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Winter 2011


                                          Join us on Sunday, November 13, 11am – 5pm


       20% OFF Total Purchase, Excluding Seed

 Check out the new Holiday Merchandise

Register for Door Prizes including

Bovano, Bird’s Choice Feeder, Field Guides,

Books and more


Coloring Pages for the Little Birders –

Every colored entry will receive a gift


Refreshments courtesy of Breadsmith


Talk to our Special Guests:

11am – 1pm, Dan Bloedorn, President of Bird’s Choice

Discuss what to look for in a good feeder


1pm – 3pm, Daryl Tessen, Local Author of 5 books

An expert Birder, discuss bird knowledge, have your field guide autographed

(Mr. Tessen was just featured in the Post Crescent on 10/29)


3pm – 5pm, Michael Hibbard, Director of Mosquito Hill Nature Center

  Presentation on birdscaping your backyard


Especially for Christmas and the Holidays

2265_195.jpgBack by popular demand we have our cleverly decorated bird houses - completely covered with edible seeds, both a pleasure to look at and a food supply for your backyard birds.  Once the seeds have been eaten the house can be used for shelter and nesting.  If it's not a house you're looking for we have many other whimsical and edible shapes:  santa shaped singles or boxes of three, Christmas stocking, snowman and bell shapes, fruit and nut bells, large safflower Christmas trees and pecan wreaths.  These are such unique items, great for all the nature loving friends on your gift list.  Shop early and snag the perfect house or shape.  Supplies are limited.  Click here for more information.

 Clever Gift Ideas for the Bird Lover


We hear the chuckles in the store, those T-shirts with zaney squirrels are tickling funny bones again.  Need a one-of-a-kind gift to give to your crazy relative?  These shirts are the best.  Several different designs are available; the T-shirts themselves are of good quality.  We also have a nice variety of coffee mugs for the bird/squirrel/nature lover on your list.  How about zigsaw puzzles, Scramble squares, or nature themed cribbage boards.  Jewelry?  Sure.  We have bird and nature themed earrings, some with Christmas designs as well.  Yard flags, American flag spinners, bird house kits, teabag holders, clocks that give bird songs on the hour, alarm clocks that allow you to wake to bird songs or a rooster, and the list goes on.  Don't know what you're looking for?  We probably have something to suggest.  More info.

Field Guides, Computer Software, Binoculars

mn_wi__58979.jpgSo you've been watching the birds in your backyard for a while, maybe it's time you learn to identify them by their colors, sounds, eating habits or size.  Learn more about their courtships, nesting and migration instincts.  You need some binoculars and a field guide!!  Field guides are available in a wide variety of choices, from those with very basic information to those that go into much more detail.  Learn to identify by color, by families, by mate, buy size.  Provide the correct foods to satisfy the birds you want to keep in your yard.  Field guides are even offered on interactive CDs, filled with a huge array of photos, games, quizes and more.  We have hand-held electronic guides which allow you to hear the bird sounds and calls while you are out and about in nature.   The books and software programs can help identify just the birds of Wisconsin, other states, farther regions and/or the entire North American continent.  You choose what's best for you.  Then let Mike teach you about binoculars.  He'll help you find a pair that feels right and meets your needs.  You'll be a true birder!!  (Having those binoculars at a Packer Game wouldn't be bad either.)

Water for the Birds in Winter

ba1hweb.jpgWater, water everywhere but not true in the dark days of Wisconsin winters.  No puddles, no yard sprinklers to be found this time of the year around here, only frozen lakes.  Birds NEED water for drinking and preening, just as they need food and shelter.  Let's not forget their needs for survival at this chilling time of the year.  Heated bird baths and bird bath inserts are thermostatically controlled to keep the temperature of the water just above freezing.  There are many different styles available: deck mount, on poles, free standing on bases, circular inserts and horseshoe shaped inserts.  NOW is a great time to place one in your backyard as freezing temps will turn your unheated bath into an ice skating rink very soon.  Click here for some of our selection.

Fill your Backyard with Beauty

master-qm007.jpgOver the next few months we'll spend more time looking out our windows and into our backyards than we'll actually spend being in our backyards.  This gives us plenty of time to imagine what our yard will look like when spring arrives once again.  Plan your yard, think about some new or different bird or butterfly friendly plants, think about accent pieces to make your backyard into a beautiful retreat. Year round we stock stepping stones, sundials, weather instruments, statuary, summer baths, weathervanes, windchimes and so many more items that can customize your backyard and reflect your interests. You may want to add some of these items to your Christmas list so you are ready when long awaited springs arrives.  A windchime for Christmas? Absolutely!   


canada goose.jpg

     One of the surest signs that the season is changing is the familiar “v-shaped” flock of Canada (not “Canadian”) geese honking away as they fly overhead in migration.  Although they are named for Canada, this goose is one the best known birds in North America.  It is found in every contiguous U.S. state and Canadian province at one time of the year or another.  Some northern populations even make the trip over to Greenland.

     Generally speaking, Canada geese have a grayish-colored body with a long black neck and head.  On their faces, they have white cheek patches.  Both males and females look alike.

     In the winter, most Canada geese seek warmer climates.  While many do winter in southern Canada, most make their way to the mid and southern US.  Some even go the extra mile and fly all the way to northern Mexico.

     Canada geese eat a lot. Usually they will spend up to 12 hours a day feeding to take in the nutrition that they need.  They usually graze on grasses, roots, leaves and other plant materials, but they also spend time in fields feeding on waste crops and grain.  Before they migrate, these geese will eat even more to build up the fat reserves they need to make the long trips.  Scientists have tracked geese that have flown up to 1,500 miles in just 24 hours with a favorable wind, but typically travel at a much more leisurely rate.  They believe that the characteristic “v-shaped” flock serves two purposes.  First, it creates a current of air along the lines of geese that makes it easier for individuals to fly.  Second, it may allow for better communication and unity of the flock while in the air.  These noisy groups honk their way along established paths that include designated “rest stops.”  These social birds remain in flocks year-round, except while nesting.

     The Canada goose is a very family-oriented bird.  Usually in their second year of life they find a mate and stay together for life.  However, if one mate dies, the other will re-mate.  During the nesting and incubation period, the male stays near the nest and keeps a close eye on the female and the eggs, luring any predator away.  In choosing a nesting site to lay the eggs, the female always returns to the same area where her parents nested.  While there are exceptions, females will usually return to the same nesting area every year.

Winter Eating Habits

20091224-182933-pic-821479575_t607.jpg  As winter approaches, many birds change some of their eating habits. Birds that usually eat insects may start to eat berries to supplement their diets. Birds will start to look for reliable sources of food for wintertime survival. And, in the fall, many birds began forming flocks. Flocks of birds are better able to find food and protect themselves from predators.

The life of a bird in the winter may not be as stress-free as many people think.

In much of North America, winter can be a difficult time for birds. The days are short, and nights are often cold and long. The natural food supply has been consumed or is hidden by snow. Most insects are dead or dormant. Water can be hard to find, and food needed to provide the energy to keep birds warm might be scarce. Finding shelter may not be easy. If there are limited natural evergreens or shelter, birds may seek manmade houses or habitats that can provide refuge from the winds, rains, ice or snow of winter.

Birds are warm-blooded. In general, this means that they maintain their body temperature within a certain range even when the temperature around them changes. The maintenance of body temperature within a normal range depends on the amount of heat the bird produces.

On cold, wintry days, most birds fluff up their feathers, creating air pockets, which help keep the birds warm. The more air spaces, the better the insulation. Some birds perch on one leg, drawing the other leg to the breast for warmth.

To keep up their high metabolic rate, most backyard birds eat rich, energy foods such as seeds, insects and suet. There are some times, however, when birds are not prepared to deal with sudden drops in temperature or sudden winter storms. At times like these, it is especially helpful to have feeders full so that birds can find food easily.  

 Providing Food for Birds in the Winter

 As winter approaches, you may need to change some of the foods you offer to birds. Providing high calorie and high fat foods can be important to the birds. The birds visiting winter feeders may be arriving in flocks or may come to the feeders as individuals, so you will need to provide different options for the birds.

Feeders should be located out of the wind. The east or southeast side of a house or near a row of trees is ideal. It is best to have a perching spot such as a bush or tree for the birds to use to survey the feeding area and provide sufficient cover for safe refuge from predators and shelter from the wind and weather. The feeders should be positioned near cover but in the open to allow birds to watch for danger. For ground feeding, an area near cover with a clear view of the surroundings is desirable.

Placing seed in a ground feeder entices birds such as sparrows, juncos, Mourning Doves, towhees and Brown Thrashers. Even the Red-bellied Woodpecker, which is thought of as a tree dweller, does some foraging on the ground. Platform and hopper feeders are especially good for attracting cardinals, wrens, chickadees, titmice and jays. Hanging feeders, because they blow in the wind, are generally used by those species that are able to hang on while feeding such as chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and finches.

Bird Questions and Answers
Cornell Lab of Ornithology Answers Bird Questions

 Q. How can Bald Eagles survive in northern areas after all the lakes have frozen?

A. As much as eagles enjoy fresh fish, they will also dine on carrion and garbage. It may be disconcerting to see the emblem of the United States of America eating at a dump or at a carcass on the side of the road, but the ability of eagles to exploit a wide range of food choices is one of the keys to their success.

Q. Why don't birds get cold feet?

A. Actually, songbirds do get very cold feet: the surface temperature of their toes may be barely above freezing even as the bird maintains its core body temperature above 100°F (38°C). But most birds don’t succumb to frostbite because there is so little fluid in the cells of their feet, and because their circulation is so fast that blood doesn’t remain in the feet long enough to freeze.

We don’t know if cold feet bother birds like Common Eiders or Snow Buntings. We do know that they have few pain receptors in their feet, and the circulation in their legs and feet is a double shunt— the blood vessels going to and from the feet are very close together, so blood flowing back to the body is warmed by blood flowing to the feet. The newly cooled blood in the feet lowers heat loss from the feet, and the warmed blood flowing back into the body prevents the bird from becoming chilled.

Q. Do birds play?

A. Many animals engage in “play,” that is, activities that enhance learning of motor and sensory skills and social behaviors but otherwise serve no immediate purpose. Young screech-owls pounce at leaves; young crows and jays pick up, inspect, and hide all kinds of shiny objects; young gulls and terns carry small items aloft and drop them, catch them in midair, and drop and catch them again. All these activities probably help birds acquire the skills and coordination they’ll need for hunting and other essential activities as adults.

Some forms of play, called “locomotor play,” seem quite similar to the exhilarating play of children sledding down a steep hill. Some ducks have been observed floating through tidal rapids or fast-moving sections of rivers, and when they’ve reached the end, hurrying back to the beginning to ride over and over. Common Ravens have been observed taking turns sliding down a snowbank on their tails or rolling over and over down a hill. In the air, ravens and crows often rise on air currents only to swoop down toward earth, then glide back upwards, again and again.



Featured Product:  Squirrel-Proof Peanut Feeder

  peanutplus-310x590.png                     New – Exciting – Amazing! 
This new feeder continues the line of our best loved squirrel proof feeders by Brome.  It’s the little brother to the Squirrel Buster Classic, the top seller in the store.  The design idea is the same with a weight activated shroud that will cover the feed ports when a heavier bird or animal tries to get the food inside.  This feeder, however, is designed for shelled peanuts and/or suet nuggets, not seed.  Yes, now you can feed both peanuts and suet without the worry of the squirrels feasting instead of birds.  The elongated bottom is perfect for woodpeckers so they can brace their tails while eating.  Available by mid-November, we know this will be a great addition to your backyard feeding station.  We also carry the suet nuggets that will be greatly appreciated especially during our cold Wisconsin winters.  Click here and you can watch a video about this feeder on the Home Page of our website.

Mike's Message

Here we are once more entering upon the last months of the year.  And again, we ask, where has another year gone?

For those of you who are keeping tabs on our location, we need to announce that the store move has been delayed by a few months.  We didn’t want to move during the depths of winter so it now appears we’ll be staying put probably through the first quarter of next year.  Announcements will be made as to where and when as soon as they become more concrete.

We hope you can join us for our OPEN HOUSE on Sunday, November 13th.  That day was chosen so we wouldn’t have a conflict with a Packer Game (they play Monday night that week).  All purchases that day, excluding seed, will be 20% off.  We don’t overprice our merchandise just to advertise a sale and make you feel as though you’re getting a great deal.  So the 20% off is almost unheard of in our store.  We won’t be giving feather points out on discounted sales but you are certainly welcome to use your accumulated points for your purchases.  Take advantage of our 3 guest speakers.  They are all professionals in this birding hobby that we all enjoy;  Dan Bloedorn, President of Bird’s Choice, will help you discover what to look in a feeder, Daryl Tessen lives here in our area and has written several field guides and birding books, Michael Hibbard is the Director of Mosquito Hill and is excited to come with a presentation on birdscaping your backyard, what we can do to attract and KEEP birds in our backyard.  Their schedule for that day was provided at the beginning of this newsletter.  There will be door prizes, coloring pages for the little birders and if that all makes you hungry, we will have refreshments provided by Breadsmith.  Wow! 

Some of you have asked about a Layaway program to help ease some of the pressure during these economic times.  Yes, we can do that.  With no service charge, we simply ask for a 20% down payment for us to hold your merchandise and payment in full by December 15th.  Payments in between can be made at whatever terms are good for you. 

For those who like to shop online in the comforts of your home, we are offering FREE SHIPPING on orders placed via our website through December 2011.  Now that was easy!!  If you want to send a Gift Card to someone, just call us at 920-731-0601 and we’ll mail that out for you, even in a Christmas card, if you prefer.  That was easy too!!

Thank you for being a customer of our store and a supporter of small business in NE Wisconsin.  Without you we would not survive.  The birds thank you also.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you from me and my staff at Wildbird & Backyard.

                                  Happy Birding, Mike

 Special Customer Coupons!

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