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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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Hang a Feeder and They Will Come?

A Novice Bird Feeder’s Journey to Successfully Attracting Birds

by All Seasons Wild Bird Store (in Eagan) employee, SANDRA TOCKO

If you are reading this, you are either currently feeding birds or aspire to do so. Hopefully you are not in the same position I was four years ago—throwing money into the bird feeding industry, but not seeing any birds at my feeders. A lot has changed since then; I learned how to attract birds, AND save money, ever since visiting my local All Seasons Wild Bird Store.

Trial & Error—Emphasis on Error

Getting started with feeding birds is easy, right? Hang a feeder with seed and they will come . . . or not. Buy another feeder, and different seed, the next time you are at one of the local box stores (buying a shovel or toilet paper) and you feel inspired to try feeding the birds again. Fill the feeder, hang it and wait. And wait. And wonder. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon start to feeding birds.

After spreading the uneaten seed out in the woods for anything to eat, I hung the lonely feeders in our garden shed. Feeling defeated, but not willing to give up, it was time to visit an All Seasons Wild Bird Store with my head hung low to seek guidance and insight. How I wish I had visited the store from the day I felt inspired to feed birds!!!

No/No Original Forest Green Mesh Feeder. Please call your local All Seasons Wild Bird Store for availability.

Consulting the Experts

My perception of All Seasons Wild Bird Stores was that it is a place for those well-honed in the art of bird feeding to purchase fancy seed mixes and evolved feeders. What I didn’t realize is that the employees are a wonderful resource to start feeding the birds on any budget. I left the store with a simple, but well-designed feeder, a small bag of Joe’s Mix, and the instructions of, “hang it and see what birds visit”. Somehow, though still feeling the pain of earlier rejection, after speaking with the employees at the store, I had new faith. “Having ‘the right’ feeder and fresh seed makes a big difference,” I was promised.

With my new “No/No” mesh feeder filled with Joe’s Mix hung in my yard, I was absolutely delighted to see Black-capped Chickadees, goldfinches, nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers arrive AND return! Feeling the energy, I returned to the store, became a “Frequent Feeder Member” and the next Official Feeder of the Birds. Four years later, our backyard has several types of feeders with varied seeds, nuts, mealworms and suet, water sources and MANY varieties of birds faithfully visiting.

A Footnote

In the well-written book on feeding birds, Wild About Birds, by the MN Dept. of Natural Resources, they validate that we are not alone in our attempts at starting off, but clarify what commonly goes wrong: “There are so many choices of bird food available that a novice bird lover can easily become confused…” (agreed), “If you use the right kinds of ‘good’ bird foods, you can probably double the number of species you attract” (very true).

 

 

 

 

 

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VIDEO: 5 Winter Bird Myths

American-Robin-winterWebThis Video Debunks 5 Winter Bird Myths Common to the Twin Cities Metro Area

For more information (including two additional myths), see our January/February 2017 edition of our Bird’s-Eye View Newsletter!

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Best Bird Seeds for Winter

Chickadee doing pull ups by Jim Weisman

A Black-capped Chickadee samples some golden safflower (Photo by Jim Weisman)

As with every season, you should select seed for the type of birds you’d like to attract and the environment in which you reside. However, in cold weather climates, you should also consider birds’ additional energy needs. Birds must eat more per hour during cold weather in order to energize their metabolism and produce body heat. With fewer daylight hours in which to feed, birds need high fat and nutrient dense foods.

Here are some suggestions for winter bird feeding:

  • Best single-source seeds/nuts: Black oil sunflower, golden safflower and peanuts
  • Best mix to discourage European Starlings: Golden Safflower as they don’t like it as well as black oil sunflower.
  • Best seed mix to attract a variety of birds: Joe’s Mix is our signature blend and provides a full spectrum of seeds, something for every seed eating bird.
  • Best mix to treat your birds: Cabin Mix is loaded with peanuts and black oil sunflower. Berry Nutty (available in stores) has dried fruit, larger nut meats and lots of sunflower out of the shell.
  • Best mix for little to no clean-up in the spring: Kracker Jax or medium sunflower chips.