Ask Birdsquatch: Vanishing Act at the Feeder?
May 26, 2021

Ask Birdsquatch: Vanishing Act at the Feeder?

Dear Birdsquatch:

Why is it that birds disappear from my feeders—except for a few—when I had so many up until a day or so ago?

—Diane M., Covington, Georgia

Yellow Warbler Tidbits
May 19, 2021

Yellow Warbler Tidbits

One of the most widely distributed warblers in North America, the yellow warbler is sweet-sweet-sweeter-than-sweet in its unmistakable red-streaked yellow plumage. If you know when to look, you might even see one in your own backyard! Here are some interesting tidbits about these the lives and behavior of these birds.

Gardening Projects to Help the Birds
May 12, 2021

Gardening Projects to Help the Birds

If you've got some time to spare, here are a few backyard projects to keep you going on those slow weekends.
Hummingbird Feeders 101
May 10, 2021

Hummingbird Feeders 101

Hummingbirds appreciate a reliable nectar source, whether natural or provided by humans. Bill Thompson, III, offers expert advice on feeding hummingbirds.
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Did You Know? Birds’ Legs Are Really Their Feet!
May 5, 2021

Did You Know? Birds’ Legs Are Really Their Feet!

The next time you get a close look at the birds at your feeders, try to notice their legs, and specifically, their leg joints. Good luck. The leg joints of songbirds are usually hidden by the fluffy body feathers on their belly. All we usually see of songbirds are the naked “calf” above their feet.

Helping Injured Birds
Apr 28, 2021

Helping Injured Birds

Wondering what to do when you hear that sound of a bird hitting glass, and you look outside to see a stunned bird lying on the ground below one of your windows? Here's some advice from WBB editor Bill Thompson, III.
Readers Ask: Should I Clean Out Last Year's Nest Box?
Mar 31, 2021

Readers Ask: Should I Clean Out Last Year's Nest Box?

This is a topic of some debate among nest box researchers. Messy, dropping-covered old nests should definitely be removed for health reasons. Some researchers believe that a bit of nesting material inside a box enhances its attractiveness to prospecting pairs of birds. Others claim that nest building is an important part of the courtship and breeding process and so we should allow our tenants to build their own nests.

Building a Better Bird House
Mar 24, 2021

Building a Better Bird House

Whether you buy your nest boxes at a store or nature center, or build them from scratch, there are certain characteristics your housing should have to best suit the needs of nesting birds. Here are some recommendations for nest box basics.
Save Your Eggshells for the Birds!
Mar 17, 2021

Save Your Eggshells for the Birds!

Here's one weird, but true way to help birds during nesting season: Save your eggshells and offer them to your avian visitors. Female birds need calcium—especially during egg-laying season.
Feeding content. Click for more!
Is There a Screech-owl in Your Neighborhood?
Mar 10, 2021

Is There a Screech-owl in Your Neighborhood?

Do you have have a screech-owl living in your yard or neighborhood? You might! Unless you know what to look and listen for, you may not be aware of a screech-owl living in or near your backyard.

Bird ID content. Click for more!
Is It Safe to Clean Bird Feeders with Bleach?
Mar 3, 2021

Is It Safe to Clean Bird Feeders with Bleach?

Dear Birdsquatch:

You’ve recommended cleaning bird feeders with a solution of nine parts water to one part bleach. But isn’t bleach bad for the environment?

—COLLEEN S., TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA

Habitat content. Click for more!
Ask Birdsquatch: How Do Birds Sleep?
Feb 24, 2021

Ask Birdsquatch: How Do Birds Sleep?

Dear Birdsquatch:

My grandson informed me recently that bird nests are nurseries and not houses. If that’s true, then where do birds sleep? I mean the birds that visit my bird feeders, not ducks or herons or roadrunners. And if your answer is that they perch in trees, then why don't they fall off when they sleep?

—Patty J., Columbia, Missouri

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Listen for Early Birds
Feb 17, 2021

Listen for Early Birds

Across much of the United States, some birds always seem to rush nesting season; they can be heard singing even as February snow flies. The northern cardinal leads the pack of early singers, closely followed by the tufted titmouse and chickadees.

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On Thistle and Goldfinches in Winter
Jan 27, 2021

On Thistle and Goldfinches in Winter

A Watching Backyard Birds subscriber emailed editor Dawn Hewitt a few days ago to ask why the American goldfinches had abandoned her thistle feeder. She said she had several Nyjer (thistle) feeders that she kept full, and the finches had been abundant there until recently.
Feeding content. Click for more!
Supplying Skulkers and Wallflowers
Jan 20, 2021

Supplying Skulkers and Wallflowers

Winter may be the best time of year for backyard feeding stations, as wild food sources become scarcer. In our yard in northwestern West Virginia, we also take an extra step that is often undervalued: We spread some handfuls of mixed seed on the ground in sheltered spots where we know skulking birds hide.
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Itty-Bitty Bird Feet
Jan 13, 2021

Itty-Bitty Bird Feet

Have you ever watched a bird vist your feeder during the winter and wondered, "Won't birds freeze their little feet off on the metal perches? It's 20 degrees below zero! How do they do it?" Nature has a clever way of keeping birds' feet warm and functional.
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Identifying Red Finches
Jan 6, 2021

Identifying Red Finches

The two common "red" finches that visit bird feeders all over North America are the purple finch and the house finch. Of these two, the house finch is the more common. It is also the more commonly misidentified because its plumage can vary from dull red to bright orange.
Bird ID content. Click for more!
These Holiday Gift Ideas Are for the Backyard Birds
Dec 9, 2020

These Holiday Gift Ideas Are for the Backyard Birds

Birds might not celebrate human holidays, but they are well aware of shorter days, longer nights, and dropping temperatures. Since most of us celebrate winter holiday by giving gifts, here are some ideas for holiday presents for backyard birds. They'll show you their gratitude by using them, and, if you've placed them properly, by coming into closer view.
Habitat content. Click for more!
Watch for Subtle Dimorphism
Dec 2, 2020

Watch for Subtle Dimorphism

Don't worry: Sexual dimorphism is G-rated. It means that males and females of a species look different. Dimorphism means "two forms." Cardinals are a great example: Adult male cardinals are bright red; females are a warm brown.

Four cool things about woodpeckers
Nov 25, 2020

Four cool things about woodpeckers

What makes a woodpecker a woodpecker? Certainly their behavior is an identifying characteristic: Most forage for insects on the trunks and branches of trees, and drill holes to get to prey or sap within; they drum with their bill; and they nest and roost in cavities they have excavated. But woodpeckers also have unique anatomical adaptations to their ecological niche.