Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vittle Vaults

In an article from the Chattanooga Times, a writer struggles with the Indian Meal Moth--a pest known to anyone who stores wild bird food or pet food in their home.

One interesting solution the writer tried besides the usual sticky traps was the Vittle Vaults. The patented design of the vaults prevents food from going rancid and keeps pests out. The theory is that since the lids are air tight, if moths are in the bird seed when inside the container, they cannot live without oxygen and will die.

Read the full article here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

End Of Birdwatch Radio

The Birdwatch Radio podcast has now ended. It's a tough market for media, even tougher for the birding industry. All of the previous podcasts will remain online and the final podcast is Steve Moore's reasons for ending.

Meanwhile, Birding Adventures continues to go on strong.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Some Science On Why Squirrels Are So Clever

From Science Daily comes an article about researches studying the gray squirrel's ability to learn from other squirrels by watching each other, especially when it comes to stealing food. It's the first study that officially tests gray squirrel observation skills.

Researchers tested the squirrels' ability to learn to choose between two pots of food after watching another squirrel remove a nut from one of the pots. One group was rewarded for choosing the same pot as the previous squirrel, the second group was rewarded for targeting the other pot.

Those that were rewarded for choosing food from the other pot learned more quickly than those that were rewarded for choosing the same pot, suggesting that gray squirrels learn more quickly to recognize the absence of food.

The study was repeated, but instead of observing another squirrel, the animals were trained with the use of a card. In this test, the squirrels showed no significant difference in their ability to learn to choose the same or opposite pot.

The study suggests that squirrels are primed to recognise other squirrels as potential food thieves. It also shows that they learn more quickly from real life observations than from cards.

This study could explain why feeders like the Yankee Flipper get so little attention from squirrels after being out for only 24 hours. The squirrels see another get flipped and they know to leave it alone.

Read the full article here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

1 in 5 Americans Are Watching Birds?

A new report released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shows one of every five Americans watches birds and that birdwatchers contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy in 2006.

The report – Birding in the United States: A Demographic and Economic Analysis –shows that total participation in birdwatching is strong at 48 million, and remaining at a steady 20 percent of the U.S. population since 1996. So where are they?

The five top states with the greatest birding participation rates include Montana (40 percent), Maine (39 percent), Vermont (38 percent), Minnesota (33 percent) and Iowa (33 percent).

The report identifies who birders are, where they live, how avid they are, and what general kinds of birds they watch. However, the report does little to give insight as to the bird feeding participants.

In addition to demographic information, the report provides an estimate of how much birders spend on their hobby and the economic impact of these expenditures. According to the report, the average birder is 50 years old and more than likely has a better than average income and education. She is slightly more likely to be female and highly likely to be white. There is also a good chance that this birder lives in the south in an urban area.

Backyard birding or watching birds around the home is the most common form of birdwatching. 88% (42 million) of birders are backyard birders. The more active form of birding, taking trips away from home, is less common with 42 percent (20 million).

Birding Adventures TV

There's a new birding show growing in popularity. Birding Adventures TV has been shown in the southern US and on the Internet for the last year, but is now getting national syndication via FOX Sports Network.

Hosted by professional wildlife and birding guide, James Currie, BATV is a unique blend of adventure and information, making birdwatching refreshing, contemporary, interesting and exciting. The show has a strong conservation emphasis and highlights the importance and urgency of preserving the planet’s incredible birdlife. Featuring the quest for a rare "Golden Bird" each week, James is joined by birding and conservation experts from around the globe.

Check your local listings for this exciting birding show.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Scott's Wild Bird Food Looking For An Ornithologist


This is a generalist position aimed to support the Bird Food business. The successful candidate would be responsible for the strategic development and design of a technical program to deliver product innovations. The successful candidate will have strong technical knowledge. The candidate's job responsibilities will include: Execute and follow the scientific process to assess
product performance against consumer and business needs, translate technical outcomes into action plans that lead to successful product development, Execute development of product ideation to market realization (formulation, process, claim support, stability, product performance). Scientific background is required - a background in environmental sciences, natural resources, or wildlife management.

Knowledge of ornithology is needed. Any experience in chemistry or pet care/food business is a plus. All interested candidates should apply directly to the through the company's website. Please type in requisition number 012506 in the keyword sections of the page to be directed to the position posting.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wisconsin DNR Warns Against Summer Bird Feeding

There is a very unfortunate press release put out by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says some feeders can accidentally kill other wildlife such as raccoons and skunks and even bear cubs.

The agency points to two cases in northwestern Wisconsin where bear cubs got their heads stuck in feeders while searching for food. In one case the cub's mother freed it. In the other, agency workers had to tranquilize the mother and cub and then remove the feeder.

DNR Wildlife Technician Robert Hanson says people shouldn't feed birds or any other animals during the summer. They know how to forage for themselves well enough. He warned that if people insist on feeders, they should be on strong poles at least 8 feet high.

It's interesting that just because of two bear cubs getting stuck, the Wisconsin DNR suddenly finds bird feeders are dangerous to raccoons and skunks as well. Now is the time for bird stores to take a proactive role and promote well made feeders that do not injure wildlife.

While bear information is helpful, it would be nice if the person issuing this statement actually knew a little bit about bird feeding instead of putting out an inaccurate blanket statement. Now is the time for bird stores to take an active role in promoting well made feeders that do not

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wild Bird Centers Takes Over National Bird Feeding Society

Wild Bird Centers of America, Inc. is now the exclusive sponsor of the National Bird Feeding Society.

Started 15 years ago, the NBFS goal has been to promote backyard bird attraction with solid, accurate information and also sponsors National Bird-Feeding Month each February to publicize the hobby. It also supports research about backyard birds.

The new NBFS website is hosted through Millikin University and still hopes to serve as a comprehensive resource for people who feed wild birds and to help them connect to the natural world through backyard bird feeding. The site still informs readers about bird seed and feeder preferences of wild birds and hopes to offer the most current news and developments in backyard bird feeding. It's also includes a store locater so you can find the nearest Wild Bird Center.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sunflower Grower Insurance

From the Associated Press:

The federal government is expanding an insurance program for sunflower farmers — two years after almost killing it — in a move that could help protect growers against fluctuating prices and low crop yields.

The protection could be especially important this year as sunflower seed prices continue to fall, and some farmers contemplate planting fewer flowers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects an 18 percent decrease in the number of sunflower acres planted nationwide.

A small sunflower crop could mean higher prices at the grocery store for cooking oil, snacks and other items made with sunflower seeds.

The program, which guarantees farmers a minimum price for their crop, could encourage some farmers to plant more sunflowers, said John Sandbakken, international marketing director for the Bismarck-based National Sunflower Association.

Sunflower seed prices, like those for other crops, have dropped during the recession. Farmers have lobbied for years to get protection from low prices as well as low yields. This year, the federal Risk Management Agency is expanding a program known as "revenue assurance" to most areas where sunflowers are grown in significant quantities.

U.S. farmers grew about 2.4 million acres of sunflowers worth just under $670 million last year, most in North Dakota, the nation's largest sunflower producer.

While traditional crop insurance protects farmers from production problems, revenue assurance policies also provide coverage for price drops, although profits still vary with production costs.

Revenue assurance allows farmers to lock in the springtime market price and pay extra on their premium to have the option of taking the harvest price if it's higher. If the harvest price is lower, they still get the spring price.

You can read the full article here.

Bear's Head Stuck In Bird Feeder

The big story about bird feeding this week is about a Wisconsin bear cub that got its head stuck in a bird feeder. Authorities had a dickens of a time trying to separate the cub from its protective mother in order to remove the bird feeder from its head. Don't worry, all ends well for the bear cub, you can read the full story here. You can see more photos here.

Now...I wonder which brand of feeder this is?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wild Birds Unlimited In California Has Record Memorial Day Sales

An article in Contra Costa Times features a Wild Birds Unlimited that had record sales over Memorial Day Weekend. Here's an excerpt:

"And if you thought the pet industry stopped at your fence line, you haven't been to Wild Birds Unlimited, a chain of more than 270 franchises throughout the country that cater to feeding wild birds, the second-most popular hobby next to gardening.

In Pleasant Hill, Mike Williams owns the Wild Birds Unlimited franchise on Contra Costa Boulevard that is not only the largest birdseed seller in the chain, but it's the largest in the entire country and apparently getting bigger.

"We just had a record Memorial Day weekend for sales,'' Williams said Tuesday of his store that has been in the same comfy confines since taking over a failed savings and loan building in 1991. "And that follows a record April and March.''

And this isn't just throw-some-seed-in-your-back-yard kind of stuff. There's some serious research going on here, such as Jim's Birdacious Butter Bark. Spread it on your favorite tree or anywhere else you would like to attract birds, and they will come quicker than hound dogs to a hunt.

Williams says people are staying at home more, making their back yards more of a "sanctuary'' and that wild birds become pets to those who feed them regularly, although the birds would not appreciate that tag, Williams says.

Noting consumer spending habits in a recession offers some valuable lessons. Clearly, pets and their needs are necessities when it comes to the family budget. Don't label pet food as discretionary spending."

You can read the full article here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Revised Woodworking For Wildlife

The popular how to build a bird house book known as Woodworking For Wildlife has been revised. The new edition includes more photos and plans for more varieties of species. The 164 page book includes over 300 photos of the houses and critters that use them.

Over 90,000 copies of this book have been sold since it first came out in 1995. It's written by Carrol Henderson of the Minnesota DNR, but includes plans or species all over the United States. The plans include the traditional species like chickadees, bluebirds, and wren, but there are also plans for dipper nests, bumblebee nests, toads, and flying squirrels as well as the latest on tweaks for designs like the nesting platform of the common loon.

The book retails for $16.95. Contact your book supplier for details on ordering.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Another Threat To The Cost Of Sunflower?

They've found another use for sunflower seeds...a means for delivering caffeine.

SumSeeds has found a way to not just put caffeine on the sunflower shell, but they have actually caffeinated the seeds themselves. "A lot of people chew sunflower seeds to stay awake and give them energy, and we just thought we'd combine the two of them," said Tim Walter, president of Carpenter-based Dakota Valley Products.

I will be interesting to see if this product takes off and affects the availability of seed for birds.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tips For Offering Discounts

There's a great article in Small Business Weekly offering tips on when to offer discounts:

Think before you slash. That's the advice John Quelch, a professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, gives to business owners tempted to cut prices. "You don't want to give away your profit margin to customers who still would have paid full price," he says.

Whether they're following Quelch's advice or acting impulsively, nearly 30% of small business owners say they have lowered their prices, according to a February survey by the National Federation of Independent Business. "They're struggling and asking, 'What can I do to save my business?'" says Martin Lehman, an adviser with the New York offices of SCORE, a nonprofit business counseling group.

If sales are hemorrhaging or customers are flocking to deal making competitors, discounting might be necessary. That's especially true if you've already exhausted other options, such as offering consumers extra perks or improved service. But chopping prices is not without risks, including a cheapened brand image and customers who will never pay full price again. And if there's no demand, even signs that scream "Lowest Price Ever!" won't draw customers.

To discount successfully, you need to take a look at what your competitors are up to, then analyze your company's previous experience with promotions. If discounting is uncharted territory, you might experiment with a short-term sale to test the waters or, if you can afford it, bring in a research firm to gauge customer responses to proposed price cuts.

Read the full article here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Squirrel Boss

Many saw the new remote-controlled-electrified-solar-powered-squirrel-resistant bird feeder called The Squirrel Boss at Birdwatch America this past January and some were anxious to give it a go in their stores. The feeders have been unavailable since the show but an announcement just came out that the feeders are now available for sale, visit their website for further details.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Worse Than Squirrels

Next time a customer complains about squirrels at the feeder, tell them it could be worse. BirdBlogger got this photo of rats (yes, that's rats in the plural) on a feeder.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Workers On Twitter and Facebook

Internet trends can change faster than the weather in any given state. But like it or not, Twitter and Facebook are the hot place to be. Some birding companies realize that a value is there. If companies like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts didn't think a social networking site like Twitter was worthwhile, would they waste time with having profiles and regular updates? Take a look at the number of followers they have--that's how many people have signed up to receive updates from them--their followers have said, "Yes, I would like to know what you have going on."

Some birding companies you can find on Twitter include a Wild Birds Unlimited in Upstate New York, a bird artist called Birdorable who sells bird t-shirts, mugs, and magnets, and a company called BirdHouse Outlet trying to get their online retail shop some business.

If you as a store manager or owner are not comfortable delving into the world of social media, look at your employees. Are any of them already plugged into the online world? Consider recruiting them to help you get your company message out. If they are already familiar with it, understand it, and enjoy doing it, why not tap that resource?

Companies are seeing the value of younger employees working on the Internet, even while engaging in personal use on the job. For many young people, it's how they interact with the world. Consider this article from The Salt Lake Tribune . It describes Marty Kotis, who owns a real estate development firm in Greensboro, N.C. He discovered on the company's monthly wireless bill, that staffers were racking up the charges with text messages. One employee alone had 2,500 messages, while two others had 800 and 700. But, he didn't reprimand the employees, because he realized that the ones with the highest text messages were also the ones who were the best at their jobs and worked extra hours.

Kotis noted that activities like texting and using Facebook and Twitter are more likely to be done by younger staffers, who use these tools to communicate with the entire world. That means they're probably using those communication channels for work, too. Kotis said one of his employees "pretty much did a deal through text."

Read the full article here, it's enlightening and also a realization that social media is not just something for staff to waste time on (although, that's not to say some staff will not abuse it on the job). But rather than fearing it and keep staff away from Twitter and Facebook, harness that power to your company's advantage.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oregon Bird Feeding Tax Stalled

The Oregon measure HB3303 that would have established a 10% excise tax on mixed wild bird feed products at the wholesale level, has stopped further action on the bill for the 2009 legislative session.

Key support for the measure was lost and at best, even bird lovers were divided. Proponents were concerned about creating opposition that would cripple future actions and may reach out to bird industry leaders and other key players to discuss actions for the 2011 legislative session.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

SongBird Essentials Increases Product Line

Songbird Essentials announced it’s recent acquisition of Rubicon International. Rubicon pioneered the durable Eco-friendly recycled-plastic bird feeders in the 1990’s and their current catalog includes over 40 products now stocked and serviced by Songbird Essentials. Additional “green” products are being developed.

“It’s a good fit for Songbird Essentials to round out their already remarkable selection of birding and backyard nature products,” said Bill Farrar President of Rubicon. Farrar will now spend time with other business interests.

Songbird Essetials also added Seed Hoops to their product line. The Seed Hoop took the wild-bird industry by storm last year with their two models of universal seed trays that easily attach to nearly every bird feeder. Songbird Essentials will continue to produce and market the popular Seed Hoops under a licensing agreement.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dos and Don'ts of Twitter

Maybe you saw Sam Crowe's article in the current Birding Business about using online resources or maybe you've heard everyone else out there talk about, but the hot social media site right now is Twitter.

Twitter is based on you having a profile on their site and updating a "micro blog" or your Twitter post (aka Tweet). A Tweet cannot have more than 140 characters including punctuation and spaces. When you start to follow different people on Twitter, others may follow you. If you write a Tweet that is funny or interesting to followers, they may pass it on or "ReTweet" it and hopefully you will get a bigger following.

But Twitter is not just about putting something out there, you also need interact with your followers. If someone wants to reply to you, they will put @username at the start of their Tweet. For example, my username on Twitter is birdchick. When a follower wants to reply to me or just ask a question, they will start their Tweet with @birdchick. I can check my @replies box on my Twitter Home Page and see if anyone asked a question or replied--even if I don't follow them. This makes Twitter more interactive, more fun for your readers, and a more effective marketing tool. If you don't want to interact on Twitter, do not expect a large following.

If you are just starting in Twitter and would like to know some basic etiquette, there's a good article on the Do's and Don'ts at PC Magazine to help you out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Interesting birdJam survey

In the latest newsletter from birdJam, they included the results of a survey of some of their customers. Within 30 minutes of sending out the 24-question online survey, more than 150 completed surveys had been returned. In a two-week period, more than 1,350 birdJammers completed the survey. Most surprising and perhaps encouraging news was that of the 1,350 who responded, 66% reported that the economic downturn would not affect their birding activities.

You can read the full birdJam newsletter and see the full results of their survey here.

Tell Customers To Clean Those Feeders!

Now is the time to make sure your customers are keeping their feeders clean. There are reports around the eastern US of birds, particularly finches, redpolls and siskins showing up dead at feeding stations.

The Washington Post reported that Jim Parkhurst an associate professor of wildlife at Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources said that bird deaths had been reported in Virginia, particularly in the western and southwestern parts of the state. Researchers have reported salmonella-related bird deaths throughout the Southeast. Birds normally carry some salmonella bacteria in their digestive tracks, and periods of stress such as cold weather or food shortages can weaken their systems.

Reports of dead birds are also coming from Wisconsin, Maine, and Minnesota. When dead birds are found at a feeding station, it's impossible to say for sure that the death was due to salmonella without testing. However, given the big finch irruption reported this winter, the melting snow, and the lack of cleaning that happens at feeding stations, it's not a far stretch to speculate that salmonella is the culprit.

It's a good reminder to customers to keep those feeders clean (or at least buy a new feeder if they are not going to clean the old one).

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nikon EcoBins

Nikon is committed to protect the environment is working to prevent pollution from part of its product to watch birds and wildlife. Their latest binocular, the EcoBin is designed to be as eco-friendly as possible!

The Nikon ecobins binocular, available in 10x25, features Eco-Glass which means the lenses and prisms are lead and arsenic free. As if that weren't eco-friendly enough, the rubber used on the binoculars is non-chloride rubber and there are no harmful inks or dyes used during production.

The binoculars are the ususla compact, rugged, waterproof and fogproof construction customers are accustom to in Nikon optics. MSRP is $169.95.

Included carrying case that is just too cha cha for words with its cute style. In keeping with the Eco bins name the strap and bag are constructed from environmentally-minded Lenzing TENCEL® fiber that is fully biodegradable should you loose it in the woods or throw it away. Derived from the wood pulp of sustainable eucalyptus forests, TENCEL® fiber utilizes a revolutionary manufacturing process with minimal waste. This product also provides the ultimate in performance, absorbing fifty percent more moisture than cotton. For more information about TENCEL fiber.

The eco friendly features of this product carry all the way through to the manner it is packaged. Nikon ecobins packaging is constructed from eighty-five percent post-consumer waste and is printed on recyclable FiberStone® paper. This recyclable paper is completely TREE-FREE and made from limestone collected as waste material from existing quarries for the building and construction industry. Production of this product uses no water or bleaching chemicals and releases zero pollution into the air.

For more information about Nikon's full line of Binoculars, Fieldscopes and Spotting Scopes, please contact: Nikon Sport Optics, 1300 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville, NY 11747-3064, or call 1-800-645-6687.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bears & Bird Feeding

States on the east coast are putting out warning on bears and bird feeders. As many black bears come out of their dens from hibernation, bird feeding stations are attractive to them.

Vermont is going as far as to tell people to stop feeding birds:

"We are asking people to stop feeding birds from April through late October," said Fish & Wildlife's Col. David LeCours. "Also, don't leave pet food outside, wash down your barbecues when done, and secure your garbage containers. And above all, never purposely leave food out for bears. Feeding bears may seem kind, but it is almost a sure death sentence for them."

Massachusetts and New Hampshire are also warning to bring in feeders due to black bear activity.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Salmonella In Wild Birds Unlimited Mixes

In an update about the Wild Birds Unlimited bird seed recall, here is the latest from Steve Troxler, the Commissioner for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:

"Test results of bird food from Wild Birds Unlimited, the retail source of the seed in question, indicated that Wild Birds Unlimited Wildlife Blend bird food with the specific manufacturing date code of 81132200 2916 08124 was positive for Salmonella. Also, Wild Birds Unlimited Woodpecker blend sold in 5-pound bags at a North Carolina store was positive for Salmonella. The bird seed Salmonella strain isolated during testing is different from the strain that is implicated in the current peanut product recall. These test results also indicated that the strain of Salmonella in the bird seed is different from the strain found in dead wild birds that have been examined by the NCDA&CS Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to date."

It is good news for WBU that the particular strain in their bird seed is not the same strain found in the dead birds. However, in the statement from Troxler, it goes on to say that even though this is not the same strain that can affect wild birds, this strain does have the potential to infect people and other animals and that was the main reason for the recall.

You can read the full statement here.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Nikon & Wild Bird Supply Sponsorship

Nikon® Sport Optics is pleased to announce its partnership with Freeport Wild Bird Supply in sponsoring the 2009 Spring Hawkwatch at Bradbury Mountain State Park in Pownal, Maine.

In 2007 and 2008, this project was sponsored and conducted by the Wild Bird Center of Yarmouth. Due to the loss of this business to fire in January, owners Jeannette and Derek Lovitch are opening Freeport Wild Bird Supply (hopefully April 1, 2009) to serve the backyard birdwatcher and birding community. Via the Freeport Wild Bird Supply, Derek and Jeannette will continue their work promoting birding opportunities in Maine, including the hawk count, which hosted 919 visitors in 2007.

This year, Freeport Wild Bird Supply is excited to partner with Nikon to continue this important project, where valuable data is collectedwhile providing an enjoyable and educational experience for visitors. "Nikon is proud to provide optics and financial support for the Hawkwatch at Bradbury Mountain State Park ", said Jon Allen, General Manager of Nikon Sport Optics.

"Supporting conservation and education is a cornerstone of the Nikon Birding Program."

As hawkcounters themselves in their previous lives, Jeannette and Derek are thrilled to help launch the field biology career of up-and- coming birder Danny Akers from Ankeny, Iowa. The project is pleased to introduce Danny as the third hawk counter for the Bradbury Mountain Raptor Research Project. He will be stationed at the summit from 9:00am to 5:00pm daily from March 15 to May 15, 2009.

The goal of the project is to document raptor migration by identifying and counting all raptors that pass by the mountain. Last spring, counters recorded 3,713 hawks, including 96 Bald Eagles, 369 Ospreys and 1,463 Broad-winged Hawks.

Over a period of years, these data can be analyzed to determine trends in species numbers as well as changes in distributions, which when studied in conjunction with other monitoring sites across the continent, give a broad scale idea of what is happening with raptor populations.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oregon Birdseed Levy

This just in from editor, Mitch Whitten:

Oregon would levy a 10 percent tax on backyard birdseed to help fund a state conservation fund if a new bill becomes law.

The tax would be applied to wholesale prices and could begin as early as January 1, 2010, according to the text of House Bill 3303. Defining the target of the tax, the law states that “‘birdseed’ means any mix of seeds designed to be fed to wild birds, including millet, milo, sunflower and thistle seeds.”

Funds raised by the tax on birdseed would support the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Conservation Strategy, “a blueprint and action plan for the long-term conservation of Oregon’s native fish and wildlife and their habitats through a non-regulatory, statewide approach to conservation,” according to the department’s website.

“[The Strategy] was developed by ODFW with the help of a diverse coalition of Oregonians including scientists, conservation groups, landowners, extension services, anglers, hunters, and representatives from agriculture, forestry and rangelands,” the website says.

One of the tax bill’s chief sponsors is State Representative Chris Garrett, a democrat elected last year from Lake Oswego, an affluent community south of Portland. According to his website, he has also proposed bills to “address algae outbreaks in Oregon rivers, and develop new mechanisms for ecosystem protection.”

The proposed Oregon birdseed tax is reminiscent of a similar episode from the late 1990s. Then, wild bird feeding industry leaders were concerned about the possibility of a national tax on birdseed.

A coalition of nature products leaders, including Swarovski, Commercial Packaging and Perky Pet, helped to avoid such a tax by forming the Migratory Bird Conservancy, a non-profit designed to raise funds to purchase and protect birding habitat. The MBC became defunct several years ago, however, for lack of support.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bird Seed Prices

Here's an interesting article from the Associated Press regarding the rising cost of wild bird feed in recent months. Here's an interesting excerpt regarding the reason behind the rise in nyjer prices:

"Two factors tightened the supply and drove prices up, said Gordy Kribs, senior trader who specializes in birdseed imports for North Pacific Ag Products in Portland, Ore.

Some 30 to 50 percent of the Indian nyjer crop was wiped out by rainstorms in January. In turn, Ethiopian contractors, seeing an opportunity to capitalize, withheld shipments of their nyjer in hopes to securing higher prices, Kribs said.

Nyjer, known to attract colorful finches, has typically traded at 50 to 60 cents a pound on the wholesale market. It is now trading above $1 a pound, Kribs said. Retail prices, meanwhile, jumped from about $60 per 50-pound bag in December to the current $80 level.

India has begun shipping some of its surviving crop, and Kribs said he expects prices to moderate in the next month or so."

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bird Seed Recall In Southern US

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Food and Drug Protection Division issued a statement that Burkmann Feeds is voluntarily recalling a seed blend that they make for Wild Birds Unlimited called Wildlife Blend, due to concerns over deaths of wild birds due to salmonella.

The bags carry the manufacturing date code of 81132200291608124. The bird food is sold exclusively at Wild Birds Unlimited.

An investigation was initiated after salmonellosis was found in dead wild birds throughout North Carolina. The department is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine the source of contamination. Burkmann Feeds is based in Kentucky.

Officials advise consumers to throw out the bird food, avoid touching unsealed bags and wash their hands thoroughly if they do touch unsealed bags.

You can read more about this story here.

UPDATE: Wild Birds Unlimited has issued a press release concerning the recall:

Initial tests have established no correlation between any bird deaths and the recalled food; a different strain of Salmonella was found in deceased birds in North Carolina than what was detected in the recalled food.

“Wild Birds Unlimited is committed to keeping everyone safe and informed about issues that may affect the hobby of bird feeding,” said Jim Carpenter, founder and president of Wild Birds Unlimited. “People’s safety and the health of wildlife are our primary concern.”

You can read the full press release here.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Forbes Reports Trade Issues Over Nyjer

From Forbes Magazine:

A shortage of the popular nyjer (NIGH-jur) seed is forcing backyard bird feeders to pay about $80 for a 50-pound bag, about $20 more than the retail price in December.

The owner of the Wild Bird Habitat stores in Lincoln and Omaha says the shortage is blamed on a trade issue between India and Ethiopia, the two countries that produce most of the nyjer.

Dave Titterington said India traditionally sets the price for nyjer seed and Ethiopia sells it for a little less. But a 30 percent crop loss in India reduced supplies, and Ethiopia increased its prices as a result.

Many are finding that their Nyjer seed is going down faster than ever as large flocks of pine siskins visit feeders all over the US including Texas and Florida. Many northern states are also experiencing huge flocks of common redpolls descending on feeders as well. Normally, these are welcome visitors, but with the cost of seed, many who feed birds are finding it hard to keep up with the demand at the feeders.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Farmers Branch, Texas considering bird watching park

Farmers Branch is located just north of Dallas, TX. Mayor Tim O'Hare recently suggested that a wooded area near the Farmers Branch Historical Park could become a bird watching park. Residents would be invited to place bird feeders in the park as a community project.

The preserved wooded area would benefit a future light rail station area, and the restaurants and shops that are expected to develop in the area.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Scott's Recalls Wild Bird Food

Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. is keeping an eye out for birds and bird-lovers.

The Marysville-based lawn and garden giant’s Scotts Co. LLC subsidiary this week launched a voluntary recall of five varieties of suet wild bird food products over concerns that they might contain peanut meal bought from Lynchburg, Va.-based Peanut Corp. of America’s Blakely, Ga., plant. Peanut Corp.’s products have become the center of a federal probe into a salmonella outbreak that has involved scores of illnesses and several deaths, including two in Ohio.

Peanut Corp. originally only recalled peanut butter and paste but recently expanded efforts to include all peanut products made in Blakely since Jan. 1, 2007, Scotts said. The company said salmonella not only can affect animals but can pose a risk to humans who handle products tainted with it. No illnesses have been reported and products from the Blakely facility are no longer being used, Scotts said.

Read the full press release and get the list of recalled foods here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Birdwatch Radio Covers Bird Watch America

The latest podcast for Birdwatch Radio is up and features interviews given at Bird Watch America 2009.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Peanut Suet Safety During Salmonella Peanut Butter Recall

Four different suet manufacturers have commented regarding their nut flavored suets and the salmonella peanut butter recall. Currently, peanut butter produced from Peanut Corporation of America is at issue for salmonella contamination, not commercial brands that many of us have in our cabinets. Here are what four manufacturers have to say:

C & S states on their website that their nut suets are safe due to their testing and that they do not use any of the recalled industrial peanut butter products from Peanut Corporation of America.

Pine Tree Farms grinds their own nuts and since just the nuts themselves are not part of the recall, their suet is safe.

Woodpecker Products said that their suet is safe because they do not use peanut butter from Peanut Corporation of America.

Heath Manufacturing is also says that their suets are salmonella free since they do not use any of the recalled peanut butter products.

Wildlife Sciences says that their suet products do not contain peanut products affected by the current recall.

Cornell Lab of Ornithology said that if you do not know where the peanut butter ingredients came from in your flavored suet cake, don't feed it to birds. They did offer that since consumer grade peanut butter is currently not on the recall list, making your own peanut butter suet using ingredients you have on hand should be safe.

An excellent recipe to offer customers comes from writer and naturalist Julie Zickefoose's blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowy Owls Make An Appearance This Winter

Snowy owls are making quite the appearance in the eastern US this winter. The arctic species has pushed so far south, it caught the attention of USA Today.

From the Associated Press:

In Tennessee, birders armed with spotting scopes and telephoto lenses scrambled from as far away as Georgia and Alabama to see the first snowy owl reported in that state in 22 years.

The owl showed up in early December in the fields surrounding a General Motors plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. Sightings were still being posted on the Tennessee Ornithological Society's Web site in late January.

Birding hot lines lit up in northern Virginia with the sighting of a young male snowy owl in early December. The bird later died after it was found, sick and weak, and brought to the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro.

Rarely seen south of northern Ohio, snowy owls have also been reported this year in Kansas and Missouri, according to the national bird reporting Web site.

Snowy owls nest on the ground in the Arctic tundra and many of them stay there year-round, while some winter in Canada and the northern United States. They tend to show up in greater numbers in the U.S. every three to five years, pushed by crashes in the population of lemmings, the hamster-like mainstay of their diet.

But that doesn't appear to be the reason for this year's influx.

"This year it appears the lemming population was really good," said Laura Erickson, a biologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca. "When lemmings are abundant, snowy owls have a very successful breeding season."

As a result, the owl population grows so large that many of the young males move farther south to stake out feeding territory. An individual adult snowy owl may eat three to five lemmings per day, or up to 1,600 per year.

Snowy owls aren't uncommon in winter in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but they're far more plentiful than usual this year, Erickson said. At the airport in Minneapolis, biologists have had to trap and move snowy owls for fear they'd be sucked into a jet engine, she said.

Read the full article here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

New Droll Yankee Feeders

Droll Yankees had a display of their new line of easy to clean bird feeders. One is the Onyx Clever Clean® line of feeders.

The feeders offer a new port style on DY feeders. Above is the sunflower port tube feeder. Still a nice wide area for a black oil sunflower mix to flow through, but the perch is a coated U-shape design, making it easier for small birds to feed--they can face the food and eat, as opposed to turning and twisting their heads to get at the food as with previous designs. The perch is also more attractive to larger ground feeding birds like the cardinal.

The port for the Nyjer/thistle feeder shows a unique flower pattern. It gives a finch four places to get food in one port and is a more artistic design from your standard Nyjer tube feeder. The design will also help people who feed a fine chips finch mix, since squirrels and downy woodpeckers both have a tendency to widen holes on the old style design. However, that's not the most exciting feature of the feeder. The bottom of the Onyx Clever Clean feeders, snaps apart easily for any customer to remove the base and clean out the feeder. Watch a video demonstration:

But the Onyx feeders weren't the only new style from DY.

It's not quite available yet, but the Droll Yankee Ring Pull tube feeder will be available soon. A bit more economical in price compared to the Onyx line, this line is a sturdy tube feeder that comes apart. The center of the tube is held together with a long rod. You unscrew the rod and all the ports come apart for super easy cleaning. There is probably a greater risk of an overzealous customer losing pieces, but overall is an exciting design.

Watch your supplier for these exciting Drolly Yankees feeder.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Birdwatch America 2009

It was a slightly more subdued crowd at Birdwatch America this year. Overall traffic from both buyers and vendors was down, which wasn't too surprising given the current economic forecast. But many vendors showed up--some new faces and many reliable standbys. The winner for Best New Product was a new comer to the show called Cast Paper Art.

Cast offers cards and ornaments that can either be offered as food for birds or a potential garden for bees or birds the following spring. Their line of Blooming Expressions are ornaments crafted from 100% recycled cotton, fresh flowers, and wildflower seeds. When the ornament is planted, it grows into perennial wildflowers.

Recycling and sustainable products were key at this year's show. Almost every booth mentioned how much recycled product or sustainable supplies were used in the manufacturing of their products.

The winner of best booth at the trade show went to Texas Butterflies. Their colorful display of large decorative butterflies wowed the crowed, causing them to get the most votes. Also, the winner of Best Website went to Woodstream Corp.

Urban Expositions is committed to making the show better than ever and a meeting was held the following day with many well know feeder manufacturers and others involved with the show to make it better for buyers and vendors in the future. If you attended BWA (or if you did not) what will make you attend the next show?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Some New Year Tips For The Small Business

From Small Business Weekly:

Investigate your lender. Few banks are increasing lines of credit, but if your financial institution itself is in bad shape, "open up discussions immediately," says Allan Tepper, a CPA and finance consultant to small companies. "If they're not there for you, consider alternative lenders." You might also approach a credit union: Their lending is up 36% over last year.

Tighten your belt, but make sure the cost-cutting measures don't show. Make Internet calls instead of using traditional phone carriers, and e-mail documents (in a secure file format) instead of printing and mailing them. Save energy by turning off computers and printers. In northern climes, program the thermostat to fire up the heat just before the workday begins and shut it off an hour before it ends, suggests Jennifer Kluge, president of the National Association for Business Resources, a membership association in chilly Warren, Mich.

Barter. Elizabeth Donley, CEO of Stemina Biomarker Discovery in Madison, Wis., barters with her software consultant: He does statistical and Web site work for her company, and in exchange, she lets him run his business out of her excess office space. That's netting her company $50,000 in savings over the length of the 15-month contract. If you can't work it out on your own, examine organized barter exchanges and networks (there are hundreds). Just be sure to put all agreements in writing and record them for tax purposes.

Liquidate inventory. "Call it a 'The Economy Stinks Sale,' " says Lenzer Kirk. Most business owners know what it would take to make an offer "that customers would find impossible to refuse," Rice says. If doing so can garner enough of a reaction, it just might hold you over for the short term.

Let customers know this isn't a normal business practice, which will make it easier for you to raise prices later. But bear in mind that, in commodity businesses, some customers will disappear when prices go back up.

Read the full article and all of the great tips here.