About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Winter cold snap has birds looking for feeders

A cold, icy winter snap across mid-Michigan, forces the birds to return to our feeders in droves. Ice storms can cover this food and make it unattainable. Natural sources of food for finches and other birds are locked in by ice and make it hard to forage. Even clever birds that have collected and hid backup food all over their territory like the titmice, woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees will have to find other sources of food until these stores are revealed when the ice melts.

So while their backup foods as well as natural resources aren’t available, birds will seek out feeders. If you aren't seeing an increase in bird activity, check to make sure the seed is fresh and the feeders are clean. The last rain may have spoiled seed in the feeders.
Winter is the time when high fat foods become more critical in a bird’s diet. Every night up to three-quarters of a bird’s fat reserves are used up; reserves that must be replenished the next day.

Keeping your feeders filled with high energy, high fat foods can provide your birds with the critical nutrition they need to survive. High on the list of best choices to meet this nutritional need is suet.

Our most popular Wild Birds Unlimited seed blends are No Mess Blend and Choice Blend because they are filled with many of high fat seeds and nuts making them ideal foods, along with suet, to offer your birds this winter. 

Related Articles:
- Common winter birds in Michigan and their food preference: http://bit.ly/yp9YQA
- How to choose the best suet cake http://bit.ly/xATYPQ
- Best food for birds in the winter http://goo.gl/MVFcbl
- Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://bit.ly/vZ6gzM
- Choosing a seed blend to feed wild birds  http://goo.gl/C3mFuD

Monday, December 30, 2019

Bald Eagles sighted in Lansing, Michigan

During Michigan winters, bald eagles are seen throughout the state of Michigan, and while they nest mainly in the Upper Peninsula, we have begun to see some eagles nest in Lansing.

My sister sees them all winter hunting fish in the river behind her house. If she's lucky, during the beginning of the breeding season, from mid-February to mid-March, she also might be able to see some mating displays. The mating "cartwheel" display begins high in the air with the two birds darting and diving at each other, until they lock talons and drop in a spinning free fall, until the last possible moment when they separate.

Nests are usually located in the tallest tree in the area, often a white pine or dead snag. They are usually made of sticks with a lining of grass and moss. Nests may be refurbished each year until they reach enormous sizes, up to ten feet in depth and 20 feet across.

Last year a pair built a nest a little way from Potter Park Zoo and fledged two eaglets. They were one of  nearly 1,000 active nesting sites around the state.

Related Articles:
Why Bald Eagles nest in the winter http://why-eagles nest-in-winter.html
Nesting Eagles facts and figures http://t.co/vpj99ZV
A closer look at our National bird http://bald-eagle-facts.html
Amazing moment bald eagle chases down and catches a starling in mid-air http://t.co/U3CT5Sh
Michigan DNRE asking drivers to watch out for bald eagles http://t.co/A9R33zI

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Photo Share: Bright red cardinal

“Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.” — Lorraine Anderson
 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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

My birds are gone

My feeders went empty when I was on vacation and now the birds are gone. When will they come back?
Birds are pretty clever. If the feeder is empty they’ll look for other sources. And this mild December, with no snow allows birds to find a lot of natural foods. When the weather turns bad again, the birds will once again flock to the feeders. Studies show that the birds you see in your yard eat only about 20% of their meals at feeders.

Birds usually follow a circuit each day, visiting a number of feeding areas. That also includes nut or berry bushes and trees, along with native flowers' seed heads that stand through the winter. Bird feeders and a habitat that provides naturally for wild birds will attract the most birds. Then when it storms feeders will become an easy, accessible source of emergency food.

Check to make sure your feeder is clean and full of fresh 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. 

Thank you very much for your response. I was feeling pretty terrible about leaving them with almost no food.

Related Articles:
How often a bird eats https:/how-often-bird-eats.html
Bird "Goosebumps" https://bird-goosebumps.html
Chickadees are stashing food https://chickadees--stash-food.html
Birds can predict bad weather https://sudden-activity-at-bird-feeder.html
A Great Horned Owl hunt https://great-horned-owl-hunts.html
Birds sleep in short bursts https://birds sleep in short bursts.html
Northern Shrikes are the world's only true carnivorous songbirds https://songbird-of-prey.html

Friday, December 27, 2019

Owling ethics

How do I quickly spot owls at night or during the day?

Nature centers, sometimes offer “owl prowls” or guided walks. These outings are led by a local owl expert and include visits to areas where owl sightings are likely to occur. These programs are an excellent introduction to the basics — where to go, how to listen, when to go and how to look. You can contact Harris or Fenner Nature Centers for the next walk.

Where to go
In our mid-Michigan area the Great Horned, Barred and Eastern Screech owls are all common on small woodlots or edge of forest areas. Most owls do not migrate and can be found in the same territory throughout the year, and winter is a great time to go owling.

How to listen
Late December to January, owls are calling more frequently to attract mates or claim their territories. http://www.allaboutbirds.org is a good website that will give the typical sounds owls produce.

When to go

Owls are nocturnal birds and the best time to see them is when they are more active hunting at dawn or dusk. A full moon at night can also help provide more light for effective owl spotting.

How to look


Owl pellets are about 2 inches and include fur, feathers, claws,
teeth, bones, exoskeletons of insects and other undigested parts.
Owls have superb camouflage, and when they are perched high in the tree or in tree hollows they are almost impossible to see unless they move. But other birds that might become their prey keep their eyes open for owls and sound the alarm. I looked up when I heard a chickadee sending out alarm calls and spotted a Barred Owl perched at the very top of a nearby deciduous tree.

When I looked below the tree I spotted several owl pellets. Since most owls usually eat their prey whole, the undigested parts (bones, bill, teeth, skull, feathers, or fur) are compressed into a pellet and regurgitated. The larger the owl, the larger the prey it takes and the larger the pellet. Owls typically regurgitate two pellets each day, usually one at their daytime roost and one at their nighttime feeding site.

Another thing to look for during daytime walks is white excrement, down through the branches below the owl’s perch. If you’re lucky, the owl will be sitting motionless, camouflaged in the branches.

Owling ethics

Resist the urge to pull out your smartphones and apps that can reproduce a species songs. Imitation calls during an owl’s breeding season can stress a bird unnecessarily.

If you discover an owl, remain quiet and do everything in slow motion. Do not disturb trees an owl chooses as its perch or nest.

If you find a nest or roost site, visit infrequently. Study the site from a safe distance with binoculars or a scope, so the owls are not alarmed by your presence. Do not disturb them by getting too close, even for photos. You don’t want to be the reason a nest fails or a roost is abandoned.

Using basic birding etiquette, you can observe owls in their natural habitat without disturbing them.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Squirrel Watching

I was fortunate enough to be home during daylight hours Wednesday to bird watch. The feeders were clean and full of fresh food. However the weather was too nice for the birds to be flocking to the feeders. Birds prefer to forage for natural foods on good days and frequent feeders during the worst weather or when wild sources disappear.

But the yard was still bounding with activity. The squirrels were running around like crazy! I watched chubby Fox Squirrels, lean Black Squirrels, and the mighty mini Red Squirrels all chasing each other and one even surprised me by falling from the sky (or at least jumping from the roof like a parachutist into a viburnum bush).

Working at a bird feeding store, I know most of our customers like to feed the birds and not the squirrels but I've never had anything against them. I had a great time watching the squirrel show. In some ways they are even more impressive than birds. They are mammals like us and yet they can survive Michigan winters.

Related Articles:
Special squirrel adaptation http://squirrel-adaptation.html
Where squirrels sleep at night in the winter http://squirrels-sleep-at-night.html
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 

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

“In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.” - Aristotle

This Red-bellied Woodpecker has been impressing people by flashing his especially red belly.
With the holiday season here, we are setting our work aside for a moment to extend our sincere appreciation to our friends who make running a small business so enjoyable.

May your holidays be filled with family, friendship, and the magic of our world.

Enjoy a day of peace!

Wild Birds Unlimited
2200 Coolidge Road Suite 17
East Lansing, MI 48823

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Skinny sparrow?


I have a skinny sparrow at the feeder that I can't identify. It just started showing up with the colder weather.

As cold weather approaches, keep your eyes open for Pine Siskins. Most years, some siskins stray down from their breeding territories in the northern tier of the United States and across Canada into Alaska. Pine Siskins eat conifer seeds (such as spruces and pines) and catkins (such as birch and alder) in the North.

While similar in color to sparrows, siskins are actually streaky brown finches with a small, sharply pointed bill and faint yellow splashes near the wing tips and tail. They mix in with flocks of goldfinches at Nyjer® (thistle), Seed Cylinder and sunflower feeders.

Siskins brighten up a drab winter day with their loud and cheerful "zzziip" song. The word "Siskin" is of Scandinavian origin and means "chirper". You can expect their numbers to increase along their southern range into February and early March as they look for more sources of food.

Related Articles:
- Birdwatching: Look for the Out-of-Towners http://bit.ly/q6Pkco
- Where do you place finch feeders? http://bit.ly/p4XHU4
- How do Birds Migrate? http://bit.ly/nNCI6d
- Most common winter birds in Michigan http://bit.ly/ow20ZD
- What birds migrate from Michigan? http://bit.ly/qa0CVU

Monday, December 23, 2019

Cardinal handprints

https://www.artsonia.com/
A red bird that is common on Christmas cards, the male Northern Cardinal is recognized easily by most people. Except for a black mask and throat, the male cardinals are red all over including their bill. The female cardinals are less recognizable. They are shaped like the male but are a duller grey brown color and have only warm red accents on the tips of their crest, wings and bill.

The Cardinals stay in Michigan year-round and don’t migrate but can expand their range while foraging for food. Older previously mated pairs will join flocks of about four to twenty birds depending on the area, time of year, weather, and available resources. Young cardinals don’t have a set territory and can join different flocks away from their natal territory in search of food and possible mates for spring.

If you have some little hands that you need to keep busy, here is a fun project you can do.

Cardinals in a snowy landscape hand-prints

1. Choose a sheet of construction paper
2. Paint a hand with washable tempera or finger paint.
3. Press your hand onto the paper.
4. Draw the
orange beak, black mask, and eye.
5. Create a background and add your bird feet.

Related Article:
Would a cardinal have more fun as a blonde? http://cardinal-blonde.html
What can I feed the cardinals to make them redder? http://bit.ly/vn2HK3
How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://bit.ly/rT5Hfj 

Why male and female cardinals are a different color http://bit.ly/ueILUf
Bald Cardinals http://bit.ly/rvl06F

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Christmas Cardinal

Do the colors green, red, and white trigger thoughts of Christmas? For people that feed the birds in Michigan, December means the bright red Northern Cardinals sitting in a white snowy evergreen “chip, chip, chipping” away.

Green, red, and white are some of the most common colors that stand out in nature during the winter. At a time when most plants are barren, evergreen with berries, like holly and mistletoe might inspire a little hope. There is also a red and white magic mushroom (Amanita muscaria), that grows almost exclusively beneath green pine trees in Europe. All these plants were used in winter traditions during ancient times and integrated into the Christian world.

Another factor in the colors of Christmas is the ball ornaments originating from the miracle play on Christmas Eve about the Tree of Good and Evil performed in late Middle Ages to teach religion. In the play Eve picked an apple from the forbidden tree, Adam ate it and both were exiled from Eden. But original sin was expiated by Jesus born on the 25th of December. The apple tree was usually represented with a fir tree set on the stage with some apples put on its branches to symbolize the future coming of Redemption, wafers to symbolize the presence of Jesus, and sweets and gifts for children to enjoy.

Related Articles:
Edible ornaments for the birds http://bit.ly/tXDnSB
Decorate a Tree for Your Birds http://bit.ly/t3QtGV
Let's all share Nature's bounty http://bit.ly/syPNzh
The Tradition of feeding the Birds at Christmas Time http://goo.gl/7ODaQ
When did Reindeer Learn to Fly? http://bit.ly/veTLpT
How the Christmas tree tradition started http://goo.gl/r92VN

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Best place to set up bird feeders

Feeders can be placed throughout the yard at different levels to attract a variety of birds. Just remember the number one rule in feeder location is to place it 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.

How Birds Find The Feeder
Birds are amazing creatures and can find new feeders several different ways just like humans find restaurants. Everyone has a friend that likes to tell you about the new "hot spot." Some birds fly in flocks and may send out a scout bird to forage for new feeding sites.

Or if you see a line around the block for a restaurant, you may get in line yourself to check out the food. Some solitary birds see a lot of birds at a feeder and go see what all the fuss is about.

What if you see the "Golden Arches" on the way home from work? You know what's inside. Most birds find their food by sight. Some birds already eat at the neighbor's house and may see your familiar feeders on the way home.

How Long Does It Take
It may be a matter of hours before birds discover new feeders or a matter of weeks. The variation depends on habitat, number of nearby feeders, and the kinds of birds in the area. Chickadees, and House Sparrows are especially quick to locate new feeders. Also if you switch feeders the birds may be cautious to try that feeder. To encourage the birds to use new feeders tempt them with scattered seeds on the ground.
 
Related Articles:
- 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
- Why Don't Birds Freeze After They Take a Bath in the Winter? http://goo.gl/5ydpvy

Friday, December 20, 2019

Winter Solstice celebrates the bird new year!

Along with the cold winds and snows, birds must also face fewer daylight hours to forage at a time when they need to increase their calories to stay warm. Don’t worry, the winter solstice is this week and for everyone in the northern hemisphere that means the days will start to get longer.

The first day of winter or the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year when the sun's daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the winter solstice usually occurs on December 21 to 23 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and June 20 to 23 in the Southern Hemisphere.
Winter Solstice celebrates the birth of the new Solar year and the beginning of winter. Cultures around the world have had celebrations of rebirth for centuries at this time of year.
 
Related Articles:
Groundhog’s Day on Feb. 2 is a "cross-quarter" day. http://bit.ly/vUF7Qk
Singing Birds Herald The Arrival of Spring. http://bit.ly/uJbzCe
Why do they call it Indian Summer? http://bit.ly/twFccE
Why do leaves change color in the fall? http://bit.ly/spkqnF
What’s the difference between a full moon and a new moon? http://bit.ly/tKg5gO
 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Bird asleep at the feeder

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

What birds use bird houses?

Why don't all bird like bird houses?

It seems like a good idea during the cold winters or rainy springs to have a cozy shelter. In reality many species of cavity-nesting birds have declined because of habitat reduction. In the eastern United States, where primeval forests are gone some birds like Eastern Bluebirds and Purple Martins depend almost entirely on man-made houses.

Over 80 species of North American birds excavate nesting holes with their bill, use natural tree cavities, re-use holes created by other species or utilize bird houses. Chickadees, woodpeckers, bluebirds, wrens, nuthatches, and owls are just a few of the birds that use birdhouses to keep warm in the winter.

Other birds like cardinals, jays, doves, juncos and finches roost in dense brush or foliage. I have a lot of backyard birds that like to sleep in the pine trees near the feeding stations. As dusk approaches there is a feeding frenzy. The goldfinches at my house sometimes stay too long. I watch them feeding furiously and then see them look up and notice sun went down. Some find shelter quickly in nearby bushes while others have been known to spend the night on a feeder or if it's windy, huddled in a corner close to the house or even burrow into the snow.

When the temperature drops below zero, sleeping birds need bellies full of high calorie foods to keep their little bodies warm right before bed and the first thing in the morning.
Related Articles:
- 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
- Why Don't Birds Freeze After They Take a Bath in the Winter? http://goo.gl/5ydpvy

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Titmice partner for life

The Tufted Titmouse is a very appealing visitor at the feeder. Often with flocks of chickadees, most Tufted Titmice live their entire life within a few miles of their birthplace. They forage for insects, spiders, snails, various berries, acorns, and flower seeds.

Wild Birds Unlimited's No-mess blend is very attractive to titmice. In fact the shelled sunflower and peanuts in the blend are the favorite of many feeder birds. Tufted Titmice typically select one seed at a time and hide it within 130 feet of the feeder, under bark or under objects on the ground. You can also add a suet, seed cylinders or mealworm feeders to keep these birds happy.

Males and females form pairs that persist until the death of one of the mates. The titmouse family bond is so strong that the young from one breeding season will often stay with their parents long enough to help them with nesting and feeding duties the following year. They are fairly confident birds and can be trained to come at the sound of human voices and take food from their hands, though not as easily as their cousins, the black-capped chickadees.

Related Articles:
Is it “Titmice” or “Titmouses”? http://bit.ly/yImBcF
Camouflaged Titmouse Fits Right In http://bit.ly/w0f2us
 
Product Highlight: Solid Seed Cylinders http://goo.gl/HbISQR
Why is the Titmouse Tongue So Short? http://bit.ly/yds9Mm
Tufted Titmouse fun facts http://bit.ly/AfIA7H

Monday, December 16, 2019

Nifty and Nimble Nuthatches!

White-breasted Nuthatch outside Wild Birds Unlimited store


Red-breasted Nuthatch
Nuthatches are named for their habit of cracking nuts open with their bill and wedging them into a crevices for future use. They are very easy backyard birds to identify. If you see a bird creeping downward on a tree, it’s a nuthatch. It’s the only species that can walk down a tree. It needs no tail support because it has incredibly strong feet!

Most nuthatches visit feeders in ones and twos. Pairs generally live in a territory of 10 to 30 acres looking for seeds and insects found in trees, or hiding seeds from feeders in tree bark for a snack later in the day or breakfast the next morning.

Red-breasted and White-breasted nuthatches are the most common visitors to feeders in Michigan. They are feisty birds that announce their presence with calls that sounds like a nasal laugh. They enjoy suet, sunflower seeds, nuts, mealworms or seed cylinders.
Pygmy Nuthatches live in ponderosa forests in the West and survive the bitter winter nights by roosting with 50 to 100 or more other Pygmy Nuthatches in tree cavities. With so many birds in the cavity, they stay warm and can lower their metabolic rate to conserve energy.

Another species, Brown-headed Nuthatches, live primarily in the Southeast United States in mature pine forests. These birds live in flocks, although they do not have the “sleepovers” the Pygmy Nuthatches have.

Related Articles:
- Bird Guilds: How different birds band together to survive http://goo.gl/d0VzDD
- Bird of the week: Red-breasted Nuthatch http://bit.ly/sXqKVH
- Fascinating Nuthatch Bill-Sweeping & Wing Fanning http://bit.ly/s4MWlV
- Facts every backyard birder wants know about Nuthatches http://bit.ly/tBbDbQ

- Black and white bird walking upside down on a tree trunk http://goo.gl/RUCT6O

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Birds represent good luck and good fortune

Birds are considered to be among the most common Christmas tree ornaments. They have religious symbolism as being biblical messengers that bring love and peace to the world. Even today, birds represent good luck and good fortune. 

It is said that many German families felt that finding a bird’s nest in the Christmas tree meant the gift of health, wealth and happiness throughout the year. And in southern Germany corn is placed on the roof to feed the birds on Christmas Eve. 

In Denmark, the father of the household erects a “juleneg” on Christmas Eve. This is a corn stalk hung in a tree, just to let the birds know that Christmas has arrived.

Feeding bread crumbs, seeds, or a sheaf of grain to the birds on is also a Swedish tradition. The last sheaf of grain from the harvest, known as the Julkarve or the Christmas sheaf is hung out for the birds on Christmas Eve.

According to legend if lots of birds come, a good crop will follow the next year. The very act of giving to the birds signifies a reminder that no matter how lean the times, when people share, good fortune will follow.

If you would like to join the time honored tradition of feeding birds this time of year, you can fill your feeders or make edible ornaments to hang from the trees. Then as you enjoy your traditional Christmas meal inside, you can watch the birds and squirrels enjoy their meal outside the window. I wish every one peace, good health, and a happy new year.

Related Articles:

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Droll Yankee Flipper review

Is it a gimmick? People ask me that all the time about the Yankee Flipper. Well it really works to keep squirrels away, however, if you just want to watch squirrels fly, you might be disappointed. I sell a lot of Flippers and the most common complaint is that the squirrels don't try hard enough to get the food from this feeder. They just give up and leave the food for the birds.

The video of the squirrel performing acrobatic acts is very intriguing but most squirrels turn tail and run after their first encounter. I tell people there is always hope that in the spring a new potential "flipper" could be born.
https://youtu.be/W8h7kDtTyJU

THE YANKEE FLIPPER is the definitive squirrel proof bird feeder. Birds love to eat from it, but squirrels are prevented from eating from it in a way that will make you smile. The weight activated feeding perch is calibrated to react to a squirrel's weight. When a squirrel steps on the perch, a connection is made with a motor that makes the perch spin, and the squirrel is flipped off the feeder. Thus, the name YANKEE FLIPPER.

The unit comes equipped with rechargeable nicad batteries and a battery charger. Would you expect anything less of Droll Yankees? It is easy to clean, easy to fill, has a lifetime guarantee, and is made in the USA. 21' long, 4 ports, 4 qt. cap.

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
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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
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- 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.
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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.

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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.

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- 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