St. Charles, Missouri
We can show you how to turn your yard into a birdfeeding habitat that brings song, color and life to your home.

 

Make March Less of a Stress for Birds

Dinner Bell FeederSimply put, March can be a very difficult month for your birds.

Early in the month, birds' natural food supply is at its lowest point of the year. Insect populations are still low, and the few remaining wild fruits, berries, seeds and nuts are either hidden or undesirable. Unpredictable weather doesn't make life any easier. Sunny, warm, spring-like days can turn into cold, damp conditions that challenge birds' survival skills. And to make matters worse, this is all happening as some birds prepare for nesting season.

However, these various challenges provide you with one of the best opportunities of the year to help your birds.

Providing Food Makes a Difference

Offer your birds lots of high-energy foods, such as peanuts and suet. Loaded with fat and protein, these are beneficial substitutes for the scarce insects many birds would eat if they could find them.

Counteract the lack of natural insects by offering protein-rich mealworms. They are eaten by numerous species of birds and can be a lifesaver during a sudden cold snap.

Nesting Birds Need Help, Too

Birds build open-cup shaped nests in trees or on the ground, or they nest in cavities (or holes) in trees. By placing nesting materials and installing bird houses around your backyard, you can entice birds, such as bluebirds, wrens, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers, Purple Martins, swallows, owls and Wood Ducks. Bird houses can make your birds' lives a little easier. After all, they have already expended a lot of energy establishing territories, courting and looking for scarce food.

If you are using a functional bird house to provide your birds a home, be sure it meets these six requirements:

  • Designed for the species, according to bird’s size and nesting requirements
  • Ventilation holes to provide release for heat build-up
  • Easily cleaned
  • Easily mounted or hung
  • Durable to withstand several seasons of use
  • Drainage holes in the bottom of the house

 

How to Choose the Best Nest Box for Your Birds

 

 

 

Calcium for Nesting Birds

Being Seasonally Savvy: Give Nesting Birds a Hand

Calcium is the most challenging mineral for birds because when they need it, they need large quantities and they need it right away. This is mainly during nesting time for egg laying as well as chick development. The amount of calcium in their natural diet of seeds and insects is often inadequate and they must seek calcium-rich foods as a supplement. Many of the bird foods we offer include calcium to help your nesting birds.  Foods like our Choice Plus Blend, No Mess Plus Blend, Jim's Birdacious Bark Butter products and Peanut Butter' N Jelly Dough Suet Cakes.

Our source of calcium is from oyster grit or limestone dust. Both are finely ground and easily consumed by small songbirds. 

Be a seasonally savvy friend to your birds by providing them with the extra calcium they require during nesting season. 

 

 

Filled with useful information and illustrated with more than 800 images and 180 maps, The Joy of Bird Feeding is the essential guide for anyone who loves to feed the birds.

In this book, Jim Carpenter, founder and president of Wild Birds Unlimited, shares a lifetime of bird feeding passion and experience, answers common hobby problems and provides fun bird feeding activities to share with family and friends.

Stop by our store to get your copy!

 

 

We're Sponsoring Project FeederWatch & BirdSpotter Photo Contest

Wild Birds Unlimited is Sponsoring
Project FeederWatch & BirdSpotter Photo Contest

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders across North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and submit their data. This helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

Anyone interested in birds can participate - including children, families, individuals, classrooms, retired persons, youth groups, nature centers, and bird clubs. You can count birds as often as every week, or as infrequently as you like: the schedule is completely flexible. All you need is a bird feeder, bird bath, or plantings that attract birds. Click here to join.

You can also participate in the BirdSpotter Photo Contest. Now through early March, submit your bird photos for a chance to win prizes from Wild Birds Unlimited. Click here to learn more.

 

Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

 

March Nature Happenings

• Project FeederWatch continues, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw
• Belted Kingfishers, Eastern Phoebes, Turkey Vultures, Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and Tree Swallows return.  
• It's the peak of migration for Snow Geese and many other waterfowl species.     
• Large communal crow roosts disperse, and some crows begin nesting.
• Now is the perfect time to clean out nest  boxes and install new ones, as Bluebirds and Chickadees are exploring potential nesting cavities.
• Peak of Sandhill Crane migration.
• Bald Eagles and Screech Owls are sitting on their eggs.
• Purple Martins return by the middle of the month; be sure to have your houses ready.   https://www.purplemartin.org/research/8/scout-arrival-study/
• Cardinals begin nesting in southern areas.
• Goldfinches are hungry for Nyger and Sunflower Chips as they change into their new, bright breeding color.

 

 

Fun Facts About Purple Martins

  • Purple MartinIn the eastern portion of the United States, Purple Martins rarely nest in natural cavities; instead they nest almost exclusively in man made housing. No other bird is as dependent on man as the Purple Martin is for their nesting requirement.
  • Purple Martins are the largest species of swallow found in North America.
  • Purple Martins molt into their adult plumage during their third summer, when they are at least two years old.
  • Purple Martins are almost completely dependent on flying insects for their food. They capture them while foraging on the wing at altitudes between 150 and 500 feet. Martins have been known to occasionally land and eat ants on the ground. They can also be lured to feed on mealworms placed on a tray feeder.
  • While Purple Martins do eat mosquitoes, in reality, they make up less than 2% of their daily diet. Mosquitoes are rarely out during the daylight hours when Martins are active and mosquitoes are usually found low to the ground and in thick vegetation where Martins rarely fly. Other flying insects, such as bees, wasps, beetles, mayflies and flying ants make up the majority of their diet.
  • Purple Martins are highly vulnerable to extended periods of cold and rainy weather that can temporarily reduce the supply of their insect food.
  • Adverse weather kills more Purple Martins than all other factors combined. They do not forage for insects when the temperature is below 48°F, or when it is raining, regardless of the temperature. Prolonged periods (three to four days) of temperatures below 55°F may lead to substantial die-offs.
  • During extended periods of cold weather, when Purple Martins have been unable to feed for at least two days, up to 10 birds will huddle together inside one nesting cavity in an attempt to conserve warmth.
  • Adult Purple Martins will usually return to the same colonial nest site year after year. It is the subadult birds (less than two years old) that will be attracted to a newly installed martin house. While they will often return to the same general area, less than 15% of the young martins ever return to their birth colony.
  • During spring migration, subadult (less than two years old) Purple Martins arrive back at least four to six weeks after the adult martins return. Your chances for establishing a new colony increases with the arrival of these subadult birds and extends for about another month.
  • Purple Martins will travel up to two miles away from their nesting site while in search of food.
  • Purple Martins spend the winter in South America, primarily in Brazil and Bolivia. Their migration route can cover between 5,000-7,000 miles and bring them over both land and large expanses of water. They usually migrate in small groups and martins are one of the earliest South American migrants to arrive back on the breeding grounds in the spring.
  • The common belief that the first returning Purple Martins are actually scout birds that guide other Martins to the colony is simply not true. The first ones back have no contact with later arriving martins until they too reach the colony.
  • Purple Martin parents bring food back to the young nestlings in the form of a tightly compress ball made of up to hundreds of small insects. As they continue to catch insects, the ball is compressed and held against the roof of the mouth by their tongue.
  • Research has shown that up to 30% of eggs laid by Purple Martins fail to hatch and of those that do, up to 30% of the hatchlings die before fledging out of the nest. Up to 65% of all fledglings fail to survive their first year.
  • The oldest known life span for a Purple Martin in the wild is almost 14 years old.
  • A single House Sparrow may destroy up to 15 Purple Martin eggs in the matter of a few minutes while the nest box is left unguarded.