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.
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
Having trouble with your nestling bluebirds? This troubleshooting chart may be the tool you need.
Thanks for joining Bird Man Mel for his Bluebirds and Tree Swallows Seminar! As promised, when you mention this seminar you can take 10% off your purchase! Offer good through 3/28/2020 in-store at Songbird Station. We are offering curb-side pick up so give us a call at 573-446-5941 or send us a message on Facebook and we will be happy to have your order ready! We are currently allowing a maximum capacity of 10 people for in-store shopping.
Products and specials from the seminar:
Are you looking for an online shopping experience?
Visit www.SongbirdEssentials.com or www.GoldCrestDistributing.com
Are you not located in Central Missouri?
We highly encourage you to visit YOUR local Birding Store. Give our main office a call at 888-985-2473 and our customer service team will be thrilled to help you find the best birding retailer in your area.
By: Mel Toellner
As this issue of the Songbird Station Newsletter arrives in mailboxes, our thoughts will be turning to the upcoming holiday season. For many of us the days ahead will include snow. What a beautiful contrast the crimson red Northern Cardinal gives against pure white, fresh snow. Can you think of anything more enjoyable to put you in the holiday spirit? No wonder it is often referred to as the Winter Holiday Bird.
How many images of the Northern Cardinal do you use as holiday decorations? Is one of your favorite ornaments a Cardinal? What about the tablecloth, outside doormat, holiday wreath, gift wrapping paper? Notice in November and December every time you see the image of a Cardinal as you do your holiday shopping.
While the Cardinal may best be known for its flash of color in garden and woodland, have you ever found one of its feathers on the ground? Blue Jays and Robins shed their feathers like so much fall foliage, but Cardinals just might be the greatest protectors of the princely robes in the feathered kingdom.
As one of the most recognized songbirds in North America, Cardinals also could be known for their virtues; they are monogamous and remain together throughout the year. They aid in pest control, feeding on such insects as potato beetles, cotton boll weevils and the cucumber beetle. And they may be economically valuable because of their weed seed consumption, eating at least one hundred kinds in the wild.
At your feeder, Cardinals prefer black oil sunflower or safflower seeds. They roll the seed around with their tongue until it is sideways in their strong, cone-shaped bill. Then they crack it open and eject the hull before swallowing. Cardinals approach the feeder with an attitude, as if aware of their royal heritage. They do not suffer the chatter of neighboring Sparrows nor the infighting of house finches, but dine with their mate in majestic splendor.
During the winter, the male Cardinal tries to dominate at the feeder, but his mate usually ignores him and goes right on eating. In the spring, however, male Cardinals have the delightful habit of feeding hulled seeds to the female as part of their courtship. It often occurs at feeders and is endearing to watch. He hops over to her, tilts his head sideways and places the tidbit in her bill.
Year round you’ll have the most success attracting Cardinals by providing seed in a feeder with a larger flat perching area. A ground feeder or a hanging tray feeder filled with black oil sunflower and perhaps a little safflower and or peanuts is sure to be a Cardinal favorite. Keep your Cardinals healthy by using a feeder like the Songbird Essentials Small Ground Feeder that includes an easy to clean metal mesh bottom. If you own a tube feeder, you’ll want to attach a seed tray or a seed hoop to give Cardinals a flat spot to land and feed. Another sure way to attract Cardinals (and other desired songbirds) is to provide heated water in a birdbath or saucer. My new favorite is the SE995 Songbird Spa that can be mounted 3 ways. I use mine with the deck clamp in winter and ground legs in spring and summer.
Males are bright red crested and have a black throat and face. Females are a duller reddish brown. Adults of both sexes have a bright red bill, but the bills of juveniles are brown.
Want to add brilliant holiday color to your landscape? Follow our Cardinal tips and you’ll enjoy colorful Cardinal Holiday cheer out your windows! Enjoy! The below poem sums it up best.
The Cardinal in My Tree
By: Mrs. Dennis Getz (DeMotte, IN)
Pretty little red bird singing in my tree, I wish that I could tell you of the joy you bring to me. I know that God has sent you by my window to be near, to lift my broken spirits and to brighten them with cheer. Thank you, God, for red birds and all the gifts You give, to tell us of Your glory and remind us that You Live!
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
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.
By: Grant Toellner
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.
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.
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.
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.
By: Mary Douglas
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.
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.
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!
Q. Should I feed the Wild Birds in the fall?
A. After feeding the birds throughout the winter, many people take down their feeders in the spring. Some people take them down in the early summer. Others don’t take them down at all and continue to feed year-round. I am one of those who choose to feed year-round, especially as we start moving in to fall. By feeding in fall we are helping resident birds build fat reserves for energy once they begin their migration. Did you know that by feeding a reliable food source that birds are likely to return to the same place in the spring? Another reason why I enjoy feeding this time of year is that I have the chance to attract the first winter bird species to my yard and encourage them to remain nearly all season.
Q. I enjoy watching the bird’s close-up out my window in the morning, but the mess that’s left behind from the seed is so unsightly. What can I do?
A. The answer to this is found in the type of seed you feed. Our #1 selling seed at Songbird Station is Hearty Hearts, which is basically just the nut meat of the Black Oil Sunflower without the shell. We like to refer to this as a “NO WASTE” formula. We also offer a Shell-Free Deluxe mix which consists of Hulled Sunflower Meats and Chopped Nuts. Both of these will draw many birds to your feeder and provide hours of enjoyment.
Q. Are the Goldfinches still here? I don’t see their bright yellow flashes at my feeders any longer?
A. The goldfinches are still here – the American Goldfinch follows this pattern. Beginning in September, and continuing for six to eight weeks, they molt all of their feathers, ending up with a completely new and pristine set of feathers (and drab colors) as they head into winter. While on the subject of goldfinches…… Have you tried the Yellow Spiral Finch Feeder from Songbird Essentials? This feeder is by far my favorite as it has 18 feeding ports to attract many more birds than the traditional tube feeder, birds love to run the spiral! This feeder is also very easy to clean and can be filled from either end. Pick one up today from Songbird Station and let me know what you think.
Q. I enjoy watching the antics of the squirrels in my yard, but they sure know how to empty a feeder! What can I do to keep them away from my bird feeders?
A. There are several things that you can do to help curb this problem. The first thing you can do is add Flaming Squirrel Seed Sauce to your seed mix. This product is intended to make the seed not so tasty to the squirrels due to the hot and spicy flavor, but don’t worry ….. Birds do not have saliva glands and therefore can’t taste the heat. You can also set them up their own feeding area away from your bird feeders and treat them to Squirrel’s Referral which consists of Corn, Black Oil Sunflower, Peanut Pieces, Whole Peanuts, Grey Striped Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds. One more suggestion is purchasing a squirrel resistant feeder such as Squirrel Buster by Brome Bird Care, they guarantee it to be squirrel resistant!