Bird Watching, Migration  |  November 19, 2019

Wintering Birds of Missouri

By: Kaylee Paffrath

Photo of Cedar Waxwing

We see the great migration of birds, insects, and other animals in and out of Missouri each year. What drives these animals to migrate? The natural need to feed and breed of course. Migration is nature’s way for a bird to take advantage of new dining or nesting opportunities. Birds are traveling from areas of low resources to areas of higher resources that better align with their needs at the time. In North America approximately 350 species make the great migration to nonbreeding grounds in winter and back to breeding grounds in the spring.

Missouri can often be a tricky place to see some common migrators due to the infrequent weather conditions. Early or late winters greatly affect the bird’s internal “trigger” to migrate. Some northern migrators such as grosbeaks, pine siskins, crossbills, redpolls, goshawks, prairie falcons, snowy owls, and northern shrikes don’t always make the migration south to Missouri.

Not all birds migrate of course, and you might see some frequent visitors at your feeder this winter with over 143 different species hanging around each year. Even a beginning birder can make some easy identifications in winter with the proper set up. Feeding Missouri’s birds in winter will provide opportunities to see rare birds as well as assist in providing the essential dietary elements these birds chose to hang around for. Consider keeping a field guide handy for quick identification – we’ve got plenty at Songbird Station.

What birds can you expect to see at your feeders this winter? You will almost always see common birds such as the American robin and mourning doves but you will also see woodpeckers of all sorts including red-headed, red bellied, downy, and pileated, belted king-fisher, yellowbellied sapsucker, cedar waxwings, blue jays, horned larks, mockingbirds, dark-eyed juncos, brown-headed cowbirds, house finches, American goldfinches, house sparrows, and more totaling over 48 species!

Attracting Missouri’s songbirds to your backyard can be easy. A clean, ice-free, water source makes a huge impact on what birds you will see at your doorstep. A de-icer or heated birdbath is a must have, especially in central Missouri plus a de-icer will help keep your ceramic or concrete birdbath from cracking. All birds require water for drinking and bathing. Consider purchasing a birdbath protector like the Songbird Essentials SE7030 Birdbath Protector which helps to naturally clean water without the use of toxic chemicals.

The second key element in seeing Missouri’s unique songbirds this winter is to provide the best possible nutrition. Quality foods high in fat like suet and nuts is essential. Food quality directly affects a wild bird’s ability to stay warm and survive. Check your feeder levels more frequently in winter. Using a feeder such as a Songbird Essentials Fly-Thru feeder allows you to easily see seed levels and refill. Never, ever give birds bread! Bread provides ZERO nutrition for birds as they are full of empty calories. Birds can freeze to death overnight on a “full belly” of breadcrumbs.

Winter offers many relaxing moments watching the birds go about their daily feeding routines from the comfort of your home. Winter is also a prime time to prepare your Spring housing. Yes, you can already start dreaming of Spring and what Missouri birds you may see in your backyard in April or May. Established houses not only improve your chances of attracting desired birds such as bluebirds, wrens, and chickadees in the Spring, but they also provide shelter for those Missouri birds that do stick around and survive the cold Missouri winters.

Watching backyard birds in Missouri is a fun winter pastime. Let our staff help you create a winter birding wonderland in your backyard to see some of Missouri’s feathered wonders this holiday season.

Q & A  |  November 14, 2019

Winter Feeding-Q&A With Kevin

Kevin Alferman- General Manager

Q: How important is water for birds in the winter months?

Songbird Spa

A: Birds rely heavily on water for drinking and bathing and this is particularly important during winter when their natural sources are frozen. Since birds have no sweat glands, they do however lose water through respiration and in their droppings. Most birds need to drink at least twice a day to replace the lost water. It is also essential that birds bathe in winter to help keep their feathers in good condition. Dampening the feathers loosens the dirt and makes their feathers easier to preen. When preening, birds carefully rearrange the feathers and spread oil from the

de-icer for bird bath
Multi-Use De-Icer

preen gland, so they remain waterproof and trap an insulating layer of air underneath to keep them warm. Give birds water this winter by providing them with the Songbird Spa (SE995) from Songbird Essentials. The Songbird  Spa is a versatile and smart heated birdbath with 3 mounting options: deck mount, clamp mount and ground use. The Spa is thermostatically controlled and only cost pennies to operate. If you already have a winter approved birdbath you can also just add the Songbird Essentials Multi-Use De-Icer (SE994) which is also thermostatically controlled and comes with a 5.5’ power cord.

Q: What other important facts should I keep in mind when feeding birds in the winter?

Round Roosting Pocket

A: One of the most important things to keep in mind is creating the right habitat to songbirds. As we’ve already stated, an unfrozen water source as well as shelter will likely have birds staying in your yard for a while. When we talk about shelter, it can be trees, shrubs, brush pile or even an old Christmas tree placed near a feeder. You can also provide winter shelter with Songbird Essentials Roosting Pockets (SE938) which is made of natural materials and especially beneficial to non-migrating songbirds during winter months and helps keep birds safe from predators. Also remember to place your feeders and Roosting Pockets so they are easy to see from windows and easy to access and refill.

Q: I seem to have trouble keeping my seed dry during the winter months! The rain, sleet and snow seem to have me wasting more seed. Any suggestions on a feeder to alleviate this issue?

All-Weather Feeder

A: The Songbird Essentials All Weather 4 Quart Clear Feeder (SEAWFFF734) is the first weatherproof wild bird feeder. Through rain, snow, sleet and ice, the All-Weather Feeder delivers the seed dry and doesn’t clog up with snow and ice. The circular perch lets you see all the birds that are feeding, even those on the far side. It also catches spilled seed for less waste and comes completely apart so each piece can be individually cleaned, as a clean feeder helps keep the bird population healthy. This feeder will be more popular amongst the birds if it is not hung near a cluster of other feeders because unlike other feeders which let the elements in, it is also not as easy for the birds to eat from. The benefit being that it is worth it because when the birds can’t eat from feeders unprotected from the weather, they WILL be able to eat from the All-Weather Feeder. To draw a crowd of birds, try feeding Sunflower Hearts versus Black Oil Sunflower so they don’t have to mess with the hull, or you can try putting some seed in the tray or peanut butter on the holes to further entice the birds to work for their dinner. This feeder is also available in 6 Quart (SEAWFFF736) and you also have an option to add a Squirrel Cage (SEAWFFF740) if they become an issue.

Q: Any “NEW” Feeders out recently that I may want to consider adding to my collection?

Squirrel Buster Suet Feeder

A: Yes indeed!! I am excited about the “NEW: Squirrel Buster Suet Feeder (BD1106) by Brome Bird Care. A truly innovative squirrel proof suet bird feeder. This feeder holds 2 standard suet cakes allowing several Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Titmice and Chickadees to feed at the same time. With the 2 built in crumb ports, no suet goes wasted. This feeder is weight adjustable so that you can control which size birds you want to feed. And remember that all Squirrel Buster Feeders come with “Lifetime Care” – if you need advice or help just give them a call and if you ever need a replacement part covered under the warranty, they will happily provide it for FREE and the shipping is on them. Give this feeder a try today!

Bird Watching, Informative  |  November 11, 2019

2.9 Billion Birds Gone Since 1970

By: Kaylee Paffrath

Photo Courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Helping birds has never been more important than it is right now. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has released a devastating, first-ever, comprehensive assessment of the net population changes of the North American bird populations. The report finds that our common backyard bird populations such as warblers, finches, blackbirds, and sparrows have taken the hardest hits accounting for more than 90% of the 2.9 billion birds lost since 1970.

Ken Rosenberg, Cornell Lab of Ornithology conservation scientist, said: “These bird losses are a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support bird life and that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment.” The scientists involved in the study stated that their work doesn’t just show a massive loss of bird life, but a pervasive loss that reaches into every biome in North America.

What can you do to help? There are many ways you can help birds in your own backyard. The 2019 Project FeederWatch kicks off on November 9th and runs through early April. This event is held annually and can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Project FeederWatch is the winter long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locations in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and submit their counts online to Project FeederWatch. The data collected from these submissions help scientists track broad-scare movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance such as that released in the Cornell Lab study citing bird decline.

The scientists at Cornell Lab of Ornithology say there are 7 simple ways to help birds:

1. Make Windows Safer, Day and Night.

2. Keep Cats Indoors

3. Reduce Lawn by Planting Native Species

4. Avoid Pesticides

5. Drink Coffee That’s Good for Birds

6. Protect Our Planet From Plastics

7. Watch Birds, Share What You See

Although many results from the study were devastating, there were also many positive results. Raptors saw a population growth of 15 million since 1970 and woodpeckers saw a population growth of 14 million all thanks to conservation efforts and pesticide reductions.

To Learn More Visit: www.ProjectFeederWatch.org www.Birds.Cornell.edu

Informative, Squirrels & Critters  |  

Squirrel Solutions-Distraction Feeding

By: Kaylee Paffrath

They scurry about your yard chasing each other up and down your trees. You laugh as they make laps around your freshly filled feeder and then it happens… you watch the squirrels as they stuff their mouths full, as if they really needed half of the fresh seed in the first place! Squirrels are notorious pests when it comes to stealing bird seed, but many of us find them cute and fun to watch. So, how can you have the best of both worlds – a feeder bustling with songbirds and a backyard of playful squirrels? Easy! Squirrel proof you bird feeders and offer goodies specific to your squirrels’ interests.

Remember the 5-7-9 rule when picking the location of your bird feeders. Squirrels don’t typically jump more than 5 feet off the ground, 7 feet across, or drop more than 9 feet down. If your bird feeders sit on a pole, consider a Songbird Essentials Squirrel Defeater SnapOn Pole Baffle that snaps right on to the pole without having to remove the feeder or make adjustments.

Squirrel Defeater Super Snap-On Pole Baffle

Are raccoons a problem as well? No problem! Try a heavy-duty Predator Defeater Pole Baffle from Songbird Essentials. Hanging baffles aid in more ways than just keeping squirrels away from seed, they also help protect seed and feeders from rain. Hanging baffles like the Songbird Essentials Hanging Baffle are great for feeders hung from hooks or in heavily wooded areas. Squirrel-proof feeders and cage feeders are designed specifically for keeping squirrels out and songbirds happy. Our most popular squirrel-proof feeders in-store are the Squirrel Buster Classic from Brome Bird Care and the Songbird Essentials Squirrel Defeater. The Squirrel Defeater features weight-controlled seed ports that close when a squirrel jumps on as well as a baffle top to keep squirrels off.

12” Hanging Baffle

Are you still feeling defeated in the battleground that was once your backyard? Consider a HOT product like Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce™ that you mix in your birdseed. Birds love it, squirrels don’t. Cole’s Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce™ is made with two ingredients; liquid habanero chili pepper and soybean oil. Birds like bluebirds, cardinals, wrens, buntings, and finches enjoy the taste while squirrels will feel like their mouth is on fire and have no desire to try the seed again making it a win-win. Squirrels are easy to please, offer them some peanuts, special blend seed, or ear corn and they will take claim to your backyard.

Squirrel’s Referral
8 oz Flaming Squirrel

 

 

 

 

 

Squirrel’s Referral seed mix from Songbird Essentials’ name says it all – squirrels will refer it to all their furry friends like rabbits, chipmunks, even wild turkeys! You can get even more entertainment from squirrels with a Songbird Essentials Squngee Deluxe Squirrel Feeder or Squirrel Spinner, just mount and watch squirrels spin and bounce while going after ear corn. As always, we also offer a variety of classic squirrel feeders such as the new Songbird Essentials Squirrel Café Feeder or Squirrel Jar Feeder.

Squngee Deluxe
Squirrel Jar Feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

Informative  |  November 04, 2019

Wingman’s Feathered Facts

By: Grant Toellner

6” Cardinal & Snowflake Glass Tree

45- A partridge in a pear tree is a key component of the popular Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” but did you know there are 45 formally recognized species of partridges in the world. Don’t forget all the great glass Christmas trees Songbird Station offers with some featuring great backyard birds and songbirds found right here in Missouri.

Quick Release Seed Scoop

The Julenek- The Scandinavian countries have a beautiful tradition of encouraging the kind treatment of birds at Christmas time. Norwegians call the traditional food offering a Julenek and they believe that if you spread birdseed outside your doorstep on Christmas morning, thus including the birds in the feasting that takes place inside your home, you will have good luck in the coming year. Songbird Station offers small seed bag holders from Alice’s Cottage that allow you to share this tradition with friends and family.

Platform Feeder

College, Conclave, Deck, Radiance- In the winter months, Northern Cardinals forego their territorial ways and congregate together to form flocks also known as one of the terms above. A group looking for food collectively is more successful than a single cardinal or pair. Platform and ground feeders are a great option for feeding Northern Cardinals and allow multiple birds to eat at one time.

Snowy Owl Ornament

270 Degrees- Unlike other species of owls, snowy owls have flexible neck that can rotate up to 270 degrees. This is their adaptation for having smaller eyes than common owls. They are diurnal, meaning active during both the day and night especially at dusk and dawn. Songbird Station has great gift items for owl lovers including snowy owls that make great Christmas presents.