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Inviting Birds

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An overview on the most beneficial options to invite birds into your yard, based on research of birds inhabiting the upper Midwestern US. ...

An overview on the most beneficial options to invite birds into your yard, based on research of birds inhabiting the upper Midwestern US.

These slides show many examples of bird feed, feeders, water features, native plants, and other ideas for inviting birds.

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  • Black-oil sunflower seed: This is the type that's preferred by the widest variety of species. Chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and nuthatches are among the popular feeder birds that favor black-oil sunflower seeds. White millet: Many ground-feeding species, such as juncos and sparrows, are attracted to white millet. Red milo: Some western species, including jays, flock to red milo. Cracked corn: By scattering cracked corn over the ground, you'll invite doves to your feeding station. Mixed seed: This is best sprinkled on the ground or onto platform feeders. Mixed seed typically contains high quantities of millet, preferred by ground-feeding birds: many feeder birds will not take millet. Likewise, ground-feeding birds that favor millet will not have access to  it if it's in a feeder. You may want to investigate to determine which species your yard will attract. Or fill hanging feeders with sunflower seeds and spread mixed seed for ground-feeding birds. As an alternative to commercial mixtures, which may have a high percentage of less-appealing "filler" seeds such as red milo, you can create an attractive, low-cost mixture yourself. Fill an empty trash barrel with one 25-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seed, one 10-pound bag of white proso millet, and one 10-pound bag of cracked corn. Mix the seeds with a broomstick, fill your feeder, and store the rest of the mixture with the lid on tightly. Niger: Also known as thistle seed, this will attract small finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and redpolls. There are feeders specifically designed for thistle seed. Safflower: Although this seed is typically more expensive than sunflower, it is not proven to be more preferred, but some reports claim that squirrels dislike it.
  • Black-oil sunflower seed: This is the type that's preferred by the widest variety of species. Chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and nuthatches are among the popular feeder birds that favor black-oil sunflower seeds. White millet: Many ground-feeding species, such as juncos and sparrows, are attracted to white millet. Red milo: Some western species, including jays, flock to red milo. Cracked corn: By scattering cracked corn over the ground, you'll invite doves to your feeding station. Mixed seed: This is best sprinkled on the ground or onto platform feeders. Mixed seed typically contains high quantities of millet, preferred by ground-feeding birds: many feeder birds will not take millet. Likewise, ground-feeding birds that favor millet will not have access to  it if it's in a feeder. You may want to investigate to determine which species your yard will attract. Or fill hanging feeders with sunflower seeds and spread mixed seed for ground-feeding birds. As an alternative to commercial mixtures, which may have a high percentage of less-appealing "filler" seeds such as red milo, you can create an attractive, low-cost mixture yourself. Fill an empty trash barrel with one 25-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seed, one 10-pound bag of white proso millet, and one 10-pound bag of cracked corn. Mix the seeds with a broomstick, fill your feeder, and store the rest of the mixture with the lid on tightly. Niger: Also known as thistle seed, this will attract small finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and redpolls. There are feeders specifically designed for thistle seed. Safflower: Although this seed is typically more expensive than sunflower, it is not proven to be more preferred, but some reports claim that squirrels dislike it.
  • Bird Feeding Myths Myth: If birds eat uncooked rice, it can swell up in their throats or stomachs and kill them. Fact: Plenty of birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks, sometimes called "rice birds," are a good example. While rice is okay for birds, many wedding parties now throw bird seed instead. Myth: Birds can choke on peanut butter. Fact: There is no documented evidence for this. However, mixing peanut butter with grit or cornmeal will break up the stickiness if you are concerned. Myth: Birds become dependent on bird feeders. Fact: Birds become accustomed to a reliable food source and will visit daily. However, birds search for food in many places, so if your feeder goes empty, most birds will find food elsewhere. During periods of extreme ice, snow, or cold, the sudden disappearance of food might be a hardship; if you are leaving town during freezing weather, consider having someone fill your feeder while you’re away. Myth: Birds’ feet can stick to metal perches. Fact: This is not likely. A bird’s legs and feet are made up mostly of tough tendons that have little blood flow during cold weather. However, we’ve heard rumors of feet sticking to perches: if you observe this unfortunate circumstance, please take a picture and send it to Project FeederWatch. Myth: Feeding hummingbirds in late summer can stop their migration. Fact: Some people believe they should stop feeding hummingbirds right after Labor Day because the birds’ southward migrations will be interrupted. However, a bird’s migratory urge is primarily triggered by day length (photoperiod), and even a hearty appetite won’t make a bird resist that urge. In fact, your feeder might provide a needed energy boost along a bird’s migration route.
  • Feeding Challenges Other Birds While some people welcome any bird regardless of its size or appetite, others get frustrated when grackles, starlings, pigeons, or crows overrun their feeders. To discourage these larger birds, use feeders that are made for smaller birds, such as tube feeders with short perches and no catch basin on the bottom. Avoid platform trays and don’t spread food on the ground. Avian Predators At some point you can expect a visit from a hawk, usually a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk. At first you’ll probably welcome the close-up view but if your hawk stays around and scares your feeder birds away, what can you do? The best solution is to take your feeders down for a few days. The hawk will get hungry and move on. Squirrels Though it’s fun to watch a persistent squirrel finagle its way to your bird food, it’s less amusing if squirrels overrun your feeders and discourage birds from visiting. You can distract squirrels by feeding them peanuts or dried ears of corn in a location some distance from your feeders. This tactic might not work for long, however, and sometimes attracts neighboring squirrels. You also can try "squirrel-proof" bird feeders. But beware: we’ve watched one squirrel after another outwit numerous varieties. Squirrel baffles are usually the best way to keep squirrels away from your feeders. These are simply barriers that prevent squirrels from getting to feeders. On pole-mounted feeders, baffles should be fixed in place beneath the feeder and far enough from the ground, usually 5 feet, that a squirrel cannot jump over the baffle onto the pole. On hanging feeders, a tilting baffle—at least 18 inches in diameter—should be installed above the feeder. In addition to commercially made PlexiglasTM baffles, bird watchers have used old record albums, plastic salad bowls, two-liter soda bottles, even stovepipes. Another hint for suspended feeders: try hanging them from a three to four-foot length of monofilament fishing line instead of wire. Also, if you hang your feeder from a horizontal line, try placing lengths of plastic tubing on the line; the tubing should spin when a squirrel tries to walk on it. Some bird watchers have been using seeds that are coated with hot pepper or capsaicin products. Theoretically, squirrels avoid the coated seed while birds are unaffected. Researchers at Cornell University continue to test this theory. Cats Cats are the most numerous pet in North America. Unfortunately, they kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. Ground-feeding and ground-nesting birds and fledglings are at greatest risk. Feeder birds are also easy prey. If you own a cat, we strongly recommend that you keep it indoors to reduce this needless loss. The American Bird Conservancy has created the Cats Indoors!Campaign to increase awareness of the problem. For more information, contact: American Bird Conservancy, Cats Indoors! Other Mammals If bears, raccoons, deer, or moose become a nuisance, the best tactic is to make your feeders inaccessible with fencing. If that approach is impractical, you’ll probably have to take down your feeders temporarily. Like hawks, mammals will find new foraging routes. If your mammalian visitors appear only at night, take in your feeders at dusk. Bird Feeding Myths Myth: If birds eat uncooked rice, it can swell up in their throats or stomachs and kill them. Fact: Plenty of birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks, sometimes called "rice birds," are a good example. While rice is okay for birds, many wedding parties now throw bird seed instead. Myth: Birds can choke on peanut butter. Fact: There is no documented evidence for this. However, mixing peanut butter with grit or cornmeal will break up the stickiness if you are concerned. Myth: Birds become dependent on bird feeders. Fact: Birds become accustomed to a reliable food source and will visit daily. However, birds search for food in many places, so if your feeder goes empty, most birds will find food elsewhere. During periods of extreme ice, snow, or cold, the sudden disappearance of food might be a hardship; if you are leaving town during freezing weather, consider having someone fill your feeder while you’re away. Myth: Birds’ feet can stick to metal perches. Fact: This is not likely. A bird’s legs and feet are made up mostly of tough tendons that have little blood flow during cold weather. However, we’ve heard rumors of feet sticking to perches: if you observe this unfortunate circumstance, please take a picture and send it to Project FeederWatch. Myth: Feeding hummingbirds in late summer can stop their migration. Fact: Some people believe they should stop feeding hummingbirds right after Labor Day because the birds’ southward migrations will be interrupted. However, a bird’s migratory urge is primarily triggered by day length (photoperiod), and even a hearty appetite won’t make a bird resist that urge. In fact, your feeder might provide a needed energy boost along a bird’s migration route. Bird Diseases House Finch Disease Avian Pox Salmonellosis Aspergillosis Trichomoniasis What do I do if I see a sick bird? Most people go for years without seeing a sick bird. Below we describe five common avian diseases that you should be aware of in case you are unfortunate enough to have a sick feeder bird. Remember, prevention is the key to avoiding disease: regularly clean your feeding station. House Finch Disease House Finch Disease was first noticed in 1994 by a handful of FeederWatchers in the Washington D. C. area. Birds infected with this disease (also called mycoplasmal conjunctivitis) appear to have red, swollen, runny, or crusty eyes; in extreme cases the eyes become swollen shut or crusted over, and the bird becomes blind and unable to fend for itself. You might observe an infected bird sitting quietly in your yard, clumsily scratching an eye against its foot or a tree. While some infected birds recover, many die from starvation, exposure, or predation. Conjunctivitis can have many causes, but the type most often seen in House Finches is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum . This bacterium has long been known as a pathogen of domestic turkeys and chickens, but has been observed in House Finches only since 1994. More recent reports indicate that it also has spread to the American Goldfinch. As birds flock together at feeders, transmission of the disease becomes more likely. You can help us monitor the spread of this disease by contributing to the House Finch and American Goldfinch Disease Survey. For more information, visit http://birds.cornell.edu/hofi/index.html or call (800) 843-2473. Avian Pox There are two forms of avian pox. In the more common form, wart-like growths appear on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. In the second form, plaques develop on the mucous membrane of the mouth, throat, trachea, and lungs, resulting in impaired breathing and difficulty in feeding. Secondary infections often develop and ultimately lead to an infected bird’s death. Avian pox can be caused by several strains of Poxvirus, and has been reported in at least 60 species of birds from 20 families, such as turkeys, hawks, owls, and sparrows. The virus can be spread by direct contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces (e.g., feeders), or by ingestion of contaminated food or water.   Salmonellosis Salmonellosis is caused by a bacteria belonging to the genus Salmonella. It is a common cause of mortality in feeder birds, but the symptoms are not always obvious. Sick birds may appear thin, fluffed up, and depressed and may have pasted vents and swollen eyelids. They are often lethargic and easy to approach. Some infected birds may show no outward signs, but are carriers of the disease and can spread the infection to other birds. Salmonellosis is primarily transmitted by fecal contamination of food and water by birds, though it can also be transmitted by ingestion of contaminated feeds or from bird-to-bird contact. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant mortality in certain species.   Aspergillosis Aspergillosus is a fungal disease that affects the respiratory system of birds. Healthy birds normally resist the disease, but birds with depressed immune systems are especially vulnerable. External symptoms include difficulty in breathing, emaciation, and increased thirst. Birds also can appear to have difficulty walking. When their eyes are infected, there may be a white opacity in one or both eyes, accompanied by a discharge. Aspergillosis is a mold infection that is usually caused by Aspergillosus fumigatus , commonly found in decaying vegetable matter. A bird becomes infected by the ingestion or inhalation of mold spores from contaminated foods. The infection causes lesions in the lungs and air sacs and has been reported in many species of birds. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant mortality in certain species.   Trichomoniasis Trichomoniasis is a disease that most commonly affects pigeons, doves, and the raptors that feed on them. It is characterized by raised lesions in the mouth, esophagus, and crop. Infected birds may appear to have trouble closing their mouth. The disease is caused by the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae , which is often present in the mouth secretions of birds that appear to be healthy but are carriers of the disease, such as pigeons. Infected birds can contaminate water containers (bird baths) with their oral secretions, which can, in turn, expose many other birds to the disease. Mortality from this disease varies, but it can be quite high.   What do I do if I see a sick bird? Only veterinarians or federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators can legally treat wild birds. Therefore, if you find a diseased bird, it’s best to report it to your state or local wildlife agency. If you are advised to take the bird in for an examination, try to catch the bird by throwing a light towel over it and placing it in a box with airholes. If you find a dead bird, place it in a double plastic bag and into the garbage (wear gloves). If a sick bird comes to your feeder, minimize the risk of infecting other birds by cleaning your feeder area thoroughly. If you see several diseased birds, take down all your feeders for at least a week to give the birds a chance to disperse. Keep the feeders down until you no longer see diseased individuals. And remember that prevention is the key to avoiding the spread of disease. Regularly clean your feeders even when there are no signs of disease and prevent overcrowding by adding more feeders or setting up different types of feeders that allow only a few birds to visit at one time. To report sick birds and to learn more about these diseases contact the National Wildlife Health Center .
  • Feeding Challenges Other Birds While some people welcome any bird regardless of its size or appetite, others get frustrated when grackles, starlings, pigeons, or crows overrun their feeders. To discourage these larger birds, use feeders that are made for smaller birds, such as tube feeders with short perches and no catch basin on the bottom. Avoid platform trays and don’t spread food on the ground. Avian Predators At some point you can expect a visit from a hawk, usually a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk. At first you’ll probably welcome the close-up view but if your hawk stays around and scares your feeder birds away, what can you do? The best solution is to take your feeders down for a few days. The hawk will get hungry and move on. Squirrels Though it’s fun to watch a persistent squirrel finagle its way to your bird food, it’s less amusing if squirrels overrun your feeders and discourage birds from visiting. You can distract squirrels by feeding them peanuts or dried ears of corn in a location some distance from your feeders. This tactic might not work for long, however, and sometimes attracts neighboring squirrels. You also can try "squirrel-proof" bird feeders. But beware: we’ve watched one squirrel after another outwit numerous varieties. Squirrel baffles are usually the best way to keep squirrels away from your feeders. These are simply barriers that prevent squirrels from getting to feeders. On pole-mounted feeders, baffles should be fixed in place beneath the feeder and far enough from the ground, usually 5 feet, that a squirrel cannot jump over the baffle onto the pole. On hanging feeders, a tilting baffle—at least 18 inches in diameter—should be installed above the feeder. In addition to commercially made PlexiglasTM baffles, bird watchers have used old record albums, plastic salad bowls, two-liter soda bottles, even stovepipes. Another hint for suspended feeders: try hanging them from a three to four-foot length of monofilament fishing line instead of wire. Also, if you hang your feeder from a horizontal line, try placing lengths of plastic tubing on the line; the tubing should spin when a squirrel tries to walk on it. Some bird watchers have been using seeds that are coated with hot pepper or capsaicin products. Theoretically, squirrels avoid the coated seed while birds are unaffected. Researchers at Cornell University continue to test this theory. Cats Cats are the most numerous pet in North America. Unfortunately, they kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. Ground-feeding and ground-nesting birds and fledglings are at greatest risk. Feeder birds are also easy prey. If you own a cat, we strongly recommend that you keep it indoors to reduce this needless loss. The American Bird Conservancy has created the Cats Indoors!Campaign to increase awareness of the problem. For more information, contact: American Bird Conservancy, Cats Indoors! Other Mammals If bears, raccoons, deer, or moose become a nuisance, the best tactic is to make your feeders inaccessible with fencing. If that approach is impractical, you’ll probably have to take down your feeders temporarily. Like hawks, mammals will find new foraging routes. If your mammalian visitors appear only at night, take in your feeders at dusk. Bird Feeding Myths Myth: If birds eat uncooked rice, it can swell up in their throats or stomachs and kill them. Fact: Plenty of birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks, sometimes called "rice birds," are a good example. While rice is okay for birds, many wedding parties now throw bird seed instead. Myth: Birds can choke on peanut butter. Fact: There is no documented evidence for this. However, mixing peanut butter with grit or cornmeal will break up the stickiness if you are concerned. Myth: Birds become dependent on bird feeders. Fact: Birds become accustomed to a reliable food source and will visit daily. However, birds search for food in many places, so if your feeder goes empty, most birds will find food elsewhere. During periods of extreme ice, snow, or cold, the sudden disappearance of food might be a hardship; if you are leaving town during freezing weather, consider having someone fill your feeder while you’re away. Myth: Birds’ feet can stick to metal perches. Fact: This is not likely. A bird’s legs and feet are made up mostly of tough tendons that have little blood flow during cold weather. However, we’ve heard rumors of feet sticking to perches: if you observe this unfortunate circumstance, please take a picture and send it to Project FeederWatch. Myth: Feeding hummingbirds in late summer can stop their migration. Fact: Some people believe they should stop feeding hummingbirds right after Labor Day because the birds’ southward migrations will be interrupted. However, a bird’s migratory urge is primarily triggered by day length (photoperiod), and even a hearty appetite won’t make a bird resist that urge. In fact, your feeder might provide a needed energy boost along a bird’s migration route. Bird Diseases House Finch Disease Avian Pox Salmonellosis Aspergillosis Trichomoniasis What do I do if I see a sick bird? Most people go for years without seeing a sick bird. Below we describe five common avian diseases that you should be aware of in case you are unfortunate enough to have a sick feeder bird. Remember, prevention is the key to avoiding disease: regularly clean your feeding station. House Finch Disease House Finch Disease was first noticed in 1994 by a handful of FeederWatchers in the Washington D. C. area. Birds infected with this disease (also called mycoplasmal conjunctivitis) appear to have red, swollen, runny, or crusty eyes; in extreme cases the eyes become swollen shut or crusted over, and the bird becomes blind and unable to fend for itself. You might observe an infected bird sitting quietly in your yard, clumsily scratching an eye against its foot or a tree. While some infected birds recover, many die from starvation, exposure, or predation. Conjunctivitis can have many causes, but the type most often seen in House Finches is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum . This bacterium has long been known as a pathogen of domestic turkeys and chickens, but has been observed in House Finches only since 1994. More recent reports indicate that it also has spread to the American Goldfinch. As birds flock together at feeders, transmission of the disease becomes more likely. You can help us monitor the spread of this disease by contributing to the House Finch and American Goldfinch Disease Survey. For more information, visit http://birds.cornell.edu/hofi/index.html or call (800) 843-2473. Avian Pox There are two forms of avian pox. In the more common form, wart-like growths appear on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. In the second form, plaques develop on the mucous membrane of the mouth, throat, trachea, and lungs, resulting in impaired breathing and difficulty in feeding. Secondary infections often develop and ultimately lead to an infected bird’s death. Avian pox can be caused by several strains of Poxvirus, and has been reported in at least 60 species of birds from 20 families, such as turkeys, hawks, owls, and sparrows. The virus can be spread by direct contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces (e.g., feeders), or by ingestion of contaminated food or water.   Salmonellosis Salmonellosis is caused by a bacteria belonging to the genus Salmonella. It is a common cause of mortality in feeder birds, but the symptoms are not always obvious. Sick birds may appear thin, fluffed up, and depressed and may have pasted vents and swollen eyelids. They are often lethargic and easy to approach. Some infected birds may show no outward signs, but are carriers of the disease and can spread the infection to other birds. Salmonellosis is primarily transmitted by fecal contamination of food and water by birds, though it can also be transmitted by ingestion of contaminated feeds or from bird-to-bird contact. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant mortality in certain species.   Aspergillosis Aspergillosus is a fungal disease that affects the respiratory system of birds. Healthy birds normally resist the disease, but birds with depressed immune systems are especially vulnerable. External symptoms include difficulty in breathing, emaciation, and increased thirst. Birds also can appear to have difficulty walking. When their eyes are infected, there may be a white opacity in one or both eyes, accompanied by a discharge. Aspergillosis is a mold infection that is usually caused by Aspergillosus fumigatus , commonly found in decaying vegetable matter. A bird becomes infected by the ingestion or inhalation of mold spores from contaminated foods. The infection causes lesions in the lungs and air sacs and has been reported in many species of birds. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant mortality in certain species.   Trichomoniasis Trichomoniasis is a disease that most commonly affects pigeons, doves, and the raptors that feed on them. It is characterized by raised lesions in the mouth, esophagus, and crop. Infected birds may appear to have trouble closing their mouth. The disease is caused by the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae , which is often present in the mouth secretions of birds that appear to be healthy but are carriers of the disease, such as pigeons. Infected birds can contaminate water containers (bird baths) with their oral secretions, which can, in turn, expose many other birds to the disease. Mortality from this disease varies, but it can be quite high.   What do I do if I see a sick bird? Only veterinarians or federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators can legally treat wild birds. Therefore, if you find a diseased bird, it’s best to report it to your state or local wildlife agency. If you are advised to take the bird in for an examination, try to catch the bird by throwing a light towel over it and placing it in a box with airholes. If you find a dead bird, place it in a double plastic bag and into the garbage (wear gloves). If a sick bird comes to your feeder, minimize the risk of infecting other birds by cleaning your feeder area thoroughly. If you see several diseased birds, take down all your feeders for at least a week to give the birds a chance to disperse. Keep the feeders down until you no longer see diseased individuals. And remember that prevention is the key to avoiding the spread of disease. Regularly clean your feeders even when there are no signs of disease and prevent overcrowding by adding more feeders or setting up different types of feeders that allow only a few birds to visit at one time. To report sick birds and to learn more about these diseases contact the National Wildlife Health Center .
  • Feeding Challenges Other Birds While some people welcome any bird regardless of its size or appetite, others get frustrated when grackles, starlings, pigeons, or crows overrun their feeders. To discourage these larger birds, use feeders that are made for smaller birds, such as tube feeders with short perches and no catch basin on the bottom. Avoid platform trays and don’t spread food on the ground. Avian Predators At some point you can expect a visit from a hawk, usually a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper’s Hawk. At first you’ll probably welcome the close-up view but if your hawk stays around and scares your feeder birds away, what can you do? The best solution is to take your feeders down for a few days. The hawk will get hungry and move on. Squirrels Though it’s fun to watch a persistent squirrel finagle its way to your bird food, it’s less amusing if squirrels overrun your feeders and discourage birds from visiting. You can distract squirrels by feeding them peanuts or dried ears of corn in a location some distance from your feeders. This tactic might not work for long, however, and sometimes attracts neighboring squirrels. You also can try "squirrel-proof" bird feeders. But beware: we’ve watched one squirrel after another outwit numerous varieties. Squirrel baffles are usually the best way to keep squirrels away from your feeders. These are simply barriers that prevent squirrels from getting to feeders. On pole-mounted feeders, baffles should be fixed in place beneath the feeder and far enough from the ground, usually 5 feet, that a squirrel cannot jump over the baffle onto the pole. On hanging feeders, a tilting baffle—at least 18 inches in diameter—should be installed above the feeder. In addition to commercially made PlexiglasTM baffles, bird watchers have used old record albums, plastic salad bowls, two-liter soda bottles, even stovepipes. Another hint for suspended feeders: try hanging them from a three to four-foot length of monofilament fishing line instead of wire. Also, if you hang your feeder from a horizontal line, try placing lengths of plastic tubing on the line; the tubing should spin when a squirrel tries to walk on it. Some bird watchers have been using seeds that are coated with hot pepper or capsaicin products. Theoretically, squirrels avoid the coated seed while birds are unaffected. Researchers at Cornell University continue to test this theory. Cats Cats are the most numerous pet in North America. Unfortunately, they kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. Ground-feeding and ground-nesting birds and fledglings are at greatest risk. Feeder birds are also easy prey. If you own a cat, we strongly recommend that you keep it indoors to reduce this needless loss. The American Bird Conservancy has created the Cats Indoors!Campaign to increase awareness of the problem. For more information, contact: American Bird Conservancy, Cats Indoors! Other Mammals If bears, raccoons, deer, or moose become a nuisance, the best tactic is to make your feeders inaccessible with fencing. If that approach is impractical, you’ll probably have to take down your feeders temporarily. Like hawks, mammals will find new foraging routes. If your mammalian visitors appear only at night, take in your feeders at dusk. Bird Feeding Myths Myth: If birds eat uncooked rice, it can swell up in their throats or stomachs and kill them. Fact: Plenty of birds eat uncooked rice in the wild. Bobolinks, sometimes called "rice birds," are a good example. While rice is okay for birds, many wedding parties now throw bird seed instead. Myth: Birds can choke on peanut butter. Fact: There is no documented evidence for this. However, mixing peanut butter with grit or cornmeal will break up the stickiness if you are concerned. Myth: Birds become dependent on bird feeders. Fact: Birds become accustomed to a reliable food source and will visit daily. However, birds search for food in many places, so if your feeder goes empty, most birds will find food elsewhere. During periods of extreme ice, snow, or cold, the sudden disappearance of food might be a hardship; if you are leaving town during freezing weather, consider having someone fill your feeder while you’re away. Myth: Birds’ feet can stick to metal perches. Fact: This is not likely. A bird’s legs and feet are made up mostly of tough tendons that have little blood flow during cold weather. However, we’ve heard rumors of feet sticking to perches: if you observe this unfortunate circumstance, please take a picture and send it to Project FeederWatch. Myth: Feeding hummingbirds in late summer can stop their migration. Fact: Some people believe they should stop feeding hummingbirds right after Labor Day because the birds’ southward migrations will be interrupted. However, a bird’s migratory urge is primarily triggered by day length (photoperiod), and even a hearty appetite won’t make a bird resist that urge. In fact, your feeder might provide a needed energy boost along a bird’s migration route. Bird Diseases House Finch Disease Avian Pox Salmonellosis Aspergillosis Trichomoniasis What do I do if I see a sick bird? Most people go for years without seeing a sick bird. Below we describe five common avian diseases that you should be aware of in case you are unfortunate enough to have a sick feeder bird. Remember, prevention is the key to avoiding disease: regularly clean your feeding station. House Finch Disease House Finch Disease was first noticed in 1994 by a handful of FeederWatchers in the Washington D. C. area. Birds infected with this disease (also called mycoplasmal conjunctivitis) appear to have red, swollen, runny, or crusty eyes; in extreme cases the eyes become swollen shut or crusted over, and the bird becomes blind and unable to fend for itself. You might observe an infected bird sitting quietly in your yard, clumsily scratching an eye against its foot or a tree. While some infected birds recover, many die from starvation, exposure, or predation. Conjunctivitis can have many causes, but the type most often seen in House Finches is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum . This bacterium has long been known as a pathogen of domestic turkeys and chickens, but has been observed in House Finches only since 1994. More recent reports indicate that it also has spread to the American Goldfinch. As birds flock together at feeders, transmission of the disease becomes more likely. You can help us monitor the spread of this disease by contributing to the House Finch and American Goldfinch Disease Survey. For more information, visit http://birds.cornell.edu/hofi/index.html or call (800) 843-2473. Avian Pox There are two forms of avian pox. In the more common form, wart-like growths appear on the featherless areas of the body such as around the eye, the base of the beak, and on the legs and feet. In the second form, plaques develop on the mucous membrane of the mouth, throat, trachea, and lungs, resulting in impaired breathing and difficulty in feeding. Secondary infections often develop and ultimately lead to an infected bird’s death. Avian pox can be caused by several strains of Poxvirus, and has been reported in at least 60 species of birds from 20 families, such as turkeys, hawks, owls, and sparrows. The virus can be spread by direct contact with infected birds or contaminated surfaces (e.g., feeders), or by ingestion of contaminated food or water.   Salmonellosis Salmonellosis is caused by a bacteria belonging to the genus Salmonella. It is a common cause of mortality in feeder birds, but the symptoms are not always obvious. Sick birds may appear thin, fluffed up, and depressed and may have pasted vents and swollen eyelids. They are often lethargic and easy to approach. Some infected birds may show no outward signs, but are carriers of the disease and can spread the infection to other birds. Salmonellosis is primarily transmitted by fecal contamination of food and water by birds, though it can also be transmitted by ingestion of contaminated feeds or from bird-to-bird contact. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant mortality in certain species.   Aspergillosis Aspergillosus is a fungal disease that affects the respiratory system of birds. Healthy birds normally resist the disease, but birds with depressed immune systems are especially vulnerable. External symptoms include difficulty in breathing, emaciation, and increased thirst. Birds also can appear to have difficulty walking. When their eyes are infected, there may be a white opacity in one or both eyes, accompanied by a discharge. Aspergillosis is a mold infection that is usually caused by Aspergillosus fumigatus , commonly found in decaying vegetable matter. A bird becomes infected by the ingestion or inhalation of mold spores from contaminated foods. The infection causes lesions in the lungs and air sacs and has been reported in many species of birds. Occasionally, outbreaks of the disease cause significant mortality in certain species.   Trichomoniasis Trichomoniasis is a disease that most commonly affects pigeons, doves, and the raptors that feed on them. It is characterized by raised lesions in the mouth, esophagus, and crop. Infected birds may appear to have trouble closing their mouth. The disease is caused by the protozoan Trichomonas gallinae , which is often present in the mouth secretions of birds that appear to be healthy but are carriers of the disease, such as pigeons. Infected birds can contaminate water containers (bird baths) with their oral secretions, which can, in turn, expose many other birds to the disease. Mortality from this disease varies, but it can be quite high.   What do I do if I see a sick bird? Only veterinarians or federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators can legally treat wild birds. Therefore, if you find a diseased bird, it’s best to report it to your state or local wildlife agency. If you are advised to take the bird in for an examination, try to catch the bird by throwing a light towel over it and placing it in a box with airholes. If you find a dead bird, place it in a double plastic bag and into the garbage (wear gloves). If a sick bird comes to your feeder, minimize the risk of infecting other birds by cleaning your feeder area thoroughly. If you see several diseased birds, take down all your feeders for at least a week to give the birds a chance to disperse. Keep the feeders down until you no longer see diseased individuals. And remember that prevention is the key to avoiding the spread of disease. Regularly clean your feeders even when there are no signs of disease and prevent overcrowding by adding more feeders or setting up different types of feeders that allow only a few birds to visit at one time. To report sick birds and to learn more about these diseases contact the National Wildlife Health Center .
  • Regularly clean: All feeders should be cleaned at least once a month. Popular feeders may need to be cleaned more often depending on the number of birds using them and the quantity of seed is consumed. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned each time the nectar is completed. Use appropriate cleaning solutions: Feeders can be disinfected with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water. Commercial cleaning solutions bird feeder are also effective, and a mild solution of dishwashing detergent without fragrance is also acceptable. Clean all parts feeder : For better sanitation and prevention of diseases, each departure must be cleaned inside and outside, including all feeding ports, perches, lids, platforms and storage tanks. Charger hooks, poles and any other party where the birds may roost or where feces can gather should also be cleaned. Use equipment: Use rubber gloves to avoid contamination and the use of hard brushes to ensure thorough cleaning. Bird feeder supply stores and pet brushes will specialize in different sizes and shapes of the departures, if ordinary bottle brushes can also be effective. An old toothbrush is a great option for small parts cleaning, feeding ports and tight corners. Thoroughly rinse: After cleaning the charger and all parts cleaned should be rinsed for at least 10 seconds in a clear, clean water to ensure all chemical residue is removed. Completely Dry: Before you load the magazine, it must be completely dry. Any moisture can cause mold and mildew that can cause illness and rotten, unhealthy seed.
  • Regularly clean: All feeders should be cleaned at least once a month. Popular feeders may need to be cleaned more often depending on the number of birds using them and the quantity of seed is consumed. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned each time the nectar is completed. Use appropriate cleaning solutions: Feeders can be disinfected with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water. Commercial cleaning solutions bird feeder are also effective, and a mild solution of dishwashing detergent without fragrance is also acceptable. Clean all parts feeder : For better sanitation and prevention of diseases, each departure must be cleaned inside and outside, including all feeding ports, perches, lids, platforms and storage tanks. Charger hooks, poles and any other party where the birds may roost or where feces can gather should also be cleaned. Use equipment: Use rubber gloves to avoid contamination and the use of hard brushes to ensure thorough cleaning. Bird feeder supply stores and pet brushes will specialize in different sizes and shapes of the departures, if ordinary bottle brushes can also be effective. An old toothbrush is a great option for small parts cleaning, feeding ports and tight corners. Thoroughly rinse: After cleaning the charger and all parts cleaned should be rinsed for at least 10 seconds in a clear, clean water to ensure all chemical residue is removed. Completely Dry: Before you load the magazine, it must be completely dry. Any moisture can cause mold and mildew that can cause illness and rotten, unhealthy seed.

Inviting Birds Inviting Birds Presentation Transcript

  • INVITING BIRDS BIRD-SCAPING WITH A PURPOSE
  •  Bird DiversityINVITING  What might come to call, &Why?BIRDS  Bird-Scaping  Evaluation & Planning Considerations  Best Options for Results  Food, Water, and Shelter  Feed & Feeder Options  Native Seeds, Fruit, and Cover  Other Attractions  Structures  Housing  Considerations  Problems & Pests
  • DIVERSITY“VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF BIRD WATCHING” 4.BIRD SPECIES 5.HABITATS 6.SEASONS (MIGRATION)
  •  Usage Zones – Natural HabitatDIVERSITYExample of a typicalrural habitatBirds fill every niche ofevery habitatDiverse height offersdiverse food sources
  •  Usage Zones – Residential Area  Vertical DiversityDIVERSITYGreater verticaldiversity of plant lifeallows for greaterdiversity of speciesBirds fill every niche ofevery habitatDiverse height offersdiverse food sources
  •  Seasonal Diversity  Consider the timing of flowering/fruitingDIVERSITYTry to plant something  FLOWERSthat will provide benefit • Attracting insects, butterflies, andduring each season. hummingbirds  FRUITING SHRUBS • Most fruits produce mid-late summer • Some shrubs/trees hold fruit throughout winter  SEED-BEARING PLANTS • Seeds eaten by finches on the plant, or sparrows on the ground
  • MIGRATION  Hummingbird Migration TimingTIMING  Spring Bloom PeakHummingbirds move  2nd week of Maythrough SW MN quickly  Rhododendron, Flowering Crab, Lilacin spring, by departslowly leave in autumn.  Autumn Bloom PeakFind blooms that peak  Mid-augusteach season.  Trumpet vine, jewelweed, canna
  • KNOWLEDGE OF BIRDS
  • RESOURCES  moumn.org  Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union
  • MIGRATION DATES
  • RESOURCES  moumn.org  Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union
  • MIGRATION INFORMATION
  • Spring Migration Fall MigrationPOTENTIAL NESTING SPECIES Arrival Departure Arrival DepartureWood Duck 2-MarHooded Merganser 1-MarAmerican Kestrel 21-Mar 20-OctEastern Phoebe 21-Mar 31-OctPurple Martin 5-Apr 15-SepTree Swallow 20-Mar 18-OctHouse Wren 17-Apr 14-OctEastern Bluebird 1-MarNesting Species
  • FRUIT EATERS Arrival Departure Arrival DepartureRed-eyed Vireo 6-May 3-OctGray Catbird 27-Apr 12-NovBrown Thrasher 13-Apr 22-DecAmerican Robin 1-Apr 1-NovCedar Waxwing 15-Apr 15-OctWARBLERS 28-SepBaltimore Oriole 29-Apr 23-SepFruit Eating
  • SEED EATERS Arrival Departure Arrival DepartureMourning Dove 15-Apr 2-OctRed-breasted Nuthatch 23-May 18-AugSpotted Towhee 3-May 7-May 30-Sep 15-OctEastern Towhee 16-Apr 10-NovChipping Sparrow 26-Mar 10-NovClay-colored Sparrow 21-Apr 14-OctFox Sparrow 13-Mar 29-Apr 19-Sep 20-DecSong Sparrow 21-MarLincolns Sparrow 12-Apr 25-May 31-Aug 9-NovWhite-throated Sparrow 20-Mar 27-May 29-Aug 16-DecHarriss Sparrow 3-Apr 22-May 22-Sep 19-DecWhite-crowned Sparrow 21-Apr 21-May 16-Sep 13-DecNorthern Cardinal 1-Apr 15-DecRose-breasted Grosbeak 28-Apr 15-OctIndigo Bunting 4-May 9-OctHouse Finch 20-Mar 31-DecPurple Finch 17-May 27-AugAmerican Goldfinch 14-May 3-OctSeed Eating Species
  • OTHERS Arrival Departure Arrival DepartureSharp-shinned Hawk 3-Mar 10-AugCoopers Hawk 5-MarRuby-throated Hummingbird 4-May 13-OctYellow-bellied Sapsucker 28-Mar 19-OctLeast Flycatcher 1-May 26-SepNorthern Shrike 5-Apr 15-OctSwainsons Thrush 26-Apr 1-Jun 12-Aug 17-OctHermit Thrush 28-Mar 16-May 14-Sep 12-DecOthers of Interest
  • Resources BOOKSFIELD GUIDES (SIBLEY, PETERSON, GOLDEN BOOKS) LANDSCAPING FOR WILDLIFE – CARROLL HENDERSON PROJECTS FOR THE BIRDERS GARDEN -FERN MARSHALL BRADLEY INTERNET ALL ABOUT BIRDS (HTTP://WWW.ALLABOUTBIRDS.ORG/) SINGING WINGS (HTTP://SINGINGWINGS.ROHAIR.COM/)
  •  Attracting Birds tabAll AboutBirds
  • I Know What I Want HOW DO I GET IT? 3.FOOD 4.WATER 5.SHELTER 6.LIFE
  • Feed Options
  • Feed Preferences Chickadee Cardinal Sparrows Wood- Oriole Pigeon - Nuthatch Finch Grosbeaks Blackbirds Jay peckers Tanager Dove BuntingSunflower X X X X X X XSafflower X X XWhole Corn X X XMillet X X X XMilo X XNiger X XSuet X X X XResults based in part on the Cornell Lab of Ornithologys 2005-06 Seed Preference Test, a National Science Experiment sponsored by the National Science Foundation
  • Woodpeckers Jays Chickadee Nuthatches Cardinals Grosbeaks Finches House SparrowsBlack OilSunflower Seed
  • Woodpeckers Jays Chickadee Nuthatches Cardinals Grosbeaks Finches House SparrowsStripedSunflower Seed
  • Woodpeckers Jays Chickadee Nuthatches Cardinals Grosbeaks FinchesSafflower Seed
  • Chickadee Nuthatches Finches SparrowsNyjer Seed
  • Game Birds Doves SparrowsProso Millet
  • Game Birds Woodpeckers Jays Doves Sparrows SQUIRRELS!Corn
  • Woodpeckers JaysPeanuts
  • Woodpeckers Jays Cardinal GrosbeakMixes with Fruit
  • Orioles House FinchGrape Jelly
  • Game Birds Woodpeckers Jays Doves Chickadee Nuthatches Cardinals Grosbeaks Finches SparrowsMixes
  • Feeder Options
  • Bird Feeder Preferences Chickadees Cardinal Sparrows Orioles Pigeon Nuthatches Finches Grosbeak Blackbird Jays Woodpecker Tanager Doves BuntingHanging X X X XPlatform X X X X ?Hopper X X X X ?Ground X X ? XFruit X XSuet X X
  • Woodpeckers Jays Chickadee Nuthatches Finches SparrowsHanging
  • Woodpeckers Jays Chickadee Nuthatches Cardinals Grosbeaks FinchesPlatform Feeder
  • Woodpeckers Chickadee Nuthatches Grosbeaks FinchesHanging Platform
  • Woodpeckers Jays Chickadee Nuthatches Cardinals Grosbeaks FinchesHopper
  • Game Birds Doves Cardinals Grosbeaks Finches SparrowsGround
  • Orioles FinchesFruit
  • Woodpeckers Chickadee Nuthatches FinchesSuet
  • Aimed at preventing or limiting specific species such as squirrels or blackbirdsSpecialty Feeders
  •  Myth: Feeding hummingbirds in late summer can stop their migration. Myth: Birds’ feet can stick to metal perches. Myth: Birds become dependent on bird feeders. Myth: Birds can choke on peanut butter. Myth: If birds eat uncooked rice, it can swell up in their throats or stomachs and kill them.Feeding Myths
  • Feeding With Native Plants
  •  Summer-Fall Migration (winter)  Dogwood, plum, viburnums,FRUITING  highbush cranberry, chokecherryPossible to provide  Mountainashfruiting plants fromJune through winterNative plants offer bestsuccessBuy locally grown ifonly hardy to Zone 4Zone 2 and 3 plants arebest purchased fromlocal latitude and north
  •  Cover – Ground Nesters  Bluestem, Indian GrassGRASSES  Food Source in AutumnNative grass plantingsoffer nesting cover as  Canada Wild Rye, Switchgrasswell as food.Typically need 5 acresto provide safe andsuitable nesting coverOrnamental grasses(non-native) are okay aslong as not invasive.Seed benefit for late fallmigrants provides thebest benefit for birds
  •  Hummingbirds  and butterflies & pollinatorsNECTAR  often attract insect eating birdsAttracting bugs may be  Virginia Creeper, Honeysuckle,more beneficial thanattracting  Touch-me-nothummingbirds inSouthwest MinnesotaNon-native plants suchas Canna are okay asthey are not invasiveFull sun, and partialshade combinationoffers diversity
  •  Fruits and SeedsWINTER  Crabapples, bittersweet vine, applesPERSISTENT  Nut-AcornMany crabapplevarieties hold fruit  Hickory, Oakthroughout winter.Several winterpersistent plants havebeneficial springblossoms for attractingbeneficial insects.Nut/Acorn producingshrubs/trees may takedecades to rpoduce
  • WATERSOUND: DRAW THEM IN DEPTH: ACCESSIBILITY LOCATION: SAFETY
  • CONIFERSBubbleFlowSplashDrip Make Noise
  • SHALLOW2-3” is optimal1 foot diameteraccessibleLarge rock or rockcluster at surfaceof deeper ponds(bathing rock)Clear and cleanStable Shallow & Safe
  • Location examples
  • SHELTER
  •  Shelter - Nesting Sites  Spruce, PinesCONIFERS  Food ProducingPrimarily Use –  Juniper, Red Cedar • Nesting • Shelter (esp. winter)Secondary Use – • Food Source
  •  Shelter – Escape from Predators  Nesting MaterialBRUSH PILE  Twigs, GrassesProtect from weather  Food SourceEscape frompredators  Leaf LitterForaging opportunity
  • NEST BOXESBluebirdTree SwallowWrenWood DuckChickadeeHOUSE SPARROW! Nest Boxes
  •  OTHER ATTRACTIONS Roost Boxes  winter Nesting Material Bird Song Recordings Other Attractions
  • LOCATIONS 1. SAFETY2. OBSERVATION OPPORTUNITY 3. OTHER BENEFITS
  •  Windows:  Take a Bird’s Eye ViewSAFETY  Look for fly-through opportunitiesBirds need safety frompredators and distancefrom “false” flyways  Solutions:  Silhouettes  Netting  Feeders Closer to Windows  Structures:  Place stations/plantings with 10’ flyway to aid in avoiding collisions
  •  Predators:  Opportunity Perches near open areasSAFETY  Ambush locations  (cats, etc.)  Traffic  Do not place stations/landscaping that will require birds to cross traffic  Study local current flyways
  •  Bird WATCHING is half the fun!VANTAGEPOINTSYour enjoyment isprimary and equallybeneficial to the habitatyou provide.
  • CHALLENGES
  •  Unwelcome guests Diseased Birds Water Concerns MistakesChallenges
  • Squirrel!
  • Guests
  • Predators
  • Regularly cleanUse appropriatesolutionsClean all partsfeederUse equipmentThoroughly rinseCompletely Dry Disease
  • In Ponds orBird BathsAdd fish to pondsUse bleach ratherthan insecticides Insect Larvae
  • SPECIALCONSIDERATIONS
  •  Consider long-term implicationsSUNLIGHTThink long-term in tothe future.Landscape may need tochange with the yearsBird species will changewith the years (benefit?)
  • MARKETINGPLOYSSellers want you topurchase.Know your bird specieshabits beforepurchasing. Marketing
  • HOUSESPARROWSWrong bird food in theRight FeederEliminate from NestBoxes House Sparrows
  • Nesting Material
  • CommunitySpaceGarden for WildlifeCertification (NWF)Community Space forBird Life Other Benefits
  • Questions