Indulge your orioles’ sweet tooth with special oriole feeders

Categories: Seasonal Bird Feeding

Male Baltimore Oriole

The Baltimore Oriole is perhaps the most famous oriole, thanks to the species’ status as the mascot for the Major League Baseball team of the same name.

The flowers are in bloom and soon orioles will grace gardens across the northern states with their vibrant orange feathers.

There are 5 main breeds of orioles in the United States: Baltimore and Orchard Orioles are found mostly in the North and Midwest; Bullock Orioles, found in the West; and the Scott’s and Hooded Orioles, found in the South and Southwest.

As with other birds, orioles migrate south once the temperature begins to decline in the winter. Around April and May, when the Northern U.S. begins to warm, the orioles return to breed. As they make the long, difficult journey north, they’ll be looking for a place that offers plentiful food and a good nesting spot. If an oriole finds no suitable food in your backyard, the likelihood it will return is relatively small. Fortunately, if you prepare your yard for their arrival with an oriole feeder, they may opt to stay for the spring and summer seasons.

What They Like to Eat

Like hummingbirds, orioles have a sweet tooth. In particular, most orioles enjoy sugary foods such as oranges and fruit jellies. Many people who see orioles in their backyard year-after-year swear by grape jelly, while others are convinced that slices of oranges are enough to keep the birds happy. In any case, a combination of these two treats is sure to keep the orioles in your area satisfied.

To help you remember what orioles like, just think of orange. They have orange feathers, they like the color orange, and they love the taste of oranges. The Perky-Pet® Deluxe Oriole Feeder, which is bright orange, is specifically designed with orioles in mind. It provides flavored nectar formulated just for orioles. The color also helps them see the feeder from great heights as it reminds them of their favorite fruit.

Another option is the Perky-Pet® Oriole Jelly Feeder, which dispenses jelly to hungry birds. The feeder comes with a reusable jar you can fill with your own jelly. Alternatively, the tray also allows you to screw on most standard store-bought jelly jars.

Female Hooded Oriole Feeder

Male and female Hooded Orioles dine at a Perky-Pet® Deluxe Oriole feeder.

Keeping the Pests at Bay

Since orioles like to feast on sweets, there is always the chance that bees, flies, and other pests will find your feeder first. Do not spray pesticides on the feeder.

The Perky-Pet® Deluxe Oriole Feeder was specifically designed for orioles. When an oriole lands on the feeder perch, the bee guard protecting the feeder port opens and bird can drink the oriole nectar inside. Once the bird flies away, the bee guard closes over the port, keeping bees, flies, and other insects from getting to the food.

Helping them Thrive

If you want to keep your orioles really happy, consider leaving out material they can use to make a nest. Orioles make intricately weaved nests, so by leaving small pieces of twine, yarn, or thread you can help aid them in creating their home.

The orioles don’t stay in the North very long, leaving around August, but keep these tips in mind and you may be able to watch them on nice, warm summer afternoons.

What oriole feeding tips do you have to share? Leave your ideas in the comments below of visit the Perky-Pet® Facebook Page.

Hooded Oriole

The Hooded Oriole earned a place on the birdfeeders.com Top 15 Photogenic birds list for its striking beauty. Check out the interactive list of bird facts and photos.

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Species Spotlight: Prothonotary Warbler

Categories: Species Spotlight

Prothonotary Warbler song

The Prothonotary Warbler’s song is loud, ringing “tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet,” with little variation.


As the Spring sun begins to warm woods and fields and backyards, it’s time to focus on a bird that brings music to our ears. The Prothonotary Warbler, or Golden Swamp Warbler, is a unique songbird of the New World warbler family. “Prothonotary” refers to an order of Catholic clerics who wore bright yellow hoods. This small, gorgeous bird is on the Audubon’s priority list. Besides Lucy’s Warbler, it is the only cavity-nesting warbler, and it is the only member of the genus Protonotaria. The Audubon is giving priority to the Prothonotary because its habitat is in decline. In Canada it is endangered. Each Spring, starting in mid-March, the attentive and lucky birder can spot it as it migrates up, first touching down along the Gulf Coast and finding its way north in April and May.

Environment and Habitat

Conservationists and enthusiasts can help the Prothonotary Warbler by putting up nest boxes before breeding season in their backyard or near water. The Prothonotary Warbler nests in small cavities near swamplands and waterways. You can sometimes see it peeping out of holes made by Downy Woodpeckers. It prefers trees located near or over standing/slow-moving water.. According to renowned birder and conservationist Kenn Kaufmann, it breeds in river-bottom hardwoods or in cypress swamplands. Spring finds the Prothonotary Warbler migrating from Middle America into Southeastern North America, where it fans out and finds breeding grounds along the Mississipi River and other watery grounds in the East. Ebird’s Occurrence Map does not show this bird’s migration habits extending far into Canada. It heads south again in early August and is largely gone by September.

 

Prothonotary Warbler habitat

The Prothonotary Warbler prefers a habitat near a water source.

 

Feeding

The Prothonotary Warbler eats primarily insects throughout the year, including butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, mayflies, and spiders. It gleans these bugs from foliage. It also eats snails. Kaufmann has observed it winding its way up the trunks of trees searching for food like a nuthatch. On occasion it will indulge in seeds, fruit, and nectar.

Appearance

As indicated by its namesake, the adult male Prothonotary Warbler has a deep yellow, almost gold chest and head. Its belly is white, its eyes bright black. The female’s coloring is the same but duller. Its wings are blue-grey and its back and tail are olive, with a white tip of the tail. Appearance does not change during the non-breeding season. The adult measures anywhere from 5.1-5.5 inches in length, and its wingspan is 8.75 inches; it weighs only half an ounce.

Mannerisms and Social Habits

During courting season the male displays its plumage and competes aggressively with other males by snapping its beak, chasing intruders, and singing. When courting the male and female chip to each other softly. Their song is a loud, ringing tweet-tweet-tweet in one pitch, and their call is a long, dry chip. The male displays potential nesting sites, putting moss in them and moving in and out of them. The female builds the actual nest inside the cavity with moss or liverwort. Prothonotary Warblers spend the majority of their lives below the canopy, singing sweetly fron the trees. When hatched, the young leave the nest after 10-11 days and, the fledgling young are able to swim the minute they leave nest and come in contact with water.

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Hummingbird Safety: 5 things to do now to protect your hummingbirds

Categories: Hummingbird

Hummingbird Safety

Promote hummingbird safety by maintaining clean feeders and a safe environment.

Attracting hummingbirds to your yard with a Perky-Pet® hummingbird feeder is a wonderful experience. You’ll spend hours enjoying the sight of hummers as they dart around your yard and hover at your feeder for some tasty nectar.

But by tempting the tiny creatures into your yard, it’s also important that you do what you can to protect them from dangers that you or the world around them have created. Hummingbird safety should be on the top of your mind.

1. Limit Pesticide Use

Just like any animal, hummingbirds are vulnerable to ingesting and absorbing pesticides.

If you use chemicals to control insects or weeds, make sure you do it in a way that won’t hurt your little guests.
  • Avoid spraying near open sources of water or near your hummingbird feeder.
  • Don’t use chemicals on flowers and plants that hummingbirds may use for additional food sources.
  • Use a non-chemical method for fighting pests.

Hummingbird Safety predators

Keep your hummingbird feeders high off the ground to protect them from predators.

2. Position Your Hummingbird Feeders to Avoid Predators

Hummingbirds are vulnerable to predators, just like any other creature. A little hummer makes for a tasty snack for cats, birds of prey and anything else fast enough to snatch one from the sky.

That’s why it’s important to post a hummingbird feeder near some sort of tree or bush – we suggest you provide shelter within 15 feet of a feeder. When the hummingbird senses danger, it’s just a short flight to some cover.

You also want to keep your hummingbird feeder four or more feet off the ground. That will reduce the chances a cat or dog can snap one right off the feeder.

3. Change Hummingbird Nectar Regularly

Whether it’s Perky-Pet’s® formulas or a simple 20% sugar solution, your nectar can go bad quickly when it’s too hot. Likewise any mix that’s left out for too long, even in mild weather, will spoil.

During hot weather, you should plan to change the nectar supply every two days.

Otherwise, change it every week.

Hummingbird safety windows

Hummingbird safety should be a top priority. Window feeders actually convince hummers to slow down and investigate.

4. Know What to do with Windows

Even more than other birds, hummingbirds are particularly vulnerable to collisions with windows. Often such impacts are fatal to hummingbirds.

Why do birds fly straight at a window? In most cases, they’re confused by the reflection in a window – they see trees or an open sky and think it’s safe to fly there.

To protect hummingbirds from such collisions, make sure your feeders are 15 to 20 feet from any window. Doing so greatly reduces the chance they’ll take that particular route.

If you have a window feeder for hummingbirds, that’s great. The feeder should entice them to slow down and investigate rather than speed along.

Finally, you can apply some leaf-shaped window clings to your windows. These should help alert birds of an upcoming obstacle.

5. Set a Cleaning Routine

It’s important for you to keep your hummingbird feeder clean. Once bacteria starts growing inside a feeder simply emptying it isn’t enough to destroy those germs. It needs a thorough cleaning with a mini mop and hot soapy water.

Rinse well and make sure no soapy residue is left inside.

Following these guidelines won’t make your hummingbirds 100 percent safe, but it’s another step toward keeping these charismatic creatures happy and healthy.

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Bird Migration: Birds of the Atlantic Flyway

Categories: Wild Bird

Atlantic migration flyway

Birds using the Atlantic flyway can migrate as far north as Greenland.

iStock_000003596236_LargeThrough the Fall and the Spring, many birds of North America set to wing in a twice a year ritual that sends them in search of food and breeding opportunities. In the Fall, they head South toward warmer climates with more food and less severe weather. In the Spring, it’s a northward journey to breeding grounds.

In the so-called Atlantic Flyway, a bird migration pattern that goes along the East Coast of North America, birds move through U.S. and often into Canada.

Some migrating birds, including the duck-like Eider and the Snowy Owl, can fly all the way to Greenland, the massive island nation East of Canada.

BIRD MIGRATION: ATLANTIC FLYWAY

The states generally covered by the Atlantic flyway include Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

A significant section of Canada is also included in the flyway. The provinces and territories these birds head toward include Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon Territory.

The other flyways include the Central, the Pacific and the Mississippi. Other flyway maps can be slightly different than the one above — showing fewer states for each flyway. We opted to be more inclusive in which areas to include in the Atlantic Flyway.

 

Eastern Bluebirds at bird feeder

Eastern Bluebirds are infrequent visitors at bird feeders, but they will use feeders on occasion.

 

LIST OF MIGRATORY BIRDS

The Audubon Society explains that about 500 bird species use the Atlantic Flyway, which actually covers a relatively small landmass. Instead, much of the flyway is over or very close to water, including the East Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.

Some species don’t travel through the entire flyway. Some merely migrate a few hundred miles or even over a mountain range that offers a more hospitable climate.

Among those species using the Atlantic Flyaway, there are plenty of feeder birds, including:

 

Red-Winged Blackbird flock

Red winged blackbirds(Agelaius phoeniceus) are among the most numerous birds in America.

 

HOW YOU CAN HELP

When you make a long trip, you’re tired — so expect birds to be just as exhausted as they complete each leg of their migration.

You can help migrating birds by providing them with a safe and welcoming place to rest, recover and refuel before they set out again. If you make things welcoming enough, they might even opt to stay for the season.

Some people believe that if you make things too nice, then you may alter a bird’s natural migration tendencies.  That’s simply not true, every bird understands the risks of “staying put” and the possibility of getting “stranded” by the weather. If they’re staying in and around your yard, it’s because they want to, not because you’re tricking them to stay.

To make your yard more enticing to your feathered friends, a collection of feeders and waterers is important. Just as important is a place to roost and an opportunity for proper shelter.

For birds, shelter is a very relative concept. Certain birds have few requirements on what makes for proper overnight accommodations. Others have very specific needs for nesting.

  • Look into the nest boxes that are appropriate for the birds that live in your area.
  • Plant trees and bushes that create natural shelter.
  • Move feeders to areas where predators can’t hunt.
  • If you have a barn or shed, add some areas where birds can safely roost.

Likewise, consider helping with the science of birds, use the Perky-Pet Hummingbird Migration Map, for example, to log your sightings of hummingbirds.

Look for more “How You Can Help” tips in our upcoming articles covering the Pacific, Central and Mississippi flyways.

 

Blue hummingbird feeder

If you add a hummingbird feeder to your yard, make sure you clean it regularly.

 

RECOMMENDED FEEDERS

The list of feeder birds above is huge and you’re sure to be able to help a lot of them with feeders from birdfeeders.com.

A few ideas:

  • Ruby-throated Hummingbirds: The primary hummingbird of the East Coast, Ruby-throats are beautiful and fun to watch. Keep your feeders bug free with this nectar feeder, which includes an ant moat and bee guards. Looking for something with a little more style, try this decorative glass bottle hummingbird feeder.
  • Orioles: While the oriole population is slowly growing, these birds can be hard to attact to a feeder. Still they definitely know  feeders that are built for them, including this beautiful nectar feeder. If you’re not sure there are orioles in your area, try an inexpensive oriole feeder first.
  • Sparrows: Though not as flashy as some other birds, sparrows are certainly cute. They can refuel in your backyard too. Since sparrows are small birds, they appreciate the protection of caged feeders. Another option is a domed feeder that thwarts big birds like European Starlings.
  • Song birds: Liven up your backyard by drawing in some songbirds. The Northern Cardinal loves sunflower seeds, and this wire-mesh feeder works perfectly. The chatty sounds of an American Goldfinch are always welcome, and you can draw them in by the dozens with feeders like this thistle feeder.

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Species Spotlight: White-Breasted Nuthatch

Categories: Species Spotlight

 

White-Breasted Nuthatch diet

White-Breasted Nuthatches prefer feeding on insects, but they are also frequent bird feeder visitors.

If you have a suet or box feeder in your backyard, then more than likely you recognize this distinctive gray, black and white bird. The White-breasted Nuthatch is common in North America and its nasally call can be heard all year long. These vocal birds can normally be spotted in monogamous pairs in wooded areas searching for food.

Environment and Habitat

This specific variety of nuthatch can be found year round in the United States and parts of Canada, Mexico, and Central America. While the White-breasted population is said to be dwindling in the Southeastern United States, the species is growing globally with an estimated breeding population of 9.2 million.

Because the White-breasted Nuthatch habitually wedges its excess food into tree bark crevices, this distinct bird can often be spotted in dense wooded areas or open spaces with large trees. Its smaller, sister species — the Red-Breasted Nuthatch — resides mainly in coniferous forests, whereas the White-breasted Nuthatch finds its habitat in deciduous forests. The species makes its home in a tree’s natural cavities or in the holes of dead trees. While instinctually the bird is attracted to the deep woods, the White-breasted Nuthatch is often seen at backyard bird feeders.

Feeding

Although it is recognized as a common feeder bird, during the summer in its natural habitat the White-breasted Nuthatch feeds on insects like beetles, ants, and caterpillars. Oftentimes during the winter, it joins flocks of chickadees or titmice to forage along tree trunks, limbs, and occasionally the ground for seeds. By joining together with a bigger flock, the Nuthatch is able to find food more easily and remain protected from predators.

Any feeder can be a nuthatch feeder. Why? Because feeders stocked with suet, peanut-butter, and large nuts, like sunflower seeds and peanuts, attract these birds to backyards all around North America. If a White-breasted is spotted making countless trips to a particular feeder consistently, it is likely that it may be transporting the seeds to be stored in the bark of a nearby tree.

 

White-Breasted Nuthatch ID

The White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis) has a wingspan that is longer than their body.

Appearance and Identification

The largest of the Nuthatch family, the White-breasted typically averages between 5.1-5.5 inches in length. Its wingspan is longer than its body length ranging between 7.9-10.6 inches and the bird often weighs between 0.6 and 1.1 ounces. Its forceful beak and strong feet help the creature feed and forage along the bark of trees.

A male White-breasted can be easily spotted by its black crown and neck, contrasting white face and belly, and blue, black, gray and white wing markings. Typically, the female’s coloring appears more dull with a paler crown and a darker nape. The appearance of a female White-breasted Nuthatch may vary in different regions. For instance, in the Southeast its head pattern and coloring may more closely resemble that of the male White-breasted. A White-breasted that has not yet reached full maturity often resembles the adult, but lacks the coloring definition on its wings and often appears more brownish gray in color.

Mannerisms and Social Habits

This songbird is extremely vocal and is usually heard long before it can be sighted. A White-breasted Nuthatch call varies between subspecies, but its song is heard as a constant stream of repeated nasal whistles several seconds in length. The male’s song can be heard in the last few months of winter and throughout the spring. Its more rapid song is considered to be used to attract mates. The call of both the male and females maintain a trembling quality, referred to as a yank.

This particular species of nuthatch is often spotted in pairs or mates that often forage for food together. When traveling in pairs, while the male is scanning wooded areas for food, the female often acts as the “lookout”working to protect the male from predators. When foraging for insects and seeds, this songbird scales tree trunk and limbs up, down, and sideways chipping away at the bark and probing the surfaces for available food. The species even stores excess food in open crevices throughout their territory of the woods.

White-breasted Nuthatches are territorial creatures. Because they do not migrate, nuthatch pairs store food in, and defend, small wooded areas that they claim as their own. When their territory is threatened, this nuthatch will ruffle and raise its feathers and flick its wings to intimidate an invading bird.

White-Breasted Nuthatch Seed

The female White-breasted nuthatch will lay a clutch of 5-9 eggs once a year.

Nesting

Once a year, White-breasted Nuthatches lay between five and nine spotted eggs. While the female incubates the eggs, the male will bring her food. Exclusively, the females will build nests in a natural cavity of a tree or a woodpecker hole that is at least one foot off the ground. The female White-Breasted Nuthatch lines the vacant space with bark fiber, grass, and twigs for their offspring. Occasionally, the Nuthatch will line the nest with mud and crush an insect around the perimeter of the nest to repel predators.

The White-breasted Nuthatch is the perfect bird to observe in your very own backyard all year long. Its active, unique behavior and chipper calls make for an interesting and beautiful show!

 

 

 

 

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