How to Identify a Diana Fritillary Butterfly

diana fritillary

“A butterfly that I’ve never seen before landed on my purple coneflowers. What is it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Mandy Dime of Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman: This is a visitor that’s guaranteed to be the envy of all avid butterfly watchers. The Diana fritillary is a very uncommon species that flies in summer in a limited range in the southern Appalachians and in the Ozarks. This black and orange individual is a male.

Meet the gorgeous great spangled fritillary butterfly.

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A blue colored female looks very different than the male.

The female butterfly has a similar wing pattern but the orange color is replaced by blue and white. As with other species of large fritillaries, their caterpillars feed on the leaves of violets.

Attract gulf fritillary butterflies with their favorite plants.

Diana Fritillary Pictures

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“This is a special shot because it was my first time to see the Arkansas state butterfly, which is rare to see near my home in Faulkner County,” says reader Susan Y.

Learn how to attract and identify a queen butterfly.

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“While visiting the Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina this August, I was awed by the beautiful wildflowers and butterflies. This male Diana fritillary especially caught my eye. It was the first time I had every seen one. I had to do a little research to identify it. I was surprised to discover its coloration is totally different from the female. It does not resemble other species of butterflies,” says Kathryn Herndon.

See 3 butterflies that look like monarchs.

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“On a warm and humid early July morning, I saw this male Diana fritillary, the Arkansas state butterfly, sipping nectar from a wild purple coneflower,” says Darin Swinney.

Next, discover 7 small butterflies you should never overlook.

Why Do Birds Molt Their Feathers?

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American goldfinch in nonbreeding plumage.

Birds are the only living species with feathers, so it only makes sense that feathers have some one-of-a-kind features. The structure of feathers is strong and durable, yet they are lightweight and flexible. And although feathers do wear out, birds molt them by regrowing new ones. Often this natural process goes unnoticed, but bird molting patterns are fascinating.

“Molt is my favorite,” says Annie Lindsay. As the bird banding program manager at Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve in southwestern Pennsylvania, she gets an up-close look at the process on thousands of birds annually.

How do birds fly? Get answers to common questions about birds.

Bird Feather Types

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Based on feather patterns, this bald eagle is less than 4 years old.

Not all feathers serve the same purpose. According to Annie, specific feathers are essential for everything from flight to keeping birds warm. “Flight feathers on the wings and tails are longer and somewhat stiffer,” she says. The shape of the wing provides lift, and tails serve as rudders for birds. Body feathers, including down and contour feathers, help birds regulate their temperatures.

“Birds puff up their feathers to conserve heat,” Annie says. “It’s like when we get goose bumps on our arms.”

Another specialized feather type is found along the beaks of flycatchers and other insect eaters. These rictal bristles look like whiskers and likely have a sensory function, Annie says.

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Eagles molt some flight feathers after breeding season. The National Eagle Repository collects feathers and then distributes them to permit-holding Native Americans who use them in traditional ceremonies.

Feathers can be extremely fancy or ridiculously plain. Either way, they are also a way for birds to communicate with one another.

What makes hummingbird feathers so shimmery?

Bird Molting Patterns

Mallard Drake Duck
This male mallard has already replaced its flight feathers and is coming into its breeding plumage.

Variations of bird molting scenarios are endlessly complex within species. But Annie provided a glimpse into the general basics for songbird molts. After hatching, young birds grow juvenile plumage.

“Since all of the feathers are growing in at the same time, not as many resources can be used per feather,” Annie says. “These juvenile feathers are of lower quality.”

Young birds then replace their juvenile plumage with feathers in better condition. Most species will replace all feathers on their bodies almost a year later.

For bird-watchers, some species can pose tricky identifications because younger birds don’t always look like adults. Young red-headed woodpeckers have brown heads, for example. Similarly, young white-crowned sparrows could be referred to as brown-crowned sparrows.

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This patchy summer tanager is 1 year old; the next time it molts, it will wind up with all red feathers.

The annual, or in some cases biannual, molt cycles that species follow allow “feathers to be replaced here and there, so more energy is allocated to each individual feather,” Annie says.

The molting process is relatively quick for North American fliers. “Molt can happen in a matter of a few weeks as birds are preparing for migration or breeding,” Annie says, “Although in the tropics where conditions are relatively uniform, molt can be much slower.”

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Adult male summer tanager in breeding plumage.

For some species, including tanagers and buntings, new feathers help them look their finest as they try to attract mates in the spring. This could still be the case for birds that don’t undergo drastic color changes.

“Even if we don’t see the differences, birds can see in the UV part of the spectrum, so we might see all brown feathers, while birds might be able to see the contrast between old and new feathers,” Annie says.

Does Molting Hurt Birds?

During a normal molt, “the feathers are ready to drop and are falling out naturally,” Annie says. Feathers are dead tissues, so it isn’t painful if they are broken or when they fall out during molt, but plucking them out could potentially cause some discomfort. Frayed, damaged or broken feathers aren’t replaced, but removed ones, such as when a bird narrowly escapes a predator, will have an impact. “Any time birds lose a feather, replacing it has energetic consequences,” Annie says.

Do mourning dove feathers and wings make noise?

Molting Ducks Are Flightless Birds

During molt, ducks join the ranks of flightless birds. Many waterfowl species replace all their flight feathers at once, which keeps them grounded for a few weeks. Males take on an eclipse plumage and are more camouflaged, like females, during this summer transition.

Can a cardinal fly without tail feathers?

Unique Molt Patterns

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American goldfinches are well-known molting birds. Their appearance changes throughout the year. This bird is in winter plumage.

From piebald patterns to entirely bald heads, molt makes for some interesting-looking birds. American goldfinches are a great example to observe molt.

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Early spring molt

“Brownish in the winter, as they get ready for breeding season, you can watch the transition and see how mottled they look on their bodies,” Annie says. Then the process repeats in the fall as birds molt into their winter feathers. Cd 3mas2961k
American goldfinch in late spring and summer breeding plumage.

This blotchy pattern on the body is also evident on tanagers and bobolinks during certain times of year.

For cardinals and blue jays, bird molting is generally a subtle affair. They don’t look much different between seasons as feathers are swapped out with similar-looking replacements.

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This mystery bird with the odd hairdo is an adult male cardinal. The bald look is sometimes caused by environmental factors like nutritional deficiencies or feather mites, but it’s most commonly the result of molting.

But sometimes molt is impossible to miss, as some individual birds are prone to an “unfortunate pattern of molt baldness,” as Annie puts it. Nothing is wrong with these birds—they’ve just lost all the feathers on their heads simultaneously.

Next, don’t miss inspirational pictures of birds in flight.

What Does a Golden-Fronted Woodpecker Look Like?

Golden Fronted Woodpecker On The Jones Alta Vista Ranch
Look for yellow and red feathers to identify a male golden-fronted woodpecker

Unlike the red-bellied woodpecker, the golden-fronted woodpecker has a clear reason behind its name. One glance at the bird, you’ll spot the gold feathers along the upper part of its beak, and a burst of yellow orange on the back of its head. Males sport red feathers at the crown of their heads, which females lack.

While some might find the golden-fronted woodpecker difficult to tell apart from the red-bellied woodpecker, the surest way to identify it is to look at its head. Red-bellieds feature bright red coloring on the backs of their heads, which you won’t see on golden-fronteds. A glance at the lower belly will also reveal golden feathers, in the case of a golden-fronted, or red feathers, in the case of a red-bellied. However, this field mark can be tricky to spot.

These are the 13 types of woodpeckers birders should know.

Range and Habitat

To spot a golden-fronted woodpecker, you’ll need to head south—to Texas, to be exact. The majority of the bird’s range in the United States stretches through central Texas, although a small portion of the woodpecker’s range extends into Oklahoma. It is nonmigratory and can be seen throughout the year. Four distinct subspecies fall under the category of “golden-fronted woodpecker,” but only the “northern” bird appears in the United States. The rest appear farther south.

Birders can find golden-fronted woodpeckers in a variety of habitats. It wouldn’t be unusual to see them dry, open forested areas, but they’ll appear in urban areas as well.

Downy vs hairy woodpecker: Here’s how to tell the difference.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker Diet

Woodpecker Feeding
Spread suet on a log for these woodpeckers to enjoy.

As with many woodpecker species, golden-fronted woodpeckers eat a plethora of insects, including spiders, beetles, and ants. They’ll also eat berries and cactus fruit, and nuts, such as acorns and pecans. In winter, they’re often seen feeding on the ground.

Golden-fronted woodpeckers will stop by backyard feeders for any of their favorite foods; try serving sunflower seeds, suet or peanuts to draw them in.

Meet the sapsucker birds: woodpeckers with a sweet tooth.

Nesting Habits

Golden-fronted Woodpecker (female) (melanerpes aurifrons) perched on the trunk of a tree
Female golden-fronted woodpecker perched on the trunk of a tree

These birds are cavity nesters, but they do the work of creating that cavity for themselves. Typically, the nest is located anywhere from 6 to 20 feet off the ground. The female lays a clutch of four to seven eggs, which take about two weeks to hatch. The young birds remain in the nest for about a month. After the young have fledged, the female might have a second brood during nesting season.

What does a baby woodpecker look like?


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Golden-fronted woodpecker and a great kiskadee compete for a branch.

It can be difficult to distinguish between a red-bellied and a golden-fronted based on calls alone. Many of the chirps and trills made by a golden-fronted woodpecker sound almost identical to those of the red-bellied, albeit louder. Listen for a high-pitched trill, as well as a repeated, squeaky-sounding chuh-chuh-chuh.

Next, learn how to identify the unique and beautiful northern flicker.

How to Care for a Crinum Lily

Swamp Lily or String Lily (Crinum americanum) Everglades National Park, Florida, USA
Crinum americanum, Everglades National Park, Florida

Botanical Name: Crinum
Growing Zone: 6 to 10 (depending on variety)
Light Needs: Full sun to part shade
Soil: Well-drained
Attracts: Butterflies, hummingbirds, moths

Crinum lilies are a staple of Southern summer gardens, where they bloom in mid- to late summer. In most areas, they can be planted starting in April through October. Crinum lilies bloom best in full sun, although they will also tolerate part shade. If you don’t immediately see flowers from your brand-new crinum lily, don’t fret. They can take a year or two to produce the blossoms many gardeners cherish.

The flowers can have a variety of appearances, too, with some looking more traditionally “lily”-esque, while others have a “spidery” appearance.

Do note that all parts of the plant, including the bulb and foliage, are poisonous.

Find more lilies to add to your garden with our guide to the 10 beautiful lily flowers to love.

Benefits of Growing Crinum Lily

Two favorite backyard visitors, butterflies and hummingbirds, enjoy crinum lily. Other pollinators are also drawn to the flowers.

The plants are generally deer-resistant. But gardeners should watch for other pests like spider mites, grasshoppers, slugs or mealybugs. They may be affected by powdery mildew in warm, humid conditions.

Learn how to grow tropical ginger lilies in your garden.

Ask the Experts: Identifying Crinum Lilies

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Crinum lily plants may take years before they bloom.

“My mystery plant (above) has produced a flower for the first time in 15 years. What is it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Elaine Comarella of Marion, New York.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers: Your plant is a type of crinum lily. As you discovered, it takes several years to reach maturity and begin blooming. Grow crinum lilies in a sunny location with moist, well-draining soil. And be patient. Some crinum lilies are hardy and survive winters north of New York City.

Gardeners in cold regions should plant hardier types suited to their climate in a sheltered location. Mulch for winter to increase the chance of overwintering success. Reduce watering once the flowers fade to encourage the plant to enter dormancy.

Some crinum lilies are hardy only to Zones 7 or warmer and need to be moved indoors for winter. Dig the bulbs out of the ground or move the container indoors once the leaves die back. Store in a 50-degree location.

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“This plant (above) blooms twice a year. What is it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Jeff Adicke of Brunswick, Georgia.

Melinda: How lucky to be able to grow a crinum lily in your yard and enjoy these unique blossoms. Also known as cape lily or cemetery plant, it is hardy in Zones 7 to 10. Crinum lilies prefer full sun and moist soil but tolerate partial shade. They’re also fairly drought tolerant once established. It may take two years for newly planted bulbs to flower, but after four or five years you can divide the plants or remove the offset bulbs to expand your collection. It takes a bit longer for offset bulbs to reach maturity and begin to bloom than divisions.

Crinum Lily Bulbs Not Blooming

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Crinum lily bulbs

“What are these plants (above)? The leaves die back but once the weather warms up, they’ll sprout again, though they’ve never bloomed,” asks reader Cynthia Stickler.

Melinda: The bulbs and leaves look like those of a crinum lily. This member of the amaryllis family is native to the tropics and subtropics of Asia, Africa and the Americas. It has been grown in southern landscapes for years and is often used in cemeteries. The plant prefers partial shade but will tolerate full sun if it receives sufficient moisture.

Consider having your soil tested to see what nutrients are needed. Crinum lilies flower best when the soil is kept evenly moist and the plants are fertilized two or three times a year. Adjust your care as needed to encourage these plants to bloom.

Next, discover the differences between daylilies vs true lilies.

Unusual Flower Name

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Find out how this fall flower got a unique nickname.

This one of our fall flower facts might freak you out if you don’t like arachnids. Coreopsis, a native North American flower introduced to Europe in 1699, gets its nickname (tickseed) from the shape of its seeds. Some believe the seeds resemble ticks. Don’t worry, these pretty flowers don’t bite!

Discover 10 things you need to know about chrysanthemums.

Battlefield Medicine

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Monarch butterfly on marigolds

Marigolds were used during World War I and the Civil War to treat and dress wounds on the battlefields.

Grow these late summer and fall flowers for hummingbirds.

Protection From Storms

There are over 250 different kinds of sedum that are native to many different regions. This plant’s history dates back to the Romans, who grew sedum on rooftops as a lightning deterrent.

Secret Seed Sharing

A French botanist obtained anemone from abroad in the early 1600s, but he refused to share or sell the plants or their seeds. After 10 years of this, a fellow botanist stopped by his garden and “accidentally” dropped his coat on the anemone growing there, picking up seeds in the process.

Check out the best fall flowers to grow (that aren’t mums).

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

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Look at pansy petals to predict a love match

The Lore of Flowers by Neil Ewart says medieval knights used pansy petals to predict their love lives. A petal with seven lines signaled lasting love.

Can pansies survive frost and overwinter in the garden?

Autumn Crocus as a Cure

Autumn crocus has been used medicinally throughout history. During the Renaissance (between 1300 and 1700), people often wore autumn crocus bulbs around their necks to ward off the plague. In more recent times, the plant has been used to treat gout.

Discover the top 10 bulbs to plant in fall that you aren’t growing yet.

Asters in Mythology

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An American lady butterfly gathers nectar on purple asters.

There are two GrecoRoman myths about asters. In the first, the constellation Virgo sowed the Earth with stardust, which bloomed into asters. In the second, the goddess Astraea wept. Asters bloomed where her tears fell.

After you finish reading these fall flower facts, discover interesting daisy facts you probably didn’t know.

Text courtesy of Wildflower Folklore by Laura C. Martin.

Most birdwatchers can identify common backyard birds. But you’re not alone if shorebirds trip you up. How many of these waders can you identify? Put your shorebird identification skills to the test with this quiz.

Quiz: How many female birds can you identify?

1. Small Threatened Shorebird

Piping plover

Answer: Piping Plover

Look for plover birds both on (and off) the shore.

2. The Loner of the Group

solitary sandpiper

Answer: Solitary Sandpiper

3. Beachcomber With a Bright Bill

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Answer: American Oystercatcher

4. Secretive Swamp Bird

Wilson's snipe

Answer: Wilson’s Snipe

We love these swamp birds! Learn more about how to identify the American woodcock and Wilson’s Snipe.

5. Patterned Plumage

Spotted sandpiper

Answer: Spotted Sandpiper

6. Coastal Shorebird

Willet bird

Answer: Willet

Want to see more beach birds and coastal fliers? Discover the best beach birding locations.

7. Rosy Pink Legs

black necked stilt

Answer: Black-necked Stilt

8. The Ground-Nester

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Answer: Killdeer

Here’s everything you need to know about a killdeer bird.

9. Long-Distance Migrant

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Answer: Dunlin

10. Graceful and Elegant

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Answer: American Avocet

11. Songbird Sized Shorebird

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Answer: Semipalmated Plover

12. Long and Lanky

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Answer: Lesser Yellowlegs

Next, take our caterpillar quiz to see how many types you can identify.

Can Birds Eat Peanuts?

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In the western states, Steller’s jays are big fans of peanuts in the shell.

You are probably already offering sunflower seed, safflower seed or nyjer seed in your feeders. But did you know that birds can also eat peanuts? When giving presentations on bird feeding, I’m often asked about which type of peanuts people should use in their feeders. People typically aren’t sure which birds prefer each type of peanut, and they want to be sure to offer the birds the type that will be most popular. Here is a quick guide to the birds that prefer shelled peanuts and peanuts in the shell.

Learn how to make a DIY bird feeder for peanuts.

Peanuts in the Shell for Birds

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Red-bellied woodpecker eating a peanut in the shell

Blue jays and other jay species in the United States love peanuts in the shell. These species are the reason that many people choose to offer this type of peanut.

In addition to blue jays, I’ve regularly seen red-bellied woodpeckers enjoy peanuts in the shell. Other species will take these peanuts from time to time, but they are a bit hard to crack open for many of the smaller birds.

One common problem with feeding peanuts in the shell is that squirrels are crazy about them. If you choose to feed any type of peanut, be prepared to deal with squirrels and other critters.

Shelled Peanuts for Birds

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A red-breasted nuthatch visits a shelled peanut bird feeder.

I personally think that shelled peanuts for birds are the better type of peanut to offer. Since they’ve been shelled, all of the birds are able to eat it without too much trouble. Many species will take advantage of the high protein content of peanuts especially during times of very cold temperatures. Some of the most common species that make use of my shelled peanut feeder are chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.

Not only do those species regularly use the feeder, I’ve seen almost all of the birds that frequent my bird feeders eat a peanut or two at some point. You really never know what backyard species might stop by for a shelled peanut!

Psst—did you know that birds also eat peanut butter!

Are Roasted Peanuts Safe for Birds?

Cardinal birds eat Peanuts
Male northern cardinal eating whole peanuts

“Can I use unsalted, roasted peanuts in my bird feeders?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Toby Fenci.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Peanuts are an excellent food for birds, providing a great source of protein. Many of our most beloved birds are attracted to peanuts, including woodpeckers, nuthatches and jays. However, salted peanuts (including those salted in the shell) aren’t safe for birds, as birds can’t metabolize salt the way humans do.

Roasted peanuts are problematic, since it’s hard to be sure how they were prepared and whether oils or salts were used in the process. It’s best to purchase raw peanuts specifically intended and packaged as bird food.”

Learn how to grow peanuts (and nutty peanut facts!)

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Goldfinches, like this American goldfinch, are the most well-known thistle eaters, but these seeds also draw pine siskins, redpolls, and many other finches.

What is the Difference Between Nyjer Seed and Thistle Seed?

Tube or sock feeders full of thistle seed are a common way to welcome songbirds into your garden. But the next time you refill your feeders, think about this. The seeds you’re buying at the store aren’t what you might think. They don’t come from the plant we know as thistle here in North America. What’s in the package is nyjer seed, which is just as tasty and healthy for backyard birds.

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American goldfinch plucking thistle seeds out

“When people refer to thistle seed that goes in feeders, they’re generally not talking about the seed that comes from either native or invasive thistle. They’re talking about Nyjer,” said John Rowden, director of community conservation at the National Audubon Society.

Nyjer seeds come from the African yellow daisy, a plant not commonly grown in the United States. The seeds are collected and sold by communities in northern Africa. Before they’re exported, the seeds are sterilized so the plant doesn’t become invasive in other environments.

It sounds like a lot of work to prepare this simple seed, but John said Nyjer’s value to birds makes the effort worthwhile. “It has a good combination of protein, fat and fiber, and that’s great as a winter bird food when fliers are trying to gain that high caloric content,” he said.

Besides serving store-bought seeds, John recommends planting native thistle to naturally bring feathered friends to your backyard. Visit to find out what options are native in your area.

Learn how to attract more goldfinches to your backyard.

Which Birds Eat Nyjer Seed?

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American goldfinch eating nyjer seed.

Nyjer is suited for attracting finches, chickadees, pine siskins, juncos, sparrows, mourning doves and buntings, among others.

Nyjer seeds are tiny, but they still have a shell. If you think your backyard birds might be just pecking at their food—not eating it—check the ground litter for thin hulls.

“I scatter Nyjer seed on the grass under sock feeders for ground foragers. All manner of birds flock to it!” says Keith Golden of Lake Carroll, Illinois.

Meet the 3 types of goldfinches in the United States.

Feeders to Serve Nyjer Seed

mesh finch feeder

John recommends using mesh socks or specialized tube feeders to share the seed, as they are designed to provide ample places for small birds to cling on.

Field editor Kathy Eppers has one tried-and-true suggestion. “Hang the thistle feeder away from your other feeders. It seems the goldfinches and house finches are most apt to feed when they are in an area that’s quiet, without the hustle and bustle of large birds like jays,” she said. Placement in the open also helps birds keep an eye out for predators.

Check out more of the best finch feeders to serve thistle seed.

Serve Only Fresh Nyjer Seed

You can serve nyjer seed in any season, but always keep it fresh.

“I bought a large bag of Nyjer seed, but the birds are not eating it. Could it be stale?” asks reader Cheryl Powers.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Nyjer is wonderful for attracting goldfinches and other small seed-eaters, but it loses its appeal after it dries out, which can happen within a few months. Birds can tell when the seeds have gone dry and stale.

A way to test for yourself is to pour a handful of Nyjer seeds on a paper towel and then crush them thoroughly. If the seeds are still fresh, some oil from them should seep out onto the paper towel. If the seeds are completely dried out, it’s best to throw them away and buy some more—preferably a reliable brand from a wild bird feeding specialty store.”

As another benchmark, field editor Patrick Hogan said he analyzes the seeds’ shininess to determine freshness. If they look dull, he puts out a fresh batch of seed. And throw out the whole lot if seeds get too wet.

Next, learn how to choose sunflower seeds for birds, and why you should be offering black oil sunflower seed.

Ask the Experts: How to Get Rid of Pigeons

Rock Pigeon (columba Livia) Standing On A Wooden Railing
You may wonder how to get rid of pigeons, as they are a non-native bird species.

“How do I get rid of pigeons at my feeders?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Vivian Tester of Bristol, Tennessee.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman write, “Pigeons can be a nuisance, especially when they arrive in large flocks, gobbling up loads of seeds. Taking your feeders down for a while is sometimes effective, but there are other options to discourage pigeons, too. Hanging feeders, especially tube style, are more difficult for pigeons to access. There also are tray-style feeders with cagelike baffles that fit over the top, designed to keep large birds from reaching the seed. Since pigeons prefer to feed on the ground, be sure to keep the area under your feeders clean as well.

“Pigeons at my feeders are greedy and chase the other birds away. How can I discourage them?” asks Fonda Loring of Cadillac, Michigan.

Kenn and Kimberly say, “Although pigeons are interesting to watch, they may hog a lot of space and push smaller birds away. They cause problems in yards where birdseed is scattered on the ground. To discourage them, try using feeders designed for smaller birds, such as tube feeders with sunflower or Nyjer seed, and prevent seeds from accumulating on the ground underneath. Suet cake feeders also attract a variety of birds, but not pigeons. If food isn’t readily available on the ground, the pigeons get out of the habit of spending so much time in your yard.

Reconsider giving them a second chance. Here’s why pigeons are the most misunderstood birds.

Keep Doves Away From Feeders

how to get rid of pigeons and doves
It can be tough to deter doves and pigeons from your bird feeding station.

Doves eat at my hopper feeder and keep other birds away. I’ve heard about pigeon guards—would these discourage doves while still allowing cardinals and other birds to use the feeder?” asks reader Pamela Smith.

Kenn and Kimberly say, “It takes some careful work to allow medium-sized songbirds, such as cardinals, to reach the feeder while keeping out doves and other slightly larger birds. One approach is a pigeon guard or a similar type of wire cage with openings that are just a little too small for the doves to pass through. There are also weight-activated feeders that will close if a heavier bird lands (cardinals weigh a little less than 2 ounces; most doves weigh more than 4 ounces). It’s worthwhile to visit a local wild bird feeding specialty store to talk to the professionals about the best options for your area.”

Learn how to get rid of blackbirds and grackles at feeders.

Take a Break From Bird Feeding

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Put your feeders away until pigeons find a new food source.

When less-desirable birds like pigeons or house sparrows visit your feeders in numbers, sometimes the only options are to take down your feeders until the flocks move on or to embrace the common birds as a fixture of your backyard landscape.

Did you know that pigeons and mourning doves are related? Here’s how to tell the difference.

Pigeons Are Nonnative Birds

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Pigeons are often seen in cities but they also may feed on the ground under your bird feeders.

Rock pigeons, like Eurasian collared-doves and European starlings, are not native to the United States. Introduced from Europe in the 1600s, rock pigeons saved lives carrying messages for the U.S. Army in both world wars. Many are gray with two black wing bars and shiny green or red on the neck.

Pigeons nest in buildings, in barns and under bridges. They feed young with milk developed in their throat pouches. Psst—here’s why you never see a baby pigeon.

Next, learn what a white-winged dove looks like.