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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How long it takes for a baby bird to find food on his own

Wild Birds Unlimited Macomb captured that transitional moment when a baby bird realizes that food doesn't have to come from a parent's mouth. Some birds take a little longer than others, but this juvenile on the video figures he's old enough to feed himself.

It is fascinating to watch parent birds bring the kids to the feeders and help them to figure out what they were supposed to do with the food in front of them.

The fledglings follow their parents and either wait quietly or call incessantly and flutter their wings until fed. After one to three weeks, the parents will stop feeding their fledglings in hopes that they catch on to feeding themselves and may even peck at them if they persist in begging for food. Watch the video of one advanced juvenile going straight to the source: https://youtu.be/aWQCjkbsfSA

Related Articles:
- What to do if you find a baby bird http://goo.gl/vPVAhx
- After chickadee babies have fledged http://bit.ly/yAYbP4
- Baby Starlings are big, noisy, brown birds http://goo.gl/yHR2m
- How baby birds in a nest get their drinks http://goo.gl/q8dkv
- Feeding and Raising Bluebirds http://goo.gl/MKRPn
- How Do I Know If It's a Baby Hummingbird? http://bit.ly/IHzCSh

Friday, July 21, 2017

Photo Share: Dolly is making new friends!

Yesterday was a big day for Dolly (cat). Besides helping me do computer work, she made a couple new friends! First I walked in and she had somehow invited a baby red squirrel in for breakfast and a mid-morning run around the store. Eventually Reddy squirrel took a nap in one of the displays and Dolly, bored with situation, took her usual break in the backroom. That's when a customer helped me escort the Reddy out. He didn't really want to go, but we convinced him finally that it was a good idea to find some other friends to lunch with outside.

In the afternoon a baby House Finch ate lunch with Dolly. Then, (I don't know what this says about Dolly's conversational skills), also took a nap on the sill. Dolly still chatted away at the bird and even tried to wake it up by tapping on the window. Finally daddy House Finch saw the situation and warned him away from starting friendships with cats. But the baby did come back several times to sit with Dolly throughout the day anyway.

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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Coyotes in Michigan suburbs

I think I saw a coyote in my yard. Are they common?
From the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

The presence of Coyotes in subdivisions and urban or suburban areas, while surprising to many folks, is a result of encroachment of human environments into their natural habitat (from development of rural areas).

There is wide variation in the coyote's color, but generally their upper body is yellowish gray, and the fur covering the throat and belly is white to cream color. The coyote's ears are pointed and stand erect, unlike the ears of domestic dogs that often droop.

Coyotes generally feed at night. They are opportunistic and will eat almost anything available. Small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, rabbits, hares, and squirrels are preferred foods. However, insects, fruits, berries, birds, frogs, snakes, plants, and seeds round out their diet. In areas with high deer numbers, carrion resulting from vehicle deer collisions, natural causes, and crippling losses is an important source of food. In urban areas, coyotes are attracted to garbage, garden vegetables, and pet foods.

People are most likely to see coyotes during their breeding period, which occurs in Michigan from mid January into March. And then again in the fall when pups begin dispersing from the den site to establish home ranges of their own. These young dispersing animals sometimes wander into urban areas.  

Related Articles:
- Gray Fox in Michigan http:/gray-fox-in-michigan.html 

- Red Fox in the neighborhood http://goo.gl/u0CUqc
- How many species of squirrels are in Michigan? http://bit.ly/yYt6Nb  

- Do opossums hibernate during winter? http://bit.ly/u4ORP6
- Do skunks hibernate? http://bit.ly/xVKDXP

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Store your Nyjer® (thistle) in a cool place

Nyjer® (pronounced NYE-jer) is a trademarked name for a little black seed used by the wild bird feeding industry that is favored by the finches. It is also known as "thistle" by backyard birdwatchers because the seed looks so similar to the “noxious weedsCanada thistle and Bull thistle. A noxious weed is a plant that has been designated by an agricultural authority as injurious to agricultural or horticultural crops, natural habitats or ecosystems, or humans or livestock.

Nyjer® does not grow weeds. It is heat treated for sterilization. However it does leave a lot of shell waste below the feeder. Nyjer has a thin shell that the finches efficiently pinch between their bill, extract the seed and drop the inedible part below. At an active feeder, all those shells accumulate quickly into a little black pile.

Nyjer's high oil content makes it an excellent energy source for active birds, and it's best used in our specially designed finch feeders.

It is important to keep the food fresh because finches can be picky eaters. Nyjer has a thin shell and is vulnerable to spoilage while in the tube. Once seed starts to get moldy or becomes stale, finches will look for fresher forage. Replace Nyjer in feeders every three to four weeks if it is not being eaten actively. Store your Nyjer cool dry spot for a longer shelf life, and buy in quantities that will be used up in a few weeks.

Related Articles:
Nyjer (thistle) isn't related to Canada Thistle http://bit.ly/Nt8Xxu
Goldfinch Migration http://bit.ly/MzGSPD
Are Goldfinches here in the winter? http://bit.ly/PZu5ML
Goldfinches: The Last Birds Nesting http://bit.ly/PZuejj
Bird of the week: American Goldfinch http://bit.ly/PZum2a

Monday, July 17, 2017

Keep crows away from baby robins

Aim trying to protect a baby Robin from Magpies and Crows. I did get a few worms in to him no problem. Is there anything else I can leave nearby?

You can feed robins mealworms, or chopped nuts, apples, grapes, and suet. In the wild they eat worms, insects, pecans, walnuts, acorns, apples, cherries, and dogwood fruit from trees and the berries bayberries, blackberries, blueberries, greenbrier, honeysuckle, juneberries, juniper, madrone, mountain ash, mulberry, pokeberry, pyracantha, raspberry, sassafras, serviceberry, spiceberry, sumac, viburnum, and woodbine.

Nestlings of all kinds can be vulnerable to attacks from predators, such as crows, grackles, and many other species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. There is not much you can do except stand watch and shoo the predators away.

Many robins and doves become prey, but statistics show that they are still some of the most common birds found all across the United States. Because they are so common, an attack on our little Robby is like an attack on a close friend. They announce spring has arrived with their beautiful songs and then nest near our homes. It is hard not to feel protective of their fledglings.

But the crows aren’t just being mean, even though you might see them pecking a baby to death in front of your eyes. They are hunting for food, probably for their own young. They are remarkably adaptable birds that will feed on a wide variety of foods, including seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, bugs, worms and many kinds of animals such as birds, mice and roadkill.

In the big picture they are not doing anything wrong, even though it may make you heartsick. They feed on prey that is plentiful. Both birds eat suet. Maybe you could get a tray feeder and put a suet block out to distract the crows until your fledgling can fly away.

Related Articles:
Crows: Are they Feathered Apes? http://bit.ly/LvWgge
How Do I Deter Crows at the Feeder? http://bit.ly/LWbhMB
Why are “black” birds considered bad by most people? http://bit.ly/LWbxeD
Why are the Robins Attracted to Water? http://bit.ly/qP9aTs
Fledgling Robins Find Their Way http://bit.ly/pqrhSL
Why robins are called Robin http://why-robins-are-called-robin.html

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hummingbirds are beginning to bulk up

Credit: Bill Thompson/USFWS
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds span the ecological gap between birds and bees- they feed on sweet, energy-rich nectar that flowers provide and pollinate the flowers in the process.

Many avid gardeners and birders have long understood this interdependence and cultivate native, nectar-producing plants in their yards to attract these delightful birds. Even non-gardeners can attract hummingbirds by maintaining a clean sugar water feeder in a safe location.

Weighing about as much as a nickel, a hummingbird is capable of briefly achieving speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. It is also among the few birds that are able to fly vertically and in reverse. In a straight-ahead flight, hummingbirds beat their wings up to 80 times per second, and their hearts can beat up to 1200 times per minute!

Each year Ruby-throated Hummingbirds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico- an incredible, nonstop journey of more than 500 miles. In order to accomplish this, these little birds first double their body mass by fattening up on insects and nectar before departing in late October.

1. Birds of Michigan: by Ted Black
Related Articles:

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Blackbirds are getting ready to leave Michigan

Are you seeing fewer blackbirds? Nesting season is almost complete for the blackbirds. From August to September they will be floating around with their families.

You will see fewer and fewer at the feeders as they molt and grow new winter feathers. By October the blackbirds in Michigan will already be in the the southern United States and Central America winter homes.

Winter flocks can include different blackbird species and starlings numbering in the millions. Each morning the roosts spread out, traveling as far as 50 miles to feed, then re-forming at night. In fall and winter, they congregate in agricultural fields, feedlots, pastures, and grassland.

Related articles:
- Fun Facts on Red-winged Blackbirds: http://bit.ly/q05Bos
- All about the Red-Winged Blackbird: http://bit.ly/qAeiyj

- When black birds fly south http://bit.ly/Q1qDAk
- Bird Basics: How are birds classified? http://bit.ly/Q1reSr

Friday, July 14, 2017

Photo Share: Trumpet Vine Tree

Evan's assignment today was to take the camera and find something interesting in nature. He came back with the Trumpet vine bloom. I asked what caught his eye and he said because it was a weird tree.

I've trained my Trumpet vine to climb a pole and go around and around until it looks like a tree. You don't have to be gentle. Wack, Wack it back and twist tie it into a shape. It seems the harsher I treat it the more it blooms. This year was the best.

Good observation Evan!

This was another fabulous observation by my guest blogger and nephew Evan. I hope you look forward to these posts as much as I do. And if you or any of your kids or grand-kids want to guest blog about something in nature, send it to it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it. We would love to share your child's thoughts and experiences with the outdoors.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Molting geese unable to fly in July

I was taking my cardboard out to recycle today and saw three Canada Geese strutting down the road in front of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI.

It is the molting season for Canada geese. They rejuvenate their flight feathers for their Fall migration beginning in mid-June and throughout the month of July. Unlike other birds which will loose one feather at a time and still be able to fly, geese will loose all of their flight feathers (or molt) and will be unable to fly for a period of about 6 weeks. Please drive carefully!

Related Articles:
- Have you ever heard of a wedge of geese? http://goo.gl/2oDPB
- Goose Gaffe? http://goo.gl/sDx9H
- Strange deer and goose pairing http://goo.gl/im8Pj
- Why geese sleep in the water http://goo.gl/X9gV9
- Why do geese fly in a V formation? http://goo.gl/h1icv 

- When Canada Geese Migrate in mid-Michigan http://canada-geese-migrate.html

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

This is a Feeder Fresh day: Keeping birdseed dry

·         Feeder Fresh crystals prevent mold in your bird feeders
·         Bird-safe, clump-free solution
·         Chemically similar to sand - only super absorbent
I know I’ve said this before but with this humid, muggy, WET summer, Feeder Fresh can save your seed. It will also save you from having to clean moldy feeders. My favorite secret weapon to keep my seed flowing is Feeder Fresh which is available at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI. This is a desiccant that I stir into the seed to absorb the moisture that can make the seed clump.
What is Feeder Fresh?
Feeder Fresh is declared Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. Amorphous silicon dioxide (or silica) is non-toxic, inert, and chemically similar to sand.

Feeder Fresh has a porous structure containing billions of microscopic holes that readily absorb water and humidity. The material absorbs any moisture that gets in the feeder to keep the seed fresh and flowing.

Field testing shows that, birds instantly recognize Feeder Fresh granular particles are not seed. However, if ingested, the particles are handled by the bird's system in a similar manner as other grit that they normally would ingest.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bug that buzzes in the summer

Cicada molting
I was just carrying seed to a customer's car and heard my first long buzzing sound announcing we've hit full summer. Cicadas are insects that live underground for years and come to the surface every July so the males can buzz for mates.

His buzz is made by vibrating membranes on the abdomen. A female cicada that finds a male attractive will respond to his buzz call with a brisk movement of the wings. The male can both see and hear this “wing flick,” and will reply with more clicking of his tymbals. As the duet continues, the male makes his way toward her and begins a new song called the “courtship call.”

In Michigan, Cicadas don’t have too much effect on humans one way or another. They don’t bite or sting. Their lifespan is typically from two to five years and their emergence from underground is staggered so some individuals emerge each year.

Related Articles:
Flashdance: The Fireflies Mating Ritual http://bit.ly/ysuA9q
What is a Slug? http://bit.ly/AlQwWS
Sounds of Summer: Michigan Cicada http://bit.ly/xnUpVW
Cicada mania not coming to Michigan until 2021 http://cicada-mania michigan.html
Interesting and Noteworthy http://interesting-and-noteworthy.html