Some state wildlife authorities have issued advisories recommending that feeders be taken down. Learn the affected regions and more in this issue!
An e-newsletter brought to you by the publishers of Bird Watcher’s Digest and Watching Backyard Birds. Proudly sponored by Swarovski Optik.

To Feed or Not to Feed? That Is the Question.

Since late May, in some areas of the East and Midwest, reports of dead and dying birds—either with crusty, diseased eyes, or with apparent neurological problems—skyrocketed. Blue jays, northern cardinals, common grackles, European starlings, American robins, and house sparrows were species hardest hit, especially fledglings. Some state wildlife authorities issued advisories recommending that those who feed birds take down their feeders and empty their birdbaths, wash both with a 10-percent bleach solution, and not offer them again until reports of the problems diminish.
Native Ad Pic

New Tamron 150–500mm Ultra Tele Zoom Lens for Sony Mirrorless Camera

Now available: A remarkable zoom lens ideal for bird photography! The new compact Tamron 150–500mm VC XVD lens has 3-mode image stabilization and a fast, precise auto-focus motor designed for tracking birds.

What Happened to That Cardinal with the Bald Head?
Soon after nesting season ends, many birds replace their feathers. Songbirds generally lose and regrow a few feathers at a time, so molt is hardly noticeable. But some birds, especially northern cardinals and blue jays, can lose all their head feathers at one time—it's called a catastrophic molt, but it’s considered healthy and normal.

Don't Overlook These Summer Birds
This time of year, you're probably noticing chickadees, hummingbirds, bluebirds, swallows, and other expected birds in your backyard, depending upon where you live. But what about the many other species that are more easily overlooked, either because they don't commonly visit feeders or use nest boxes, or because they tend to stay hidden in the treetops? Here are six surprisingly common birds that may be sharing your backyard, park, or other favorite summertime space.

Readers Ask: A Black-headed, Red-headed Woodpecker?
Readers of Watching Backyard Birds are familiar with Birdsquatch, our hairy, bird-loving nature columnist. Recently a reader asked: "We have a bird we think is a red-headed woodpecker, but its head appears black. When I look at it through my binoculars, I can make out some very dark red on its head, along with the black, but the head appears to be shades of maroon to black. When I consult my bird books there is no mention of a possible dark head. We live in central Illinois, and no other bird we can find looks even close to this. What is this bird?"


ATTENTION, BIRDWIRE SUBSCRIBERS: We want to hear from you! Each issue of our birdy newsletter includes a poll question for our audience. Visit our website to offer your input and see results from fellow readers!
Today's poll question: Have you ever seen a bald bird?
• Yes, a cardinal.
• Yes, a blue jay.
• Yes, other bird(s).
• No! Never.
RESULTS OF LAST ISSUE'S POLL: We asked what simple lifestyle changes our readers have made to support birds. Related to outdoor endeavors, a whopping 79% of responders avoid pesticides in their yard, and 69% have reduced lawn size and/or plant native plants. 62% strive to make their windows safer, and 60% have reduced their use of plastics. Two efforts were tied at 53%: Reporting birds to eBird and keeping cats indoors. Last, but not least, 28% buy bird-friendly coffee. Thanks to all who participated!


BirdSense: Virginia Beach—A Premier Birding Destination
Nestled in the southeastern corner of Virginia, Virginia Beach is a premier destination for birding and assorted outdoor adventures. Host Kelly Ball chats with Kelli Norman, director of tourism and sales at Visit Virginia Beach, about the three types of beaches—Chesapeake Bay; Atlantic Ocean; and Sandbridge—that make this a unique and birdy locale. Then Brandon Holland, secretary of Virginia Beach’s Audubon chapter, breaks down the area’s target bird species and shares his pick for the ideal time to bird Virginia Beach.
On Newsstands Now:
Watching Backyard Birds: August 2021
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Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Impossible. Unbirdlike. Fearless. Call them what you will—hummingbirds touch us in ways no other birds do.
Little Luxuries
For author, artist, naturalist, and WBB columnist Julie Zickefoose, one of life's ultimate little luxuries is running water in a shallow basin, underneath a favorite window, and the ruffle of small birds' wings.
Top 10 Things to Watch for in Late Summer
From butterfly watching and insect sounds to meteor showers and the first fall migrants, there is much to be savored as summer wanes.

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