This letter to the editor appeared in The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN., a few days ago. We thought it might be of interest to those who are newer to backyard birding and so fascinated with all their feathered visitors. Because all songs are not always good ones, we believed this post was in order, especially when adding bluebird houses around your yard.
“Attracting the right birds takes research, effort
Eight years ago, when my husband and I moved to the Spencerville-Leo country area, I decided to put out a birdhouse. Soon our birdhouse was occupied by a pair of bluebirds and five blue eggs. I thought how easy and why was attracting bluebirds thought to be such a hard task? Unfortunately, I discovered the answer. The main problems for bluebirds are house sparrows.
House sparrows are extremely destructive to American species of birds. House sparrows make a point of taking over nesting sites. Sparrows often and viciously take over nesting boxes inhabited by our American species. They trap adult birds in their nesting boxes and kill adult birds by pecking the skulls. Sadly, sparrows most notoriously attack the baby birds also. Sadly, in one summer I have lost as many as 11 bluebirds, mostly attributable to the sparrow and another non-native American bird, the starling.
If you are thinking about feeding birds or housing birds in your backyard, please be aware of what types of birds you bring into your area. Monitor your nesting boxes often to make sure you are attracting the birds you desire.
Now I feel like I’m starting over attracting bluebirds, but they are well worth the effort. As for my personal opinion toward house sparrows, they are nothing but trouble.
LAURA McCANN Spencerville”
Not all sparrows are bad, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with their identification by their song and plumage. Simply do a search for the ill-willed, non-native bird, and images with tons of resources will appear. Note the differences in male, female and juvenile birds as well. If you are serious about attracting bluebirds to your place, this information will serve you and the birds very well!
Fuzzy picture but great subject matter! That’s Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird again, and tonight they coaxed their babies to the feeders. Of five fledges, two are out and about so far, and mom and dad have claimed the same house for nesting number two.
All those feeders hang from one garden pole, plus an extender branch (which hasn’t even made it to the website yet). They’re great for hanging additional smaller items and give birds lots of perching space around feeders. Last year a small hanging bath was added to the branch. What are all those feeders, and do you think anymore would possibly fit on this pole? Three dishes for mealworms… they’re most popular this time of year as everyone is feeding babies! Cardinals, Catbirds, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Phoebes, Carolina Wrens, and of course… the bluebirds. The meal worm grower loves me The dark little cup… jelly for the Catbirds. And of course the cone shaped squirrel baffle, it’s a must on every feeder pole around the yard!
The silver silo, or tube bird feeder sees little activity as compared to the worm dishes. It’s filled with Finch Mix, but Goldfinches seem to prefer straight thistle this time of year. Why? Babies! Their diet is pretty exclusive to the tiny black nyjer seed. Another tube feeder containing shelled peanuts is seeing some action, but the worms win hands down!
And speaking of tube bird feeders – have you seen the spiral ones? They’re way cool as more birds get to perch and eat at once. The tubes feature an “all-over” feeding area, and the spiral allows birds to land and eat anywhere on the feeder. No more waiting for an open perch. Available for peanuts, thistle, or mixed seed.
Next time you’re in the grocery store, pick up some grape jelly for the birds. That dish is actually a glass votive holder, but works great for offering jelly too. And don’t forget the oranges as Orioles love them too. Spring may have sprung a little late this year, but the bird show is definitely on!
Helping to demystify the furry creatures and their role in biodiversity would suit them and us well. This photo? Picked off Pinterest, but it sure is kind of cute! But do bats really roost in bat houses? You bet they do if habitat is suitable.
And just why would you want them around your property?
For insect control, bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes and flying pests each night. As a natural and effective method it’s brilliant. As pollinators, they spread and cross-pollinate both annuals and perennials in the garden. As an endangered species, yes! Brown bats are facing decimation due to a virus that still has scientists baffled. White Nose Syndrome is causing controversy with Fish and Wildlife Services – as far as revenue-generating options. Opening caves to the general public as tourist attractions seems to be an ill-thought idea in lieu of the disease and decrease in bat population numbers. Is it a concern? Just ask any farmer who’s had crops wiped out due to an over abundance of insects and pests
Hundreds of brown bats (or any large group) are referred to as colonies. Larger bat houses containing three or more chambers will host whole colonies. Houses or shelters do not require cleaning or nest removal like birdhouses, simply because they’re used for roosting only.
Suitable habitat consists of nearby woods or heavy brush, preferably with creeks, lakes, or streams in close proximity. Height is important, as bat houses should be placed at least 15-20 feet above ground. Erected on a pole, or the side of a structure is best. The range is broad on the size and type of shelters available. From smaller kits and single-chamber houses for experimenting, to decorative and larger houses to host whole colonies, we’d say it’s definitely worth a try this season!
Dry, dry, dry, it’s been a hot and dry start to summer in the Southeast, which means crawlies of all sorts are already seeking moisture. Pastures are starting to turn crispy as the lush grasses of spring fade away. Sticky nectar solutions we use to lure hummingbirds are always a major attraction for ants, who can become a real nuisance to birds and humans. The tiny sprites just don’t like ants in their nectar… period!
Not only for hummingbird feeders, you can protect oriole, butterfly, and fruit & jelly feeders easily with an ant moat. It will fend off pesky ants by blocking their path with water – because ants can’t swim. The vessel must have water to function properly! No water-no moat-get ants
Another option is to dab some petroleum jelly on the hook or bracket of the feeder. This works okay for a bit… until the heat melts it and makes a mess. You’d want to be sure nothing drips into the nectar as well.
Lots of hummingbird activity in the beginning of the season seems to have slowed, and even has folks asking where they are? Because flowers and vines are still offering food sources by way of nectar, they’ll always be the first and most natural choice. Due to the harsh winter and late spring, blooms don’t seem to coincide with the time! Our cactus which usually flowers in may, is now in full bloom one month later. than normal. But come July when everything has shriveled, hummingbird activity is sure to increase once again at feeders, so don’t take them down, and do keep nectar fresh.
Pouring too much of that nectar down the drain? First, don’t fill feeders to capacity, and do try the home-made sugar water solution. It’s perfect, and we think hummingbirds prefer it over commercial mixes! No red dye needed either. This simple recipe? 1 cup plain table sugar to 4 cups water… that’s it! Boil just one cup of water to dissolve sugar, add three cups cold water, stir well… and you’re ready to fill. Store unused nectar in the fridge for up to two weeks.
May the tiny sprites bring a smile upon your face, and may you see lots of buzzing activity around your feeders this season!
Was it Chaucer, in a reference to vulnerability? “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. Do you know that running a website with unique birdhouses and many a glass bird feeder is one thousand times easier than trying to sell it and close a deal? This is basically just a vent it & forget sort of post, and since it’s my blog… well it’s a good place to do so.
Let me introduce some nice folks by the name of Ed and Deb, yes, those are their real names, and if I never, never hear them again it will be all too soon. Where did they come from and who are they?
Actually The Birdhouse Chick.com was listed for sale not too long ago, and there was much preparation involved in just getting it to market. It seems the technical aspects of the website, and Google’s fantastic new shopping model (not), the ever changing web, and lightening fast technology just don’t jive with the chick herself anymore – makes my head spin and it’s not what I signed up for five+ years ago.
Yes, I do this business myself; website, blog, buying and sourcing, marketing, fulfillment, janitor, customer service… everything that a 26-hour day allows! The face of retail’s changed a lot, and competing with the big boys is not my forte. In fact, certain aspects of retail are beginning to turn my stomach. One of the big ones being, who can import the most junk from overseas and sell it the cheapest? Do you know that on some “shopping channels” companies now spell the manufacturer’s name backwards to exclude them from price comparison? Oh please give me a personal break here, what’s the next low to dupe the consumer?
Our customers? Absolutely love them! They are the best, at least 20% are repeats, and many have become friends with out of state visits (Janners), text messages when it’s time to order live worms (Captain Ralph), Linda in VA who always asks for bigger discounts, a thank you and hand made gift from a customer in CA… the list goes on and on! We receive photos, lots of testimonials, and that in itself is pretty darn rewarding! You see, we (I) set out to do something different in 2008, to build a better product (business) that stood out from all the rest, in personal customer service, better quality products, and unique birding items that were not found all over the web.
But back to the story: Ed and Deb were very interested in purchasing the Birdhouse Chick.com (I think the testimonials and warm & fuzzies appealed to them, or to Deb anyway). Certainly the numbers must have done something to gain their attention too? They proceeded to make an offer, and although the offer was accepted, they sorta got cold feet and backed out. Quite understandable (especially when one’s earnest money is refunded in full) and you’ve never run your own e-commerce business before. Now what’s the point of “earnest money” if you can just walk away with a full refund? Oh yeah… they also knew nothing about running an e-commerce site, a merchant account, how you get the orders, or how the money makes to your bank. I believe the four-page prospectus/interview stated” “Someone with e-commerce knowledge, and a bit of marketing savvy would be best suited”.
Besides some local folks right here in Atlanta were interested as well (they have three websites), so after the wind had been knocked out of my sails, I thought we’d just move on. As a means of closure, I sent Ed and Deb a letter addressing their concerns. Basically it was a very polite dose of reality. Never in a gazillion years did I think they’d respond, and in retrospect, I truly wish they wouldn’t have
You see, their original offer was back on the table! Huh? This really mucked up the waters now, as a choice needed to be made: Door number one with Ed & Deb, or Door number two with Atlanta folks? Well whenever there’s a 50/50 shot at the correct decision… for some reason I can manage to get that wrong 90% of the time. Since we’re already “in the works” so to speak, Ed and Deb are chosen, and it’s full steam ahead! They were double loaded with questions and concerns, and how-to’s, and yada, yada, yada. During the busy month of May, I took time to answer myriads of questions, trained on blogging, gathered a vendor list, and countless other tasks, which also in retrospect, should not have even commenced until AFTER closing. Due diligence and training definitely converged down the wrong path on this deal.
Wanting a later closing date, I asked: “Well, Ed, what if I go through all this training stuff and you back out again?” You know what he said? “We won’t do that to you again”. Now, let me state that once more: “We won’t do that to you again”. Ed was granted access to all accounts, could see daily sales, contact emails, everything pertaining to his new business to be. That’s quite a large girth for pre-closing, wouldn’t ya say? All because, “we won’t do that to you again”. Omg… how could one possibly be so stupid and survive in the business world? But I could also ask this: how does a broker allow their client to fall within such a vulnerable spot? Simply reiterating that there were “risks associated with both choices” just doesn’t seem like a whole lot of thought or effort was put forth in securing the deal or protecting the seller?
Since this story is long enough, let me just wrap it up by saying, “Yes, they did do that again” One week before closing (and because Ed and Deb got to dance with full earnest money back) they did indeed “do that to me again”. So now, the broker has lost, the brokerage firm has lost, the referrer has lost, I’ve lost a true, local buyer here in Atlanta. And to boot… what I thought was poison ivy- is shingles from the sheer stress of working with this bogus buyer and over-booked broker.
Hey Ed, may your irrigation system cause you as much pain and suffering as you’ve caused me, and may others always do unto you as you’ve done to them.
So, you wanna sell your website? I’ve no good advice at this point, but hey, if you’re interested in The Birdhouse Chick.com… just give me a call or shoot an email… Glass bird feeders and all
Before the holiday draws to a close, save some time for quiet refection for all who have served and were lost, and to wish those who carry on, be protected while protecting our freedoms.
Hmmm, could there possibly be a vacancy in there? A Carolina Wren seems a little perplexed with this one! Determined to find a secure nest cavity for the mrs. and his future brood, he’s been eying up some decorative birdhouses the last few days. An inviting natural perch on this one (a stick from the yard) allows observation from a safe vantage point.
After a few trips back and forth, the wren does indeed take a fancy to this fun birdhouse, and soon begins dragging in nest materials of moss, dried grasses, rootlets and pet hair. We load up and offer natural nesting materials early in the season to encourage birds to take up residence.
Due to several factors, there really is a severe shortage of natural nest cavities. Competition is fierce, and it’s left many birds literally fighting for space to raise their young. Real estate is tough out there, so even the craziest birdhouses can help native species thrive!
Ventilation, drainage, and a safe distance from entrance to nest are a few important factors to consider. With this in mind, many a beaked buddy would be thrilled to call these decorative bird houses “home”!
As a company concerned with fostering stewardship and conservation in general, we’re finding this story quite disturbing, and thought posting it was in order to help raise awareness.
Washington, D.C. (May 21, 2013) – Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement regarding the serving of lion meat at restaurants across the country:
“It is extremely worrisome to see restaurants across the country promoting the sale and consumption of lion meat. The African lion population already faces many obstacles for survival: a restaurant’s choice to serve up lion meat is simply irresponsible.
As we witnessed at eateries Taco Fusion (Tampa, Florida) and Mokutanya Yakitori (Burlingame, California) in the last couple of weeks, and many other establishments over the last few years, customers respond negatively to publicity ploys like novelty meats. Modern history shows that almost every restaurant serving lion meat has pulled it from their menu as a direct result of public backlash. A recent Synovate poll found that 63 percent of Americans would stop frequenting an establishment if it started serving lion meat..
The African lion population has declined by more than 50 percent over the last three decades, and as few as 32,000 remain in the wild. In March 2011 IFAW, along with a coalition of animal welfare organizations, petitioned the U.S. government to list the African lion as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. If listed, serving African lion meat in the U.S. would be illegal.
Restaurants serving lion meat send a message that they promote exploiting endangered animals. It not only alienates their customers, but it undermines conservation of this iconic species which is already fighting to survive.. For any restaurants considering serving the meat of this imperiled species, we urge you to reconsider: African lions must be conserved, not consumed..”
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org/bigcatadvocates.
Bold colors in the landscape can be lovely, be it flowers, statuary, or even a vibrant birdbath. But some gardens may better lend themselves to a more natural style, maybe a soothing zen-like appearance. These results are best achieved when using materials found in nature to create the space.
These most unusual teak bird baths fit the bill perfectly when more quiet surroundings are desired. Available in small or large, they may be placed directly on the ground, deck or patio, or raised using a nice planter or iron stand. Birds do tend to bathe more naturally at ground level, but you can bet that fresh water is always welcome at any level.
Teak you say? Yes! It’s one of the most dense and durable woods available. You know that fine teak patio furniture (that costs a fortune) it’s made for outside and to withstand the elements. Made from reclaimed teak, these bird baths are sanded and polished to further protect them over the years. They’re beautiful in the landscape and no two baths are exactly the same. The generous thickness of the bowl and texture offers birds good footing and lots of perching spots too.
Although some of these bird baths are 5 to 7 inches tall, we recommend a water depth of just 2 to 3 inches for bird’s safety… especially this time of year when lots of babies start fledging the nest!
When a package was received in the mail today, I had no idea it would be a gift from a customer! Not only the nicest letter any business owner could hope for, but a stunning hand made bracelet to boot!
Reaction: OMG! Although the birdhouse chick has received many accolades and notes for wonderful customer service and great birding products, I don’t recall ever receiving a gift!
Did we go above and beyond on this copper roof birdhouse order? Not necessarily, it’s pretty standard procedure that if something should go wrong, we fix it fast and follow through. January’s frigid temperatures can sometimes cause the vinyl on these houses to become brittle. When shipping companies handle the boxes too roughly (dropping the box out of the truck instead of carrying it) the vinyl may crack.
So a new base for the big birdhouse was on its way the next day, but when it came time to discard the broken one… our customer couldn’t bear to part with it! Inquiring on repairing the original base, she asked if it was possible to purchase just a roof, and salvage the damaged house. Of course we obliged and all turned out well. No, better than well… it turned out great!