Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter
~ For those passionate about birding and nature ~
April 2019                                                                                          Volume 4.19
Nature News
Bird Bites Blog
Being Bird Friendly and Earth Friendlier

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. This is true not only of our yards but for the creatures that choose to live in it. Being aware of this fact and observing the community of critters sharing space with us can foster a sense appreciation for the nature in our own backyards.
One of the primary indicators of this season are our birds. They are nature's messengers and as such we should be listening to what they might be saying. They are intimately impacted not only by changes to climate, but local habitat loss and healthy food resource decline. Despite these challenges, you can help birds thrive right where you live by making your yard more bird-friendly. The secret to success lies in choosing locally native plants, which brim with nutritious insects, berries, nectar, and seeds and give birds a vital refuge. A bird-friendly landscape should fulfill all of a wild bird's basic needs, including food, shelter, water and nesting sites.
Choose native plants. These plants provide a good variety of natural bird food throughout the year for nesting, migrating, and wintering birds. Things to consider when choosing your plants are ones that bear fruit, nuts & seeds, or supply nectar as food sources. All of these will widen the variety of birds you attract as well as provide interest and color to your yard as a whole.
Plan your habitat carefully. Plantings are crucial in determining who visits our yards. Not only do properly selected plants provide food, they also yield much-needed shelter from the elements and cover from predators. First, take a look at what you already have in your yard to determine what needs to be added. Make sure to include "habitat layers" in your design; large canopy trees, shrubs and small trees, annuals and perennials as well as some decaying matter. All off these elements together make for a very rich and inviting living space.
Provide high energy foods. Even with the native plants in place there are critical times of the year, especially late winter, when food sources become scarce. By providing good quality supplemental food sources we can dramatically increase survival rates going into spring breeding and molting seasons. Food like high fat suets, black oil sunflower, peanuts and thistle are all great options for providing high calorie and nutrition for birds. With extra energy they are better able to withstand the colder nights, ward off disease and potentially have more offspring.
Don't forget the water. Water is second only to food in the number of species it attracts. It is especially important to have an open water source when all else is frozen. Birds will bathe in sub-freezing temperatures. It is essential that they keep their feathers clean and fluffed, which enables them to more efficiently trap insulating air next to their bodies to keep warm. Open water also quenches their thirst while ingesting snow can be dehydrating. A bird bath filled with water on a winter day can stay open for quite some time.
Don't clean up (too much). Garden your native plant habitat with tender loving care-but don't be too neat. Remove non-native and invasive weeds to allow room for native species. Minimize raking as this provides an important habitat layer and acts a natural mulch. Leave seeds after flowers bloom since birds will eat these later in the season. Find low impact alternatives for pesticides. A bird-friendly garden is a bug-friendly garden. A diversity of native plants will also attract wildlife that will keep your plant-eating bugs in check: Not only birds but also frogs, toads, bats, and insect predators such as dragonflies, praying mantises and lady bugs will help keep your garden in a healthy balance.
Once you've supplied a suitable backyard bird habitat, it's time to grab the binoculars and field guide and drink in the beauty that your native backyard environment provides!
Happy Birding!

Additional information on backyard birds can be obtained at all three Wild Birds Unlimited inside all Moana Nursery locations in Reno and Sparks.
Click here to go to the Moana Nursery Website for more information
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Introducing "Bird Bites" ... this is our new bird blog for timely, local birding information. Click here to read our first blog:  Being Bird Friendly and Earth Friendlier.
Nesting SuperBlend  
Be a seasonally savvy bird feeder by providing the birds a super-boost of protein and calcium for their nesting & molting needs. The need for protein and calcium substantially increases for birds during periods of egg-laying. Protein is crucial for muscle and feather development in young birds.

Fun Facts About Young Birds Nutritional Needs
- Young birds need calcium, protein and fat among other nutrients while growing.

- Most dietary calcium in young birds is used for the formation of skeletal (bone) production.

- Calcium is the most prevalent mineral in the body and is required in the diet in greater amounts than any other mineral.

- Calcium is the most challenging mineral because of the extreme changes in periods of demand and because many foods are likely to be deficient in calcium.

- If given a choice between two foods that are identical in every respect except calcium level, young birds and laying females will select a calcium-adequate food more frequently than a deficient one.

- Birds find calcium in their natural foods like seeds, snail shells and other exoskeletons of insects, egg shells (e.g. from other earlier-nesting birds), mortar picked off of buildings, bones (e.g. often fish bones), ashes, soil (if it is rich in calcium) and other sources.

- Birds are able to easily digest and use the calcuim from calcium carbonate, limestone, oyster shell, and calcium phosphates. The WBU Plus Blends contain calcium carbonate.

- Protein requirements, from amino acids, are highest at hatching and until adult size and weight is achieved.

- Protein is essential for growing strong feathers.

- Fats are essential for feather coloration.

- Every young bird needs extra proteins to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation. They need extra fats for energy to grow feathers and provide proper coloration to best attract a mate when they are mature.

- A diet low in proteins and fats may cause feathers to be improperly colored or form defectively such as being frayed or curved. If their colors are duller, birds may have trouble attracting a mate. If the feathers are defective, it could seriously hinder their flying or insulation abilities.

- Feathers are over 90% protein, primarily keratins.

- A bird's feathers contain 25% of the total protein found within its entire body.

- It takes extra energy to grow feathers and also the right building blocks to grow them. The main ingredients in growing feathers are amino acids (protein) and lipids (fats). Birds will eat more of their daily diet and / or seek out foods high in protein and fat to satisfy both the extra energy requirements and the needed building blocks.

- Lipids are substances such as a fat, oil or wax (usually from tree fruits). Dietary lipids supply energy, essential fatty acids and pigments for birds.

- Like pigment dyes are used to color our clothes, colors in feathers come from different pigments found in lipids.

- Red, orange, and yellows to violet colors = Carotenoid pigments

- Black, brown, gray and related tints = Melanin and porphyrin pigments

- Blue and white colors = Not created by pigments but by reflections of light off the structural elements of a feather

- Greens = Carotenoid and melanin pigments combined with structural feather elements

- In many bird species, carotenoids are required for breeding success...poorly colored birds are less likely to breed. Carotenoids help communicate reproductive fitness to prospective mates by providing a vibrant and bright plumage...a sign of being successful at obtaining both a sufficient quality and quantity of food.

- The more color and more brightly colored a male House Finch the greater the likelihood of attracting a mate.

- A male Red-winged Blackbird's dominance depends on his bright red shoulder epaulettes being bigger than another male's. The larger the red epaulet patch, the better he can defend a territory and attract multiple mates.

- The top recommended foods for birds to meet their protein and fat cravings are:
Recommended Blends: Plus Blends, Choice, No-Mess Blends, Supreme
Recommended Seeds: Peanuts, Nyjer, Sunflower Chips
Recommended Other Foods: Mealworms, Stackable Seed Cylinders and No-Melt Suet Doughs

Barred Owl Nest Cam

Cornell Lab | Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam
Cornell Lab | Wild Birds Unlimited Barred Owl Cam

Upcoming Events

Lahontan Audubon Society

Tuesday, April 9 - 6:00pm
 LAS Board meeting

Saturday, April 13 - 7:30am
 Field Trip - Damonte Ranch Wetlands

Thursday, April 18 - 5:30pm
 Birds & Books Reading/Discussion Group - THE BIG BURN: TEDDY ROOSEVELT AND THE FIRE THAT SAVED AMERICA by Timothy Egan

Tuesday, April 23 - 6:30pm
 Program Meeting - Let's Talk Coyotes

Friday, April 26 - 7:30am
 Field Trip - River Fork Ranch, Douglas County

Tahoe Institute of Natural Science

Fri Apr 05 @10:00AM - 12:00PM
Winter Wildlife Survival Snowshoe Trek with the TRTA


Wed Apr 10 @ 6:00PM - 07:30PM
South Lake Library Talk: Mythbusting: Lake Tahoe Edition


Wed Apr 17 @ 5:30PM - 08:15PM
AAUW Talk: Private Event


Thu Apr 18 @10:00AM - 01:00PM
Snowshoeing through time- Emerald Bay Geology

Go to Tinsweb website for full list of outings 

Nature Happenings

* Project FeederWatch continues, www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw
* Big Brown Bats might be seen swooping at dusk to eat flying insects.        
* Fishing season begins in earnest with Rainbow and Green-Backed Cutthroat Trout filling lakes and rivers.
* Dawn Chorus: It's a most delightful avian chorus as males sing their finest to start the nesting cycle.
* Orioles arrive to build beautiful woven grass nests in colonies in deciduous trees.
* Male Western Tanagers arrive and are often seen traveling in pairs.
* Warblers, kingbirds, mockingbirds, catbirds, swifts delay their arrival until abundant flying insects are available.
* Spotted Towhees will sing from dawn to dusk in search of a mate.
* International Migratory Bird Day is mid-May.
* Watch for Bald Eagles along the rivers.
* Beaver mating season.
* Rather than search for worms in the frozen soil, large winter flocks of robins will visit fruit trees for food.
* Cedar Waxwings will visit yards in search of fruit, often staying for hours before moving on.
* Juncos will hunt for fallen seed, often before dawn.
* The smaller the bird, the earlier it hunts for food in the winter darkness.
* Listen for Great Horned Owls' "hoot" as they pair up for mating season.
* Now through late March is a difficult time for birds; providing food and an open source of water is important.
* Winter is a great time to look for birds' nests. Admire the craftsmanship, but leave the nest in place.
* Aldo Leopold's (Father of Wildlife Conservation) birthday Jan. 11
* Quadrantid Meteor Shower early in the month. See up to 60 falling meteors per hour!

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Moana Nursery | 1100 W. Moana Lane | 11301 S. Virginia St. | 7655 Pyramid Hwy. | Reno/Sparks | NV | 89509