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!

Attracting Birds, Bird Baths  |  November 27, 2019

Winter Birdbaths

By: Tristan Palmgren

As the weather gets colder and natural seeds and nuts become scarcer, more and more birds will be visiting your feeders – but food and calories aren’t the only things they’re going to be looking for. Liquid water becomes even scarcer in winter. Feeders are an essential component of your backyard birding habitat, but they’re not the biggest draw for birds. In winter, liquid water will draw many times more birds than even the most attractive feeders.

Keeping liquid water in your backyard is less of a challenge than it might seem. The Songbird Essentials Birdbath & Multiuse De-Icer will fit most birdbaths, and is completely safe for birds. The surface won’t get too hot for them to touch, nor take up too much electricity. The De-Icer is controlled by a built-in thermostat. The heating element will only switch on when the water is just above freezing and will maintain it at that temperature. It will turn on and shut off automatically. The projected power usage is pennies per month.

bird bath deicer
Birdbath & Multi-Use De-Icer

Most heated birdbaths – that is, full baths with their own heating elements built in – are also controlled by thermostat, are similarly cost-effective to operate, and can be used year-round. Our most versatile heated birdbath is the Songbird Spa, which can be mounted to a deck railing with a clamp or plate mount and comes with stakes for a ground mount option. The Songbird Spa is easy to clean. The bath lifts right out of its holder. Other heated birdbaths can also be mounted on decks or, like the Songbird Essentials Heated Cedar Birdbath, come with stands.

Songbird Spa

One of the best features of a well-maintained birdbath is that they will draw many more birds than might otherwise visit your feeders otherwise, including birds that aren’t primarily seed-eaters. Not only will liquid water attract a greater quantity of birds, but also a wider variety. Last winter, nine out of ten stories about bluebirds that we heard in the store started with birdbaths. Bluebirds visit seed feeders on occasion, but they’ll more readily make a habit of visiting fresh water. A heated birdbath is a great way to draw in as many bluebirds to your backyard as your area will support – and to see if it’s worth investing in a mealworm feeder or bluebird house, if you haven’t already.

Mealworm Feeder Blue/Grey

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!

Informative, Squirrels & Critters  |  November 11, 2019

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.

 

Events  |  October 30, 2019

25 Days of Christmas Giveaway

We’re celebrating the

25 days of Christmas

at Songbird Station

by giving away over $2,400.00 in prizes!

 

We couldn’t have had a successful 2019 without the help of our loyal customers like YOU so we are giving back with the help of special sponsors like Brome Bird Care, HummBug, Songbird Essentials, and MANY more! You may earn entries now through December 24th. If your name is drawn you will get to pick a special present from under our tree. Prizes will be drawn daily on Facebook Live December 1st through December 25th. We’re giving away top of the line squirrel resistant feeders, binoculars, hummingbird feeders, and so much more.

How to earn entries:

For every $50.00 spent at Songbird Station now through December 24th, you will gain an entry into the drawing.

Watch our Facebook or Twitter pages for code words. When you visit Songbird Station and mention the code word you will gain another entry into the drawing.

Give to charity. We will be collecting monetary donations for the University of Missouri Raptor Rehabilitation Project. You will gain one (1) entry for every $10.00 donated.

 

So what’s holding you back? Stop in or call for more details. (573) 446-5941

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!

 

 

Informative  |  October 18, 2019

Wingman’s Fun Feather Facts

By: Grant Toellner

OBC Bat House Single Chamber

5,000
Sunflower seeds originated in South America and were used by Native Americans more than 5000 years ago. Today, the leading producers of this popular seed are Russia, Ukraine, Argentina, and China. Make sure you don’t miss out on the booking special currently going on at Songbird Station on the US produced black-oil sunflower seed.

Sea-Bird Pooh
When most people hear the word guano, they think of just bat poop, but in fact, the word “guano” has its roots in the Quechuan language and basically means “sea bird pooh”. For the Incans, it was so highly prized, that anyone that endangered the source of the stuff could be sentenced to death! Autumn is a great time to put up a bat house and Songbird Station has the best selection in town with most houses being made and produced right here in Central Missouri.

Bird Migration By: Stan Tekiela

37,000 feet
Bar-headed geese are the highest-flying migratory birds, regularly reaching altitudes of up to five and a half miles above sea level while flying over the Himalayas in India. The bird with the record for the highest altitude, however, is the Ruppel’s griffon vulture, which collided with a plane at 37,000 feet (seven miles) in 1975 and was unfortunately sucked into its jet engine. A new book from Adventure Publications called Bird Migration has some great facts on migration patterns of North American birds.

Nutsie Seed Log 80 oz.

24 inches
The Tufted Titmouse only live in areas where rainfall is greater than 24 inches per year and are more common where rainfall exceeds 32 inches per year. I have great luck attracted titmice to my yard by offering seed logs from Pine Tree Farms. They really seem to enjoy the Nutsie log the best, and there is a seed log variety of feeders available at Songbird Station.

 

 

Attracting Birds, Bird Baths, Bird Food and Feeders, Bird Species, Informative  |  October 15, 2019

Family Time

By: Kevin Alferman

Warblers

The Warbler Guide By: Tom Stephenson & Scott Whittle

Welcome to the wonderful world of Warblers. Did you know that 37 species of warblers migrate through Missouri in the Spring and Fall? Fall viewing can produce some rewarding looks at the colorful and artistic patterns of warblers, however, they don’t come easy. Most warblers are secretive, hiding among the foliage. They feed actively, primarily on insects, so it seems like right when you’re ready to get a good look, it moves. But keep trying, because when you do get a good look it’s really worth it. In general, warblers are tiny (smaller than sparrows, slightly larger than a goldfinch) and their beaks are short and pointed. Common species that breed in Missouri include Northern Parula, American Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, Ovenbird, Louisiana Waterthrush, Kentucky Warbler, Common Yellow Throat, and Yellow-Breasted Chat. Uncommon breeding warblers include Blue-Winged, Yellow-Throated, Yellow, Pine, Black and White, Prairie, Cerulean and Worm-eating. Common migrating warblers include Tennessee, Yellow-Rumped, Black-Throated Green, Blackpoll, Palm and Wilson’s. Uncommon migrating warblers include Orange-Crowned, Nashville, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Blackburnian, Bay-Breasted, Mourning, and Canada. WHEW! As if that’s not enough, an additional 6 species wing through as rarities. Want to learn more – Check out “The Warbler Guide”.

Pine Tree Farms Insect Suet Cake

Species Spotlight – Yellow-Rumped Warbler

The Yellow-Rumped Warbler is one of the most abundant warbler species throughout the country. In Missouri, they are abundant migrants from Early October through November, with their numbers reducing through December. A few even stick around through the winter! They spend the summer breeding in Canada and high mountains. Look for them in the higher portions of trees in your yard. Locate them by listening for their often repeated short call (sounds like “check”). It is a well-named species because the yellow rump is a good field mark. It looks like a pat of butter was placed above the base of the tail, giving them the illustrious nickname “butterbutts”. Also, look for the white spots on the black tail (especially visible in flight) and the yellow patches on the flanks. Color patterns and markings are bolder on the male. The male’s body has an overall bluish-gray look, while the female appears more brownish. This species is separated into two subspecies and both migrate through Missouri. The Audubon race is the western variety and has a yellow throat. The white-throated Myrtle race breeds mostly in the eastern U.S. and Canada.

Backyard Essentials Floating Solar Birdbath Bubbler

Attracting and Viewing Warblers

Warbler migration peaks in mid-September so now is the time to get ready for them. Birdbaths, especially with moving and noisy water, are a great way to get warblers in the open for a nice look. Ground and elevated birdbaths also work well. The simplest way to things moving is the Solar Powered Birdbath Bubbler (pictured) that can be easily inserted in any type of birdbath. Despite being insect eaters, there are some good food options for attracting Warblers. Many species make occasional visits to suet for the high energy beef fat, especially varieties that include insects, and fruit. HAPPY HUNTING!