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
In the past several months in Northwest and North Central Florida, local outbreaks of a particularly virulent species of the bacteria Salmonella have caused mortality in songbirds, most notably Northern Cardinal. There have been no such reports in Alachua County yet but the pattern suggests that we could be next if this species of Salmonella keeps moving.
It’s time to clean your feeders. Salmonella outbreaks begin when birds and other animals, especially rodents, come into contact with feces. Salmonella can then spread by contact with material other than feces, even feather-to feather contact. While Salmonella outbreaks start by contact with feces, they spread in multiple ways.
Clean feeders and birdbaths frequently. For maximum effect against Salmonella, use a light bleach solution (Ten parts water to one part bleach) and allow the feeder or bath to remain moistened by the solution for 10 minutes. Rinse all surfaces with fresh water and allow to dry before putting food back in the feeder or water back in the bath.
Spread feeders out away from each other. When a bird defecates at a birdfeeder, it directs the feces out and away from the feeder. So, feces doesn’t end up in the feeder that a bird is using but it can end up on a feeder that is placed near it. Try to establish some distance between feeders especially when one feeder is located underneath another.
Use high quality, fresh seed. Salmonella can proliferate in the seed itself. Feeders filled with junk blends contain a lot of material that either gets cast out on the ground or remains uneaten in the feeder. Old seed will eventually become moldy and stuck in feeders and storage containers. Clean this old seed out and disinfect all surfaces before refilling with high quality, fresh seed.
Use Ecoclean® treated feeders whenever possible. WBU EcoClean products continuously protect themselves against the surface growth of bacteria, mold and other microbes. In cooperation with Agion®, Wild Birds Unlimited has conducted numerous tests on effectiveness of the antimicrobial properties of the materials that go into making our antimicrobial treated bird feeders. These are the best and most advanced feeders available for practicing responsible and conscientious bird feeding in your yard.
Keep squirrels off of feeders. If you haven’t looked into a way of keeping squirrels from climbing up your feeder poles and getting into the birdseed then it’s time to do that. Squirrels move along the ground and pass through areas where feces are cast. They then climb the pole and hang on birdfeeders passing fecal material to the exact places that birds perch and eat.
Use the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's bird mortality reporting feature to report any dead birds you may observe.
Mealworms are an indispensable ingredient of a diverse feeder array but are most popular in breeding season. While adult birds are feeding hungry mouths in the nest or teaching fledglings how to forage on their own, local breeding species will eat as many mealworms as you put in the feeders. Live mealworms are more likely to bring immediate results and are by far the better option during nesting season. Roasted mealworms can be mixed with seed blends and don’t require special handling. If you haven’t used mealworms in your feeders before, breeding season is the time to give it a try. See this video for a little taste of what it means to the Carolina Chickadees and Carolina Wrens in our yard.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration seemed to be a little late this year but you can judge for yourself by studying the chart below. It's a frequency chart comparing historical records from 1900 through the present to those of just 2016. The historical line is blue and the 2016 line is pink.
Note that migration peaks in April and numbers decline slightly but steadily into summer as birds move further north in the Ruby-throated's breeding range. Then, things start to pick up in late summer as young birds fledge and begin to forage on their own. Things pick up to a new peak during fall migration and then fall away to almost nothing in the winter.
Attract hummingbirds to your yard by planting nectar producing plants and offering a nectar solution of four parts water to one part granulated cane sugar. Change the nectar and wash your feeder every three to four days (more often in hot weather). Never add red food coloring, honey, or artificial sweeteners. Also, hummingbirds love a water mister, especially when they are set up to spray into foliage.
Last year we brought in Nectar Defender, an all natural additive that keeps nectar fresh for longer periods. Its safety has been studied and reviewed by multiple reputable scientific organizations and is the first nectar additive we’ve ever been willing to sell. Nectar spoils especially quickly in Florida. Nectar Defender prolongs the life of your nectar making it safer for your birds and less hassle for you.
In the past 10 years or so, a furtive species of large, nocturnal duck has gradually been making inroads as an established species in the Gainesville area. Their population expansion is a bit of a mystery but, in the past year, conditions in suburban Gainesville for the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (BBWD) have favored a dramatic increase in its presence. Each evening around dusk, dozens upon dozens of BBWDs fly from daytime roosts south toward the prairie and similar habitats to forage. Each morning around dawn, they return to their daytime roosts.
It's difficult to see BBWDs as they fly overhead in poor light conditions but their loud, almost comical whistling calls give their presence away. Click here to study the BBWD and here to listen to recordings of its call. Have you been hearing them?
Technology has brought a new dimension to the enjoyment of birdfeeding and birdwatching at Wild Birds Unlimited. Now, you can enjoy highly entertaining videos of local bird activity shot with our own GoPro action camera by subscribing to our Facebook and Youtube pages and by checking our store website frequently for updates to our Local Bird Videos page.
WBU of Gainesville has a Facebook page for birding and feeder news. Check it out!