Birds' average weight

How do the weight activated squirrel proof feeders work? Why don’t they shut down when 4 birds sit on the feeder?

Most birds have hollow bones with internal struts that make them very strong. (Exceptions include swimming birds, like loons, which have solid bones to help them dive up to 150’ for food.)

Birds also have a smaller total number of bones than mammals. This is because many of their bones have fused together, making the skeleton more rigid. Birds do have more neck vertebrae than many other animals to help them groom their feathers. But overall it takes over 65 chubby chickadees to equal the weight of one medium squirrel.

House Finch feeding his baby

Lots of new faces have been showing up this week. One proud papa House Finch was showing his baby that the best bird food in town is at the Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, MI.

The Toughest Bird in the Neighborhood

Just who is the toughest bird in the neighborhood anyway? Is it the Red-tailed Hawk that soars overhead each afternoon in search of squirrels or the Great Horned Owl that terrorizes the night with its stealthy hunting tactics?

In reality, it's neither of them…it's actually that cute little woodpecker that visits your suet feeder in the backyard!

No joke! That little Downy Woodpecker (or any of its woodpecker relatives) lives a punishing existence that most other birds would probably consider a life of being condemned to hard labor, and they have to be really tough in order to survive it.

And woodpeckers couldn't get much tougher - they are thick-skinned, hard-headed and heavy-hitting!

Their skin is thicker than most other birds in order to protect them from rough tree bark and biting insects. Their reinforced skull and bill are strong enough to withstand blows that exceed ten times the force of gravity as they repeatedly strike a tree at over 13 mph.
The other end of a woodpecker is also built tough. Its' pointed tail feathers are especially strong and rigid, able to withstand the punishment of supporting its own weight as it climbs and clings to trees.

This month can often bring the best tough guy activity of the year to the feeders in your yard. With lots of young woodpeckers around and the molting process in full swing, woodpeckers are seeking the extra calories and proteins that feeders can provide.

Original Article from: WBU Nature News

Related Articles: 

How to stop birds from hitting the window

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

1. Locate feeders and birdbaths within 1-2 feet of them so they can't gather enough speed to cause significant injury or about 20-30 feet from windows so birds have time to change direction. Window feeders also alert birds to a window.

2. Window screens will reduce injury even if a bird flies into it. Use them where practical.

3. Decals like Window Alert placed on the outside of windows have had the most positive feedback from customers. Each decal contains a component which brilliantly reflects ultraviolet sunlight. This ultraviolet light is invisible to humans, but glows like a stoplight for birds.

If you do have a window strike and the bird is injured CALL FOR ADVICE! The best course may be no interference. For a list of licensed rehabilitators click HERE. Or visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at:

Related Articles:

The End of Spring Migration

26 May- 16 June

We banded another two days in May  and four days in June to complete the spring season. I was away for a spell in early June so didn't get out as often as I'd hoped, plus weather wasn't cooperating. We banded our FOY (first of year) adult male Cedar Waxwing on the 28th

and Alice, a very enthusiastic high school student, was eager to release this gorgeous bird.

We captured two Saltmarsh Sparrows on 1 Jun, both in the same net. One was an obvious male due to a very enlarged cloacal protuberance but the other one was either a non breeding male he was chasing away or a female he was attracted to! The definite male was a bit brighter than the other one.

I was unable to age this bird past AHY (after hatching year). I could see a molt limit in the secondaries, it appeared he had replaced s6, however according to Pyle they can molt s6 again during the prealternate molt in the spring. I'm leaning toward ASY in this bird as the primary coverts seemed broad with a distinct edging.

The Carolina Wren we captured this day was easier to age as a SY (second year) bird with two retained juvenal primary feathers (pps 1,2). The first secondary feather (s1) is right above my finger and the two retained primary feathers are right above that. Notice the streaks aren't as bold as those on the replaced feathers and the shafts of the juvenal feathers are a lighter color too. 

Our first Great Crested Flycatcher for 2012 was banded on 7 June, a female based on an extensive brood patch and a short wing chord. Females will drop their breast and belly feathers to impart warmth to their eggs as they incubate. In some species males will develop brood patches (BP's) too and this is the case with Great Cresteds , although the BP isn't as extensive in males.

Our first baby birds (HY or hatch year) were captured on the 16th- a robin,

two Carolina Wrens,

and a male Downy Woodpecker. The red on the top of the head are juvenal feathers that will be replaced during the 1st prebasic molt when the red feathers will show up on the back of the head. This bird was already beginning his molt replacing his first three primary feathers.

June 16th was our last day of spring migration monitoring. Overall, this was our worst spring season when comparing effort to previous years. We missed a number of species  we usually catch each spring- Common Grackle, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, no flycatchers at all including Eastern Phoebe and Eastern Kingbird, or numerous warblers- Northern Parula (although I heard it), Black-throated Blue, Blackpoll, Ovenbird (also heard), and American Redstart.  We had very low numbers of new birds for some of our resident birds- Blue Jay (1), Black-capped Chickadee(4), and Song Sparrow(7). We banded a measly 264 new birds. While Wing Island is great in the fall, I'm really considering looking for a new place for spring migrants, maybe back to the Punkhorn, although I'm sure some of my volunteers wouldn't be too eager for that (very buggy and rough terrain). We recaptured more birds previously banded than new birds- 267. Of those, 121 were birds returning from previous years. Our oldest bird was a 10 year old female Common Yellowthroat first captured in 2002. She then eluded us for 7 years recapturing her again in 2009, then 2010, and again this year. We also had a 9 year old Gray Catbird, an 8 year old Common Yellowthroat, four 7 year olds (Gray Catbird, American Goldfinch and 2 Song Sparrows), one 6 year old Black-capped Chickadee, and the rest were five years of age or younger.

The highlights of the season were capturing our very first Wood Thrush

and adding a few new species for our spring list; Veery, Brown Creeper (pictured below)

and Field Sparrow.

Many thanks to all who helped out this spring: Jo-Anna Ghadban, Gretchen Putonen, Alice Wynn, Jessica Rempel, Ben Lagasse, Carolyn Kennedy, and Judy Keller.

Below is list of birds seen, heard, and captured (with numbers) throughout the spring monitoring season.


Total birds: 274                                    Total species: 89
Total banded species: 45                      Birds/100 net-hrs: 24

Blue Heron
Green Heron
Canada Goose
American Black Duck
Turkey Vulture
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Bobwhite
Black-bellied Plover
Greater Yellowlegs
Solitary Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper
American Woodcock
Laughing Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Common Tern
Mourning Dove 1 unbanded
Great Horned Owl
Ruby-throated Hummingbird 3 new
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker 2 new; 2 recaps
Hairy Woodpecker
Yellow-shafted Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher 1 new
Tree Swallow 1 new
Barn Swallow
Blue Jay 1 new
American Crow
Fish Crow
Black-capped Chickadee 4 new, 61 recaps, 1
Tufted Titmouse 2 new, 11 recaps
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper 1 new
Carolina Wren 3 new; 22 recaps, 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Eastern Bluebird
Veery 1 new
Swainson's Thrush 1 new
Hermit Thrush 5 new, 2 recaps
Wood Thrush 1 new
American Robin 4 new
Gray Catbird 78 new, 25 recaps,1
Northern Mockingbird 1 new
Brown Thrasher 2 new, 1 recap, 1
Cedar Waxwing 4 new
European Starling
White-eyed Vireo 1 new
Nashville Warbler 3 new
Northern Parula
Yellow Warbler 3 new
Magnolia Warbler 2 new
Myrtle (Yellow-rumped)
5 new
Black-throated Green Warbler
Pine Warbler 2 new 2 recaps
Prairie Warbler 7 new, 1 recap
Yellow Palm Warbler 6 new
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler 2 new
Northern Waterthrush 2 new
Common Yellowthroat 24 new; 61 recaps; 2
Wilson's Warbler 1 new
Northern Cardinal 9 new, 9 recaps, 1
Eastern Towhee 5 new; 1 recap
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow 1 new
Savannah Sparrow 1 new
Saltmarsh Sparrow 2 new
Song Sparrow 7 new, 50 recaps, 2
Swamp Sparrow 9 new
White-throated Sparrow 14 new, 5 recaps
Red-winged Blackbird 4 new
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird 5 new; 1 recap, 1
Orchard Oriole 1 new
Baltimore Oriole 1 new
House Finch
American Goldfinch 28 new, 13 recaps
House Sparrow 4 new