Jun 14
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Kissing cardinals on the WBU Dinner Bell Feeder

Kissing cardinals on the WBU Dinner Bell Feeder

Downy Woodpecker Dad feeding son

Downy Woodpecker Dad feeding son Bark Butter

Dads provide for us, care for us, teach us and guide us. In honor of Father’s Day and dads everywhere, including the bird world, here is some fun bird-Dad information.

Have you ever seen birds kissing? Northern Cardinals and Western Scrub-Jays do this. The male feeds his mate seeds during courtship and it appears they are kissing. You can often see this near bird feeding stations. He does this to show he can be a good provider to raise a family.

Chickadee and nuthatch dads provide in a different way. They feed Mom while she sits brooding their eggs. Once the babies hatch, Dad tirelessly helps feed them, constantly running out to the “store” for more food.

But, the Father-of-the-Year Award goes to the Downy Woodpecker. He provides for the family by sharing daytime nest duties with Mom; but, he is the one that incubates the eggs at night. Once the babies hatch, he roosts at night in the nest-cavity with the young until they fledge. And then, he teaches the young where to find food. Now that is a dedicated provider.

Thanks for providing for us, Dads.

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Oct 19
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If your feeders are anything like mine right now, there are extended quiet times. It’s like the birds are waiting for someone to turn on the neon “Open” sign so they can visit with a frenzied purpose and then be gone again.

No need to be concerned. It’s caching season and many birds are cashing in on the abundance of natural foods. There are loads of seeds, nuts, berries, fruits and insects to harvest and hide for a better chance at surviving the coming harsh weather. And they can remember, very accurately, where they stash each morsel.

The birds are also taking advantage of foods in backyard feeders for caching.

Chickadees prefer to cache black oil sunflower seeds; often eating a small portion before hiding it in and under bark, dead leaves, knotholes, clusters of pine needles, gutters, shingles and in the ground. Chickadees cache more in the middle of the day when visiting feeders.

Titmice are rather particular. They choose the largest sunflower seeds available to eat and cache. Titmice and chickadees like to cache seeds within 130 feet of bird feeders; your yard or a neighbor’s yard. I find seeds tucked into the bark and crevices of my wood pile. A coworker finds seeds cached under mulch in her garden.

Nuthatches prefer heavier sunflower seeds over the lighter ones. Be sure to have some sunflower chips in your blend as they like these 25% more than one in the shell. They cache more in the morning and prefer to hide foods on deeply furrowed tree trunks and the underside of branches. Nuthatches are also known to hide seeds under a shingle or behind wooden siding, like a friend of mine has been observing on their house this fall.

Jays love to cache peanuts and acorns. They are especially fond of peanuts in the shell. They bury them in the ground and are known to cache about 100 in a day; emptying my feeder in no time. Watch for them make repeated trips to your feeders (or an oak tree) and fly off. They can travel up to six miles to bury their nutritious treasure.

What birds are cashing in on caching foods from your feeders?

Oct 28
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As a “flatlander” born and raised in the Midwest, I must admit that spending time in the Rocky Mountains is always a near-religious experience for me. The wide open vistas, spectacular scenery and incredible wildlife encounters make me feel just like a kid in a candy shop! There is just too much to see and do during each visit and it always makes me eager for my next trip.

And with each new trip… the feeling of renewing old friendships grows stronger.

I have never lived in a location within the range of the Black-billed Magpie or Stellar’s Jay and yet they are like old friends. On each visit I seek them out and arrange to spend some time together…the trip would not be complete if I did not have a chance to see them.

Fortunately, during my visit to Colorado last week, my host had a very active feeding station and I was able to become reacquainted with my old friends and indulge myself in watching their antics. Over the course of four days, I never once tired of watching these energetic and spunky birds come and go!

It was a very cool experience to see them so up close and personal…and I think I learned enough about them to say we have truly “bonded’ the friendship!

Needless to say, I can’t wait until my next visit with my old friends!

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