When it’s Just too Darn Hot for the Birdbath!


July 31, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:13 pm

Natural texture birdbath but water is too warm Mr. Chipping sparrow needs to cool off, he enters the naturally textured birdbath with gentle slope as it’s quite enticing. But surprise! You reside in Atlanta where it’s hotter than Hades right now and the bath water isn’t just warm… it’s hot :(

Not so refreshing… except for the gentle spray from the leaf mister above! Like the shoemaker’s daughter with worn shoes, our own mister at home is really old with a slight drip. But the drip is ideal over a birdbath as it keeps the water moving (no mosquitoes) and adds fresh, cool water on a slow and steady basis. Birds are absolutely wild for it! So much so, they sit and wait for the misters to start every morning, it’s like a virtual bird spa.

This mister is attached to an old metal… not sure what it is, but a simple plastic plant stake with twist-tie works great. Even the garden benefits with ease of mobility, moving the stake around to different sections each day. Gardens grow lush, and birds love taking leaf baths too!

mister placed above a large ground birdbath is ideal

goldfinch at mister above birdbath

When placed over a birdbath, leaf misters offer fresh and cool water for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. Activity is pretty amazing on warm summer days. Stagnant water is no fun for anyone when temperatures remain in the 90’s. Adding a water feature like a dripper, solar fountain or water wiggler to your birdbath will bring it to life, entice more birds, and keeps water fresher for longer periods of time.

The whole set-up is shown below and it’s simple to recreate. The misters come with everything to be up & running in minutes! With 50 feet of tubing, it attaches to the outdoor spigot, complete with Y-valve that keeps garden hose free for use. Extra tubing is optional, and we can promise (from personal experience) birds LOVE these things!

Leaf mister and birdbath simple set-up

Swell Recipe for Window Bird Feeders & Surprise of the Day!


July 28, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:05 pm

Cardinal enjoying seed mix at recycled window bird feeder Experimenting with a home-made seed mix the other day, a double take was certainly in order as I glanced beyond the window feeder… discovering two of the biggest visitors ever!

But first the delectable mix that so many bird species seem to adore, it’s perfect for tray style window bird feeders and any type of platform or dish feeder too. There’s no measuring and it mixes up easily in a gallon zip-lock bag. With a little something for everyone, many bird species have been spotted taste testing!

  • 1 No-Melt suet cake, finely crumbled (we use peanut or orange)
  • 2 handfuls of shelled peanuts
  • 2 handfuls of dried mealworms
  • 2 handfuls of sunflower hearts
  • Mix well by shaking bag vigorously

The yummy mix is full of fat & protein, and we’ve seen chickadees, titmice, cat birds, Carolina wrens, bluebirds, woodpeckers and others trying it on for size. Approval seems unanimous, definitely a keeper!

And the big visitors? Take a gander at these 4-legged birds! Living in a subdivision it’s not everyday one sees horses grazing freely, but that’s what was out there! Failing to snap a photo of them loose in the back because panic ensued and who to call was the task at hand. After reaching animal control services, I was most relieved to hear the horse’s people were indeed looking for them, and they arrived in minutes.  Off they went- end of excitement for the day, the pony sure was a little cutie, he’s the one who likely pushed the gate open too!Loose horses caught and headed home

 

Hummingbird Feeders and Mascara?


July 25, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:33 pm

tube style hummingbird feeder with unique design What could the two possibly have in common, make-up and hummingbird feeders? Seems like a strange combination… but it’s in the applicator brush. Save it, save every one prior to tossing your mascara!Mascara brush detail-use it for cleaning hummingbird feeders

Regardless of using tube style hummingbird feeders or basin designs – they all have feeder ports which are difficult to clean. A mascara brush is the absolute perfect solution for reaching in and and scrubbing these tiny ports. Of course you’ll want to first sanitize the brush by running it through your dishwasher, or place it in boiling water to completely remove all residue as chemicals are harmful, probably even fatal to hummingbirds.

The tiny brushes are ideal for all types of other bird feeders and their hard to clean spots. These small spaces that are hard to reach usually accumulate crud (another word for mold and bacteria build-up). It’s imperative to bird’s health to keep any feeder from growing crud in the first place.

And forget about the “red myth” for both nectar and feeders themselves… it’s not true! We think the tiny sprites actually prefer home-made nectar over commercial mixes. Plain table sugar and water is it, that’s all you need. 1 cup sugar to 4 cups of water. Store nectar in the fridge for up to two weeks. No need to even boil the water, but we boil one cup just to dissolve sugar more effectively. Adding 3 cups of cold water also alleviates any wait for cooling time. You can fill feeders immediately and hang.

Ana Pink Hummingbird Feeder looks fab among purple and pink flowersSo many fun styles and colors that add interest to the garden, deck, patio or balcony! Hummingbirds will go for them provided nectar is fresh and there’s no other pests around causing competition (ants. bees, wasps and yellow jackets). Leaking sugar water is the main culprit in attracting pests, so keep feeders clean and use an ant moat if the need arises. Place feeders away from windy areas as a rocking/moving feeder causes spillage. The sweet sticky stuff is a magnet for other visitors who are not so welcome.

Thanks Sephora for the mascara image above!

 

An Old Favorite Wild Bird Feeder is Back


July 22, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:42 am

The bottle bird feeder makes a gift that keeps on giving!

It takes all kinds… all kind of feeders that is. For suet, peanuts, mealworms, nectar, fruit, jelly, nyjer, where does one start? Let’ go with basic seed in a not so basic feeder! Headed to a house-warming or birthday party? Something like this wild bird feeder is perfect when you’d like to bring a little more than a bottle of vino. Long after consumption, this gift keeps on giving! Even if the recipient isn’t into the birding scene… it’s a fantastic way to to introduce them to one of the fastest growing and most enjoyable hobbies around!

Handcrafted in GA, the bottle feeder quickly mounts just about anywhere, and birds flock to it immediately! The stash stays dry and protected from elements, while drainage in the tray keeps things from getting messy. Black oil sunflower or mixed seed works best, we prefer sunflower hearts or a no-waste mix as it leaves little ground mess. Many feathered species prefer sunflower hearts too; chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, bluebirds will eat this seed in winter, finches and woodpeckers… to name just a few of the usual suspects!

For a limited time, the bottle feeder is back because the artist says they just take too long to make! Wildly popular on Pinterest a few years ago, the bird feeder looks like something you could easily make yourself, maybe so if you’re the handy type? The one thing we do know is birds love this feeder and it’s perfect for year-round use.

Butterfly Feeders for Unique Garden Accents and Monarchs


July 11, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:02 pm

Butterfly Feeder/Bath on Tall StakeBuzz about the Monarch’s dwindling population is more than justified. You may have heard about it, but if not check this fact: Since the mid-90’s their decline has reached 90% from the 20-year average. What’s this mean in terms of real numbers? Swap monarchs for people for a second, every person in the US would be gone except for those living in just two states!

One of the biggest reasons for their decline is believed to be the disappearance of milkweed- the Monarch caterpillar’s only food source, and also the only plant on which Monarchs will lay their eggs. To name a few other culprits; urban sprawl, extreme weather, new farming practices and illegal logging in the butterflies’ winter habitat in Mexico.

Offering suitable habitat and butterfly feeders really does help the local Monarch population. Don’t bother with houses… they don’t use them! Both can be fantastic and unique garden accents – with feeders being much more useful. Butterflies also adore leaf misters, set one up near lantana or any other nectar-producing plant and you’re bound to see some winged action!

The butterfly feeders above are handmade, blown glass flowers on a 36-inch stake. They’re versatile for nectar or fruit, and for songbirds too. The hanging butterfly feeder below has been tested and approved by butterfly experts. A special combination of wicks and tubes mimic real flower blossoms, the design and color attracts butterflies and the nectar reservoir size is ideal to minimize spoilage.hanging butterfly feeder in use

This season, Swallowtails have been spotted in our butterfly habitat, but no Monarchs yet :( Still a few months for their presence in the southeast… we’ll continue to feed and keep watch for the winged wonders!Butterfly getting nectar from flowers  Butterfly habitat with leaf mister

Opportunistic Robins and More Wait Below this Mealworm Feeder


July 7, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 2:42 am

Mealworm feeders with juvenile bluebirdThe worms crawl in-the worms crawl out… of some mealworm feeders!

See them in the back, on the right side? Escapees! It’s problematic enough when cat birds and cardinals and warblers start in on your live worms, after all-they’re meant for the bluebirds. Recent fledges are learning to use the feeders, so it’s a real bummer when they figure it out and it’s empty :(

Robins, chipping sparrows, cardinals, towhees, chickadees, titmice and still others have learned that sometimes it rains worms. They’ll sit below this screened mealworm feeder and wait for the manna to fall… and it does.

Not to say the design is sub-par, just maybe not the best choice for offering live mealies. Dried worms and other bluebird treats are ideal in this hanging feeder, but the tooth (screen texture) gives the live ones a good grip and path to exit stage left!orb mealworm-feeder

The new steel Orb Feeder features an acrylic cup, a nice smooth surface that keeps worms put, that is until titmice and chickadees discover them. And the blue dish shown above is also a nice smooth surface, one from where worms can not escape.

Something we’ve experimented with this season (and is quite successful) is offering more of the dried worms – much more economical. But the trick is to soften them first so that parents will feed them babies. Steeping dried meal worms in boiling water for about ten minutes-then draining, is ideal if you’re a backyard bird freak like us :)

So a good basic rule of thumb is that live worms do much better when placed on a smooth surface! Should too many worms be disappearing altogether, an enclosed feeder is likely best. Bluebirds are one of the few who will “fly-in” a feeder. Without fail, Carolina wrens are always the first to figure it out!

With so many new fledges out and about, it’s a great time to try offering mealworms if you never have in the past. One way to stretch worms and make them lat longer is to use a mixture. One of our recipes includes a no-melt suet cake (crumbled), shelled peanuts and a few sunflower hearts… the birds love it!

Happy Independence Day ~ Red, White and Blue Birds!


July 4, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:50 am

July 4th Holiday

A safe and happy holiday weekend to all~

Finally a new camera… a real camera! First few practice shots bring some red, white and blue birds.

Baby blues learning the feeders – look at those faces!

bluebird-babiesWhite Breasted Nuthatch on platform feeder. Not too bad for first try!

white breasted nuthatch

cardinal at platform feeder

Male cardinal – They’re molting now and looking a little funky… though in a few weeks their beauty will shine through with a new set of vibrant red feathers!

Lots of others but we’ll stick with the 4th theme today! Wishing all a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

Water Features and Solar Bird Baths for All Friendly Fliers


June 26, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:18 am

Solar Bird Baths and other water featuresIn the heat of summer there’s no better way to entice friendly fliers than with moving water!

Accessories for bird baths and leaf misters will absolutely bring more birds (and butterflies) to the garden. Because Copper Hummingbird Bird Bath Dripperthey keep water from becoming stagnant, it stays fresher and mosquitoes can’t lay their eggs in it either.

Both solar fountains and those using electricity recirculate water in bird baths. Drippers and leaf misters run off the outdoor spigot and although very slow and adjustable, do utilize a continuous water flow. They come as complete kits with everything required to be up & running in minutes… no kidding!

Leaf Mister on plant stake offers easy mobilityLeaf misters offer lots of options for placement too. You can attach them to a branch or trellis, (50 ft. of rubber tubing is included) attach to a deck bracket or even a simple plant stake in the garden. We prefer the latter as the mister may easily be moved around to benefit the garden by watering different sections daily.

Butterflies especially adore the gentle mist, while hummingbirds and other songbirds like chickadees and bluebirds will wait for them to start each morning… it’s like a spa for them and makes a spectacular viewing experience for host too.Swallowtail on lantana with leaf mister nearby Place leaf misters near nectar-producing plants like lantana and enjoy the show!

Moving water in a bird bath or somewhere in the landscape is the ticket to seeing more bird activity during warm summer months. In fall, simply pack them up and store away for next season. A one-time investment that promises to bring many seasons of use and enjoyment… and more winged activity to your place!

Of Bees and Bat Houses and the Pollinator Partnership


June 20, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 11:00 pm

Pollinator Partnership Tagline To jump-start National Pollinator Week (okay, so we’re on the very last day-last hour of it) the Pollinator Partnership (P2) introduced The Highways BEE Act. Because bees, butterflies, birds and bats bring us one in every three bites of food, pollinators form the essential underpinnings of a healthy and sustainable future… for all of us.

Over 250 national, regional, and local organizations and 2,500 American scientists and individuals from all walks of life across the nation have already signed a petition in support of the Highways BEE Act, H.R. 2738. bee-highways-act petition supports pollinatorsSuch legislation is designed to help cash-strapped states reduce roadside maintenance costs, while providing habitat for crucial pollinators. After all, without bats we might not have bananas or tequila! Almost exclusively, bats pollinate the agave plant which is where tequila is born! But in all seriousness, interested organizations, businesses and individuals can find out more and sign a petition in support of the legislation at http://www.pollinator.org/BEEAct.htm.

Providing habitat closer to home could include nixing the use of pesticides and manicured lawns, planting predominately native in the landscape, and the addition of bat houses on your property. If you already see the furry mammals (yes, they’re really mammals) fluttering around at dusk, chance are excellent they’ll take up residence in the new digs.

Look for bat Houses that are OBC approved

Like NABS (North American Bluebird Society) for approved bluebird houses and PMCA for purple martin houses, bat houses have OBC (The Organization for Bat Conservation). A wealth of knowledge for any questions bat-related, it’s a good idea to look for the OBC seal of approval when purchasing a new home for the furry friends.

Whether testing the waters with a smaller design, or full-on ready to host larger colonies, bat houses are available from single- to triple-chamber sizes. Although they may be post mounted (minimum 12- 15 feet high), most sources recommend mounting them on a structure or tree. Bats don’t require the open spaces that many birds prefer. They like to be close to things, which is why they sometimes end up in your attic!

Handcrafted cypress bat houseWith a growing public awareness for the plight of, and broader knowledge of the critical role pollinators play for crops and for the future, there’s a strong collective popularity developing. From manufacturing and marketing of bee keeping and bug hotels to thriving master gardener groups, bat houses have also kept right in stride. You’ll find them in traditional cedar, cypress, recycled plastics and vinyl/PVC. They’re good-looking enough to actually mount on the side of your home as a decorative accessory! So please house the bats and sign the petition mentioned above… for all of us and for future generations :)

 

 

 

Novel Options for Squirrel Feeders


June 15, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:28 pm

Squirrel feeders done in recycled plastic last much longer

You may think it’s the absolute craziest thing in the world, but plenty of folks get a kick from feeding squirrels. If you baffle the bird feeders properly, and the furry critters don’t tell too many of their friends… it’s usually cool!

Traditional squirrel feeders like the big jar, munch box, and table & chair have been updated using durable recycled plastic. Also called poly-lumber, the material is good looking and wares much nicer and longer than wood.

But a jar is a jar and it’s glass. Because glass may break for whatever reason, replacement jars are available. But something we’ve discovered: Pickles! The industrial size pickle jar usually fits these feeders! And for considerably less money when shipping is figured into the price. Plus you get a whole lot of pickles… fried pickles anyone?

One corn log equals 12 ears of cornUsing corn cobs with your squirrel feeder? Check out the Squirrel Logs for long-lasting use. A novel idea, these are compressed corn (in two flavors) that equal about 12 ears of regular corn cobs. Something else we’ve discovered? Be sure the logs are securely attached to the feeding pin as our crafty critters have managed to steal them from time-to-time! They just require twisting up on the pin every few days to keep a tight connection.

These work well with the Bungee Cord Feeder and the Table & Chair. The pins (or screws) on the feeder must be threaded… or your crafty critters will steal them too!

Want to offer a combination of corn cobs and peanuts or munch mix for your guys? The Ultimate Combo Feeder fits the bill. Pins for two ears of corn plus a lift-up compartment for special treats. Lucky squirrels will think they’re at the Ritz!Offer squirrels corn cobs and peanuts in one feeder

Change it up for furry friends. During frigid winter weather peanut butter is a huge hit when smeared on corn cobs, but summer days in the south turn the gooey stuff to liquid in minutes. Substitute an apple or pear that might be a bit too ripe for your liking. Suet? Squirrels adore it and the no-melt varieties are perfect for summer feeding.

Yes squirrels can be a major pain for some folks, but they manage to bring smiles and laughs to others. Once you get the hang of keeping them out of bird feeders, they really aren’t so bad :)