The American Goldfinch

He has been in disguise all winter.  You may not have realized that Mr. Goldfinch has been in your yard all along.  With the coming of Fall, the male Goldfinch forsakes his bright yellow livery for a Winter drab olive.
Some folks assume the Goldfinches migrate.  They don’t from our region of Georgia, however.  They are year-round residents here.  If you feed the birds year-round (as everyone should), the Goldfinch have been eating the shelled sunflower seeds from your Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend throughout the gray (and sometimes even snowy) days of this past Winter.
But now that Spring will soon arrive, you’ll see the male Goldfinches coming to your feeders with hints of the brilliant yellow feathers that are about to emerge.
One day soon, you’ll look out your window and be stunned by the brilliant yellow bird with black highlights feeding on your shelled sunflower seeds and nyjer.  Voila!  Mr. Goldfinch has returned with his mating season colors!
Your eyes will be dazzled with his brilliance.  It’s like watching Dorothy open the door of her cyclone-relocated farm house at that moment when “The Wizard Of Oz” transitions from black-and-white into glorious Technicolor!
This incredible reincarnation of the male Goldfinch beginning all around us in March is why we have made the American Goldfinch our bird of the month here at Wild Birds Unlimited Of Vinings.
Goldfinches are the only member of the finch family that molts twice each year, in early spring and late summer.  They also are late nesters.  While the Bluebirds and Brown-Headed Nuthatches get started in March, the Goldfinches are content to eat heartily and look beautiful all the way until they get about their nesting business (one brood annually) in late June or early July.
Why the wait?  Well, the Goldfinches are programmed to defer nesting until some of their favorite plants — such as milkweed, thistle, and cone flower — have produced their hallmark fibrous seeds.
Goldfinches also eat seeds from dandelions, marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos.  In the bird world, they are the strictest of all vegetarians — seeds only, please!  And woe betide the invasive female Cowbird who sneaks one of her eggs into a Goldfinch’s nest:  the Cowbird nestling will not thrive, because it cannot survive on a seed-only diet!
And what of the Goldfinch’s song?  The pioneering ornithologist, Florence Merriam, observed in her 1889 book, “Birds Through An Opera-Glass,” that “[o]ur Goldfinch is not a musician when it comes to his long song.  That is a canary jumble of notes whose greatest charm is its light-heartedness.”  Ms. Merriam, however, softened the critique by observing, “But though he is not as finished a songster as the canary, during the summer he is much prettier, for then his yellow suit is richly trimmed with black markings.”
Celebrate American Goldfinch month by welcoming this miraculous avian wonder to your feeders!

What does it mean to “Eat Like a Bird”

“EATING LIKE A BIRD”

We’ve all heard it said about a friend, a relative, or even ourselves: “They eat like a bird.”

When said of people, that’s a way of saying that someone subsists on remarkably little food.

But what does that statement mean when said about the birds we see and hear outside every day?

​Exactly the opposite!

Because birds, in fact, eat a lot. They have to. Their survival depends on it.

As ornithologists at Cornell University’s world-renowned Bird lab tell us, songbirds have to eat a substantial portion of their body weight in food every day to survive. ​A Chickadee, for example, ​eats​ food equal to 35% of their body weight daily.

To give you some perspective, if a 175-pound adult human had to consume 35% of body weight in food each day, that would add up t​o a daily intake of ​​TWENTY-SIX (26​) pounds of food​!

For songbirds (whose hollow bones means their weights are expressed in a small number of ounces, not pounds) this requires a constant search for natural food sources of several ounces per day. That sounds easy, but it’s actually challenging when you consider how little the seeds, nuts, berries, and insects weigh that are the staples of the bird diet.

​How can we help the birds survive? By supplementing the natural foods found in and around our yards with the freshest, most wholesome bird foods in our bird feeders.​

Freshness of the bird food matters. Fresh, naturally grown food is rich in the vitamins and nutrients that birds — just like humans — need to live. A lot of bird seed sold by big-box, grocery, and hardware stores can contain old seed that has lost its best nutrients. Check out their labels, and you’ll see they’ve had to add artificial vitamins and minerals to make up for the lower quality of their prime ingredients.

​At Wild Birds Unlimited Of Vinings, we sell the cleanest, freshest, and highest-quality bird foods on the market today. We don’t use artificially added vitamins and minerals, because our bird food doesn’t need to be artificially fortified!

Our seed blends are grown specifically for Wild Birds Unlimited by Amish farmers who provide us with the pick of their crop. Only the highest quality black-oil sunflower, striped sunflower, and safflower seeds, along with tree nuts, peanuts, and our own proprietary Bark Butter Bits, go into our seed blends. And the seed is delivered to us direct from the farm — it doesn’t go through intermediary processing or packaging plants. From the Amish farmers’ fields direct to your feeder — that’s what makes Wild Birds Unlimited’s seed blends the best value by a country mile!

But don’t just take our word for it. Watch the birds. They vote with their beaks. Ever watch birds at a feeder spending more time sorting through the seed and tossing to the ground what they don’t want? That’s the sure sign that the feeder has been filled with seed that contains as much of what birds don’t eat — such as oat, wheat, milo, and even grass seeds — as what they do eat! You’ll never see birds sorting seed at your feeder when you fill it with Wild Birds Unlimited’s seed blends. We never use filler seeds. Everything in our seed is not just eaten by the birds. It contains what the birds strongly prefer to eat, specially formulated for the birds in our Southeastern region.

And if you want to get the most bang for your buck with the added benefit of no shell waste to clean up, try our No-Mess and No-Mess Plus blends. All of the oil-rich black-oil sunflower seeds have been shelled, yielding a 100% edible bird food!

So, what does it mean to eat like a bird? When you buy your bird food at Wild Birds Unlimited Of Vinings, it means that you eat like a king!

Join us for the Great Backyard Bird Count

February 15 through February 18, 2013 marks the 16th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society. Wild Birds Unlimited of Vinings, a local backyard bird feeding and nature specialty store, as well as a sponsor for the event, is encouraging the public to get involved in this international project.

What is the GBBC you ask?  Great question, and here’s your explanation:

About the GBBC

Participating individuals, families, schools and organizations are encouraged to count birds at bird feeders and in backyards, local parks or other locations. Those tallies are then reported online through the BirdSource web site at www.birdcount.org. Scientists then use that data to analyze bird populations, migration patterns, habitat needs and identify birds at risk of becoming endangered.

We’re honored to be the major sponsor of the Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s an event that encourages families to connect with nature and contributes to conservation efforts.  Newcomers to the bird watching hobby should visit our store to learn how to get involved.

To participate, birders should watch birds for at least 15 minutes at the location of their choice on one or more of the count days. They are to estimate the number of birds they see for each species they can identify. Participants select their location on a map, answer a few questions, enter their tallies, and then submit that data to share their sightings with others around the world.

The data for the count will be powered by “eBird,” an online checklist program for all of the world’s 10,240 bird species. Birders can view what others see on interactive maps, keep their own records, and have their tallies recorded. Because of the GBBC’s partnership with eBird, this year marks the first time that the annual study is open to bird watchers worldwide who wish to participate.

For more information about the GBBC, stop by Wild Birds Unlimited of Vinings, located at 2980 Cobb Pkwy or call 770-433-2676.

 

 

 

Why Do Birds Need a Nesting Box?

The short answer is HABITAT DESTRUCTION!!!  Birds frequently build their nest and raise their nestlings in dead trees.

How many dead trees did you see today as you were out and about? Exactly!

Now, I don’t suggest that we go around killing trees.  Not at all.  However, if you should happen to encounter a dead or dying tree, remember- it is a great natural habitat for our birds and other wildlife.

If it becomes necessary to remove a tree from your property, keep as much of the seemingly lifeless tree as possible.  Cut only as much as needed to protect your family’s living structure.

As construction and development continues in our county, more and more trees will be lost.  It is a great idea to replace as many trees as possible with NATIVE trees in order to restore the natural habitats that are being destroyed.  While we are waiting for those trees to grow, it takes some time, we can provide supplemental nesting structures for our native bird species.

There is no greater joy than watching a pair of blue birds dart in and out of a box that you have provided.  Now, like most discerning creatures, not just any old box will do.  There are specifications that need to be taken into consideration as you become a bird family landlord.

  1. You must make sure the structure is  sound and has the proper amount of ventilation and drainage.
  2. There should be a raised platform so that the nest will be protected from insects that may harm young birds.
  3. There needs to be a ladder of sorts, so that when the fledglings are ready to venture out on their own, they can reach the opening.
  4. Most species prefer their very own type of box.  However, some species will nest in boxes designed for a larger species, for instance, a nuthatch or chickadee may make use of a box that was designed with the blue bird in mind.

When a pair of birds have chosen your offered home, you will know instant delight and if you are anything like me, you will be bursting with pride as “your family” builds a nest and lays eggs.  You will wait impatiently as the pair takes turn incubating the eggs and you will watch closely as you try to determine if she is feeding him or the other way around.

I love what they’ve done with the place!!! All very high end fixtures !!!

After the appropriate number of days, that you are, of course,  marking on your calendar, you check to see if the eggs have hatched.  You must be careful as some bird species are very protective of their newly hatched children.  It might be necessary to deploy a decoy (your husband) so you can hurriedly  peek inside the box and snap a quick photo.

Now  you have established that you are the honored host to a growing family- you take special care to provide the working parents only the very best in way of nourishment and refreshment.

Nourishment
Refreshment

As the days go by the nestlings quickly grow to fledglings.  Almost so quickly that you can not wait more than a day or two between peeks…

because if you do….

you’ll find an empty nest!!

So although we have an obligation and responsibility to conserve, preserve, restore and protect the natural environment and habitats, it brings immense pleasure and satisfaction to provide alternative housing to our wildlife.

So, plant native trees, protect all trees as they mature and provide homes to our birds, but also, seize every opportunity to assist as nature heals itself.

Provide nourishment, refreshment, housing and guardianship to our world and those we share it with.

#nature’sguardians

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Your Part to Help Wildlife in the Winter

Everything is Relative.

What does that mean and how does that affect our backyard.  Simply this- even though we probably won’t see our temperatures drop to those bone chilling lows that are expected elsewhere, our wildlife can and will benefit from our assistance.

Feeding birds is more than just a hobby.

It is a way that humans can interfere in their environment in a positive way.

Birds spend all day looking for enough food to simply make it through one cold night.  When we place quality, nutritious food near where they roost, we allow them to find the necessary sustenance much more quickly.  In addition, by visiting well placed and thoughtful feeding stations that provide reliable  food, the birds are safe from predators.