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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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.

Sep 20
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I recently returned from a cruise sailing seven nights up the coast of British Columbia and Alaska. What an amazing, breath-taking journey of scenery, wildlife and, of course, birds.

There were plenty of creatures to spy from the ship and shore. However, one of the coolest things I experienced was during the overnight hours.

I stayed up one night from 10 pm to 2 am while we cruised the Inside Passage. I sat at the bow of the ship on the top deck 150 feet above the water. The area was black but for the ship’s lights. For hours I listened to birds pass in the night calling out their single-noted flight calls. I heard thrushes, sparrows and shore birds.

There were some birds flying into view from the ship’s lights like warblers and sparrows. They would slow down and look at the ship and then continue on their journey. Some birds stopped on the ship for a brief time like the Song Sparrows I found browsing the deck for food.

But, the coolest bird that night was about 1:00 am. A hummingbird flew out of the darkness, circled over my head and continued cruising on its southerly journey.

How cool is that!

Jul 12
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Ft. Harrison, Indiana Birding Trip during the Wild Birds Unlimited Enterprise Leadership Conference

Ft. Harrison, Indiana Birding Trip during the Wild Birds Unlimited Enterprise Leadership Conference

Wild Birds Unlimited storeowners gathered in Indianapolis this year at the end of June for the annual Enterprise Leadership Conference. They came to refresh and reenergize themselves and learn about new innovations for their staff and stores. But before they got down to some serious work, some of them arrived a day early to play.

The day before the conference 50 WBU storeowners joined us for a relaxing morning of connecting with nature by bird watching at Fort Harrison State Park. Leading the trip with me was my coworker and fellow blogger, John Schaust, and a local birder and buddy of ours, Rob Ripma of NuttyBirder.com.

We saw a lot of birds and, as you can imagine with it being early-summer, a number of them were juvenile birds chasing their parents begging for food.

One of the biggest highlights was the Cerulean Warbler. Everyone got to see it! Which is an amazing feat for 50 people birding at the same time.

The Cerulean is a beautiful, sky-blue and white warbler that breeds in the woods of the Eastern US and Canada. It is of special conservation concern due to its overall small population size and is on the watch list to see if it may need to be placed on the endangered species list.

Other highlights included a Ruby-throated Hummingbird mom sitting on her nest as well as a Baltimore Oriole nest where mom and dad were bringing food to the nestlings.

Everyone had a fabulous time connecting with nature. Have you seen any fun bird activity lately?

May 30
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Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on the WBU Small High Perch Hummingbird Feeder

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on the WBU Small High Perch Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbirds have returned to most regions in North America, check out the Journey North map. We wanted to share these helpful tips to frequently asked questions regarding hummingbirds. A special thank you to Rosann Kovalcik, owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Grosse Pointe Woods, MI, for sharing her hummingbird expertise with everyone.

How do I make Hummingbird Nectar?
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. 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.

How often should Hummingbird Feeder Nectar be changed?
If the weather is cooler, 60 degrees, then leaving the nectar for two or three days is acceptable. However, on a 90? + day, the possibility of spoilage would require that you change the nectar after one day. Rinse your feeder out with hot water and clean the feeding ports with a brush to make sure that you prevent a build-up of mold.

Are there times of the year when I should make the nectar stronger?
On average, the nectar that flowers produce is the same strength of sweetness throughout their blooming period. Since what we put in our feeders mimics nature, keeping our nectar recipe the same is recommended.

What if hummingbirds are not coming to the bird feeder?
Since hummingbirds must wake up and refuel immediately, check at daybreak if you want to see if the feeder is being visited. Make sure that you are changing your nectar frequently – spoiled nectar means that they will visit and learn that your feeder is not a place to visit.

What do I do to keep flying insects out of the hummingbird feeder?
• Clean the Humming bird feeder inside and out. Don’t let sugar solution splash on the outside of the feeder as it is a further attractant to bees.

• Fill the nectar level lower than usual so the bees can’t reach it through the ports in a tray-style feeder. Sometimes this is about half-way full.

• Move the feeder even if it is a couple feet from the original location. When a bee scout finds the food it tells the others exactly where to find the source. If the source is not in the exact location then they don’t look around for it. The feeder will be bee-free till another scout comes across it. The birds will not have an issue with it being moved.

• A small bowl of higher concentration sugar water, like a 1:1, on the ground may ‘pull’ the bees to that source instead of the nectar feeder source.

• Pure almond extract around the ports has anecdotally worked for folks in the past. It doesn’t seem to bother or harm the birds.

• Check to see if there are any yellow parts on the feeder. Many popular hummingbird feeders have yellow feeder ports or decorations. Bees and wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Use bright red fingernail polish and paint over any yellow parts of the feeder. Apply several coats of nail polish, letting each dry before applying the next coat.

• Place the feeder away from anything that is yellow in your yard. This includes yellow flowers, lawn ornaments or decorations. Again, the yellow color will attract the unwanted insects.

You can find our complete selection of Hummingbird Feeders Here.

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Apr 16
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Immature Female Rufous Hummingbird

Immature Female Rufous Hummingbird

WBU High Perch Hummingbird Feeder

WBU High Perch Hummingbird Feeder

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Did you ever wonder how a hummingbird will show up in your yard and check out the hummingbird feeder or hanging nectar plant that was there last year but hasn’t been put out yet this year? How do the birds know? It’s almost like they remember the nectar-rich food source. It is amazing that a bird would remember, especially one with the brain the size of a BB. Consider what a hummingbird does each year. They migrate great distances going south to winter in southern Mexico and northern Panama. They travel as far north as Alaska and Canada for breeding. Up to a 2,500 mile trip one way. An impressive feat performed by such a small-brained bird weighing about one penny. Bird banding records show many hummingbirds pass through the same yards, on the same day, year after year. Males return to stake claim on the same territory as the previous year. Females return to the same tree for nesting and sometimes re-use last year’s nest. One study found a female reused her nest for five years in a row. It is amazing how the smallest bird in the world can be so formidable with its memory and come back to feed from a nectar feeder it remembers from last year.

Hang your hummingbird feeders now and keep the nectar fresh. Those amazing jewels of nature are migrating back for the summer.

Sep 14
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Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird on High Perch Hummingbird Feeder

Don’t pack up your nectar feeders just yet. Hummingbirds are still migrating.

More northerly areas in the US and Canada are at the tail-end of migration. More southerly areas of the US have a good month of movement yet to occur. Still other areas like the West Coast, Southwest and extreme Southeast will have wintering hummingbirds.

There is no need to take down nectar feeders to make sure hummingbirds migrate. They innately know when it is time to move and where to go.

In fact, nectar feeders can be a big help to supplement hummingbirds’ much-needed energy for migration or overwintering. Just keep the nectar fresh and offer a mix of four parts water with one part sugar.

How do you know when hummingbirds are gone? Leave your feeder up until you see no activity for at least two weeks and the nectar level is not dropping anymore.

So, don’t pack up your nectar feeders just yet. You may be surprised by a late mover or even a straggler that decided to try and tough out the autumn weather.

Have you seen hummingbirds in late-fall or even in winter?

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Aug 10
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Beginning in August, millions of hummingbirds will travel to Mexico and Central America as part of an instinctive migration pattern that they have followed for hundreds of years. At speeds up to 60 mph, many hummingbirds will travel a non-stop, trans-gulf flight that takes approximately 18 – 22 hours and covers 500 – 600 miles.

“Considering that hummingbirds eat about every 10 minutes and can drink up to twice their body weight in nectar per day, there will be constant fly-by pit-stops along their route,” said Jim Carpenter, CEO and founder of Wild Birds Unlimited. “That makes this the ideal time to draw a crowd of hummingbirds into your own backyard.”

Hummingbirds feed on flower nectar, insects and sugar-water solution placed in specially designed feeders. Weighing as little as a penny, hummingbirds have the fastest metabolism of any warm-blooded animal, so it’s important that they have a high-calorie intake to sustain their migration. Carpenter offers the following feeding tips to make sure local residents don’t miss the migration:

• Plant the right flowers – hummingbirds are drawn to plants like Cardinal Flowers, Salvia, Columbines, and Bee Balm.
• Create your own nectar – it’s simply 4 parts water and 1 part sugar; visit here for instructions and tips.
• Have the right feeder – hummingbirds do not suck up nectar with their bills; they actually lap it up with their tongues, drawing nectar into their mouths almost 12 times a second. You can watch this remarkable tongue in action with a Wild Birds Unlimited Window Hummingbird Feeder, which features a transparent bowl that allows you to watch a hummingbird’s long tongue and rapid lapping action.
• Incorporate red into your garden – red is a visual cue that lets hummingbirds know food is available; they don’t have an innate preference for the color red, but learn to associate certain colors with food. Try planting red flowers, using a red feeder, or even creating fun garden art with red materials.

For more tips on how to attract hummingbirds to your backyard during their migration, visit your local Wild Birds Unlimited location.

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Aug 03
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Summer is a popular time for outdoor family reunions, camping trips or sleep away camp for the kids. However, much of the fun in hiking and spending time outside is having encounters with animals in their natural environment.

“There are several easy things campers and hikers can do to get the most out of their outdoor experience,” said Jim Carpenter, CEO and founder of Wild Birds Unlimited. “Some tips are fairly intuitive, such as being quiet on the trail, so as not to scare away animals you are hoping to view. Other tips are very important, but less well known, such as the fact that feathers and nests are all federally protected and not to be collected.”

Carpenter offers the following 10 camping/outdoor tips to make sure people can observe the most wildlife:

1. Bring binoculars for kids and adults.
2. Turn binoculars into a magnifying glass by reversing the end you look through; it works great for looking closely at flowers, butterflies, insects and more.
3. Watch for birds actively feeding early in the morning.
4. Late-risers can still see birds but may have to be more observant as the birds sing less often as the morning progresses.
5. At night, listen for owls calling to each other.
6. Listen for Great Horned Owls calling a five-note hoot that can be interpreted as “who’s awake, me too.”
7. Listen for nighthawks in the evening sky—a nighthawk’s call sounds like a “pee-ernt.”
8. Set out a hummingbird feeder while camping and watch to see who shows up to investigate—don’t use a yellow feeder, though, as you’ll probably attract bees, not birds. Hummingbirds like the color red.
9. Use the simple ratio of ¼ cup of sugar to one cup of water (a one-to-four ratio) for hummingbird nectar.
10. Bird and other wildlife identification guides show you how to look for wildlife; what kinds of behaviors to look for; and what habitats to look in to be able to identify what you see.

Jul 11
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Red-cockaded Woodpeckers

After a quick hour of travel to Webb Wildlife Management Area with a bus-load of Wild Birds Unlimited store owners, we step off the bus to low humidity and 82° F. There are no bugs. Is this really the South in summer?

We begin meandering down the gravel lane with clear views through the pine stands on either side of us.

The first bird calling is the Bachmann’s Sparrow. Do you hear its whistle-note followed by a trill reminiscent of a towhee? Look, here it is in the spotting scope.

Do you hear the Northern Bobwhite’s calling to each other? “Bob, bob, WHITE”

Wow! Our target bird for the day! See the woodpeckers with the big white patches on their cheeks? Those are Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. There are three of them at eye-level flaking bark off the pines to find insects. (pictured above)

Just down the lane is a Blue Grosbeak in the grass. What a view!

There’s an Eastern Bluebird perched on the nest box.

On the utility wire above is another “blue” bird, the Indigo Bunting, singing “fire, fire, where, where, here, here, see it see it.”

Oh, look, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird is chasing the Indigo.

Someone found a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest. Look in the scope. You can see the babies’ heads pop up when mom and dad come in with caterpillars.

Listen! Do you hear the squeak-toy call of the Brown-headed Nuthatch? There they are. I see them; a foraging family group.

Do you see the Northern Parula? Its throat and chest are yellow but so is its lower bill. See how brilliant the yellow is in the sunlight?

Here comes another group of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. There are five this time.

Too bad we didn’t see the Mississippi Kites. Oh, wait, there’s one!

What a perfect day for bird watching!

Have you ever had a perfect day outdoors?

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