Monday, March 30, 2009

Birdlife: Spring hummingbird happenings at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast in Valparaiso, IN

Birdlife: Spring hummingbird happenings

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Buy Cheap Aspects Hummingbird Hummzinger Ultra Feeder (4 feeding ports - 12-oz feeder - 10” diameter)


[caption id="attachment_76" align="alignright" width="150" caption="male ruby-throated hummingbird"]male ruby-throated hummingbird[/caption]

 Aspects Hummingbird Hummzinger Ultra Feeder (4 feeding ports - 12-oz feeder - 10'' diameter)

 We use these feeders as well as glass tubular feeders made from the coppersmiths at Holland Hill. 

 Bed and Breakfasts, Indiana is what to google to find the award winning Songbird Prairie, or 877-766-4273



  • Combines patented nectar-guard tips with a built-in ant moat.

  • Which prohibit entry from flying and crawling insects while allowing unrestricted feeding by

  • The ultimate in insect protection while you enjoy the hummingbirds.

  • The bright red cover attracts hummers from a distance and removes easily so the bowl can be cleaned

  • All hummzinger feeders include a built-in nectar scale. 4 feeding ports.


Editorial ReviewProduct Description: Our newest hummingbird feeder the HummZinger Ultra combines patented Nectar-guard tips with a built-in ant moat. Nectar-Guard tips are flexible membranes attached to the HummZinger Ultra's feed ports. These unique tips prohibit entry from flying insects while allowing unrestricted feeding by hummingbirds. Also, the built-in ant moat stops crawling insects in their tracks before they can reach the nectar. These two patented features combine to give our HummZinger Ultra the ultimate in protection from both flying and crawling insects while you can enjoy the hummingbirds. Lifetime Guarantee

Friday, March 20, 2009

Report: U.S. bird species declining See songbirds at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast

Report: U.S. bird species declining

Last update: 9:30 p.m. EDT March 19, 2009

WASHINGTON, Mar 19, 2009 (UPI via COMTEX) -- From Atlantic beaches to Midwestern prairies and Hawaiian forests, one-third of the 800 U.S. bird species are in danger, a report released Thursday said.

"The U.S. State of the Birds" is based on data from three bird censuses, including the annual Christmas bird count organized by the Audubon Society, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

"Just as they were when Rachel Carson published Silent Spring nearly 50 years ago, birds today are a bellwether of the health of land, water and ecosystems," Salazar said. "From shorebirds in New England to warblers in Michigan to songbirds in Hawaii, we are seeing disturbing downward population trends that should set off environmental alarm bells."

Hawaii, where species found nowhere else evolved on the island chain, has more endangered species than anywhere else in the country, the report said. But it also found 40 percent declines in grassland species in the past 40 years, a 30 percent drop in desert birds and a 39 percent decline in ocean species.

There was one note of hope. Many wetlands species like herons and ducks have rebounded because of restoration programs.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New tenants at your birdbath? Global warming may be to blame. See the cardinal at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast

RunnerJenny/Flickr Creative Commons



The cardinal was not found in Illinois until about 100 years ago, when population density forced it farther north, according to local bird surveys. Its story is an example of non-climate-related  bird range shift. 



New tenants at your birdbath? Global warming may be to blame

by Amanda Hughes
March 18, 2009 


Birds and Climate Study/Audubon Society



Bird ranges have shifted progressively northward over the last 40 years.  The Audubon Society has controversially linked this shift to climate change. "Center of abundance" refers to density.

 Birds and Climate Study/Audubon Society


Gradual increase in temperature in the continental United States is responsible for bird range shift, says the Audubon Society.   


Amanda Hughes/MEDILL



Chicago residents discover their feathered neighbors.

Related Links

Audubon's Birds and Climate report

Bird range versus bird migration

Recent media coverage of Audubon's finding has missed the point, said Libby Hill, a vice president of the Evanston North Shore Bird Club. 

The Birds and Climate Change report has been described as an analysis of a shift in bird migration patterns. 

To accurately convey the report's findings, Medill Reports asked Judy Pollock, director of bird conservation for Audubon Chicago Region, to straighten out these misconceptions.

This study has been widely misinterpreted by the media as reflecting trends in bird migration patterns. Why is this inaccurate?

The study is about bird range, not migration.

Every bird has a range. You could look in a field guide and find a range for every bird in it. And it’s got a southern end and a northern end.

In fact, each bird has a winter range, a summer range and a kind of a migratory pathway.

What Audubon was looking at was the winter range, which includes some birds like the cardinal that are just here all year round. It also includes some birds that are only here in the wintertime.

With migratory birds, there are a lot of ways that global warming might be affecting the timing of their migration, but that has nothing to do with the study that Audubon just did.

It’s just another issue that’s out there relating to global warming and birds.

How is climate change affecting bird migration differently than bird ranges?

When migratory birds arrive, they’re used to the fact that certain trees are budding out and certain insects are eating those tender leaves, because they eat those insects.

So what happens when people start screwing with those relationships?

Well, the trees start budding out earlier, so then the birds have to migrate out earlier. Or maybe they have to learn to rely on a whole different set of resources.

That puts extra stresses on them.

There’s a whole complicated set of relationships related to migratory birds and the resources they’re used to using.

We’re seeing that some birds are starting to migrate out earlier and some aren’t. That has nothing to do with this current Audubon study. But it’s another issue out there that it’s important to understand. 


It happened so gradually you might have missed it.

For the past 40 years, birds have been making a nationwide run for the northern border, and a controversial recent study blames the warming climate.

In February, the Audubon Society released an analysis of data compiled over almost half a century that they say suggests that a slow, northbound shift of wintering grounds for almost every type of North American bird was directly linked to global warming.

More than 60 different bird species exchanged their current winter ranges -- the areas they settle in during colder months -- for new ones more than 100 miles north.

“It’s clear that if you look at the change in birds’ winter ranges,” said Judy Pollock, bird conservation director at Audubon Society Chicago region, “that climate change is having an affect. It just raises a million questions about everything that’s going on in the biological world.”

The study combined two sets of data to arrive at its conclusion that “while causation is nearly impossible to prove, global climate change is the most likely explanation” for the birds’ range shift.

The first data set was 40 years’ worth of figures from Audubon’s annual Christmas Bird Count, a methodical head-count of local bird numbers conducted by hundreds volunteers all over the country.

The results of each volunteer’s findings were aggregated over 40 years to reveal the range shift trend. The numbers revealed the presence of large numbers of bird species in areas they have not been found historically.

“If it was just one group, that might not be accurate,” said Joel Greenberg, author of A Natural History of the Chicago Region. “But if you look at Evanston, Madison and Toronto, you can at least say the findings are worth looking at more closely.”

Not everyone agrees.

Ron Zick, owner of birdfeed store Wild Birds Unlimited in Glenview, said the findings seemed skewed.

“I know I’m politically incorrect on this, but it had an agenda,” Zick said of the study. “It wanted to show climate change affecting birds, so it did.”

Zick said many explanations exist for range shift other than climate change.

Some bird species, he said, might have begun including Chicago in their winter range to avoid the competition they find in warmer locales.

According to Zick, other birds, such the house sparrow, were forced to expand their range westward because their East Coast habitats could no longer support their growing population.

What about the unusual bird sightings? According to Zick, they’re a reflection of the birdwatchers’ ambitions, not range shift.

“Some bird watchers are really competitive,” Zick said. “They finally find these life-list birds and post the sighting online, when the bird is just passing through.”

Dale Humburg, chief biologist for Ducks Unlimited, a waterfowl conservation group, said analyzing this kind of data is never a simple issue.

“The key to understanding the meaning of this study,” Humburg said, “is that natural bird movement from year to year is so variable that it’s going to be pretty difficult to tease that apart from what may be a larger trend.”

Humburg said that in the short term, it’s difficult to discern the impact of climate change on birdlife. However, over decades, the results become clearer.

“I think if this continues,” Humburg said of global warming, “we could very well see a dramatic impact on birds. I see great potential threats under a changing climate.

[caption id="attachment_68" align="alignnone" width="199" caption="cardinal at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast"]cardinal at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast[/caption]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hummingbird family photos They are coming to Songbird Prairie approx May 1st Make your reservation today!

Mama with fledgling by orchid dude.

This is the larger of the two chicks at 25 days old and is now officially a fledgling. Although still fed by the mother, he is now feeding on his own!! He flies around (like a seasoned pro) the tree visiting the flowers with the greatest ease!

Hummer eggs by orchid dude.

To view the set of photos documenting this Hummingbird family (including my notes) click here

Make your reservation today. 877-766-4273

Saturday, March 14, 2009

One of my favorite arrivals in that of the Ruby throated Hummingbird

One of my favorite arrivals is that of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Even non-birders talk excitedly about the first hummingbird sighting. In case you didn't know, there is a really great hummingbird migration map. You can use the map to report a sighting or to follow the migration. Once they approach your area, get out those feeders and make your nectar.

Here is the link for the map:

[caption id="attachment_64" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="coming soon to Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast"]coming soon to Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast[/caption]

Make your reservations today!


Master Gardener: Attract hummingbirds to the garden at Songbird Prairie Bed and Breakfast

Although snowflakes still could fall, it's time to get ready for the hummingbirds.

An old wives tale states: "When the first red flowers bloom the hummingbird will be returning soon" -- usually around the middle of April when red and pink azaleas are first blooming.

In central Ohio and Northwest Indiana two species of hummingbirds visit feeders.

The commonest is the ruby-throated hummingbird. Although both sexes are iridescent green, the male has a black throat patch that reflects bright ruby red in sunlight. The juvenile looks like the plain female. They are about three inches long and weigh only two to three grams.

A rarer sighting in Ohio is the rufous hummingbird. This species is native to the Northwest United States, from California to Alaska. It likely is to show up at a feeder in September or October. The male has an iridescent red throat and non-shiny reddish brown back. His tail is orange with black tips. The female has a white throat with a few red feathers. Her tail is orange, green and black with white tips. The rufous is aggressive at feeders although it is slightly larger than the ruby-throated.

Hummingbirds will return to areas where feeders had been placed the year before. Many of the available feeders are red and will have several ports for feeding. If trees or shrubs are near a feeder, the birds will rest there between feeding. A simple solution of sugar and water can be used to fill the feeder. The formula is one part sugar dissolved in four parts boiling water, boil for 2 minutes and cool. Don't add red food coloring because it can harm the birds' organs.

Hummingbirds are enjoyable to watch at the feeder. There is usually the most activity early in the morning and late evening. Increased activity also has been observed before thunderstorms. Hang several feeders near your windows and enjoy the summer treat.

Hummingbird gardens planted to attract the birds also will attract butterflies. A diverse mix of annuals, perennials, vines, shrubs and trees works best. The annuals provide quick color and nectar. The perennials shrubs and trees will bring the birds back year after year. The annuals can include fuchsia, lantana, four-o'clocks and nicotiana. Bee balm, columbine, hollyhocks and cardinal flower are a few of the perennials that will attract the birds. Trumpet vine, butterfly bush, Rose of Sharon and weigela would make attractive additions. Choose plants with bright colors that grow at various heights. A hummingbird needs about 1,000 blooms each day to survive. So the addition of a feeder near the garden will assure a plentiful food source.

Margaret Graft is a Master Gardener volunteer. Barbara from Songbird Prairie is also a Master Gardener! 877-766-4273

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How to become a birdwatcher? Stay at Songbird Prairie and have breakfast with the birds

How to become a birdwatcher Monday, 09 March 2009 by Joni Astrup Associate editor Like watching birds out your window or at a nearby birding hotspot? You’re not alone. Nearly 48 million Americans enjoy watching birds, according to a 2006 federal study. One of them is Nancy Haugen, who began birdwatching in college when she took an ornithology class. “It’s enjoyable,” said Haugen, who now works as the visitor services manager at Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge near Zimmerman. Wondering how to begin birdwatching? Here are some suggestions from Haugen. Put up a feeder “The No. 1 thing to do is to install a bird feeder at your home within view of a window,” advises Haugen. The feeder should be in an open area where squirrels can’t jump to it from a branch. However, it also should be 15–20 feet from shrubs or trees so birds have cover to protect them from predators. Haugen recommends filling the feeder with black-oil sunflower seeds. “They are just an all-time favorite for birds and they’re healthy,” she said. In addition, during the winter you also may want to put out suet, which attracts woodpeckers. In the summer, a nectar feeder is a draw for hummingbirds. Buy binoculars The next thing to consider is buying a pair of binoculars. Haugen recommends a basic pair, 8×50 power. She suggests looking for a pair priced in the $50 to $100 range. Start using the binoculars to watch birds coming to the backyard feeder. Also look for birds in the trees and bushes around the feeder. After buying binoculars, it’s a good idea to get a field guide to birds. These books are designed to help people figure out what types of birds they are seeing. Haugen said there are many different field guides available. Join a birding group Once you are used to the binoculars and are ready to observe birds away from home, Haugen suggests joining a birdwatching group. “When you get together with other birders, many eyes see more birds, many ears hear more birds,” she said. 

 Birding at the refuge A total of 232 species of birds have been recorded on the refuge, Haugen said. Some nest there and others pass through. One good place to view birds is on the refuge’s wildlife drive, a 7.3-mile loop that begins off County Road 5, one mile north of Orrock. The drive is closed for the season now, but will reopen this spring. No date has been set but Haugen said it typically opens in late April. The exact date depends on a pair of bald eagles that nests along the drive. If eggs are laid, the refuge waits at least a week after the eaglets hatch to open the drive. Haugen said the wildlife drive is excellent for birdwatching because it has a variety of habitats — woods, wetlands and prairie. “Different birds use different habitats so you expand the number of birds that you’re going to have a chance to see,” she explained. Haugen said the best times to look for birds is just after dawn until 10 or 11 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to dark. Birds are active in the morning because they are hungry. They are active in the evening because they feed before roosting for the night. In midday, they find shelter from the heat, she said. Spring, meanwhile, is one of the best times to be birdwatching. Then not only are many birds returning to this area after spending the winter elsewhere, but other birds are passing through on their way north to nest. That gives people a wider variety of birds to observe, Haugen said. Many warblers, for instance, usually migrate through this area around the second and third weeks of May, she said. Birds that are returning to Minnesota in the spring are ready to mate and lay eggs. “The males are setting up territories and trying to attract females, so you hear a lot of birds singing in the springtime,” she said. Learning to identify birds by their songs is another level of bird watching, she said. CDs of bird calls are available in the nature section of book stores. ——————————————————————————– Paul Gunderson, a science teacher at Elk River High School, offers these tips for birders: Binoculars: “Birders need a good pair of binoculars with eight or 10 power magnification (I prefer 10),” he said. “Select a pair with a wide field of view.” In addition to the binoculars, Gunderson highly recommends a spotting scope and a sturdy tripod. “Birds such as waterfowl and shorebirds are often viewed from long distances and the extra power of the scope allows you to see more detail. A scope will add a whole new dimension to your birding,” he said. Field guides: There are many good field guides available, Gunderson said. “The one I use most is ‘The Sibley Guide to Birds,’” he said. “It covers all of North America but is fairly large for a field guide. The smaller-sized ‘Sibley Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America’ is also pretty good. I also use the National Geographic and Peterson guides.” CD set: Gunderson said new birders may want to pick up “Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Eastern Region.” It is a three CD set with recordings of songs and calls of most of the birds found in the eastern United States. There is a western United States set as well. National Geographic makes a set, too. Bird lists: Many birders keep bird lists. These lists can be by state, county, year or even a yard list. “My yard list for a one-year period may contain up to 125 species. Most birders also keep a life list,” he said. Good places to go birdwatching: •Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, located near Zimmerman: He said it’s one of the best places in the Elk River area for birding. It has woodland, grassland and wetland habitats. “The Blue Hill Trail on the refuge has a variety of warblers including resident mourning and blue-winged warblers.On the Mahnomen Trail you may spot black-and-white warblers, and both yellow-billed and black-billed cuckoos. Both trails are good for spring migrant songbirds.” On the refuge’s wildlife drive Gunderson said people may observe waterfowl (especially during spring migration), eagles, hawks, many species of sparrows, orchard and Baltimore orioles, sedge and marsh wrens and trumpeter swans. “You may also see and hear sandhill cranes — one of the loudest North American birds,” he said. On the Woodland Loop hiking trail on the wildlife drive he said to look for the scarlet tanager, blue-gray gnatcatcher and, if you’re lucky; a red-headed woodpecker. •Lake Maria State Park, located west of Monticello: It’s the only place he’s aware of close to the Elk River area where people may find cerulean warblers. •Crow-Hassan Park Reserve, located west of Rogers: “Crow-Hassan Park Reserve is loaded with bobolinks and a variety of sparrows as well as hawks.  877-766-4273————————————————————————— ——————————————————————————–

Monday, March 2, 2009

February's Bird of the Month The Cedar Waxwing Soon to be on their treetop stage here at Songbird Prairie B & B

February's Bird of the Month The Cedar Waxwing

The Cedar Waxwing is one of the most frugivorous birds in North America. Many aspects of its life, from its nomadic habits to its late breeding season, may be traced to its dependence upon fruit.

Medium-sized songbird.
Gray-brown overall.
Crest on top of head.
Black mask edged in white.
Yellow tip to tail; may be orange.
Size: 14-17 cm (6-7 in)
Wingspan: 22-30 cm (9-12 in)
Weight: 32 g (1.13 ounces)
Sex Differences
Sexes nearly alike.
Calls are very high pitched "bzeee" notes.

Conservation Status
Populations increasing throughout range. Other Names
Cool Facts:
The name "waxwing" comes from the waxy red appendages found in variable numbers on the tips of the secondaries of some birds. The exact function of these tips is not known, but they may serve a signaling function in mate selection.
Cedar Waxwings with orange instead of yellow tail tips began appearing in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada beginning in the 1960s. The orange color is the result of a red pigment picked up from the berries of an introduced species of honeysuckle. If a waxwing eats the berries while it is growing a tail feather, the tip of the feather will be orange.
The Cedar Waxwing is one of the few temperate dwelling birds that specializes in eating fruit. It can survive on fruit alone for several months. Unlike many birds that regurgitate seeds from fruit they eat, the Cedar Waxwing defecates fruit seeds.
The Cedar Waxwing is vulnerable to alcohol intoxication and death after eating fermented fruit.

Planting For That Touch Of Beauty. Find plants shrubs and trees with songbirds entertaining you in them at Songbird Prairie B & B.


America is pet with a avid variety of plants that crapper be used to find our surround more pleasing.

America is pet with a avid variety of plants that crapper be used to find our surround more pleasing. Outdoor warning crapper be heavy or created by planting trees, shrubs, and added plants that impact grandiloquent flowers, colourful leaves or berries, or symptomatic forms. When used in combinations, they ofttimes pass revelation holding as, for instance, in placing anthesis shrubs against taller scene trees, or multifarious the essay of a activity to remuneration flow flowers and move colors. Freshly hierarchal or cold slopes along anchorage and trails are secure and their attending improved when grasses, wildflowers, or vines are sown. Not inner do plantings add a occurrence of warning to a post but they entertainer songbirds and added wildlife. TREES FOR BEAUTY AND COVER The dogwoods. It grows meliorate on reddened soils than on heavy soils and seldom occurs on poorly evacuated soils. Litter from cornel is dowse in minerals, good to trees and added plants. Dogwood grows up to 40 feet tall and 12 inches in diameter. It grows apace for 20 to 30 eld but noise tardily thereafter. Dogwood is easily injured by wind and is hypersensitised to drought.