Get a free, instant $5 coupon!

Complete the form below to join our email list and then check your email to confirm your subscription. We’ll send you a $5 coupon as our thank-you gift!

Get an instant $5 coupon

When you sign up for our Bird Notes emails.

Feed Backyard Birds; Entertain Your Cats!

Cat watching birdsMost cats love watching small animals, especially when it comes to birds.

Setting up a window bird feeders for your indoor cats will provide hours of entertainment for them. Stalking their prey through a window helps them become more active during the day and hopefully less active at night. Your cats can suffer from boredom just like we do. Set up easy viewing for your cats by creating a comfortable place where they can watch the feeders. Make sure to secure your window and window screens so that your cat is safe and can’t fall out.

You may even get to hear the cats do some “chirping” or chattering of their own when watching the birds.

BY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR Melissa Block

Feed hummingbirds out of your hand!

We’re so excited about this clever new product! Nectar Dots allow you to feed hummingbirds out of your hand. Simply sit or stand still with the nectar dot in your hand near an existing nectar feeder where hummingbirds frequent (it’s helpful to wear sunglasses while you do so!). Take a look a the video for more details!

Pick up your own Nectar Dot at any of our 5 local All Seasons Wild Bird Store locations!

In Depth: Baltimore Orioles

This article is from our Bird’s-Eye View Newsletter Archives: May/June 2011

Male and Female Baltimore Orioles

Male and Female Baltimore Orioles

By White Bear Lake Manager Bob Ellis

One of the most striking songbirds to visit backyards is the oriole. The vivid orange and black coloring of a male Baltimore oriole is unmistakable and dramatic. While both sexes display a white wing bar, the female’s palette is more subdued, with a dull yellow body and grayish-brown wings. Young orioles appear similar to females in color. Juvenile males molt into their adult orange and black while wintering in Central America. You may hear orioles before you see them: the flute-like call of the Baltimore oriole is clear and loud.

Oriole nesting and habitat

Baltimore orioles make their summer home in broadleaf woodlands and forest edges over all of Minnesota—in fact, over most of the eastern United States. A Baltimore oriole’s nest is quite distinctive; the female weaves a pouch from long strands of plant material on a high branch, very often in a cottonwood tree, here in Minnesota. She then lines it with grass, feathers or even animal fur. Orioles will utilize soft nesting material such as yarn and cotton if offered.

Attracting orioles

Orioles eat insects and fruit and can be attracted to feeders that offer nectar, mealworms, grape jelly, or fruit—especially oranges. They’re sometimes spotted feeding from hummingbird feeders if they can manage a grip, but prefer oriole-specific nectar feeders that feature larger ports and roomier perches.

Grape jelly or orange halves are good offerings during spring and fall migration. While orioles will continue to visit a jelly feeder throughout the summer, mealworms are attractive to oriole parents; their growing young need the protein. Once the young can fly, the parents will bring them right to the food, which is much easier than the constant ferrying of food the parents do up to this point. Use a dish feeder for jelly or mealworms—or, better yet, both at once—to make a particularly versatile and successful oriole feeder.

Identifying oriole species

You may encounter Orchard orioles in open wooded areas in southern and western Minnesota. Orchard orioles are smaller, have a deep chestnut-red body and sport a black hood and wings. Another oriole species is the western Bullock’s oriole. These birds look similar to Baltimore orioles. In fact, older field guides grouped the two species together with the title of “northern oriole.”

Classifying orioles

Orioles are in a group of birds known as icterids. It may surprise you that this group also includes birds that most backyard birders would rather not see—blackbirds, grackles and cowbirds. Compare the outline of an oriole to a red-winged blackbird. You’re likely to notice the family resemblance.

When to put out hummer and oriole feeders

One of the spring FAQs at the Minnetonka store is “When should I put out the hummingbird and oriole feeders?”

Folks look a little surprised when I answer “April 26th.” After backyard bird feeding in the same location for a couple decades and recording the first oriole sighting of the year, orioles typically arrive in my yard two days either side of April 28th. I don’t want to miss them so I put out oriole and hummingbird feeders at the same time on the 26th.

Last year there were storms in the middle part of the USA during migration and birds had to hunker down and ride out the weather. That year orioles arrived closer to Mother’s Day but stayed in my yard two weeks longer than usual, remaining until mid-September.

Most nesting birds evade predators by hopscotching through the yard, returning to the nest site in a circuitous pattern. Hummingbirds are so fast they just fly from food source to nest and are able to feed closer to their nesting site. Hummingbirds prefer to place their nest on a horizontal branch with a bit of an upward or downward slope to provide for water run-off. If the branches of your trees are mostly vertical you may not see as many hummingbirds while they have young in the nest. My yard hosts lots of hummers in May and then again in August into October but I don’t have a lot of action during June and July.

Every backyard is a little different and the bird watching experience is somewhat unique to each location. That’s part of what makes bird watching so interesting!

Our Annual Feeder Swap Sale is Here!

Bring in an old feeder to swap and save 20% off a new feeder!

Plus, Frequent Feeder Members receive at least an ADDITIONAL 10% OFF!

Choose from our vast selection of seed, suet, Nyjer™ and nectar feeders. Our experienced staff will help you select just the right feeders for the birds you want to attract.

Bluebirds Event April 8th at White Bear Store

Bluebird Seminar Poster 2018

Click the image to see the full-size poster.

Let’s Talk Bluebirds!

Join our expert staff along with George Brown, coordinator for the Ramsey County Bluebird Recovery Program, for an in-store event to talk everything BLUEBIRDS! Get information about nest box placement, preventing predation, checking nests/care/cleaning, selecting bluebird feeders, and other of great bluebird facts.

We hope to see you at our White Bear Lake All Seasons Wild Bird Store location for this popular annual event!

Six Tips for Effective Birdhouses

birdhouse

This birdhouse features appropriate materials, sloped roof, easy access for cleaning and a correctly sized, reinforced entry hole.

Providing a healthy home for backyard birds isn’t difficult, but there are some simple tips you should observe in order to make sure your bird’s abode is a safe and attractive place to create a nest.

  1. Pay attention to dimensions. With birdhouses, size does matter. A birdhouse should have the proper dimension; entrance hole size, floor size and entrance height. Different birds require different sizes and using the proper dimensions can help keep unwanted birds out and protect the hatchlings.
  2. Choose appropriate materials. The best birdhouses are made from untreated wood and use galvanized screws, not nails.
  3. Supply ventilation and drainage. Birdhouses should have ventilation and drainage holes to prevent overheating or drowning of baby birds. A sloped roof with a bit of an overhang can also help keep the nest dry. If you have a house without these you can always drill a few holes in the floor for drainage and high up on the sides to provide ventilation.
  4. Provide easy access for cleaning and monitoring. The easiest are birdhouses with one side hinged or that lifts out.
  5. Stay away from any birdhouse with an outside perch. Cavity nesting birds do not need them and outside perches make it easier for predators or unwanted birds to get it.
  6. Keep it neutral. Birds tend to avoid bright, unnatural colors (too obvious to predators) and gravitate to natural, unpainted houses.

Top Tips for Hosting Bluebirds

Hosting Eastern Bluebirds in your yard is rewarding. You get a close-up look at these beautiful, iridescent birds. You also get the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to restore bluebird populations.

It’s not difficult to host bluebirds, but you should be aware of what’s involved before you get started. This video gives you an introduction to hosting bluebirds. For more information, see: our Attracting Bluebirds page, our Tips for Birdhouses and Nest Boxes page, and the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota website.

Humm-Bug Hummingbird Feeder

As mentioned in our April 2018 Phenology and Seasonal Checklist!

Try a Humm-Bug Hummingbird Feeder to provide fruit flies for hummingbirds. Simply open the two-piece feeder, add 2 to 3 bananas, banana peels and/or fruit peelings.In just a few days you will have an unlimited supply of protein packed fruit flies for all the hummingbirds to enjoy!

This is a first-of-its-kind nectar-free feeder for Hummingbirds.

Video: Happy Valentine’s Day! About Red Birds

Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you wearing red as a symbol of romance today? A lot of male songbirds wear red to enhance their attractiveness to potential mates. Take a look!