10 Things to Hate About Squirrels

Categories: Wild Bird

Any avid bird enthusiast knows how annoying squirrels can be. They’re always milling about in your yard and helping themselves to whatever they see. There’s just something about their general presence that aggravates most birders.

Sure, they’re cute and all, but we want to remind you just how frustrating they are. In fact, we decided to make a list, just in case you’re not willing to give us the benefit of the doubt.
What makes a squirrel annoying and so worthy of our scorn? Allow us to explain in a list we want to call …

10 Things to Hate About Squirrels

 

Number 10 — Those beady little eyes!

We can’t even begin to sneak up on a squirrel. Because of the placement of a squirrel’s eyes on the sides of their head, squirrels have a wider view of their surroundings. That means they aren’t going to let us get close to them, unless we’re offering them a peanut.

In this video, you get an HD-look at a squirrel, those eyes are just mesmerizing.


Number 9 — Can they dig it? Yes they can.

Who wants a yard full of holes?! Not us! Squirrels are infamous for digging holes and burying their acorns, nuts and absconded seeds. Then what happens? They forget where they hid them. Simply annoying.

In this video, it gets even worse. The squirrel opts to bury a peanut in a potted plant!


Number 8 — Squirrels go to work when you’re at work.

During the summer months, squirrels are most active in the early morning and mid-afternoon. During the cooler months of the year, they prefer a one-time food supply shopping spree around noon.

Since you’re busy while they’re their busiest, you better make it difficult for them. How about an obstacle course?


7. If they’re not eating out of the bird feeder, they’re dining in the garden.

Always blaming your disappearing vegetables and newly planted flowers on the neighborhood bunnies? Not so fast! Besides nuts and seeds, squirrels love to fill their bellies with the delicacies of your sprouting garden and flower beds; so much for bird-scaping. Why not open up a squirrel buffet.

Just look at this hungry squirrel. He plucks a flower right off the bush and chows down.


6. Squirrels are spectacular jumpers.

We have to admit it – squirrels have skills. They can jump up to four to five feet vertically and eight to ten feet horizontally. In fact, the fusion of the bottom of their paws allows them to survive jumps up to 20 feet in some circumstances.
All those skills have a downside for us: No bird feeder hanging from a tree or deck is safe from these athletes in fur coats.

Of course, sometimes a squirrel’s leap can go terribly wrong.


5. Their front teeth don’t stop growing.

Like most rodents, a squirrel’s teeth grow throughout its life. That means if Mr. Squirrel wants to use them, he’ll need to chew… and chew … and chew. He won’t stop at nuts and seeds either — bird feeders, electric cables, wood and even your house is fair game

Even those things aren’t always enough. Sometimes they have to look for something even tougher to gnaw.


4. There are cheetahs, and then there are squirrels.

Remember when we said these squirrels always seem to know when something is coming their way? Well, their ability to travel at speeds up to 20 miles per hour makes them even more unstoppable. How can these short-legged runts be faster than us, or even our (admittedly very lazy) dog?

Not only are they fast runners, they’re also fast talkers!


3. Eating is what squirrels are about

According to LiveScience, squirrels devour up to one pound of seed per week. In addition, they prepare for the cooler months of the year by swiping bird seed and storing it in hiding places scattered throughout your yard.

More importantly, they’ll take food whenever they can, so you can’t make it too easy for them.


2. A squirrel decides its territory, not you.

Just like a hummingbird will protect any food source it deems to be its own, squirrels will do the same thing. So, if a squirrel decides that YOUR bird feeder is HIS, then your birds are going to go hungry.

Don’t believe us? Check out this knockdown battle between two squirrels. They’re loud and feisty!


1. Squirrels want that bird seed, and they’ll destroy your feeder to get it.

It doesn’t matter if your feeder is brand new, was passed on from a beloved family member, or was a recent gift, squirrels will do whatever they can to access the bird seed inside. Gnawing is their first tactic. Surely they can get inside. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try to knock to the ground. It’s tough to beat a determined, hungry squirrel with their eye on the bird seed prize.

Of course some feeders have what it takes, and Perky-Pet makes them.


Want to buy one yourself? Here you go. Need some squirrel-fighting tactics. We have them! How about even more squirrel-proof feeders? You bet!

What’s that? You want one more squirrel video? How about a “Squirrel fail” compilation? Yeah, it’s as awesome as you would expect!

You want one more? OK. We got a kick out of this one too – it’s a squirrel vs. a greased pole.

Have you seen any great squirrel videos? Leave a link in the comments.

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Why birds stay up late: Night migration

Categories: Wild Bird

Birds at night

If you hear a flock of birds at night, they may be trying to avoid predators while migrating.

It can be an odd experience.

You’re out late at night when suddenly you hear the calls and chirps of birds flying above you. Not just a few of them either, but its apparent that there’s a lot of birds overhead! What’s going on?

Shouldn’t these birds be asleep — the “early bird” and all? Did they wake up early or get up late? Did something scare them? Are they going to smash into something? And where are they going, anyway?

It’s definitely a confusing phenomenon, but night-flying is actually more common than you think.

Why are birds flying and chirping at night?

The main reason: Migration

Believe it or not, many birds migrate during the evening hours rather than in broad daylight. The main reason? Predators.

Raptors such as hawks and eagles are a primary threat to most birds. The raptors use daytime thermals (strong winds that occur in the atmosphere due to temperature changes) to soar above prey.

By flying at night, smaller birds can use these same high-altitude airways without worrying about raptors on the hunt. This allows them to take advantage of the same routes that birds of prey will use, but because raptors need daytime thermal currents to soar, migrating at night helps smaller birds avoid contact with many predators.

So that answers why birds are traveling in the early morning hours, compared to during the daylight hours, but why are they making so much noise?

Well, imagine if you were in a room with your friends at night and the lights went out. To move around more easily, you would communicate with your friends to let them know where chairs and tables were located so that no one would walk into them. The same goes for birds. As birds travel for miles, they come across different locations, such as cities, where birds must watch out for tall buildings in the night sky. Additionally, rough weather at night can make it hard for a bird to stay on track, so communication is key to keeping the flock together.

 

Night migration

Birds or bats? Some times its hard to tell which you are seeing at night. Remember bats have a very erratic flight pattern as they hunt bugs.

 

What birds migrate at night?

According to the Chipper Woods Bird Observatory, several dozen types of birds will migrate at night when they need to. Among them are: Thrushes, thrashers, catbirds, wood warblers, vireos, kinglets, nuthatches, cuckoos, buntings, rails, woodcocks, tanagers, orioles, bobolinks, sparrows, ducks, geese, swans, swifts, swallows and hummingbirds.

Speaking of hummingbirds, get an idea of the current hummingbird migration status with our hummingbird migration map.

How can I see night migrants?

Bird lovers – and astronomers – have found that one way to observe the high-altitude night migration is to train a telescope on the moon and watch for birds passing it in the night. Their silhouettes are usually visible for up to 2 miles with the right size telescope.

During these migration efforts, the birds usually fly at more than 1,500 feet above ground level, so with the exception of really tall buildings, they aren’t in much danger.

Even satellites can be set to pick up birds migrating at night. In the video below, you can see the movement of birds, bats and insects. The moving blue clouds show migration from the zones where the satellite was recording. The black areas don’t represent a lack of birds, but rather an area where the satellites were not recording.

 

How can I help birds that migrate at night?

As an avid bird enthusiast, the best way to help these nighttime navigators is to increase your efforts! As stated above, these birds are doing their best to conserve as much energy as possible because they use so much of it to travel great distances. By providing them with ample amounts of the things they need, like fresh food and clean water, you can help keep them warm and full of energy for their travels.

Keeping them hydrated is a great way to keep their energy up. Make sure to keep your bird waterers filled with fresh water on a daily basis for wild birds to refresh themselves and to cool off after a hard night’s flight. Along with water, keep your bird feeders cleaned and stocked to supply ample amounts of high-fiber food, such as black oil sunflower seeds, will keep these birds chirping at night on their long travel!

Have any other tips for helping birds that are migrating at night? Tell us about them in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter!

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Product Spotlight: Perky-Pet Fortress Breakaway Feeder

Categories: Product Spotlight

 

Perky-Pet  Fortress Breakaway FeederWelcome to the very first “Product Spotlight,” our new feature aimed at pointing out some of the overlooked gems in the birdfeeders.com product catalog. In each “Spotlight” a birdfeeders.com staffer reviews a feeder’s design features and functions and talks about its performance in the field.

The inaugural edition of the Product Spotlight features the Perky-Pet® Fortress Breakaway Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder.

Anti-squirrel engineering

If you’re looking for a good feeder, then consider Perky-Pet’s Fortress Breakaway Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder. It’s got all the features you want in anti-squirrel engineering.

Now, you might laugh at the thought of “anti-squirrel engineering,” but you can tell a lot of thought went into this tough-looking feeder, and it’s all about keeping squirrels from stealing bird seed.

Its “tough” looks translate into some decent bulk. The Breakaway has some heft to it, for sure, but it’s bulky and thin at the same time. How so? Well, it’s designed to be top heavy — and I mean that as a compliment. You see, it’s got a large lid and then it has a slight funnel shape going down to the bottom. This makes it easy to fill with seed, but, more importantly, the small base makes it easier to see birds that have landed on its two perch sets. With the Breakaway, you always seem to have a good view of any bird.

The perches are attached to squirrel-proof metal feeders that give under the weight of a squirrel. That’s where the Breakaway gets its name. If a squirrel tries to hold on to the perch, it “breaks” and the squirrel can’t hold on any longer. Once the squirrel falls off, the spring-loaded perches snap back into place.

Beyond that, the Breakaway has some other great anti-squirrel features: Rounded edges so squirrels can’t chew through the feeder. Even the perches are rounded so they can’t hold on to them for long. The seed reservoir is made of a smooth, impossible to grip plastic. The lid and the feeder ports are metal. That limits the chew-through opportunities, too.

Perky-Pet Fortress Breakaway Wild Bird Feeder

Some squirrels have mastered the art of peeling off the lids on bird feeders. That won’t happen with the Breakaway. Its cover has a push-button lock that pinches the feeder lid into place. It’s also got a metal hanging cord that squirrels won’t even think about chewing.

Placement is key

Now just because it’s labeled a squirrel-proof feeder, it doesn’t mean a little furball can’t ever get into it. As with any feeder, it’s all about placement. If you hang this too close to a railing, a squirrel can reach up and get inside without activating the “breakaway” feature. You’ll have the same problem if you hang the feeder too close to a nearby vertical surface.

But those are issues caused by improper use on a person’s part, not a specific problem with the Breakaway.

Overall, the Fortress Breakaway bird feeder from Perky-Pet has some great features. It offers a great view of the birds and its huge hopper holds plenty of seed, which makes things even easier for any bird-feeding enthusiast. Definitely an A+ feeder.

Get more details on the Perky-Pet Fortress Breakaway Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder and read other reviews. If you own this feeder, we urge you to leave a review for it at Birdfeeders.com or on the site you purchased it!

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Species Spotlight: Blue Jay

Categories: Species Spotlight

Attract Blue Jays to your feeders with peanuts.

Attract Blue Jays to your feeders with peanuts.


For this edition of the Species Spotlight the WBJ Blog Team is focusing on the Blue Jay, a passerine bird from the Corvidae family whose markings make it unmistakable. During these winter months you never know if you’re going to see a Blue Jay because of its unpredictable migrating habits. Science has yet to explain just why the Blue Jay chooses to migrate when it does.So, as the Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count approaches, look out for this wild-card as a potential entry on your list, unless it has decided to pick up and move to other parts unknown. An ubiquitous North American bird, the Blue Jay is beginning to expand its range beyond Eastern and Central North America into the Northwest.

Environment and Habitat

The Blue Jay is attracted to oak trees and the edges of deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests. It prefers thinner forest areas over deep forest. Its adaptability finds the Blue Jay able to survive well in populated areas, especially parks and back yards with bird feeders available. Its range traditionally extends east from the Rocky Mountains up into Southern Canada and throughout Central and Eastern US; bird-watchers have also sighted it in parts of Idaho and Washington.

Feeding

The Blue Jay is an omnivore. It has earned a sometimes negative reputation because it will occasionally scavenge for other birds’ eggs. However, in one study, only 6 out of 530 Blue Jays had bits of egg material in their stomachs.

The Blue Jay diet consists largely of insects, nuts, seeds and fruits. When cracking open acorns and other large nuts, the Blue Jay will use its feet to hold onto the nut. Blue Jays can contribute to forest-growth because they habitually store acorns in the ground and will sometimes not have the chance to harvest the cache. However, using an area in the throat and upper-esophagus, as well the beak, a Blue Jay can carry up to five acorns for transport to the cache.

The distinctive markings of a Blue Jay make it tough to miss.

The distinctive markings of a Blue Jay make it tough to miss.

Appearance

The Blue Jay is a large songbird; this and its distinctive markings make it easy to spot. Male and female are virtually identical. The adult measures from nine to twelve inches, with a wingspan of thirteen to seventeen inches. It has a large crest, or crown, atop its head.

Its blue coloring comes from an effect called structural coloration. Although the pigment of the feathers is brown, the way light catches the cells in the barbs of feathers gives them the blue appearance. The Blue Jay has black banding on its face, nape, and neck that varies from bird to bird and may be used for inter-species identification.

Mannerisms and Social Habits

Blue Jays are quite vocal and voluble. They are adept at mimicking hawks and often employ this trait in order to scare other birds away from feeders or to warn other jays of a hawks’ presence. In captivity they can imitate human speech and meowing cats. Captive Blue Jays have also been able to use strips of paper as tools to pull in food, but wild Blue Jays have never been observed using tools.

These are highly intelligent and social birds whose vocal and physical mannerisms depend upon the social situation. For example, when eating with family members their crest will lie flat. When they are irritated or aggressive the crest is erect. In territorial and food disputes their scream or squawk is loud and abrasive, but when they engage in close communication with each other they have a quiet, “rusty pump” call that is also a song. Blue Jays mate for life.


Video: The Blue Jay

Source Material

Blue Jays will often store acorns and other food for later consumption.

Blue Jays will often store acorns and other food for later consumption.

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10 Creative Ways to Celebrate National Bird Feeding Month

Categories: Birdscaping

Looking for a great little feeder, try the Perky-Pet  Window Bird Feeder for an up-close look at your feathered friends.

Looking for a great little feeder, try the Perky-Pet Window Bird Feeder for an up-close look at your feathered friends.

It’s National Bird Feeding Month, and if you’re like the Wild Bird Journal’s Blog Team, then you’re a fanatic for helping your backyard friends. By no coincidence, NBFM takes place during the toughest month of the year for wild birds – food is scarce and keeping warm is a priority. Definitely keep up with your efforts!

Beyond feeding the birds, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate the birds in your life.
That’s why we wanted to offer you 10 Creative Ways to Celebrate National Bird Feeding Month – to give you even more opportunities to appreciate and assist the birds who are counting on you. We might as well keep it fun, right?

1) FOOD VARIETY

National Bird-Feeding Month
Simply providing your backyard birds with a healthy and varied diet is a great way to celebrate this month. Along with seeds and suet, you can get creative and try offering different types of grains, beans, and vegetables. See what works and what doesn’t. Dried fruit, for example, is a great option for specific birds such as Orioles and Robins that may be wintering in your area.

2) LEARN THEIR SONG

Are you a veteran bird feeder? Do you think you know the voices of all the birds that fly through your yard? Then test your birding knowledge and play the bird call quiz. Practice throughout the month and become a master just in time for spring feeding. Maybe you can even try stretching your vocal chords and try mimicking the calls yourself!

3) LEARN TO PAINT OR DRAW

Painting and drawing are challenging hobbies to say the least. Specializing on a particular subject matter, however, is one way to overcome that challenge. So we say try recreating the birds you love on paper or canvas! From how-to books to instructional videos on YouTube, you’ll find plenty of assistance to create that masterpiece.

4) GET SOCIAL

Share your passion of birds by sharing your photos and creations online! Better yet, try to take one photo a day and share it on your social media accounts! That way you can celebrate the month with other avid bird lovers. Don’t forget to tag us on Facebook or Twitter when you do.

5) DIY BIRD FEEDER

Use your imagination and make a do-it-yourself feeder! There are plenty of options out there, such as this bread feeder, or you could make this frozen fruit treat out of your bird bath! Your feathered friends will surely appreciate your creativity!

Song Bird Stamps
 

6) STAMP IT

The U.S. Postal service and postal services from around the world frequently feature birds on their stamps. Why not start your own collection of bird-themed stamps? The USPS recently issued a beautiful collection of Song Bird stamps, so it’s a perfect opportunity to begin! As you get deeper into this inexpensive hobby, you’ll find plenty of options to add to your albums.

7) UPGRADE THE FEEDING STATION

Be an exterior decorator and revamp your bird oasis in your backyard for the spring. Head over to BirdFeeders.com and check out some of our beautiful feeders such as the Perky-Pet® Cobalt Blue Antique Bottle Glass Hummingbird Feeder, or the Perky-Pet® Squirrel-Be-Gone® III Feeder. They will be sure to add to the beauty that your feathered friends have already brought to your yard.

8) GET THE KIDS INVOLVED

Spread your love of birds to younger enthusiast! Watch the bird feeder in your yard and pass on your birding knowledge to the kids in your life. Make it fun for the kids so they will want to join in on your hobby!

9) GET CRAFTY

Birds are a wonderful inspiration to many people. Check out this Pinterest board for some inspiration on some bird-themed crafts. Some are great for beginners. Others will challenge the most-gifted crafters around.

10) SPREAD THE JOY

Give the gift of bird feeding to a friend! Find your favorite feeder on birdfeeders.com and make them some home-made nectar! If that friend is already a birder themselves, they will appreciate your gesture, and if they are a novice, this gift will get them into the bird feeding frenzy!

There you have it! If you do just a few of these things listed above, you’ll be celebrating National Bird Feeding Month the right way! Whatever you do this month, make sure you celebrate with others that share your passion!

So, what are you going to be doing this month to celebrate? Let us know in the comments!

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