America’s Most Wanted — Squirrels Gone Wild

Categories: Backyard Battles

Wanter_Poster_Perky-Pet

A worldwide alert has gone out. Six squirrels are on the loose and considered armed and dangerous.

The Wild Bird Journal has all the facts on these felonious furballs, and we'll do whatever we can to stop their rampage across the continent.

Just who are these buck-toothed bandits?

How did these "squirrels gone wild" make it on the list?

What can we do to stop them? Let’s take a look.

 

AMERICA'S MOST WANTED SQUIRRELS

 

Most Wanted Squirrel (Yakuza)

No. 6) Suki “Star” Yakuza

Mixing a ninja with a squirrel has created a nearly unstoppable
peanut thief. She may have an insatiable hunger,
but now there’s something to keep her at bay,
and it even matches her all-black wardrobe. 


 

Most Wanted Squirrel (Escobaro)Most Wanted Squirrel (Escobaro)

No. 5) Pablo “Picante” Escobaro

This guy is absolutely nuts, but they do say
you are what you eat! Instead of putting him
behind bars, we decided it’s best to do that
with the bird feeder he’s always trying to bust into.  


 

Most Wanted Squirrel (Desjardins)

No. 4) Nick “Hard-Head” Desjardins

This guy just won’t quit. He sees his target – your bird feeder –
and goes at it again and again. If he’s successful, you’re
not gonna be happy. Why not make an
investment in an even tougher security system


 

Most Wanted Squirrel (Gordon)

No. 3) “Greasy George” Gordon

“Greasy George” earned his nickname from an unfortunate incident
with a greased bird feeder pole back in the old neighborhood.
Since then, he’s gotten smarter, but not smart enough.
You can beat him at his own game — with this


 

Most Wanted Squirrel (Muranka)

No. 2) Riku “Mad Dog” Muranka

Muranka’s bark is worse than his bite. He’ll curse you out
every time he fails to break in to this bird feeder, but
he’ll never make it. He just keeps falling flat on his face.


 

Most Wanted Squirrel (Doe)

No. 1) “No Name” Johnnie Doe

He’s got no name. He’s got no record.
But we’ve got another set of “No’s” for this serial offender –
A feeder worthy of his name and guaranteed
to keep him on the straight and narrow! 


 

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIGHT
THESE SQUIRREL BANDITS

This is all-out war. We need your help in keeping these fluffy-tailed fiends at bay. Here are three things you can do to help curb the crimewave.

1) Increase awareness! Download the wanted poster.

2) Learn more in the battle against bird-seed stealing squirrels! Check out our tip sheet.

3) Dive in on the battle against squirrel-kind! Invest in a squirrel-proof bird feeder.

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5 Smartphone Tips for Bird Pictures

Categories: Wild Bird

 

Smartphone pictures of birds

We’re sure many of you have been watching your bird friends flying around your feeders in the back yard, and thought to yourself, “Wow, what a picture-perfect moment!”

Lucky for you, that smartphone in your pocket will allow you to easily snap that shot in a jiffy. Now you may think this might be a difficult task, but have no fear! The WBJ Blog team has a few tips to share with you on how to take good pictures of your feathered friends with your smartphone.

Use the sun to help your photography

1. Put the sun at your back when possible

Lighting is key when taking a picture. A flash can help brighten up your images, but they tend to not work well outside during the day. Instead, why not use the biggest light source we know  — the sun. 

If the time of day (and the bird) allows it, put the sun to your back and allow it to light up your subject. This will ensure that your favorite wild birds show up even better in your digital photos. 

2. Focus your camera

When you see that hummingbird buzzing around your feeder, you may want to quickly pull out your smartphone and snap a shot before it flies away. However, before taking the picture, you need to make sure that your camera is focusing on that little hummer — not the lovely wind spinner hanging next to your feeder. 

To focus your smartphone camera, simply tap on the screen where your subject is. The box that appears in the center of your screen shows you where your camera has the focal point. If you’d like to move the focus on another area in the frame, simply tap and the square should zip the focus to that point.

Avoid using your smartphone's zoom


3. Don’t use the zoom-in feature

Getting close to a bird to take a picture can be difficult. They will most likely fly away at the first sign of movement. 

Your first thought might be to use the zoom feature to capture your feathered friend. We recommend against that. Your smartphone's lens is fixed. So in actuality when you use the zoom function, you’re just blowing up the image, not using a magnifying lens. This is a digital function, not an optical one, and ultimately makes the picture blurry. 

You don’t want to takes away from the beauty of the wild bird you trying to capture, so don’t use your zoom function.

4. Take more than one photo

Nothing can be more upsetting than taking what you thought was the best picture of a bird feeding at your bird feeder to then realize much later there’s a problem. Maybe the image was too dark to see the bird. Perhaps the bird flew off just as you were snapping the picture. 

Don’t let that disappointment happen to you. 

Instead, keep your eye on your subject, and keep snapping pictures until it flutters away. Some cameras even offer specific settings that shoot multiple pictures within milliseconds of one another. Others offer a “Sport” setting, which takes pictures quicker (at the expense of gathering less lighting from the scene).

Anyway, if you get several photos of a particular scene, you’re more likely to get the perfect shot.

Birds on smartphone

5. Use the Rule of Thirds

If you have been playing around with the camera on your smartphone, you may have come across a setting that places a grid on your view screen. This option is there to add composition to your photos, which is what The Rule of Thirds is all about. This rule suggests that you divide a shot into thirds, vertically and horizontally, using the grid. Then place the subject either where these lines intersect or within one of the "thirds." 

This rule will do wonders for your bird pictures! It reduces vast amounts of empty space, helps your camera focus and creates visually appealing images for bird enthusiasts across the globe.

Now that the WBJ Blog Team has showed you how to take good photos with your smartphone, it is time to have a photo shoot with your backyard visitors! Get creative with your images and take as many as possible. Your smartphone’s camera is convenient and when used correctly can produce some of your favorite bird-friendly photography. 

In no time, you’ll develop a full collection of beautiful bird photos and we’d love to see what’s flying around in your backyard.  Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google+!

Do you have any tips on how to take good photos of birds with your smartphone? Have you taken any great shots of your bird visitors? Share them in the comments!

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How a squirrel bandit almost got away with it

Categories: Backyard Battles
Squirrel on the prowl

 

A lot of effort goes into keeping squirrels from rampaging through our bird feeders. More often than not, they manage to break through our best defenses. That, in turn, just means we try another tactic — a stronger, more difficult-to-crack marvel of engineering.

But sometimes, we humans slip up and let the squirrels do what they do best. 

You see, earlier this winter, the WBJ Blog Team purchased a huge sack of Black-Oil Sunflower seeds at our local retailer and lugged it home. There, we pulled it open, filled up our feeders and then, well, we got lazy.

Every bird-feeder enthusiast out there knows not to leave their bag of seed out. You're just asking for trouble from squirrels, chipmunks, mice and whatever else might be hungry.

And we knew that too. We really did. We actually did take a precaution — with the least amount of effort possible, we just right and dropped the bag of sunflowers into a plastic tub.

Doing that would be fine if the tub was in a locked shed, a screened in porch or down in the basement. But, like I said, we were lazy. We just left it out on the side porch.

And then something discovered it.

Plastic storage bin for bird seed.

About three weeks after we filled the tub full of seed, there were chunks of plastic littering the porch. The vault had been breached!

The creature — a squirrel by our estimate — had aggressively attacked the storage bin, chewing a hole in the corner of the tub. Luckily for us, the little safe-cracker didn't make it all the way through. The squirrel started on the lid, got through that and then hit the harder plastic on lip of the tub. In the ensuing days, we actually saw the squirrel making progress, too — the holes in both the lid and the tub kept getting bigger.

But how did it even find the treasure trove of sunflower seeds? Well, squirrels have an incredible sense of smell. That's how they find buried nuts, after all. It also probably didn't help that our sunflower-filled bird feeder was less than 20 feet from the tub. A wandering critter with a nose for the high-fat snack was bound to come across it.

Metal bird seed can

Once we discovered the break in attempt, we zipped back to the store to buy extra security — a miniature metal trash can. It's enough to hold most, if not all, of a standard bag of seed, plus leave room for our bird seed scoop.

The squirrels around the WBJ household still get plenty of snacks — that's why we make those kid-friendly peanut-butter pine cones — but from now on they're only getting a treat when we decide to give it to them.

How do you store your bird feeder seed? Let us know in the comments or send us a picture of your “vault.”

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