Wild Birds Unlimited – Omaha, NE

March 30, 2017

Birdfeeding: From Fruit to Nuts

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds — wbuomaha @ 12:10 pm
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BNP Recycled Oriole Feeder

By increasing the variety of foods you offer, you can increase the numbers and species of birds that visit your backyard.

A fruit feeder may attract many fruit-eating birds that might not come to traditional seed feeders. Fruit may be offered in hanging or platform feeders, and there are specialty feeders specifically designed for the purpose of feeding fruit.

Grapes may be placed in a suet cage or on a platform feeder. They are particularly attractive to bluebirds, catbirds, cedar waxwings, house finches, mockingbirds, robins, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and scarlet tanagers.

Robin on Ground Feeder

Raisins can be offered on a platform feeder and are attractive to bluebirds, catbirds, robins, and cedar waxwings.

WBU Oriole Fdr (RGB, 72 DPI, 286x300)

Orange halves, placed on a fruit feeder or spikes, are a delicacy enjoyed by Baltimore orioles, brown thrashers, catbirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and scarlet tanagers.

Robin on apple

Apples, cut in half and offered on a fruit feeder, or sliced and offered in a platform feeder, are favorites of robins, cardinals, house finches and red-bellied woodpeckers.

Attracting fruit-eating birds can take time and patience. And it is important to keep your fruit fresh and your feeders clean. If you have mature fruit trees, bushes, or vines, or if you have seen fruit-eating birds in your yard or nearby, you will more readily attract fruit-eaters.

DownyWPonPnutWreathJRC_4c (2)

Peanuts, almonds, and other tree nuts may be offered in hanging trays, platform feeders or specially designed peanut feeders. Shelled peanuts and tree nuts are attractive to many birds, including blue jays, titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, and nuthatches. Nuts are high in fat and protein, and quite nutritious for the birds that feast on them.  Peanuts in the shell are a treat for blue jays, woodpeckers, and tufted titmice.

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Nuts should always be unsalted, and if possible, peanuts should be roasted. You can roast them at 350-375 degrees for 10-20 minutes.

Titmouse on Pnt Fdr JRC c

Your birdfeeding pleasure can be enhanced by offering a greater variety of choices to our feathered friends. Fruit and nuts will make wonderful additions to your backyard buffet.

 

 

 

 

December 27, 2016

Birds are True Blue!

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds — wbuomaha @ 9:02 am
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It’s really hard to think of wild birds as being loyal friends. After all, they are truly one of the freest creatures on the planet, able to fly anywhere at anytime with nothing to bind them to any single location.

Wtr Dinner Bell 3 JRC c (RGB, 72 DPI, 230x300)

     But birds, like humans, are creatures of habit, and bird banding studies have shown that many of our winter birds, such as juncos and native sparrows, utilize the same wintering location year after year. With a potential lifespan of over 10 years, it is likely that the junco gleaning millet or sunflowers off the ground below one of your feeders has spent many previous winters as your loyal backyard guest. And recent research shows that is only half the story!

These birds are not only loyal to a specific location, but also to a single feeder! This is why it takes birds awhile to adjust to new feeders in your yard. These studies also showed that once birds were accustomed to a specific feeder in a given location, the only time they abandoned their favorite feeder was during periods of cold weather when the feeder was placed in a location too exposed to the wind. So you can help protect your birds from the elements by locating your feeders in a sheltered location out of the wind. The east or  southeast side of a house or near a row of trees, especially evergreens, is ideal.

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Once you have them in a safe and sheltered location, be sure to keep your feeders filled with the high-energy, high-fat foods that provide your birds with the crucial nutrition they need to survive the coldest months of the year.  Sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, suet, suet nuggets, peanuts, and tree nuts are all good winter choices, depending on the species of birds that frequent your yard.

     Offering a source of open water, like a heated birdbath, in the area near your feeders will provide an added attraction for your birds. Birds need water for drinking and bathing, even in cold weather.

Goldfinch on heated birdbath

     By providing a constant source of food and water, along with nearby shelter, you will help your birds stay loyal and warm.

November 27, 2016

Decorate a Tree for the Birds

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds — wbuomaha @ 3:20 pm
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      As winter approaches, there are many things you can do to help birds survive the season. Here are a few tips that are easy to implement.

Birds use a lot of extra energy to keep warm in cold weather. Therefore, they must consume more calories than they do in warmer months. You can help by feeding high-fat foods, such as suet, peanuts, and seed blends high in black oil sunflower content. This will provide the energy boost they need. It is a good idea to fill your feeders in the evening to make sure food is available first thing in the morning for those early birds, like cardinals and mourning doves.

woodlink_snowmanfeeder3

     Most songbirds fill a special pouch in their esophagus with food to digest during the night. That is why you frequently see birds at your feeders as the sun sets.

Water is important to birds in winter not only for drinking, but also for bathing. Most birds fluff out their feathers, creating air pockets between the feathers for insulation. Clean feathers are warmer feathers, and they are also more efficient for flying, so less energy is expended in flight. A heated birdbath that provides a source of open water will attract birds on even the coldest of days.

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     Some birds perch on one leg and draw the other up to their breast for warmth, alternating legs. Others seek the most sheltered areas they can find. Roosting boxes and nesting boxes give birds a dry place, out of the wind, to rest. Leaving these shelters out provides a haven from harsh winter conditions. Stands of tall grasses, brush piles, and evergreen trees offer birds a place to escape the wind and snow.

If you would like to bake a special treat for the birds, even decorate a holiday tree for them, try this recipe:

Wild Bird Cookies

2 cups flour

2/3 cup Wild Birds Unlimited Simply suet

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup Wild Birds Unlimited Deluxe Seed Blend

You’ll need some extra Deluxe Seed Blend for topping, cookie cutters, elbow macaroni, and string.

     Stir together flour, sugar and baking powder. Cut in suet with pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Add water until well-blended. Add 2/3 cup of Deluxe Seed Blend. Knead until smooth. Wrap in waxed paper and place in plastic bag. Chill for one hour or overnight.

Roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/4” thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Press macaroni piece through top of cookie for easy hanging. Press more Deluxe Seed Blend over the top of each cookie.

Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies harden. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool. Pull string through macaroni and hang outside for the birds.

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August 26, 2016

FALL BIRDFEEDING TIPS

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds — wbuomaha @ 10:09 am
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200 feeder

Follow these tips for a fun and rewarding fall and winter birdfeeding experience.

Inventory your feeders.  In addition to hopper feeders and seed tubes, consider adding a peanut or suet feeder to your yard.  Suet and peanuts are high in fat, which provides energy and helps birds stay warm in winter.

Clean your feeders with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.  Rinse thoroughly.

Put up a window feeder to bring birds even closer during fall and winter.

Once hummingbird migration has ended, take down your feeder, clean it, and store it.  A good rule of thumb is to take the feeder down two weeks after you’ve seen the last hummingbird.

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Offer water. Many migratory birds that will not eat seed will stop for water. As temperatures drop, it is important to provide an open source of fresh water.  Birds not only need water in winter to drink, they also need it  to keep their feathers clean.  Clean feathers maximize their insulating properties and make flight more efficient.  Protect all birdbaths made from porous materials by covering with plastic and/or storing out of the weather.  Use a nonporous birdbath for winter.

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     Watch for fall migrants.  Many species adapt to seasonal changes through migration.  Migration is the movement of a species from one location to another.  Age, sex, weather, breeding habits, and the availability of food, water, and shelter seem to be major influences in migratory behavior.  Migration is typically triggered by temperature, food availability, and/or photoperiod (the length of time from sunrise to sunset).  Many birds migrate to where the food supply is plentiful and the weather is not as severe.  Fall migration is a good time to look at your feeders or in your yard for birds that you might not normally see.  Keep your binoculars and a field guide handy for quick identification of the birds you see.

Assess your yard.  A diverse habitat encourages a variety of birds.  Plant bushes that will produce berries next year to attract fruit-eating birds.

Have children help you feed the birds.  Early involvement in birdfeeding can instill an appreciation for nature and grow into a life-long hobby.

ChickadeeBerries_4c

 

 
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December 29, 2015

Help Birds Keep Warm This Winter

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds,Uncategorized — wbuomaha @ 10:23 am
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In the cold of winter, there are many things you can do to help birds survive the season. Here are a few tips that are easy to implement.

Birds use a lot of extra energy to keep warm in cold weather. Therefore, they must consume more calories than they do in warmer months. You can help by feeding high-fat foods such as suet, peanuts and seed blends high in black oil sunflower content. This will provide the energy boost they need to survive.

    Unless raccoons frequent your yard, it is a good idea to fill your feeders in the evening to make sure food is available first thing in the morning for those early birds like cardinals and mourning doves. Most songbirds fill a special pouch in their esophagus with food to digest during the night. That is why you frequently see birds at your feeders as the sun sets.

It is not a good idea to feed bread to the birds in winter. Bread does not provide the proper nutrition or fat content necessary for birds to survive below-freezing temperatures.

     Water is important to birds in winter not only for drinking, but also for bathing. Most birds fluff out their feathers, creating air pockets between the feathers for insulation. Clean feathers are warmer feathers because they can trap air more efficiently. They are also more efficient for flying, so less energy is expended in flight. A heated birdbath that provides a source of open water will attract birds on even the coldest of days.

Some birds perch on one leg and draw the other up to their breast for warmth, alternating legs. Others seek the most sheltered areas they can find. Roosting boxes and nesting boxes give birds a dry place protected from the wind, to rest. Leaving these shelters out provides a haven from harsh winter conditions. Stands of tall grasses, brush piles, and evergreen trees offer birds a place to escape the wind and snow.

Making your yard bird-friendly in cold weather helps birds survive our harsh winters. And you will be rewarded with colorful visitors all season long.

August 29, 2015

Getting Started in Birdfeeding

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds — wbuomaha @ 12:53 pm
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    Birdfeeding can be as simple as placing a feeder full of seed in your yard and waiting for the birds to find it. If you have not fed birds before, it may take from one day to several months before the birds in your area discover the new feeder.

The types of birds you attract will depend on what kind of backyard habitat you have as well as the types of feeders and seed you provide. There are several ways that birds feed.

Some species prefer one or another almost exclusively. Others will feed wherever the food is available. Feeders come in a wide variety of materials and styles, so the first step is to decide how you want to provide the birdseed.

     If you are interested in feeding birds on the ground level, a slightly elevated platform feeder will help keep the seed contained. Most have some type of drainage system which will allow the seed to dry out after snow or rain. You will want to use a seed blend high in white proso millet, which is designed for ground-feeding birds like morning doves and juncos. A mix that contains some black oil sunflower seeds will also attract birds that feed at any level like cardinals and house finches.

     There are many varieties of feeders for feeding at elevated levels. Finch feeders are designed with small holes that allow only birds with small beaks to access the seed. Tiny seeds, such as Niger/Thistle or finely ground sunflower hearts will attract small birds like finches and chickadees to these feeders.

     A standard seed tube has larger seed ports, allowing bigger birds to feed. For these feeders a single seed or seed blend that contains little or no millet is best. Oil sunflower, striped sunflower and safflower will attract a wide variety of birds such as cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, and downy woodpeckers.

     Hopper feeders are often designed so that some seed will spill on the ground for the ground feeding birds, while other birds feed. Consequently, this type of feeder will attract a wide variety of species especially if you use a seed blend containing sunflower and a small to moderate amount of white proso millet. Cardinals, finches, chickadees, blue jays, and many other birds will feed from the elevated hopper, while ground-feeding birds will eat what is spilled.

Birds generally find their food by sight, so placing your feeder where it will be visible to them should decrease the time it takes birds to start feeding. Sometimes, sprinkling seed on the ground or on top of the feeder will let birds know food is available. Bird species tend to prefer one or two seed types over others, so it is a good idea to find out what the birds in your yard like best and provide that. There are many types of specialty feeders, such as fruit, peanut and suet feeders, that you may add to attract even more kinds of birds.

Remember to keep your feeders clean and to change the food at least once a month, more often if the weather has been humid or if you have received a lot of rain. This will assure that the seed you provide is fresh and appetizing to the birds that frequent your feeder.

July 29, 2015

Out with the Old, In with the New

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds,Molt — wbuomaha @ 9:44 am
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molting Cardinal Just as people make seasonal wardrobe changes, many birds are beginning a transformation of their own, losing and replacing their feathers in a process known as molting. Molting is when a bird replaces some (partial molt) or all (full molt) of its feathers. This complicated process requires a lot of energy and may take up to eight weeks to complete. Distinguishing birds that are molting from those that are not can be difficult. Though some birds may lose patches of feathers and appear “balding,” most birds’ feather loss and replacement are far less noticeable However, molting is so physically demanding for most ducks and geese that they can’t fly and will molt in seclusion to avoid predators.

For many birds, the color and brightness of their feathers play a very important role in their breeding success. The more brightly colored a bird is, the more likely it is to attract a mate. Bright, vibrant plumage signals that the bird, usually the male, can be a good provider and successfully obtain a sufficient amount of quality food.

Feathers are made of more than 90% protein, primarily keratins, so every molting bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation. Though feathers are mostly protein, fats are essential for developing the best feather coloration. In many bird species, carotenoids (from fats) are used much like the pigment dyes that color clothing. Carotenoids provide red, orange and yellow to violet colors in feathers. Without fats and proteins, birds such as House Finches, Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches would appear less bright.

molting Goldfinch Molting season varies by species and time of year. Right now many birds are beginning their main molt of the year; however, American Goldfinches are one of the last to molt. Due to their late nesting period, they won’t start their molt until late August.

By providing foods that are loaded with fats and proteins in your birdfeeders, you will help your colorful birds maintain their vibrancy. Peanuts are the best single source of protein and fat for your birds and attract woodpeckers, titmice, nuthatches, chickadees, jays and more. Mealworms are a good protein source. Suet is a high-fat food that also contributes protein if nuts and/or bugs are mixed into it. Birdfoods, such as niger/thistle, sunflower, and safflower all contain oils that help to meet the nutritional needs of molting birds that are not peanut eaters. These high-fat, high protein foods are good to feed throughout the winter, too. They provide energy to help birds survive the cold.

May 30, 2014

Summer Birdfeeding: Entertainment in Your Backyard

Filed under: Bird Feeding,Birds — wbuomaha @ 10:40 am
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If you enjoy watching birds in winter, summer will bring a whole new world of entertainment to you yard. Species who migrate to warmer climates in winter pass through or reside in our area during the summer months.
Oriole
Fruit-eating birds such as Gray Catbirds, Scarlet Tanagers, Cedar Waxwings, and Brown Thrashers return to this part of the country. Depending on the habitat in your yard, pieces of apple, oranges, raisins or grapes may attract them to your feeders. Robins and Bluebirds will feed on raisins and grapes, and Robins have been known to feed apple flesh to their young. Oranges are inviting to Orioles, and grape jelly is a favorite among these colorful birds with the cheerful songs. Orioles and Hummingbirds are also partial to nectar, either from flowers or a human-supplied sugar and water mixture.
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By adding water to your backyard, you can increase the variety of birds who visit to include species that don’t normally utilize birdfeeders. In warm weather, it is a good idea to clean your birdbath every two to three days. This reduces the likelihood of algae growth and insect reproduction. Misters, drippers, and recirculating pumps that provide water sounds and movement increase the attractiveness of your water source to birds. They also break up the surface tension of the water, decreasing the odds that mosquito larvae will successfully hatch.
WBU Sm Seed Tube Fdr
In summer, most of our year-round birds sport their brightest colors. Seed-eaters will frequent familiar feeders even on the hottest days. Most birds that visit birdfeeders pick out several seeds before they find one they want to eat. A tray placed under the feeder to catch the discarded seeds and shells will reduce the amount of debris that lands on the ground. Many styles are available.
Another solution is to try hulled seed that is 100% edible. No-mess seed blends and sunflower chips reduce waste and are unlikely to sprout into weeds in your feeding area. You may also want to place mulch in the area under your feeder. When it is time to clean the area, the mulch can be turned under or removed and replaced with new mulch.
One of summer’s greatest pleasures is the variety of birds that frequent our area. Their songs, colors and entertaining behaviors bring natural enjoyment to our lives.

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