This is the time of the year when we are used to getting questions via phone, email, and in-person regarding the overnight disappearance of nectar from hummingbird and oriole feeders. “No”, we explain, “hummingbirds are not active during the evening hours. You have nectar-eating bats visiting your feeders”. Newcomers to the Tucson area, especially, are unfamiliar with the wide variety of bats that live in southern Arizona. The Lesser Long-nosed Bat and the Mexican Long-tongued Bat are unique among Arizona’s 28 species of bats in that they are fruit and nectar eaters, while the all the other species are insectivores.
Both of these species are in population decline, to the point that there is serious concern of them becoming extinct within about a decade’s time. I’ve written several articles on our nectar bats, which can be found in our wildbirdsonline.com archive under birding articles. We’ve always encouraged our customers to understand the importance of these particular bats to our precious Sonoran desert ecology. While bats, bees, butterflies, orioles and hummingbirds all consume the same nectar that nature provides in the wild, they can also share the same nectar in your feeders. For those who are concerned about the cost differential between a 5 to 1 ratio for nectar verses sugar water (which amounts to pennies), I tell folks that real nectar meets the metabolic requirements of the hummingbirds far better than the sugar water at the same ratio. But, for bats, sugar water is OK. Either way, we do feel it is important to feed the bats nightly while they are present. They usually show up in late July into August. By September their numbers are usually at their highest and will remain stable until they begin their southward migration for winter. Most will be leaving by the end of October and the beginning of November, but a few stragglers will remain deep into December. Some folks have been able to keep their nectar bats over the course of the winter, but that is somewhat unusual, I think.
Bats will attempt to get nectar from any nectar feeder. Feeders with tiny food ports, designed for hummingbirds only, will probably be empty in the morning after bats forage through the evening. The feeder may be coated with dried-up, sticky nectar residue. There may be a small puddle or wet spot on the ground underneath the feeder. To avoid this sticky mess and to much better accommodate the bats, we recommend some particular feeders which allow the bats much easier access. With easier access, the bats are less messy in their foraging. We recommend using oriole feeders that have naturally larger food ports for their larger tongues. Or any of the Dr. J.B. line of feeders. These are the ones my bats prefer using and they come in several larger capacities – 16, 32, 48 and even an 80 ounce size. Considering that an individual bat may consume up to 2 ounces of nectar nightly, the larger feeders naturally accommodate more bats.
The bat articles in the birding articles archive on our website provide more in-depth information.
If you still have further questions, please contact us and we’ll happily answer any and all of your questions. It is our hope that more folks understand the uncertain future that faces these bats and are willing to provide them a helping hand.
Happy birding (and bat watching)!
Clarisa, Justin, Matt and Jon
22nd of September, 2014
September is a great month for migratory birds in all habitats. And Southeastern Arizona is a wonderful area for finding migratory gold when it comes to species. This month, we will be headed down to Madera Canyon to watch for Neotropical migrants headed south during fall migration. See list from last year
We will be meeting at 6:00am in the Safeway parking lot off of I-19 at Continental Road. Be punctual, we will leave at 06:15 am sharp. A $15 fee per person(cash or check) must be made out to Matt Norris, prior to the trip date and a waiver of liability must be signed and dated by every induvidual. All participants must wear proper attire, have water, binoculars, field guide, snacks, bagged lunch, etc. All of which, are described and detailed within the waiver of liability. This will be a wonderful trip so don’t miss out. Matt may be reached at the Wild Bird Store Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. You may also reach Matt at 520-869-2828 and via email, Norbird84@gmail.com.
Attention: a $10 cash entrance fee will be charged per car at Madera Canyon if a state park pass is not presented. Car-pooling is encouraged.
Some target birds we hope to observe include but are not limited to:
House Wren (Brown-throated subspecies)
*This trip is limited so please contact Matt and get your waivers signed and payments made. You can catch Matt in the Wild Bird Store on Wednesdays through Sundays when no birding trip is taking place.
Zhangli Bu is a Chinese national who is a junior at the U of A studying journalism. Her family resides in China and she intends to make a career in journalism. Like many 22 year olds, she enjoys mucic, traveling and reading. She approached me at the store asking for permission to make a video about our business and how the business evolved. This is the result of her effort
On October 11, 2011 I was invited to do an interview on “the Jolt”, AM 1330. The show Ron Asta’s Tucson gave us a digital recording of the interview. The show runs about 36:36 minutes long. We didn’t get through all the talking points we wanted to so I’ve been asked to return for a second interview sometime in the near future. We’ll keep you posted. We did have a great conversation about the nectar eating bats that are unique to our area and a little about birding. The next conversation will focus more on the wonderful birds we experience here.
The Wild Bird Store has moved to 3160 East Fort Lowell Road, on the southeast corner of Country Club Blvd. and Ft. Lowell Road – in the Winterhaven Square. After two decades, we are beginning a new chapter in our efforts to aid and educate birding enthusiasts in a...
THE WILD BIRD STORE
Located in Tucson, Arizona and begun in 1992 as a true mom and pop business, has a strong regional
reputation as an independent wild bird store featuring our line of innovative
and unique wild bird products. Our loyal customer base depends on us for
quality products, expert advice and dedicated customer service.
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no longer have to wait at the periphery of the yard for the feeding frenzy
to quiet down before coming to the feeder. Now, with this feeder for their exclusive use, they can feed undisturbed from sunrise to
sunset. This weight-activated feeder will accommodate the entire cardinal
family - from fledglings to adults. All other birds both heavier and lighter
NUTS 'N' BUGS
If you had to choose just one food for birds, one they would not only
survive on, but actually thrive on, Nuts 'n'
Bugs is it! Created from a recipe of ground pecans and dehydrated
insects (over 1,000 per pound), it has calcium, soybean meal, and rendered
suet to bring in insect and nut eating birds. With Nuts
'n' Bugs you can attract a wide variety of insect eating
birds- many of which are not attracted to seeds.
GOLDFINCHES IN SOUTHEAST ARIZONA
Photo by Richard at SearchNet Media
Southeastern Arizona birders have experienced a phenomenal increase in the numbers of goldfinches that can be attracted to our backyard birding stations.
Twenty years ago and more, it took us months to attract our first goldfinches. Patience, we reminded ourselves as we did our customers, is the number one rule for birders.
The preferred food for the intended species and the right feeder to deliver that food is number two. Understanding these principles will always reward us and the birds.
Nyjer seed, unlike true thistle, is the preferred choice of seed for all the goldfinch species. Most other species in our area will reject Nyjer for almost any other seed that is easily available and accessible. Almost any design of thistle feeder filled with Nyjer seed will attract mostly goldfinches. The feeder models that have food ports under the perches are species specific to goldfinches.
BIRDS, WATER AND SUMMER HEAT
Cooper's Hawk by Richard at SearchNetMedia
In our desert heat, we are stating the obvious - birds need clean reliable water sources all year round, but no more than when the temperature soars. As we write this, the projected heat for this afternoon is 113°F, and likely to remain in the triple digits for the rest of the week. As the drought deepens in southern Arizona, natural water sources continue to dry up. Our record setting fire season has taken its toll on the wildlife. Birds pant and hold their wings out from their bodies in an attempt to keep cool. Supplying a water source for the birds is of great assistance to them and the necessity of clean fresh water cannot be underestimated.
Of course, you want to do this in a way that does no harm - no drowning, no disease transmission, no increase in predation, no harm what-so-ever. Here's what you need to know about bird baths and other water features to help the birds, without harming them.
HOW TO INCREASE BACKYARD DIVERSITY
Photo by Richard at SearchNet Media
With more species of birds than almost any other region in the country, Southeastern Arizona's biodiversity offers backyard birders one of the best opportunities to attract a wide variety of birds.
The combined number of year-round resident and migrating birds that one can see in the cycle of a year's time is greater than most other regions throughout the continent. However, if you don't devote some time on a regular basis to observing, you may miss some of the migrants which only pass through our area and remain only for a relatively short time.
Southeastern Arizona is also an excellent place to notice quite a few rare and exotic species that migrate through or use our area in spring and summer as their traditional breeding territory.
With relatively little effort and expense, you can easily double and triple the number of species attracted to your feeding stations.
INTRODUCING A NEW CARDINAL FEEDER
We have become the exclusive authorized dealers in Arizona for a new species-specific cardinal feeder that serves as a less expensive version of the cedar wood model we pioneered about twenty years ago.
This model is constructed of tough polycarbonate material, can be hung or pole mounted, and is manufactured in Montreal, Canada by the Wild Bird Conservation Center. We have received our first shipment and we expect it to sell for around $60. While it was created for a cold, wet northern climate in that it is weather proof (keeps rain and snow out), it works perfectly well in our region as well. (Keeping seeds dry in Arizona isn’t too much of a concern).
So, for customers who wish for a more economical way to give cardinals, pyrrhuloxia and grosbeaks what they want most (our cardinal mix and a little exclusivity) this is the feeder you’ve been waiting for!
BASIC BINOCULAR KNOWLEDGE
Birders, whether the backyard or in-the-field- variety, need only two essential items as the basic tools for learning about bird identification and behavior - a good field guide and reliable binoculars. The Wild Bird Store carries the best field guide for our area. It is the new Birds of Southeastern Arizona by Richard Taylor and has established itself as our best selling identification guide since its publication late last year. With just these two things, you can teach yourself all you want to know about the birds of our specific region, or anywhere for that matter.
The Wild Bird Store offers a comprehensive selection of Vortex Binoculars
WILD BIRD STORE DISCOUNT CLUB
For almost twenty years we have offered our customers the opportunity of reducing costs on each and every purchase they make. The cost of annual dues is $16.00 ($1.25 per month). Discounts begin on the day a membership is activated and expires one full year from the last day of the month the membership begins.
HOW TO ATTRACT ORIOLES
Orioles are not as common or abundant as most of our year round resident birds. Yet, as a migratory species, they are reliably present from early spring to fall. We have had orioles at our station from as early as February until as late as early November.
Orioles (and their relatives, like the tanagers) have beautiful and strikingly colorful plumage, their exquisite and fluid songs, and their parenting and nesting abilities make them very desirable birds to attract and observe. The relatively small effort to attract and feed orioles rewards...