Attracting Birds, Bird Watching, Nesting  |  March 30, 2020

REQUIREMENTS FOR YOUR FAVORITE CAVITY-NESTING BIRDS

© NestWatch / The Cornell Lab of Ornithology / https://nestwatch.org/learn/all-about-birdhouses/dealing-with-predators/

Species Nesting Habitat Box Height Hole Size Minimum Spacing
American Kestrel Pastures, fields, meadows, or orchards with mowed or grazed vegetation; place boxes on lone trees in fields, on trees along edges of woodlots, and on farm buildings. Facing south or east 10-30 feet 3″ diameter 1/2 mile
Ash-throated Flycatcher Chaparral, mesquite thickets, oak scrub, dry plains spotted with trees or cacti, deserts, and open deciduous and riparian woodlands 3-20 feet 1 3/4″ round 200 feet
Barn Owl Prefers open areas like fields, deserts and marshes which are in close proximity to hollow trees, cliffs, riverbanks, or man-made structures, including barns, bridges and other accessible sites, and which support healthy rodent populations 8-25 feet 3 3/4″ x 4 1/2″ elliptical 100 feet
Black-capped Chickadee Forests, woodlots, and yards with mature hardwood trees, forest edges, meadows; area should receive 40-60% sunlight, hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box 5-15 feet 1 1/8″ round 650 feet
Brown-headed Nuthatch Open stands of pine-hardwood forests, clearings scattered with dead trees, forest edges, burned areas, cypress swamps 5-10 feet 1″ round 1 box per 6 acres
Carolina Chickadee Forests, woodlots, and yards with mature hardwood trees, forest edges, meadows; area should receive 40-60% sunlight, hole should face away from prevailing wind. Unlike other chickadees, Carolina Chickadee does not do much excavating, so wood chips are not necessary. 4-15 feet 1 1/8″ round 30 feet
Carolina Wren Forests with thick underbrush, forest edges, woodland clearings, open forests, shrub lands, suburban gardens, parks, backyards; near trees or tall shrubs 3-6 feet 1 1/2″ round, or 2 1/2″ x 5″ slot 330 feet
Chestnut-backed Chickadee Coniferous forests, mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, forest edges, woodlands, thickets, burned areas, often near streams; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box 5-15 feet 1 1/8″ round 160 feet
Common Goldeneye Breeding habitat is limited to aquatic areas with dead trees, in boreal, deciduous, aspen and montane woods; favor calm, large, clear lakes without much vegetation or fish. Please several inches of wood shavings in the box in early spring. 6-30 feet 3 1/4″ high x 4 1/4″ wide 2/3 mile
Eastern Bluebird Open field or lawn; orchards; open, rural country with scattered trees and low or sparse ground cover; entrance hole should face open field, preferring east, north, south, and then west-facing directions 3-6 feet 1 1/2″ diameter (round), or 2 1/4″ high x 1 3/8″ wide (oval) 300 feet
Eastern Screech-Owl Forests, parks, woodland clearings, forest edges, wooded stream edges, under a tree limb. Add 2″-3″ of wood shavings 10-30 feet 3″ round 100 feet
European Starling Habitat generalists, nesting in areas ranging from rural and agricultural to suburban and urban areas, but they avoid heavily wooded, mountainous, and arid regions providing nest boxes is discouraged for this species in the U.S. can squeeze through holes with 1 9/16″ diameter 5 feet
Great Crested Flycatcher Deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, forest edges, woodlots, orchards, parks, on post or tree at forest edge 3-20 feet 1 3/4″ round 1 box per 6 acres
Hooded Merganser Quiet, shallow, clear water pools surrounded by or near the edge of deciduous woods: small forest pools, ponds, swamps; add 3″ of wood shavings; add ladder under inside of entrance hole for young to climb out 6-25 feet 3″ high by 4″ wide horizontal oval 100 feet
House Sparrow Agricultural, suburban, and urban areas; tend to avoid woodlands, forests, grasslands, and deserts providing nest boxes is discouraged for this species in the U.S. can fit through holes with 1 1/4″ diameter variable
House Wren Variety of habitats, farmland, openings, open forests, forest edges, shrub lands, suburban gardens, parks, backyards; near trees or tall shrubs 5-10 feet 1″ round 100 feet
Mountain Bluebird Open field or lawn; orchards; open, rural country with scattered trees and low or sparse ground cover; will also use deciduous and coniferous forest edges; entrance hole should face open field, preferring east, north, south, and then west-facing directions 4-6 feet 1 9/16″ diameter 300 feet
Mountain Chickadee Coniferous forests, forest edges, woodland clearings; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box 5-15 feet 1 1/8″ round 1 box per 10 acres
Northern Flicker Pastures, groves, woodlots, orchards, fields, meadows, woodland clearings, forest edges, urban parks, on pole or tree at forest edge or along fence rows bordering crop fields; south or east facing; box should be completely filled with wood chips or shavings 6-12 feet 2 1/2″ round 330 feet
Prothonotary Warbler Lowland hardwood forests subject to flooding, stagnant water, swamps, ponds, marshes, streams, flooded river valleys, wet bottomlands; box should be over or near water 4-12 feet 1 1/4″ round 235 feet
Purple Martin Broad open areas (meadows, fields, farmland, swamps, ponds, lakes, rivers) with unobstructed space for foraging on flying insects; there should be no trees or buildings within 40 feet of the martin pole in any direction; houses should be painted white 10-15 feet 2 1/8″ round or 3″ wide x 1 3/16″ high crescent 10 feet
Red-breasted Nuthatch Mixed coniferous-deciduous forests, shrub lands, swamps, farmlands, suburban parks; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box 5-15 feet 1 1/4″ round 150 feet
Tree Swallow Open fields near water, expansive open areas, marshes, meadows, wooded swamps; on a post in open areas near tree or fence, east facing 5-6 feet 1 3/8″ round 35 feet
Tufted Titmouse Deciduous forest, thick timber stands, woodland clearings, forest edges, woodlots, riparian and mesquite habitats; hole should face away from prevailing wind 5-15 feet 1 1/4″ round 580 feet
Violet-green Swallow Open or broken deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, wooded canyons, edges of dense forest 9-15 feet 1 3/8″ round 30 feet
Western Bluebird open field or lawn; orchards; open, rural country with scattered trees and low or sparse ground cover; will also use deciduous and coniferous forest edges; entrance hole should face open field, preferring east, north, south, and then west-facing directions 4-6 feet 1 1/2″ diameter 215 feet
Western Screech-Owl Lower elevations, forests, parks, woodland clearings, forest edges, deserts, wooded stream edges, under a tree limb, south or east facing. Add 2″-3″ of wood shavings 10-30 feet 3″ round 1,000 feet
White-breasted Nuthatch Deciduous woodlands, mature forests, woodlots, near open areas, forest edges, orchards, often near water; hole should face away from prevailing wind; 1″ wood shavings can be placed in box 5-20 feet 1 1/4″ round 1,040 feet
Wood Duck Forested wetlands or near marshes, swamps, and beaver ponds; boxes can be installed on posts or poles in water, at least 3 feet above the high water mark, facing south or west. If installing on land, choose a site within 100 feet of water with no branches near the entrance hole and with a predator guard. Place 4 inches of wood shaving in box floor. Box should have fledgling ladder inside entrance hole to enable young to climb out. 6-30 feet 4″ wide, 3″ high 600 feet

Attracting Birds, Bird Watching, Bluebirds  |  March 25, 2020

The Bluebirder’s Ten Commandments

THE BLUEBIRDER’S TEN COMMANDMENTS

I. Place houses at least 300 feet apart, because bluebirds are territorial.

II. Keep the bluebird houses in open habitat. It’s the environment they prefer.

III. Control the House Sparrow, or it will eliminate the bluebird and Tree Swallow.

IV. Add a second bluebird house 21 feet (7 paces) from the first house, at every 300-foot setting. This will allow the valuable Tree Swallow to also nest on your bluebird trail.

V. Control the most threatening parasite, the blowfly larva.

If you don’t, you may end up fledging very few, if any, baby birds. Change their nests when babies are from seven to 10-days old (only one change per brood needed.)

VI. Attach a predator guard to your bluebird houses. This will protect the bluebirds from predators and other enemies.

VII. Avoid handling the bluebird and/or Tree Swallow young after they are 14 days or older. They may fledge prematurely, which could cause their death.

VIII. Monitor your bluebird trail at least once every week.

IX. Remove the old bluebird and/or Tree Swallow nests on your first nest check after the young have fledged.

X. Keep accurate field records. This is the first step toward achieving greater success on your bluebird trail.

© 1995 Andrew M. Troyer – Bring Back the Bluebirds

 

Attracting Birds, Bird Houses and Nesting, Bird Species, Bird Watching, Bluebirds, Informative  |  March 21, 2020

GIVEAWAY #2 – Recycled Plastic Ultimate Bluebird House

GIVEAWAY!
We are giving away a Recycled Plastic Ultimate Bluebird House. Not a local? No problem, you can still enter to win and we will ship it to you! 
The last day to enter this contest is April 1st at 1:00 p.m. CST. Winner will be drawn on Facebook live April 2nd.
 
To Enter:
Like us on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/SongbirdStationMO
Share this post: www.facebook.com/SongbirdStationMO/photos/a.365958843430021/4297969010228965/?type=3&theater
Tag a friend in this post: www.facebook.com/SongbirdStationMO/photos/a.365958843430021/4297969010228965/?type=3&theater

Attracting Birds, Bird Houses and Nesting, Bird Watching, Bluebirds, Events, Uncategorized  |  

GIVEAWAY! Ultimate Bluebird Pole System

GIVEAWAY!
We are giving away an Ultimate Bluebird COMPLETE Pole System to one lucky Central Missouri resident! You must be available to pick up the prize in-person at Songbird Station. Not a local? No problem! We will also be giving away a Recycled Plastic Ultimate Bluebird House.
The last day to enter this contest is April 1st at 1:00 p.m. CST. Winner will be drawn on Facebook live April 2nd.
 
To Enter:
Like us on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/SongbirdStationMO
Tag a friend in this post: /www.facebook.com/SongbirdStationMO/photos/a.365958843430021/4297935576898975/?type=3&theater

Bird Watching, Migration  |  December 01, 2019

Winter Birds in Missouri

By: Mary Douglas, Ph.D.

Missouri is dead center in one of the largest migratory pathways on the North American continent. The Missouri and Mississippi rivers are highways for millions of birds moving south from Canada and the northern states. Bird populations shift with the seasons as they have for millennia. In winter Missouri birders miss our backyard friends the hummingbirds, orioles, wrens, swallows, and other insectivores. Their absence makes way for the incoming seed eating Juncos, Siskins, and Finches. The changes come and go every year giving birders something new to see every day.

The significance of migration is most pronounced at our Missouri State Wildlife areas. Places such as Squaw Creek and Swan Lake in NW Missouri attract millions of migrating and overwintering waterfowl and raptors. Canvasback, Mallard, and Merganser ducks move in with Canadian Geese and Snow Geese in large flocks. Seeing these birds en masse is truly breathtaking.

Raptors follow the migrating waterfowl and overwinter here as well. Missouri has the largest population of overwintering Bald Eagles in the country. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has Eagle Days when the public can go to specific watch sites to enjoy the show with up to 30 eagles roosting in a single tree. These opportunities are memorable opportunities for photography and hot chocolate. Wrap up if you go, it is always bitter cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills blow in over the wetlands. It is worth the effort! You can find details on dates and locations at https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/eagle-days-5.

Local sighting trends follow the food availability. As the agricultural harvest season comes and goes, the birds move to other sources. Wild foods such as sunflowers, berries, thistle seed, and mast fall such as pecans, walnuts, hickory, and persimmons feed our forest friends through the dormant cold months.  We are able to lure birds into our home environments with readily available seed, suet, and fresh water. Birds are particularly susceptible to dehydration in the dry cold winter months making a water source critical to survival. Combining food with water sources keeps our beauties in viewing proximity year round. A good regional bird identification book is handy for referencing birds you do not recognize. Sometimes we get birds far off their regular territory. Mother Nature never disappoints.

Songbird Proso Millet
Songbird Proso Millet
High Octane Suet Cakes
High Octane Suet Cakes

 

 

 

 

 

Journaling your bird-sightings is worthwhile in winter as well as summer since you can see many species out your own window. Learning the differences in plumage and species in summer and winter is always a pleasurable experience. I see something new every season. Our Missouri winter birds are magnificent. Look outside, look up for the big birds, and enjoy!

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.

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

Attracting Birds, Bird Baths, Bird Watching  |  October 22, 2019

Nature’s Bounty

By: Mary Douglas

Rock Bridge Memorial State Park
Rock Bridge Memorial State Park

Fall is upon us with winter close behind. A stroll through local parks amid our autumn colors is always a delight this time of year. Take note of the abundant natural foods available for wildlife as you go.

Seed heads heavy with seed will be bent over, acorns will be scattered about the undergrowth, and berries will be heavy on the stems. Native plants and trees you may find include Sunflowers, Serviceberry, Red Cedar, Wild Plum, Black Cherry, Oaks, Basswood, Beautyberry, Dogwood, Hawthorn, Sumac, Virginia Creeper, Coneflower, Liatris, Asters, Black-Eyed Susan, Native Grasses, Winterberry, and others. Many of our native plants look like a weed, yet they are nature’s grocery store for our wildlife. You will likely find some of these natural foods in your yard. Along with the wild food, fall provides leaf litter on the ground that is winter nesting material for birds, squirrels, and bugs.

Songbird Essentials Heated Bird Bath

The Missouri Department of Conservation recommends leaving the native foods and litter where they are for the birds and critters. We can help our local wildlife by leaving and encouraging such native resources in our yards. Fall is the prime time to expand your native perennial plants either by division and replanting or by purchasing starts from local growers. Adding a reliable source of fresh water, such as a heated birdbath, and seed and suet feeders to supplement the wild harvest will attract and help support your local wild residents through fall and winter. Future benefits will show themselves in years to come.

Crossfire 8×42

Fall also brings the shortened daylight hours that triggers the migration of birds. September is often the month we see the most activity at feeders from migratory birds. Birders have a great opportunity to take pictures in the fall as the birds offer unusual opportunities to see them as they move through on their way south. Cameras and binoculars are often in our pockets as we stroll about our parks. Songbird Station offers a wide variety of feeders, baths, and optics to meet your needs and budget. Utilitarian or decorative there is something for every bird lover and a variety of seeds and seed blends for every bird species. Take advantage of Nature’s bounty in the native plants, add a few strategically placed feeders, and use your binoculars to watch the show!