Fifteen Fun Feather Facts
Jul 8, 2020

Fifteen Fun Feather Facts

All birds—and only birds—have feathers, but how much do you know about feathers, really? WBB managing editor Dawn Hewitt shares surprising facts!
Are You Overlooking These Summer Birds?
Jul 1, 2020

Are You Overlooking These Summer Birds?

If you're anything like me, you probably spend a fair number of summertime evenings relaxing outside with a good book and your favorite beverage, casually noting the bird activity around you. If feeders or nest boxes are nearby, you're probably noticing chickadees, hummingbirds, bluebirds, swallows, and other expected birds, depending upon where you live. But what about the many other species that are more easily overlooked, either because they don't commonly visit feeders or use nest boxes, or because they tend to stay hidden in the treetops? Here are six surprisingly common birds that may be sharing your backyard, park, or other favorite summertime space.
Natural Bird Feeding: What Do Birds Want?
Jun 26, 2020

Natural Bird Feeding: What Do Birds Want?

How would you like to feed birds in the very best way possible—in a way that is all natural, environmentally sustainable, inexpensive, and easy to do? Get out the garden gloves and the garden trowel and leave the bird feeders and seed alone for a minute. The very best way to feed birds is to offer them the kinds of foods they would find and consume in nature and that starts with offering bird-friendly plants.
Orphaned Birds: What To Do?
Jun 24, 2020

Orphaned Birds: What To Do?

At this time of year, the bird population seems to boom, with our woods, marshes, fields, and backyards teeming with abundant birdlife. This is because throngs of newly hatched birds are taking to the streets—or, trees, rather—and they are showing up at a backyard or birding spot near you. But what should you do if you find an orphan hopping around? Read this article for tips.
Ask Birdsquatch: Is Popcorn Safe for Birds?
Jun 17, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Is Popcorn Safe for Birds?

Dear Birdsquatch:

My neighbor puts popped popcorn in her bird feeder! I've seen orioles and jays fly off with it, which surprised me. It seems wrong, but what do I know? Is it all right to feed birds popcorn?

—Beth W.,
Parker, Colorado

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Birdscaping 101: Bird-magnet Plants for Your Yard
Jun 10, 2020

Birdscaping 101: Bird-magnet Plants for Your Yard

Some yards seem to be magnets for birds. Providing a variety of delectable bird food in various feeder types at numerous locations, plus a fresh water source are key features in such locations, but the setting of those features is every bit as important. Providing a landscape that is safe and alluring to birds is an essential element in attracting diverse species.

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Ask Birdsquatch: Weaning Hummingbirds from the Feeder?
Jun 3, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Weaning Hummingbirds from the Feeder?

Dear Birdsquatch:

How can I wean my hummingbirds from my nectar feeders? I will be moving in August.

—Lynne S.,
Los Angeles, California

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Top 10 Things to Watch in Your Backyard This Summer
May 30, 2020

Top 10 Things to Watch in Your Backyard This Summer

When spring bird migration ends and nesting season begins, summer is upon you. For some backyard bird watchers this means that activity slows a bit at the feeders. Some backyard birders refer to a hot summer afternoon as boring. Perish the thought! There are dozens of other things to watch, observe, and enjoy when the birds are sneakily going about their breeding season activities. Here are just 10 for you to consider. Add some shade and a cold drink, and you're all set.
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Eight Oriole Species Brighten Summer Backyards Across the U.S.
May 27, 2020

Eight Oriole Species Brighten Summer Backyards Across the U.S.

I could be forgiven, being a lifelong Baltimorian and a serious baseball fan, for having a special affection for orioles, but I am not alone. For many bird watchers, the return of orioles in the spring is a special moment. It is not just that orioles are beautiful, the males a palette of rich oranges, yellows, and blacks, or that their song, familiar and resonant, rings across the landscape. It is that no matter where you live in North America, you have a chance of seeing one.

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How—and Why—to Clean Your Bird Feeders
May 24, 2020

How—and Why—to Clean Your Bird Feeders

Although it is rare—even unheard of—for humans to become sick from handling a bird feeder, there is no doubt that microorganisms flourish on their surface. That's why it's important for you to wash your hands after handling your feeders, including after refilling them. Much more of a threat are illnesses and diseases spread among the birds that visit and share feeders. To keep your feeder birds healthy, and to prevent the spread of disease, follow these steps.
Ask Birdsquatch: Bird Nests and Fur?
May 20, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Bird Nests and Fur?

Dear Birdsquatch:

My girlfriend and I have been saving our cats' fur from their brush so we can put it out for birds who are building nests. What's the best way to attract birds to our balcony so that they can find and use it? What's the best receptacle for the fur?

—David F.,
Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Beware of Burdock
May 13, 2020

Beware of Burdock

The common burdock (Arctium minus) is considered a weed by most people, in part because it is not a native plant, but was brought here from Europe, and now grows wild from coast to coast. Those familiar with the plant, which can grow to six feet, know it mostly because of the tenacious burrs it produces. It can be a death trap to hummingbirds!

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Ask Birdsquatch: Gardening without Insecticides?
May 6, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Gardening without Insecticides?

Dear Birdsquatch: I get it that songbirds feed their nestlings grubs and caterpillars and other insects, and so using insecticides can harm baby birds. But I'm an avid gardener. I don't want hornworms to destroy my tomato plants, or worms on my cabbage. How can I grow beautiful vegetables without using insecticides?

—Peggy S.,
Rolla, Missouri

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Sky Watching: A Backyard Bird Bonanza
Apr 29, 2020

Sky Watching: A Backyard Bird Bonanza

Many backyard bird watchers miss a big piece of migration because they don't look up. Not all the birds that sweep past each spring and fall make a pit stop at your bird feeder, or even in your neighborhood. Some, such as hawks, waterfowl, and gulls, keep right on truckin', headed for distant places or searching for habitat most backyard bird watchers can't provide. In migration, the sky over your house is a highway; on some days it can be as busy as the beltway at rush hour.
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Ask Birdsquatch: Is Grape Jelly Harmful to Orioles?
Apr 22, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Is Grape Jelly Harmful to Orioles?

Dear Birdsquatch: My daughter is trying to convince me that grape jelly is bad for orioles. They love it, and I've had 11 Baltimore orioles and 2 orchard orioles at one time in my yard—thanks to grape jelly. Is it really so bad? Should I switch to fresh fruit instead? I'd prefer to stick with what works.

—Carolyn C.,
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Bluebird Boxes and Spring Housecleaning
Apr 15, 2020

Bluebird Boxes and Spring Housecleaning

To clean or not to clean last year's nest from a bluebird box in preparation for nesting this spring—that is the question. Research shows that bluebirds, when given the choice, overwhelmingly select boxes with an old nest in it. This goes against a popular thought that bluebirds avoid old nests due to parasitic blowfly larvae. Blowflies lay their eggs in old nests, and the larvae attack the young birds.

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Ask Birdsquatch: Wood Duck Boxes
Mar 18, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Wood Duck Boxes

Dear Birdsquatch: I want to put up some wood duck boxes in my large, wooded backyard. However the nearest body of water (a wooded pond in a county park) is more than a half-mile away from my property. Am I being foolish? Do I need to ask permission to put the boxes on the park property where the pond is?

—Dawn, Who is Desirous of Ducks
Lawton, Oklahoma

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Why Do Birds Sing?
Mar 11, 2020

Why Do Birds Sing?

You don't need to be an avid birder to notice that birds make a wide variety of sounds. Some of these sounds are gentle and pleasant, like the beautiful phrasing of a newly arrived wood thrush in spring. Other sounds can be jarring and annoying, at least to a nonbirder, such as the loud mechanical imitations of a northern mockingbird on a summer night.
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Ask Birdsquatch: Furry Enlightenment
Mar 4, 2020

Ask Birdsquatch: Furry Enlightenment

Hey Furball:

I want to give the birds some natural nesting material this spring. Can I put out the long gray hairs that were just cut from my head? I decided it was time to lose the mullet. I’m looking for enlightenment here. You’re so hairy I figured you’d know.

—Dandy Dan
Hattiesburg, Mississippi

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Junco Facts You Might Not Know
Feb 26, 2020

Junco Facts You Might Not Know

Did you know? Juncos begin leaving their homes in the boreal forests across northern North America in October and tend to return to the same areas each year, bird banding research has shown.
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