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.

Friday, December 13, 2019

13 bird superstitions

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

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

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Birds benefit with sunflower seeds free of shells

Birds will come any feeders with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide  them with the crucial nutrition to survive. Whether it has a shell on it shouldn't effect the number or variety of birds that frequent a feeder.

Benefits of shell free bird seed
The most obvious benefit of shell free bird foods is that the birds are able to eat the food faster and then move to a safe location to digest. Predators won’t have that extra few seconds of distraction while they crack the seed to pounce. There is about twice as much seed in a bag without shells because you aren’t buying the shells. This means it should last twice as long in the feeder. And because no waste birdseed has no hulls, the seeds don’t sprout weeds under the birdfeeders. With less mess, rodents won't be attracted to the area.
What are no-mess seed blends?
A good no-mess blend may also contain nuts or hulled millet; beware blends which promise a "waste-free" experience but contain filler ingredients such as cracked corn, canary seed, or wheat. While these ingredients may not have a shell, they appeal to a very limited group of birds and will often be rejected by the species commonly found in our yards. 

Which no-mess seed should I use?  
All of the no-mess blends we offer have sunflower seeds and peanut pieces without the shell as the first ingredients. Sunflower for all the seed eating birds like finches and peanuts to attract all the bug eating birds like chickadees. Peanuts have a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content to attract a variety of interesting birds.

Our #1 selling Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess LM has a Little Millet (LM) added to attract all the ground feeding birds like the juncos, sparrows, and doves. The hull is removed from the white proso millet so it can’t grow. It is 100% edible.

Our Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess NM has a chopped- up Nutty Mix (NM) added to attract more of the forest birds to the feeder. The Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, pecan, walnut, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. Birds that would head for the peanuts and tree nuts are chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, jays, wrens, robins, bluebirds, warblers and more.
I would recommend both blends highly! We sell at least a couple of tons a week. 

Related Articles:
What seeds wild birds eat http://bit.ly/IET0hP
How to keep moths out of bird seed http://bit.ly/IESK2h
How long does bird seed stay fresh? http://bit.ly/rTLSqJ
Seed Storage Cans http://bit.ly/uBaSwO
The strange journey of the sunflower plant http://bit.ly/uFlz65

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Why the birds aren't on the feeders

Weather and natural food sources will effect how many birds will flock to the feeders.
A mild November and December combined with a good apple, berry, seed and nut crop this year has resulted in fewer birds gathering at our feeders. This is very good news for the birds, a little less for all bird enthusiasts. But after the fruits are consumed and when the snows start to blow, you will start to see the return of the birds. Hopefully, healthier, brighter and in greater numbers!

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Red-headed Woodpeckers experience a 70% decline in population

Red-headed Woodpeckers were once so common that orchard owners used to pay a bounty for them, and in 1840 Audubon reported that 100 were shot from a single cherry tree in one day. In the early 1900s, Red-headed Woodpeckers followed crops of beech nuts in northern beech forests that are much less extensive today. At the same time, the great chestnut blight killed virtually all American chestnut trees and removed another abundant food source. Red-headed Woodpeckers may now be more attuned to acorn abundance than to beech nuts.

Just from 1966 to 2014, they have experienced a 70% decline in population and are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action. The species is also listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. After the loss of nut-producing trees, perhaps the biggest factor limiting Red-headed Woodpeckers is the availability of dead trees in their open-forest habitats and urban areas. Management programs that create and maintain snags and dead branches may help Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Today you can look for Red-headed Woodpeckers in scattered, open woodlots in agricultural areas and in mature stands of forest, especially oak, oak-hickory, maple, ash, and beech.

And if you live nearby they may visit if you have suet, sunflower seeds, corn, acorns, beechnuts, pecans, and many kinds of fruits (including apples, pears, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, mulberries, and poison ivy fruits).

Red-headed Woodpeckers are fairly easy to identify thanks to their large blocks of solid color. Adults have bright-red heads, white underparts, and black backs with large white patches in the wings, making the lower back appear all white when perched.

Red-headed Woodpeckers give all kinds of chirps, cackles, and other raucous calls. Their most common call is a shrill, hoarse tchur, like a Red-bellied Woodpecker’s but higher-pitched and less rolling. To read more and listen to a call go to: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/red-headed_woodpecker/sounds

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

Woodpeckers’ tongues act like a spear

Woodpeckers are well-equipped to pry food out difficult situations. Most people know woodpeckers use their beak like a chisel searching for insect larvae in the barks of trees. But bugs don’t want to get eaten and they tuck tight in tiny crevices to hide. That’s when the woodpecker pulls out a secret weapon, his long, barbed tongue.

Woodpeckers’ tongues act like a spear with sticky barbs that can extend up to 4 inches. The tongue starts out on top of the mouth, passes through the right nostril, between the eyes, divides in two, arches over the top of the skull and around the back part of the skull passing on either side of the neck, coming forward through the lower mouth.

Tiny bones within the entire length of woodpecker's tongue fold up like an accordion. When a woodpecker contracts his muscles the tongue is propelled out of the bill. When the muscles relax the tongue shortens. The woodpeckers' tongue is also super sensitive. It contains muscles that move it side to side as well to search for food and feel for unseen food behind dead wood or in feeders.
Watch the video of woodpeckers in action on a Tail Prop suet feeder: https://youtu.be/EI9a1Wb6duk
Related Articles:
How do I stop woodpeckers from pecking on my house? http://bit.ly/KGItqF
What’s the best suet for Michigan wild birds? http://bit.ly/tcKasp
Hairy Woodpecker vs. Downy Woodpecker http://goo.gl/WMH31
How many woodpeckers are in Michigan? http://goo.gl/P2qRv
How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Raccoons don’t hibernate

The Northern Raccoon (Procyon lotor) is known for its distinctive black mask and night time raids on bird feeders. While raccoons don’t hibernate, those that live in cold climates like Michigan, can hole up in their burrow or under decks for weeks at a time. During their long periods of sleep, raccoons do not eat. Without food, they can lose up to one-half of their total weight! To prepare for these difficult times, raccoons have to bulk up in late summer and fall to survive cold winters.

When they are awake they are always scavenging. The territory of a raccoon can be as large as ten miles. This means he'll usually stay in your yard for a little while and then move on looking for different food, water, and shelter. Of course another one may replace the one that just left your yard or you may be free of raccoons for weeks.

Tip to keep raccoons from Bird Food:

1. Distract them- One scoop of Wildlife Blend in a Ground Feeder usually distracts them away from my bird feeders.
2. Bring feeders in at night- most raccoons and skunks forage at night and if the feeders are put away they will move on faster.
3. Use squirrel proof feeders- The Squirrel Buster Plus feeder deters squirrels, raccoons and large black birds. You can adjust the tension on the spring mechanism to have the feeder ports shut when unwanted guest attempt to feed.
4. Food Choice- Use a birdseed blend that has seeds that the birds in our area like to eat. Some cheaper blends are filled with milo and oats that are just kicked to the ground and left for the rodents to clean up. All of the Wild Birds Unlimited blends are formulated specifically to attract the widest variety of birds in mid-Michigan.
Other Good Food Choices
Pure Beef Suet with no seeds or Hot Pepper suet deters most animals but still attracts a wide variety of woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, and wrens.
Flaming hot seed cylinder  Serving foods that birds like, that is coated in hot pepper, doesn't stop birds but does deter squirrels, raccoons, and deer from lunch at the "bird" feeder.
Safflower seed: 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, raccoons and most squirrels typically refuse to eat safflower seed. Safflower seed cakes and seed cylinders are also available at Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing, MI. 
Nyjer Seed – Nyjer, niger, and thistle are all common names used to identify a tiny black birdseed cultivated in Asia and Africa that is high in calories and oil content, and loved by American Goldfinches and avoided by most raccoons and squirrels.
5. Baffle Feeding station- The long, cylindrical design of our Raccoon Baffle specializes in deterring raccoons as well as chipmunks and squirrels from reaching your feeders. This baffle can be mounted to fit our Advanced Pole System® (APS). If you don't have an APS setup why not? The Basic APS Boxed Setup is an excellent way to get your bird feeding hobby organized. But we also have special wrap around baffles that can go around skinny poles too.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Best Holiday Gift Ideas For the Whole Family!

Backyard bird feeding is a great way to observe wildlife 
and an enjoyable activity for the entire family. 
Seed Cylinder feeder holding a seasonal character seed cylinder block
Who will I attract?
Just a few of the common winter birds attracted to feeders are cardinals, finches, juncos, doves, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, jays, starlings and sparrows.

What’s the best bird feeder?
Any bird feeder you choose should be easy to fill and easy to clean. Seed feeders obviously hold seed and attract a wide variety of seed eating birds. Suet feeders attract bug eating birds like the woodpeckers. Nyjer (thistle) feeders attract the finches. It is also important to keep your feeders filled with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide your birds with the crucial nutrition they need to survive. Studies indicate that Sunflower, Peanuts, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types. Cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo decrease the price per pound of a seed blend and suet but aren't eaten by the birds and are left to rot on the ground.

I also like the Seed Cylinder feeders! It is one of the easiest feeders to maintain and attracts a wide variety of birds. For people that aren't able to get out to fill feeders often during our harsh Michigan winters this seed cylinder feeders are ideal. Depending on bird activity in your yard, a 2lb cylinder can last weeks and a 4.5lb cylinder can last months.

Where should I put the feeder?
The best place to put the feeder is where you can watch the birds easily. Try to find a place that's sheltered from the wind and away from cats and other predators. And the closer your feeder is to the window, the less likely birds will be hurt if they mistake the clear glass as a fly through.

When's the best time to start?
There is no best or worst time to start bird feeding. In general, whenever the birds are stressed they will appreciate a reliable food source. Typically, feeders serve as a supplemental source of food for birds in your yard. Fruit and nut bearing bushes and trees supply a natural food source as well as native flowers, such as coneflowers, black eyed Susan’s, and cosmos that are allowed to go to seed and stand through the winter. In the last couple months of winter the natural sources have gradually become more and more scarce and that's when birds may switch to utilizing feeders to survive from day to day.

How long should I feed them?
If you enjoy feeding birds, there is no reason to stop. You can do it year-round. Feeding the birds throughout the summer will not make them "lazy," or "dependent." Backyard bird feeding is an entertaining and educational pastime that can be enjoyed by children and adults. It provides a needed stress relief and brings families together. There is no designated time to feed the birds. Most people feed year round.

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

Friday, December 6, 2019

Attract winter bluebirds to visit

Eastern Bluebirds gather together in large family flocks starting in August until September after nesting season has ended. These large nomadic groups roost at night in the woods and wander around foraging for food.
Their diet changes from mostly worms and insects to fruit, nuts and berries from trees, bushes, and vines. I like serving a Wild Birds Unlimited Bugs, Nuts & Berry or Flaming Hot Feast Seed cylinder. 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. Or offer a tray feeder full of suet nuggets, mealworms, fruits or nuts along with open water. A heated birdbath may entice large numbers of birds for afternoon drinks and feather preening.
Female bluebird photo by Finiky
We often think of migration as birds traveling thousands of miles south to winter in a tropical climate. That’s true for some birds even some bluebirds. The bluebirds that nested in Canada may skip over Michigan to winter in the southern states, but in mid-Michigan and below, many bluebirds are year-round residents. Scientists think it’s due to genetics whether they want to fly south or winter over. Some birds are compelled to move south and others are not. They all gather in huge family groups in the fall however to increase their survival through the winter.

Related Articles:
What do American Robins eat in the winter? http://bit.ly/wQh59Q
The best heated bird baths http://bit.ly/uIHnB7
Bird of the Week: Eastern Bluebird http://bit.ly/xgm1V4
Ultimate Bluebird House http://bit.ly/A4kliS

The Migration of Eastern Bluebirds http://bit.ly/yCLcQH

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Cardinals bring good cheer

Cherokee legend says the cardinal is the daughter of the sun and if you see one flying upward, you will have good luck. Cardinals also announce "good cheer, good cheer" with their songs which peak in frequency in spring and early summer.

Northern Cardinals always brighten the day. Their red color is easy to spot in a snowy landscape and is often associated with Christmas and the winter season. The cardinals stay in Michigan year-round and don’t migrate. Their population has expanded alongside the growth of the human population.

Historically, cardinals were most numerous in the south eastern portions of USA, but they have been steadily increasing in numbers in northern Michigan into Canada. The western boundary of their range is also spreading from the Dakotas to western Texas with a few cardinal populations in New Mexico, southern Arizona, and California.

The “Cardinal” name was derived from the vivid red plumage of the male, which resembles the robes of the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. The word comes from the Latin cardo, meaning hinge. Something that has cardinal qualities are of the greatest importance; other things hinge around it.

The red robes of church bishops, red holly berries, Saint Nicholas's crimson suit, the beloved red poinsettia, and red amaryllis also bring this bright color into the season as a symbol of life: This year is over, but another is soon to be born.

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Colorful cardinal shaped suet feeder

Add a little whimsy to your yard with this colorful cardinal shaped suet feeder. It is all metal with a red weather-resistant finish. The beautifully decorated, wire mesh body, holds one standard sized suet or seed cake. It can also be used to hold nesting material in the spring. Easy to fill and clean. Includes durable metal hanging chain and hook for easy display.

The red cardinal is easy to spot in a snowy landscape and is often associated with the winter season. That makes this decorative Cardinal designed suet feeder a wonderful gift!

Suet feeders attract many songbirds like woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, wrens, and more!

Related Articles:
- What birds eat suet? http://bit.ly/q2Sfje
- Can I make my own suet? http://bit.ly/rsc1JT
- How do I Attract Woodpeckers? http://bit.ly/o4CLqI
- Filling Up on Fatty Foods: http://bit.ly/ob0NIq 
- Can I feed suet year-round? http://bit.ly/I4Ow8l

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Happy Hooting Season!

Although many birds use song as a mechanism of individual recognition and contact, the primary reason for song especially in males is advertisement of themselves! The male bird sings to declare his individual territory and to attract a mate. There is usually less singing in the winter months because mating for birds is mainly in the spring.

One exception to the rule is owls. Great Horned Owls are one of the earliest birds to nest in our region and one of  my favorite things about December is hearing the first calls of the Great Horned Owls as they begin their courtship. The hooting of the owls becomes noticeable mid-December in Michigan. On a clear night, even in the suburbs where I live, you'll hear the birds calling back and forth usually from midnight until dawn. Their distinctive territorial call, " hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo," can be heard from miles away.

Related Articles:
- Snowy Owls http://bit.ly/ylJmQq
- Eastern Screech Owl http://bit.ly/wMQBZj
- Great Horned Owl http://bit.ly/zmlFqY
- Barred Owl http://bit.ly/yAoDx8
- Great Gray Owl http://bit.ly/tAewYm
- Fun Facts on Owls http://bit.ly/z9q3Dg

Monday, December 2, 2019

Juncos magically appear when it snows

Have the juncos migrated down yet? I haven't seen mine.
The minute the snow starts to fall, Dark-eyed Juncos magically appear under our feeders. All juncos breeding in northern parts of their range migrate south for the winter from August to December. Eighty percent of the females tend to migrate through Michigan to winter farther south while the males winter in Michigan. Males winter further north so they can be the first ones to fly back in the spring to claim the best nesting territory.

Watch for them feeding on the ground, kicking up leaf litter to find a tidbit buried beneath. In the winter Dark-eyed Juncos are primarily seed-eaters, with seeds of grasses, flowers, and weeds, making up about 75% of their diet. At the feeders you will see them eat sunflower seeds, millet, safflower, peanuts and peanut butter suet on feeders that have a large perching area like tray or ground bird feeders.

When the snow comes and buries natural food sources, juncos take advantage of feeders. Seeing them after a snow is one reason their nickname is snowbird. Dark-eyed Juncos are often called “snowbirds,” because their southern migration foretells the return of cold and snowy weather. The snowbird nickname is also attached to the junco because it describes their white belly plumage and slate-colored back, which reflects “leaden skies above, snow below”. They also wake up very early. I see them pecking by my feeders way before the sun rises.

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

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Barred Owls live year-round in Michigan

Barred Owls don’t migrate, and they don’t even move around very much. One study showed that of the 158 birds that were banded and then found later, none had moved farther than 6 miles away.

Barred Owls eat many kinds of small animals, including squirrels, chipmunks, mice, voles, rabbits, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. They hunt by sitting and waiting on an elevated perch, while scanning all around for prey with their sharp eyes and ears. They may also perch over water and drop down to catch fish. They swallow small prey whole and large prey in pieces, eating the head first and then the body. Sometimes they temporarily store their prey in a nest, in the crook of a branch, or at the top of a snag to eat later.

Related Articles:
- Snowy Owls http://bit.ly/ylJmQq
- Eastern Screech Owl http://bit.ly/wMQBZj
- Great Horned Owl http://bit.ly/zmlFqY
- Barred Owl http://bit.ly/yAoDx8
- Great Gray Owl http://bit.ly/tAewYm
- Fun Facts on Owls http://bit.ly/z9q3Dg

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