CE Webster

I love bird watching, whether at the bird feeder or out on the trail.

Dec 132009
 

Setting up a bird bath fountain is an easy way to attract birds to your yard. The seeds that your bird feeder contains will only attract certain birds. By adding a bird bath fountain to your backyard you will draw additional species of birds. You will be seeing 2 to 3 times more birds in your yard.

Water is essential to birds. They need water to drink and they also love to play in the water. Watching birds at the bird bath fountain will provide you with entertainment as you watch the birds splashing in it. A bird bath fountain, with the sound of moving water, will attract plenty of birds.

Still water bird baths can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Running water from misters, drippers or waterfalls in the bird bath fountain alleviates that problem.

A bird bath fountain can be operated by either electric or solar power. A solar powered bird bath fountain doesn’t require any additional plumbing or electrical wiring. It costs nothing to run, but does require placement in a sunny location.

Bird bath fountains are constructed out of many different materials:  mosaic tiles, concrete, stone, cement, copper, glass, marble, resin, brass or other metals.

The design of a bird bath fountain can be very elaborate and will make a statement in your garden habitat. Conversely, there are bird bath fountains made to blend into the natural landscape.

There should be a rim that is easy for birds to grip so that it can act as a perch. The bowl should have a depth of 2-3 inches.  If you have a deeper bowl, placing small pebbles in the bottom will decrease the depth. A textured surface will keep the birds from slipping.

There are a variety of different types of bird baths:  deck mount, hanging, tiered and pedestal.

  • The deck mount is simple to install and is ideal for apartment dwellers or those who don’t have a large yard. The drawback to a deck mount bird bath is that it is easy prey for cats. If there are cats in the area you may want to think twice about selecting this style.
  • The hanging bird bath can be hung from trees, overhangs or awnings. The downside to the hanging bird bath is that the birds can get it to swing and swish the water right out.  This may have you filling the bird bath more often than you would like.
  • A waterfall bird bath fountain is tiered. This style allows the birds to take a shower under the falling water.
  • A very popular and versatile choice is the pedestal bird bath fountain. This is a preferred bird bath because it can be placed in any area of your yard.

Many of the different types of bird bath fountains incorporate misters and drippers in the bird bath.  Hummingbirds and warblers love to fly through the misters.

Look for an open spot to locate your bird bath fountain. You want the birds to feel safe so make sure that cats don’t have easy access to the area.

In hot weather you should clean your bird bath fountain daily. In cooler weather it should be cleaned every few days. Remember, that a bird bath heater should be installed to keep the water from freezing in the winter. With proper maintenance your bird bath fountain will last for many years.

The perfect bird bath fountain, as recommended by birding enthusiasts, is one with moving water, functional perches, a textured surface and one that is solar powered. You will appreciate the beauty it brings to your garden bird feeder habitat. The birds will love your bird bath fountain. Just sit back and enjoy the view!

Dec 102009
 
Garden Bird Feeder-Our First Snowbirds in 2009Chicadee at the Garden Bird Feeder

Chicadee at the Garden Bird Feeder

We filled up the bird feeder and sat down to write the Christmas cards. Soon we were spending more time watching the birds at the garden bird feeder than writing cards! It’s always fun watching the birds after the first snowfall. Share your stories with us.

Nov 142009
 

You’re dreaming of starting your first garden bird feeder.  You are looking forward to sitting back and enjoying all the beautiful birds that will be attracted to your garden bird feeder. You’re picturing all the beautiful blossoms that the birds will be enjoying.  It’s the perfect time of the year to plan a beautiful garden bird feeder.  You don’t need a large yard to set-up a beautiful and decorative garden bird feeder.  The following facts will leave you with  a bird-friendly yard and a natural setting that will be as pleasing to you as it will be for the wild birds.

Establish a bird sanctuary in an area that allows a safe landing site for the birds.  Allocate a spot for your garden bird feeder near trees or shrubs.  Remember, the landscaping doesn’t have to be elaborate.  You may already have a place that has shrubs and trees that you can expand on.  Birds will use the trees and shrubs for protection from predators.  The trees and shrubs will supply the birds with a range of nesting material and nesting sites.  Grow a variety of trees and plants that will yield year round food like berries and seeds that will ripen at different times throughout the year.  Allow a portion of your manicured grass to grow higher by your garden bird feeder.  The higher grass areas provide the birds with an assortment of insects.

A variety of plants will supply the best benefits for the birds.  Consider adding native and summer fruiting plants close to your garden bird feeder.  The food produced by these plants will be well suited for the wild birds that live around you.  Birds feed on a variety of insects that are found on the plants.  Flowering plants produce seeds which is a favorite food source for finches, sparrows and other songbirds. Wild birds come for the seeds more than the blossoms. Remove plants in your garden bird feeder that are not supplying food in favor of plants that do.

Planting flowers is an easy way to attract wild birds to your garden bird feeder. Birds are attracted to your garden bird feeder by numerous types of flowers. Plant flowers that are native to your area.  Hummingbirds will be drawn to the garden bird feeder by red flowers.  Other birds will come to your garden bird feeder for sunflowers, daisies, zinnias and any other flowers with seeds.  This is why it is so important not to cut them down when they are done blooming, it’s the seeds that the birds love.

Actually, you can double the number of wild birds attracted to your garden bird feeder by supplying an adjacent water source.  A water source will even increase the number of different species of wild birds that will be stopping by for a drink.  All species of wild birds will stop at your water station.  Otherwise, you would miss the wild birds that are not attracted to the food source that your garden bird feeder is furnishing.  A bird bath is one of the easiest ways to entice more wild birds.  The bird bath needs to be cleaned and filled with fresh water frequently.  Remember, in the winter, the wild birds look for open sources of water.  By installing a heater in your bird bath you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of wild birds flocking to your garden bird feeder in the cold months. If you are creating a natural bird sanctuary you could consider incorporating a small pond as your water source in your garden bird feeder.

This sounds like there is so much to do, but don’t be overwhelmed with it.  Start with trees, shrubs and plants that your yard already provides.  Plan the gradual transition of your garden bird feeder over several planting seasons.  It will give you something to look forward to every winter.  Plan and plant only the space that you will be able to easily take care of at your garden bird feeder.

You will find pleasure in the success of your garden bird feeder knowing that you have built a natural habitat and are helping to protect the environment.  Your careful planning of your garden bird feeder will have you enjoying the sights and sounds of the sweet songbirds.  They will enjoy their new habitat and will depend on it in all seasons to come.

Nov 092009
 

Feeding birds has provided year round entertainment and enjoyment for many people over the years.  Setting up a wild bird feeder is a great way to attract colorful and beautiful birds to your yard.  Along with the pleasure it gives you, the birds will also benefit, especially during a bad winter season when food becomes sparse.  The birds will come to depend on your wild bird feeder.

There are a variety of wild bird feeders available. It’s important to know what type of wild bird feeder will attract the birds in your location.  The different styles of wild bird feeders are window mount, tray or platform, hopper, tube, nyger®, suet and hummingbird feeders.

A window mount wild bird feeder has a small plastic container that is attached to your window with a suction cup. Another type of window mount is a platform wild bird feeder that would be hooked to the frame of the window.  Window mount feeders provide a close-up view of your birds and are the safest for birds–preventing window collisions.  These feeders will attract chickadees, titmice, finches and sparrows. This type of wild bird feeder is the easiest to access and they should be cleaned daily.

A Tray or platform wild bird feeder will attract the greatest number of birds to your bird feeder. The disadvantage of a tray or platform wild bird feeder is that there is no protection.  The seeds may get wet and could develop fungal and bacterial growth.  To eliminate these problems the wild bird feeder should have a drainage hole in the tray or platform and you should only put out enough seed for one or two days at a time.  Keep the wild bird feeder clean because the surface can become soiled as the birds stand in it to feed. A tray feeder will attract ground feeding birds such as cardinals, juncos, doves, jays, blackbirds and sparrows.
A hopper wild bird feeder will attract finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees and titmice.  The advantage of this feeder is that it protects the seed and can hold several days of food.  The disadvantage is that if the seeds get wet the birds could come in contact with bacteria and fungus that grows on the seeds.  It is much harder to clean the hopper feeder than a platform or tray feeder.
Tube feeders are hollow tubes that contain the seed. There are a variety of styles available. Some with smaller holes will keep jays and grackles away while attracting smaller birds such as grosbeaks, sparrows, finches, titmice and chickadees. There are also wild bird feeders that have the perch above the feeding holes to accommodate the birds that can feed upside down such as goldfinches and chickadees.

A Nyger® wild bird feeder is a tube feeder with very small holes. Nyger® is a small seed that is imported from Asia and Africa and is a favorite food for purple finches, house finches, gold finches, pine siskins, juncos, sparrows and towhees.

A suet wild bird feeder consists of a wire mesh cage that contains suet cakes. Suet cakes contain hardened lard with seeds in it. The fat is an excellent nutritional supplement for the birds. This type of wild bird feeder will attract cardinals, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers and blue jays.

A wild bird feeder that contains a sweet liquid nectar will attract hummingbirds. You can buy a prepared mixture or make your own by combining 4 parts water to one part sugar. The nectar in this type of wild bird feeder can ferment very quickly in warm weather so please change the mixture frequently and keep the feeder clean. In the eastern United States only the ruby-throated hummingbird can be found. Sixteen  other species can be found elsewhere in the United States.

Now you can choose your wild bird feeder and sit back and watch those beautiful birds!

Oct 162009
 
Those cute little furry and fluffy-tailed squirrels can be a nuisance when you are trying to feed and attract birds to your bird feeder. Since squirrels have amazing leaping, climbing and balancing skills, here are some tips to help squirrel proof and prevent those adorable little creatures from disrupting your feeder.

First, the placement of your bird feeder is extremely important when you are trying to keep squirrels away. They somehow find a way to get at the feeder.  It is essential to keep your bird feeder away from trees, fences and buildings where squirrels can easily access the feeder.

Second, a bird feeder can be set-up on a pole with a baffle. A squirrel proof baffle is sloped and has a slick surface so squirrels often slide right off.  You can attach a baffle above your feeder or below it on the pole.  An inverted baffle below the bird feeder will usually stop the squirrel’s climb up the pole.  A technique that many people have found to be effective is attaching a stove pipe to the pole.  Employing any of these ideas will stave off the ground assault.

Another tip to keep the squirrels from jumping and leaping onto your bird feeder is to place the feeder on a wire far from trees and branches. This may eliminate two of their acrobatic stunts but may not stop them from tightrope walking the wire to the bird feeder.

The next option to block squirrels is to buy a feeder that is designed to be squirrel proof. One type has a baffle on top with a long tube to prevent squirrels from hanging from the top and reaching the food. Another type is The Yankee Flipper, an effective and entertaining feeder that will spin the perch when the squirrel touches it (flipping them off unharmed). Some squirrel proof bird feeders have a weight activated perch which closes the seed tube feeding holes to prevent squirrels from getting to the bird seed. After the squirrel gets off the perch the door will go up and allow access to the food for the birds.

One simple remedy may be as easy as choosing the right bird seeds that you feed the birds. Feeding birds thistle seed, safflower seed or suet may help to keep squirrels away as these are not their favorite foods.

Finally, if you can’t beat them, feed them! Set up a station away from your bird feeder where you can place unsalted peanuts, other nuts, and sunflower seeds so that the squirrels can enjoy them and leave your bird feeder alone.