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Care and Maintenance of Nectar Feeders

dirty Hummingbird Feeder

Nectar can go bad after 2-3 days in hot summer temperatures.

Hummingbirds Require Clean Food and Feeders

There’s more to attracting Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds to your yard than just putting out a nectar feeder. Keeping your nectar feeders clean is essential to keeping the hummingbirds in your yard and keeping them healthy. Nectar can turn bad in as little as a day or two depending on the on the outdoor temperature. Experts have said that hummingbirds will starve rather than consume spoiled nectar. Hummingbirds can also develop a fungus infection from improperly maintained feeders.

Best hummingbird brush

We carry the Best Hummingbird Combo Brush Set ($8.99), which has a variety of brush sizes for everything from cleaning the bottle to ports.

How (and When) to Clean Nectar Feeders

We recommend cleaning a hummingbird feeder every two to three days during the summer. The nectar can last a bit longer if it is hung in the shade, but never more than a few days. The easier a hummingbird feeder is to clean, the more likely it will be cleaned regularly. After taking the feeder apart, a simple wash with hot water and vinegar or with a drop of bleach will do. Some styles of feeders will require using a bottle brush to thoroughly clean. There are also very small brushes that can be used to clean the ports. Make sure to rinse the feeder well. There’s a new product called Hummeze that makes cleaning your feeders easy. Add Hummeze to hot water and let your feeders soak. It uses safe, hydrogen peroxide bubbles to sanitize and kill black mold. No need to brush or scrub and it gets into all the crevices.

Additional Tips

  • Always completely empty your hummer feeder each time you fill it. Never top off partially filled feeders or refill dirty, but empty feeders.
  • To avoid waste, fill the feeder with just enough nectar to last 2-3 days. You can keep a week’s supply of nectar in the refrigerator. This is a good idea especially at the beginning and end of the season as the hummingbirds arrive and leave.
  • Remember, if it’s not clean enough for you to drink from, it’s not fit for these delicate and beautiful birds and can actually harm them.

By Guest Contributor MELISSA BLOCK

 

 

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Where do our backyard birds nest?

We know the backyard birds that usually nest in our birdhouses: House Wrens, Chickadees, Bluebirds, and House Finches. But what about our other backyard birds, like the Cardinal, Blue Jay, Goldfinch, Robins, Hummingbirds or Orioles? Where do they nest?

 

Northern Cardinal Nest

Northern Cardinal Nest

Cardinal nests are usually very well hidden in dense shrubs or trees, about 3-10 feet above the ground. The cup-shaped nests are loosely built of twigs, plants, leaves and lined with fine grasses and hair. The nests are about 4-5 inches in diameter. Cardinals usually lay 3-4 eggs, which are pale, bluish to greenish white with brown spots and blotches. They will raise 2-3 broods a season.

 


Blue Jay nest

Blue Jay nest

 

Blue Jays will nest in trees, usually 10-25 feet above the ground. The nests are bulky, cup-shaped and made of fresh twigs, bark, dry leaves and grasses. Their nests are 7-8 inches in diameter. Blue Jays will lay 4-6 eggs, which are shades of olive, blue and tan, spotted with brown near the larger end. They raise 1-2 broods a year.

 


American Robin Nest

American Robin Nest

 

Robins nest on any tree branch, in a shrub or on any substantial ledge. Nests are made of grass, twigs, and feathers, strips of cloth or paper, moss and held together with mud. The nest is 6-8 inches in diameter. Robin’s eggs are easily recognizable by the blue color. Three to four eggs are laid at a time, with 2 broods a year.

 


American Goldfinch Nest

American Goldfinch Nest

Goldfinch nests are 4-10 feet above ground in trees, shrubs and even tall weeds. The nests are cup-shaped and small, about 2 ½ to 4 inches in diameter. Goldfinches use twigs, spider webs, and plant fibers and lined with thistle down. Goldfinches are our latest nesting bird, waiting for the thistle down to bloom. The average Goldfinch nest contains 5 eggs. The eggs are pale bluish white or greenish blue and are unmarked.

 


 

Hummingbird on nest

Hummingbird on nest

The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird nests 10-20 feet above the ground. Their small nests, about 1-2 inches in diameter, are usually found attached to and near the tip of a down-slopping branch of a tree. They make their nest from plant down and bud scales. The nest is attached to the tree limb with spider webs, and covered with lichens. Hummingbirds lay 1-3 eggs per brood and the eggs are less than an inch long and white. They will raise 1-3 broods a year.

 


Baltimore Oriole nest

Baltimore Oriole nest

Baltimore Oriole nests can be found in any deciduous trees, but they are especially fond of cottonwood, willow and apple trees. Their nests are commonly found 25-30 feet above ground. Orioles build an intricately woven deep pouch made of plant fibers, hair, yarn, and fine grasses. They lay one brood of 4-5 eggs. The eggs are a pale, grayish white or pale bluish white, with streaked, blotched spots of browns and black.

 


Can you match the eggs to one of these four common nestbox inhabitants? Take a look at the video below!

 

 

Round up for birds!

Round Up For BirdsYou Can Help Us Raise Money for Audubon Minnesota

All Seasons Wild Bird Store is excited to announce that from June 14 through June 30, customers can round up their purchase at any All Seasons Wild Bird Store to donate to Audubon Minnesota. The store will then match contributions dollar for dollar!

Audubon Minnesota works to reduce bird window strikes through the Lights Out project as well as other program efforts.

Lights Out

As migratory birds travel thousands of miles, many of them migrate at night to avoid predation, use celestial cues for navigation, and maximize daylight foraging hours.

Bright city lights lure nighttime migrants into urban areas and confuse them by obscuring the moon and stars. Once trapped in the bright, windowed maze of the city, birds may crash into buildings or circle buildings until they collapse from exhaustion.

Turning out unnecessary lights at night can reduce bird mortality from collisions by over 80 percent. With your support, Audubon Minnesota will work with building owners and managers across Minnesota to help birds to safely navigate the night and make it to their breeding or wintering grounds. See the above video for simple tips to help migrating birds.

 

Critical Tree Pollinators

Many varieties of trees and shrubs depend on pollinators to reproduce, such as apple, pear, plum and cherry trees. Insect pollinators include bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, flies and wasps. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources we have about 400 native wild bee species.

A bumble bee pollinates an Eastern Redbud Tree © Russ Ensley | Dreamstime.com

Some examples of trees that are pollinated by insects include:

  • Eastern Redbuds, Nannyberry and Gray Dogwoods
    Pollinated by bees, wasps, butterflies, beetles and flies.
  • Pagoda Dogwoods
    Pollinated by bees, wasps, beetles and flies.
  • Serviceberry
    Pollinated by bees, beetles and flies.
  • Crabapple
    Pollinated by bees and flies.
  • Black Chokecherry
    Pollinated by bees, butterflies, moths and flies.

While insects play a critical role in the fitness of our tree and plant species, they are also essential to our backyard birds. Insect eggs, larvae and adults are valuable sources of protein and other nutrients for our backyard birds and their offspring. For information on attracting bees, butterflies and birds to your yard, see Lori Lundeen’s top 10 picks in the May/June 2017 edition of our Bird’s-Eye View Newsletter.

Article by Minnetonka Manager CAROL CHENAULT

Video: What to Do if You Find a Baby Bird

As we enter birds’ nesting season, it’s good to be prepared for what to do if you find a baby bird in your yard. Here’s a short video that explains your options.

The Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation Center phone number is: 651-486-9453. They also have an excellent FAQ resources page on their website: https://www.wrcmn.org/

Local Warbler Resources

Mourning Warbler

Mourning Warbler

Bob Janssen Shares His Favorite Spots in the Twin Cities Birders to Look for Warblers

Note: this information is an addendum to the article about seasonal warblers in the May/June 2017 Bird’s-Eye View Newsletter.

Southern Twin Cities:

Minnesota River Valley National Wildlife Refuge
http://mrvac.org

Fort Snelling State Park
http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/fort_snelling/index.html

Old Cedar Avenue Bridge over Meadow Lake
http://oldcedarbridge.com

Minneapolis Area:

Roberts Bird Sanctuary at Lake Harriet
https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/gardens__bird_sanctuaries/roberts_bird_sanctuary
Note: They run weekly bird walks in May!

Theodore Wirth/Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/gardens__bird_sanctuaries/eloise_butler_wildflower_garden_and_bird_sanctuary/

Western Twin Cities Area:

Lake Elmo Park Reserve
https://www.co.washington.mn.us/502/Lake-Elmo-Park-Reserve

Harriet Alexander (fka Larpenteur) Nature Center
Harriet Alexander Nature Center

Vadnais-Sucker Lake Regional Park
https://www.ramseycounty.us/residents/parks-recreation/parks-trails/find-park/vadnais-sucker-lake-regional-park

Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

To Learn More about Identifying Warblers:

Minnesota River Valley Audubon Chapter hosts field trips every week in May, often led by volunteer Craig Mandel, who provides expert guidance. See http://mrvac.org/events for details.

The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary hosts several guided walks in May. Visit: https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/gardens__bird_sanctuaries/eloise_butler_wildflower_garden_and_bird_sanctuary/

 

About Bob Janssen

Robert (Bob) Janssen is a noted Minnesota ornithologist and author of Birds of Minnesota State Parks (2015), Birds of Minnesota and Wisconsin (2003) and Birds of Minnesota (1987). For many years he was editor of the quarterly journal of the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union and is a past president of that organization. Bob is a coordinator of the Minnesota Breeding Bird Survey for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and consults for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Open vs. Cavity Nesters

Our favorite songbirds can be open nesters or cavity nesters. Open nesters build or weave nests out in the open in cattails, bushes, trees or on top of ledges. Cavity nesters use a bird house/nest box or hole in a tree to raise their young.

  • Open nesters include birds like: Northern Orioles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Northern Cardinals, American Goldfinches and Blue Jays.
  • Cavity nesters include House Wrens, Black-capped chickadees, Eastern Bluebirds, Purple Martins, nuthatches, Tree Swallows and woodpeckers.

You can assist open nesters by leaving V-shaped branches when trimming trees and shrubs. Plant arborvitaes, yews and other evergreens to provide year round cover and spring nesting sites. Providing nesting material like The Best Nest Builder will assist goldfinches with nest building. Place human and pet hair along with moss and grasses in a suet feeder. Hang the suet feeder in a bush or tree in the regularly used flyways to and from feeders and bird baths. CAUTION: Do not use dryer lint as it hardens when wet and will not wick water away from the nestlings.

The competition for natural cavities is fierce between cavity nesters. You can help by providing bird houses for wrens and chickadees. They are the most likely to use backyard bird houses. Hanging a bird house from a shepherds hook with a baffle on the pole to prevent predation is a best practice. Clean out the bird house between nestings. House wrens will raise two broods a year and will reuse the house if you clean it out. See our Nesting Notes for more information.

Chickadee house

Cedar chickadee house

Wren House

Natural cedar wren house

Annual Feeder Swap Sale!

Our annual Feeder Swap Sale starts today!

Bring in a used feeder to donate and receive 20% off a new feeder. Plus, Frequent Feeder Members apply their additional discount.

Discover more about our Feeder Swap Sale in the video below. Hurry . . . sale ends April 12!

 

White Bear Lake Bluebird Workshop

Join Us April 2, 2017 for “Let’s Talk Bluebirds!”

Eastern Bluebirds in bird houseGeorge Brown, coordinator for Ramsey County Bluebird Recovery Program of MN (bbrp.org), will be leading a Bluebird Workshop at our White Bear Lake store April 2 from noon until 3pm. George has been monitoring bluebird trails since 1995. He currently monitors bluebird trails at Dellwood Hills golf course, Oneka Ridge golf course and Bob’s Garden in Hugo. George Brown was named Bluebirder of the Year in 2010 as he had the highest percentage of bluebirds to fledge from his houses.

The workshop will include the discussion of habitat. You will learn whether or not your property is bluebird friendly. Recommended best practices for housing bluebirds, placement of houses for success and demonstration of monitoring of bluebird houses will be covered in the workshop.

Where: White Bear Lake All Seasons Wild Bird Store

When: April 2nd, 2017 from 12–3pm

What: George Brown discusses attracting bluebirds.

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5 Reasons to Serve Dried Mealworms

Many of us dish up live mealworms in the early summer months to help orioles and bluebirds provide nutrition for their fledglings. But did you know that serving dried mealworms in the winter months offers benefits to a wide variety of backyard birds?

Pacific Bird Supply Dried Mealworm bucket

Pacific Bird Supply Dried Mealworm bucket

Here are five reasons to start mixing dried mealworms in with your seed.

  1. It’s incredibly easy! Simply mix any amount in with your regular seed mix in a tray or hopper feeder and watch the birds come flocking!
  2. Dried mealworms are nutritious. They provide the perfect balance of protein, fat and fiber to promote bird health and vigor.
  3. Mealworms appeal to birds’ natural instincts. Insects like mealworms are naturally a part of many songbirds’ diets.
  4. Attract a greater variety of birds. Serving dried mealworms with your seed may attract new species that aren’t attracted to seed alone. Among winter bird species that eat dried mealworms are: chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, woodpeckers and the occasional bluebird or American Robin.
  5. Freeze-dried mealworms won’t spoil or crawl away! Dried mealworms are less maintenance than live mealworms and can even be re-hydrated with a little bit of water or nectar.

If you’d like the benefits of dried mealworms without the extra step of mixing them in with seed, you can also try serving a Bugs, Nuts & Fruit cake or cylinder. Or, try serving Pacific Bird and Co. suet cakes with mealworms.

 

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