunnels system underground.

7. Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus)
Similar in size (6-8”) and look to an Eastern Chipmunk but has smaller ears and 13 alternating tan and dark brown stripes from nape to base of the tail. It’s also called a Federation Squirrel because the dark stripes have tan spots that resemble stars and stripes of a flag. It is a true hibernator from September to October. They like to live in pastures, meadows, prairies, and fields.

8. Woodchuck (Marmota monax)
The name Woodchuck is said to come from the Cree Indian word wuchak which means little brown animal. Common in fields, pastures, and woodlands, the woodchuck (18-28”) is the largest member of the squirrel family. The woodchuck does not like wood but eats leafy green vegetation and especially likes dandelions. It also burrows like the Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel and is a true hibernator.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Squirrel teeth

I teach grade I and have a lesson on squirrels and there is a question How does squirrels eat? I would like to know the answer to this with its sharp teeth. or nibble or gnaw . Please reply. Thanks

Baby squirrels do not have teeth or hair. They are blind for the first six to eight weeks of life. Until the babies are about two months old, they drink only mother’s milk. After that, they learn to forage with their mother.

Squirrels need approximately two pounds of food per week. Most squirrels are considered omnivores. They are opportunistic and will eat almost anything.

Their diet mainly includes a variety of seeds, fruit, nuts, berries, pinecones, mushrooms, tree sap, leaves, flowers, insects, mice and eggs. To eat their food, squirrels use a combination of gnawing and grinding.

Squirrels’ teeth are typical of rodents in their ability for gnawing. They have two incisors on the top and two on the bottom jaw that will grow continuously, but stay short due to the constant wear they receive. The incisors are sharp-edged teeth located in the front of the mouth adapted for cutting or gnawing. Squirrels’ teeth have orange-colored enamel on the outside and exposed dentine on the inside, so they self-sharpen during gnawing.

Squirrels do not have canines, or fang teeth. Behind the incisors they have a large gap called diastema. Squirrels can suck their lips into this space and gnaw and not worry about swallowing inedible debris. Squirrels also have premolars and molars similar to humans. These cheek teeth have roots, and stop growing when they become adults. The premolars and molars in the upper and lower jaw grind up food before its swallowed.

The Red Squirrel, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and Eastern Fox Squirrel are all active year-round, but may stay in their nest several days during extreme hot or cold weather. They like to bury large amounts of nuts to feed on in the winter. And some studies show that 85% of these nuts are eventually recovered.

Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Bird "Goosebumps" https://bird-goosebumps.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Uncommonly colored Fox Squirrels https:/uncommonly-colored-fox-squirrels-brown.html
Birds sleep in short bursts https://birds sleep in short bursts.html
How much squirrels eat https://how-much-squirrels-eat.html
 

Monday, January 13, 2020

Squirrel house plans


Experienced squirrels know how to build leaf dreys and locate tree hollows of mature trees to survive Michigan’s harsh winters. However in our manicured world, suitable trees may be few and far between. That is when sheds and attics begin to look like a good shelter to a squirrel.

To help provide appropriate habitat for squirrels, place a nestbox 18 to 20 feet from the ground on the east or south side of the tree. You can make a squirrel house (Squirrel House Dimensions) or purchase a Screech Owl Box for Fox and Gray Squirrels or a Woodpecker box for Red and Flying Squirrels.

Squirrels are always a little squirrely but right now they are even happier for a couple of reasons. First it has been a mild winter and spring is just around the corner. Fox squirrels can mate any time but generally begin to get frisky in January and February and again in May and June.

Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Bird "Goosebumps" https://bird-goosebumps.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Uncommonly colored Fox Squirrels https:/uncommonly-colored-fox-squirrels-brown.html
Birds sleep in short bursts https://birds sleep in short bursts.html
How much squirrels eat https://how-much-squirrels-eat.html
 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Blackbirds make appearance during the winter

I have 2 red wing blackbirds at my feeder every day since fall. I thought they were migrating birds. Do you have these at your feeders also? I've noticed they are not chasing the finch birds away either.


Snow speckled Red-Winged Blackbird singing in a light squall.

While not common, Red-winged Blackbirds have been known to make appearances during the wintertime. Blackbirds usually leave Michigan soon after nesting season is over but they don't have to. Most fly to the southern and central states in huge male or female flocks, where they are abundant especially on farms.

But I also had some redwings at my feeder this winter. Warmer temperatures and a greater supply of food and water could be some reasons a few Red-winged Blackbirds are still around. The cold doesn't bother them as long as they can find enough food. Perhaps it is another result of climate change.

They are probably young males trying to stick it out so they will be the first ones back to claim a nesting territory in late Feb or early March.

You can view the normal Range Map at: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-winged_Blackbird/id

Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Bird "Goosebumps" https://bird-goosebumps.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Birds can predict bad weather https://sudden-activity-at-bird-feeder.html
Birds sleep in short bursts https://birds sleep in short bursts.html
Why are they named Red-bellied Woodpeckers? https://why woodpecker-called-red bellied.html
How birds can survive in winter storms https://how-birds-survive-in-winter.html

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Migratory birds may return to the same place year after year

Birds are one of the freest creatures on the planet, able to fly anywhere at anytime with nothing to bind them to any single location. And yet birds, like humans, are creatures of habit and bird banding studies have shown that many of our winter birds, such as Dark-eyed Juncos and native sparrows, utilize the same wintering location year after year.

With a potential lifespan of over 10 years, it is likely that the Junco gleaning millet off of the ground below one of your feeders has spent many previous winters as your loyal backyard guest. And recent research shows, that is only half the story!

These birds are not only loyal to a specific location, but also to a single feeder! The study showed that the only time they abandoned their favorite feeder was during periods of cold weather when the feeder was placed in a location too exposed to the wind.

So help your birds stay loyal and warm by locating your feeders in a sheltered location or offer roosting or bird houses. Once you have prepared a safe and sheltered location, be sure to fill your feeders with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide your birds with the crucial nutrition they need to survive the coldest month of the year.
 
Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Bird "Goosebumps" https://bird-goosebumps.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Birds can predict bad weather https://sudden-activity-at-bird-feeder.html
Birds sleep in short bursts https://birds sleep in short bursts.html
Why are they named Red-bellied Woodpeckers? https://why woodpecker-called-red bellied.html
How birds can survive in winter storms https://how-birds-survive-in-winter.html
 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Wild birds don't diet

In the beginning of the year many of us are thinking about how to lose some of those extra holiday pounds. Maybe we’ll commit to exercise more and promise ourselves to watch what we eat by cutting down on fatty foods. .

But for the birds, winter is the time when high fat foods become more critical in a bird’s diet. Every night up to three-quarters of a bird’s fat reserves are used up; reserves that must be replenished the next day. When fat reserves are depleted, protein — mostly scavenged from muscle tissue — is depleted to keep up with energy needs.

Keeping your feeders filled with high energy, high fat foods can provide your birds with the critical nutrition they need to survive.

Conscientious birders regularly clean their feeders. If feeders get too dirty, they can become clogged, and wet or spoiled seed can transmit diseases that can spread to an entire flock. Dirty feeders are also more susceptible to damage and wear, requiring more frequent repairs or replacement.

Ideally, you should thoroughly clean all feeders at least once a month—more often for those that receive heavy traffic. A solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water works great for sanitizing, or you can use commercial cleaning mixtures or a mild solution of unscented dish soap. Be sure to wipe down perches, poles and other parts of the feeder as well.

Related Articles:

How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Bird "Goosebumps" https://bird-goosebumps.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Birds can predict bad weather https://sudden-activity-at-bird-feeder.html
Birds sleep in short bursts https://birds sleep in short bursts.html
Why are they named Red-bellied Woodpeckers? https://why woodpecker-called-red bellied.html
How birds can survive in winter storms https://how-birds-survive-in-winter.html
 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Birds need help during a major winter storm

If ice sticks around for 2 or 3 days, birds can starve to death. When ice coats the seeds and berries in the wild, the birds can’t eat them. And when the temperature dip and there are high winds, birds expend a lot more energy. At those times, birds view your feeders as their emergency source of food.
During a storm you will see birds flock to feeders to build up their energy reserves. A seed blend with sunflower seeds and peanuts is great to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content.
 
Suet or seed cylinders are also invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm.
Feeders usually serve only as a supplemental source of food for birds in your yard. Only during cold, long, severe winter weather do your birds utilize feeders as the critical source of food that enables them to survive the day.
 
When they aren’t eating they are also searching for protection from the elements in compact bushes, evergreens and in other natural plant cover. You can help by placing bird houses or roosting pockets in a sheltered area.
 
Water also helps. 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. 

Related Articles:
Common winter birds in Michigan and their food preference: http://bit.ly/yp9YQA
How to choose the best suet cake http://bit.ly/xATYPQ
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/qizlNh
How to winterize your bird feeding station http://bit.ly/xucuF8
Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/vZ6gzM
Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds http://goo.gl/C3mFuD 

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Snowy Owls visit in the winter

Snowy Owls are yearly visitors to Michigan, but their numbers can fluctuate quite dramatically. When the lemming and vole populations are very high in the north the survival rate of Snowy Owls is high. These higher numbers of owls result in many first year males venturing south in search of food. You are likely to see snowy owls in open country during the winter, including prairies, farmland, coastal marshes, waters edges and large airports.

The Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) is a large, yellow-eyed, black billed white bird that is recognized easily. It is about 2 feet tall with a 4–5 foot wingspan and can weigh over 6 pounds. The adult males are very white, while the females and young birds have some dark scalloping on their feathers. Their heavily-feathered taloned feet, thick feathers and coloration make the Snowy Owl well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle in temperatures as low as 40° F below zero.

If you see one perched on a telephone pole or on your roof during the day, that’s OK, Snowies are diurnal. This means unlike other owls; the snowy owls are active and hunt during the day as well as the night. Snowy owls can hear the pitter patter of prey beneath 10 inches of snow. They feed primarily on lemmings in the Arctic tundra during the breeding season and eat other rodents, fish and some birds during the winter.

Snowy owls are monogamous generally but can choose a new mate each season. Their courtship behavior begins in midwinter until March or April. The males try to attract females by flying in an undulating manner sometimes with prey in their mouth. Then on the ground the male turns his back to the female, fluffs up his feathers, spreads his tail feathers to impress the females. If this is not enough, the males also kill and display prey to the females.

After a mate is chosen the female scrapes a shallow nest in the ground. Every 2 days the she lays an egg. The average clutch is 3 to 11 white eggs, depending on prey availability. Males often “hoot” to defend their territory. They also make many other calls, including a “rick, rick, rick”, a “kre kre kre”, a mewing and a hiss. These calls are often used by an adult that is defending a nest.

After about a month of incubation, one chick covered in snowy white down, hatches about every two days. Both parents feed and protect the chicks for 5 to 7 weeks until they are able to hunt for themselves.

Once nesting is complete they do not remain in pairs but become solitary and territorial. The average lifespan of these magnificent birds is 10.8 years.

Related Articles:

Fun Facts on Owls http://bit.ly/t6elFd
What is the largest owl in Michigan? http://bit.ly/tAewYm
How Can Owls Fly Silently? http://bit.ly/sAQxy8
Amazing Vocals of the Barred Owl http://bit.ly/sguMqL
Small Michigan Owl Visits Neighborhood http://bit.ly/tlzaoN
An owl can turn its head up to 270 degrees http://bit.ly/vTQWOg

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

How mild winter weather impacts birds and squirrels

You may have noticed that it hasn't been as active at the bird feeders compared to last year. That is because December was much warmer than usual and there was hardly any snow.
How mild winter weather impacts birds:

• Birds will forage away from feeders when winters are mild and there is no snow or ice to cover up abundant natural plant seeds, fruits, nuts, or berries.

• Birds need to consume fewer calories during warmer temperatures because they expend less energy maintaining their body temperature.

But when the weather does turn cold, birds immediately return to the feeders for a quick bite and then return to a roosting spot to conserve energy.


• Even if the birds aren't feasting as much as usual, they still take notice of feeders for when the weather turns.

• Long nights and snowy days will drive backyard birds to return to the feeders for supplemental food to help them survive.

How mild winter weather impacts squirrels:

Thanks to unseasonably warm winter weather and lack of snow it has been easier for squirrels to sniff out food, and also expend less energy to keep warm. While they normally might be hunkered in a den this time of year, instead of continuously foraging.

Squirrels should suffer no ill effects because of the added weight and will naturally lose the extra pounds by spring. 

Related Articles: 
- Squirrel proof bird feeder reviews http://bit.ly/waJs9o 
- How do I keep squirrels off my bird feeders? http://bit.ly/yiZsML 
- 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
- Found! New squirrel species discovered. http://goo.gl/LUxzA

Monday, January 6, 2020

How to get your window feeder to stick


Little Red Squirrel rumps,
while not exactly welcome, don't tumble a feeder
The fox squirrels and I have an agreement. They knock on the door, I toss them a handful of Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess blend “bird” seed. In return they’ll keep their chunky little selves off my window feeder. Unfortunately yesterday was quite busy. One fox squirrel knocked on the door. I signaled to him that I would just be a minute. However, I must need a course on squirrel communication because the next thing I know the window feeder is hanging by one of the three suction cups and a squirrel is sprawled on the window sill giving me an accusatory look that said, “I thought we had a deal!”

I tried to just push the suction cups back up but they were shot. I tossed the squirrel the rest of the food in the feeder and brought the feeder in for a thorough cleaning. To get the suction cups to re-stick I have a couple tricks.

How to get your window feeder to stick
1. Wash feeder - I washed the feeder and gave it a good scrub.
2. Suction cups in hot water - I put a shallow dish of water in the microwave for 1 minute, opened the door and placed the suction cups in the hot water for a couple minutes. This will help “reset” the plastic and make it more flexible.
3. Wash Window - Then I washed the window while waiting for the suction cups to become more elastic. Any grit on the suction cup or window will interfere with the seal.
4. Warm Window - Suction cups adhere better to warm windows. As the weather turns colder you will have to wait until the sun hits the window or use a hair drier to warm the glass.
5. Grease cups - Next I dried the suction cups and wiped a little vegetable oil over the suction cup and wiped it off. Don't use water to stick the feeder to the window. It will just pop off when the water freezes and thaws. Push the suction cups against the window and force out any air bubbles behind the cup.
6. Wait before filling - I let the suction cup part of the feeder rest for an hour before I refilled the feeder with seed.

Today the feeder is full of birds! Window feeders are super fun and make it easy to observe birds up close. Right after my little incident happened a school called with the same problem of not being able to get the window feeder to stick. So I decided to share my experience. https://youtu.be/l5gvoF1Id78

Related Articles:
Squirrel comes a knocking http://squirrel-at-door.html
Which seeds are preferred by wild birds? http://bit.ly/tZKjjf
Close-up of oriole at the window feeder: http://bit.ly/rIMsv2
Hummingbirds at the window: http://bit.ly/s5Y3WJ
What says eh-eh, yank-yank? http://bit.ly/vvh2lm
A window feeder entertains indoor cats http://window-feeder-is-best.html