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I found a baby bird! Now what?

We get this question quite a lot from our customers, and it’s no wonder — most of us are passionate about our backyard birds and want to help the best we can to make sure they’re healthy. To help you out, we’ve prepared this flow chart.

Plus, check out the video from Slate Magazine on the topic!

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Pileated Woodpeckers


Video of dueling Pileated Woodpeckers used courtesy of Karol Patzer

Some Facts About These Magnificent Birds

  • Pileated Woodpeckers will remain in an area that provides trees for cover and roosting cavities.  They also look for established food sources and that includes backyard feeders.
  • Suet feeders long enough for the Pileated to prop their tail for stability and leverage, a peanut pickout feeder as well as a bird bath are excellent for attracting them to your backyard.
  • Shock absorbers in their skull and a long tongue that wraps around the brain prevent injury from the constant pounding.  The tongue is coated with a sticky salvia and has barbs that point backwards.  These features make the tongue uniquely suited for extracting insects and larvae from the holes the woodpeckers drill in trees.
  • Adult male Pileated Woodpeckers have a red mustache below their eye and red on the head all the way to the bill, making them distinguishable from the females who lack these traits.
  • Pronouncing the name as pill-E-ated or pile-E-ated are both considered correct.

Contributed by Minnetonka Manager CAROL CHENAULT

Attracting Cardinals, Attracting Joy

Beautiful red cardinal eating a sunflower seed at a bird feeder

Beautiful Northern Cardinal eating a sunflower seed at a bird feeder

Cardinals Resonate in the Hearts of the People Who Observe Them

When a family visits our store interested in attracting a certain bird, it’s always a special experience to guide them in their quest. One family in particular will always stand out to me, as they were hoping to attract cardinals in honor of a late family member who adored this vermilion-bathed bird. This interest opened up a robust discussion on cardinals… what are they like, and why do we love them so much?

Although one of the most common sought-after backyard feeder birds, the Northern Cardinal still boasts some noteworthy ecology in the bird world. Permanent residents in the Twin Cities, cardinals have gradually expanded northward in the past 100 years, with the Minnesota’s first recorded sighting occurring in 1875. Typically foraging as ground feeders, cardinals prefer a sizable tray or perch when it comes to backyard feeders. At this time of year they’ll be on the lookout for dense foliage for nesting, in which cardinals can rear 2-5 eggs up to twicet each year. Once courtship is complete, the female scopes out various sites, with the male following close behind and equipped with nesting material. While the female is one of the few female North American songbirds that sing, the male is known for voraciously defending it’s territory. If you see a male cardinal attacking it’s reflection in a window, it’s probably time for some deterring window decals or tape to break up their reflection. Similar to wrens, a mated pair of cardinals share song phrases unique only to them (honey, that’s our song!).

But beyond the ecology, cardinals are also well versed in culture and folklore. With a name deriving from the resemblance of Vatican priests’ robes, cardinals have long been seen as a symbol of faith, cheer, strength, communication, and duty. The word cardinal derives from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge/axis, and the Greek word kardia, meaning heart. While these may seem unrelated, this Latin phrase cardo refers to the place from which something is moved, such as a door. The heart, the kardia, then of course governs and moves a person in the same way. Could this be why we love cardinals so much?

When the human story converges with that of ecology, the phenomenon of birding occurs. While at times this phenomenon manifests in the form of a parent who’s delved into a quirky hobby, perhaps it’s the parents, in their lived experience as such, who are most receptive to all the cardinal truly has to offer. Perhaps the art of birding—finding joy in the fleeting, intricate, and heart-felt details—is something our world needs now more than ever.

CONTRIBUTED BY STAFF MEMBER NICK VOSS

Sources:
Cornel Lab of Ornithology: www.allaboutbirds.org
National Audobon Society: www.audobon.org
The Cardinal Experience: www.thecardinalexperience.com

 

Attract Indigo Buntings & Scarlet Tanagers

WantedSignTips for Thrill Seekers

Indigo Buntings and Scarlet Tanagers are in Minnesota, but many backyard sightings of these gorgeous birds occur during migration while they’re en route to their nesting habitats. If you’d like to tip the scales in your favor to host one or both of these gem-like birds in your yard, here are some tips:

For both species: spend time by the window!

A lot of sightings are “blink and you miss it” by nature, so plan some time to spend by the window with your camera in early May (bonus: you may also glimpse other neo-tropical migrants passing through, like orioles, hummingbirds and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks!)

For Scarlet Tanagers:

  • Serve any or all of the following: suet, mealworms, grape jelly or oranges
  • Follow the song (like a robin with a sore throat) and see if you can find them in the canopy. They don’t move around much when singing.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. You may have more success spotting one after a storm.

 For Indigo Buntings:

  • Serve any or all of the following: millet, Nyjer, or Joe’s Mix in tube feeders with or without trays, hopper or fly-through feeders.
  • Also try: a mix like Berry Nutty, since fruit is part of their natural diet.
  • Consider scattering some millet below feeders. Indigo Buntings are often spotted eating from the ground.

 

 

More Early Signs of Spring

This time of year, you might find yourself looking to the gray skies and asking out loud, “WHEN? When will it be Spring?” You’re not alone. By mid-February, the infatuation with fluffy snows and chunky sweaters gives way to fantasies of grassy lawns and bare feet for many of us here in Minnesota. If you’re among those looking for signs of warmer days to come, here’s a list, compiled from Jim Gilbert’s February and March Phenologies:

European Starling's beaks turn yellow in Spring

European Starling’s beaks turn yellow in Spring

February Signs of Spring:

  • Bald Eagle nesting season has already begun (early February)
  • Common Ravens are beginning their courtship flights (early February)
  • Red foxes enter their mating season (early February)
  • American Goldfinches are starting to show some new, bright yellow feathers (early February)
  • European Starlings’ bills are beginning to turn yellow (early February)
  • Greenhouse plants are beginning to emerge from dormancy (early February)
  • The last of the dried leaves clinging to oak trees are falling (mid February)
  • Birds are starting to sing again, such as cardinals and chickadees
  • Great Horned Owls are nesting
  • Horned Larks return (late Feb)

March Signs of Spring:

  • March 1st marks the first day of meteorological spring
  • Mourning Doves, American Robins and Dark-eyed Juncos  begin to sing (early March)
  • Migrating Canada Geese return (early March)
  • Pussy willow catkins are out (mid March)
  • Wood Ducks, Eastern Bluebirds and Killdeer arrive mid-March
  • Sandhill Cranes and American Woodcocks arrive mid to late March
  • Maple sap begins to run late March
  • Fox Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds and Tree Swallows arrive (late March)

Spring DaffodilsIf you can’t wait for the flowers and smells of a full-blown Spring, there are some fun local options coming up for a next-to-the-best-thing experience:

Macy’s Flower Show: March 20-April 3, 2016

Como Conservatory’s Spring Flower Show in the sunken garden: March 19–April 24

Art in Bloom at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts: April 28–May 1, 2016

 

Nesting Owls: Signs of Spring!

Great Horned Owl on Nest with Owlet

Great Horned Owls begin courting in December and start to nest in January.

Guess Who’s Feeling Frisky?

It may not feel like spring to us, but the owls are beginning to feel a bit frisky these days. Sometimes at night you can hear their hooting and calling. The calling is a part of their mating ritual. The males usually stay in one area and call out to females to come visit them. Their call is also a warning to other owls that this territory is already taken, so stay away!

Great Horned Owls Nest First

Usually the first to nest is the Great Horned Owl. Their courting rituals start in December and January. Owls generally don’t build their own nests, preferring to nest in tree cavities, or use an old Red-tailed or Cooper’s Hawk nest or even an old squirrel nest. The timing of egg-laying correlates with the arrival of spring so that their prey (mice, voles, squirrels and other small animals) will be available and abundant at the time the eggs hatch (6-9 weeks).

Other Owls Nest February–July

Barred Owls nest a bit later than the Great Horned Owls, usually in late February to early March. Eastern Screech Owls and Northern Saw-Whet Owls nest from mid- March to July. For now, enjoy the nighttime hoots and howls of these fascinating birds.

Contributed by Wayzata Store Manager, MELISSA BLOCK

Sky Café Feeder Pictured in Star Tribune Article

The photograph of the Sky Café featured in the Star Tribune article. Credit: Glen Stubbe, gstubbe@startribune.com

Customers Request Feeder Pictured in Article about Carrol Henderson’s New Book

We’ve had several customers come in to the stores lately with a clipping from the December 23, 2015 article in the Star Tribune about birder Carrol Henderson’s new book. The book, Feeding Wild Birds in America, looks like a great read—it  features practical advice on how to increase the variety of species coming to your feeders, but it also details the history of bird feeding in America. But that’s not what our customers are asking about! Rather, it’s the Sky Café feeder, pictured in the article.

A Favorite Feeder for Staff and Customers

We’ve been a fan of this feeder for some time: its large capacity (1.5 gallon!) means fewer trips out to fill it, the tray provides a surface for a variety of birds like cardinals to land, and the cone-shaped “hat” keeps seeds dry and discourages squirrels (for best results, we recommend using it with a pole system placed away from branches and rooftops). Plus, the clear, durable Plexiglas case allows you to easily see the level of seed inside.

You can purchase the Sky Café feeder from our online store, or call any of our 5 All Seasons Wild Bird Store locations for availability in stores.

And keep bringing in the articles! We love hearing from you.

Crow Using Tool Experiment

Crow using tool

A crow uses a final tool after an 8-step puzzle. Source: BBC Two

In this amazing video (below), you’ll see a crow think 8 steps ahead as it secures tool after tool to get a piece of meat. It’s just one example of how smart birds can be! Source: BBC TWO

Bob Janssen Book Signing

Bob-Janssen-Book-MockupBob Janssen will be at All Seasons for book signings on the following dates and times:


Saturday, December 12, 2015

10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Bloomington All Seasons Wild Bird Store
816 West 98th St. (Clover Center)
Bloomington, MN 55420

1–3 p.m.
Eagan All Seasons Wild Bird Store
2143 Cliff Rd. (Cedar Cliff Shopping Center)
Eagan, MN 55122

Saturday, December 19, 2015

10 a.m.–12 p.m.
Minnetonka All Seasons Wild Bird Store
4759 County Rd. 101 (Westwind Plaza)
Minnetonka, MN 55345

1–3 p.m.
Wayzata All Seasons Wild Bird Store
15710 Wayzata Blvd. (394 Frontage Rd.)
Wayzata, MN 55391

Noted local birder Robert (Bob) Janssen shares a lifetime of birdwatching knowledge about Minnesota state parks in his easy-to-use book, Birds of Minnesota State Parks. Bob’s meticulous birding notes taken in state parks over many years were used to highlight the very best places and times to see birds at each park. He includes a description of the park, a map with directions to recommended birdwatching areas, a scenic photo of the park and a photo of the bird that can be encountered in that park.

Scandinavian Tradition for the Birds

Scandinavian bird design

A Holiday Act of Kindness Towards Birds

The Scandinavian countries have a beautiful tradition of encouraging the kind treatment of birds at Christmas time. They believe that if you spread birdseed outside your doorstep on Christmas morning, thus including the birds in the feasting that takes place inside your home, you will have good luck in the coming year.

This tradition has practical and symbolic origins. Swedes would put aside the last sheaves of grain from the harvest and hang out a bundle for the birds on Christmas (called a julkarve), hoping the birds would stay out of the barn where their harvest was stored.

Norwegians call the sheaf a julenek. An anonymous poem beautifully describes the tradition (source: https://anewbieinnorway.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/the-julenek-christmas-sheaf/#more-162):

The Julenek (Christmas Sheaf)

Far over in Norway’s distant realm,
That land of ice and snow,
Where the winter nights are long and drear,
And the north winds fiercely blow,
From many a low-thatched cottage roof,
On Christmas eve, ’tis said,
A sheaf of grain (julenek) is hung on high,
To feed the birds o’erhead.

In years gone by, on Christmas eve,
When the day was nearly o’er,
Two desolate, starving birds flew past
A humble peasant’s door.
“Look! Look!” cried one, with joyful voice
And a piping tone of glee:
“In that sheaf there is plenteous food and cheer,
And the peasant had but three.
One he hath given to us for food,
And he hath but two for bread,
But he gave it with smiles and blessings,
‘For the Christ-child’s sake,’ he said.”

Anonymous Norwegian poem

Extending Kindness to Animals, Too

In Denmark and Norway farmers would give their animals extra food on Christmas Day. They would take their last sheaf of wheat brought in during the last harvest to use as decorations on the gates and outside doorways so that the birds might eat it. This older tradition, known as The Remembrance of Birds, was to honor the birds and beasts that were the witnesses to Christ’s birth.