Frequently Asked Questions

I have an injured bird - can you take it?

We are not trained, equipped or licensed to care for injured birds.  Licensed Michigan rehabilitators including several in the Grand Traverse area can be found on this link sponsored by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:  https://www2.dnr.state.mi.us/dlr/

How should I care for a nestling that fell from its nest?

When you find a nestling bird out of its nest, you should return it to its nest.  If you don’t see a nest, place it on a branch in a nearby tree or shrub.  Parents will take care of it.

Is Charter Sanctuary open to the public?

Charter Sanctuary, adjacent to the Saving Birds Thru Habitat property, is a privately owned safe haven for nesting birds.  Extreme care is taken to protect nests, nestlings and fledglings.  For that reason, it is only open by special arrangement.  Please contact our office for details.

Doug at the Discovery CenterCan I visit the Discovery Center property when the building is closed?

The Woodland Walk near the Discovery Center and the grounds around the Center are always open to the public.  Please respect the Do Not Enter signs at the split rail fence marking the boundary between Saving Birds' property and Charter Sanctuary.

What happens in the Discovery Center?

It is where we have our indoor presentations and houses our main office.  We open it only for events and meetings, so there are no official office hours.  The grounds around it are always open to the public.

Are your educational programs open to the general public or do I need an invitation to attend?

Except for business meetings, all programs are open to the public.  Unless specified, no entry fee is required but donations are greatly appreciated.

Birds on Charter SanctuaryI am a birder.  Do you ever offer guided bird walks?

Yes, we do.  Please check on the events section of our home page for information on upcoming events.  Bird walks typically traverse the Charter Sanctuary and are limited in size.  In June 2022, we will be hosting our Leelanau Bird Festival.  We also host the Sleeping Bear Birding Trail site which offers information about birding areas along the M-22 corridor.

I understand native plants are important but are cultivars of native species just as good?

As a rule, native plants are preferred over cultivars for hosting and attracting insects essential to a thriving native bird population.  (Cultivated plants are distinguished in nurseries by labels that have descriptive names in single quotes like ‘Appalachian Red’) Doug Tallamy has published excellent information on this topic in his books.  A good summary of Tallamy’s work and that of others can be found here:  https://piedmontmastergardeners.org/article/native-species-or-cultivars-of-native-plants-does-it-matter/

Baltimore OrioleWhat’s a good way to attract orioles to my yard?

We want to attract birds to our yards with food that is both natural and beneficial.  An orange sliced in half or small clusters of grapes are examples of nutritional food loved by orioles.  Jelly is not a good alternative, because it has empty calories.  As well, birds (including orioles) have unwittingly collected jellies in their feathers making flight impossible. We recommend against it.

Is it necessary to boil hummingbird nectar?

No, but you should change it no less frequently than every other day.  Offer only small amounts.   Do not use honey, brown sugar or organic sugar.  Use only white, cane sugar.  Never use sweeteners of any kind.  Proper nectar is made by dissolving 1 part white sugar with 4 parts water.  Do not use food coloring; natural nectars are clear.  The birds are attracted to the color of the flower (or feeder port.)

How can I provide my pet’s fur for bird nesting material?

Pet fur is okay for nesting material as long as it contains no chemical treatments for ticks or fleas – topical sprays, pills, tablets, or collars.  The fur offers soft material for nestlings and helps insulate the nest from cold and wet.  You can make it available many ways, including in a mesh bag hung from a twig or stuck in the crevice of a tree, or in suet baskets.

How can I keep birds from colliding with my windows?

There are many solutions for this problem.  Check out American Bird Conservancy’s brochure on our website.  You will find it on our brochure page.  Or you can click this link:  https://abcbirds.org/glass-collisions/stop-birds-hitting-windows/

Bluebirds at houseWhat’s the best nest box for bluebirds? 

Prevent bluebird nest failure by using the Tree Branch Bird House. Blueprints found here: www.savingbirds.org/PDFs/BlueBirdHouse.pdf

What is the importance of “shade coffee” to migratory bird populations and what is the “Rainforest Coffee Alliance?”

For two hundred years, coffee was harvested from mountainside rain forests in the tropics. Because the plants were shaded, this coffee was called “Shade Coffee”. A number of North American migratory songbirds depend on these farms in winter because of an abundance of food available in diversity of overstory plants.  As coffee farms changed in the 1970’s to monocultural sun plantations, birders were encouraged to purchase shade coffee. Sun plantations began to plant non-native eucalyptus in order to fit that demand. But those plantations do not provide the plant diversity that supports food for birds.  In order to provide for our wintering warblers and others, seek out coffee with the “Rainforest Coffee Alliance” logo, orsearch coopcoffees.coop.

Why is it so important to keep cats indoors? 

Every year in the United States, cats kill well over a billion birds. This stunning level of predation is unsustainable for many already-declining species like Least Tern and Wood Thrush.  Cats do very well indoors and generally live longer and healthier lives than cats exposed to the dangers of the outdoors.

 What about the Trap, Neuter, Release programs?

       Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) is advertised as a tool to reduce feral (stray) cat numbers. Unfortunately, scientific evidence regarding TNR clearly indicates that feral cats are a serious problem for beach nesting birds like terns and shorebirds. Feral cats also adversely impact nesting success of other families, especially songbirds.  Rather than slowly disappearing, studies have shown that feral cat colonies persist and may actually increase in numbers.