We’re passionate about birds and nature. That’s why we opened a Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop in our community.
4212 NW 16th Boulevard
Gainesville, FL 32605
Phone: (352) 381-1997
Fax: (352) 381-1995
Email: Send Message
Mon - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
No bird graces the air quite like a kite. Here in suburban Gainesville, we have two species over which to marvel. The Mississippi Kite is the more common since it nests annually in many locations inside of the city but it’s a subtle beauty, requiring an observer with keen eyes or good fortune. The Swallow-tailed Kite is less common in town but it’s more of a pure “eye catcher” with its deeply forked black tail and white body contrasting against both tail and wings.
Both species are fully migratory. The Swallow-tailed arrives around early March and leaves as early as August. The Mississippi is on a similar schedule but a month or so later. Both species are breathtakingly graceful and their foraging habits bring them consistently near the level of the treetops or lower, obligingly close for an eager observer.
When you have an opportunity to observe a kite at close range, look for the delicate nature of its tail ruddering and how the wing feathers seem to move almost independently from one another while performing the obvious group functions of remaining aloft and changing direction. Kites not only give form to the invisible – the wind, they also texturize it in beautiful detail.
To learn more about both species, click Mississippi Kite and Swallow-tailed Kite or visit www.allaboutbirds.org and search for both species by name. To learn about what one local research institute is doing to conserve the Swallow-tailed Kite in particular, visit the Avian Research and Conservation Institute’s website at www.arcinst.org.
WBU is proud to be the first brick-and-mortar retailer of Gainesville’s own Rescue Threads. Rescue Threads is a non-for-profit that reclaims retired firefighter bunker gear and makes fashionable but quirky handbags and very practical oven mitts. All of Rescue Threads’ profits go to grants for underfunded firehouses. If there’s any type of fabric that should serve well as an oven mitt, it would be something that a firefighter would wear into a fire. Each garment carries a unique story of toil and heroism and now, it can also be the perfect gift.
Rescue Threads’ oven mitts are deep, making them very practical for grill masters who cook all the way to the back of the grill. A reflective safety stripe is stitched into each mitt, making wayward grill masters easy to find after sunset.
Stop by the store today and ask our Certified Birdfeeding Specialists which foods and feeders are best for bird dads this season. Here are some fun facts about feathered fathers!
The Father-of-the-Year Award goes to the Downy Woodpecker. Though they share daytime nest duties with their mate, only the fathers incubate and brood at night and they roost in the nest until their offspring fledge.
Chickadee and nuthatch dads feed Mom while she incubates and broods the eggs. Dad also helps feed the young once they have hatched.
Downy Woodpecker and American Goldfinch dads like to take the family out to eat. When the young brood fledges from the nest, Dad leads them to great food sources as well as teaches them how to use his favorite backyard bird feeders.
Ladies love a sharp-dressed man, even in the bird world. Only the most colorful, sharp-dressed House Finch and goldfinch males are preferred by their female counterparts. Carotenoids, a pigment found in foods that create red, orange and yellow to violet colors in feathers, help a potential dad communicate his reproductive fitness via a vibrant and bright plumage. It also shows females that he can be a good family provider knowing where to find quality food and lots of it.
The White-breasted Nuthatch male gets a special protection detail. His mate is the "watchdog," protecting her man from trouble, leaving him more time to concentrate on hunting for food. She rarely strays far from him and stays in constant vocal contact when more than a few yards apart.
Pygmy and Brown-headed Nuthatches provide future dads with on-the-job training. A third of all breeding pairs of Pygmy Nuthatches have one to three male helpers, usually their own offspring or other relatives. Between 20-60% of breeding Brown-headed Nuthatch pairs have at least one helper. These helpers, which could be future moms too, assist in feeding the incubating female, the nestlings and the young fledglings.
Dads dig tools. Nuthatches, males and females, are one of the few species of birds known to use "tools." The White-breasted Nuthatch has been known to use certain beetles as a tool by crushing ones that are stinky and sweeping them in and around their nest site to deter squirrels from their eggs and young. The Brown-headed Nuthatch will take a loose flake of pine bark in its bill and use it to pry up other scales of bark in search of prey.
Adult male Song Sparrows love to perform. They sing about six to twenty different melodies every eight seconds and may average over 2,300 songs during an entire day. The larger their repertoire of songs, the more successful they are in attracting a mate and in holding their territories.
Mourning Dove dads love to raise families. They may have up to six clutches per year, usually with two eggs per clutch. This is the most of any North American bird, most likely due to the fact that the average life span for an adult Mourning Dove is 1 ½ years.
The male Northern Cardinal 'kisses' his mate during courtship. He feeds her seeds while courting her and it appears they are kissing.
You can help hummingbirds keep their energy level up and attract them to your yard by offering a nectar solution. Mix four parts water and one part ordinary table sugar to create the perfect nectar solution. Example: (4 cups of water, 1 cup of sugar)
Change the nectar and wash your feeder in hot water every three to four days (more often in hot weather). Some of our feeders can even be washed in the top rack of your dishwasher.
If you plan to store nectar in the refrigerator, boil the water first before creating and storing your nectar solution. Never add red food coloring, honey, or artificial sweeteners.
The density of hummingbirds in Florida is a far cry from what we find further north and west. We typically prefer lower volume feeders so that we don’t have to waste as much nectar once it starts to go bad. Check out our new four-ounce WBU Window Hummingbird Feeder.
WBU of Gainesville has a Facebook page for birding and feeder news. Check it out!