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  |  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

Migration  |  October 11, 2019

Flight of the Hummingbirds

By: Tristan Palmgren

Though it seems to us like the weather has only gotten a little cooler, our hummingbirds sense a big change coming. They know that migration season is on us, and they’ve started to prepare. Some of them are already on the move. You may have already noticed changes in your yards as some of the hummers you’ve been feeding all summer have left, and that you have some new arrivals that have migrated from farther north.

Hummingbird migration is one of nature’s most fascinating phenomena. When hummingbirds realize they’ll need to migrate soon, they start bulking up for the trip. They know instinctively that they’ll be expending a large number of calories soon, and they increase their energy consumption to compensate. Hummingbird nectar is typically made at a concentration of four parts water to one part sugar (and this is as true for Songbird Essentials nectar mixes as homemade nectar). During the migration season, we recommend increasing that concentration to three parts water to one part sugar.

Songbird Essentials Super Shaker Nectar Maker

They need all that energy for a reason. Though some ruby-throated hummingbirds spend their winters in the very southern tip of Florida, the majority of those we see here in Missouri will cross the Gulf of Mexico to winter in Central and Southern America. Their journey will take them hundreds and hundreds of miles over the ocean in just twenty hours. And they’ll do it all in one trip, as there are few to no islands for them to stop on. They’ll traverse all this distance on wings that are just about an inch and half long, and that they need to beat forty to eighty times per second to stay aloft. It’s no wonder they eat more before they go.

Songbird Essentials Faceted Ruby Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbirds increase their body weight enormously before migrating, nearly doubling their pre-migration weight. They then expend nearly all of that crossing the ocean. It’s one of the most arduous journeys any migratory species undertakes, let alone a species as small and vulnerable as the hummingbird. Imagine the toll on your body if, every year, you were to drastically increase your body weight and then expended of it in one concentrated burst of exercise. Hummingbirds are more adapted to these sudden gains and losses than our bodies would be, but it is still quite taxing on them.

Songbird Essentials 8 oz Clear Hummingbird Nectar 

Hummingbirds have been migrating in this style for millions of years. Their lifestyle well predates human civilization. If only for our mental well-being, it’s important to remember that hummingbirds are not dependent on humans to survive. Our goal in feeding these birds is not to replace or micromanage an ecosystem, but to supplement it, and to encourage desirable and colorful visitors to come to our backyards. However, their migration does mean that the hummingbird’s dietary needs change, and those of us who provide food for them need to be aware of that fact. The same hummingbirds that frequented your feeders in spring will be looking for something different, and stronger, at the end of the season.

Dr. JB’s Complete Switchables Available in 16 oz., 32 oz., 48 oz., & 80 oz. capacities

The fact that hummingbirds not only survive this trip but have thrived as a species is one of the many traits that make them wonders of nature. Another trait is their fantastic memory and sense of geolocation. Not only do they migrate incredible distances, they can pinpoint specific locations, and return to the same backyards that they left months and months—and thousands of miles—ago. If you’ve been feeding hummingbirds regularly throughout this season, you can place a good bet that you’ll see those same birds next spring.

Sales & Promotions  |  October 01, 2019

Super Fall Seed Sale

The annual Super Fall Seed Sale is happening NOW at Songbird Station!

Book now through November 1st to take advantage of these deeply discounted seed, suet, and squirrel corn deals.

What do you mean by “book now”? Pre-Order! Give us a call or come in and pre-order your backyard birding supplies to lock in these discounted prices.

The birds will be around but these prices won’t last long and winter is right around the corner.

Receive 25% off any Songbird Essentials Feeder when you place your Pre-Order.

Super Fall Seed Sale:

“Super Clean” Black Oil Sunflower Seed, 40 lb.s……..$14.95

Nyjer/Thistle Seed, 20 lbs…………………………………… $24.95

C&S Nutty Treat Suet, Case of 12…………………………. $9.95

Ear Corn for Squirrels, Bag of 12 Large Ears…………. $2.95

Songbird Essentials Mixes, Over 15 Varieties to Choose From. Take $1.00 off 20 lb. or 40 lb. bags.

 

Give us a call today at 573-446-5941 or visit us in-store at 2010 Chapel Plaza Court, Suite C  Columbia, MO 65265

Bird Food and Feeders  |  January 18, 2019

Preparing for Winter Bird Feeding

Wild Bird Winter Needs

Follow these tips from Songbird Station, then relax and enjoy a backyard filled with your feathered friends.

October is behind us and already we have seen the snows and cold weather creep steadily closer. The days seem even shorter now as we rolled back the clocks and the light is casting long dark shadows by the afternoon. The trees have become mostly barren with a few leafy blotches of gold, orange and red desperately clinging on as if to defy the northern winds. Sweet aromas of wood fires drift lazily from chimneys filling neighborhoods. One last glance out of the window at dusk provides silhouetted images of Northern Cardinals at the bird feeders grabbing a few last-minute morsels before heading to their nightly roost. The signs of winter are slowly settling in across Central Missouri.

The large flocks of blackbirds, except for a few stragglers, have been ushered south by the first cold fronts. Our winter birds, the Red-breasted Nuthatch, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows and others have arrived over the past few weeks having been driven south by the same cold northern winds. Soon Pine Siskins will appear, maybe even some Redpolls. The northern birds that will spend the winter across Central Missouri have replaced the birds of summer. The Baltimore Orioles, Red-breasted Grosbeaks, Tanagers and dozens of other birds who rely on insects for food are but a warm weather memory. The Warblers that nested to our north have been passing through since mid-October. They stop in backyards for a splash in the bird bath and to glean what insects remain before retreating further south ahead of the approaching winter. This annual fall migration of birds is a visual reminder that the seasons are about to drastically change.

It is these cold weather changes that encourage many folks who didn’t maintain a bird feeder during the summer to consider offering supplemental food sources for our backyard birds. After all, when the snow blows and the temperatures plummet, our resident winter birds are a short thirty-six hours away from starvation. These feathered creatures, most that weigh less than a few ounces, only survive the harsh frigid nights on what foods they can consume during the day.

Feeding birds in our backyards has become more than just a passing hobby. In fact, birding in the United States has become the fastest growing outdoor recreational activity for families and individuals with close ties to gardening. The birds entertain us, they educate us and they bring color and activity to a seemingly cold reality outside our windows. But what does it take to feed birds and attract them to our yards? It’s very simple. Birds find food by sight. You put the food out and they will come.

In the past many people would just scatter the bird seed on the ground, or possibly have a single bird feeder filled with a general wild bird mix and expect all birds to enjoy their fill. However backyard bird feeding has become more specialized, targeting the specific feeding habits of birds to meet their needs. Some birds will only feed at elevated feeders like the Chickadees, Nuthatches and Goldfinch. Others, such as Juncos, Doves and native Sparrows feed primarily on the ground. Still other birds like Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Brown Creepers prefer to feed around the tree trunk zone. Then there are the Cardinals and Blue Jays who are just plain opportunistic feeding wherever the seed is made accessible to them.

Two of the most common style of bird feeders for attracting a large variety of birds is a hopper feeder, which will attract large and small birds, and seed tube bird feeders designed primarily for smaller birds. Other bird feeders include ground and platform bird feeders which are undoubtedly the most versatile for attracting a large variety of bird species. Then there are bird feeders designed to attract specific birds such as Nyjer thistle feeders for Finches and suet feeders for Woodpeckers. These types of bird feeders are recommended for a successful backyard bird feeding program.

Just as the type of bird feeder you select determines which birds you will attract, the bird seed you fill them with is just as important. Birds that feed at elevated bird feeders prefer sunflower seed, safflower seed, peanuts and other nut mixes. If you put a general Proso millet wild bird mix in these feeders, the birds will sweep through it picking out the nut products, scattering everything else to the ground.

Thistle feeders are for Nyjer thistle seed and Finch mixes. Caution must be taken to assure the thistle seed is fresh or the Finch you are trying to attract may reject it. A good Finch mix contains only Nyjer thistle seed and finely ground sunflower chips, nothing else. Avoid those commercial Finch mixes that contain flax, canary grass seed and other filler seeds that birds do not eat.

General wild bird mixes have a base of white Proso millet with cracked corn, peanuts and sunflower seeds added. They are best used on platform and ground feeders where birds can select the seed they want without sweeping through it. However, when purchasing a general wild bird mix read the label. Many of these inexpensive mixes contain filler seeds such as Milo, wheat, red millet and other products that birds do not eat. As much as 40% of a bag of bird seed that contains these filler seeds can end up uneaten and wasted on the ground. There is a variety of no-waste and no-mess wild bird feeds on the market. Although they may cost a little more, it will save you money in the long run.

If squirrels are robbing the seed you intended for the birds to enjoy, you may want to consider adding a squirrel baffle or investing in a squirrel proof bird feeder. Safflower seed will attract most all your favorite backyard birds and can be used in any type of bird feeder. The advantage is that squirrels do not care for it and will leave your feeders alone.

Water for birds, especially during the winter months, is essential for their survival. Although they do not rely on any one food source, an open source of water in the winter can be difficult to locate. In fact, offering fresh water can attract more birds than bird seed alone. To keep the water from freezing there is an assortment of bird bath heaters and heated bird baths on the market that are thermostatically controlled and use less energy than a 60 watt light bulb. Fresh water does more for birds than just meet their hydration needs. Clean feathers provide insulation during cold nights.

Winter offers many relaxing moments watching the birds go about their daily feeding routines from the comfort of your home. Winter also provides time to consider installing bird houses for the nesting season come spring. It’s a good time to make some landscaping plans for the spring that will benefit the birds in your yard year round. Hedges and shrubs will not only offer shelter from bitter winter winds, but will become a place for birds to nest and provide a natural food source as well. Consult with a Master Gardener at your local garden center or the University of Missouri Extension Office about planting habitat for wildlife.

Bird Food and Feeders  |  January 16, 2019

Supplying the Right Winter Foods

Food during colder weather can be scarce for most birds because the insects, berries and other plants they depend on as part of their regular diet are not as available to them during the colder months.

Because of this, people play a very important role for many wild birds. Since their food source can be limited, the food that people supply help many wild birds survive during the harsh months of Winter.

There are certain feeders and seed you may want to use to provide the best Winter diet for the birds. For primarily seed-eating birds like Cardinals and Jays, the best seed you can feed these birds would be black oil sunflower seed. These seeds have slightly thinner shells and a higher oil content than other types of sunflower seeds, making them a more efficient and nutritious food for birds in the winter. Sunflower kernels provide even more energy per bite.

Through the harsh seasons nyger seed and fine chopped sunflower seed would be the best choice to feed your Finches, as it is another seed that offers a lot of calories, which helps birds store the fat they need to keep warm through cold weather.

For Clingers, such as: Woodpeckers and Chickadees, the best two foods to provide, are suet and nut pieces. Suet is animal fat mixed with fruit, seed of nuts that offers a high calorie food source these birds need during the cold months. Nuts are another choice to feed the Clingers because nuts are a high calorie, fat-rich nut that doesn’t freeze in the winter.

Bird Baths  |  

Winter Spa for the Birds

A guaranteed way to increase your backyard activity!

What’s a sure way to attract birds to your feeders? Offer water… especially in winter! About 70% of a bird’s non-fat body tissue is water that needs to be maintained to avoid dehydration. Birds find some water in natural food sources: insects, berries, and even from snow, but when those supplies dwindle, the water YOU supply is even more vital!

Open water in freezing weather will attract as many or more birds, as a well-stocked feeder! Birds use it to help keep themselves warmer in the winter.

By cleaning their feathers and grooming them with natural oils, our feathered friends are able to help insulate their bodies from cold.

You can keep water thawed with a submersible heater placed directly in the water. It’s economical and safe, as long as you use a high-quality, outdoor extension cord to plug the heater into an electrical source.

In winter, use a rough-surfaced, plastic saucer for a birdbath. Ceramic and concrete ones, though fine for summer use, will crack easily in frigid weather.