Business As Usual At The Bird Store

I have a Showcase Minnesota appearance on Monday and I want to talk more about birdbaths so I stopped in at my old stomping grounds in Wayzata to borrow some props. Melissa who used to work with me and now has my job said that she would allow it, but only if I helped locate some monarch caterpillars for their monarch ranch, she just can't find them. I will say that is one thing I totally miss about my old job is the big monarch ranch that we would have going in late summer and early fall. Once I get my groove going, I get obsessed with finding them. I was happy to oblige.

While there I checked out what new stuff she brought in. One thing was this interesting idea for feeding oilers and or peanuts out of the shell:
At first I thought this was some type of bluebird feeder since it appears to be made out of left over Peterson bluebird house parts. The opening has mesh over it instead of being open so birds feed out of the hole where they would normally enter the box. Since you have to kind of teach bluebirds to use birdfeeders if they are not used to it, I thought this would be for bluebirds. The idea with this is that you can feed oilers and peanuts to chickadees and nuthatches and keep blackbirds away. I can see how this could work to keep grackles away because they aren't cavity nesters, but starlings do nest in cavities--won't they still be able to feed out of this?

She also has some new books in, including Laura Erickson's 101 Ways to Help Birds and Pete Dunne's Art of Pishing.

It was nice to see that some things never change--like dead birds in the store's freezer. Customers drop off dead birds to be identified or the employees will take them to the Bell Museum or The Raptor Center as study skins or use for imping (repairing broken feathers). Here was the current dead bird:

Boy, these sure are a lot smaller than I thought they were. It fits in my hand and I have tiny hands. They seem much bigger in the wild.

Look how long the nostrils are on the bill--must have a very sensitive bill and perhaps a highly developed sense of smell.

Note how long the bill is in relation to my index finger.

Yee ah, comin' at ya'! Hot cha cha cha chaaaaaaaaa.

Note the interesting toes as well as the striking black and white on the vent area.

Another thing that amazed me was just how narrow and skinny this bird is. Perfect for the type of habitat it toodles around in. This particular bird was found in Minnesota.