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Holiday Gift Ideas

Discover this season’s picks for birds and bird lovers at all of our All Seasons Wild Bird Store locations!

 

We won an award!

We are honored to have been nominated  and to have won the 2017 Wild Bird Expo Retailer of the Year  award. It’s always great  to be recognized for something that you  spend much of your time and energy doing  on a daily basis. We want to extend a  heartfelt thank you to our amazing staff and  to our loyal customers. Please see this brief  press release regarding the award:

 

Wild Bird Retailer of the Year awards

See full article from http://www.wildbirdexpo.com/

All Seasons Wild Bird Stores of Minnesota was named a Best Birding Retailer Award winner at the 2017 Wild Bird Expo™. A panel of industry experts and peers picked the All Seasons Wild Bird Store locations as the Best Large Store over 1800 square feet with a Birding Emphasis.

Nominees for the awards were submitted by a Candidate Search Committee, who were tasked with determining who, in their opinion, demonstrated a conscientious effort in advancing the birding hobby and industry. The required criteria to qualify as a nominee included several factors such as:

  1. Sales volume (total and per sq. ft.)
  2. Growth history and advancement of new trends
  3. Best practice systems
  4. Product selection offered
  5. Merchandising
  6. Advertising, customer communication and education (websites, social media, etc.)
  7. Overall impact within their community and beyond

All winning retailers were selected by birding industry leaders. With five metro locations, the family-owned All Seasons Wild Bird Stores have seen steady growth for over 25 years. Their Vacation Feed-and-Fill Service, where they maintain and fill local birders’ feeders while they’re away, their Frequent Feeder Member Program , Project Lights Out Campaign , Feeder Swap Campaign , in-store literature takeaways, newsletters, and seasonal tips are just a few ways that they give back to the community. Store owner, Dave Netten, also serves as President of the Wild Bird Feeding Industry (WBFI) Board of Directors.

Minnesota’s Winter Birds

Many times people are surprised by some of the birds they can see in their backyard during our harsh winter months. If there are sufficient natural food sources on their breeding grounds even American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds will sometimes remain in the area where they spent the summer.

Blue Jay and Cardinal at feeders by Jim Weisman

A Blue Jay and Northern Cardinals visit feeders in the winter. (Photo by Jim Weisman)

Our beautiful cardinals will remain with us all winter. It’s wonderful to see the bright red cardinals against a backdrop of winter snow. Our Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches are with us through the winter. Sometimes we will get an influx of Red-breasted Nuthatches during the winter.

Most of our woodpeckers also stay all winter too. The Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, the large Pileated, and the Red-bellied Woodpecker can be seen at suet feeders on the coldest of winter days.

American Goldfinches stay in Minnesota all year, and are busy at backyard feeders, but the males lack their bright yellow breeding plumage. As a protection against being seen by predators the goldfinches molt in the fall to an olive drab, the males now closely resembling the females. Because of this dramatic change in color, they can be mistaken for other species and lead some people to the errant conclusion that their goldfinches have left. Feeding goldfinches all winter will ensure that some will stay in your area to nest this spring.

Blue Jay populations shift about in preparation for the winter cold. You will likely have Blue Jays brightening your winter landscape but they may not be the same individuals that were here this summer. Some of these jays will be travelers from northern territories and some of our summer Blue Jays will move a bit south.

House Finches will be here all winter. In fact, most of the raspberry-colored finches we see are male House Finches. The first-year juveniles will likely not be as brightly colored as the older adult males. The plumage of male House Finches can vary greatly, from an orange-y hue to very raspberry.

Brown Creepers are a year-round resident in most of their range, but the northern Minnesota populations do engage in some migratory behavior, moving several hundred miles south to our yards here in the Twin Cities Metro Area. Look for them spiraling up and around tree trunks and limbs as they forage.

Common Redpolls and Pine Siskins are unpredictable and irruptive in their migration patterns. Failures in seed crop production in spruce and other conifers can force the redpolls and Pine Siskins to venture south in search of food. Every few years the redpolls show up in great numbers.

Dark-eyed Junco in tree by Jim Weisman

A Dark-eyed Junco (Photo by Jim Weisman)

The first Dark-eyed Juncos arrive in late September; the males sporting an executive charcoal gray and white look. Juncos glean seeds and insects from twigs, leaves and the ground cover of leaves on the ground. They are entertaining as they hop forward and kick their feet back scratching the ground for food. Juncos prefer poking around on the ground below feeders but can be attracted to hanging feeders as well. Maintaining a clean water source by using a heated birdbath attracts juncos as well as birds that don’t normally eat at seed feeders.

By Guest Contributor MELISSA BLOCK

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Video: A Guide to Feeder Types

Here’s a guide to selecting the right feeder or feeders for your yard. As always, ask any of our local backyard birding experts for help finding the perfect feeder for they types of birds you would like to attract.

 

Seasonal Notes: September

keep hummer feeders upOrioles Out; Hummers Still Here

We lament the migration of the orioles as they leave this week. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will continue to visit feeders well into October. Male hummingbirds migrate first so we will be seeing mostly females and juveniles at the feeders. Change your nectar every three days or so. Apply mint extract to the nectar ports to deter bees and wasps.

Welcome, Juncos!

Dark-eyed Juncos arrive in September and forage on the ground under the feeders. Sprinkle a little Finches’ Choice on the ground to welcome them.

Other Migration Movements .  .  .

American Crows are seen in noisy communal roosts as we move into autumn.  American Coots begin to arrive on area lakes.

Dark-eyed Junco

Welcome Dark-eyed Juncos sometime this month by sprinking some Finches’ Choice below feeders.

Migration begins in earnest for monarch butterflies, various warblers, sandpipers and Broad-winged Hawks.

 

By CAROL CHENAULT, Manager of the Minnetonka All Seasons Wild Bird Store location

Keep Your Birdbath Fresh and Clean

Not all birds eat from our backyard feeders but all birds need fresh water.

Here are some tips for keeping your birdbaths healthy for your birds.

 

Stone or ceramic birdbaths are best cleaned with a solution of 9 parts water and 1 part bleach.  Lime deposits can be removed from plastic birdbaths with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water.

  1. Fill the bath with the appropriate solution.
  2. Cover it with a garbage bag and let it sit for several hours.
  3. Scrub it well with a bird bath brush or non-abrasive pad.
  4. You may want to dump the solution into a bucket and remove in an effort to protect your plants.
  5. Rinse well.
  6. Fill the bath and add Bird Bath Protector to keep the water fresh longer.

 

 

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