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Birds’ Life Stages Defined


Throughout our website and newsletters, you’ll likely see us refer to birds’ life stages by name. We thought it’d be a good idea to give a short review in case any of the terms are unfamiliar.

Examples of life stages in a finch, thrush, robin, chickadee and robin

HATCHLING. A bird just out of the egg. Generally a bird is called a hatchling while it relies on its remaining yolk supply or until it is capable of regulating its own body temperature.

NESTLING. A bird that remains in the nest until it is able to fly.

CHICK. A young bird that leaves the nest soon after hatching and typically walks or hops near its family group until it is able to fly.

FLEDGLING. A bird that has left the nest and is acquiring its first set of flight feathers, but is still dependent upon parent birds for food and care.

JUVENILE. A young bird, not yet capable of breeding, in its first plumage of non-downy feathers. This plumage is mostly soft feathers that quickly abrade and are replaced by a later molt.

IMMATURE. A young bird capable of breeding; in its first plumage of hard feathers having already gone through its first molt. These birds are not yet identical in pattern or color to adult birds. Another name for this stage is sub-adult.

ADULT. A mature bird capable of breeding and in its definitive plumage.

By Minnetonka Manager CAROL CHENAULT, as appeared in the May/June 2012 edition of our Bird’s-Eye Newsletter

Hummingbird and Oriole Feeder Pest Prevention

Ants and bees can take the fun out of feeding hummingbirds and orioles. Luckily, there are some simple tricks and products that will help you deter pests and still provide meals for your favorite nectar-eating birds!

Hang your hummingbird and oriole feeders from an ant moat filled with water.  The ants can’t swim across the moat and are prevented from getting into the nectar or jelly. 

Add a drop or two of cooking oil to slow down evaporation.

Wipe the nectar ports with mint extract to deter bees. If you grow mint in your garden, crush the leaves a bit and rub them on the feeder.

Lightly spray the jelly with cooking spray to prevent bees from landing.

Fill your cup feeders with mealworms at the same time every day; such as 6 am and 6 pm.  The orioles will learn when to expect food to be present and will perhaps learn to defend the feeders from other birds.

Use Nectar Fortress Natural Ant Repellent (available in our stores) in a line around the pole or along the window sill. The cinnamon and palm oil prevent the ants from crossing and climbing into the feeders.

Use Nectar Fortress Natural Ant Repellent (available in our stores) in a line around the pole or along the window sill. The cinnamon and palm oil prevent the ants from crossing and climbing into the feeders.

By Minnetonka Manager CAROL CHENAULT

Minnesota’s Warblers

Up to 20 different species of warblers pass through the Twin Cities area between mid-April and the end of May, with the bulk passing through between the 5th and 15th of May. If you’d like to catch a sighting or two of these colorful migrants—in your backyard or around town—Minnesota birding expert Bob Janssen has helped us to prepare this guide to both common and noteworthy warblers.

Read More »

Your Donated Feeders Make a Difference!

Your feeders found new homes with the Scouts of America, a nature center and Wayzata Schools.

Each year we hold a Feeder Swap sale, during which we ask our customers to bring in a used bird feeder to donate in exchange for 20% off a new feeder (in addition to their Frequent Feeder Member Discounts).

In turn, we fix and clean the donated feeders and present them to local organizations.

This year, we were approached by the regional director of Scouts of America, who requested some of the donated feeders for families in need as part of their Unite for Earth Day.

We thought this sounded like a great fit, so we prepared 110 feeders for donation to the Scouts, including: 44 mixed-seed feeders, 27 Nyjer Feeders, 8 hummingbird feeders, 7 squirrel-resistant feeders, 6 oriole feeders, 6 peanut feeders, 6 tray feeders, and 6 suet feeders.

We also provided 12 feeders to the nature center in Orono, Minnesota and 3 feeders to Wayzata schools.

Finally, All Seasons Wild Bird Stores donated 60 pounds of Joe’s Mix, 30 pounds of Nyjer, 12 pounds of Peanut Pickouts and 6 peanut butter suet cakes.

THANK YOU for donating feeders—your gift gives youth and adults a window to nature!

Male and Female Look-Alikes

Bird species in which the male and female look the same are called monomorphic. Several of our favorite backyard bird species are monomorphic, such as Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, House Wrens and Mourning Doves. Other monomorphic species in Minnesota include American Crows and Bald Eagles. Here are some clues to help you figure out who’s who of the look-alike birds in your backyard.

Read More »

How to create a pole system for your feeders

Pole systems allow you to create a feeding station that’s optimally placed in your yard. They also allow your to customize the number and placement of feeder and perching spots. It may seem daunting when you’re considering how to set yours up, so we created this video as a guide to the Erva pole systems we carry in our stores.

Click here to view on our YouTube channel

As always, ask any of our local backyard birding experts for help creating your system. We love to help!

Assemble a pole system

Orange & Black Minnesota Birds

Minnesota hosts several birds that sport orange and black coloration. Let’s take a closer look!

Baltimore Oriole

This eye-catching songbird (8-1/2 in / 22 cm) is a summer visitor throughout most of Minnesota, coming to feeding stations to dine on orange slices, grape jelly, nectar and mealworms. The male Baltimore Oriole has a black head and back with orange chest and belly. Its mostly black wings are touched with orange and have white wing bands. Females are a pale yellow-orange with grayish-black wings and white wing bars.

American Redstart

This warbler (4-3/4 in/12 cm) is a summer visitor and one of the few warbler species that stays to nest in the Twin Cities area. Look for them to arrive starting in May. Males have a black head and back, white belly and patches of orange at shoulders, wings and base of tail. Females are olive-gray with yellow accents under wings and at side of tail.

While American Redstarts do not visit feeders (they eat insects), they may come to visit birdbaths.

Blackburnian Warbler

Another warbler, this handsome bird (5 in/13 cm) passes through the Twin Cities area around the 10th of May en route to breeding areas in Northern Minnesota and Canada. The male is a black and white bird with bright orange on its head and throat and a black mask. The female has paler orange/yellowish coloring. You may seem them flitting along tops of conifers and deciduous trees in your yard, hunting for insects and larvae. They may also stop for a drink at birdbaths.

Eastern Towhee

This striking size-large sparrow with red eyes (8 in/21 cm), is widely seen in Minnesota during the summer in open woods, undergrowth and brush edges, and browsing in leaf litter beneath feeders for seeds and insects. Technically more rufous or rust-colored than orange, the male has a black hood, back and wings, white belly and rusty-orange sides. The female is similar with brown instead of dark black.


American Robin

This widely common thrush (10 in/ 25 cm) deserves a mention for its color scheme of a dark gray back and bright rust-orange belly. Female coloration is a slightly duller version of the male. American Robins prefer to browse for insects and fruit, but may visit feeders for mealworms, and—infrequently—grape jelly. They love to visit backyard birdbaths. American Robins are becoming a more common sight year-round in Minnesota as birds follow availability of food sources.

Spring Migrant Arrival Dates

Prepare Your Yard for Spring Migrants

To be sure, one of the joys of feeding birds is hosting migratory birds for a brief time each spring as they make their way to summer breeding grounds.

With some preparation—and a little luck!—you may be able to entice one of
these migrants to stay and raise their broods in your own backyard.

Spring Migrant Arrival Dates Table

From our Bird’s-Eye View Newsletter Archives; March/April 2014

By Minnetonka Manager CAROL CHENAULT

Watch for Returning Waterfowl this Month!

March is a month of transition from winter to areas of open water therefore signaling the return of water fowl.

Canada Geese

The first week of March often brings the return of the Canada Geese. Pairs claim nesting territory honking noisily. A pair of geese can be seen standing on the ice of the marshes and wetlands as if willing the ice to melt. The female chooses the site and builds the nest while the male stands guard. Egg laying is triggered by open water.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons have returned to the metro as early as the first week of March as well. They seek out the open water on the edges of ponds, rivers and marshes. Great Blue Herons feed on small fish, amphibians, small mammals, aquatic invertebrates and reptiles. They nest in colonies- tree top communal nests called rookeries. Once hatched the adults feed the young for eight weeks before they fledge the nest.

Read More »

Types of Nests

Note: this is the full article by Guest Contributor MELISSA BLOCK. An excerpt is featured in the March/April 2019 edition of our Bird’s-Eye View Newsletter


Northern Cardinal on Nest

Males sometimes bring nest material to the female, who does most of the building. She crushes twigs with her beak until they’re pliable, then turns in the nest to bend the twigs around her body and push them into a cup shape with her feet. The cup has four layers: coarse twigs (and sometimes bits of trash) covered in a leafy mat, then lined with grapevine bark and finally grasses, stems, rootlets, and pine needles. The nest typically takes 3 to 9 days to build; the finished product is 2-3 inches tall, 4 inches across, with an inner diameter of about 3 inches. Cardinals usually don’t use their nests more than once.

Read More »