Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
For those passionate about birding and nature
Nature News
- Bird Of The Month -
Mountain Chickadee

Scientific name: Poecile gambeli  

How to identify:  Like all chickadees, the Mountain Chickadee has striking black-and-white markings on the head and gray elsewhere. The white stripe over the eye identifies Mountain Chickadees from all other chickadees.  They are tiny, large-headed birds with small bills, with a long, narrow tail and full, rounded wings.
Habitat:  The Mountain Chickadee is found in the dry, mountainous forests of the West. The similar Black-capped Chickadee often occurs along streams and in broad-leaved trees, while Mountain Chickadees stick to the evergreens on higher slopes.
Where to find one: They are common across most of the evergreen forests of Western mountains, particularly pine, mixed conifer, spruce-fir, and pinyon-juniper forests. Mountain Chickadees use conifers heavily, typically leaving deciduous stands to the Black-capped Chickadee. The exception is in nesting, when Mountain Chickadees will seek out any available aspen trees for their soft, easily excavated wood.
How to attract one to your yard:  Mountain Chickadees eat protein-rich insects and spiders during warm months, supplementing them with seeds and nuts as available. They come to bird feeders all year round. Many kinds of insects are eaten, including beetles, caterpillars, wasp larvae, aphids, and leafhoppers, as well as hard-to-reach scale insects and fly larvae hidden in plant galls. In fall and winter, seeds of montane pine species are very important.

Interesting fact:  Energetic models suggest that a half-ounce chickadee needs to eat about 10 calories per day to survive. That's equivalent to about one-twentieth of an ounce of peanut butter.
For more information on Mountain Chickadees, visit one of the three Moana Nursery store locations:  1100 W. Moana Ln. & 11301 S. Virginia St., Reno and 7644 Pyramid Hwy., Sparks. 
Carmel Ruiz-Hilton is Manager of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shops at Moana Nursery in Reno/Sparks

Go to the WBU site for more Bird of the Month newsletters & articles. 
Build Your Own Chickadee Nest Tube

Chickadee Habits
Naturally, chickadees either excavate their own nests in rotted tree snags or take over old downy woodpecker cavities. Both sexes engage in the initial construction, but once the nest chamber is about 10 inches deep, the male stops helping, and the female builds a nest in the bottom of the cavity. The nest is cup-shaped and constructed from moss, grass and sticks -- they then add rabbit fur or some other soft material to line the cup.

Make the Tube
To construct your own nesting tube, use 12-inch sections of 4-inch PVC pipe. Drill a 1 1/8 inch entrance hole 1 to 2 inches from the top of the tube. Make the interior of the pipe slightly rough, by using a rasp or sandpaper, to help the birds move in and out. Use a cap on each side of the tube to keep the nesting container dry. Use nontoxic spray paint to camouflage the white pipe. Always use earth tones -- if possible, paint the tube to match the color of the local trees.

Finishing Touches
Because of their excavating instincts, black-capped chickadees do not often use empty nesting boxes. Instead, they prefer to use nesting boxes with wood shavings inside. The shavings allow them to use these excavation instincts, which improve the chances that the chickadees will accept your nest boxes. Carolina chickadees do not appear to be as finicky as black-capped chickadees are, and will inhabit empty nest boxes.

On Sale Now!

20% Savings on ALL
Wild Bird Seed Cylinders, Seed Characters & Quail Blocks


Discount applies only to regular priced merchandise.  
Limited to stock on hand.  Offer valid October 1st - October 15th , 2015

Check out all current sales and promotions on the Moana Nursery website
How Cool Is That?

As Halloween approaches, many people are taking time to learn about one of the holiday's well-known icons and one of nature's most misunderstood creatures: bats.

In recent years, significant populations of several hibernating bat species have declined. The cause of death is connected to Geomyces destructans, a cold temperature-loving white fungus, commonly know as White-nose Syndrome (WNS). Little Brown and Northern Long-eared Bats appear to be the species hardest hit. WNS has been reported in 19 states in the US and four Canadian provinces. It is believed that infected bats are depleting their fat reserves more quickly during hibernation, awaking more often and/or for longer periods of time.

What can be done to help? The Organization for Bat Conservation (OBC) suggests building or buying a bat box to provide roosting sites. They also suggest planting moth-attracting wildflowers to give bats an additional food source. Also, leave up dead or dying trees, as long as it is safe, to provide bats with natural shelters.

The OBC, in conjunction with Wild Birds Unlimited, has developed a bat box that meets OBC specifications and provides the features that successfully attract bats. In addition, a portion of the sales from each OBC bat box goes to OBC for bat research, rescue and public education.

Providing Food Now Will Help Later

During fall and winter, chickadees, nuthatches and titmice will hide food to retrieve and eat at a later time. This behavior is called "caching." Caching helps birds survive during bad weather and when food sources are low.

These birds store hundreds of seeds a day, and each seed is placed in a different location and they remember where each one is. They can find each site accurately even a month later.

By providing an easily accessible food source, you can help your chickadees, nuthatches and titmice with their caching needs. Below is a little more detail on some of your favorite birds' caching behaviors.


  • Cache seeds (in the shell and out), nuts, insects and other invertebrate prey
  • Food is typically cached within 130 feet (40 m) from feeders
  • Cache more during the middle of the day
  • May carry off several seeds at a time, but each item is stored in a separate location
  • Store food in knotholes, bark, under shingles, in the ground and on the underside of small branches

  • Prefer to cache hulled sunflower seeds, because they are easier and faster to cache; occasionally mealworms
  • Choose heavier seeds (because they are larger or have a higher oil content)
  • Food is typically cached about 45 feet (13.5 m) from feeders
  • Most active caching time is early in the day
  • Store food in bark crevices on large tree trunks and on the underside of branches


  • Cache sunflower, peanuts and safflower
  • Food is typically cached within 130 feet (40 m) from feeders
  • Cache one seed at a time and typically choose the largest seeds available
  • Often remove seeds from their shell (80% of the time) before hiding them
Upcoming Events
Lahontan Audubon Society
Field Trip:  Silver Saddle Ranch
When  Sat, October 3, 8am - 12pm
Where  Carson River Rd, Carson City, NV 89701
Description  The Silver Saddle Ranch Annual Bird Walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 3, 2014. We will meet at the Red House Complex parking lot, at the end of Carson River Road in Carson City, NV. Please contact Nancy Santos for more information and to register for the bird walk.

Special Presentation: How to Identify Nevada's Hawks by Alan Gubanich
When  Sun, October 11, 1pm - 2pm
Where  Galena Creek Visitor Center, 18250 Mt Rose Hwy, Reno, NV 89511
Description  HOW TO IDENTIFY NEVADA'S HAWKS - by Alan Gubanich. Sunday, October 11 at 1:00 pm, at the GALENA CREEK VISITOR CENTER People new to birding, and even some long-time birders, often have difficulty identifying raptors (hawks) in the field. The Galena Creek Visitor Center has a great collection of raptor specimens on loan from the Lahontan Audubon Society. Join long-time LAS member Alan Gubanich for a workshop on how to identify these species, using the specimens on hand at the Center, along with some Powerpoint photos. Bring your bird guides and binoculars if you have any.

TINS Field Trip:  Who Eats Red Fish?
When  Sun, October 25, 8am - 11am
Where  Taylor Creek Visitor Center, Visitor Center Rd, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Description  This is a Tahoe Institute for Natural Science field trip. Bald Eagles snatch salmon from the lake at Taylor Creek's fall Kokanee buffet on Tahoe's south shore. Ravens drag carcasses into trees. Gulls rip at fish in the creek. Ducks paddle and dabble for salmon roe. Bears pose for selfies with curious tourists. Come out with the Harrimans on a TINS birding walk to (hopefully) see all but the last. We'll visit two viewing platforms looking out over the Taylor Creek marsh, then spend time at the creek's mouth for a wide view of the action. If things get slow, we can work a little on gull ID.

Program Meeting:  Preserving Beauty by Jerry Fenwick
When  Tue, October 27, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Where  Moana Nursery at Moana Lane, Reno, Nevada, 1100 West Moana Lane, Reno, NV 89509, United States (map)
Description  Our featured program is: Preserving Beauty Presented by Jerry Fenwick

For more information on Lahontan Audobon activities, go to http://www.nevadaaudubon.org/

Animal Ark
Animal Ark Stampede
October 3 @ 8:30 am - 10:30 am
Dress in your favorite animal costume or print and take on this fun and challenging 5K Trail Run/Walk that supports the winter care of non-releasable wildlife. Be sure to bring the family for free face painting, a shorter Kids Run and raffle prizes. Participants get free general admission to Animal Ark, and their families receive 50% off! 

Harvest Festival
October 17 @ 10:15 am - 2:30 pm
Harvest Festival As part of our enrichment program, most of the animals will receive pumpkins filled with their favorite treats. Watch the enjoyment experienced by our predators when presented with these unique and delicious meals. Throughout the day, pumpkins will be delivered to different animals. Come spend the day; bring the camcorder...this is animal viewing at its finest!

For more information on Animal Ark activities, go to http://animalark.org/ 
Nature Happenings
  • In the past, Mourning Doves were fall migrants. But due to an ever warmer climate, increased winter cover in suburban backyards and availability of wider range of food, they are seen in communal flocks through out the winter.
  • White-winged Doves are seen with more frequency. 
  • All members of the dove family favor ground feeders, seed blocks and flat trays of millet and cracked corn.
  • The first storms of winter usher in winter migrants which often seek shelter in the cover of backyards. 
  • Many members of the sparrow family (Chipping, White-crowned, Brewer's, Song and Lincoln's) join the ubiquitous House Sparrow at ground feeders.
  • Sparrows can be seen scratching for fallen seeds in fading gardens.
  • Leave spent perennials standing to provide cover and much needed food for our winter visitors.
  • This is the month to install and repair nest boxes for use next year.
  • Waterfowl migration continues to build throughout month.
  • Peak of raptor and hawk migration.
  • Pine Siskin return to lower elevations and feeders this month.
  • Bluebird and other nest boxes need to be cleaned out this month to prepare for winter roosting.
  • First juncos and American Tree Sparrows can appear late in the month.
  • Sandhill Cranes migrate.
  • Remaining hummingbirds will depart this month.
  • Beavers are very active in the evenings while caching a winter supply of food.
  • Autumn colors peak in October.
  • Brown and Brook Trout spawn.
  • White-tailed Deer bucks go into rut late in the month.
  • Orionids meteor shower is late-October.

Celebrating 10 years in Reno, NV! 
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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509