Saturday, 20 July 2013


There are more than 1100 species of bats, which account for almost a quarter of all mammal species. Bats play a critical role in controlling insect populations which make them a great neighbour to share your yard with.

Bats are one of the most misunderstood species on our planet. Their reputation has been tainted by gruesome stories of vampires and darkness. Contrary to popular belief bats do not attack humans, are not blind, and less than one-half of one percent of bats are infected by rabies.

Since it was discovered in 2006 more than 5.7 million bats have died because of "White-nose Syndrome". Named after a white fungus found on the noses and wings of bats, WNS causes bats to awake from their hibernation and burn off their energy reserves. Often bats will emerge from hibernation too early and either freeze or starve to death. For more information on WNS and bat conservation efforts visit Bat Conservation International.

Little Brown Bat
A single little brown bat, the most common in our area, can eat up to 1200 mosquito sized insects in just one hour, often eating roughly their entire body weight each night. If an adult human ate as much as a bat did nightly, they would have to consume about 70 kilograms of food.

Setting up a bat house is the easiest way to keep bats in your yard. Bat houses should be places on a pole, barn, garage, or any other structure that is at least 4.5 meters tall. Take care not to place it near doorways or on your house in general, your day to day activity may disturb the bat and their droppings can make a mess. Place the box where it will get the most sunlight you want it to get as much sun as possible to it stays nice and warm! You may also consider painting it black, just be sure to use exterior water based paint and do not paint the inside. If there are any gaps in the roof make sure to plug them with a non-toxic silicone so that no water gets inside. It may take some time for the bats to adopt your roosting box so don't despair if you don't see them immediately!

When choosing a bat box make sure that the inside has a rough surface so that the bats can easily cling onto it, visit us in store or at to view the bat boxes we carry in store!

Flying Fox

Bat Trivia
  • The Worlds smallest mammal is the bumblebee bat of Thailand. It weighs less than a penny!
  • Giant flying foxes in Indonesia have wingspans up to 2 meters!
  • The 20 million strong population of Mexican free-tailed bats from Bracken Cave in Texas eat approximately 200 tons of insects each night!
  • Bats are vulnerable to extinction due to low reproductive rates with most producing on one young annually!
  • An anticoagulant from vampire bat saliva has led to the development of a new treatment for stroke patients!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Summer Birding

There is a common misconception surrounding summer bird feeding. Many believe that it is both unnecessary to feed in the summer and that it can make birds lazy and dependent.

The truth of the matter is that birds only get about 25% of their daily food from feeders. Food is abundant during the summer months with many types of insects and seeds available in the wild. While it is not strictly necessary to feed during the summer, it is also unnecessary to feed during the winter. Birds are incredibly resourceful. The entire purpose of bird feeding is really down to personal enjoyment. If you love having birds and activity in your yard then by all means feed away!
There are also many benefits to summer feeding.

During the summer we benefit from longer days allowing the birds to frequent feeders for a longer period of time which in turn makes bird watching easier and more enjoyable. Another benefit to feeding the birds in the summer is that birds are in their summer plumage make identification easier. The bright colours and markings are also prettier than the drab winter plumage. In the spring and summer you also get a chance to watch the birds raising their young. You will often see fledglings at the feeders with their parents. Also, providing a constant source of food and water is a sure fire way to encourage the birds to nest in your yard. Try putting out a woodpecker house or owl house for something different!

Be sure, though, to give the birds a wide birth should they nest in your yard. If they sense that they are endangered it is common for them to abandon their eggs and start a new nest in another area. It should also be noted that parents rarely leave their chicks for long and do not need assistance from nosy birders!

One of the greatest pleasures of summer feeding is the hummingbird. These quick little birds are exciting to watch and easy to please. A simple sugar/water mixture, or “just add water” concentrate, is all you need. Along with a feeder of course!
Summer feeding isn’t without its downsides though; there are a few things to consider before you fill your feeders!

During the summer it is vital to keep feeders clean. If it rains or if it is very humid there is the possibility that mold and bacteria begin to grow in the seed. This can be harmful to the birds. Cleaning your feeders regularly is a must.

The same is to be said about bird baths. It is important to make sure the water does not become stagnant. Not only will this provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes but also bacteria that may be harmful to birds and their plumage. This is not to discourage putting out a bird bath. It is actually important to provide the birds with a fresh constant source of water for drinking and keeping their feathers in top condition. Adding something to keep the water moving is a great way to discourage mosquitoes from laying their eggs in your bird bath, birds are also more attracted to moving water. Consider adding small rocks or pebbles to your bird bath if it is deep to encourage the birds to use it.

There is also the threat of raccoons and other animals that may get into your feeders. If you see these animals in your yard or hear that they are in the neighbourhood it is advised that you take your feeders down for a few days, they will move on if there is nothing around to eat. Common sense dictates that these animals will be far more attracted to the smell of garbage, barbeques, and, fruit trees, than the bird seed. They are not seeking it but will, of course, dig in if they come across some!

You may also consider taking advantage of the good weather and join a birding group! Summer birding can be a real treat, so grab your binoculars and get out there!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Nite Guard Solar®

            Nite Guard® predator deterrent works by preying on the primitive fear of being watched, and proves to be an effective tool against unwanted intruders.

            The bright red flash mimics the reflection of a predator’s eye at night. These solar powered and light activated lights begin to flash at dusk. To be most effective one Nite Guard® should be placed in each direction the unwanted animals are coming from. Mounting them to a pole at eye level of the intruders is the best way to guarantee it will be seen. Placed properly they will protect an area of several hundred yards, though the light is not bright enough to be a bother to you or your neighbours.
            Nite Guard® is ideal if you have a problem with raccoons, fox, deer, skunk, coyotes, and also, bears. Nite Guard® also works against hawks and owls, you must however mount it approximately 10-14’ on a pole so that it is visible during flight.

            Nite Guard Solar® are available in store at the Backyard Birder Nature Gift Shop, please contact for availability!

Nite Guard and Nite Guard Solar are registered trademarks of Nite Guard, LLC.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Getting ready for spring!

With spring comes a veritable bonanza of birds. Returning from their winter migration most are back to nest and enjoy the good weather!

You can expect to see returning Robins, Warblers, Sparrows, and, Wrens. The warmer months also brings back predators such as Kestrels and Sharp-Shinned Hawks. Though some ducks will Winter in the areas with open water most do migrate south. Feeding ducks is a popular past time for many, it’s encouraged to feed corn if available. Bread contains very little nutritional benefits to ducks, because they are simply empty calories. One of the largest birds that returns in the spring is the Great Blue Heron, if you live near water or have a cottage you’re surely familiar with this majestic bird. Its neighbour the Common Loon will also be back to lakes and ponds near you to nest.

Since most are indeed back to nest a great way to help out the birds this spring is to provide nesting material. Birds use twigs, grass, and, mud to build their nests. There are all sorts of materials you can put out for the birds like cut up bits of yarn, synthetic feathers, lint from your dryer, and, even the fur from the brush you use on your cats and dogs. Hang the material in a wire basket or place it on the ground in high traffic areas were the birds will easily notice it. While there is no guaranteed way to get a pair to nest in your yard combining nesting materials with nesting boxes is a great way to increase the odds.

Setting up a bird bath is also a great way to attract birds to your yard, especially those that do not feed at feeders. Water is important to birds not only for hydration but to keep their feathers clean and healthy. You must take care to clean it and change the water regularly to prevent the water from becoming stagnant. Not only will harmful bacteria grow but it will provide a ripe breeding ground for mosquitoes. 

Since many birds will have young this spring feeding provides a helpful dose of energy for busy parents. It should be noted though that most chicks will not eat grains and seeds. Meal worms, bugs, and, grubs can also be offered alongside your regular feeders. As the chicks begin to fledge you may see them at the feeders. By the time they do fledge and start to eat seeds they are for the most part full grown so they may be hard to differentiate from the older birds. The easiest way to tell them apart is by their feathers. They will still be sporting their juvenile plumage which generally isn't as bright and vibrant as their adult counterparts.

Last and certainly not least, Hummingbirds should be back in a matter of weeks! For more information on Hummingbirds and attracting them to your yard check out our post about these fun little birds.

The rush of spring can provide some of the best birding of the year so be sure to stop by the store and get everything you need before the birds arrive from their winter holiday!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Bird Journal

Do you ever struggle to remember the birds you've seen and when you saw them? If you’re like us you simply cannot rely on a photographic memory, because you don’t have one!

A great way to remember and track the many you birds you've seen is to keep a bird journal; it does not need to be complicated or costly!

A simple lined journal is all you need, though you can also generate your journal on a computer. Using a computer to generate your journal creates a neat, easy to reference, table with species, year, and, location columns. You may also want to track the weather conditions and the surrounding habitat. Filling out the species column with birds you know you're going to see is a great way to stay organized for quick entries. Take care to leave blank rows and columns for new sightings or rare birds that can be filled in as needed. Starting anew at the beginning of the year is an easy way to archive your sightings for easy reference. You can also use your field guide to journal, leaving shorthand notes beside the species you see. 

With your written journal you can also, if you’re artistically inclined, keep a pictorial journal with drawings or even photographs you've taken of different bird sightings. A journal is also a great way to track the number of birds you've seen. Now is the perfect time to start! The "Great Backyard Bird Count" will be taking place from Friday, February 15th to Monday, February 18th!

Together, with a good set of binoculars and a field guide, a pen and paper are a birder’s best friends!

Happy Birding!

Friday, 11 January 2013


The type of feeder you should put up depends largely on what kinds of birds you are getting in your yard and which you’d like to attract.
                                                Tube Feeders: Tube feeds are available for sunflower seeds and Nyjer seeds; they come in a variety of sizes to suit any budget.

Squirrel Proof:  The Squirrel Proof feeders that we carry feature a weight based mechanism which is factory set to close under the weight of a squirrel or can be adjusted depending on the model. They are available for both Sunflower Seeds and Peanut Halves.

Pigeon Proof: These Feature cage around feeder which doesn’t allow pigeons to land on feeder, they are not squirrel proof; these feeders also thwart larger birds allowing the smaller birds to feed.

Peanut in a Shell: Highly entertaining and popular Wreath Feeder. This wreath is designed with Blue Jays in mind.

Peanut Wreath

Trays: Alternative to ground feeding. Reduces mess and makes feed more visible for birds attracting them to your yard.
Fly-through: Large visually pleasing feeders. Large feed surface
Hopper: Much like the fly-through just with a feed hopper. Reduces refill frequency.

Windows Feeders: Small plastic feeders that are affixed to a window with suction cups. Great for beginners and children!

Aspect Window Feeder - Aspect Inc.

As with nearly everything you buy you get what you pay for. This is not to say that you have to spend a large amount of money to get a good feeder! One of our favourite brands is Droll Yankee, due to high standard for quality and their lifetime warranty.

Feeders with painted metal hardware are recommended due to the added durability of the parts. It is also important to remember to clean your feeders regularly; moisture in the feeder can stimulate the growth of mold and bacteria which may be harmful to the birds. A feeder that is easy to take apart and re-assemble with few small parts is ideal for ease of cleaning.

You can view a selection of our feeders and the various styles on our website Also, do not hesitate to leave a question or comment here or on Facebook. If you’re really feeling zealous take a picture of your feeding stations/feeders and share it with us on Facebook.

Visit us in store to see our full selection of feeders so you can find one that suits your needs!