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.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Photo Share: Found a peanut growing in the lawn

Found a peanut 🎶🎵🎶🎶 Was it a squirrel, bird or Sarah that dropped it on the grasswhen filling the feeders? It takes about 10 days to start growing. Unlike most plants, a peanut plant flowers above ground but the peanuts grow underground. I haven't decided yet if I will give the new peanuts back or make peanut butter cookies.

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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Identify Monarch Butterfly

I was excited to see a monarch on my flowers outside the Wild Birds Unlimited store! It was battling the winds with expert skill.

The Monarch Butterfly has distinct black veins, and a black border with white polka dots on orange wings. The underside of the monarch butterflies' wings are paler than the topside. The wingspan of a full-grown monarch is four to five inches. The body of the monarch is black with more white dots.

Males and females can be told apart by looking at the top of their hind wings. Males have a black spot at the center of each hind wing, while the females do not. The spot is a scent gland that helps the males attract female mates.

While beautiful, this coloring actually sends a warning to predators that the monarch is foul tasting and poisonous.

Take a quiz to see if you can tell the difference between the similar viceroy and queen butterflies: http://look-alikes-fool-you/

Related Articles:
- Do Monarch Butterflies just wake up in the spring? http://goo.gl/5tkUk
- Monarch migration route http://goo.gl/L66ty
- Punctuation Butterflies: The First Butterfly of Spring! http://bit.ly/JHUpG1  
- How Fast Does a Monarch Butterfly Fly? http://bit.ly/ywhpZr
- Did you know butterflies have ears on their wings? http://bit.ly/x04qEi

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Late Summer is a good time to feed birds

6 steps to make the future brighter for birds

Habitat loss, disease, severe weather, window collisions and many other factors contribute to the decline in bird populations. Here are six steps you can take to make the future brighter for birds:

Land development is changing the habitat available for many birds. You can help by landscaping with native plants that provide natural food sources, shelter and protection predators. Man made feeders, nest boxes and bird baths also benefits birds.

2. Prepare a proper menu
Food is essential to provide birds with the energy, stamina and nutrition to endure the elements year-round. Wild Birds Unlimited has regionally formulated seed blends to provide the most nutritious food for your birds. The first ingredient in our top 4 seed blends is sunflower seed, the favorite of most of the backyard seed eating birds.
To help reduce the possibility of disease transmission in birds, clean feeders and feeding areas at least once a month. Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing will clean your feeder for $5.00 or you can disassemble and scrub your feeders at home. Keep seed and foods dry by adding Feeder Fresh; discard food that is wet or looks moldy. Birdbaths also need to be scrubbed with a brush and water should be replaced every three to days to discourage mosquito reproduction. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every three to five days, or every other day in warm weather.

4. Birds and chemicals don’t mix 
Many pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are toxic to birds; avoid using these near areas where birds feed, bathe or rest.

5. Keep cats away from birds 
Outdoor cats are estimated to kill 500 million birds per year. Even the sweetest cats still have the instincts of their wild ancestors. When something flutters by, they must swat it down. Cats do what comes natural but you can help wildlife by restricting their access outside. A lot of our customers start bird feeding to entertain their indoor cats. It is a challenge to keep indoor-only animals stimulated and engaged mentally. A window feeder is one solution.

6. Reduce window collisions 
It is estimated that between 100 million and one billion birds are killed every year in the United States when they crash into glass windows. And even one billion deaths might be a conservative estimate. 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.

Related Articles:
- Attracting Michigan Songbirds http://goo.gl/H42e6s
- What seeds wild birds eat http://goo.gl/Un35yR
- What to do if you have soggy seed in your bird feeder http://goo.gl/kfTpi
- How to get rid of weeds under the bird feeder without using poisons http://goo.gl/fHlsE0
- Cats Indoors! http://goo.gl/YIOUpI
- How to Prevent Window Strikes during Migration http://goo.gl/KZRzKb

Friday, July 28, 2017

Photo Share: Spring Peeper

I had a real peeper at my window last night. He was only 1" long.

Spring peepers are nocturnal insectivores, emerging at night to feed primarily on small invertebrates, such as beetles, ants, flies, and spiders. They do not climb high into trees, but hunt in low vegetation.

The spring peeper is the most abundant of Michigan's singing frogs and is common statewide. They prefer damp woodlands, swamps, and marshes. However, they still need protection - local populations around small ponds and wetlands can be highly susceptible to pollution.

It is our responsibility to make sure that we will always be able to open a window on a warm spring night and fall asleep to the tinkle of the spring peeper.

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 27, 2017

Finding feathers on the ground

Have you noticed more feathers on the ground or bald birds at the feeding station? Or just seen birds eating much more than usual? Many birds are losing and replacing their feathers in a process known as molting. This complicated process requires a lot of energy and may take up to eight weeks to complete.

Most birds’ feather loss and replacement is gradual and you may notice they look a little ruffled. But then there are also a select few that go bald. Some Cardinals, BlueJays, and Grackles go through an abnormal molt that leaves them bald. Don't worry the feathers will grow back. However, the quality and depth of the red coloration of the cardinal’s feathers is the result of amount of the pigment ingested, and then deposited in the new fall feathers. A study done by the Ohio State University found that juveniles, less efficient foragers than adults, often have a duller red feather coloration.

You can help by offering high-protein bird foods, such as sunflower seed, safflower, peanuts, Nyjer® (thistle), suet and mealworms, to ensure that your birds have a reliable source of protein to help them during this stressful time.

For the customers at the East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited store, we recommend feeding the No-Mess Blend. Our unique No-Mess Blend contains sunflower seeds, peanut pieces and white proso millet without the shells. No shells on the seeds make for a tidier feeding area, since there's nothing on the ground to clean up. Pound for pound, our No-Mess Blend offers the best value because you do not pay for the shells and the best food for the birds because it's fresh and full of protein.

Related Articles:
There’s more to a jay than any other creature http://goo.gl/8OrUq
Birds Molting: Out with the Old, In with the New http://bit.ly/M2Flrs
Raggedy birds during late summer feather molting http://raggedy-birds-during-molt.html
When is bird migration over? http://bit.ly/M2FgUD

How to have more colorful birds at your feeder http://more-colorful-birds.html

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Do hawks hunt cats?

Hawks are in the area. Should I be worried about my cat? It's absolutely stunning to see these birds perched, waiting on a meal. Is it wrong to leave out some food for them? It just breaks my heart to see them eat the chipmunks and smaller birds.
Raptors hunt a variety of prey, including rodents, birds, rabbits, snakes, and insects. Large raptors, such as Red-tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls, can attack small pets. But can they and will they are two different things. There is something in the walk of a cat that doesn’t say prey. But if a bird is desperate to feed young ones in the spring, and the size cat is similar to or not much larger than naturally occurring raptor prey, there is a slight risk.

We recommend that for animals less than 15 pounds, that you supervise all of their outdoor activities. And there are also several good reasons to just keep cats indoors. Outdoor cats are threatened by fleas, ticks, disease, vehicles, and harassment from larger animals. These threats are a much greater risk than raptors. For more information on this subject please visit the American Bird Conservancy/Cats Indoors Program.

In the fall it's very possible you'll see more hawks up close and personal as young raptors disperse from their parents and older birds shift to their wintering grounds. I don't recommend trying to feed hawks. If you want to bring some roadkill off the streets and set up a camera for viewing you could, but I would just let the hawks do their thing.

Related Articles:
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk comes for a visit http://bit.ly/w1fDRM
Can You Scare a Hawk Away? http://bit.ly/w3vz5B
Small birds attack hawk http://bit.ly/sH68yB
Frozen Woodpecker http://bit.ly/ubSCTR
Is it safe to feed the birds out in the open? http://bit.ly/rBErxI 

Do you think the hawk would like to eat my tofu? http:/hawk-would-like-to-eat.html

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Leave birdhouses up for winter roosts

Is there a reason to leave the birdhouse out after the House Wrens leave?

House Wrens usually leave mid-Michigan by October to winter in the southern U.S. and Mexico. If their bird house is a material that doesn't winter well like ceramic or gourd I would clean it up and bring it in for the winter. If it is made of cedar, recycled plastic, or a material that weathers well, I would or leave the house up for the chickadees.

Black-capped Chickadees stay in Michigan year-round. And when the weather turns bitter cold Chickadees seek out natural cavities like knotholes in trees, or old woodpecker nests to roost. Where these are scarce, chickadees will use bird houses for shelter.

Related Articles:  
Keep Wasps from Building Nests in Birdhouses http:/keep-wasps-from birdhouses.html
Best Bird Houses http://bit.ly/AuLTJt
Why don't chickadees stay to eat at the feeder? http://bit.ly/AkKThH
After chickadee babies have fledged http://bit.ly/yAYbP4
What Do Black-Capped Chickadees Eat? http://bit.ly/zxi04X
Bird of the Week: Black-capped Chickadee http://bit.ly/A1YFQ4 

Monday, July 24, 2017

How to attract finches to new feeder

The most important place to hang a feeder is where you and your family can watch it easily. That said, I’ve found the goldfinches feel more comfortable with the feeder in or near trees. These tiny social birds can be skittish about predators around a feeder. They perch at the top of a tree, check out the area and then filter their way down to a feeding station when it appears safe.

American Goldfinches are vegetarians. If you want them in to come in your yard plant flowers that produce seed heads like milkweed, yarrow, asters, cosmos, black-eyed-Susans or Coneflowers. And add feeders that have Sunflower seed or Nyjer® (thistle).

At my house they can get sunflower from the feeders that are filled with the Wild Birds Unlimited No-mess blend. In my finch feeders I like to feed the straight Nyjer® (thistle) for a couple reasons. First it does not grow weeds and has been heat treated to prevent the growth of any noxious seeds. Second, it is a seed that attracts goldfinches mainly and other birds as well as squirrels and raccoons avoid feeders full of only nyjer.

My favorite feeder is a Mesh Finch Feeders. Several birds can feed at a time, the seed airs out, it's easy to clean, easy to fill, has a lifetime guarantee, and is made in the USA. However if you're thinking of switching feeders remember that it may take several days for Goldfinches to accept a new feeder. If you don't see any action, shake the feeder and check the seed to make sure it's still fresh. You may have to change the seed if they haven't found it in a month's time.

But this is a very good time to feed them! Goldfinches nest in late summer and early fall. This is when you will see a dramatic increase in the number of finches in your yard. It's a joy to see a flock of goldfinches raining down to the feeder or dancing in the flowers in search of seeds. And the happiest sound in the late summer is the call of baby goldfinches!

Related Articles:
Prevent soggy seed in your bird feeder http://goo.gl/kfTpi
Nyjer (thistle) isn't related to Canada Thistle http://bit.ly/Nt8Xxu
Bird of the week: American Goldfinch http://bit.ly/PZum2a
How to Attract Goldfinches http://bit.ly/A6CwjB
How often do you clean a bird feeder? http://bit.ly/wTk0c7 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Yellow warbler migration

I had a visitor that was all yellow like a goldfinch but was the shape of the wren. Do you know what it was?
Yellow Warblers have begun migrating! At the first glance of yellow you might think American Goldfinches but female and immature Yellow Warblers are also notable for their overall plain yellowness. And male Yellow Warblers are a bright, egg-yolk yellow with reddish streaks on the neck and belly.

They are among the first of the warblers to move en masse up the North American continent in spring. They’re also among the first to fly back south in July. They winter mainly in mangrove forests of Central and South America.

They migrate at night so you may wake up one morning to see a new bird gleaning bugs frenetically in bushes or checking out your suet feeders. The activity of other birds may be a signal that your yard is a safe stop-over site. They will stay only long enough to rest, refuel, and wait for favorable winds to fly further south.

Now until the end of November, the numbers and variety of birds appearing in your yard can actually change every morning as many small songbirds migrate. Species such as warblers, vireos, orioles, grosbeaks, tanagers, buntings, blackbirds, and sparrows all migrate overnight.

As you might imagine, migration takes a toll on the birds. It is not uncommon for birds to lose one-fourth to one-half of their body weight as they migrate thousands of miles. Birds need to accumulate fat to help maintain their energy reserves before the journey. Sometimes, however, reserves are not enough and that's when your yard with plenty of food, water and shelter can be a lifesaver.

Watch the video: http://macaulaylibrary.org/video/484113

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.

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