Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders?

I've have a flicker that flicks seeds all over and the jays are no better. What are they looking for? ~ Indianapolis, Indiana

Birds look for the very best seeds. First, fresh and heavy seeds full of oil are chosen over the dried up older seeds. Blue Jays and other birds will shuffle through the seeds until they find what they are looking for. They'll pick a seed up in their bill to test the weight. If it's not heavy enough they'll pick up another to compare the weight of of the seeds. It's not worth their while to eat or cache seeds that are dried out or bad.

Second, certain seeds are preferred over others. Nuts and sunflower seeds are chosen most often by backyard birds for their high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content. Cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo decrease the price per pound of a grocery store birdseed mix but aren't eaten by the birds in the east and will be tossed aside.

At Wild Birds Unlimited you will get the very freshest seed, blended regionally for your backyard birds, with no filler grains. This should limit the scattering problem. And we also have feeders that also deter seed flicking. The Hopper and Fly-thru feeders are the easiest for the birds to flick seeds from. The tube feeders are the hardest for them to toss seed around. I have the Squirrel Buster Plus. It keeps the squirrels off and limits seed scatter. Wild Birds Unlimited also has the Quick Clean Big Tube with feeding ports that have a special non-scatter bar.

We also have the Wild Birds Unlimited Dinner Bell™ with a Seed Cylinder. This is our most popular no muss, no fuss feeder. It also has a lifetime guarantee like like the Squirrel Buster Plus and the Quick Clean Big Tube. And depending on bird activity in your yard, a 2lb cylinder can last up to a month and a 4.5lb cylinder can last up to 3 months. The seed is held together with gelatin and there is no seed spray from these cylinders. The whole block is completely edible.

But sometimes it's fun to watch the birds pick through the seeds like kids opening their presents on Christmas morning. And I have a lot of Dark-eyed Juncos and Mourning Doves that will "Hoover" the ground for me.

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The Best Squirrel-proof Feeder
The Great Seed Cylinder Feeder

Kashmir of Orissa(Odisha)- Daringbadi

There are very few places on which I have written and have found absolutely no problem in finding a Title. Daringbadi is one of those few places which is synonymous with the word Kashmir. Way back in schooling days , my mom would read out an article from Sunday edition of Sambad that would feature a tourist place in the Travel Section. Daringbadi was covered once under this section. My mom started “ Kashmir of Orissa- Daringbadi” and by the end of the article I asked when are we going to enjoy snowfall at Daringbadi. Being a kid, I imagined a place full of tall, snow peaked mountains lined with Pine Trees and spotted with ultramarine blue lakes. I was a kid then and twenty years later I got an opportunity to visit the Kashmir of Orissa.

On the Ghat towards Daringbadi

I hate and hesitate to state myself as a Tourist and actually I was not there as a Tourist. Baliguda had been made our base for exploring the Kotagarh Sanctuary. Waiting to get a permit at DFO’s office in Baliguda for visiting Kotagarh Sanctuary in Phulbani, me and my good friend Dasa decided to venture into the Hills of Daringbadi. Couple of years back when I was working in Kansbahal, I had tried to book a room at Daringbadi, but with vain. Virtually I have read each and every page on net related to Daringbadi. As per various sources and infact as per Govt of Orissa’s official website there is Yatri Nivas of OTDC at Daringbadi. I would have almost tried thousand of times at the mentioned phone number but I guess all attendants must have been busy attending Guests. Later on sipping a cup of Tea at Sabat Tea Stall in Baliguda during the current trip, I was told by one of the localites that same response everyone who call on that number gets. Many times even complaint has been registered with the Collector. So if you are planning to go to Daringbadi then better do your bookings at Baliguda. It’s some 40 odd kms from Daringbadi and is convenient from every point of view.

On the Top...Picturesque

Pine forests of Daringbadi

We hurriedly left for Daringbadi from Baliguda but reassurances by our Driver Deba that road is good and we would take maximum one and half hour to reach the place brought some soothing effect to me and Dasa. The road to Daringbadi is picturesque and passes through some of the densest forests of Orissa. The forests are dotted with small hamlets of local tribes. These places were virtually burning couple of years back during the infamous Kandhamal Riots. But situation has changed a lot in the subsequent years. Though I would not say that everything is absolutely normal now but at least its far far better than those days when India’s Secularism status was being challenged by the world.

Life is so simple..

Common Livelihood

A typical tribal hut in this part of the world would be normally surrounded by patch of Mustard, Ginger or Pulses Fields making it a complete filmy wala setup. Pumpkins are grown on the roof. Scenes have been the same all across Phulbani wherever we have gone. Normally tribals over here are dependent on the forest produce . Collection of Mahua Flowers, Fire Wood & Bamboos is one of their sources of Income along with Agriculture. Talking of Mahua Flowers ,I can happily recall those wonderful days spent at Kansbahal. Sipping Mahuli (Mahua) , the intoxicating and divine liqueur in front of River Sankha near Mandira Dam has been one of the most unforgettable days of short but sweet stint at Kansbahal.

Nazar saaki par hain aur lab paimane par....
Dil hamara hai aaj fir kisi kay naishane par.....
Woh khaali pyla liye letein hein kabr mein apni...
Kehte hein sharab milegi jannat ke aane par...
By Unknown

Coming back to the present, we reached Simonbadi enroute Daringbadi. This road that branches out from Baliguda towards Simanbarhi again bifurcates to Daringbadi and Raikia. By the way Simonbadi ( Simanbarhi) is no way related to the swashbuckling opener of West Indies Phil Simons. There are churches all around and Christians are in majority in these areas. Also recently these areas are being frequented by Naxals. After Simanbarhi, the vegetation changed drastically as we soon climbed a ghat. My expectations soon would be crashed. We had reached the Final Ghat before Daringbadi. There were no snow peaked peaks or frozen lakes. I was expecting a drastic drop in temeperature but it was not to be. There was a pine forest but these are actually plantation done by the Horticulture Department. My childhood dreams of Daringbadi had crashed. Daringbadi is no doubt beautiful but kindly don’t expect too much. It’s a wonderful small hamlet surrounded by mustard fields and turmeric plantations. Situated on a height of 3200 ft above sea level, Daringbadi has been famous once upon a time for receiving snowfall. Hence “Kashmir” was tagged to it. These days minimum temperature dips to almost freezing point in Decembers but there is hardly any snowfall. So please come with some less expectations and you would see a better place than Mahabaleswar or Panchagani which are no doubt beautiful but too much crowd from Mumbai and Pune has ruined their beauty. Clouds had literally formed a thin cover over the fields and the whole town of Daringbadi looked like a beautiful small sleepy town in the script of Ruskin Bond. As we parked our vehicle and moved in the streets of the town there was nip and bite in the air because of a slight drizzle that had taken place some time back. It has a small bus stand from where one can also get direct bus to places like Bhubaneswar and Berhampur. I didn’t want to miss this wonderful opportunity of looking at the small town setup. People would come with their produce from small villages to the top of plateau where some local selling would happen and the rest would be bought by crooked agents who would brand it and sell in cities. Thats the reason you would very often hear things like “ Asali Kandhamal Haladi” meaning real Kandhamal Turmeric. Turmeric has been one of the primary flag bearers of products of Kandhamal over the years. You want to see the real essence of Orissa ( Odisha) leave Bhubaneswar & Cuttack and travel through the tribal hinterlands of Kandhamal in Belghar and Daringbadi. There is so much to see and experience. Experience of seeing colourful & tattooed faces of Kotia Kandhas. There is so much simplicity attached to them. Their life starts and ends here, in this land of Kandhas. Now also the Dasari or the black magician in the village predicts when rain god will endow his blessings on the village and sowing would begin. Very few patients have seen the door of the hospital. Here village baida(vet) cures every illness present in the world starting from Cancer to Erectile Dysfunction. They have not seen the outside world. For them life begins with collection of Mahuli Flowers and ends with thumping beats of Madal and rhythmic steps of Ghumura.

Tickell's Blue Flycatcher..Daringbadi turned to be an excellent birding place

A Red Throated Flycatcher

After a very short visit to the Coffee Garden in the town, my hunger pangs had become turbulent. We tried to find out an Eatery but there are very few over in Daringbadi. Luckily we found out the best one. Being the only decent place , it seemed whole of the town had turned up in the small place. But wait was fruitful. We got the Lunch packed and started towards Baliguda and didn’t want to miss any opportunity of having the food amidst the greenery of forests, chirping of birds and the beauty of Phulbani. We stopped after Simanbarhi . The road was devoid of any traffic and smoothness of the tar of the road served as our dining table. What an experience?? Flavour of Desi chicken had been well preserved in the packet made out of Water Lily leaves. Dasa bhaina and the Driver volunteered to unpack everything and distribute amongst the three hungry stake holders. Shrewd Dasa didn’t miss the opportunity and selected all the good pieces for himself. For next 15 minutes we turned strangers and everyone was competing with each other in gulping down the amazing gourmet.

A typical House of local tribe...self sustainance

Hungry Jackals..Dasa(in background) and Driver

By evening we were back in Baliguda. Another superb and satisfying day spend in the Tribal Heartlands of Kandhamal. If you are planning to visit Daringbadi then be there in and around January to see the real beauty and experience the freezing points. Make Baliguda your base and try to come back before evening. Roads may not be that safe these days.

February is National Bird Feeding Month!

Congressman John Porter (R-IL) read a resolution into the Congressional Record on February 23, 1994 proclaiming February as National Bird-Feeding Month. Consider that the average wild bird weighs less than two nickels and you’ll realize that winter can be a very punishing time for your backyard friends and February is one of the most difficult months in much of the U.S. for birds to survive in the wild.

Feeding wild birds in the backyard is an easy hobby to start, and can be as simple as putting up a feeder that sticks to the window. For many people, the hobby progresses from there. They discover the relationship between the type and location of feeders, and the seed offered in them, and the number and varieties of birds attracted.

It provides a needed stress relief and brings families together. The resolution noted that one-third of the adult population already feeds wild birds in their backyards. Feeding backyard songbirds is the most popular wildlife-related recreational activity around the home. It brings a welcome flash of color, dash of motion and splash of sound into the backyard, particularly during long Michigan winters.

Come in to Wild Birds Unlimited® and let us help you discover a Refuge In Your Own Backyard®.

And don't forget the Great Backyard Bird Count in February. Click click HERE to learn how to participate.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Overwinters in Michigan

Hi, Sarah ~ This is the first time I've ever seen this visitor in our backyard! Not the best pics, shot through a screen, but maybe the bird will return so I can get a few better ones next time. Would you agree with my identifying it as a female Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker? Are they somewhat uncommon in this area during the winter? We get a lot of Downy Woodpeckers, as well as Hairy and Red-bellied. I've also caught a glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker in our yard! ~ Deb

Lucky!! Mid-Michigan is at the very edge of the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers’ breeding ground. I usually see them only for a brief time in the spring right before the hummingbirds show up. Most migrate further north to nest in northern Michigan, across Canada and some of the northeastern states.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker in eastern North America that is migratory. In September, sapsuckers head south. Almost all leave the summer range and winter in the southeastern United States, the West Indies, and in the middle and high altitudes of Central America as far south as Panama. Females depart first and adult males last. Migration is primarily at night and often in flocks. Females typically travel the furthest south. But a few individuals might remain throughout the winter in mid-Michigan.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius is a little larger than the Downy Woodpecker. Although named yellow-bellied, the light yellow feathers on the birds’ underside aren’t what most bird watchers will see first. They have black and white barring on the back, a wide white stripe on each black wing, a red crown, a black line through the eyes and a black bib. The males also have a red throat.

Yellow-bellied SapsuckerImage via Wikipedia
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
 They don’t suck sap but actually have a tongue that has a feathery edge to allow the birds to lap sap. Sap itself makes up only about 20% of the overall diet of this species, though at certain times, the figure can be 100%. Sapsuckers also consume insects, fruit, leaf buds, seeds and suet.

Other birds like the hummingbirds, kinglets, warblers, and waxwings can also take advantage of the sap wells that these woodpeckers drill, especially in the early spring before bugs and flower nectar are plentiful.

Last year there were 12 sightings of the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker in Michigan during the Great Backyard Bird Count. Click HERE to see those results. If you’re curious, a total of 117 species were reported in Michigan during the 2010 GBBC. Those results are HERE

This year’s GBBC is February 18-21, 2011. Click click HERE to learn how to participate.

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Where are the birds? vs. They’re eating me out of house and home!

Is there some environmental problem or something? I haven’t seen the swarms of birds that I usually see this year in Portland, MI

I can’t keep the feeders full! What does Wild Birds Unlimited put in their seed to make all these birds flock to the feeders? Lansing, MI

It’s funny I received both questions in the same week. The easy answer is location, weather, and natural resources available.

So why are you seeing fewer birds? I found nothing in the Michigan DNRE press releases about any poisonings, pollution, or diseases that would explain a drop in bird populations. 

Your question is exactly the reason everyone should participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The data collected can be invaluable. Based on the old reports, I can tell you that a couple years ago we had a huge influx of birds from Canada and the UP looking for food in our area. However this year we've had no major bird irruptions. And if you compare the weather to past years we’ve also seen less snow. It's estimated that only about 20% of a backyard bird's daily energy intake comes from feeders. Birds prefer to forage for their food and because we haven’t had a lot of snowfall in mid-Michigan, there still might be a lot of natural food sources available. Maybe you’ve seen fewer deer too.

You can also go through a little check list to eliminate the most obvious reasons for fewer birds at the feeders.

1. Make sure your seed is fresh. One way to do this is to pinch the seed with your fingernails and see if any oil comes out. On cold days where every meal counts, if your seed has dried out your feeder will be skipped. (Wild Birds Unlimited receives a fresh load of seed each week).

2. Make sure there is no mold in the bottom of your feeder. This can be dangerous to the birds and they will avoid your feeder again. To prevent mold in bad weather use Feeder Fresh™ (a silica grit that absorbs water and humidity, is safe for birds, and made from non-toxic absorbent sand). You can also shelter your feeder from the elements by using something like WBU Weather Guard.

4. Look for predators. Hawks or cats can deter birds from feeding in your area.

5. Check with local birding groups to see if you are the only one reporting fewer birds.

Now on the other side, why are some people seeing more birds at the feeder than usual? It could be a switch in seed. Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing do sell the very best regionally formulated blends to attract the best birds. A seed blend with black oil sunflower seeds and peanuts is great to offer in the winter. It has a high calorie/ounce ratio due to its high fat and protein content. At Wild Birds Unlimited that would be our most popular WBU No-Mess Blend or WBU Choice blend.

Suet or seed blocks are also great foods to offer many of the birds that will visit backyards in the winter. Suet is a high energy, pure fat substance which is invaluable in winter when insects are harder to find and birds need many more calories to keep their bodies warm. I would recommend our peanut butter suet.

It’s also possible that they are running out of natural sources where you live and found your feeders to be a critical source of food that enables them to survive from day to day. The worse the weather the more the birds depend on feeders. When it’s especially bad outside, seed eating birds flock to feeders no matter where you live to build up their energy reserves.

Thank you for your questions.

Slip Sliding Away: Ducks Have Trouble with Icey Pond

Although migration may seem to make sense for an animal that can fly, travelling south can have some drawbacks. Migratory birds are often exposed to large unfamiliar areas, and when spring does return, they must repeat the northward journey to raise a family.

But remaining in areas where there is cold, freezing weather has its drawbacks too.

Keep your eyes open for Bohemian Waxwings!

Bohemian Waxwings
I'm always fascinated by the Cedar Waxwings that frequent the area around the East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited. Lately a few customers have reported seeing Bohemian Waxwings in the Lansing, MI area.

According to the Birds of Michigan field guide, the Bohemian Waxwings nest in northern forests in Alaska and western Canada, and visit Michigan only during winter in search of food. In most years, Bohemians are only seen in small groups, usually intermingled with overwintering flocks of the similar-looking Cedar Waxwings. However, their short tail and chestnut undertail coverts readily distinguish them from their Cedar Waxwing counterparts.

Bohemian Waxwing
Waxwings get their name from the spots on their secondary feathers. These "waxy" spots are actually colorful enlargements of the feather shafts, whose pigments are derived from the birds' berry-filled diet. Juvenile birds have smaller pigment spots that will grow in size until the birds reach their adult plumage.

The Bohemian Waxwing is an irruptive species. As their name suggest they lead a nomadic lifestyle and move around based on where they can locate food. So when you hear the high pitched trill of the Cedar Waxwings, listen for the rougher and lower pitched call of the Bohemian Waxwing.

Cedar Waxwing
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Teachers' Resources for Course on Birds

If I wanted to teach a short course about birds to beginners, where would you suggest I go to find more information?

Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a wealth of information at www.birds.cornell.edu/.
Some things the site has to offer that might interest you are:

All About Birds: a great bird guide that lets you find information about birds and birding basics. There is also a section that has suggestions for teaching others about birds at http://bit.ly/6fEaP1

Resources for Kids & Families: Fun online resources and activities for the whole family, plus information about public exhibits & special events.

Resources for Educators: Everything you need to provide a variety of learning experiences using birds as a window into nature and science.

Courses & Seminars: They offer formal and informal courses and seminars on topics from biology and natural history to birdwatching and recording wildlife sounds.

I hope this helps. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology uses the best science and technology--and inspires the widest range of people and organizations--to solve critical problems facing wildlife.

Their mission is to interpret and conserve the earth's biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds.

Explore their links below to learn more:
Citizen Science

Is it too late to start feeding the birds this winter?

If you were ever thinking about bird feeding, January and February are actually the months that a backyard bird feeder can make a difference.

Typically, feeders serve as a supplemental source of food for birds in your yard. Fruit and nut bearing bushes and trees supply a natural food source as well as native flowers, such as coneflowers, black eyed Susan’s, and cosmos that are allowed to go to seed and stand through the winter. In the last couple months of winter the natural sources have gradually become more and more scarce and birds may switch to utilizing feeders to survive from day to day.

In fact February is designated National Bird Feeding Month because it's one of the most difficult months in the U.S. for birds to survive in the wild. In mid-Michigan the plants are still dormant and haven’t begun to produce new food for the birds and the bugs are still scarce.

Also, low temperatures force birds to burn up to 10% of their body weight in stored fat each night to stay warm, and this fat must be replaced every day.

Be sure to keep your feeders filled with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide your birds with the crucial nutrition they need to survive. Studies indicate that Black-Oil Sunflower, Fine and Medium Sunflower Chips, Peanuts, White Proso Millet, Safflower, and Nyjer® Thistle are among the most preferred seed types. Please don’t waste your money on cheap seed. Cheap filler grains like oats, wheat and milo decrease the price per pound of a mix but aren't eaten by the birds and are left to rot on the ground.
And don't forget the Suet. It is the most concentrated source of energy you can offer wild birds. Our Suet is made with only the highest quality processed beef kidney fat. Special processes remove impurities that cause low melting points and spoilage problems.

Backyard bird feeding is an entertaining and educational pastime that can be enjoyed by children and adults. It provides a needed stress relief and brings families together. There is no designated time to feed the birds. Most people feed year round.

They watch the birds in the winter to brighten the long, dark, dreary days, and then watch the beautiful migratory birds that come in the spring all excited for nesting. Next comes watching the baby birds at the feeders demanding food from parents and finally the large variety of birds that gather after nesting to make the long journey south or to bulk up for winter again. Currently one third of the U.S. populations feed the birds in their yards.

Consider that the average wild bird weighs less than two nickels and you’ll realize that the winter can be a very punishing time for your backyard friends. Birds that come at dusk on a cold evening are hungry, and it's nice to make sure that they always find something to eat.

A little bird told me where you could be found

Do you like the Wild Birds Unlimited mid-Michigan blog? I created it to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.

Over the past couple years, I've been very pleased with all the positive feedback. I have always loved watching, reading and learning about birds. The blog has given me a good opportunity to pass on my joy of birdwatching.
I also have the Wild Birds Unlimited mid-Michigan Facebook page. I use Facebook to post an eclectic collection of information, current events, and nature in the news. So go ahead and take a peek. If you like what you see, let me know by clicking "Like" on our Page at http://www.facebook.com/lansingwbu.
You can also find me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/birdsunlimited

Or come in person to one of our stores:
Local Wild Birds Unlimited Location

2200 Coolidge Rd                            
East Lansing, MI                              

Store Hours:                                       
Mon-Sat: 10am - 6pm                    
Closed Sunday                                 
E-mail:            bloubird@gmail.com
Website:          http://lansing.wbu.com/
Blog:                 http://lansingwbu.blogspot.com/
Twitter:           http://twitter.com/birdsunlimited

Quick Fun Facts about Birds

Geese will also sometimes twist themselves into awkward looking positions
in order to slow down and reduce their height quickly.

1. What bird can’t walk but can fly upside down? Hummingbirds’ feet are only strong enough for perching. They can barely walk at all. The hummingbird is much more comfortable in flight. It can hover; fly forward, backward and upside down.

2. Which bird has the largest wingspan? The Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans) has the largest wingspan of any living bird. The largest known specimen of the species had a wingspan of 11 ft. 11 in. Its impressive wingspan allows the wandering albatross to glide without beating  its wings for long periods.  In fact, the wandering albatross has sometimes been known to sleep while it flies.

3. How many known species of birds are there? There are approximately 10,000 known species of birds in the world and 414 in Michigan.
PelicanheadImage via Wikipedia
Australian pelican (Pelicanus conspicillatus)
 4. What bird has the longest bill? The bill of the Australian pelican (Pelicanus conspicillatus) is 13-18.5 inches long. The longest beak in relation to body length is that of the Sword- billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera) of the Andes. At 4 inches, the beak is longer than the bird’s body (excluding the tail).

5. What bird has the longest lifespan? Although the lifespan of many birds is unknown, some species of parrots have been known to live more than 100 years, making them the longest-living birds.

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House Finches: Those Year-round Red Heads

A male House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) perc...Image via Wikipedia
Hi, I recently started feeding our winter birds here in Flat Rock, Mi. I've seen all the usual winter birds listed here. I saw the other day that all I can do is describe it as similiar in size to a sparrow, but with a very rosey-blush color on it's chest and cap. I immediately thought of the Grosbeak, but the rose color was just that...a pale rose blush but pronounced enough that you could see it. All the Grosbeaks I've see have a deep hue, almost red...and they didn't seem similar in size either. Do you know what this could've been? We're using regular bird seed with lots of nut mixture and suet with heavy peanut content. Attracts a lot of birds we usually don't see...especially the Blue Jays and Cardinals! Love it!

The House Finch or Purple Finch immediately come to mind. If your trying to identify a bird that looks similar to a Pine Grosbeak you can go to http://www.allaboutbirds.org/ and type in the name. At the top and bottom of the page it usually has a place to click for the species that look similar.

In Michigan, if you have your feeders filled with WBU No-Mess Blend, sunflower, safflower or Nyjer® seed, the chances are good that one of the red finches of winter is probably a regular visitor to your yard.

The odds are best for a visit by the ubiquitous House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus. These 6″, talkative little birds get their name from their habit of hanging around houses. They build their nests in the hanging baskets, wreaths, or in trees, and their cheery warble or a variety of chirps is a constant around the bird feeders.

The amount of red the finch has can vary depending on the amount of carotenoid pigments consumed in its food during molt. They have slight white wing bands, a brownish red head with a pink chest that has brown streaking. They also appear to have a sleek body and stand tall.

Once restricted to the West, this talented songster became firmly established throughout all of eastern North America. In 1940, they were illegally captured in California and imported to New York by pet dealers. Fearing prosecution, the dealers released their “Hollywood Finches” on Long Island in 1940. Since then the finches have spread to all corners of the east and have even rejoined their relatives in the west.

House Finches are always exciting visitors to your feeders. These finches have a vegetarian diet like most finches. They do not rely on insects during the summer nesting season and continue to eat seeds all year-round.

Source: Wild Birds Unlimited BOTM
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The GBBC is almost here!

Just a quick reminder that the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is third weekend of February. Now is the perfect time to brush up on your winter birds, and remind family and friends that the annual GBBC is just around the corner. 
The Great Backyard Bird Count is where citizen scientists (that means people like you and me) take 15 minutes and count how many birds we see. It can be at any location. You can look out at your backyard, go to a nearby park, or look out your office window during your coffee break. You submit the number and variety of birds you counted and scientists compile all the data.

Your participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count is one piece of the puzzle that helps scientists get the big picture about changes in bird populations.

On New Year’s Eve, about 5,000 blackbirds died in Arkansas after fireworks scared them from their roost and they collided with houses, mailboxes, and possibly each other as they flew about disoriented in the dark. The incident sparked a flurry of media coverage. But we also need to look at the chronic loss of birdlife because of habitat destruction and other causes.

An estimated 100 million birds die from window collisions in the United States alone each year. That’s more than 270,000 per day on average! Outdoor cats are estimated to kill another 100 million per year. Click HERE to read more in a recent New York Times article.
Each year GBBC relies on previous participants to become trusted ambassadors and tell others about the count and encourage more new people to participate. As an ambassador you can distribute GBBC flyers in your community, hold a gatherings for schools, scouts or other organizations to show others how to take part in the GBBC. Cornell has a GBBC PowerPoint presentation (with script) ready for these presentations. Some ambassadors also speak to newspapers, television, and radio reporters about the GBBC. If you’re interested in doing more to promote the count, please visit the GBBC ambassador page.

Social networking is also the electronic "word-of-mouth" you can use to help spread information about the GBBC far and wide. So go ahead and tweet about what you’re doing to get ready for the GBBC—tag your tweet with #gbbc and it will be drawn into a special widget that will appear on the GBBC home page. You can also LIKE the GBBC Facebook page and share your images, videos, and other bird-related activities as we get closer to the count. 

OK, here’s your pop quiz for this month. Hairy or Downy woodpecker? This one trips up a lot of people. So take a close look, and then see if you got it right. Answer

To learn more about identifying birds by size and shape, watch our “Inside Birding” tutorial. About five minutes into the segment you’ll find more about distinguishing Downy and Hairy woodpeckers.

Thank you for caring about the birds! 

It's National Squirrel Appreciation Day! Are You Ready?

Do you sell critter food? Barbara ~ Lansing, MI

Thank you for such an appropriate question on National Squirrel Appreciation Day. Yes, we have a variety of foods to feed the critters in your yard.

Wild Birds Unlimited sells cracked corn, whole corn, corn on the cob, as well as peanut pieces and peanuts in the shell. We also have a Wildlife Blend that is a peanut, sunflower seed, and corn mix that the squirrels will devour.

What is Squirrel Appreciation Day?
Christy Hargrove from Asheville, North Carolina started Squirrel Appreciation Day on January 21, 2001. Christy is a wildlife rehabilitator in North Carolina affiliated with the Western North Carolina Nature Center. Mid-winter was chosen to celebrate squirrels because that is when food sources are scarce for wildlife.

How do you Celebrate?
Who can resist the big brown eyed, chubby cheeked squirrels? Treat the squirrels on their special day by giving them your apple cores, maybe with a little peanut butter. Or you can also pick up some of the specially formulated Wildlife blend at Wild Birds Unlimited that's made up of peanuts, sunflower seeds, and corn at the East Lansing store today. Yum!

Unique Squirrel Feeders:
Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing, MI also have a variety of squirrel feeders to choose from. There are a couple box styles that hold loose seed (Interactive Squirrel Feeder and Munch Box) and several that hold corn on the cob (Twirl-a-Squirrel, Squirrel Chair, Squirrel Bungee, and more).

I'm sure the squirrels are pretty pleased with themselves that their cuteness warranted them an appreciation day. Just don't tell them that all of February is National Birdfeeding Month.