How do birds drink?

Mourning Dove at the bird bath.Image via WikipediaIf you have a bird bath I’m sure you’ve noticed a lot more activity. I was backyard birdwatching last night when a lone dove sat in the middle of the bath, and love them or hate them, Mourning Doves have presence. My dove was just sitting there with its eyes closed and his crop bulging visibly with the best Wild Birds Unlimited bird seed.

After he quietly digested for about 10 minutes, a beautiful yellow goldfinch slipped in and took a quick sip and flit off. Lots of little birds like shallow waters that they can dip their bill, then tip it up to let the drops fall down their throat. Most birds use this dip and sip technique to drink.

After the goldfinch left, the dove perked up a little and stuck its bill in the water for several seconds. Mourning Doves and Pigeons like to suck up their water using a muscular pumping mechanism in their throat that draws liquid up. He took a couple of long drinks before he decided to move along.

Source: Secret Lives Of Common Birds: Enjoying Bird Behavior Through the Seasons by Marie Read

Related Articles:
1. Working Together: Pigeons Take Turns at the Water Fountain
2. Birds Don't Sweat: The Importance of Birdbaths
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Do birds sweat?

We’ve had a couple days without rain in mid-Michigan but now it’s hot! Yesterday I saw a couple birds with open bills. An open mouth is one sign that a bird might be overheating and working to lower its body temperature.

Birds lack sweat glands, so they pant like dogs instead of sweat like people. By opening its mouth a bird increases the airflow and causes more moisture to evaporate and cool their body.

When the temperature is in the 90's, a bird’s body may start to overheat. Birds give off excess body heat through their unfeathered legs and can ruffle their body feathers so hot air close to the skin can escape. A bird will also pant, travel less, find a shady spot, or seek water to reduce its body temperature.

In this heat a refreshing dip in a birdbath is very effective in lowering their body temperature and rehydrating their body to beat the heat.
You will also significantly increase the number of birds visiting your yard by providing bird baths, drippers, and misters. Wild Birds Unlimited has a wide variety of baths to choose from. Birdbaths come in many shapes, sizes and materials. They can be placed on the ground, mounted on a pedestal or hung. If you have any questions come in to the store and we can help you find the best bath for your yard.

What did the military learn from birds?

Did you know birdwatchers made the military more effective? The study of wild birds’ many survival techniques has been integral to the establishment of many military improvements.
  1. Birds taught the military about camouflage - The development of camouflage was the result of studying birds and copying how they camouflaged themselves. An American artist and zoologist, Abbott Thayer published a book in 1909 called Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom. This book focused a lot on birds and was widely read by military leaders in an attempt to understand how to camouflage military equipment and troops.
  2. Bird’s eye view gives military advantage – Man followed the birds in to the air. Since the middle of the First World War air warfare has revolutionized military conflict. Airborne supremacy is now a key element to success on the battlefield.
  3. Birds’ migratory V flight pattern adopted by military - A flock of geese can fly 70 percent farther by adopting the V shape rather than flying in isolation. The V formation also gives each bird an unobstructed field of vision, allowing flock members to see each other and communicate while in flight. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason.
  4. Birds’ sentry system serves as an example to protect military members – Many bird species like crows and blue jays use a sentry system to protect members of a group and improve the chances of a good meal. Like birds warn companions of any danger with a distinctive "watchman's song", soldiers keep in regular radio contact with their colleagues to assure them all is well.
  5. Birds were drafted the military - During World War I and World War II, the U.S. military enlisted more than 200,000 pigeons to conduct surveillance and relay messages.
I want to wish everybody out there a peaceful Memorial Day. Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that honors soldiers who died while in the military service. And a special thanks to all who have served this country!

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• Crows Never Forget a Face -
• Why do geese fly in a V formation?
• War Pigeon Remembered
• Why is the Dove a Symbol of Peace?
• War Birds

Fun Facts about Woodpeckers

- The contrasting black and white pattern found on the backs of many woodpeckers helps to conceal them from predators. Known as disruptive coloration, this sharp contrast in colors helps to break-up and conceal the shape and outline of a woodpecker as it climbs the side of a tree.

- Woodpeckers are among a very few birds that have zygodactyl feet – which simply means they have two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backwards. Most birds have an arrangement of three toes forward and one backwards. Having two sets of opposing toes gives them a much better grip on the trees they land on and climb.

- While excavating a cavity, a woodpecker’s head can strike a tree’s surface at speeds up to 13- 15 miles per hour and do it at over 100 strokes per minute. This is equivalent to a person crashing head-first into a tree while running at top speed.

- The barbed tip of a woodpecker’s tongue is very sensitive to touch and can both detect and impale insect larvae. The tongue is coated with sticky mucus that is secreted by large salivary glands; this coating helps to ensure that its prey does not slip away.

- Woodpeckers may find their hidden prey by sound and/or smell. As the woodpecker strikes the tree, hollow sounds may echo off of the tunnels (galleries) of wood-boring insects (like thumping a watermelon). When feeding on wood, grubs make an audible sound that could be heard by a woodpecker. Woodpeckers have a better sense of smell than most birds and may be able to detect the strong odor of the formic acid that ants, bark beetles and termites excrete (smells like Sweet Tarts).

- When threatened by predators, Downy Woodpeckers will freeze motionless against the trunk of a tree and will not return to normal activities for up to ten minutes.

- Bird banding longevity records for woodpeckers recaptured in the wild:
Downy - 11years - 11 months
Hairy - 15years – 11 months
Pileated - 12years – 11 months
Red-headed - 9years – 11 months
Red-bellied - 12years – 1 month
Northern Flicker - 9years – 2 months

Source: WBU Corporate Content

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Why won’t the finches come to my feeder?

Why did my finches leave my feeder? - Tipton, Indiana
There is no one reason you don't have finches. First make sure your Nyjer seed is fresh. One way to do this is to pinch the seed with your fingernails and see if any oil comes out. The finches use their bills to twist the seed and sip the oil and then drop the shell. If your seed has dried out your feeder will be skipped. (Wild Birds Unlimited receives a fresh load of seed each week).

Second, make sure there is no mold in the bottom of your feeder. In Michigan where it can rain several days in a row the seed may not get a chance to air out and begin to mold. This can be dangerous to the finches 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 a WBU Weather Guard.

Third, finches are notorious for leaving a tube feeder half full. Don't just top off your feeder with fresh seed. Empty the older seed (if it's still good) into a different container, fill the bottom of your feeder with new seed and top it off with the older seed. The birds will probably eat down to that certain level again and you'll have to repeat the process.

My favorite feeder is a WBU Mesh Finch Feeder. 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. They eat from top to bottom. However if you're thinking of switching feeders be aware that finches don't like change and it may take several minutes to several months for Goldfinches to accept a new feeder.

Fourth look at the location of your feeder. The most important place to hang a feeder is where you can watch it easily, but I’ve found the goldfinches feel more comfortable with the feeder near trees. I have several feeders hanging from a dogwood and pear tree in the front of the house and a couple on a pole in the open in the back of the house. All the feeders have birds but I fill the front feeders twice as much.

Is it worth the bother? Yes! I love the happy, warm, song of the Goldfinches. I love the huge flocks of finches that flutter down from the tops of trees as they take their turn at the feeder. I love that I can hang the feeder anywhere because squirrels and other animals don't bother with Nyjer Thistle. And once you understand the Goldfinches' needs, they are easy to please and very pleasing to watch.

Close-up of Baltimore Oriole

I grabbed my camera as soon as I heard Dolly give her little "bird call". I stood right in front of the window at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing and took a video of her favorite visitor, the Baltimore Oriole.

Miss Baby Doll usually sits up high on top of the candle display to watch her hummingbird and oriole window feeders and they just ignore her. Yesterday for some reason she was sitting on the window sill and that made Mr. Oriole a little nervous. Me with a camera standing right in front of the window, however, didn't seem to bother him.

I have the Oriole feeder hanging from a window hook. It's filled with sugar water and in the little wells in the cover I put the BirdBerry Jelly that can be purchased here at Wild Birds Unlimited. It's so good he'll even overlook a cat and human with their faces smashed against the window watching. Watch the video at:

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Facts on the Baltimore Oriole
Where do orioles winter?
Tips and tricks to make your suction cups stick.
Favorite Oriole feeders

Do bats in Michigan drink hummingbird food?

Bats comprise one-fourth of the world's 4,000 species of mammals. Forty-three bat species are currently found in the United States. Of the 43 species of bats that live in the U.S., nine insect-eating bat species live in Michigan. All are nocturnal (active at night), and feed nearly exclusively on flying insects, including moths, beetles, and mosquitoes. None drink nectar.

Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas are home to three nectar-feeding bats (the lesser long-nosed bat, Mexican long-nosed bat and Mexican long-tongued bat) that are extremely important to the pollination and life cycle of agaves, saguaros and cacti.

For more information on the benefits of bats and how we depend on them for pest control, seed dispersal and to pollinate commercial products including bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, cloves, cashews and carob go to the Bat Conservation International (BCI) website:

How to prevent mold from taking over your hummingbird feeder

Mold is very bad in hummingbird feeders. Remember to change the nectar in your feeder every 2-4 days, regardless of whether the nectar has been used. In hot, humid weather you might even have to change the nectar every other day.

I find the more often I change the nectar the easier it is to maintain the feeder. You won't be battling any black mold and you'll have a lot more hummingbirds and orioles.

I usually just rinse the feeder with hot water. 
To clean the hard to reach places you can use a pipe cleaner or we have special little brushes for cleaning feeders at Wild Birds Unlimited.

Now that we are in the hot and humid weather, you should soak the hummingbird feeder for about 5 minutes in a Scoot, active enzyme cleaner once a week. Or use a one part vinegar to nine parts water solution to clean the feeders. Then rinse your feeders thoroughly.

Also make sure your nectar solution is the proper proportion.
Nectar (sugar water) recipe
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup water

Intermittent Banding

9 - 21 May

I was only able to get in five days of banding in the past two weeks due to high winds and/or rain. It has been a really tough spring this season compared to the glorious days of last year at this time. Unfortunately, this weather is a bit more typical for spring on Cape Cod. I attempted to band on May 9th but closed up after two rounds due to the high winds capturing only a Common Yellowthroat and 3 catbirds. May 13th was a bit better with winds 5-10 mph but they were from the northeast so I didn't expect to capture too many migrants. I was happy to get a Saltmarsh Sparrow in full breeding condition however, he probably was forced up to higher ground from the saltmarsh during the high tide.

Some nice migrants came in on the 14th even with a cold and misty start including a SY Black-throated Blue Warbler.

He had a molt limit in his wing molting all of his greaters coverts including the greater alula, but not the other two.

I continued hearing Black-throated Blues throughout the next week but he was the only one we captured. Black-throated Green Warblers were also heard singing but they completely eluded us. Our second Nashville Warbler showed up this day, a SY male this time. 

We were happy to capture a White-eyed Vireo 

ageing this bird as a SY due to a molt limit in the primary feathers. White-eyed Vireos can do an incomplete molt eccentrically during their first year, which means they can replace some outer primary feathers and inner secondary feathers leaving a block of retained flight feathers in the middle. This bird replaced his outer 5 primaries, you may be able to see the darker shafts on those feathers.

I was finally able to get a picture of a more cooperative Carolina Wren of unknown sex, who wasn't as squirmy as the others. They can have a molt similar to the vireo above, although it was harder to tell on this particular bird, who may have just molted the greater coverts since the flight feathers appear to line up fairly well. The primary coverts were extremely abraded so we aged it as a second year.  

A SY Common Yellowthroat who was first banded as a hatch year bird on 2 Aug 2010 and found with avian pox on his lower mandible showed up this day with it completely healed so his immune system was able to get rid of the virus.

I wasn't able to get out again until the 20th as rain occured every day from May 15th- May 19th. The only new species for the spring season this day was a beautiful ASY male Red-winged Blackbird.  

The south winds the evening before brought in a few more first spring migrants  for the season on the 21st. A male Blackpoll Warbler, not too cooperative, but I was able to get a quick pic showing off his gorgeous plumage.

We captured another Myrtle Warbler, a SY male, this was the latest spring date in the past 11 years of banding on the island for this species when most have gone through by the first week in May. 

Eleven Prairie Warblers (5 new and 6 recaptures) were netted during this period including two on the 21st that had this 'gunk' under the bill which wasn't there when we first recaptured the bird below on the 3rd.  The other prairie was also first recaptured on the 3rd. Must be something they are eating. Juicy bug? 
Although we aren't allowed to band game birds we were still thrilled to get a Northern Bobwhite, a female,  in our net. Females have buffy coloration to their chin, throat, and supercilium (the area above the eye). In males this area is white. Isn't she outstanding? 

And take a look at the beautiful pattern on her back. I bet she is a bird that was released last fall by fifteen year old Nicholas Fiore on October 31st, for a licensed project to help the species populate this habitat.

We recaptured a Pine Warbler, the one that was banded on May 3rd but sadly she presented with cloacal flukes, not seen on the 3rd. She had no brood patch and may have problems trying to mate.

We captured a Red-eyed Vireo, a first spring capture for this species at our site, in past years we've only captured them in the fall.

All in all, 158 species were netted during this time period. Eighty were new birds and 77 were recaptures. Of the recaptures, 31 were returns from previous years including a few oldies: a 6 yr old Song Sparrow, a 7 yr old American Goldfinch and Common Yellowthroat, and a 9 yr old Gray Catbird. Thanks very much to the following people who helped out at some point during these banding days: Cathy Connolly, Arlene Hedlino, Carolyn Kennedy, Gretchen Putonen, and Jessica Rempel. Birds seen, heard, or captured between 9-21 May are shown below.

Total Birds: 158                    Total Species: 55

Total Banded Species: 23      Birds/100 net-hours: 26

Double-crested Cormorant

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Canada Goose

American Black Duck


Red-breasted Merganser


Peregrine Falcon

Northern Bobwhite 1

Black-bellied Plover


Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Mourning Dove

Belted Kingfisher

Downy Woodpecker 1

Yellow-shafted Flicker

Eastern Phoebe

Great Crested Flycatcher

Tree Swallow

Barn Swallow

Blue Jay

American Crow

Black-capped Chickadee 13

Tufted Titmouse 1

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Carolina Wren 2

American Robin 3

Gray Catbird 31

Northern Mockingbird

European Starling

White-eyed Vireo 2

Red-eyed Vireo 1

Nashville Warbler 1

Yellow Warbler 4

Black-throated Blue Warbler 1

Myrtle (Yellow-rumped) Warbler 1

Black-throated Green Warbler

Pine Warbler 1

Prairie Warbler 11

Blackpoll Warbler 1


Common Yellowthroat 35

Northern Cardinal 4

Eastern Towhee 3

Saltmarsh Sparrow 1

Song Sparrow 16

Red-winged Blackbird 1

Common Grackle

Brown-headed Cowbird

House Finch

American Goldfinch 23

House Sparrow

What to do when you find a baby bird

"Good parents give their children Roots and Wings." --Jonas Salk

Our neighbors behind the East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited store wanted me to bring in and care for a baby robin they spotted in their front yard. I walked out with them and saw the baby, pointed out the parents present in the apple tree nearby and told them to just leave the baby alone.

When American Robins first leave the nest they can't fly. They are nurtured in their nest until they are about 2 weeks old. Then their parents begin a 2 week basic training course to teach their offspring to hop, sleep on sheltered branches at night, forage for food, and learn how to fly.

Baby robins are very vulnerable before they can fly. To help ensure that the baby robins in your yard are safe, keep cats indoors and don't use unnecessary pesticides in the lawn and garden.

It's a big world out there and it’s amazing how quickly these young birds learn to be independent.

If you think the baby has been abandoned, call for help before you do anything. For a list of licensed rehabilitators click HERE. Or visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at:
If you spot a baby bird in your yard, the best thing to do is probably just leave it alone. 

What is the second most popular state bird?

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella_neglecta). Taken...Image via Wikipedia
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)
 You might know that the Northern Cardinal is the most popular state bird. The cardinal was chosen to represent seven states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia).

According to Wikipedia “The selection of state birds began in 1927, when the legislatures for Alabama, Florida, Maine, Missouri, Oregon, Texas and Wyoming selected their state birds.”

The Western Meadowlark is a close second, with six states to its name. It is the state bird of Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon and Wyoming. In third place is the Northern Mockingbird, named by five states. Three states chose the American Robin and three named the American Goldfinch. The Mountain Bluebird, the Eastern Bluebird and the Black-capped Chickadee were each selected by two states.

Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii), femaleImage via Wikipedia
Kirtland's Warbler (Dendroica kirtlandii) female

Michigan has the American Robin as the state bird, but every year school children across the state try to change it to the Kirtland's Warbler. This is a rare bird (population ~2100) that used to nest exclusively in Michigan’s young Jack Pine stands. They have recently been spotted nesting Wisconsin too.

For a complete list of state birds go to:
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Chandaka Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary

Satellite picture below taken from Google Earth shows Chandaka Sanctuary. Growing population and city limits is inevitable. At least in the case of other smaller sanctuaries present in the state , the pressure of growing city limit is not there. But Chandaka Sanctuary is not lucky that way. Concrete jungle of Bhubaneswar on Eastern fringe, NH5 on southern side, roads along the northern edge separating the sanctuary from Mahanadi River is what is more prominent than the green Forest coverage of Chandaka Dampara Wildlife Sanctuary.

Satelite Image of Chandaka Damapara Wildlife Sanctuary ( Source: Google Earth)

There are two entry points. One at Godibari near Chandaka village and other at Kantabada. Today we have some 50 odd Elephants strangled in a patch of forests covering 193sq km. More often than not you would come across news articles of Pachyderms straying into Patia or near by places of Khandagiri. A century ago Chandaka was well connected with the Forests of Daspalla (present day Baisipalli and Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary) through corridors of fine wooded forests. These corridors have vanished over a period of time leaving wild animals stranded in these last thick cover of forests in Chandaka Dampara Sanctuary. Scientifically it has been proven that there needs to have proper gene flow between different source populations for sustainance over a longer period of time. In case of Chandaka’s elephants I am not sure how much intermingling happens between Athagarh & Dhenkanal side elephants and with those of Chandaka’s. During my first and only visit to the sanctuary in November 2010, I didn’t come across any animals except for a Cheetal . But later on I came to know from others that I should not be that much disappointed, as I was lucky enough to see a Cheetal in Chandaka. Its not that Cheetals are not present in Chandaka Sanctuary but actual sighting is difficult.

Lucky enough to see this

Quite Common in Chandaka

I am sure that number of Herbivores would increase over next decade or so. Reason being no or very few predators present on the top of Food Cycle. As far as I know there are no Leopards present in the sanctuary as per the last census. But couple of months backs a sad story of Leopard (suspected to have moved out of Chandaka) being pelted to death on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar was heart breaking. First of all we never come to know whether there are Leopards in Chandaka or not and when we get to know that there is some Leopard sighting, its when these sad news articles get printed. To add to the woo was unconfirmed reports which said some local News Channel guy actually incited the pelting so that he could get a good shot to show in the “Breaking News”. Investigations happening, arrests being made and some news clippings getting published. This is what maximum that would be done. But in what way we stop human beings from being demons and this society from becoming a group of creatures who at every point of time would see an eye for eye, get drenched in the ocean of egoism and sleep under the false assumption of being powerful & almighty. Nature has its own way of answering back and that time is not far away when all the false assumptions of human beings being ultra powerful and being intelligent would come crashing down in front of the invincible phenomenon called as “Nature”. The site where the poor leopard was killed is so near to the Capital and how come forest officials could not reach in time is just what someone can’t think off.

Chandaka Sanctuary boasts of a boundary line of approximately 170 km and is spread over districts of Cuttack and Khurda. Divided over two ranges of Chandaka and Dampara, the Sanctuary also shares a common boundary with the Nandankanan Zoo in the North Eastern part. There are 5 hamlets inside the sanctuary and almost 6000 odd tribal from Sabara community reside here. There has been some efforts going on for relocation of these settlements to outside of the sanctuary but it has not been totally successful. Some 80 odd families from Behentasahi were relocated to Krushnanagar outside the sanctuary. But the process has not been that encouraging for the other families to relocate. The old story of failed promises is to be heard from everyone who has been affected by the process. Area allocated in the new settlement is not that fertile. Water sources are scarce. News of scuffles between the relocated villagers and the people of neighboring villages was also reported over scarcity of resources. One thing is very clear that Wildlife and Human Population cannot coexist over a longer run. Resources would have to be shared between animals and human beings eg grasslands& water for Cattle stock and deers. There would be incidents of Wild Boars causing havocs in the agricultural fields which is inevitable. Elephants in search of easy food would feast on paddy fields. This cant be simply stopped. Over a longer run relocation of the villages has to be done. But not at the cost of poor tribal who have been living since ages. If they have to be relocated it has to be a voluntary process. Proper land allocation, compensation and facilities like primary Health care, schooling and more importantly alternative sources of income has to be provided. If a person has been doing honey collection in Forests and you ask him to do Cattle breeding, it may be difficult for him. Both from skill point of view and the mental attachment that he would be having with the work itself. But if you train him on scientific methods of Bee Culture it may be more or less same job that he would be doing in his new home outside the sanctuary.

Good to see the forest roads devoid of any traffic

Rampant Collection of Firewood from the Sanctuay Area

During my trip I could see local tribal ladies collecting firewood from the sanctuary area. But park being devoid of any traffic, there is no fear of deforestation activities. And the place where above picture has been taken is hardly five minutes drive from the nearest beat house. I also informed the guard at the entrance gate about the incident, but what I could make out from the conversation is that it’s a common phenomenon. Despite regular warnings and patrolling the villagers were persisting with the illegal activity. This is the reason we need to relocate the villages but as earlier said, “ We need to keep our promises and give enough on the pallet for the villagers to relocate”. Or else it would be very hard to save the last dense patches of Chandaka Wildlife Sanctuary.

Not everything is grim. Some efforts have been made to promote Eco tourism. Back waters of Deras dam has always been a place of attraction for Picnic goers of Bhubaneswar. Winters would see hoards of unregulated number of tourists entering the sanctuary without having basic sense of respect for the forests and its denizens. It’s not their mistake. For that matter we have never been taught this at school. For us Picnic in any forest means “ Bana Bhoji” or simply Feast in Wild. With due respect to our Zoology Teachers who have taught us in our schools, I would say that school children are getting deprived of the basic education on nature and its resources. Study tours would largely involve taking students to places of historical importance and rarely to places like sanctuaries. At best sometimes to Zoos. Even if you get to see some one interested in Wildlife, it would be only Tiger or Elephant that they would be attracted to. This does not help the cause of forests in a longer run. For some one interested in seeing tigers or leopards, Chandaka would be a place of boredom. But if Chandaka can be propagated amongst school children as a place of seeing Birds in their natural surroundings, it may create at least some future naturalists who would fight for the cause. If one gets to see some wild animals then it’s a bonus. Some of the educated and unemployed youth from the surrounding villages can be trained to be forest guides.

Ambilo Watchtower cum Accomodation Facility

Backwaters of Deras Reservoir

A watch tower at Ambilo has been constructed where wildlife lovers can stay overnight. All basic amenities are there. Forest Guards stay near by and will help you out in your Dinner and Luch. But I hope people don’t come over here only to have a round of drink and vanish the next day and tell others “ kichi nahin dekhibaku Chandaka re”. One can get the permission from DFO’s office and make reservation in Ambilo. If you have time then I suggest you also visit Kumarkhunti where domesticated elephants Nandan and Rajkumar are undergoing Kumki training. This is basically to make them disciplined and to train them for future operations where wild herds of Elephants have to kept away from human settlements. One thing to remember is that two wheelers are not allowed inside the sanctuary and only 4 wheelers can be taken inside.

Indian Roller

Wire tailed Swifts

Trip to Chandaka Damapara wildlife sanctuary was not a disappointing affair for me and I came across birds like Indian Roller, Wire Tailed Swifts , Painted Storks and not to forget the sole Cheetal. I wish I would have spend some more time in Chandka when I was staying in Bhubaneswar during Graduation days. But never mind, there would be enough opportunities in future to visit this nestled Sanctuary reeling under human pressure. But I am closing this article with a lot of hope and optimism . Would like to see more and more people , especially kids going to Chandaka like they go to Nandankanan. Just can dream of this small but beautiful sanctuary getting devoid of any human habitation inside but Wildlife habitats.

How many woodpeckers are in Michigan?

There are eight woodpeckers found in Michigan.

1. Downy Woodpecker - At about 6 inches, it’s smallest woodpecker in North America and the most frequent visitor to backyard feeders year-round. They have a white belly and back and their black wings have white bars. The males have a red patch on the back of the head. It’s called downy because of the soft feathers on its back.
2. Red-headed Woodpecker – These woodpeckers have an unmistakable bright red head, black wings and white belly. They spend the summers in all of Michigan but aren’t as common at birdfeeders.
3. Red-bellied Woodpecker - They are common throughout most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula year-round. People often call the Red-bellied woodpecker by a list of common misnomers like red-headed or ladder-back woodpecker because of their gleaming red caps and striking black and white barred backs. Since virtually all woodpeckers are black and white with patches of bright colors on various parts of their bodies, the Red-bellied was named for the unique pinkish tinge on the belly, common to both genders.
4. Hairy Woodpecker – At about 9 inches, these medium woodpeckers look like their smaller downy woodpecker cousins. They aren’t as common at suburban birdfeeders.
5. Pileated Woodpecker – Male and female Pileated Woodpeckers both have a flaming red crest but the males have a red “moustache”. There is no real consensus on whether this bird’s name is pronounced “pie-lee-ated” or “pill-ee-ated”.
6. Northern Flicker – Unlike most woodpeckers, this species spends much of its time on the ground, feeding mostly on ants. Both the male and females have a red chevron on the back of their heads, black bibs, speckled chest, and a brown, barred back and wings. The males have a black “mustache”.
7. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Sapsuckers don’t actually suck sap- they lap it up with a tongue that resembles a paintbrush. According to, “The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker in eastern North America that is completely migratory. Although a few individuals remain throughout much of the winter in the southern part of the breeding range, most head farther south, going as far south as Panama. Females tend to migrate farther south than do males.”
8. Black-backed Woodpecker – I’ve never seen this bird. It is a year-round resident of northern Michigan and the U.P. According to Ted Black in his Birds of Michigan field guide, the blacked-backed are reclusive birds that are most active in recently burned forest patches where wood-boring beetles thrive under charred bark.

Barn Swallow Babies

Three hungry Barn Swallow chicks in Humber Bay...Image via Wikipedia

Three hungry Barn Swallow chicks in Humber Bay Park East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. - photos by Matt MacGillivray

Three hungry Barn Swallow chicks in Humber Bay...Image via Wikipedia
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