Where should I hang my hummingbird feeder?

I live in Troy, MI and my yard backs up to woods. I have purchased a feeder that looks like an antique red bottle. It is now hung under a sparse weeping cherry. We landscape with very few flowers
What is the best location? Sun / shade / height? Thank you.

That’s a really good question and I can’t believe I haven’t answered it already on the blog (http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/).
  • The number one rule in hanging any feeder is to place it where you can watch the birds comfortably. The whole point in bird feeding is to watch these winged wonders up close. 
  • Since hummingbirds feed by sight, the second rule is to hang the feeder where they will be able to see it as they fly over your yard. A new feeder may be found sooner if hung near a flower garden or hanging flower basket.
  • Place your hummingbird feeders near bushes to provide perching spots and protection from predators.
  • The height of the feeder is less important. Hummingbirds feed from the flowers on the ground and from the tops of flowering trees or climbing vines.
  • Part sun or shade is the best place for nectar feeders. The nectar lasts longer in the shade. Also the nectar in bottle feeders can expand in the sun and start to drip and this will call in bees and ants.
  • Make sure your nectar is fresh and the correct one part white sugar to four parts water solution.
  • In hot weather you should clean your feeder at least twice a week. Just like a restaurant, if a hummingbird comes by to check out your new feeder and finds it filled with spoiled food, they won’t return anytime soon.
In Michigan you can hang hummingbird feeders out from mid-April to the end of October. Migrating birds follow their own schedule usually, based on the weather.

The next couple of months are your best opportunity to see hummingbirds. Adult hummingbirds are now joined by a horde of juveniles as they head south to Central America and their winter territories, traveling thousands of miles.

It's estimated that more than seven million Ruby-throated Hummingbirds return to the tropics each winter. As they make their way south, hummingbirds will take part in an eating binge that is unmatched at any other time of the year. A high-calorie diet is important to build fat reserves for their long stretches of flying. So be sure to have your hummingbird feeders ready.

Bird banding studies indicate that, the hummingbirds visiting your feeders in the fall can be completely replaced by a new wave of migrants within 24 hours.

To estimate the number of hummingbirds using your feeders during migration, multiply times five. For example, if you see 1 hummingbird at your feeder, you have had about 5 passing through your yard that day.

How the Northern Cardinal bird was named

In 1758, the Cardinal was one of the many species originally described by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. Based on appearance, Linnaeus thought the Cardinal was related to the Red Crossbill and gave it the genus Loxia cardinalis. Loxia is derived from the Greek loxos which means crosswise..
However taxonomists found the two species were not closely related. As a result in 1838, it was changed to the genus Cardinalis and given the scientific name Cardinalis virginianus, which means "Virginia Cardinal" because there were a lot of Cardinals in Virginia.
Then in 1918, the scientific name was changed to Richmondena cardinalis to honor Charles Wallace Richmond, an American ornithologist. But in 1983 that was changed again, to Cardinalis cardinalis and the common name was also changed to "Northern Cardinal.”
There are actually several bird species in the world with the name Cardinal. The term "Northern" in the common name refers to its range, as it is the only cardinal found in the Northern Hemisphere.

And 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.
Whatever the name, Cardinals are beautiful birds that are a favorite to watch year-round at mid-Michigan feeders.

What are the Best Binoculars: How to Choose Optics

Answer these questions to get a better handle on what you really need:

How much magnification do you need?
Making the image 8 or 10 times closer with binoculars is the most popular choice.

8x binoculars work well in all terrain and in a wide variety of situations because images tend to be brighter with wider fields of view. The large view makes it easier to follow fast moving birds in thick woodland environments, scan for animals from a distance, and to follow action in sporting events or at the theater.

10x binoculars give you more detail for viewing raptors, waterfowl, and large wildlife, and are preferred for observing at longer distances and in more open terrain. Keep in mind that you need a steady hand. It takes very little hand tremor to affect your view.

Do your binoculars need to be waterproof?Most standard binoculars will stand up to light rain and humidity. But if bad weather is a possibility, then get a waterproof binocular.

Will you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses?
Constantly taking your glasses on and off is not only frustrating, but it will slow you down when tracking fast-moving birds. Twist up eye cups allow you to twist the eye cups up to give you the perfect eye relief when you aren’t wearing glasses and twist down the eye cups when you wear glasses.

Full Size Binoculars or Compact?

Compact binoculars (like EO Triumph 8x25 binoculars) are small enough to fit in a pocket while you're at work in the yard. These small binoculars will be bright enough for daytime use and, if light gathering isn't an issue, are easier to travel with and take along for walks, concerts and football games.

Full-Size Binoculars (like EO Denali 8x42 or 10x42 binoculars) will provide better image quality than compact binoculars. Full-size binoculars will gather enough light to show good color and definition from dawn to dusk.

Our most popular binocular is:
Eagle Optics Denali 8x42 Roof Prism Binocular

Field of View: 408 feet/1000 yards
Eye Relief: 18 mm
Close Focus: 7.0 feet
Weight: 21.9 ounces
Dimensions (HxW): 5.4 x 5.0 in.

The Denali's crisp, contrasting views work hard when scanning across open fields for raptors and other wildlife. Phase correction enhances resolution, contrast, and overall sharpness. Fully multi-coated lenses provide maximum brightness and true colors.

Rugged, sleek and elegant in form, the redesigned Denali is waterproof and fog proof for durability you can count on in any weather. Waterproofing seals optics against water damage. Fog proofing prevents fogging of internal lenses. Ergonomic styling provides comfortable handling. Twist-up eyecups adjust for full-field viewing even with eyeglasses.

The Eagle Optics Denali 8x42 Roof Prism Binocular comes with:
Rainguard, tethered objective lens covers, neck strap, carry case, and an Eagle Optics Platinum Protection Unconditional Transferable Lifetime Warranty.

American White Pelican spotted in Lansing, Michigan

“Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican, His bill can hold more than his belican, He can take in his beak, Food enough for a week, But I’m damned if I see how the helican.” --Dixon Lanier Merritt

I spotted a white pelican in the Grand River. I know that pelicans are in Florida. Did something happen to this bird and he flew in the wrong direction? ~ Lansing, MI

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhync...Image via WikipediaDon't worry, this happens in a lot in the fall. Many birds wander widely after the breeding season. The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) breeds in some northern states and parts of Canada west of Michigan and then spends winters in the southern U.S. south to Panama.

They can weigh as much as 30 pounds and their wing spans can exceed nine feet. The American White Pelican eats about four pounds of fish a day. It hunts by scooping in a bill full of water and fish that expands a flexible pouch below. The water is drained and the fish are swallowed whole.

If you want to submit your unusual siting go to ebird.org. eBird shares these observations with a global community of educators, land managers, ornithologists, and conservation biologists. In time the data will become the foundation for a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere and beyond.

Thank you for sharing your story.

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How to hang feeders from trees

I want to hang a feeder from a tree. Do you have a chain?

Yes, Wild Birds Unlimited has chains but we also have Tree Hooks made by the same people that developed our unique Advanced Pole System. They come 12 inches to 6 feet in length. The large end goes over a branch and the little end holds the feeder. There is no damage done to the tree.

That sounds ideal! I had my tree trimmed and I was puzzled on how to re-hang these feeders. I  will come in to get a couple as soon as I measure the height to the branch. Thanks.

I'm glad I could help. We also have S hooks that are 2" to 24" long.

Related Article:
Advanced Pole System: Bird Feeding Station That Looks Great and Stays Straight!

How to pish for birds

Historical evidence suggests that pishing may date back to the time of St Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). Today it is a popular American technique to draw North American bird species out into the open using the sound of air expelled through pursed lips. This technique is used by scientists to increase the effectiveness of bird diversity surveys, and by birders to attract species that they might not otherwise see. Curiously it is not as effective in other areas of the world.

A birder can coax birds out from the cover of trees and undergrowth to investigate the pishing noise. Some birders just say the word “pish, pish, pish.” Others use a shushing style. One characteristic that seems to work is a prolonged, unhurried and even-toned quality in the sound. Loudness is not important and can be counterproductive. Also it’s better if each note is drawn-out and raspy. The sound must arouse a bird's natural inquisitive instinct enough to investigate the incessant, repetitive calling.

For beginners, pishing works best in an area with thick vegetation. Once you’re deep in the woods, you are literally inside the birds' living room, and pishing produces the best views and detects the most species. Another tip is to stay perfectly still. Bird vision is much sharper than ours and is highly tuned to detect movement. Flocking is a survival aid and ensures that many pairs of eyes and ears are on the alert for danger. Sitting down and remaining stationary makes it harder for the birds to locate a mystery sound.

Once attracted by pishing, the first birds to arrive often announce their presence by calling. In turn this stimulates others to join in the commotion. However once they discover the sound’s source, they quickly melt away as they realize they have been duped.

The exact translation of “pish” is unclear. It might be a “hey, you” and the birds pop out to see if someone was talking to them. The other theory is that it imitates an anxiety call of a bird in trouble or an alarm call of a squirrel. Mobbing behavior is commonplace among little birds that can become prey of owls, hawks, and other predators. So it may be more of a “look out, help me” warning call that gathers an entourage of irate small birds into action to protect themselves. Or it may just be a bit of peoplewatching on the part of the birds. However, the meaning is still unclear so don’t overuse the technique because we don’t want to unnecessarily overstress our bird friends.

Summer is a good time to feed birds

“The kiss of the sun for pardon. The song of the birds for mirth. One is nearer God’s heart in a garden, than anywhere else on this earth."—Dorothy Frances Gurney

Working at Wild Birds Unlimited I hear how hungry the birds are all the time. So first I would like thank you and everyone that supports our small business. People who shop here are the best!

Backyard bird watching is a fascinating activity that increases our awareness and appreciation of nature. It also helps us forget about the hectic day-to-day craziness and just sit back and relax.

We are now moving in to my favorite time of year. The heat has finally broken (I hope!!!!!). The wind is blowing and the leaves are rustling. Make sure you take time to smell the roses and watch all the baby birds mature.

Baby Bird 08                    (Your photostr...
And just a little reminder that Tuesdays are seed delivery days. If you would like to load a few bags directly into your car, that would be much appreciated. I know I keep running out of No-Mess blend but there is a couple tons waiting outside the store right now! Come in early to pick up your supply because the sale on our most popular blend ends this month at the Wild Birds Unlimited in East Lansing, Michigan.
Thank you all!

How fast can monarchs migrate?

That's a good question. In a laboratory, scientists found Monarchs could fly almost 4 mph. However that could vary depending a lot on weather conditions. We do know it takes them about 2 months to travel 2000 miles from Michigan to their winter home in Mexico.

For a lot more interesting facts on butterflies visit The Journey North Website.

Banding Wilson's Storm-Petrels

It was at least 8 years ago when Bill Elrick, a fellow bander, got me thinking about banding Wilson Storm-Petrels. (Photos below by Peter Trull and Sue Finnegan).

Bill enjoyed banding European Storm-Petrels in Scotland on their breeding grounds and suggested I try to band Wilson's on their summering grounds (from now on I'll use their species code WISP). WISP's breed in the southern hemisphere in cavities they excavate. Bill and others captured European Storm-Petrels in mist nets using vocalizations in the night and felt it would work for WISP's too.One idea was to set up nets on the beach during the night and call them in with tapes.  He thought it might be best in a rocky area which we don't have on Cape Cod.

A year later, Bill forwarded an email to me from the Frontiers of Field Identification, a listserv with a discussion on molt of WISP's and the lack of knowledge in how first year birds molt. Bingo! We had a reason to go for them. But how?

I got talking with Peter Trull, a teacher, naturalist, and author of numerous books. Peter had experience banding Common and Roseate Terns with Ian Nisbet in the past. Peter felt they could easily be caught by using chum off a boat and a long handled net. It took many years of occasionally talking about it but we finally got our act together, wrote a grant and received one from the Nutthall Ornithological Club, and set out this year to get the job done.

We hired a local hook fisherman out of Chatham, Teddy Ligenza, who agreed to take us out on his fishing boat, the Riena Marie. We would do our research while he fished. 

We had enough money to go out twice. Our first successful attempt was 7 July, but we had to abort the second try a week later due to very dangerous conditions from a sandbar that had developed overnight. Most of the fishermen knew not to cross it, but a large boat belonging to the Chatham Bars Inn had a group of tourists and they tried it anyway. Unfortunately for them the windshield got blown out as they attempted to cross the bar and had to turn around. Never under estimate the power of the sea!  We had another successful day on 22 July but fog was dense again with 3-5 ft seas. It was a challenge collecting measurements and taking pictures of the birds as I was tossed around.

The night before our first day on 7 July I tossed and turned  anticipating this new adventure. I couldn't wait to get out there and see if we would be successful. It was still dark when I left my house at 4:15 am to meet Peter and Teddy at the Chatham Fish Pier. The sun was just starting to rise when we left the dock with fog as thick as pea soup.

It didn't take long to get a few miles off of Chatham where Teddy fishes. He prepared his hooks with bait

and dogfish were biting as soon as he threw out his lines.

They are called dogfish for the barking sounds they make. It took Peter and I awhile to get in the swing of things but soon we had a momentum going. Thankfully Peter (and not me!) retrieved the livers from the fish, which we used as chum to attract the birds.

Chum was spread out on the water.

WISP's showed up in minutes, along with Great, Sooty, Manx, and Cory's Shearwaters. Petrels have a dainty way of lightly stepping on the water as they search for food.

Our next task was capturing the petrels. Not being very good in sports I was also bad at trying to catch the birds. Luckily Peter was on a roll so that became his job too.

Got it!

As soon as he caught one in the padded long-handled net he removed the bird and handed it over to me. 

We rigged up a line and hung the birds in bird bags while they waited to be processed. After capturing between 5-10 birds we would process those and release them before capturing anymore. We had to go through the chumming process all over again. 

It was my job to process the birds. First I banded them with stainless steel bands. You can see what a messy job fishing is! Luckily I was able to ignore the blood and fluid surrounding me.  

I assessed them for molt 
and took photographs of their wings, tail, and claws. 

WISP's have good size claws they use to dig their burrows. The webbing between their toes is yellow and veined. 

After processing Peter clipped a tiny bit of feather from one of the feathers they were about to molt so we could have stable isotope analysis done. We hope to discover where the feather was grown, either in the northern or southern hemisphere. If grown in the southern hemisphere, it would tell us the bird was a juvenile as adults would grow their feathers in the northern hemisphere. After that the bird was released.

Wilson's Storm-Petrels belong to the family of tubenoses, visible above their beak. They drink salt water and the salt is excreted through the tubenose.

While netting for petrels, we also encountered a Great Shearwater 

Sooty Shearwater, 

and Peter even caught a Cory's but it escaped. We also saw numerous whales, both Minke and Humpbacks.

Over the two days, we captured a total of 50 WISP's, all in molt, and felt good about succeeding with that many birds when we weren't really positive if we would catch any!

On our way back I talked with Teddy learning about his life a bit

while PT rested after his grueling bout catching petrels. 

We made our way back to the pier passing by Chatham Light

and many stately homes.

I thought about how I may not have all the money in the world but how lucky I am to be able to be out in the wild, be it field, woods, or sea learning what I can about our avian world.

The icing on the cake was being surrounded by gray seals as we tied up to the dock. A great two days! 

Peter was happy too!

Now if only I could get that dogfish smell out of my clothes.....

Hadagarh Sanctuary- Reeling under pressure from Mines

Kanhu Majhi(Ajit Das)the tribal guy from one of the remote villages of Mayurbhanj grows up amidst the wooded forests & waterfalls , wakes up to the calls of pea fowls, runs with his childhood sweet heart Dhaani( Jaya) in Mustard fields during day time, comes back home tired and straight into the warm lap of Guruma( Sujata Anand) and shares a bowl of Pakhala with Manua(Bijay Mohanty). He dreams of setting up his small home in the village along with Dhaani where his off springs would grow on to become farmers. Dasa ( Jairam Samal), the local one room grocery shop owner and Singha Pua ( Dukhiram Swain), the Bihari trader would gulp down country liquor with dried fish, sukhua in the evening and eye the innocent tribal girls. Kanhu Majhi goes on to study in city ( most probably Baripada which has not been mentioned in the movie and I am assuming the village where they live is to be inside Similipal ) leaving behind Dhaani and his village. Things change. Kanhua completes his graduation and goes on to become Hakim Babu(IAS). The ever greedy city dwellers and bureaucrats could not digest the peaceful and serene forests and the villages inside it. They could sense the presence of conspicuous wealth hidden under the green charming bed of Similipal in the form of Chromite and Iron Ore. Kanhua as lovingly called by villagers becomes Kanhu Majhi (I.A.S). He resists the change but circumstances force him to shed down the simplicity of being a Majhi and he marries the city grown and convent studied Barsha Samantray ( Dolly Jena). Dhaani, Manua and more importantly his Baa( Hemant Das) are left shattered and accept the fate that their Kanhua has changed along with time. Baa not able to bear the pain takes his last breath. Singha Pua and Dasa churn out money by winning bids for Forest Block and cutting trees rampantly. Singha Pua’s greediness forces him to go for Chromite Mine bid. Dasa is coaxed by Singha Pua that if he helps him relocate villagers then his one room thatched grocery shop would soon turn into a cemented shop with more business. Villagers resist. Kanhu Majhi also finally endorses the idea of relocating the village where he had spent his childhood days. Village is set ablaze in the middle of night by Singha Pua’s son. Poor villagers loose every thing. They leave back the village where their fore fathers had lived, they leave the fields where they had toiled day and night to make it fertile. Kanhu comes back to see people leaving amidst the setting sun. Soon the green forests would turn into ugly mining blocks. End result is what we are yet to see but it would not be less than a Catastrophe. While Hakim Babu released in 1985 was a movie but story is same across all the sanctuaries and forests of India. While on one hand we relocate villagers for demarcating boundaries, on the other hand we also allow mines to be set up very close to the forest cover, allow metalled roads to cut through the dense forests.

Entry Gate at Hadagarh

Thick Forests of Hadagarh

Anti Poaching Camp of Mayurbhanj Elephant Reserve at Salandi Reservoir

Situated in the district of Kendujhar, Hadagarh sanctuary spans over an area of 191.6 sq km and is one of the most strategically located sanctuaries from wildlife conservation point of view which is described in later part of this write up. Hadagarh falls under the purview of Divisional Forest Officer, Anandpur and comprises of one Range office at Hadagarh. There are two entry points to the sanctuary. One at Hadagarh situated about 20 odd kilometres from Anandpur ( Andapur as spelled in Oriya) and the other at Kathakata in Hatadihi Block , around 26kms from the DFOs office.
Banti, my cousin advised me to enter the sanctuary through Hadagarh gate as it would be afternoon by the time we would reach the sanctuary and Hadagarh village is the only place in the whole area where we could expect something to eat. He had a word of caution though. Being June we should not expect something very great as it is only in winter that this place sees hoards of visitors who come for picnics. After reaching Hadagarh village we got to see a small eatery, a one room hotel which also acted as shop owner’s residence. Freshly caught Rohu fish from the Salandi Dam was to be served as our lunch. Fish Curry, Rice, one Bhaji and Dal for twenty rupees only.

Lunch at the Hadgarh Village

After having a filling lunch we sat with the stall owner for a round of chat along with cup of tea. He has never seen a Tiger in the region, but says that prior to the Dam construction, Tigers were to be seen in the area. After construction of the Dam they are not to be seen any more. Elephants migrate out of the sanctuary area and cause menace in the agricultural lands because there traditional paths of movement have now been blocked by villages and the Dam reservoir.
Hadagarh may not boast of numerous animals as some of the other sanctuaries of country do but it stands upright in terms of its own importance. If you glance at the map below, you will come to know that Orissa’s most important forest cover in terms of Tiger’s source population, Similipal lies north of Hadagarh and is connected to it by a thin patch of forests rich in Sal and its associated family of trees. On the east lies the Hadagarh dam and again a very thin line of corridor connecting with Kuldiha wildlife sanctuary. This means Hadagarh can act as a very vital path for seasonal migration of Elephants from Similipal to the Forests of Kuldiha and vice versa. In fact Hadagarh Sanctuary can act as a solid patch of forests for Tigers and Leopards of South Similipal which wander in search of new habitats in case there is spillage from south Similipal ( this statement does not have any value presently with Similipal reporting as less as 20 Tigers in the latest census published NTCA in 2011). But very less studies in this direction has happened and there has been no scientific data maintained or published in this regard as of now. The forest watcher at the Hadagarh Check gate told that there have been frequent sightings of Leopard pug marks in the northern part of the sanctuary. That means these are good signs for future of Big Cats, provided proper focus is given to these less heard and less focussed sanctuaries like Hadagarh. Though there was no direct sighting of animals during my day long search, we were told by local villagers the forest has good number of animals like wild boars which again means that this forest has enough prey base to support at least 10-15 leopards if not more. Boula mountain range forms the lower edge of the sanctuary and is absolutely a solid demarcation line between the sanctuary and the revenue villages.

(Source: Google Earth)

Thin line of corridors between between Hadagarh, Kuldiha and South Similipal

Machan to protect crops from Wild Boars

But concerning part is that Chromite mines have been leased out to some mining companies just outside the Sanctuary area. It is absolutely fine that we operate mines as at the end of the day industrialisation is absolutely necessary. But the mine operators and industrialists need to be sensitive towards the environment where there next generations are going to survive in. There have been cases where local environmentalists have complained that even blasting takes place in the night hours which is so disturbing for the wildlife. Highly luminous lights used in the area and constant movement of Dumpers will also have effect in the area in longer run. It is not the case only with Hadagarh but rather so many sanctuaries across India. One of the major Tiger population has got confided to Tadoba Andhari Tiger reserve in Maharashtra and there is huge pressure of Open Cast Coal Mines present adjoining to the Buffer Area. Same is the case with Kanha where Mallajkhand mines are present. Whereas Tadoba and Kanha have lot of Activists fighting for their cause, sanctuaries like Hadagarh have none.

Salandi River- Life Line of the Sanctuary

A Paddyfield Pipit

A Rat Snake

Timber Mafias operating in the area are involved in occasional felling of trees. When it happens and in which area it happens that I am not sure of. During our visit, we could see cycle loads of fire wood being collected from the sanctuary area. Often one can come across this Wood cutters carrying valuable log pieces on their cycles and crossing the Baitarani river at Makundpur and Dulakhpatna of Jajpur district on boats which is then sold in places like Jajpur Town at a premium price. What Hadgarh perhaps needs is frequent patrolling by forest staff along with awareness programmes in the nearby villages. Until and unless we carry out development work in the villages situated in and around the sanctuary, there dependency on the Timber and Mining mafias would always be there causing long term harm to the area. Primary healthcare, self-help groups & Co-operative societies to process various NTFPs(Non Timber Based Forest Products) and primary education is what the area needs. This is what local NGOs and individual activists can do but at the same time State Government has a bigger role to play in terms of regulating Mining Companies that operate in and around areas like Hadagarh. Or else all the efforts go for a toss.I have always believed in the wisdom of those wildlife activists who have said that wildlife and human beings cannot co exist. But for a moment just imagine of a situation where villagers had to reloacate from forests because of construction of a dam. And then years after they settle down somewhere nearby they are said that they cannot enter the forests to even collect firewood. If on a longer run this can save forests and wildlife and hence our environment then fine , go for this sort of legislations and executions. But one has to show same treatment for the Mining companies also. There is no point in notifying areas as sanctuaries and at the same time inviting devastation through clandestine tie-ups and vested interests of individual Hakim Babus and Mining Mafias.

Do Cuckoos leave their eggs in other nests?

Both the Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos nest in Michigan.

According to Birds of Michigan by Ted Black, “shrubby field edges, hedgerows, tangled riparian thickets and abandoned, overgrown fields provide the elusive Black-billed Cuckoo with its preferred nesting haunts. Despite not being particularly rare in Michigan, it remains an enigma to many would-be observers.

Arriving in late May, this cuckoo quietly hops, flits and skulks through low, dense, deciduous vegetation in its ultra-secret search for sustenance. Only when vegetation is in full bloom will males issue their loud, long, irregular calls, advertising to females that it is time to nest. After a brief courtship, newly joined Black-billed Cuckoo pairs construct a makeshift nest, incubate the eggs and raise their young, after which they promptly return to their covert lives.

The Black-billed Cuckoo is one of few birds that thrive on hairy caterpillars, particularly tent caterpillars. There is even evidence to suggest that populations of this bird increase when a caterpillar infestation occurs.

This cuckoo is reluctant to fly more than a short distance during nesting, but it will migrate as far as northwestern South America to avoid the North American winter.”

Similarly, “the Yellow-billed Cuckoo skillfully negotiates its tangled home within impenetrable, deciduous undergrowth in silence, relying on obscurity for survival.

Then, for a short period during nesting, the male cuckoo temps fate by issuing a barrage of loud, rhythmic courtship calls. Some people have suggested that the cuckoo has a propensity for calling on dark, cloudy days in late spring and early summer. It is even called “Rain Crow” in some parts of its North American range.

In addition to consuming large quantities of hairy caterpillars, Yellow-billed Cuckoos feast on wild berries, young frogs and newts, small bird eggs and a variety of insects, including beetles, grasshoppers and cicadas.

Though some Yellow-billed Cuckoos may lay eggs in the unattended nests of neighboring Black-billed Cuckoos, neither of these cuckoos is considered to be a “brood parasite.”

Some Yellow-billed Cuckoos migrate as far south as Argentina for the winter.”

1. Birds of Michigan: by Ted Black
2. Photos from Wikipedia: Black-billed Cuckoo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Tips for feeding birds in the summer

Summer just seems to be flying. If you can believe it, some birds have finished nesting and are already starting to fatten up in anticipation of the journey south. As we approach August and September you will see an increase in feeder activity.

Make sure to keep your feeders clean. It can be detrimental to the birds if you don’t clean your feeders regularly. In order to keep healthy birds at your feeders, remember the following:

1. Feeders should be cleaned at least once a month. Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing - will clean your feeder for $5.00. Or you can purchase professional cleaners like Scoot or Poop-Off at Wild Birds Unlimited, or use a mild one part vinegar to nine parts water solution to clean all of your feeders. Disassemble feeders and immerse them completely for three minutes. Scrub with brushes (we have these too), rinse thoroughly, and let air dry.
2. Check your feeders after a rain to make sure the seed is dry. If not, replace it.
3. Use Feeder Fresh to keep your seed dry in humid weather.
4. Store seed in a cool dry location. Wild Birds Unlimited has closed steel containers that work well to protect seed from unwanted seed thieves or bad weather.
5. When choosing a new feeder look for something easy to clean and fill.

Also 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 your yard. Window strikes are hard to eliminate totally, but there are ways to reduce them and/or reduce their severity:
1. Locate feeders and birdbaths within 1-2 feet of windows so birds can't gather enough speed to cause significant injury or about 20-30 feet from windows so birds have time to change direction.
2.Window feeders also alert birds to a window.
3. Window screens will reduce injury even if a bird flies into it. Use them where practical.
4. 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 list of licensed rehabilitators click HERE. Or visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at: http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/