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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Help the birds nesting in your yard

You will begin to see a lot of new faces at the feeders at the end of May and the beginning of June. Many of the birds that nest in Michigan are bringing their first batch of babies to visit baths and feeders and teaching them to forage for food.

This has been a particularly tough spring for the birds. I know the some people are complaining about the numbers of starlings and blackbirds at the feeders this year due to the cold weather. But then they are happy about the extra numbers of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Scarlet Tanagers, warblers, bluebirds, and orioles that are also hungry this year.

Thankfully it looks like the cold weather is finally going to leave us for a while. The rains and now the warm weather brings a lot of bugs, a favorite food for many growing families. And vegetarians like the American Goldfinches are also enjoying soft spring leaves as well as a plethora of dandelion and grass seeds.

But, don’t forget to keep your feeders clean for healthy birds. And provide an area with a birdbath. Water is a powerful attraction and will increase the number and variety of birds coming to your yard. In fact parent birds will often bring babies to the bird bath as their first road trip.

Related articles:
- Can birds become dependent on bird feeders? http://goo.gl/GZYpke
- Do we stop feeding suet in the summer? http://bit.ly/GKWSRt
- Feeding Baby Birds http://bit.ly/GSHKwY
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://bit.ly/GKYw5q

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

How long orioles stay in Michigan

I'm not getting as many orioles anymore. Where are they?

Baltimore Oriole chick from Wikimedia Commons
When orioles arrive in the spring they are super hungry. The diet of the Baltimore Oriole consist of insects, fruits, and flower nectar. After a long migration they take advantage feeders that offer orange halves, grape jelly, sugar water, suets, or mealworms.

Males arrive around the end of April in mid-Michigan and the females follow a couple weeks later. Males immediately start to court potential mates. Once the birds pair up the female goes to work on building a nest usually around the end of May. Building the nest takes about a week, but windy or rainy weather may push this as long as 15 days. By mid-June she will be incubating about four eggs for a couple weeks. Then the babies hatch and both male and female will feed the little chicklets for a couple weeks in the nest.

During this time males continue to visit your feeders if you are near their nesting territory but the females on the eggs will visit less often. But always keep your feeders clean and full of fresh foods. By the end of June if everything has gone as planned, a lot of orioles will come back and bring the new kids. And the babies' reaction to getting their first taste of jelly is priceless!

July is the last hurrah. Orioles begin to molt and prepare to migrate south. Peak migration south is August and September. October through February most orioles hang out in the tropics. Then in March and April some orioles begin moving north again.

Related Articles: 
- Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
- Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
- Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
- When can I expect my orioles to arrive? http://goo.gl/OHrCc

Monday, May 20, 2019

Best bird bath placement

How close does their water need to be from the food. What type of a water pan is best. I have two, but the dove that I have keeps it pretty dirty. What should I do. I love my wild finch. 

Place the bird bath where you can watch it and refill it easily. Birds are very dirty. When they take a bath or sip from the edge they are taking on weight. So before they fly away they usually turn around and unload a poopy in the bath to make them lighter. I try to change the water at least every other day.

Baths can be near a feeder (but not close enough to get seed scatter) or far away. Birds will go where you place the water high or low, near or far. Finches especially like water. They are mainly seed eaters and need water to wet their whistle.

The best bowl has a nice edge to perch on, a gradual dip to the middle which is no deeper than 2 inches, and a textured bottom. A rock in the middle or a stick across a bath will help if your bath is too slick or too deep.

I have multiple baths that are different sizes and at different levels. That way the dove can sit and digest in one and allow the finches to utilize one of the others.

Related Articles:
Best way to keep bird bath clean https://keep-bird-bath-clean.html
Why Birds Preen http://bit.ly/wcoC9d
What kind of bird bath is the best? http://goo.gl/tXz65
Do Birds Sip or Slurp? http://bit.ly/yAHTTV
Why is bird poop white? http://goo.gl/zQXiT

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Cooperation among different species of birds is common

Sometimes at the feeders it can look like a bird-eat-bird world out there. I'll see many scrabbles as birds wing their way in at the feeder and establish a pecking order or like last night when a hawk literally flew in for bird take-out. But as the hawk barreled in to the scene, the Blue Jay immediately began calling out the alarm.

Jays aren't the only birds that give warnings.
A study published in the Journal Science a few years ago demonstrated how black-capped chickadees embed information about the size of predators into their calls. When faced with a high-threat raptor perched nearby, the birds not only call more frequently, they also attach more dee’s to their call. Studying the phenomenon, it was found birds have a “distant early-warning system” in which the alarm calls are picked up by other birds and passed through the forest at more than 100 miles per hour.

New studies confirm that cooperation among different species of birds is common. Some birds build their nests near those of larger, more aggressive species to deter predators, and flocks of mixed species forage for food and defend territories together in alliances that can last for years. In most cases, these partnerships are not between specific individuals of the other species, any bird from the other species will do.

By interacting with other birds that share the same territory instead of working against them, bird species create a larger group to help defend their territory and ward off intruders. In other words, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

When Birds Squawk, Other Species Seem to Listen
Song recognition and heterospecific associations between 2 fairy-wren species 

Related Articles:
- Hawks and hummingbirds http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2017/08/hawks-and-hummingbirds.html

- New blue-eyed owl discovered by MSU researcher http://goo.gl/4FdZYR
- New MSU Study: Biofuel grasslands better for birds than ethanol staple corn http://goo.gl/D2yODK
- Free Downloads of Bird Sounds from Around the World via MSU http://goo.gl/ZKEKmk
- Black Squirrels’ history begins at MSU http://goo.gl/Ryxnqx

Saturday, May 18, 2019

How hummingbirds find feeders

Hummingbirds find feeders by sight. If they come down to investigate flowers and then see a feeder they will investigate. Eating from a feeder isn't innate, it is a learned behavior. You may see them approach a new feeder and fly away only to approach it again a few minutes later. Keep the feeders fresh and full of the proper nectar solution and then be patient. Hummingbirds have an outstanding memory. Once they figure out you are offering a reliable source of nectar, you will have a loyal customer.

A hummingbird's brain is very large in comparison to their body size. They know every flower in their territory and how long it will take each flower to produce more nectar. And yes that is probably the same hummingbird that comes back year after year to your feeder. They remember where each and every hummingbird feeder is, both at home and along a migration path.

Weather is also a big factor in how long it takes for hummingbirds to find a feeder. A good, wet spring that produces nectar filled blooms and protein packed bugs means there will be less activity at hummingbird feeders. Drought years are the hardest for the hummingbirds and you will notice instant attraction to feeder feeding as they attempt to find additional reliable food sources.

At the end of summer I watch the bumbling baby hummers jump from flower to flower, feeder to feeder, red chair to red hat, as they learn how to forage. Hummingbirds have been observed watching older hummingbirds to learn some tricks and tips. They also learn which people are the ones responsible for filling hummingbird feeders, and which ones don't.

If you put up a new feeder, it may be an instant hit or it may take them awhile to figure it out. But continue to keep the feeder clean and the nectar fresh even if you see no activity. In late summer it gets hot and activity always increases. At the end of June there are hopefully twice as many hummingbirds and you'll see momma and babies visit along with migrating hummingbirds as they bulk up to fly south.

Related Articles:
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://goo.gl/MK3AU
Fun Facts about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds http://goo.gl/jcjcr
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/L4yY3i
Why the color on a hummingbirds’ throat flashes http://bit.ly/JZ31qX
When did people start to feed hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR

Friday, May 17, 2019

Photo Share: Upside Down suet feeder in action

Q: What do you call a Downy Woodpecker feeding from the EcoTough Upside-down Suet Feeder?

A: An upside-"downy" 😆😂🤣

I wish I could take full credit for this one but it was all Chuck Brewer. I just took the video so I could tell the joke 😂.

Yours to share if you like. https://Upside-down suet feeder in action
If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Baltimore Oriole females

Orioles are such bright birds to have during the summer. Females are less noticeable and can vary in coloring. Some are yellow and some are more orangy. The Baltimore oriole girls are yellow-orange on the breast and have gray-brown wings with two bold white wing bars.
Male and female Baltimore Oriole at Wild Birds Unlimited oriole feeder

Females show up a week after the males and if you're lucky you'll get to see the boys chasing the girls around trying to make a good impression.

Immature orioles also can vary in looks. It takes over a year for them to reach adult plumage and some boys even resemble the females.

Males stake out a territory with elms, maples, cottonwood, willow, or apple trees that can hold a tear drop shaped nest 25 to 30 feet in the air. Some other courtship displays include bowing, to show off the bright orange front and black back, and singing. Once the chooses a mate, she builds a nest with little or no help from the male.

Related Articles:
- Facts on the Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GzSTbi
- Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
- Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
- When can I expect my orioles to arrive? http://goo.gl/OHrCc

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Why haven't I seen any hummingbirds?

Hummingbirds are truly one of the most fascinating groups of birds on the planet and it’s not too late to put up a feeder! Hummingbirds don’t need feeders to survive, but they might appreciate a reliable source of food with this cold spring we’ve been experiencing. Also these incredible little birds are fascinating to watch and a hummingbird feeder can bring them up close.

When they aren’t at the feeder, hummingbirds find nectar from a variety of flowers as well as sap from trees. Throughout the day a hummer drinks more than half its body weight in nectar. But that pointy hummingbird bill isn’t only for lapping nectar; it’s also made for snatching bugs out of the air. They use the flexible tip of their bill to capture insects and insect eggs from the ground and on plants. They love spiders and spider eggs.

Early spring birds are still establishing territories. Make sure your nectar is fresh and clean your feeders once or twice a week for the best results. Visits may be less frequent until females begin to incubate their eggs in June. Then they will appreciate quick bites at the feeders between sittings. You can also put out a Wild Birds Unlimited's Natural Cotton Ball Nesting Material to line their nest.

Related Articles:
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://goo.gl/MK3AU
Fun Facts about Ruby-throated Hummingbirds http://goo.gl/jcjcr
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/L4yY3i
Why the color on a hummingbirds’ throat flashes http://bit.ly/JZ31qX
When did people start to feed hummingbirds?: http://bit.ly/o8Y8HR

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Scarlet Tanagers moving through Michigan

If you have ever seen a brilliant flash of red, impossibly brighter than a cardinal, most likely you caught a glimpse of one of Michigan's neotropical migrants, the Scarlet Tanager. Over 250 species of tanagers can be found in South America. The scarlet tanager is the only one of these species to summer in Michigan.

As their name implies, the males are a bright scarlet red with black wings during the breeding season, while the females tend to be a more camouflaging olive-green. They prefer to live in mature forests with a high percentage of oaks foraging for caterpillars, moths and beetles.

Scarlet tanagers are considered very beneficial to humans because they consume many insect pests. Some people have even called them the "guardians of the oaks". During migration in the spring and fall keep your eye out for them as they stop in your yard for suet and drink breaks.

Related Article:
A scarlet bird that is yellow https://-scarlet-bird-that-is-yellow.html
What is That Red Bird with a Black Head? http://bit.ly/L4tpl5
Black and White Bird with Red Head http://bit.ly/JFQDAq
Black and White Bird with Red Chest http://bit.ly/JXmkBC
Sexually dimorphic Northern Cardinals: Why male and female cardinals are a different color http://bit.ly/JFQXiw

Monday, May 13, 2019

Gray catbird call

Gray Catbird photo from Wikimedia Commons
May is a busy time with local birds nesting and a number of species still migrating through mid-Michigan. We had a lot of customers talking about the catbirds showing up. One family calls them their toupee bird because of the black cap of feathers. Another person noted the rufous rump on the bird.

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) get their name from the catty mew calls it produces. Their genus name Dumetella is based upon the Latin term dūmus (small thornbush-dweller) which refers to the species' habit of singing when hidden in undergrowth. Listen for the distinctive mew call of the Gray Catbird, or for its imitation of several species during a long, seemingly improvised series of notes at the top of a dense, tangled thickets.

In summer, Gray Catbirds eat mainly ants, beetles, grasshoppers, midges, caterpillars, and moths. They also eat native fruits from trees and shrubs such as dogwood, winterberry, and serviceberry. You may see catbirds at the jelly and fruit feeders you put out for the orioles and also at the suet, nut and mealworm feeders.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Photo Share: Cape May Warbler at Tollgate Wetlands during migration

I saw this bird on Tuesday at the Tollgate Wetlands in Groesbeck. It was gone Wednesday. It is a great place to enjoy migration, especially for those who can’t travel elsewhere.
Photo of Cape May Warbler male by Laura Millmore
Thank you for sharing your gorgeous photo! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Cape May warblers nest mainly in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. They like the mature forests that are at least 50 years old for a secure nesting habitat. But as they migrate through mid-Michigan from May until June, you may see them at your suet, fruit or nectar feeders as well as your bird bath.

The Cape May's semi-tubular tongue is unique among wood warblers and allows them to feed on flower nectar while wintering in the tropics and during migration.

They are named after Cape May, New Jersey, where Alexander Wilson first described them. But after that first time, Cape May Warblers were not recorded in Cape May for more than 100 years. 

Related Articles:
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Michigan's Kirtland's Warbler Continues to Exceed Recovery Goal http://goo.gl/Q3xQ0
Small Mysterious Black & White Bird Visits Mid-Michigan http://goo.gl/VOl3s
When is bird migration over? http://goo.gl/1Fiq6
Blackpoll Warbler: Greatest warbler migrant http://goo.gl/GcST

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Big black bird in the lawn

The Common Grackle is a large black bird with yellow eyes and iridescent purple and bronze head feathers. When naturalists first came to explore North America it was difficult to determine to which genus grackles belonged. In between the size of a crow and starling, the common name, grackle, came from gracula, which is Latin for the Jackdaw or small crow.

They are resourceful foragers. In Michigan, Common Grackles thrive on bugs, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, frogs, salamanders, mice, and other birds like sparrows around farms, fields and large lawns. They sometimes follow plows to catch bugs that are exposed, pick leeches off the legs of turtles, steal worms from American Robins, or saw open acorns with the hard keel on the inside of the upper beak.When they first arrive they are very hungry and eat a variety of seeds and suets from bird feeders.
Related Articles: https://youtu.be/0M0dtVw9yjw
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   - How to keep grackles away: http://bit.ly/Q1q0GI
   - Why is the blackbird associated with evil and ill omens? http://bit.ly/OzhBtb
   - When black birds fly south http://bit.ly/Q1qDAk
   - Bird Basics: How are birds classified? http://bit.ly/Q1reSr

Friday, May 10, 2019

What to do if you find an abandoned fawn

A thicket, a patch of tall grass and a quiet spot in your back yard – all places that fawns have been found. For the first few weeks of a white-tailed deer fawn’s life, its mother will hide it in secluded locations. This behavior helps reduce the potential of predators finding the fawn.
While fawns may seem abandoned, they rarely are. All wild white-tailed deer begin life this way.
A fawn’s spots are excellent camouflage and will help it stay hidden from predators. In addition to being hidden by its mother and having spotted camouflage, fawns have another adaptation to help them survive – they are virtually odorless when they are young.
If you find a fawn alone, do not touch it! There is a good chance it is supposed to be there. It is not uncommon for deer to leave their fawns unattended so as not to draw attention to where the fawn is hidden. The mother will return periodically to nurse her fawn when she feels it is safe.
The best thing to do is to leave the fawn alone and enjoy the experience from a distance. Leaving baby animals in the wild ensures they have the best chance for survival. Help keep Michigan’s wildlife wild.
Watch the video Finding Fawns in Michigan.

Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may possess abandoned or injured wildlife. Unless a person is licensed, it is illegal to possess a live wild animal, including deer, in Michigan.  
Learn more at Michigan.gov/Wildlife or contact DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Photo Share: New Adventures in a squirrels life

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
Baby squirrels don't leave the nest until they are fully furred and can survive on their own with a little instruction from mom. Most babies leave the nest in April or May. At this point the babies are clean, fluffy, and fat while the parents look a little ragged. A second litter of babies may leave the nest around August or September. 

If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.

Related Articles:

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What squirrels eat in the winter http://squirrels-eat-in-winter.html
Red Squirrel facts & figures http://squirrel-funny.html
Where flying squirrels live http://flying-squirrels-live.html
Squirrels Like to Work for Their Food http://squirrels-like-to-work-for-their-food.html
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

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Keep bugs away from your sugar water feeders

If you feed hummingbirds and orioles, you know that the nectar and jelly can attract a line of ants from your feeder to the ground. You can help the birds eat in peace if you install an ant "moat" between the feeder and the hanging hook. An ant moat is a small cup-like device that acts just like a water moat to protect a castle. Fill it with with water, and it creates a barrier the ants can’t cross to get to the nectar.

We carry several styles of ant moats, however most people choose to go with our popular hummingbird feeders that have built-in ant moats.

My favorite hummingbird feeder is the HighView™ saucer style. These hummingbird feeders are easy to fill and more importantly easy to clean. The saucer style is leak proof and bee resistant and the built in ant-moat stops ants from reaching the nectar. The feeder has high perches that invite hummingbirds to rest comfortably as they drink from any of three feeding ports while also offering an unobstructed view of the birds.

The built-in ant moats blocks crawling insects and the patented Nectar-Guard tips (optional) on the feeding ports of our saucer feeders prevent bees, wasps, and other flying insects from contaminating nectar.
Related articles:
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/II4RQ4
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
Hummingbird Information on Habitat and Habits http://bit.ly/H2Ua9s
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/H7xvp3
Fun Facts About Hummingbirds http://bit.ly/II5sBl
Photo Share: Strange visitor at the high-perch hummingbird feeder http://bit.ly/II7dy

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Partially bald squirrel missing fur in patches

Momma squirrel is growing her hair back nicely
Missing hair on the top of nesting female gray/black squirrels is a common sight in February because that fur is used to line a nest. It is a little disconcerting to see these girls running around with just fluffy pants but fortunately by May most have regrown their hair.

Next you'll see nursing momma squirrels lying flat on their chests, taking short breaks from a nest of little teething babies.

Related Articles:
- Squirrel proof bird feeder reviews http://bit.ly/waJs9o
- Why are Squirrels Called Squirrels? http://bit.ly/yhktkr
- Squirrel Fun Facts http://goo.gl/M3mT2M
- Why squirrels chew http://bit.ly/AjVzFW

Monday, May 6, 2019

White stripes on large sparrow head

I’m always excited to see the White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows in the spring. Last weekend I saw a wave of big, beautiful, bold white-crowns all over! These bird species only migrate through mid-Michigan in the spring and fall. You can look for them under the feeders from late April to late May and again sometime in September to November. They show up in mid-Michigan right after the last frost in the spring and right before the first snow in the fall. They breed all along the upper parts of Canada and winter along the southern United States.

White-crowned Sparrows tend to visit feeders early and late in the day. They enjoythe millet and  sunflower chips in the Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess Blend. They will avoid conflicts when eating by facing the same direction as other birds. If the weather is good they’ll stay just long enough to rest and refuel. While migrating north, their average travel distance is about 70 miles per day.

Related Articles:
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How do you become a birdwatcher? http://bit.ly/rquunU
Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/0qggF
How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Migration of indigo bunting

Male Indigo Bunting
Indigo Buntings are a dark gray or black bird about the size of a goldfinch. When the sun hits the male his feather structure refracts the sun to make him appear a brilliant indigo blue. In mid-Michigan, we often see them at the finch or sunflower bird feeders.

Buntings can travel thousands of miles in the spring from their southern wintering grounds to their breeding grounds at the top of Florida to the bottom of Canada and as far east as Maine and as far west as Nevada. They will stop in many yards on their journey looking to refuel. Migration takes place in April and May and then again in September and October.
Indigos like a variety of food, including small seeds, nuts, berries, insects, mosquitoes, flies, aphids, small spiders, buds, goldenrod, thistle, grasses, and herbs.

Female Indigo Bunting at nest
At my feeders they like the Nyger Thistle and the No-Mess blend which has the sunflower chips, peanuts, and millet without the hulls.
The only way to get them to stay the whole summer is if you live in an area where they like to breed. Indigo buntings nest in brushy and weedy habitats along the edges of farmland, woods, roads, and railways. Raspberry thickets are a favored nesting location for many of our Indigo Buntings. The dense, thorny stems provide the nestlings with protection from many predators, and the berries are a convenient source of food.

Related Article:
Gardening for birds http://bit.ly/K5IG0T
Blue Jays aren't blue http://bit.ly/zlNPHx
How birds and bees see UV light http://bit.ly/wLilkP
Types of Bird feathers http://bit.ly/J8aZMh

Small little brown bird

With all the big, bright new birds at the feeders you might overlook the arrival of a small brown bird. House Wrens are small, squat birds that lack bold or characteristic markings. They have long, curved bills and their heads, napes, and backs are almost uniformly brown with their throats and chests a uniform light grey.
House wrens eat a wide variety of spiders and insects. We spotted this one bringing a spider back to its nestlings. Photo by Jim Hudgins/USFWS.
But their bubbly song and habit for eating masses of bugs make it a very popular bird to many people. And House Wrens like people just as well. The “house” in their name was given to them for their preference for nesting near peoples’ houses. They are famous for taking advantage of unusual nesting places such as mailboxes, flowerpots, boots, house lights, and of course old woodpecker holes, natural crevices, small birdhouses, and gourds.

The male House Wren begins to lay claim to a few nesting cavities in the spring by filling them with more than 400 small twigs. When the female arrives, she inspects all the nesting areas and twig structures the male has worked on so hard. She chooses which site she likes best and takes over, adding the nest cup and lining it with grass, inner bark, hair, and feathers. Wrens will usually lay 2 broods in the nesting season from May to July.

Because the male wren builds several starter nests for the female to choose from, the other nests may then be used by the male to raise a second brood with another female or remain in place to discourage other male wrens from nesting in the same territory. So keep an eye out. If the female didn’t choose your nest this time, it doesn’t mean it won’t be chosen later.

There is no exact distance wren houses need to be placed. In general, a suburban back yard or garden is large enough for one or two families of wrens. The size of the territory for the male wren is about a half acre area and two to three houses within that territory is acceptable. The best way to attract house wrens and chickadees to your houses is to place the boxes very close to a bush or small tree. Wrens look for the shade and protection at the edge of woodlots where thick bushes provide nesting materials and food. Five feet from the ground is the average height to hang the house.

Related Articles:
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Quick Fun Facts on Wrens http://bit.ly/v5XVoU
Hanging & Placement of Wren Bird Houses http://bit.ly/rBLsGQ
Close-up of 5 species of wrens http://bit.ly/L6scsW

Friday, May 3, 2019

How does rain make you feel? Happy if you are a robin.

I'm not the biggest fan of this week's wet forecast, but it does make me happy to watch the robins running around in the rain looking for food!

When foraging for earthworms, robins use a combination “Head-Cock” and “Bill-Pounce” behavior. In Head-Cocking, one eye points toward a spot where they detect movement on the ground. After holding this position for a few seconds, the robin rotates and flexes its head to bring the other eye into focus. Once they have their prey locked in, bill-pouncing occurs. They thrust their bill quickly at the visually detected prey and hopefully quickly devour their meal.

Related Articles:
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Bird of the Week: American Robin http://bit.ly/pnUKqk
Why robins are called Robin  http://why-robins-are-called-robin.html

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Hummingbird nest

There is no particular tree species in which hummingbirds prefer to nest. They first look for a territory that supplies enough bugs and nectar to support them and their babies. Next they look for a tree that provides proper camouflage and protection from predators.

Hummingbirds usually return to the same general area they were hatched. Female hummingbirds build their nests all alone even before they mate. Male hummingbirds take no part in raising the young. Older females can even return to the location of last year’s nest and rebuild it if the nest has survived the winter.

An attractive nesting tree will have some pencil thin flexible branches that slope downward slightly. The tiny golf ball sized nest, constructed below a leaf canopy and above a fairly open area, starts with spider silk to attach the nest and make it flexible. Lichens camouflage the outside, and the inside is lined with cotton from nesting material, dandelion, cattail, or thistle down.

Courtship is very brief and then two white, pea-sized eggs are laid two or three days apart, which the female will incubate from 60 to 80 percent of the day for 10-14 days. After the babies hatch, the nest stretches to contain the growing nestlings. When they leave the nest, 18-22 days later, the chicks are twice as large as their mother who was stressed by raising them.

If a Ruby-throat nests near your feeder she may appreciate quick bites to eat while incubating eggs. When the chicks hatch, they need lots of protein, so their mother spends a lot time foraging for small insects and spiders. Throwing old banana peels in the garden as compost will attract fruit flies for the hummingbirds and fertilize your garden.

After the chicks leave the nest, mommas will bring these newly fledged hummers to feeders and you can watch them check out everything to see if it is food. It usually takes them awhile to figure out what’s food so fledglings are fed by their mother for another 10 days.

Young hummingbirds will look similar to a female, but as young males begin to mature in late summer look for a few random red iridescent feathers on the throat. And the young are very healthy looking. Their feathers are full and shiny whereas the parent birds look a little haggard.

If you keep your feeders filled and fresh you should have hummers visiting from April until usually the end of October.

Related Articles:
Hummingbird Information on Habitat and Habits http://bit.ly/It2WwE
Where have my Hummingbirds gone? http://bit.ly/IHzxy3
How Do I Know If It's a Baby Hummingbird? http://bit.ly/IHzCSh
Gardening for birds http://bit.ly/It58nR
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/FQ9kxU

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Photo Share: Yellow-rumped Warbler Day!

Yesterday was yellow rumped warbler day around.  I saw them everywhere I went. Kerry Lauer
Photo of Yellow-rumped Warbler by Kerry Lauer
Thank you for sharing the wonderful photograph! This is a really great time to bird watch. Spring warbler migration begins with the return of the Yellow-rumped, Palm, and Pine Warblers. Black-and-white Warblers soon follow. I'm always wowed when the Black-throated Blue Warbler stops at my suet feeder. The males look black all over on top with a white wing spot and white belly. But when the sun hits, wow, the feathers on his back turn a deep royal blue. 

Some cold days in April and May, warblers are desperate to find insects to eat. These hungry and exhausted warblers often forage low and in the open. They often take advantage of a suet feeder to fuel up in the spring. Another good reason to always keep that feeder full!

During peak migration in mid-May, you may see or hear several species of warblers a day. The Blue-Winged Warbler is a common migrant in May. It prefers shrubby fields and willow swamps. Listen for the male’s buzzy two-parted beeee-bzzz song. The Golden-winged Warbler is also a common spring migrant during the second and third week of May. Their preferred nesting area is overgrown fields. The male’s song is a high buzzy bee bee bee. From a distance their silhouette may be confused with a chickadee. And Michigan is probably most famous among birders as the summer home of Kirtland's warbler, a rare species that winters in the Caribbean but nests in jack pine forests in northern Michigan and just recently in Wisconsin and Ontario, but nowhere else on Earth. To help identify some of these new faces in the yard come in to check out some Field guides.

video of Yellow-rumped singing: https://youtu.be/BOtg6M93c9A

Thank you for sharing! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Photo Share posts.  

Related Articles: 
Provide a safe habitat to encourage migrating birds http://provide-safe-habitat.html
Birds of Michigan Field Guide http://bit.ly/oW0XCD
Blue-headed Vireo's peak migration http://blue-headed-vireos.html
Wagging Warbler http://wagging-warbler.html
Black-and-yellow Warbler http://black-and-yellow-warbler.html
Nashville Warbler not from Tennessee http://nashville-warbler.html 
Bay-breasted warbler pictures http://bay-breasted-warbler.html 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Tree Swallows looking for housing

Like bluebirds, Tree Swallows are secondary cavity nesters, meaning they depend on pre-existing nest sites like old woodpecker nests or manmade nest-boxes. They are big bug eaters so their habitat is usually near areas with water, such as fields, marshes, meadows, shorelines, or wooded swamps.

The first Tree Swallows can arrive in Michigan mid-March through April, but bad weather may delay them as late as early May. Nest building begins at end of April to early May (sometimes 5 to 6 weeks after arrival). Don't worry if no swallows or bluebirds have found your bird house yet. Weather, or failure of the first nest may require birds to abandon one house in search of another unoccupied house.

Salis.org explains: In late April to Mid-May one egg is laid each day with 4-7 eggs per nest. But sometimes adults leave the nest for days while nesting if they have to forage far away. That makes them very vulnerable to House Sparrow attacks. If this happens you may have to try and install a Sparrow Spooker to deter sparrows or switch the house to a slot nest.

Related Articles:
Ultimate Bird House http://bit.ly/xeGs0e
Feeding and Raising Bluebirds http://bit.ly/A39dAh
How to protect my bird house http://bit.ly/zI48Ts
5 Tips to Attract Birds to Nest in your Bird Houses http://bit.ly/yNT6Ye
When is the best time to put up a bird house? http://bit.ly/yAI123
Bird house that keeps out Sparrows https://goo.gl/TWaqJF
Birds move in to slot-nest birdhouse

Long frigid spring leaves birds hungry

Every spring the earth wakes up, and then the migratory birds arrive. But the timing of spring changes from year to year. The cold is actually not a big problem for birds. They are equipped with several layers of fluffy, insulating down to trap heat, so you won’t see your local robins and blackbirds shivering!

It is finding enough food to maintain adequate fat supplies to store on the body and ‘burn’ for energy that are the greatest tests for wild birds in the cold weather.

During cold snaps, you will notice more birds coming into your yard to seek sanctuary and food. Finding a regular source of high-energy food and water can potentially be a real lifesaver. High on the list of best choices to meet this nutritional need is suet and certain seeds like peanuts, sunflower seeds and nyjer seed.
Our most popular Wild Birds Unlimited seed blend is No Mess Blend is filled with many of these high fat seeds and nuts making it an ideal food, along with suet, to offer your birds this cold spring.

The Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Seed Cylinder is another way to offer sunflower chips, peanuts, tree nuts and fruit to all the seed, nut and fruit loving birds.

No-Mess Seed Cylinder is a tidy dining option that a lot of birds will enjoy. No shells means no mess and no wasted food, making this seed cylinder a great value. This 100% edible cylinder is great near flower beds patios and decks.  
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

Sunday, April 28, 2019

FAQ about hummingbird and oriole feeders

Now that our hummingbirds and orioles are back in Michigan, some of you may need some refreshers on what to do to get ready.

Hummingbird and oriole nectar recipe
To make nectar that is a little bit stronger than flower nectar, use a ratio of 4:1. That would be four parts water to one part plain white sugar. DO NOT use honey, drink mixes, turbinado, brown, powdered or confectioners sugar. These sugars contain too many minerals for the hummingbird's system and can cause illness or death. And red food coloring is NOT necessary or recommended.

Favorite Feeders
It is time to pull those nectar and jelly feeders out from storage and give them a good scrubbing. If you can't remember that safe place you put them last fall and need new feeders, look for something easy to clean and easy to fill. Hummingbird and oriole feeders need to be cleaned and refilled at least every other day once (if) the temperature are above 70 degrees F.

Where to hang feeders
The number one rule in hanging any feeder is to place it where you can watch the birds comfortably. The whole point in bird feeding is to watch these winged wonders up close. Since hummingbirds feed by sight, the second rule is to hang the feeder where they will be able to see it as they fly over your yard. A new feeder may be found sooner if hung near a flower garden or hanging flower basket. Place your hummingbird feeders near bushes to provide perching spots and protection from predators. The height of the feeder is less important. Hummingbirds feed from the flowers on the ground and from the tops of flowering trees or climbing vines.

Best Selling Hummingbird Window Feeder

How to get suction cups to stick

Return some elasticity to the suction cups on your window feeder by placing them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. This will help “reset” the plastic and make it more flexible. Once your suction cups are ready, wash your window. Any grit on the suction cup or window will interfere with the seal. Rub a little finger oil or vegetable oil over the suction cup. Don't use water to stick the feeder to the window. It will just pop off when the temperature changes. Push the suction cups against the window and force out any air bubbles behind the cup. Now you should be set until you want to wash the window again.

Related articles:
My favorite hummingbird and oriole feeders
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
Hummingbird Information on Habitat and Habits http://bit.ly/H2Ua9s
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/H7xvp3
Fun Facts About Hummingbirds http://bit.ly/II5sBl 

Strange visitor at the high-perch hummingbird feeder http://bit.ly/II7dyy

Saturday, April 27, 2019

When baby jays leave the nest

Is it too early for Blue Jay babies? I've been watching one jay feed another. Is it a mating ritual like the cardinals? How do you know a male Blue Jay from a female?

These are some very good observations that make birdwatching so much fun! April is way too early to see Blue Jay babies. In mid-Michigan I begin to see the baby jays at the end of June.

I think you are correct in guessing it is a part of courtship. Many birds feed each other in the spring as a mating ritual, sometimes in response to begging calls and wing quivering. This might be to "test" the male's ability to forage and provide for young. It could be an indicator of the odds of successfully breeding. It may also reinforce or maintain a pair bond or increase a female's fitness by providing her with extra tidbits, which probably increases the quality of her eggs or may advance the laying date.

Now how do you tell a male jay from a female? Side by side you might find the male Blue Jays are slightly larger than the females. Otherwise male and female Blue Jays appear almost identical in appearance to the casual human glance. However the feather structures of many species also reflect light in the ultraviolet range. Because many birds can discriminate a greater variety of colors than humans, including ultraviolet wavelengths, they can appear quite different to each other than they do to us.

You can also observe their behavior, especially in spring when courtship begins. Little groups form and if a female begins to fly, the males follow. After landing, the males bob their heads and fluff their feathers in attempts to impress the female. Once a mate is chosen the male and female both gather materials and build the nest, but on average male does more gathering and female more building. 

Related Articles:
- Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/w4vRPP
- Blue Jays aren't blue http://bit.ly/roVPVX
- What Feeder Do You Recommend for Blue Jays? http://bit.ly/txd8ja
- Blue Jay Fun Facts http://goo.gl/wJgMmJ
- Do birds know winter is coming? http://goo.gl/EilIa6
- Why Blue Jays go bald in the fall http://goo.gl/gAX3x 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Photo Share: pileated woodpecker in the backyard

Just saw a pileated woodpecker in the backyard. I heard a call in the backyard that I had never heard so close before and when I looked out it was on the spruce.-  in an East Lansing suburb

This is another reason to continue feeding in the summer. You never know who is going to show up especially when it has been such a difficult spring.  

Thank you for sharing! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com and I'll put it on the Photo Share posts. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Tiny sparrow with a distinctive bright copper colored cap

The winds are finally blowing up from the south and millions of migrant birds are showing up in Michigan each day. One bird I heard singing all day yesterday was the Chipping Sparrow. I adore watching and listening to them sing in the spring and summer. One of smallest and friendliest of the sparrows, they are always busy, busy running around on the yard looking for weed seeds or bird seed under the feeders.

Chipping sparrows are small, neat, active sparrows with a distinctive bright copper colored cap and black eyestripes and white eyebrows. They also have an all light gray belly and the typical brown tweed sparrow back.

They arrive in mid-Michigan at the end of April and leave early November to winter in Mexico, Central America or the southern United States. These bold little birds will perch high in a tree and sing to mark their territory. The loud, trilling songs of a chipping sparrow are one of the most common sounds of spring and easily identifiable. The song is often described as the sound of an electric sewing machine.
Related Articles:
Sparrows Native to mid-Michigan http://goo.gl/aqUL1
Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/0qggF
How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d
Chipping Sparrow Juvenile with adult male http://goo.gl/hTzx

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Protect your jelly and nectar with weather guards

With the oncoming rains of spring it is easy to use Feeder Fresh in the seed feeders to absorb any moisture around the seed. But with the nectar, jelly, or mealworm feeders a weather guard is the best way to keep the food getting wet or diluted.

Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing offers several styles and colors of protective domes for a variety of feeders. The bright orange and red domes will also shade the feeders from the sun and entice birds flying over to investigate the colors known to indicate food. Hummingbirds and orioles, like most birds, see very well. They are attracted to brightly colored flowers for food and have learned that brightly colored feeders may also be a source of quick energy.

Related articles:
The Best Hummingbird Feeders http://bit.ly/II4RQ4
Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder? http://bit.ly/H2U4P4
Hummingbird Information on Habitat and Habits http://bit.ly/H2Ua9s
What is the nectar recipe for hummingbirds? http://bit.ly/H7xvp3
Fun Facts About Hummingbirds http://bit.ly/II5sBl
Photo Share: Strange visitor at the high-perch hummingbird feeder http://bit.ly/II7dyy