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Archive for the ‘Birds In The Garden’ Category

10 Myths About Feeding Birds

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Blue Jay

1. If you feed birds, they won’t migrate and will be caught in the winter cold.

Birds know when to migrate based on sunlight, weather and their natural instincts, that give the urge to migrate. It doesn’t matter how much food is available to them, in the bird feeders or where ever, when it’s time for them to go, they go. Migrating birds do need to eat though, especially during migration, and if you keep your feeders well stocked, you will get a bigger variety of birds at your feeders during migration.

2. Birds will starve if you stop feeding them in the winter, so once you start, you can’t stop.

It is best to keep your bird feeders well stocked in the winter for the hungry birds. You’ll want them to think of your yard and garden as a place for food, so they will hang around all year. Birds in the garden are very beneficial and aren’t just pretty things to look at. They eat a lot of bugs and larvae that would be eating your garden. So attracting birds to your yard year round is a good thing. If you suddenly had to go away, though, they would find food somewhere. They can range far and wide in search of food, they may have to work harder for it, but they will find something to eat. If you know you will be away though, it is better to arrange for a neighbor to refill your feeders for you. If not, then you may have to be patient and lure them back to your yard.

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Goldfinch on Finch feeder

3. Feeding the birds is really good (or bad) for the birds.

In reality, birds do not need for us to feed them. They are perfectly capable of finding food on their own. So is it good to feed the birds? Well, it certainly is for us, since we get to enjoy watching them and listening to them, not to mention all the good they do in our gardens. Feeding them is also good for them, because they get a better variety of food at the bird feeders than they would normally get during the winter, and it’s more accessible to them. It’s not “bad” for the birds because birds eat what they like. If the food you put into the feeders for them gets spoiled or ruined, they will avoid it. If you put food they don’t like, they will avoid it and go somewhere else to eat. That’s a very good reason to use good bird seed mixes in your bird feeders.

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7 hummingbirds at feeder

4. The bags of mixed seed found at the grocery stores are bad for the birds.

Actually, it’s bad for your pocketbook, not the birds, because the birds will just toss out the seeds they won’t eat. Bags of cheap bird seed, whether it’s from the grocery store or not, usually has so much filler seed in it that the birds won’t touch, or it has red milo, wheat and other things in they don’t eat and it will have none of the good stuff like, millet, black-oil sunflower seeds, broken peanuts, safflower or sunflower hearts. So it’s a waste of money. However, even the grocery stores are beginning to carry higher quality birdseed, with very good combinations of seed, fruit and nuts that appeal to many kinds of birds. Buying bird food at feed/hardware stores or specialty bird shops is usually best, but high quality mixes can be found other places as well.

5. Squirrels and blackbirds won’t eat safflower seed.

Many people who feed birds will use lots of safflower seed in their mix, believing that it deters the squirrels and blackbirds from feeding at their feeders. If that was ever true, it doesn’t seem to be true any longer. Many people report that any bird (including blackbirds) or mammal (including squirrels) that will eat sunflower seed, will also eat safflower seed.

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One of 10 birdfeeders in the garden.

6. Only one species of hummingbird is found east of the Rocky Mountains.

I’m not sure of where this myth came from and if it were ever true, but it certainly isn’t true now. There is a wide variety of beautiful hummers at hummingbird feeders all over the east, north and south.

7. Birds won’t eat milo.

I’ve always considered milo to be one of the filler seed in the cheap bags of bird food, but I’ve recently learned that in the southwest it is a favorite of doves and quail and some other birds. So whether this myth is true or not depends on where you live.

8. Hummingbird food with red dye in it is bad for the hummers.

The truth about this myth is that we really and truly don’t know. There is no proof that it’s harmful to the birds, but there is no proof that it isn’t either. If you buy hummingbird food ready mixed, then it will probably be red. If you mix your own (1 part sugar dissolved in 4 parts hot water and cooled) then you don’t need to add the food color. The red food color really isn’t necessary because the red that attracts the hummingbirds is usually found on the feeder.

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Cardinal enjoying lunch

9. There is a bird feeder that is 100% squirrel proof.

I’ve bought enough “squirrel proof” bird feeders to know the fallacy of this myth. Squirrels are ingenious, resourceful creatures and when there is a large population of them, and they are hungry, they will find a way. It may take them a while, but they WILL succeed.

10. Hummingbird feeders shouldn’t have perches because it is bad for the hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds can feed while hovering, and they can feed while stationary on a perch. There is no proof that the perches are either good or bad. I have feeders of both kinds in my yard and the hummers seem to stay longer at the feeders with perches (I don’t blame them, I’d rather sit to eat as well) and the other hummingbirds linger nearby awaiting their turn.

So, in reality, there is no good reason not to feed the birds, yet there are lots of really good reasons why we should. Watching the different species of birds that show up at our feeders and watching how they interact with each other can be so amusing and enjoyable. If the birds come to think of your yard as a haven with available food, they will stick around and come back season after season, year after year. This is a good thing for you, because it means you will have less bugs and creepy crawlies in your yard, eating on you and your garden. If you are lucky enough to have songbirds in your area, then you will have added reason to feed the birds.

For more information on feeding the birds and what foods to use to attract them to your yard have a look at this site: http://www.ourgardengate.com/2011/10/31/10-best-foods-for-birds-in-the-winter-2/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6662151

Is Suet On Your Shopping List? And Don’t Forget The Birdseed…

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Cardinal enjoying lunch

I know…how could our lives get any busier. Right? It’s hard to remember every single thing we need to, or want to do.

Besides, who pays that much attention to what’s going on in the yard in the dead of winter, when it’s cold and miserable out there. It can be a nuisance to trudge outside, into the cold weather to check to see if the bird feeders need filling.

 

 

 

(Actually, if you can’t see them from your window, then it is more of a bother, and what’s more, you’re missing out on watching the birds at your feeders.)

So…this is just one of those little reminders.

Need more information on feeding the birds?

See

http://wp.me/P1OXDF-10c

http://www.ourgardengate.com/birds-in-the-garden/bird-food/

Planning Your Garden For Next Spring and Summer?

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Gate on grape arbor with pergola over deck in view.

If you like to spend at least part of the winter planning what you’re going to do in your garden next spring and summer, then having a little information can be helpful.

Have you checked out the “Tabs” at the top of the page? Under the “Flowers” tab there are list of annuals, and perennials with their growing habits and needs.

The “Birds” tab will give some information about feeding the birds to keep them coming to your yard to gobble up all those “bad bugs’ eating your garden.

The more information you have, the more successful your garden will be.

Remembering the Hummers

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4 hummers at feeder

Hummingbirds are a favorite with a lot of people, with their antics at the feeders. Most of the time, many hummers will feed at the same time, but not always. It’s always been amazing to me how a creature that is so tiny, can also be so feisty and aggressive. I’ve watched one little male fend off all other hummers at the feeder, except for what appears to be one female. Since they can look so much alike, it’s hard to know if it’s the same female or not. But it is obvious that it is the same male. He will sit on the arch above the feeder and when hungry, dip down for a sip. Otherwise, he is perched on his holding spot and will only leave it to chase off other hummers. Fearless little bugger.

I had a lot of flowering hanging baskets this year that had plenty of long, cascading stems loaded with flowers. On one particularly hot day, I watched as a hummer would feed at the flowers, then swoop underneath to hover in the shade of the hanging basket. It seems like just the effort of

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7 hummingbirds at feeder

hovering would warm him up.

We enjoyed seeing them this fall, as they were passing through, and look forward to their returning next spring. These are some pictures of hummers visiting our feeders when I lived in the south (zone 8 ).

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hungry hummers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hummers at the feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Books About Birds I Use and Recommend

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Books about birds

Even though there is so much information on the internet, sometimes it’s nice to just sit down with a book. There is a lot of good information about birds in your area, about attracting birds to your yard and feeding them. These are some of the books I use but there are many more available. My most recent purchase was from a bird specialty shop near me, but you can find books about birds at book stores, on the internet, like this site: Triple your savings! BUY NEW BOOKS at 50-90% off! Shop at BookCloseOuts.comThe more you know about the birds in your area and the ones passing through, the more success you’ll have in attracting them to your garden.

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Books about birds in specific areas

I’m Missing The Mockingbirds

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Mockingbird on fence

Even though I love watching the birds from my kitchen window (I’ve moved the feeders in closer so that I can get to them easier to refill and so that I can see them better), I am reminded of the birds I love to watch the most, the mockingbirds. I don’t recall ever seeing them eat from any of my feeders when I lived in the south, but they were fun to watch. They have an attitude and  are so independent, yet seem to love to be near people. They are the top music makers in the bird world, because they mimic the songs of other birds, stringing them all together.  They will sing this string of songs over and over for about three times. I understand that each bird has his own repertoire of songs he has put together, so his song will depend on the kinds of birds living in his vicinity.

I use to walk on a mile track every morning, very early, and there was a mockingbird that would go around the track with me, as he   flitted from tree to tree. He would wait until I was almost to him before flying ahead to the next tree to wait for me there. His song was beautiful, but even though he didn’t always sing, he was good company on my walks.

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mockingbird in grass

There was also one who dominated our deck, which was just off our master bedroom. Every morning we would wake to his song (or string of songs) as he sat in the fig tree over-hanging our deck. Such a pleasant way to start the day.

I’ve been told that mockingbirds have been spotted out here in the west, but it is rare. I do miss them and would surely love to see one from my kitchen window again.

 

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Top 10 Myths About Feeding Birds

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Hummer eating on the fly

Have you ever heard that feeding birds can keep them from migrating? Or what about feeding birds and then stopping, causing them to starve?

There are some myths floating around out there about feeding wild birds, check out this recently published article to learn more.

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Birds at feeder

http://ezinearticles.com/?Top-10-Myths-About-Feeding-Birds&id=6662151


Eliza Osborn, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

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Feeding the Cold, Hungry Birds

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Birds feeding in the winter

Now that the weather is getting so much colder, the natural food for the birds is getting scarcer. They will still be able to find food, but they will have to work harder for it. If you are a bird lover, like me, then you want to make sure these beautiful creatures stick around your yard all winter, so that you can enjoy watching them. Birds are so different and so is their eating preferences. That’s why it’s important to have different types of bird feeders placed in your yard.

Some like to eat at the platform feeders and some like the tube feeders. Some prefer the height, while some like to eat off the ground (which is great because of all the seeds the elevated feeders toss out). In the winter though, there are other things to consider.

Location: If possible, locate the feeders out of windy areas, or in as sheltered an area as possible. Consider visibility too, if the feeders are nearer the home, the birds will be easier to watch and the feeders will be easier to refill (for those of us who live where the snow gets deep). Also, place the feeders near enough to places of refuge, such as evergreen hedges etc,. but not too close, as predators can be lurking there.

Cover: Feeders without covers are fine in warmer weather, but may not offer enough protection from snowfall or cold rain. The wider the cover, the better. After a storm it helps to go out and brush the snow off, so the birds can get to the seeds. Same with the ground feeders, shoveling or moving some of the snow out of the way lets them get to the seeds that have fallen.

Size: Cute little bird feeder are fine, but not so much in the winter. Just think about how often you really want to go out into the freezing weather to refill the feeders. On the other hand, if the cover isn’t wide enough, the seed can get wet and ruin, so a lot of seed wouldn’t be a good thing then. (See how important the cover is?)
To learn more about the types of bird foods, refer to an earlier posts:
Storing Birdseed: You can stock up on bird seed in the fall, when it is usually on sale. It should be stored in a cool, dry place, in containers that bugs and rodents can’t get into.
Watering:With all the tips on feeding the birds, it’s important to remember to put water out for them as well. In colder climates this can be a challenge, like putting warm water out, so that it can be used before freezing. This should be done daily. You might want to consider putting a safe heating element in the birdbath to insure the birds have a steady supply of water.
As many of you already know…it really is worth the effort.

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Blue Jay

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10 Best Foods For Birds In The Winter

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Goldfinch on Finch feeder

Now that gardening chores have lightened up, it’s time to think about other things. One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to watch the birds. To see the colorful variety that shows up at the bird feeders and to listen to their songs is so nice during the long, cold, dreary winter. To be able to do that though, I have to attract the birds to our garden… or should I say attract the birds to our yard, as there isn’t much “garden” in the winter.

If you already feed the birds then you probably know  the foods the birds that visit your yard prefer. If you are just getting started though, or if you don’t seem to be attracting birds to your feeders, you might need to find out if you’re feeding the right foods.

You have to give the birds what they want to get them to come to your yard and attracting the birds to your yard is the way to be able to enjoy watching and hearing them during the winter.

Here are 10 of the favorite foods of most birds in North America.

1. Sunflower seeds (black-oil or striped sunflower seed) – Almost all birds like this seed. There is a lot of food in one kernel and it is easy for them to eat. Black-oil sunflower seeds are the best but most birds will eat the others as well.

2. High quality mixed seed – If you buy the cheap bags of bird seed, which is filled with fillers the birds won’t eat, you are really wasting your money. The birds will toss out the filler seeds to get to the good ones, so you would be much better off buying mixes from feed/hardware stores or birding stores. You can even buy each of the seed you want and mix your own.

3. Cracked corn – If you want to attract doves, jays, quails, sparrows and blackbirds to your feeder, then cracked corn is the way to go. Most any bird will eat the cracked corn, so it is good to add it to your mix to attract as many different kinds of birds as you can.

4. Mealworms – Mealworms aren’t actually worms, but larvae of a beetle. You can put these out for the birds in a dish with shallow, slippery, vertical sides so that the worms can’t escape. The birds love them and this will be a great treat for them. Almost all birds that feed at birdfeeders will eat them. These can be bought at birding stores.

5. Peanuts – Jays, nuthatches, finches, woodpeckers, cardinals, titmice and chickadees really enjoy peanuts in their mix. Make sure they are shelled and unsalted. Peanuts meant for feeding birds can be bought at feed/hardware stores or at bird specialty stores.

6. Suet – Birds need fat in their diet in the winter, as it is such a good source of energy. Some birdfeeders have a place to attach suet on the side, or you can buy suet holders separately. If you want to, you can even use a mesh produce bag to hang up and hold the suet. The birds won’t care, as long as they can get to the goods. You can ask the butcher at your grocery store for suet, which is trimmed off of the beef. Sometimes it’s packaged and sold. Blocks of suet are also sold in the birdfood section. OR…you can buy the suet, render it down in the microwave and add other ingredient (like fruit, nuts or seed) and let it solidify again.

7. Thistle seed (Nyjer seed) – This is the favorite seed of the finches (housefinches, purple finches, gold finches) as well as siskins and redpolls. Thistle seed is so small that you’ll need to use a thistle feeder or finch feeder. There are tube kinds with small, wire mesh and there are sock kinds that hold the seed in well. Tiny though the seeds are, the tiny birds don’t seem to have a problem pulling it through the mesh or sock and getting the tiny kernel inside.This is one of the most expensive of the bird foods and it can easily get moldy in damp weather.

8. Safflower – This is a favorite of many birds but especially the cardinal. It is a white seed and can be used in any mix. It can be bought in bulk at feed stores or at bird specialty stores.

9. Specialty treats you make – Make your own bird food mixes by buying in bulk and combining them with fruits and nuts. Use a pinecone to smear with peanut butter and poke peanuts into. This can be hung for the birds to reach. Or render down some suet and add treats to it before it hardens.

10. Fruit – Birds love fruit (if you have fruit trees, then you already know this), but it is very hard for them to find fruit in the winter. You can

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Bird at suet feeder

offer grapes, slices of apples, oranges or bananas. Chopped raisins can be offered or added to the bird food mix. Many feeder birds eat fruit, so you will be attracting a wide variety of birds to your yard this winter.

If you put out birdfeeders, you will attract migrating birds as well as birds that winter over in your area. So the variety changes. I’ve noticed too, that the variety changes with the time of day, as birds feed at different times of the day.

If you haven’t been feeding the birds it may take a little while for them to find your feeders, so be patient and they WILL show up.

 

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