May 02
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Baby Barred Owls

Baby Barred Owls

We are excited to announce we have partnered with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology to give families nationwide something to hoot about with a live Barred Owl Nest Cam. Children and their parents can join in the excitement by tuning into the live streaming video to see what a day in the life of a Barred Owl family is like. Not only do families get a unique glimpse into the lives of one of nature’s endearing bird species, but they are also able to learn about the different stages of their development and watch the fledglings as they venture out on their own.

Through the live video, which can also be found on AllAboutBirds.org, as well as the Wild Birds Unlimited website, children have the opportunity to explore the remarkable lifecycle of these dynamic creatures as they watch the baby owlets open their eyes, stretch their legs and wings, interact with their family, and evolve into young owls. The Barred Owl Cam is a great way to introduce children to nature while building science skills by encouraging to use their imagination to make observations such as “What will Dad bring next; a snake, a fish or a crayfish?”

“I have been watching the owl cam during work and find it incredibly relaxing,” said Rachel Smith of Real Realm Distribution, Inc., who learned about the owl cam at a recent conference she co-attended with Wild Birds Unlimited employees. “I have shared the cam with fellow colleagues as well as friends. It has really opened our eyes and has helped my son learn about Barred Owls.”

For the past 15 years, Jim Carpenter, Founder & CEO of Wild Birds Unlimited, has hosted a camera-equipped owl box in his wooded backyard. Set more than 30 feet high against the trunk of a pignut hickory tree, the box was home to a series of occupants throughout this winter, including squirrels and raccoons. Earlier this spring, a mama Barred Owl set up residence in the nest box to raise a family with her mate. In March, she has laid three eggs which all hatched in April.

“I am very honored that our owl cam was chosen by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology to be a featured cam on their website,” said Carpenter. “They have been true professionals giving guidance and encouragement throughout the project. The Lab has enabled us to expand the network of viewers from customers of Wild Birds Unlimited to a world-wide network of viewers. It is a rare privilege to be able to watch these wonderful owl parents raise their family with an incredible diverse food selection from the woods and fields behind my house. My hope is that even more people watch this wonderful cam as it helps us understand the miracle and importance of birds in our environment.”

To help celebrate the Barred Owl Cam, Wild Birds Unlimited and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology are encouraging people to help name the owlets. On May 6 and May 7, viewers can visit the contest page to vote for their favorite names. The winning names will be announced on May 8.

The young owls will leave the nest at approximately four to five weeks of age and remain in the branches of the nest tree until they are able to fly at around 10 weeks of age. They will stay together with their siblings throughout the summer and are fed by their parents. Then, the young will strike out on their own in late summer when the parents slowly wean them from feedings. Who will be the first to leave home and venture out on their own? Stay tuned to find out!

ABOUT WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED
Wild Birds Unlimited is the original and largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with more than 280 locations throughout the United States and Canada. Wild Birds Unlimited specializes in bringing people and nature together with bird feeding and nature products, expert advice and educational events. Wild Birds Unlimited recently ranked No. 9 overall and No. 1 in the Retail category on Franchise Business Review’s prestigious 2014 Franchisee Satisfaction Awards Top 200 Franchises list. Visit our website and shop online at www.wbu.com. To learn how you can open your own Wild Birds Unlimited, visit www.wbufranchise.com. 1

Apr 09
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Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Mini High Perch Hummingbird feeder

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Mini High Perch Hummingbird feeder

Hummingbirds are making the journey north. You can track their progress at the Journey North web site. These miniature marvels have been migrating between North and Central America for thousands of years, a round trip in which millions of hummingbirds instinctively participate.

Are you ready for their return? Make sure to thoroughly clean and dry your nectar feeders. Do you need to replace an old feeder? Shop our online store – shop.wbu.com

You can make hummingbird nectar at home! For a home-made version, the ratio is four parts water to one part sugar (ex: one cup of water to ¼ cup sugar). Boil the water to rid it of chlorination and allow the sugar to dissolve easily. Pour it over the sugar and stir until dissolved. Once cooled off, fill your feeder and keep the rest in a nectar bottle in the refrigerator. Do not use dyes, brown sugar or honey. Commercial nectar that you purchase should be free of red dye. The sugar used in boxed nectar is superfine and can easily be made with boiled water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

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Apr 05
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Dad brings home a crawdad for dinner

Dad brings home a crawdad for dinner

Dad keeping a watchful eye

Dad keeping a watchful eye

Dad off to get more crawdads

Dad off to get more crawdads

Mom enjoying a crawdad for dinner

Mom enjoying a crawdad for dinner

How cool is this! Jim Carpenter, owner and CEO of WBU, got some great shots of the Barred Owl family doing what every typical family does, have dinner together. Thursday, April 3rd, we had about 4” of rain here in the Indianapolis area. So, the crawdads must have been out on top of their little clay chimneys. Dad, the good provider, caught one and brought it home for dinner.

Stay tuned, we are expecting the first egg to hatch very soon. Watch our livestream cam on our web site to check in on the family.

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Mar 05
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Be entertained and learn more about woodpeckers.

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Mar 14
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Watch this entertaining video to see some beautiful birds nesting!

Jan 16
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Juncos

Juncos


Have you ever seen juncos fan their tails at one another? What about lunging at each other?

Juncos definitely have a dominance hierarchy (kind of like a pecking order) in their winter flocks. You can often observe individuals challenging the status of others with aggressive displays of tail fanning and lunges.

So, who’s in charge? Males are dominant over females; but, it breaks down more specifically than that. Adult males are at the top of the hierarchy, then juvenile males, adult females and finally young females at the bottom.

You can attract juncos to your yard by offering some of their favorite seeds, millet and hulled sunflower, in a blend such as our Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Blend.

Have you seen any of these behaviors?

Dec 20
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Boy Scouts Bird Study merit badge class in conjunction with Christmas Bird Count

Boy Scouts Bird Study merit badge class in conjunction with Christmas Bird Count

It always amazes me that so many kids want to learn about birds. We can only take so many for our class and there is always a waiting list.

What class is that? We just completed our fourth annual Bird Study merit badge class in conjunction with the local Christmas Bird Count. This has been a very fun partnership between the Boy Scouts and the local Amos Butler Audubon.

It was a very snowy day for the class and we were all bundled up for the birding part. But, the snow didn’t deter us from finding our required 20 different species nor did it deter us from having fun.

One of the highlights was a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree for all the boys to see it through the spotting scopes.

Another highlight was a very common bird that is not commonly known, Horned Larks. A flock flew overhead making their distinctive flight call, listen here. Horned Larks live in fields and can sometimes be drawn to yards with cracked corn.

Hopefully, some of the boys were inspired to begin the hobby of birding or bird feeding. At minimum, they learned a little bit more about noticing and appreciating birds.

Special thanks to the Rob and Eric Ripma of Nutty Birder for assisting with the class.

Dec 05
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Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Every winter the Dark-eyed Junco departs from its northerly breeding grounds of summer and descends upon the lower 48 states. Some western and northeastern states have them year-round where they can be heard singing their pretty trilling song.

For those who only have juncos in winter, we only get to listen to their call and chip notes. Have you ever heard their call notes? Their “tew-tew-tew” call sounds like they are communicating in morse code.

Listen to the call here, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/82346

You can listen to the song and chip notes here, http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Dark-eyed_Junco/id

Want to try and attract them to your yard?

Juncos are primarily ground feeders and are drawn to the millet and mixed seeds around the base of feeders or ground-tray feeders. They prefer blends like No-Mess or Deluxe.

They prefer to roost in evergreens at night; but, will also use tall grasses and brush piles. They return to the same roost location regularly, sharing it with other flock mates.

Now is a great time to attract Junco’s so you can listen to them throughout the season.

Nov 26
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Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

I am fascinated by Wild Turkeys. Aren’t we all when it’s Thanksgiving? They are large, beautiful birds.

Early historical reports show amazing numbers of turkey populations.

In 1540 Hernando de Soto’s soldiers were given large numbers of turkeys; 700 in one account.

In 1612 an author wrote that Wild Turkeys were like pheasants in England; forty in a company and the best meat for eating.

Another report from the early 1800’s chronicled a thousand birds in the woods one day.

With a seemingly endless abundance and such good eating, the turkey was heavily hunted by settlers. Also, habitat loss with westward movement was an additional blow to the turkey population. By the 1930’s there were only 30,000 birds left in North America.

However, with conservation and reintroduction efforts the Wild Turkey is now 7 million strong. They can be found in every state (including a localized population in Alaska) as well as parts of Canada and Mexico.

I am so pleased this North American icon is once again very abundant.

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Nov 22
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Male Allen's Hummingbird eating WBU Bird Bug Bites Suet. Photo courtesy Debbie Shewfeld, WBU team member at the Torrance, CA store.

Male Allen’s Hummingbird eating WBU Bird Bug Bites Suet. Photo courtesy Debbie Shewfeld, WBU team member at the Torrance, CA store.

Hummingbirds consume more than just nectar. They must have a source of protein and at least half of their diet is small insects and bugs.

But a hummingbird eating suet?

Check out the above photo. Debbie, an employee at the Wild Birds Unlimited of Torrance, CA, put out a fresh Bird Bug Bites Suet Cake and an Allen’s Hummingbird showed up for a bite to eat.

Beyond Bird Bug Bites Suet, we have occasional reports that Ruby-throated and Anna’s Hummingbirds frequent Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter (a spreadable suet-based product). This usually just happens during the winter.

Hummingbirds that over-winter in areas are usually doing so because they are finding localized insect sources that are often around open bodies of water. Of course, they are sourcing nectar as well.

It is not common for hummingbirds to eat suet. But, stranger things have been known to happen.

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