Category Archives: Birds

Tree Swallow

Some tree swallows have taken up residence in a nesting box in my landscape.Such beautiful birds and wonderful acrobats in flight. I see them collecting insects in flight often when I’m out running on the trail. Took a peek (or a “beak”) in the nesting box to look at the nestlings………..

How many do you count? I see four.......

How many do you count? I see four…….


What a Hoot!

Interviewed raptor biologist Joe Rogers and scientist Joanne Williams on the Flowerland show Saturday. The work they do with wildlife recovery is wonderful and the birds of prey are amazing birds! We had a lot of fun, you could say it was a real hoot! Here are a few pictures from the event on Saturday January 26, 2013.

Joe Rogers in studio

Stare down with Orville the Owl







Owl pose great

“Whoooo” are you looking at?






Owl closeup

Does he give a hoot?






Joe with hawk

This show filled the bill





Fun was had by "Owl"

Fun was had by “Owl”

Birds of Prey

During the Flowerland radio show a number of our listeners sent in more backyard wildlife pictures. Here are some pictures from listeners of my radio show this past Saturday. The first picture was sent to us to confirm the Heron nests a tenth of a mile from the Pierson exit on US 131. In addition pictures were sent in by listeners of Cooper’s Hawks, Barn Owls and even a Coyote. In addition I’ve posted a picture of a beautiful owl that visited us at our live event that attracted huge crowds at both the Alpine and Kentwood Flowerland stores.

Heron Nest Pierson Michigan

Cooper's Hawk Jenison Michigan

Kim's picture of a Barn Owl

A curious visitor

More Birds of Prey sightings with this mild winter. With no or little snow cover to afford protection for mice and voles and other bird of prey snacks, it’s not a “fig-leaf” of your imagination that sightings have increased. Check out this picture from Leigh who snapped this picture in her backyard!

Birds of PreyJoin me along with the Joe Rogers, raptor biologist and the Wildlife Recovery association for a free demonstration on Saturday February 11. Joe will be demonstrating birds of prey to our audience at Noon at the Alpine Flowerland 3801 Alpine Avenue and at 2 PM at our Kentwood Flowerland 4321 28th street SE. Joe will also join me on the Flowerland show Saturday morning from 9 AM to 11 AM on NewsRadio WOOD 1300 and 106.9 FM.

Thanks Debbie for this great picture!

Fowl Play

When the landscape is white and the sky gray and dreary we long for color as we glance out the window. Time for a little “fowl play”. Just the “tweetment” for the winter blues, backyard birding is among the most active hobbies in the United States and Canada. Backyard birds provide color and movement in our otherwise dreary landscapes in January.

Photo courtesy of Bill Hill

Our feathered backyard friends have ways of staying warm on cold days. They shiver to increase their metabolic rate, fluff their feathers to provide some insulation and look for cover both from the cold wind and predators. Small birds have the toughest time in winter. For the entertainment they provide we in return¬† should consider providing some food for energy and warmth. It’s the least we can do while they’re out there “winging” it.

The best of the best bird feed to use is black oil sunflower seed. A high energy food, black oil sunflower seed “fills the bill” for both large and small birds. Another great high energy and versatile feed along with being economical is suet.

Photo courtesy of Bill Hill

There are many great flavors of suet cakes available today and they’re easy to use.¬† Suet is consumed by a large variety of birds and is a great supplement when insects are hard to find for a snack. Don’t forget some peanuts, safflower, thistle seed and shelled corn as well as millet. These feeds will provide the supplemental nutrition the birds need when their natural food sources are more difficult to find in the dead of winter. When food is scarce and the air is cold you don’t want the birds to become birds of “pray” just to get by.

Make sure feeders are kept clean and sanitary. This goes for the ground around the base of the feeding station also.

Make sure to add plenty of Black Oil Sunflower

Position feeders a short flight away from natural cover in the landscape so they have some cover from predators (I hate it “wren” that happens). Also make sure feeders are at least 20 feet or more from windows. If the birds get spooked you don’t want them crashing into a window as they make their get away. If possible consider feeding birds during all 4 seasons. They can really use the help right now, but 4 season stations reward the property owner with a rainbow of fowl color all year. The birds will love it and you won’t “egret” it.

Feathers ruffled by bird seed prices?

It’s no bird tale that the current economy has been a struggle. Even our feathered friends are feeling the effects as free dining at some feeders has been scaled back. At the buffet line the menu item that fills the bill as a favorite entree is black oil sunflower seed for many birds.

Photo courtesy of Bill Hill

Black Oil Sunflower seed prices have increased over the past year due to a number of factors. Bird feeding is still a popular activity and great form of entertainment. Dollar for dollar, or should I say bill for bill, compare the entertainment the birds provide out your window compared to your monthly cable TV cost. The reason for the increase is that last year’s crop was not great. Planting delays due to the cold, wet late spring we had this year, early frost this fall and limited carryover stocks from last year have made for conditions that are for the birds….well actually not for the birds.

This guy will be looking to raid the bird feeder this winter too (Picture courtesy of Bill Hill)

Backyard birds can feel the pinch at their feeding station buffets due to: 1) Weather issues 2) Higher world wide demand 3) Smaller yields and 4) Crops diverted to bio fuels. In the pecking order of priorities it’s going to be a little pricier to supplement natural food sources at our feeding stations but in my opinion still a good entertainment value investment. Compare the cost to other entertainment options and you’ll find backyard birding is still an affordable entertainment option you can enjoy perched from the comfort of your favorite chair at home! It may be wise to exercise available options utilizing squirrel baffling techniques. One hungry squirrel can quickly hoard the food at the buffet eating you and the birds out of house and home. Another recommendation I would make is to avoid cutting back perennials this fall and winter. Landscaping for wildlife provides fall and winter color in your backyard from both the plant material and the colorful birds. Keep the seed heads on plants like Rudbeckia and the inflorescence on plants like ornamental grasses. Avoid pruning now to keep the rose hips on your roses and the berries on your Viburnums, Dogwoods and Crab trees. Available natural foods will make your bird feeding dollar go further at your backyard buffet this winter!

Bird Tales

Recently I planted up a bicycle basket with flowers for a “Petal Power” display at Flowerland and hung the bike in the rafters. Today I noticed a Robin that had a real interest in the bike and the basket of flowers.

Mama Robin on the Bike

She made frequent trips to the bike and the flower basket seemed to “fill the bill” for her. Knowing she didn’t have a debit card to make a purchase I went up into the rafters to take a closer look. I soon realized that this bike display was a real “Schwinner” for a nest of baby robins.

Baby Robins in a flower basket

She made frequent trips feeding worms to the babies in the basket who were oblivious to the humans below them who were making their flowering basket purchases. I really like a good “bird tale” with a happy ending.

Woody Woodpecker

Check out this great picture of woodpecker damage. As I’ve run the trails this spring I’ve heard a lot of woodpecker activity. Woodpeckers have specialized beaks designed to help communicate territory to rivals and for locating and accessing insects. In most cases woodpeckers prefer dead wood but will make holes in live trees searching for wood boring insects, ants and other insects. The sapsucker will do significant damage seeking insects attracted to the sap. Often you will see damage in horizontal lines and only inches from the previous hole as this picture illustrates!

Woodpecker damage