Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr

Myths About Birds

Who knew that there were so many bird-brained ideas out there about birds?

Hummingbird Illustration
  • Red dye in hummingbird feeders is bad.
    There are many people who insist this is so. But there is no scientific proof. It doesn't really matter, though. You don't need to add red dye to your hummingbird nectar. The red of the feeder is enough to attract hummers.

 

  • Some birds remain true to one mate for life.
    There are water birds that do stay with one mate for a long time. But they don't always have what many people would call perfect "marriages." These birds sometimes pair up briefly with other partners.

 

  • Purple martins regularly eat 2,000 mosquitoes a day.
    This belief may have helped sell lots of purple martin birdhouse "condos." But it comes from just one example: A purple martin found in a salt marsh in the early morning had 300 mosquitoes in its belly. So some scientists figured out that if the bird ate all day, it would chow down 2,000 mosquitoes. But scientists doing other studies on this question have found that mosquitoes are only a small part of a purple martin's diet. True, martins eat plenty of flying insects, but most are larger than mosquitoes. They're not bad birds, but just don't put up a martin house thinking it will mean an end to your mosquitoes!

 

Adapted from BirdwatchersDigest.com

Illustration by Jack Desrocher

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