Complete Your Winter Backyard With a Roost Box

Complete Your Winter Backyard With a Roost Box    Chickadee checking out a roost box Nest boxes and roost boxes are important components of a well-maintained bird-friendly backyard. In winter, birds really need shelter from cold, winds and predators. Leaving nest boxes up may help, but during really cold times, birds can best maintain their body […]

Project Snowstorm – Snowy Owls in Motion

Project Snowstorm – Snowy Owls in Motion   Snowy Owl Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila Snowy Owls are true denizens of the far north, and are only occasionally found south of the Canadian border — even in winter. These beautiful pure white owls are widely admired for their beauty, but not well understood. Project Snowstorm is changing […]

Vegetarian Suet Recipe

Vegetarian Suet Recipe   Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila Everybody likes a little variety! Whether or not you are a vegetarian yourself, you may want to try this recipe for suet which doesn’t use animal fat.  It has the nutrition birds need and birds seems to prefer this one to regular suet.  And it lends itself […]

Join Nestwatch and Help Nesting Birds

Join Nestwatch and Help Nesting Birds Nobody knows better than you what goes on in the nests in your backyard. If you are curious about the birds nesting in your yard and pay particular attention to Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila them, Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great project called Nestwatch that can use your […]

Winterizing Your Yard for Backyard Birds

Winterizing for Backyard Birds    As cold weather begins, it’s time to make your backyard inviting for birds overwintering in your area. With some simple preparations you can have birds visiting and staying throughout the winter by creating a safe spot where they have enough to eat, get fresh water,  Common Redpolls  Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila and […]

Making Your Own Owl Nest Cone

Making Your Own Owl Nest Box It’s fall and owling will soon be part of winter outings! For now, Photo Credit: Cornell Lab of Ornithology though, it’s time to put up those owl nesting boxes or cones (yes, cones!), as owls will be interested in nesting soon and it’s a good idea to have the […]

Backyard Birds Need Water in Summer

  Backyard Birds Need Water in the Summer One of the most important   On a city roofdeck, the same birdbath works in summer, and heated in winter. Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel items in your backyard year round is clean, fresh water. When its really hot, birds are regularly in need of hydration, the ability […]

Beach Nesting Birds Need Your Help!

Beach Nesting Birds Need Your Help!   It’s summer and the beach is the place to be! Did you know that the same beaches we love to visit are also Least Tern Chick Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel used by shorebirds that nest right on the sand? Plovers, Terns, Oystercatchers, Skimmers and Killdeer are among the many shorebirds who […]

Birding by Radar

  Birding by Radar Migrating songbirds typically fly at night and often in flocks. This mass gives them something in common with the Photo Credit: National Center for Atmospheric Research weather….many of their movements can be tracked by radar. Being able to read weather radar images can often give birders a heads up on how […]

Making Your Windows Bird Friendly

 Making Your Windows Bird-friendly   Birds and glass are a deadly combination. We all know Photo credit: USFWS that sound – the thud of a bird hitting our plate glass window at high speed.  We rush over and hope this one has not been knocked unconscious, or worse, had his neck broken.  It’s estimated that over […]

Cool Migration Mapping

Cool Migration Mapping Ever wonder what paths birds take on migration and where they spend their time during the rest of the year?  Cornell Lab of Ornithology has come up with a fascinating courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology interactive map of a number of species of birds, showing their migratory flight paths and where […]

What Do Birds Do in a Storm?

  What do Birds Do in a Storm? Ever wonder what birds do and where do they go in a Golden-crowned Kinglet Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel snow or rainstorm? Or is there is anything you can do to make getting through these storms safer for them? Well, our readers have asked these questions, and we have some answers […]

Better Backyard for Nesting Birds

A Better Backyard for Nesting Birds   American Goldfinch Family Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila It’s easy to start making your backyard even more attractive for birds by using native plants, water features and other new additions. But nesting birds have an even more specific set of needs and you can easily make sure the changes […]

Where to Watch Winter Waterfowl

Where to Watch Winter Waterfowl   Photo credit: Marvin deJong Winter is the best time to see waterfowl in their peak plumage and often in super large numbers. There are waterfowl hotspots around the country, and we have selected a few from various parts of the US so you can plan your own winter waterfowl outing. […]

The Importance of Your Backyard in Winter

The Importance of Your Backyard in Winter We all know that over 30% of birds are in serious decline. One of the challenges birds face is destruction of habitat. And while the ultimate measure is preservation of large ranges of habitats and biomass, on a micro level, we can all do our part. What you […]

The Importance of Your Backyard in Winter

The Importance of Your Backyard in Winter   We all know that over 30% of birds are in serious decline. One of the challenges birds face is destruction of habitat. And while the ultimate measure is preservation of large ranges of habitats and biomass, on a micro level, we can all do our part. What […]

Owling By Sound

Owl ID: Owling By Sound Owls are primarily nocturnal creatures, so your best chance of seeing them is going to be at night when they are most active.  You may get quiet flyovers as they check you out, which are especially exciting when there is a bright moonlit sky, and you may sometimes find them […]

ID Tips: Downy vs Hairy Woodpeckers

ID TIPS:  Downy vs Hairy Woodpeckers While it’s easy to identify a Pileated Woodpecker (think Woody Woodpecker) or a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, two smaller and very common woodpeckers provide a challenge to even more experienced birders. So… how to tell the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers apart? The little Downy Woodpecker (pictured here) is around 6.5 inches […]

Cowbird Mysteries

Cowbird Mysteries   Brown-headed cowbirds are brood parasites – a term which is pretty much as terrible as it sounds. Basically, these cowbirds mate, and then never build a nest. The females quietly figure out which birds are building nests and then deposit eggs in the nests of these unsuspecting birds. Some birds can figure it […]

Baby Birds Through the Summer

Baby Birds Through the Summer  Spring isn’t the only time to see baby birds. While most Wild Turkey chicks songbirds have already nested and many of the young have fledged, some songbirds like Bluebirds, Robins and Cardinals who may have three broods during the season,  and Mourning Doves who may have as many as six, […]

ID Tips – Loons vs Mergansers

ID Tips – Loons vs Mergansers  Common Loons and Red-breasted Mergansers Common Loon and chick are beautiful waterfowl which many associate with the Northern Woods, as they typically breed on these fresh-water lakes. Both birds are found in similar territories year round.  During breeding season they have more  distinctive markings. But sometimes the Red-breasted Merganser […]

Setting Up For Hummingbirds

   Setting Up For Hummingbirds Rufous -tailed Hummingbird Hummingbirds are on their way to you! In fact, they may already be in your area waiting for your backyard to be ready for them to nest and live in this summer. Sure you can put out a hummingbird feeder, but with a little planning and innovation, […]

Warbler ID Tips

Warbler ID Tips – Magnolia vs Yellow-Rumped  It’s spring migration! As warblers are passing through where you are, or the overwintering species are now in their Magnolia Warbler breeding plumage, some of these birds can be a little challenging to ID. Iconic Yellow Warblers are easy to recognize with their overall yellow body and red […]

Sandhill vs Whooping Crane ID

Easy ID – Sandhill vs Whooping Crane Every March, Sandhill Cranes descend on Nebraska’s Platte River which is a favored feeding area during migration for tens to hundreds of thousands of cranes. The other species of crane in North America is the Whooping Crane.  But, unlike Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes are endangered.  So, if you assumed the cranes […]

Purple Martins Coming Your Way

Purple Martins Coming Your Way Want to have Purple Martins in your backyard this year?   If you are willing to commit to some early spring planning, you can find find the right house and install it after the  Purple Martin “scouts”  arrive in your area. The first ones to arrive at the nesting site are older birds hoping to […]

Eagle ID Tips

Eagle ID Tips Making the ID between a Bald Eagle and a Golden Eagle is simple, right?  After all, don’t Bald Eagles have a white Adult Golden Eagle head?  And don’t Golden Eagles only live in the western US? Well, yes and no.  If you use just these two parameters in your ID, you will likely […]

Crow or Raven? How to Make the ID

Common Raven In winter, corvids, which include crows and ravens, are easy to spot and are fairly common. At a distance, both look very similar, and their all-black plumage makes identification tricky. With these tips and some practice, you’ll be able to separate crows and ravens with ease. If in doubt, remember that it’s easier […]

What’s Cool About Raptors

What’s Cool About Raptors Birds of prey, or “raptors” are a group of birds including hawks, eagles, vultures, falcons, and owls. They share two key characteristics: all have hooked beaks for tearing flesh, and sharp talons for grasping prey. These birds are an important part of maintaining a healthy ecosystem by feeding on insects, rodents, […]

Why Do Birds Flock in Fall?

Why Do Birds Flock in Fall?  At the end of the summer, you may start to see large flocks of birds.  Swallows, blackbirds, cowbirds, sparrows amass — sometimes in large flocks that seem to come out of nowhere and then just as mysteriously, disappear.  But why is this?  And why don’t we see it at […]

Wading Bird ID 101

Wading Bird ID 101 This summer if you are near fresh or salt water, you will likely see wading birds. Many of the larger waders  are easy to identify if you just know the basics.  If you are new to finding and identifying these long-legged herons, egrets and cranes, here are a few tips to […]

Making That First Migration

Making That First Migration  Young birds are leaving the nest, and many of them are getting ready for their first trip south. Migration is a hard and risky business for any bird, but the first marathon voyage for many species of birds takes place shortly after they have fledged. How do they do it? Songbirds […]

Where To See Migration

migra Where to See Migration  Want to go to a birding hotspot to see spring  migrants? Looking for a place to see a lot of species during migration?  You might not need to go too far from home to see high volume migration. Take a look at a few of our recommendations: The Gulf of Mexico is […]

Welcome Barn Owls!

Barn Owls are fairly common residents in most of North America, but they are a species in decline and could use some help.  They frequently nest or roost in abandoned barns or buildings.  They also have a long history of rodent control on farms and ranches, and many farmers know the benefits of attracting a […]

How To Not Clean Up Your Backyard For Birds

How Not To Clean up Your Backyard For Birds  This is a good time to start thinking about what to do in your backyard for birds in the spring.    Instead of cleaning it all up, how about thinking differently about that dead wood?  About 85 North American birds use dead trees (snags) to nest […]

Owling 101

Late autumn and winter are great times to look for owls.   Owls are nocturnal so the best time of day to start looking for them is right around sunset when they start getting active. Unless you already know where an owl roosts during the day, they are seriously difficult to find in daylight when they […]

Tricky Fall Migration

Fall Birding sure is a lot different than spring. One challenge is that fall migration takes place after breeding Molting Male Goldfinch season, so many migrants are in their “basic”, or non-breeding plumage. Males that were bright and colorful in the spring and summer are now either becoming or are already dull and brown. For […]

Shorebirds Made Easy

  This month, many shorebirds are nesting in the high northern latitudes. A few species, such as Killdeer and Piping Plovers, nest in the Continental United States, but most are in northern Canada and Alaska, nesting on the tundra. Shorebirds are amazing, but many birders ignore this Sanderling dynamic group of birds because they are […]

FAMILY FUN: Feeding Hummingbirds

  Hummingbird feeders are a great project for birders of all ages.  Seed feeders attract many different types of birds, from sparrows to cardinals  and finches and more.  But feeding hummingbirds requires a little more thought and is very rewarding, as once hummers find your feeder, they will be there consistently for you to see.   […]

Fallout

Fallout! Migration is a tough time for birds. Some studies have shown that it is the hardest part of the yearly life cycle for migrants, causing the most mortality. Neotropical migrating birds winter in Central and South America, then migrate to North America for the breeding season. Migration continues throughout the spring season, but if you […]

Welcome Purple Martins To Your Backyard

Time to get ready for returning migrants!  One of the earlier returning birds is also one of the friendliest and most social  — the pretty and chatty Purple martin.  Over one million North Americans put up houses each year for Martins, so if you haven’t tried attracting them to your yard, now is a perfect […]

Do Owls Migrate?

Great gray owl Most owls don’t migrate like songbirds.  But during some winters, owls are forced south of their range, looking for food.  When they go en masse to more southerly places, this is called an “irruption”.  It’s not really migration as it isn’t an annual event. But for owls, who tend to not move […]

Family Fun: Where To Watch Hawks

Family Fun: Where to Watch Hawks   Each year tens of thousands of hawks, eagles, falcons and vultures leave their breeding grounds and head south along ridges and coastlines.  Fall hawk migration is a really big draw for anyone who likes hawks, as they are really easy to see and there are a lot of […]

Summer Migration

Hey wait a minute!  Doesn’t migration take place in spring and fall?  Well, yes…and no.  Migration actually takes place year round as there are birds on the move to and from their breeding grounds at all times of year.  Just like all birds don’t nest at the same time, not all birds migrate at the […]

Make Your Backyard a Summer Bird Haven

Water is often the main attraction in the summer as temperatures rise and birds become both thirsty and overheated.  In hot weather, fresh water helps birds keep hydrated, keep their body temperature down and keeps their feathers in optimum condition. Often clean, safe-to-visit water isn’t readily available, so leaving fresh water in a shallow basin […]

Sparrows – They’re Not Just Little Brown Birds!

Sparrows – They’re Not Just Little Brown Birds!    Would it surprise you to know there are over 30 species of sparrows in North America?  Sparrows may be brownish for the most part, but they have some beautiful and unique songs, and many have distinctive markings that make them easy to identify. The moniker LBB […]

Bird Superhighways

Think only humans use highways? Not so! Animals also have paths on land, in the ocean and in the air that they follow year after year. Not unlike our daily commutes, during migration birds use known routes. In  North America, for example, there are 4 main migratory superhighways generally followed by birds: Atlantic, Mississippi, Central […]

Waves of Warblers Migrating

Spring Warbler migration is primarily April and May. These small, beautiful, often yellow, birds are insectivores – Orange-crowned warbler they eat insects — so don’t check your bird feeders for them. To see warblers you should bring along binoculars. You also need to go where the food is and be there when they are feeding.  […]

HOW DO OWLS HUNT

Owls are visual hunters who take advantage of the different perceptions at night to confuse their prey. While some owls eat insects and birds, the most popular item on the menu is rodents. And to trick the rodents, owls rely on a time tested recipe for success.   The first ingredient in the owl’s hunting […]

PRINCIPLES OF BIRDING ETHICS

  PRINCIPLES OF BIRDING ETHICS courtesy of the ABA Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its environment, and the rights of others. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first. Code of Birding Ethics 1. Promote the welfare of birds […]