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

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

Friday, 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 had 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.

Source:
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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Feeder choice keeps doves at bay

We have always enjoyed many cardinals in our feeders.  This year about 6-8 dove have dominated the feeders and we feel they have kept the cardinals from coming.  Is there any way to discourage the dove?  We miss our cardinals!

To deter the doves and keep the cardinals you can use a seed block like the Wild Birds Unlimited Safflower cylinder. Doves don't have the same ability to use their bill to work a seed off a seed block but cardinals have no problem.

Mourning Doves are not picky eaters so it doesn’t help to change what you are feeding. They eat a variety of seeds, insects, and berries. They stuff their crop until it bulges and then fly off to digest slowly.

However doves are ground feeders. They need a large perching area to feed comfortably so you can also use a tube feeder with a cardinal perch. Two popular feeders are Squirrel Buster Plus or the Droll Yankees Whipper. Both allow the cardinal to feed comfortably and keep the doves at bay.

Related Articles:
Red birds feasting on safflower cylinder http:/red-birds-feasting.html
How to Attract Cardinals http://attract-cardinals.html
Squirrel Proof feeders http:/squirrel-proof.html
Where the cardinals went http:/cardinals-went.html

Sunday, July 9, 2017

How to attract cardinals

I think it was a very good year for cardinals. I'm basing that observation on all the little brown juvenile cardinals that are showing up alone at my feeders! Young Northern Cardinals have ashy brown feathers and black bills rather than the orange-red of the adults. They change gradually to their adult coloration three to four months after hatching.

If you can attract these newly independent cardinals to your yard now, they may hook up with other youngsters and stay in your territory all winter. Young cardinals usually pull away from their parents about forty days after leaving the nest. Some bird species like the American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds stay in family groups until the next breeding season and some bird species like the cardinals and chickadees have young that disperse a few weeks after they've fledged from the nest.

The young that disperse early have a steep learning curve. For example they have to find a new area to forage away from their natal territory to prevent inbreeding. They have to find enough food to sustain them through a fall feather molt. And they have to survive natural predators and human obstacles.

Studies reveal that newly independent young birds usually lose weight because they forage less efficiently than adults. Right now they are looking for a lot of weed seeds, fruits, nuts and berries in the wild. At the feeders you can provide highly nutritious and protein packed foods like sunflower and safflower seeds as well as peanuts. At my feeders the Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess blend is very popular along with the Safflower Cylinders.

Related Articles:
Identifying baby chickadees http://baby-chickadees.html
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

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Window decals to prevent bird strikes

We've had a lot of customers coming in today distress by birds hitting the window. Right now there are still young birds around learning the ropes and unfortunately, many times it's the inexperienced birds that fall victim to window strikes. Birds also strike windows as they quickly try to escape predators, hitting glass in a moment of panic. And during spring and fall migration, window strikes increase as birds unfamiliar with the area pass through.Window strikes are hard to totally eliminate, but there are ways to reduce them and/or reduce their severity:

1. Locate feeders and birdbaths within 1-2 feet of them so they can't gather enough speed to cause significant injury or about 20-30 feet from windows so birds have time to change direction. Window feeders also alert birds to a window.
2. Window screens will reduce injury even if a bird flies into it. Use them where practical.
3. Decals like Window Alert placed on the outside of windows have had the most positive feedback from customers. Each decal contains a component which brilliantly reflects ultraviolet sunlight. This ultraviolet light is invisible to humans, but glows like a stoplight for birds.

If you do have a window strike and the bird is injured CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference. For a complete list of Michigan Licensed Rehabilitators visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/
or for local Emergency Numbers:  http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/2012/05/emergency-numbers-who-to-call-if-you.html

Friday, July 7, 2017

Photo Share: Hidden deer

I went on the trails at Grand Woods Park Monday. I walked right by this deer and didn't see her. Even when I was looking straight at her she was camouflaged.

Michigan is home to a wide variety of hiking trails across the state. Grand Woods Park has 128 acres on the Grand River that is very family-oriented. There is a picnic shelter, playground equipment, fishing pond, nature trails, softball field, one grass volleyball court, Frisbee golf course, radio-controlled race car track, restrooms, drinking water and dogs can be walked on a leash. Park closes at dusk. 4500 Willow Hwy., Delta Township, on Willow Hwy. 1/2 mile east of Elmwood Road.

Thank you for sharing your 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.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Guest Blogger: An essay on my experience with nature

We went up north to try to find some petoskey stones. They are a fossil that lived in the area when Michigan was under a salt water sea. A glacier scraped across the earth and spread the fossils around northern MI.

The petoskey stone is made of packed skeletons of coral polyps. The dark center was the mouth and the lines around it were the tentacles which brought food to the mouth.
Looking for Petoskey stones
When it is dry, it looks like limestone, but when it's wet, patterns come out.

Because the petoskey stone is so soft it can be polished with sand paper, steel wool, and finish with a cloth soaked in oil. This brings out the rays of the rising sun pattern.

The petoskey stone was named for the Ottawa chief Pe-to-se-ga which means rising sun. THE END!

This was another fabulous report 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.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology's BirdSleuth can help you get kids outside and enjoying their local parks and natural areas. Download a free Explorer's Guidebook: http://www.birdsleuth.org/guidebook/

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Benefits of bird feeders in summer

I usually don't feed in the summer because I want the baby birds to learn how to feed themselves. But this year I kept the suet feeder out and I'm getting so many different kinds of woodpeckers with babies! Am I doing them a disservice?

You are doing the birds a great service by feeding them in the summer. Recent research studies show that birds with access to bird feeders allow breeding females to spend less time searching for food and more time selecting better nesting sites and constructing higher quality nests. The adults will also have more time available for protecting their nest, eggs and young from predators.

When abundant food is accessible to parent birds it means that more food is provided to their chicks. Studies have shown that this extra nutrition reduces aggression among nest siblings and increases their rate of growth.

And if you like to bird watch, summer observations can be very rewarding. Birds that visit feeders during summer include species not present during winter. Besides the usual woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice and chickadees, you may attract orioles, wrens, warblers and more with suet during the spring and summer.

Parents may bring fledglings to the bird bath and then a feeder as their first step in educating them how to feed themselves but it won't be their last lesson. Once they are fed they can then take the chicklettes out and about to forage for other natural foods. Feeders aren't any birds main source of food. Birds just use feeders as a supplement to their natural diet.

With development, pesticides, manicured yards and planting of non-native species, birds have lost some natural feeding areas but we can help by providing a renewable feeding area (a clean feeder full of quality food).

Related Articles:
What seed is best for attracting the colorful birds? http://goo.gl/SAA35
What are the differences between the Wild Birds Unlimited seed blends? http://goo.gl/lF0rr
What seeds do wild birds eat? http://goo.gl/MjUCA
When should I feed the birds? http://goo.gl/IvocS

Why bird feeder activity increases in summer

Why are the birds eating so much right now?

Well the easy answer is there is at least twice as many birds at the feeders. Most feeder birds have already had at least one batch of babies. You'll see a lot of stressed out parent birds are bringing their families up for quick bites. And the goldfinches have just now settled down to one territory to begin nesting.

If you haven't seen an increase at the finch feeders, wash your feeders and put in fresh food. Finches left off feeding regularly at the feeders for a few weeks in June but they should be devouring the food again now until they bring up their babies and complete their full molt in October.

Birds have to eat a lot of high protein foods to produce a new coat of feathers and bulk up for a journey south or prepare for a harsh winter. Most birds go through a full molt of their feathers in the late summer. This complicated process requires a lot of energy and may take up to eight weeks to complete. Feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation.

And don't be surprised to see some bald cardinals, jays and blackbirds in July and August. It is normal for some birds to go through an abnormal molt or replacement of feathers.

For the next few months, offer high-protein bird foods, such as No-Mess blend, Nyjer® (thistle), peanuts, suet and mealworms, to ensure that your birds have a reliable source of protein to help them with growing families and molting.

Related Articles:
Types of Bird feathers http://bit.ly/w0U1M6
Dirt baths help birds stay clean http://bit.ly/rJR7Ex
Why birds molt http://bit.ly/rGaqRL
Do Birds Go Grey or White Feathered in Old Age? http://bit.ly/rRwSeP
Bald Cardinals in Summer http://bald-cardinals-in-summer.html

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

What groundhogs eat and drink

I love my chubby cheeked woodchuck! Not many gardeners do, but when he tears across the lawn, his rolls of fat rippling along with him, it is a sight to see. My woodchuck, also known as a groundhog, is found most often under the mulberry tree feasting on the tree's fruit.

For the next 3 or 4 months, until the days grow shorter and he decides to take a long winter nap, a woodchuck will eat an assemblage of plant leaves, fruits, nuts, and berries. He stands adroitly on his two back feet to to munch my tall sunflower leaves and also lays flat out on the ground to pick up some fallen seed from the bird feeders. He gets some liquid from fruit but will drink from puddles and ponds too.

In the woodchuck's effort to pack on the pounds before hibernation, some gardeners may find a diminished garden with a great big underground den in its place. They build impressive homes. It can be anywhere from 8 to 66 feet long, with multiple rooms and exits. One room is for hibernating, and then they have another section of the burrow that’s more like their summer home where they can come out more easily. There are even potty rooms.

Why love a woodchuck beside for his adorableness? Old woodchuck dens provide a lot of homes for other animals like foxes, raccoons, opossums and cottontails. Opposums are natural predators of ticks. The fox and skunk feed upon field mice, grasshoppers, beetles and other creatures that destroy gardens. In aiding these animals, the woodchuck indirectly helps the gardener. In addition to providing homes for itself and other animals, the woodchuck aids in soil improvement by bringing subsoil to the surface. They also consume impressive amounts of weed seeds and waste grain. And they don't like other woodchucks. If you have one they will chase off any others. 

Related Articles:
What's the Difference Between a Groundhog & Woodchuck? http://bit.ly/z5FPoV
What happens when the groundhog sees his shadow? http:/groundhog-sees-his.html
Love and the Birds: The Origin of St. Valentine's Day http://bit.ly/w5ra8B
Is hibernation more of a nightmare than a pleasant dream? http://bit.ly/y2OGr6
Origin of National Squirrel Appreciation Day! http://bit.ly/AhqkBg

Monday, July 3, 2017

Photo Share: Mallow in the garden

Today in the garden the Mallow is in full bloom. "Mallow" is derived from the Greek name Malachi, "to soften," in reference to its use in mixtures to soften or sooth the skin.

Related Articles:
Native heart-shaped ground cover http://heart-shaped-ground-cover.html
Sunflowers Up-close: The Strange Journey of an American Plant http:/sunflowers-up-close.html
Wildflowers in the garden http://lobed-hepatica.html
Photo Share: Outside the Wild Birds Unlimited door http:/outside-wild-birds.html

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hummingbird feeding is most successful in late summer

We have had very few hummers this year. Are others seeing this also?

Hummingbirds hit the feeders hard on dry summers because there are fewer flowers blooming and lower bug counts. That means feeders are a welcome supplemental food source. This year's wet spring means more bugs and blooms and fewer hummingbirds at the feeders. Bad for birdwatchers, good for the birds.

But don’t give up on them! Hummingbird feeding is most successful in late summer and early fall. Territories have now relaxed since nesting is over. The babies are out with their mommas which means the highest number of hummingbirds are feeding right now.

Late July some hummers may begin fueling up to migrate south. Some people fear that feeding hummingbirds into the fall may delay their departure and expose them to freezing but there is no evidence that feeding slows their migration. In fact hummers that are born late in the season are vulnerable. Leaving your feeders up may provide a critical opportunity for these hummingbirds to build reserves and “catch up.”

September is typically the most satisfying month to feed hummingbirds. As the days shorten, ruby-throats begin to migrate south. This occurs in Michigan late August and by mid-October the they are usually gone. That's a good time to bring in the feeders and clean them for winter storage. 

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Put out your nesting material for the goldfinches

Wild Birds Unlimited Cotton Nesting Material
During July, long after most birds have completed nesting, the American Goldfinches are just beginning to nest for the first and only time of the year. They may have been absent from your feeders earlier when they were footloose and fancy free to eat grass or flower seeds. Now that they are tied down to one area to nest and once the babies fledge the numbers of birds hitting the feeders will multiply, literally! Make sure your feeders are clean and full of fresh birdseed.

You do not want to miss this exciting time of vibrant song and fascinating courtship behavior. A male establishes and marks his territory by warbling and flitting from perch to perch around his domain. He also circles and performs flying displays. First, a low flat flight, and then an exaggerated undulation and series of loops.

Goldfinch nesting coincides with the availability of plant down for nest construction and the abundant supply of their preferred food to feed their young. At the feeders they love to eat fresh, dry Nyjer® (thistle), and they also enjoy sunflower chips like we have in the No-mess blend.

Young goldfinches are dependent on their parents for at least three weeks after fledging. Their energetic begging, chasing and harassment of their parents for food at your feeders are truly some of the biggest payoffs of participating in the bird feeding hobby.

Related Articles:
European Goldfinches http://bit.ly/Q2Cu37
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

Friday, June 30, 2017

Photo Share: Goldfinch raiding wren house

I wanted to share an interesting observation. I have a House Wren nesting in my Woolie this year but it has been battling a goldfinch stealing some soft stuffing for her own nest. Eventually the wren won or the goldfinch took home enough nesting material to leave the wren alone.

The male wren was fascinating to watch as he figured out how to get all those sticks in the nest! It has given me hours of entertainment.

And this squirrel also visited me. He perched on my deck with a black walnut that he found from who knows where because there aren't any in the neighborhood. He carefully nibbled and gnawed all the away around the nut until it cracked open. Then he juggled the two pieces until he could adroitly balance both halves and eat the nut. Nobody else was getting this nut. I love all the activity in the yard.

Photo and story by Sandra Hellman

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:
Cute Woolie Bird Houses!
http://bird-houses.html
Male vs female House Wrens http://male and female wrens.html
Do the same House Wrens nest in the same house every year? http://bit.ly/uDBbIb
Quick Fun Facts on Wrens http://bit.ly/v5XVoU
Hanging & Placement of Wren Bird Houses
http://bit.ly/rBLsGQ
House Wren vs. Carolina Wren
http://house-vs-carolina-wren.html