🐦 Wild Bird Watchers Bulletin: July 2021 Edition
Now that we are in the full swing of a beautiful Manitoba summer, the birdfeeders are a little quiet. This is the peak time for nesting and the majority of species are either on their eggs or already feeding young. During this time, many birds will eat the natural offerings of food staying close to their nesting sites. There are lots of cankerworms and many other insects along with seeds on trees. The woodpeckers are birds that never stop visiting me throughout the year. The Hairy and Downy woodpeckers are without a doubt my most consistent visitors in every season. They are also such a joy to watch as they bring their young to the summer suet feeders, I always know when they are here as the little guys are very vocal! I am seeing Black-capped chickadee families at the feeders and the White-breasted nuthatches are also around. My American Goldfinch numbers have been really good lately which is so nice to see and hear! They are loving the shelled sunflower seeds I put out for them and some Nyjer seed as well. The busiest part of the yard is without a doubt the birdbath! This extremely dry season is not making it easy for many birds. I had to make a mudhole for my Barn swallows to be able to make their nests. As soon as it was done, the pair was back and forth collecting mud and grass. There are usually puddles for birds to take advantage of but this season that is not the case! Barn swallows are an aerial insectivore and many of these types of birds are on severe decline, in fact they are of the greatest concern right now with scientists. Purple martins, Whip-poor-wills, Chinney swifts and Nighthawks are just some of the birds whose populations are plummeting. If you have any of these types of birds around you its something to treasure as each year their numbers get lower and lower.
Last summer was also very dry and did not make for good harvests with some crops. There has been a serious shortage of White millet across North America along with peanuts and even sunflowers. Millet is commonly used in many ancient grain breads and cereals so human food companies have bought up much of the stock from last year. Black sunflowers are pressed for sunflower oil which is a hot commodity in the potato chip industry and striped sunflowers are also popular roasted and salted for human consumption so again, those industries buy up massive amounts. Peanuts obviously are used for peanut butter and snack foods as well. It is concerning because the shortages drive up the prices for any quantities that are available and this dry season so far is making farmers and consumers very worried. Our farmers are in dire need of rain so I sure hope some promising forecasts show up soon! Our trees and gardens would also appreciate some moisture so please Mother Nature, send us some rain!
The most popular feeders we are hearing about right now are suet feeders filled with Mill Creek Summer Suet, Insect and Nut suet and the Birdy Birthday suet. These are all a no-melt suet and the Birthday variety is fortified with vitamins and minerals for the nesting season. The Mill Creek suet is without a doubt the best brand available on the market. It is made fresh for us each month and is filled with only the finest ingredients! There are no fillers added and the suet is never rancid plus- it’s a Canadian-made product!
Window feeders filled with shelled sunflowers have been keeping American Goldfinches and House finches very happy! For those who are dealing with large numbers of Common grackles, the cage style feeders have been a welcome offering for all the little birds who were getting bullied away. We have many customers who are still doing very well with the orioles but I have to say it was not a good season for me once again. For the past 2 years now my sightings were very poor. Previous years i could not keep my feeders full of both the sugar water and grape jelly. I haven’t even gone through one jar of jelly yet! I am seeing one female hummingbird each day which is lovely, what a fascinating little creature they are! My flower bed is filled with milkweed for the Monarch butterflies but they did not grow very tall this year due to the lack of moisture so I hope I don’t run out as I already have several caterpillars dining on the plants! The garden is blooming now with many new colours emerging each day. I hope you all have a wonderful July and we will see you next month!
When drinking nectar found in plants or in feeders, hummingbirds move their tongue in and out 13 times per second as they lick it up! The amount of food they eat each day is equal to double their body weight which is about 3.1 grams. A flock of hummingbirds is referred to in a few ways including a bouquet, a shimmer, a glittering, or a tune.