Life After Death for a Tube Bird Feeder


March 19, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:02 pm

nest materials in an old tube bird feeder cageMaybe it’s seen better life and about ready for the trash, but don’t toss that nasty old thing yet! There could still be purpose for an old tube bird feeder, especially if it’s the kind enclosed by a cage.

With bulbs a- blooming and buds a- popping, spring finally takes flight… at least in the southeast. It won’t be long for the rest of the country either, and oh what a welcome site it is! Cabin fever be gone, it’s gardening time, spring cleaning in the yard, and one of the best times for backyard bird action!blooming daffodils signal nest starts - offer materials in old tube bird feeders

When sprucing up, don’t trash the debris either! Consider a small brush pile in one corner of your property, it not only provides shelter but food for birds and others to forage.

So back to the cage thing, it’s absolutely perfect for offering nesting materials. You can help birds feather their nests with a few common materials that may be on hand. Fido or fluffy? Save the hair, chickadees and titmice will line their nests with the soft fluff. Decorative mosses are really popular with Carolina wrens, jays and chickadees will use them too. Lots of folks use cotton yarn scraps, but if they’re dyed… I dunno? Same with dryer lint, it’s Carolina wren with moss for nest buildingnot natural for birds, so we steer clear. Feathers of any kind (sans the dye) also help in construction of soft fluffy digs. Even birds who don’t use houses will benefit from readily available nest materials!

 

Don’t have one of those caged things on hand? Suet baskets are also ideal, and something like these spring feeders are perfectly versatile for year-round use. For fruit in summer, whole peanuts or suet in winter, and of course, nesting materials now. Happy Spring y’all!Spring-type feeders work well for nesting materials too

 

Warblers be Gone- it’s Time for Hummingbird Feeders!


March 11, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 8:43 pm

Pine warbler perched above bird feeder on a cold dayIt’s time, farewell and see ya next year! Inundated every winter with pine warblers, it’s good to see them – and good to see them go as their journey North usually coincides with budding trees and blooming bulbs. This event can only mean other migratory birds are on their way, it’s really one of the best and busiest times for backyard birding!

Something about the start of nesting season and the return of hummingbirds that awakens the soul, just plain exciting for those who are really into their backyard beaked buddies :)

Because migration maps already show ruby-throated hummingbirds in the gulf states, they’re headed back to their favorite breeding grounds. If you saw the sprites at hummingbird feeders last season, there’s a strong likelihood they’ll return. Are you ready?ruby throat hummingbirds are headed your way

If you’re in the southeast, it’s time to dig out feeders and have them in place… this weekend would be ideal! Even if thoroughly cleaned prior to storage… rinse them well before filling. Since natural food sources are still rather scarce, sugar water can be a tad stronger. If using a commercial mix, use a little less water. If making your own nectar (highly recommended) use a 1:3 ratio. 1 cup plain table sugar to 3 cups of water. Migration is the only time nectar should ever be stronger than the standard 1:4 ratio, the extra calories serve tired and hungry birds well.

hummer helper nesting materialConsider some nesting material to further entice hummingbirds, after all they did come back to breed. The Hummer Helper Nest Kit was developed specifically for hummingbirds (although goldfinches like it too) and has been endorsed by Hummingbird Society president, Ross Hawkins.

Give tiny sprites a big welcome this year with freshly filled feeders and some nesting materials to help raise their families!

Check out the video and see it in use!

Post-Mount Hopper Bird Feeder Offers Major Curb Appeal


March 5, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:38 am

Majestic for a hopper bird feeder, this one adds curb appeal too!Larger seed feeders seem to be banished to the backyard, likely for the best viewing options. Sometimes on the side of a home, but you do occasionally see them in the front. Some folks may place a beautiful birdhouse in the landscape… simply for the aesthetic. But those who actually feed the birds are serious!

Gazebo style feeders offer a traditional architectural accent, some with Victorian flair, others even more creative. But the tube, the tube’s the problem for the serious backyard birder. They’re relatively small, holding maybe one or two pounds of seed. With winter still hanging on and natural food sources depleted, birds have been ravenous around feeders. And with spring bulbs already forcing through the ground, migratory friends will soon arrive (whether the weather cooperates or not!)crocus blooms coincide with the start of nesting season

 

Enter the post-mount hopper bird feeder with ten-pound capacity and majestic appearance. A distinctive accent for the landscape, it’s definitely worthy of the front lawn. Because the roof is copper, and that’s actually vinyl/PVC (not wood) its appearance remains new. In fact it’s guaranteed against rotting, cracking or warping. Vinyl will not mildew, making it a healthier feeding surface for birds. Bacteria and mold have nowhere to settle, no deep, dark cracks or crevices in which to grow.

Hopper style feeders like these are one-time investments in the landscape with ideal functionality to entice feathered friends. They’re simple to fill, clean and are virtually maintenance-free. An aged patina finish is offered, as well as a hanging model. Lots of options with easy installation too – slides right on a standard 4×4 post, brackets included as shown.

Save 10% through 3/15. Use code MC10 and feed the birds in high style… now come on spring!

 

Could You Handle a Silent Sky? Songbird SOS


February 28, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:57 pm

Perhaps it’s the name, or maybe the message: songbirds are in decline, some will remain, some will disappear.

Sure we’ve all heard it before, wild animals in peril, elephants, tigers, lions rhinos… but birds? One wouldn’t think so, except science confirms the facts. What is it about waking each day to birdsong? Or stealing a few moments at the window with binoculars in hand? An escape, a connection with nature. It’s calming, it’s universal, it’s necessary – because everything in life IS connected.

A few years ago, Defenders of Wildlife did a short video on Clark’s Nutcrackers and their role in the ecosystem. Should this bird disappear, or any others for that matter, there are simply no answers as to environmental impacts. No control-Z, no undo, extinction is forever.

The Messenger is an indie documentary seeking funding for its completion. A wake-up call for the masses, the film not only deserves support, its message is critical. For the environment, for future generations… for the birds, please help get the message out. No amount is too small to help fund the project!

 

What Constitutes Exceptional Service?


February 25, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 8:37 pm

best of houzz-service-award

In 2008 they said “you should give something away when starting out”. So, hand written notes and killer freebies for the birds were included with first few hundred orders… and the next few hundred, and yes, even the next few thousand! Today as standard practice, we still do this whenever possible – because we enjoy doing so. Free gift wrap when possible… you bet! Do these things constitute exceptional service? Of course not!

gift wraapped birdhouse with note and free nesting material

Last month houzz awarded thebirdhousechick.com “best of” for exceptional service. Totally unexpected and awesome at the same time, it’s rewarding being recognized. Unlike most large companies, this boutique still goes above and beyond on a daily basis. It’s not rocket science, we simply want to see you again… and again! As companies grow, systems become automated, eyeballs are lost, and nothing is personal. You and your order become a number. And that’s perfectly acceptable in today’s marketplace, just a model we’ve never had much interest in adopting. It’s the difference between a boutique and volume-selling. Thank-you’s and gifts FROM our customers have appeared, and phone calls with ecstatic voices on the other end too. So, it’s not always about the money, but a passion for the craft of proprietorship!

Whether giant or tiny, companies can choose stand-up ethics when dealing with customers or plain cheese! The past week seems to have run the gamut in dealing with a few owners/businesses that deserve huge cheers or jeers… here goes!

Whirlpool/KitchenAide: JEERS
If you tell me a part costs $16, that’s fine, even when you tell me no that’s a mistake-the part is $19… that’s okay too. Proceeding to inform me the part is “subbbed-out” and costs $46 is not cool at all. In fact it’s maddening, that’s why I hung up. If we ran our business that way, we wouldn’t have a business. I’ll be sure the next appliances are LG!

Pinebush Home & Garden: CHEERS
After placing an order with one of our vendors
, an item showed up on sale a few days later… at half price. I called them since we hadn’t even taken delivery yet, and you know what? They honored the sale price by adding 15 more feeders to our order! They could’ve just easily said “sorry” but did the right thing. Thanks Pinebush… really do appreciate the way you choose to business, it’s quite refreshing, and you can bet we’ll remain loyal to the brand!

Zeusvision: JEERS
In fact, a big fat jeers for false advertising! After being solicited to write a blog post about their launch (in exchange for advertising), it never happened. Artwork was requested, the ad set to run in February… but never did. When questioned about status, this cheesy guy couldn’t even be bothered to respond. Hey, Giovanni… you suck and so does your stupid rolling ads company! Your links have been removed by the way as well.

Speaking of links… just got to get this last one out there, then all venting is complete. Because the almighty Google considers back links an important factor in ranking websites, a popular new scam is the happening thing. Your website link gets placed in all kinds of irrelevant, crappy places, then when you ask for the link to be removed… money is required to do so. Cut me a personal break, Mr. Morin of talk-sports dot com: BIG FAT JEERS
You get lumped in with good ol’ Giovanni above. Here’s the reply received, and a link if want to send the guy some money :)

“It requires additional effort on our part to remove links. We can do
this for $50. Please pay using the following PayPal link.
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=VWBCEZ2TEK4CY

My big question is how does Google not see this scam happening?

The Late Frenzy Around Thistle Feeders


February 22, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:19 am

Snowd days create a frenzy at thistle feedersIt’s an invasion of goldfinches… and pine siskins, and red polls and warblers and lots of other birds too lately! With the extreme cold weather, thistle feeders are being emptied at record rates, even Atlanta saw some of the white stuff, with more expected on Tuesday.

Birds seem ravenous around all of the feeders, and rightly so – it’s freakin’ freezing out there! With blustery winds and 12 degree temps a few days ago, my hands were not only numb… they actually hurt upon finishing the A.M. feeding routine. Placing them over a hot burner on the stove, then under hot water, I felt fairly sure it was frostbite :(

So how do they do it? Fragile, tiny little birds surviving the most frigid conditions, day in and day out? I don’t know! Looking like puff balls, their feathers do trap heat for one survival tactic, and if they constantly eat all day, they’re able Mesh nyjer or thistle feeders are perfect for big crowdsto store enough calories (energy) to hold them through the night. And yes, they can eat snow but it takes energy to convert it to liquid. Their daily struggle’s got to get old in these brutal winter conditions? Cardinals, bluebirds, woodpeckers, phoebes, a lone mockingbird, chipping sparrows and all the other usual suspects abound… and yet with snow on the ground!

But it’s really just instinct when you think about it. Mother Nature equips all beings with this basic survival mode. She also equips some of us with the lunacy that the birds won’t make it unless you put food out twice a day… and have 3 heated birdbaths readily available :) But we do it not only for the birds, but for our own satisfaction of feeling like we helped, and the simple joy derived from watching them.

Get all bird feeders on deck and ready to go!Should you reside anywhere old man winter’s got a death grip… please look out for feathered friends!

Keep feeders filled (and clean). Larger than normal bird populations crowding feeders is one way disease is spread.

Offer fresh water, birds will flock to a heated bath. You can purchase a heater separately and add it to your existing bath or even a shallow pan of water.

Put out extra suet, easily make your own, form into cakes for suet cages, or crumbles for platform or dish feeders. High fat foods that are easy to digest serve birds well in freezing weather.

Peanuts are ideal, as is plain old peanut butter. We smear some right on a tree trunk! Nuthatches, woodpeckers and warblers love it.

Add an extra thistle sock for the crowds of finches. Relatively inexpensive, the black mesh thistle feeders are stronger and generally more durable than most.

Stay safe and warm… and please feed the birds :)

Visit our site and save 10% on any birding items through 2/28.
Use promo code MC10.
Free shipping on $95

Whole or Shelled Nuts for Peanut Bird Feeders?


February 16, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:10 pm

Happy blue jay perches at whole peanut bird feederDepends on who you’re looking to attract? Most clinging birds covet shelled peanuts, in fact almost all birds will go for them. But not all birds are clingers, classified by their ability to grasp a small surface (and their strong feet). Chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and titmice for the most part are considered clingers. The term not to be confused with clingons from Star-Trek :)

Adding a tray to peanut bird feeders allows other birds to easily get the goods. Jays adore peanuts, warblers go for them in winter, as will most backyard birds during frigid weather. The tray is inviting, making landing and eating easier.Smaller peanut bird feeder with tray

Larger trays even catch waste from whole peanuts, which folks who could do without the waste might find more appealing. Although when feeding shelled peanuts… there’s really not much waste all. So that alone may influence what’s best to offer at your place! Many¬† shelled peanut feeders offer tray options-but should they not- a universal seed catcher is available to accommodate them.

If the waste from feeding birds is a big drawback, large adjustable seeduse bird seed trays at whole peanut bird feeders to minimize waste trays could be the answer. Attaching to almost any type of feeder, the large 16- or 30-inch diameter promises to catch anything that falls from the feeder. These also create a new feeding space with their large platform area. Peanuts pack a real punch in terms of nutritional value, especially in cold weather. They’re economical if purchased in bulk too. So don’t give up the ship due to the mess some peanut bird feeders may leave behind!

 

Don’t Let Sparrows Nest in Blue Bird Houses


February 10, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 4:57 am

Most houses with 1.5-inch entries are bluebird friendlyNot all blue bird houses are created equal!

Depending on how much you’re willing to commit may play a part in choosing a house to host bluebirds. If you’re more of the “set it & forget it” kind (and that’s okay) at least use a quality wood or vinyl birdhouse. These usually have proper drainage, decent ventilation, adequate floor space and proportional entries (1.5 inches for Eastern blues and 1-9/16 inch for mountain and Western species).

Metal decorative houses really aren’t the best choice, especially since bluebirds (and some other species) tend to have 2-3 clutches or broods per season. During hot summer days… metal heats up and babies can fry :(Fun vinyl birdhouse is well suited for bluebirds - but difficult to monitor

Predator guards are always helpful, both on the entry to keep grabby paws and larger bully birds out, and on the pole itself – in the form of a baffle. If the birdhouse hangs, simply use a hanging squirrel baffle above for further protection from predators.

The National Bluebird Society approves housing that is monitor-friendly, meaning you can easily access inside to see how the nest is progressing and babies are faring. Most bluebird specific houses have side doors for viewing, Gilbertson houses pop on & off of the roof via two pins, and the popular Peterson style has a front door that pulls down for nest checks. Seasoned bluebird monitors all have their favorites for different reasons!

Easy blue bird house nest checks with a side door that opensBut why would anyone want to see how the nest is progressing? House sparrows… they mustn’t be allowed to nest if you’re trying to attract bluebirds. They’re enemies, brutal enemies of native bluebirds. Until one witnesses the carnage- it’s difficult to grasp, and although native- house wrens should be deterred as well. The other day I was screaming at starlings in the yard when my friend insisted “they’re birds too-they deserve to eat.” Not here, nope, no can do! Also non-native, and invasive, they compete for nesting space with brutal tactics, not to mention the mess on every baffle and feeder around the yard!

If you’re new to hosting bluebirds, nature will show both the pleasures and heartache she can bear. Knowing a few basics will have you on your way in no time! Watch for sparrow nests, usually piled high and messy, with bits of trash woven throughout. They tend to have a tunnel-type entrance as well. House wrens will lay claim by placing sticks inside, criss-crossed, piled up twigs. They’ll do this even when not using the birdhouse to nest… but simply to keep others out of their territory. The website Sialis.org has a wealth of knowledge on identifying nests, eggs, behaviors and everything pertinent to bluebirds and other native cavity dwelling birds. Definitely worth a look!

 

Use a Sunflower Mix in Finch Feeders


January 31, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:37 pm

Lots of different birds at finch feeders using sunflower mixBack oil sunflower seed is likely the most versatile of all birdseed. We prefer using the meats or hearts as they leave less ground waste and more species are apt to chow down! Even in finch feeders, using a mix that contains sunflower hearts will bring more color and more birds to the feeder.

During cold weather, a wide variety of feathered friends will absolutely find chopped sunflower a tasty treat! Cardinals, who’d rather not perch on narrow trays, chickadees, warblers, bluebirds, Carolina wrens and the other usual suspects will go for the high fat, high protein seed.

When chopped and mixed with thistle (a popular store-bought mix) it provides a hearty meal for many! Finch feeders with trays accommodate more birds than those with perches alone too. Because thistle won’t germinate and the sunflower is void of shells… it’s a really clean seed mix with almost zero waste. Sure, thistle hulls will accumulate, but no weeds will sprout! Just scoop it up with a small garden shovel every few weeks.

Hanging candle holder for jelly in springWe promise, just because a feeder is called by a certain name or kind- doesn’t mean that’s all it does. Finch feeders need not only offer thistle for finches! And by the way, you can fashion a great jelly feeder for orioles using a small hanging candle holder, suet feeders rock for offering nesting materials… get the picture?use suet feeders for nesting material

Best Cold Weather Offerings at Window Bird Feeders


January 26, 2015
posted by birdhouse chick @ 4:02 pm

csuet mixes are ideal for cold weather feeding and work in most window bird feedersRecently the question was posed by a customer on our Facebook page: “Any advice for keeping birds fat & happy through the coming cold snap?” Absolutely!

Basically, birds need higher fat and carbohydrate type foods that are easier and/or faster to digest during frigid weather.

Aside from topping off basic seed feeders, you can utilize window bird feeders and other platforms for these kinds of treats. Suet cakes broken into chunks, any kind of nuggets or crumbles, even home-made suet mixes and bluebird delight (recipes on our website) are ideal for open style window feeders.During cold weather, mix suet chunks with seed in your window feeder

Water… don’t forget that fresh water’s extremely important when all natural sources have frozen. Birds will flock to a heated bath throughout the entire winter season!

Since freezing weather always brings more birds around to feeders, you can easily set up a new feeding space or two without additional feeders per se. Offer more of those high fat, high carb Suet and peanut butter smeared on a tree trunk serves birds well in cold weatherfoods using suet or peanut butter smeared right on a tree trunk! Nuthatches, warblers, chickadees and every species of woodpecker will go for it in a snap. The extra calories serve them well helping to maintain body temperature and warmth overnight.

While you’re toasty warm inside, please remember feathered friend’s survival tactics and help them out during frigid weather!