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The most popular questions asked at BirdWatchers--answered for you! If you have a question that is not answered here, give us a call or send us an email.

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General Birding Questions
  • The birds are fighting over my nesting box--what can I do?
    Adding another nesting box to your landscape will offer nesting couples an alternative choice.

  • Do birds use nesting boxes in the winter months?
    Yes, birds (sometimes squirrels) will use nesting boxes in the winter months at night for roosting. The boxes offer shelter from rain, sleet and snow and the cold winter wind. Putting up an actual roosting box for winter will be very beneficial for the birds.

  • How is a roosting box different from a nesting box?
    A roosting box is different from a nesting box because the entrance hole is at the bottom (opposite that of a nesting box) and there are perching shelves inside so that birds my huddle together for warmth.

  • Birds keep attacking my windows--what can I do?
    There are many reasons why birds attack windows. It seems to occur mostly during nesting time when birds are very territorial. Sometimes windows appear to be fly-through areas or even the reflection of trees can confuse the birds. To break the reflection you can use decals, pictures of a cat or predator bird or even putting a dead branch in front of the window can make a difference. We offer a free list of 10 things that you can do to prevent window strikes (compiled by ARK). This list is available in our retail store.

  • Will mosquitos breed in my birdbath?
    Proper cleaning and adding fresh water every two to three days will keep your birdbath mosquito free

  • What should I use to clean my birdbath?
    A 10% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water) works well. Rinse well and refill with fresh water.

  • Is it ok to use treated lumber to build a birdhouse?
    Lumber that has been treated with toxic chemicals to prevent insect infestation and wood rot should not be used. To our knowledge, all birding organizations advise against using such wood.

  • Should I clean out my nesting box after the baby birds have fledged?
    Yes, it is a good idea to clean out the nest after each brood. This helps to prevent an infestation of insects. Old nests may also attract predators, so please dispose of old nests in a trash bag.

  • Is it okay to feed the Birds stale bread?
    Stale bread does not meet the nutritional needs of wild birds. A healthy diet for our feathered friends would include suet, mealworms, and a seed blend that includes black oil sunflower, safflower, sunflower chips and peanuts. You can also offer fruit such as plumped up raisins, blueberries, oranges and apples.

Hummingbird Questions

Bluebird Questions
  • How can I get Eastern Bluebirds to come to my yard?
    If you have the right habitat which would include the availability of insects, nesting cavities (dead trees or pole mounted nesting boxes) and a low growing landscape (large lawn or low growth field) you have a good chance of having these beautiful birds take up residence.

  • When should I put up my Bluebird box?
    In Central Virginia, early February is the time to get your Bluebird box up. You’ll have a good chance of catching the Bluebird’s first nesting cycle.

  • What do Eastern Bluebirds eat?
    Eastern Bluebirds love meal worms, plumped up raisins (raisins soaked in hot water); will come to tray type feeders for sunflower chips and peanut bits. There are also several different kinds of suet on the market that Eastern Bluebirds enjoy.

  • How many eggs do Eastern Bluebirds lay?
    Bluebirds will lay 3 – 6 pale blue eggs.

  • Another bird is in my Bluebird Box--can I remove the nest to make it go away?
    No, do not remove the birds nest. All of our native birds are federally protected. You can remedy the problem by adding another nesting box. FYI--Any nesting box labeled Bluebird can also accommodate Chickadees, Nuthatches, Wrens and Tufted Titmice.

Squirrel Questions
  • How can I squirrel-proof my birdfeeders?
    You can squirrel proof any feeder, it’s all in the placement. 10’ Open area all around the pole, baffle on the pole placed 5’ from the ground up and feeders should not hang below the baffle.

  • Is hot pepper suet okay to use to keep squirrels away?
    We don’t recommend using hot pepper in any wild bird or squirrel food. There are many different opinions about whether or not hot pepper is harmful to birds so we, therefore, must ere on the side of caution and say no- don’t use hot pepper in suet or bird seed. We don’t advocate causing squirrels discomfort or harm in any way. There are many bird feeders on the market that are squirrel resistant and several different baffles that work very well to keep the persistent little bushy tails away from feeders.

  • Is there any seed that squirrels don't like?
    Yes. Safflower is one seed that squirrels seem to dislike. If they are extremely hungry they will eat it, but for the part it does the job! Starlings and Grackles don’t like it either.

Bat Questions
  • Do we have bats in Virginia? If so, what kind?
    Yes, we do have bats in Virginia. According to the Organization for Bat Conservation, we have twelve species of bats that are found in Virginia, two of which are federally endangered. For more information on bats, please visit

  • Helpful Hints for Locating Your Bat House
    The species of bats that would most likely move into a bat house are typically colonial bats. These bats would normally roost in old dead trees or caves, but in urban areas they will move into manmade structures. These bats are gregarious by nature and like to squeeze closely together into tight crevices. They prefer their roosting quarters to be warm, safe from predators and with a small amount of ventilation. Bat house designs attempt to provide these needs, but the bat house itself doesn’t attract bats. Bats need to discover it on there own. So, as a bat house owner you want to make your bat house as obvious as possible to bats and attempt to enhance its ability to meet their needs. Here are some suggestions.

    1. If you have bats in your area, observe their normal flight patterns and locate your bat house where the bats will most likely see it with their eyes or pick it up with their sonar. Larger bat houses tend to have a higher occupancy rate than smaller ones. The visibility of a larger bat house may have something to do with this.

    2. There are typically three alternatives for mounting a bat house; on a post, on the side of a building or on a tree. For the average home owner, the post is likely the most desirable option. It provides a great deal of flexibility on where the house can be located. The second choice would be the side of a building. The only concern is that droppings may start showing up on the wall of the building and some folks find this objectionable. Bat houses mounted on trees seem to have the lowest occupancy rate of the three choices. If a bat house is located in a tree it should be oriented in a way that keeps branches from obstructing the entrance and allows as much sunlight on the bat house as possible.

    3. Experience indicates that bats which will move into bat houses prefer warm roosting sites, so locate your bat house where it will get at least six hours of direct sunlight. You should avoid areas that are shaded during much of the day. This may be one of the reasons that houses mounted on live trees do not do as well. Dead trees don’t have this problem.

    4. The bat house should be located at least ten foot above the ground. Bats have moved into lower roosts, but statistics indicate the higher the bat house is mounted, the greater the chance it will become occupied.

    5. If possible, locate the bat house within a quarter mile of a source of fresh water. Bats will usually fly to a fresh water lake or pond before they begin to forage. They fly close to the surface and lap up the water as they pass over it. Most home owners don’t have control over this factor. If there is water in your area it is a plus, but the lack of it does not mean you won’t get bats in your bat house.

    6. Be patient. Although we have reports of bats moving into a bat house within a few months, it often takes two or three years before bats move into a bat house.

    Information provided by Bat World Hampton Roads | 757-346-0959

  • Is there anything that I can do to help our local bat population?
    Yes. We can all help bats by putting up a bat house for roosting. Bats are losing natural habitat as well as being evicted from human dwellings. You can also help by joining groups like the Organization For Bat Conservation. Please visit their website and learn more about bat conservation at

Injured Birds/Wildlife Rehabilitators
  • If I find an injured bird or squirrel, what should I do?
    If you find an injured bird or mammal call your local wildlife rehabilitators (call your local vet for a list or look online). If you are in the Richmond area, please call ARK’s hotline at 804-598-8380. For more information about ARK go to our web links page and click on the ARK logo.

  • What is a Wildlife Rehabilitator?
    A Wildlife Rehabilitator is a volunteer who dedicates their time and donates supplies and/or equipment needed for the rehabilitation of the wildlife in their care. All Wildlife Rehabilitators have a state and /or federal license. Their main goal is to return the wildlife to their natural environment as soon as possible. To learn more about wildlife rehabilitation or to become a volunteer, please visit our local wildlife rehabilitation website by clicking on the ARK logo on the web links page.

Primal Pet Foods
  • Ingredient Benefits
    All products in the Primal Pet Foods food and treat line contain 100% USDA, human-grade, all -natural ingredients. Primal Formulas, Mixes and Grinds incorporate fresh, antibiotic- and steroid-free whole muscle meat, organ meat and meaty bones with no additional hormones. This combination of high-quality protein provides the essential amino acids, fatty acids, active enzymes and natural-source calcium necessary to support your pet's overall health.

    Primal Formulas and Mixes incorporate wholesome, certified organic fruits and vegetables providing essential food-based vitamins and minerals. The addition of certified organic unrefined supplements in our Formula line offers your pet the benefit of a complete and balanced diet without the addition of synthetic vitamins. All of the ingredients contained in the Primal products line are purveyed from suppliers who are recognized for their superior-quality, human-grade ingredients and the highest standards of safe food handling.

    Primal Treats are produced using antibiotic- and steroid-free meats, poultry and game with no additional hormones from the United States and New Zealand. All treats in the Primal line are single-source protein and contain only natural ingredients without the use of preservatives.

    By offering your pet Primal Pet Foods raw food formulas, you are providing to them a diet that most closely mimics their natural eating habits as they were in the wild. Through the use of 100% digestible food products, Primal Formulas offer the nutrients essential to life in a superior, bio-available composition. Through better digestion and superior assimilation of food derived nutrients, your pets will live happier, healthier and more vibrant lives.

    Source-Authored by: Primal Pet Foods Inc.

  • What is a freeze-dried formula for pets?
    The Primal Freeze Dried Formula is a process of freeze drying the raw formula and "then reducing the atmospheric pressure to allow the frozen water in the food to evaporate". The process transitions the raw frozen formula from frozen to freeze-dried- allowing retention of the nutritional value of raw meat.

  • Safe Handling of Primal Pet Foods
    As with the safe handling of all raw foods- wash all work surfaces, utensils and bowls after preparation of the freeze-dried formula with hot, soapy water. Always wash your hands after handling any raw food.

  • Primal Pet Foods Freshness
    Once you've opened the bag of the Primal Freeze-Dried Formula, always reseal the bag and store in a cool, dry place. Once hydrated, the pet food may be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days. Keep the hydrated pet food separate from other foods stored in your refrigerator. And, as always, keep away from the reach of children.

  • Transitioning your pet to a raw food diet
    Transition is the most essential element of a healthy and safe change from dry kibble or canned wet food to a raw diet. We recommend making this transition slowly. Allow a minimum of one week for your pet's digestive system to properly adjust from a highly processed diet to a new diet of human-grade raw foods.

    For days 1-3, begin by mixing Primal Formulas, Mixes or Grinds into your pet's current food at a ratio that your pet will tolerate; you can start with as little as 1/4 Primal to 3/4 of your pet's current food. Your pet may show some adversity to the temperature of the raw food when served directly from the refrigerator. To warm Primal raw foods, place the feeding portion into a zip-seal, water-tight bag and temper in a bowl of warm water. Do not use water that is too hot, as this will potentially cook the food and reduce the enzymatic properties, as well as deplete the nutrient values of the raw foods.

    If your pet accepts the raw food during days 1-3, feed your pet raw foods only for the morning meal and their current food for the evening meal for days 4-7. When your pet has transitioned successfully (consuming raw foods readily, healthy, firm stool), you can begin feeding raw foods for both meals.

    Many pets will transition quickly and consume the raw food with vigor. To determine how your pet's system is accepting the new diet, monitor your pet's stool. On a raw diet, your pet's stool size will be greatly reduced. Stools will become small, firm and void of any offensive odor. If your pet's stool is soft or loose as a result of the transition, introduce the raw food more slowly. Pets that have digestive issues and/or gastrointestinal disorders should be transitioned more slowly. We recommend the addition of a digestive enzyme to aid with the transition for pets with severe digestive and/or gastrointestinal upset.

  • Feeding
    Feeding Primal Freeze-Dried Formula is easy. Simply serve as is or rehydrate by adding water. Because of the importance of moisture in a raw diet, we recommend rehydrating this product for optimum nutrition absorption. To rehydrate, add 1 tablespoon of water for every nugget or ¼ cup of water for 4 nuggets. Whole nuggets will not absorb water easily. For best rehydrating results, break nugget into small pieces and mix thoroughly with water to force moisture into product.

  • How do I compare protein levels in a raw-food diet like Primal to a dry-food diet like kibble?
    A pet food label must state guarantees for the minimum percentages of crude protein and crude fat, as well as the maximum percentages of crude fiber and moisture. The "crude" term refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itself.

    Guarantees are declared on an "as fed" or "as is" basis, that is, the amounts present in the product as it is found in the can or bag. This doesn't have much bearing when the guarantees of two products of similar moisture content are compared (for example, a dry dog food versus another dry dog food). However, when comparing the guaranteed analyses between dry and moist (raw/canned) products, one will note that the levels of crude protein and most other nutrients are much lower for the moist product.

    This can be explained by looking at the relative moisture contents. Moist foods typically contain 65-78% moisture, whereas dry foods contain only 10-12% water. To make meaningful comparisons of nutrient levels between a moist and dry product, they should be expressed on the same moisture basis.

    The most accurate means of doing this is to convert the guarantees for both products to a dry matter basis. The percentage of dry matter of the product is equal to 100% minus the percentage of moisture guaranteed on the label. A dry food is approximately 88-90% dry matter, while a moist food is only about 22-25% dry matter. To convert a nutrient guarantee to a dry matter basis, the percent guarantee should be divided by the percentage of the dry matter then multiplied by 100.

    For example, a moist food guarantees 12% crude protein and 75% moisture (or 25% dry matter), while a dry food contains 27% crude protein and 10% moisture (or 90% dry matter). Which has more protein, the dry or moist? Calculating the dry matter protein of both, the moist contains 32% crude protein on a dry matter basis (12/25 X 100 = 48), while the dry has only 30% on a dry matter basis (27/90 X 100 = 30). Thus, although it looks like the dry has a lot more protein, when the water is removed; the moist food actually has a little more protein.

    An easier way is to remember this is that the amount of dry matter in the dry food is about three to four times the amount of dry matter in a moist product. To quickly compare guarantees between a dry and moist food, multiply the guarantees for the moist food by three to four times.

    Authored by: Primal Pet Food Inc.

  • Why is my pet itching, scratching or biting themselves excessively?
    Whenever your pet is itching, scratching or biting themselves excessively, we recommend consulting your holistic veterinarian or pet nutritionist to determine the direct cause of this behavior.

    Often times, animals exhibit this behavior due to food allergies. Food allergies are typically indicated by your pet chewing the tops and/or bottoms of their feet as well as chewing at the base of the tail (where the tail meets the body). If your vet or nutritionist determine that your pet has a food allergy, we suggest following an isolation diet to determine those food products that may be causing your pet discomfort. By following a strict diet of single source protein and avoiding all grain sources, determining the direct cause of your pet's excessive behavior will be easier to isolate.

    Excessive itching, scratching and/or biting may be due to environmental allergies and/or excessive toxins in the body as well.

    Authored by: Primal Pet Food Inc.