Due to lack of photo submissions, Songbird Station will not be offering a 2023 calendar. We appreciate those who took the time to enter their images in the contest!
“Birding Business” By: Zach Smith
If there is such a thing as reverse empty-nest syndrome, then Mel Toellner — or Bird Man Mel as he’s known to friends, family and viewers of his YouTube channel — probably has it. Since last summer he’s stepped back from his companies’ day-to-day operations; his son, Grant, and daughter, Becky, have taken the reins of different sides of the businesses he built from a few seeds. He’s neither sad to walk away nor concerned for the transition for a few reasons. His business was built on a passion for birding, and that passion was shared with the family. Mel’s kids were born into it, the same way he was.
Mel fledged his family business sense by helping his father with his company, Toellner Tire Co., in his native Bunceton. Later, he’d find his wings as a manager of sales, development and distribution for Ralston Purina. But like so many of the birds he loves to watch and educate others about, there was something instinctive calling the young entrepreneur. Tiny seeds planted by Boy Scout merit badge work, watching the geese in Rochester, Minnesota during trips to the Mayo Clinic with his father and a birding summer camp scholarship given to him by a member of the Columbia Audubon Society all germinated in Mel’s garage in Mexico. There, the idea for a birding store that would one day grow into a company supplying most of the same kind of businesses in North America, was hatched.
To view the rest of this article by Zach Smith of Rural Missouri click on the link below.
In case you missed Mel Toellner aka Bird Man Mel on KFRU with David Lile this morning, follow the link below to hear the recorded broadcast!
What you’ll need:
4 Cups Birdseed for Songbirds
¾ Cup Coarse Whole Wheat Flour
1 Packet Unflavored Gelatin
½ Cup Hot Water
4 Tablespoons Corn Syrup
- Combine dry ingredients above in a large bowl and after the water is hot (I microwave for 1 minute), add the corn syrup to dissolve in the hot water. Pour the hot water/corn syrup
mixture over the dry ingredients and blend well to incorporate the wet to the dry ingredients.
- Having prepared the work surface with wax or parchment paper, get your favorite cookie cutter shape and spray the inside with non-stick baking spray. Laying the cookie-cutter flat on the prepared surface, press the above mixture into the cookie cutter and overpack getting it as full as you can. I take something that is flat and continue to press leaving a flat surface on the cookie cutter.
- Taking a chopstick or a drinking straw, put near the top of the cookie-cutter, pressing through to the bottom but leave it in the mold. Carefully lift the cookie cutter up and away from the chopstick or straw and repeat the same process for the next ornament.
- Remove the chopstick or the straw after 15 minutes and don’t disturb the ornament until the next day. I turn them over once leaving them to dry another 24 hours. I then dry them in a dehydrator or an oven that is on the lowest setting for at least 15-30 minutes to ensure the ornament is dry and to eliminate any mold forming.
Summer activity around the feeding station is like watching an animated movie. Adults fly down with their young for lessons in getting food and water, flitting from one antic juvenile to the next in a rapid-fire exhibition of maneuvers. Now you can experience the frenzy with your own bird. Using the diagrams and instructions below, turn a simple piece of paper into a complex pattern of folds for flapping.
By: Tristan Palmgren
Winter is a special season for birding everywhere. Birds are not only (usually – there are some exceptions, like male goldfinches, who lose their bright gold coloring) easier to spot against the snowy foliage, but their behavior changes in dramatic fashion. As naturally-appearing nuts and seeds dwindle, and the energy demands of survival increase, your birds will frequent your feeders and birdbaths more often. That means that winter is a great time to attract new birds to your backyard. They will be out and looking for new sources of food. As birds are creatures of habit, they will continue returning to your feeders even as the seasons change and other food becomes more plentiful.
Let’s consider some things you can do to make our part of the world more welcoming for birds. One of the biggest and best things you can do for your yard is provide fresh, liquid water – ideally with a De-Icer or in a heated bird bath. Maintaining a liquid-water bird bath is not as much of a challenge as you might think. This is a subject important enough to have its own segment in this newsletter. See the article “Winter Birdbaths” for more details.
Missouri’s winter and year-round birds will need many more calories to survive and thrive than they did over the summer. That means their preferred food sources will change. Energy is paramount. And the highest-energy, highest-calorie foods that we have are the suet cakes. Pine Tree Farms High Energy Suet is Songbird Station’s best-selling winter food. Suet appeals most to clinging birds like titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, and bluebirds will all delight in suet cakes, especially if they’re catered to. In addition to High-Energy Suet, Pine Tree Farms makes a variety of specialty suet cakes. Some are formulated to be more attractive to specific birds – insect suet, for example, will draw in more bluebirds. Other cakes are made for different purposes, such as hot pepper suet, which will keep pesky squirrels, raccoons, and deer away from your feeders.
As you observe your birds this winter, you may notice that they appear larger and fluffier than before. This is not necessarily because they’re bulking up or storing extra fat. Birds keep themselves insulated from the cold by fluffing their feathers to add more layers of air between them. The multiple layers of feathers and air keep their body heat efficiently trapped. Feathers and fluff alone won’t keep them through the coldest Missouri winters, though. At night and during snowstorms, they’ll be looking for shelter to roost.
You can help them out by providing roosting space. Nest boxes left over from last nesting season are not ideal roosting spaces because their entrance portals are at their tops. While this is a feature during summer, in winter this allows heat to escape into the world. Dedicated roosting boxes are similar to nest boxes, but have their entrance portals at the bottom of the box to allow heat to stay trapped atop, and generally have a built-in ladder or other platform to allow birds access to the warmer top of the box.
Not all nest boxes can be reasonably converted to roosting houses. One recent addition to the Songbird Station catalog is designed to do double-duty. The Songbird Essentials Convertible Roosting House has a detachable front cover that can be flipped depending on the season: entrance portal on top for summer, bottom for winter, and a removable internal ladder. Alternatively, Songbird Essentials’ dried grass roosting pockets not only provide birds with shelter and space, but look fantastic on trees.
By: Kaylee Paffrath
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
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.
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.
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 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.