Posted on

The Sneaky Squirrel

There are many members of the squirrel family, tree squirrels, flying squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and woodchucks. They love to dig holes in lawns and gardens in search of roots, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, and nuts. These cute critters also like to stock up supplies, burying nuts and seeds to help them survive harsh winters.

Squirrels spend much of their time in trees looking for food, having their young, seeking shelter, gathering food, and escaping predators. We humans have altered the landscape forcing squirrels to use almost anything that resembles a tree to hide from predators, seek shelter, store food, and raise their young.

Squirrels will give birth at varying times of the year, depending on the species and location. Females will give birth to between two and five babies weaning them at 12 weeks. The mother usually drives them away soon after that and may raise another litter of young before the fall.

The squirrel pose, sitting still, with their tails over their backs to cover their bodies keeping them warm in winter and cool in the summer. Contrary to what many believe, squirrels are almost never responsible for transmitting diseases to humans. Squirrels’ behavior is in fact good for the environment.

Are You Aware That:
Squirrels often forget where they stored their supply of seeds and nuts for the winter. This unclaimed supply often take root, establishing trees and other plants in new locations. Squirrels play a vital role in sustaining and expanding plant communities and ecosystems. Imagine how many trees have sprouted because of squirrels’ short memories.

Squirrels and Your Yard:
Squirrels rarely damage plants. They are only active during the day making it easy to see for yourself if squirrels are responsible for damage to plants and vegetables. Of course, if you know the damage occurs at night, you can rule squirrels out and should focus your efforts on nocturnal animals in your area, such as raccoons and opossums. To keep squirrels out of your garden you can use Bonide Repels All, an all-natural animal repellent. It is available in a spray or granular, simply apply on the soil surrounding your plants and trees.

Since squirrels love to dig they often dig up your bulbs! Applying Organic Blood Meal is a great solution. The smell turns them away and will protect your bulbs. Blood Meal is also an organic form of nitrogen for your bulbs. Apply every 2 months.

Squirrels & Your Home

Squirrels give birth at different times of the year depending on the species. They often use attics, chimneys, sheds,or openings under porches and roofs as dens to raise their young. To avoid separating young squirrels from their parents, squirrels should not be removed until the breeding season has ended. Trapping and moving the family is not recommended because it will almost inevitably lead to separation, and, as a result, baby squirrels may die.

When you’re ready to humanely remove the squirrels from your home, begin by inspecting attics and eaves to find openings where the squirrels enter and exit, concentrating efforts on areas where noises have been heard.

Seal the opening with mesh hardware cloth or sheet-metal flashing, securely fastened.Trim overhanging limbs to prevent access to your house.

Posted on

Why We Need Bats

Bats play a very important role in many places around the world. There are plants that depend partly or wholly on bats to pollinate and or spread the seeds of the plant. There are other bats which assist in pest control by eating up to 100 mosquitoes an hour preventing the West Nile Virus, and eating other insects that destroy the crops of farmers.

Many people are afraid of bats, and there is no reason to be. Bats are a friend to mankind and to the world as a whole. There are over 500 plant species which rely on bats to take care of pollination, including but not limited to the banana, cocoa and mango fruits. Disease from insects have killed off more than a third of these plants, and bats help secure the continuation of a healthy harvest.

The vast majority of bats, including the seven or eight species found here on Long Island, are insectivores. Their ability to sense their surroundings by emitting ultrasonic pulses produced in the larynx (200 pulses per second), and hearing the pulses echo back from objects, is truly astonishing. Although they are nocturnal and rely on this form of echolocation to hunt, bats have eyes and can see. Bats have remarkable longevity for such a tiny animal. One of our bat species, the Little Brown Bat that tops the scales at a mere third of an ounce, may reach 24 years of age!
Here are just a few of the myths surrounding bats:

Bat myths

    • Bats do not have a high incidence of rabies (less than 0.5%). But if a bat allows you to approach, it is probably sick and should be avoided.
    • Bats flying over your head are not trying to attack you. They are catching insects that are attracted to you.
    • Vampire bats prefer farm animals such as cattle or birds to humans.
    • And the last most important: bats never get tangled in people’s hair!

Many people misunderstand bats, they think that they are a pest. Bats are actually the Pest Controller! Thousands upon thousands of insects are eaten every night by bats. The analogy that they suck your blood is one of the biggest urban myths out there! They will however suck the blood out of the mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile Virus which makes them a good friend!

Over 50% of the bat population do not survive infancy. A female bat has only 1 offspring a year thus, the bat population recovery is very slow. It is important that people are educated about bats to assist in getting the bat population to increase.

Everyone needs to become more aware and interested in bats and to help take action o protect them. The Dees’ Nursery has Bat Houses available to help in protecting these valuable members of our ecosystem! Stop in today and ask about our Bat Houses!

Posted on

Bird Feeders – Which Bird Feeder is Right For Your Home

Bird Feeders – The Basics

As it gets colder, natural sources of food for birds dwindle. Bird feeders help our feathered friends by supplementing their diets with birdseed, suet, water, and nectar. Setting up the right bird feeder can also create a great opportunity for you and your family to enjoy bird watching and nature from the comfort of your home.

The most common birds of the Long Island backyard are the Cardinal, Chickadee, Finches, Blue Jays, Titmice, Wrens, Sparrows, Woodpeckers, and Hummingbirds. Whether you want to attract a specific type of bird or as many varieties as possible you will need to keep the following things in mind when choosing a bird feeder.

Which Bird Feeder Is Right for You?

Specific bird feeders attract specific kinds of birds. The more bird feeders you have in your yard the more birds you will attract. Having more than one bird feeder also keeps feeder crowding to a minimum. This makes for a welcoming environment for your new friends. There are ground feeders, tube feeders, suet feeders, hopper feeders, and thistle feeders.

Tube Bird Feeders

Tube bird feeders are probably the most common feeders used today. They come in a variety of lengths and usually have multiple feeding stations. These are the best choice for the beginner as they allow you to attract the widest variety of species. Some feeders even have 3 tubes so you can put 3 types of seed and attract even more birds. Some have large openings for bigger seed like sunflowers. These are for you larger birds. Some have small openings for thistle or nyger seed. These are for smaller birds.

 Tube Bird Feeder

Triple Tube Bird Feeder

 

Hopper Bird Feeders

Hopper bird feeders are another very popular style of feeders. They have very large chambers for holding birdseed. They come in many shapes such as a house, gazebo, lighthouse, lanterns, or covered bridges. They are very easy to fill and basically work the same way. You fill the feeder to the top and the seed comes thru slats on the bottom usually into a tray. These are great to attract your larger birds like cardinals and blue jays which aren’t as comfortable feeding on smaller tube feeders. One downside to the hopper feeder is the easy access for squirrels.


Hopper Bird Feeder

Hopper Bird Feeder

Platform Bird Feeders

Platform bird feeders are almost like shelves that you place seed on. They are exposed to weather and all critters. They will hold a large amount of bird seed and attract a wide variety of birds including small perching birds as well as the larger birds. Platform bird feeders will also hold pretty much any type of bird seed as well as fruits, nuts, worms and insects and digestive amendments like grit.


Platform Bird Feeder

Specialty Types of Bird Feeders

Specialty bird feeders attract a large mix of wild birds to your yard. Some of these specialty bird feeders vary on the type so food you use, the construction and look of the feeder and can be used for specific purposes like keeping squirrels out of your bird feeder.

Suet Bird Feeders

Suet bird feeders are mesh feeders that hold the high energy, high calorie suet bird feed. They look like small wire baskets that are specifically designed to hold a suet cake. A common size is 4 inches by 4 inches but other sizes are available. They are great for attracting woodpeckers but cardinals, bluebirds, and wrens love them too.

Suet Bird Feeder

Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbird feeders are exactly as they sound. Specifically for hummingbirds, these bird feeders hold liquid nectar. They are either in a bottle shape or a saucer shape.

Bottle Hummingbird Feeder

Saucer Hummingbird Feeder

Saucer Hummingbird Feeder

Peanut Bird Feeders

Peanut bird feeders are similar to a tube feeder but instead of having a glass tube, they have a wire mesh tube. They will dispense highly nutritious peanuts to almost any bird. If you have never had one, you should try it. Peanut bird feeders will bring many other species to your backyard that you many not have seen before. Most birds will love the peanuts.


Peanut Bird Feeder

Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders

Just as everyone is trying to build the better mouse trap so are they with a bird feeder to deter squirrels. There are some great squirrel proof bird feeders available now that make it almost impossible for a squirrel to get at the birdseed. These bird feeders have trap doors, spinning perches, and wire grating around them. Half the fun of squirrel proof bird feeders is watching the squirrels try to “break in” to them.


Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder

Window Bird Feeders

Window bird feeders are usually very small and can attach to your living room or kitchen window. They hold only a little seed but they allow you to get very close to the birds from inside your home. They usually attach to the glass by suction cups.

Window Bird Feeder

Bird Water Trays and Birdbaths

We must not forget a bird water tray for your new found friends. Leave a water tray or a birdbath out all year. Not only do they need this to drink but birds do like to clean themselves. Dees’ Nursery has bird bath heaters to prevent them from icing up in the winter months.

Where Should You Put Your Bird Feeder?

Choosing the right spot for your bird feeder is the key to success in birding. Just hanging it in the nearest tree isn’t always sufficient. Not only do you need to consider the feeding style of the birds you also need to consider the threat of neighborhood cats as well as window collisions. Even though they aren’t a hazard, squirrels want to get at your bird feeder and steal your seed.

Wild birds would prefer as little human contact as possible so place the feeder with the least amount of traffic. You also need to put the feeder in an area that is easy for you to fill it with birdseed. Bad weather is the #1 reason feeders aren’t filled so make sure your feeder is in a spot that will allow you to fill it quickly and easily in rain or snow.

Protect Your Bird Feeder from Predators

As you attract more birds to your yard, not all of them will be able to feed at one time so it is important for you to make a backyard habitat that will allow the birds to hide and take cover while they are waiting their turn to feed. The proper choice of trees and evergreens will help your birds. You want to have your feeder close to the natural shelter for quick and easy access in case of an intrusion but also far enough away so the predator can’t jump to the feeder.

Posted on

Bird Seed Bonanza

Choosing a bird seed type or a blend can be beneficial to both you and the birds in your area. From humming bird food to wild bird food, knowing what you need for your area and what types of birds you wish to attract or deter can play a huge factor in your birding success.

Nothing completes a beautiful landscape better than the sound of chirping birds. It may surprise you that birding is a very popular hobby across the United States, especially on Long Island since the most wildlife any of us see around these parts is the squirrel.

Even though birds can adapt to severe weather and shortages of food, having a bird feeder in your yard during the colder months is sure to get a wide variety of colorful song birds hanging around your house.

Bird Food Types & Their Benefits
Many of you come into Dees and see the huge selection of bird seed we carry but you may not know the benefits of each. Please read on to get a quick education on the different types of bird food. Use this as a guide when deciding on what you want to use in your bird feeder. Also note that there are bird seed blends that combine many individual seeds together to make mixes to attract many different types of birds.

Sunflower Seeds

  • Black Oil Sunflower: This type of seed has very high oil content. It will attract large birds and small birds due to the thin shell that is easy for them to crack open. Pound for pound this seed is the best bang for your buck.
  • Sunflower Kernels: Kernels are the sunflowers without the shells on them. If you want to prevent the mess under your feeder then this is the seed you should use. Kernels will be eaten by all birds.
  • Striped Sunflower: These seeds have thicker shells then black oil sunflower and are best to attract the larger birds like Cardinals. The thicker shells will deter some birds but if this is the only seed available, most birds will do what they have to so they can get the kernel.

Safflower Seed

  • Safflower is another great seed with high calorie and oil content. It is an excellent choice when you want to attract Cardinals, Chickadees, Finches, and Sparrows. If you like to feed Doves then this is a great seed.
  • One great benefit of safflower is squirrels do not like to eat it.

Hulled Peanuts (Peanuts with the Shell Removed)
Peanuts are packed with high energy calories. Even though they are an excellent feed for the birds anytime of the year, they are especially great for the winter months due to their high fat content. They are a favorite of Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Blue Jays, Cardinals and more. When you are thinking high calories and oil content, it’s hard to top peanuts when it comes to both.

  • Hulled peanuts should be used in a peanut feeder or other feeders with large seed ports. They can also be put on a tray/platform feeder.
  • Hulled peanuts are also great for feeding squirrels.

Peanuts in the Shell
Peanuts in the shell are loved by Blue Jays, Woodpeckers, and Cardinals. Smaller birds like Chickadees and Nuthatches will also eat peanuts. Peanuts in the shell would best be offered on a tray/platform feeder or in a feeder specifically designed for peanuts. They are also a great source of high energy for squirrels.

Nyjer Seed
Different from thistle, Nyjer is a small seed that packs a big punch. It contains a high oil and calorie content and is a favorite of all Finches and other small birds. Those of us in the biz refer to this seed as “black gold” due to the higher price associated with getting it to market so it is suggested you use a feeder specifically designed with small openings in it so not to spill or waste the seed onto the ground. Ground feeding birds like Juncos and Sparrows will also eat this seed.

Millet
Millet is commonly found in bird seed blends. It is an inexpensive form of protein for the backyard birds. Almost all birds will eat it and works equally well in a feeders or on the ground.

Cracked Corn
An essential of the bird diet as it is high in carbohydrates, fats, and fibers plus also aids in digestion. It is best to use this in a blended mix or alone as a ground feed.

  • Attracts Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Woodpeckers.
  • Great to feed the squirrels.
  • It is important to keep cracked corn dry at all times.

Suet Cakes
Suet is hardened animal fat that is made into cakes and mixed with bird seed. It is a quick source of high energy and heat for the birds that have very high metabolism.

  • Suet is great for the birds 12 months a year. During the winter suet is a great as a supplement for insects which are hard to find in the colder months.
  • Suet is enjoyed by all backyard birds. Use a feeder specifically designed to hold the suet cake and you will have a feeder that is very low maintenance.

Bird Seed Blends
Blends of bird seed are mixes of different kinds of seeds. There are different grades depending on what seed is in each blend. Certain blends will contain more of one type of seed to attract a specific type of bird. We can always offer suggestions.

Corn on the Cob
If you can’t beat em, join em. Don’t forget our bushy tail friends. Squirrels have been trying to beat us at this game for years. They are a lot of fun to watch as they try to get at your bird seed. Put some dried corn on the cob on a squirrel feeder and you will watch in amazement for hours at how persistent they can be.

Attracting birds to your yard can bring you and your family closer to nature and hours of enjoyment. Knowing these basics on the differences in bird seed will give you a head start in making your yard a bird haven.