Feb 12
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Join our Cheif Naturalist, John Schaust, as he prepares for the 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), scheduled for February 14 through February 17, 2014.

The annual four day event is a joint project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society. Wild Birds Unlimited is a sponsor for the event.

Feb 05
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Flying Start Feeder

Flying Start Feeder

The annual four day event is a joint project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society. Wild Birds Unlimited is a sponsor for the event.

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

“Whether an active bird watcher or a newcomer to the hobby, we encourage everyone to get involved and our stores are more than willing to help people get involved in the GBBC,” said Jim Carpenter, CEO and Founder of Wild Birds Unlimited. “The yearly event is important in helping the world learn about birds. Bird populations are dynamic and are constantly in flux. It is impossible for scientists to observe and document the movement of birds on their own. By participating, people play a vital role in the ongoing initiatives to learn more about birds.”

The data for the count will be powered by “eBird,” an online checklist program for the world’s approximate 10,000 bird species. Birders can view what others see on interactive maps, keep their own records, and have their tallies recorded.

For more information about the GBBC, call or stop by your local Wild Birds Unlimited store. To find your nearest location, visit https://maps.wbu.com.

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. 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.

Feb 14
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It’s not like I need an excuse to go birding! And truth be told, if I am outdoors or even just have a view to the outdoors…I am always watching for birds.

I am not exactly sure when or how my passion for birds developed, but I do know the bug bit me at an early age.

I remember I was around eight years old when my curiosity about birds led me to try to catch one. I believe I patterned my cardboard box trap after the one Wile E. Coyote used in an attempt to catch The Road Runner in the cartoon of the same name. I wasn’t anymore successful than he was, but at least I didn’t fall off a cliff in the attempt!

My point with all this is that birds can be truly captivating to children.

Birds come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They have enchanting songs. And they can FLY! Birds can go anywhere they want at anytime they want. The sense of freedom and adventure that this represents to a child’s imagination is irresistible. If they could, they would be a bird, too.

So, since trying to actually catch a bird is totally illegal these days, just how does one go about getting kids to start thinking about the birds that live around them everyday?

I would suggest that this week’s Great Backyard Bird Count is the perfect activity for introducing kids to the world of birds!

The GBBC website, www.birdcount.org, makes it easy for young and beginning birders to get started. The website’s GBBC for Kids section includes a Top 10 gallery of the most likely seen birds and several clever bird-themed activities, such as a birdsong quiz, coloring sheets and on-screen jigsaw puzzles. Children can also take and send in photos of their backyard sightings as part of submitting the family’s bird tally online.

The GBBC runs from February 15 through 18 and it’s a great way to have some family fun over the long Presidents Day weekend and participation is free!

Please let us know your family’s plans for participating in this year’s GBBC.

Jan 30
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GBBCPosterWaxwing

When you feed birds, it shows you value a relationship with nature and that you are willing to take action to foster it. If you are like me, inviting birds to your backyard is not only fun, it’s important to you. What about making your birds count beyond your backyard?

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) gives you the opportunity to share your observations and make your birds count for something more…science. GBBC is an annual event linking citizens with scientists in an effort to collect important data about birds.

The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bird Studies Canada and the National Audubon Society. Wild Birds Unlimited is proud to be the major sponsor since it began 16 years ago.

It’s really easy to participate. Count the birds in your backyard, or wherever you may be, then simply report the information online at www.birdsource.org/gbbc.

The extensive database that is created is analyzed by scientists to better understand important trends in bird populations, range expansions, habitat changes and shifts in migration patterns. Click here to see the yearly summaries of past GBBC results and how important it is studying the data.

Make your birds count by participating in this year’s GBBC the weekend of February 15 – 18, 2013. And to ensure the birds all show up to be counted, visit your local Wild Birds Unlimited store for the widest variety of great bird food products! Click here for the store locator or click here to shop on-line.

Where will you count the birds?

Dec 27
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We Bring People and Nature Together® It is our mission statement and it’s more than just words. It is what drives us professionally and personally to give back.

A great example is our support for The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), which is a wonderful citizen-science project that we encourage participation in throughout the US and Canada. It is not too far off; February 15th – 18th. Wild Birds Unlimited is the major sponsor and original sponsors of this event.

We have also reached another milestone this year in our partnership with the National Audubon Society, as this was our seventh consecutive year partnering with them to send under-served children to camp. To date, 1,500 children have received full or partial scholarships to attend summer camp.

In February of this year our own Paul Pickett, vice President of Franchise Development, participated in the launch of the International Franchise Association’s Franchising Gives Back. Paul donated his time and a bird feeding station to help create a park setting for the residents of The Orlando Health & Rehabilitation Center. It is the 2nd largest non-profit nursing home in Florida.

Here at the Franchise Support Center, we are not alone in giving back. A vast majority of our franchise store owners’ partner with organizations in their local communities. Many support nature conservation organizations, wildlife rehabbers, nature centers, humane societies and just so many more through donations, fund raising, volunteering and promotion in their stores. They are a passionate and compassionate bunch of men & women that I am proud to work with.

Thank you for your patronage and support. We could not bring people and nature together without you. We are looking forward to yet another rewarding year in 2013.

Feb 08
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The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is almost here; February 17-20, 2012. Participation is easy, fun and free.

As a GBBC participant, you may see birds you don’t know. To identify lesser-known birds, practice answering the following questions, looking at a bird from the top down. Use the numbers on the Song Sparrow pictured above for practice.

1. Silhouette
Look at the bird’s overall size, shape and posture. Is it the size of something familiar like a sparrow, robin or crow?

2. Head Markings
Does the bird have a colorful or striped cap, also known as a crown? Is there a stripe above or through the eye; does it have an eye ring or “spectacles?” Look for cheek patches or a mustache. Is there a white throat patch?

3. Body Markings
What are the overall back, breast and belly colors? What’s on the chest: a patch, spots, streaks or is it clear? Are the flanks (sides of body just below the wings) clear or streaked? Is there a white or yellow rump patch?

4. Wing Markings
Are the wings a different color than the body? Are there one or two wing bars (solid lines of color) or spots?

5. Tail Shape and Markings
Is the tail long or short compared to the body? Is it forked, squared, pointed or another shape? Are there certain colors or vertical or horizontal stripes?

Using these tips will help you quickly gather all the clues you need to positively identify birds during GBBC.

So, grab your favorite bird identification guide and invite a friend to join you in the fun of counting the birds for science.

Learn how GBBC helps scientists, especially this year, by clicking here. Learn all the details of how to participate at www.birdcount.org.

Where will you be counting the birds and who will be joining you for this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count?

Feb 03
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OK…let’s be honest, things have been a little slow at my feeders this winter.

Apparently I am not alone! Anecdotal reports from much of North America seem to paint a similar picture of less than stellar activity.

Why?

At this point we can only speculate; but, there are a couple of prime suspects: an incredibly mild winter, a bumper crop of natural foods produced during last year’s growing season and the almost total lack of a southward movement by the “winter finches” out of northern Canada.

It is all speculation at this time, but this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) looks to be perfectly timed to help bring some factual answers to the question, “Where are all my birds?”

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages and skill levels in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent.

The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count will be held February 17-20, 2012. Participation is free, and everything you need is available online.

Last year’s count, which includes Canada and the United States, identified 596 species and tallied over 11.4 million individual birds. Citizen scientists like you submitted over 92,000 checklists for the four day count period.

While the European Starling was the most abundant species reported by GBBC participants at almost 1.4 million, the American Robin was a strong second with 1.04 million birds reported.

The Northern Cardinal appeared on the largest number of checklists – 45,709, which is almost half of all the checklists submitted, the Mourning Dove took second place.

Information like this will help ornithologist determine how this year’s weather and other factors are influencing the activity, movements and populations of birds throughout North America.

And you can help!
Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org.
You can find all the details on how to participate at the GBBC web site.

This event is coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada and I am proud to say that Wild Birds Unlimited has been the major corporate sponsors for the GBBC since its beginning.

Feb 26
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This last weekend was the 14th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), February 18-21. It is always fun to watch the birds at my feeders (and around the neighborhood) knowing that what I see counts for science.

The weather on Saturday was just beautiful with clear, sunny skies. I had been working in the yard and was headed inside when I stopped in my tracks, whipped around and scanned the sky.

What a treat it was to hear one of my favorite bird calls. The loud, rolling ‘kar-r-r-r-o-o-o’ of Sandhill Cranes. There was a flock of 30 birds flying over the house headed north in a “V” formation.

Sandhill Cranes are not your typical backyard feeder bird. However, they do qualify as a valid entry for the GBBC. Any birds you spy during the official count days can be submitted in your checklists. The purpose of GBBC is to help scientists better understand a snapshot of what is going on in the bird world; including these early migrating cranes.

Not only did I see one flock of 30 Sandhill Cranes, I saw a second flock about an hour later heading in the same direction. You can bet I will be adding them to my GBBC tally!

Check out the real-time results of checklists and birds counted this year at the GBBC home page, www.birdsource.org/gbbc. Also, be sure to enter any outstanding tallies by the deadline, Tuesday March 1.

What interesting birds did you see for GBBC?

Feb 17
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You can bet that I will be watching my feeders this weekend! And unlike any other weekend of the year, I will be taking names and making notes about each of my feeder friends…at least the ones with feathers!

You see…this is the week of the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) which starts Friday (2/18) and goes through Monday. This unique event, now in its 14th year, creates an instantaneous snapshot of birdlife across the U.S. and Canada for all to see.

The four-day count typically records more than 10 million observations and as a result of this vast amount of data, ornithologists are able to answer questions such as:
• How did this winter’s severe weather influence bird populations?
• Where did the “irruptive” northern finch species end up this winter?
• Is this year’s bird migration occurring earlier or later than in previous years?
• Are their any species showing trends towards significant declines in population?

It’s good stuff and I am proud to play a part in it every year and I invite you to do the same. But since there are too many of you to have over to my house this weekend…may I suggest that you start by simply watching and counting birds in your own yard, a nearby park, or maybe at a school.

You can find all the details on how to participate at the GBBC web site.
This event is coordinated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Audubon, and Bird Studies Canada and I am proud to say that Wild Birds Unlimited has provided the sponsorship for the GBBC since its beginning.

Feb 04
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They called it a “storm of historic proportion” but to me it meant an unexpected two days at home with lots of time to watch the historic action taking place at my feeders.

The activity level was frantic with a volume and variety of birds unmatched in my recent memory.

With everything coated in a thick, solid layer of ice, plus strong winds and bitter cold, the birds coming to my feeders were literally on the brink of survival. And under these conditions, my feeders were playing their most vital role of the year…and it showed!

The constant parade of woodpeckers coming to my suet and peanut feeders ranged from the majestic Pileated to the demure Downy…often with all five resident woodpecker species in sight at one time!

Chickadees, titmice, Carolina Wrens and nuthatches ate almost continuously; and for good reason, as research on chickadees shows that during this type of extreme weather, their rate of survival almost doubles when they have constant access to feeders.

On the ice-covered ground, scores of juncos, White-throated, Song and American Tree Sparrows cleaned up the millet and sunflower chips under the hopper feeder. The juncos and Mourning Doves also congregated under the finch feeders where countless American Goldfinches kept a constant rain of Nyjer® (thistle seed) falling to the ground.

As daylight dwindled, dozens of cardinals graced my backyard and much to my surprise, a Hermit Thrush made a rare appearance to glean a few morsels from the ground before seeking safe shelter for the night.

It was an unbelievable two days that strongly reaffirmed that the feeders in my yard make a critical difference in the lives of the birds that claim my backyard as part of their winter territory. They counted on my feeders being there and being filled with seed during this extreme storm, and I am glad that I was able to make my feeders count for them.

P.S. Speaking of “counting”, the 14th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count takes place February 18-21. It’s a fun family activity that links citizens with scientists in an effort to collect important data about backyard birds. The GBBC is a joint project of Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society and is sponsored by Wild Birds Unlimited. For more information go to www.birdsource.org/gbbc.

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