A Labor Day with Birdhouse Kits and Everything Else


August 30, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:04 am

Birdhouse Kits are also going to the show

The night before… We’ll be laboring this Labor Day Weekend at the Latimer Hall Ats & Crafts show!  If you’re local around the Atlanta area, or anywhere near Woodstock… come on up and cruise the show, the farmer’s market is right across the street!

Best to head out early as the start time’s changed from 10:00 AM to 8:30 AM due to possible scattered showers during late afternoon.

Jewelery, pottery and other crafts await, and this year we’re on board with a myriad of wares, including some handcrafted birdhouse kits made right here in Athens, GA.

We’re hopeful the weather holds out because it sure is a lot of labor getting ready for one of these things!

Either way, we’d like to wish everyone a happy and safe Labor Day Weekend!

Handcrafted Birdhouse Kits and More at the show

 

Some Bat Sh*t Crazy Karma!


August 25, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 11:39 pm

Weekend outing on a lovely boatA few weeks ago on a much welcomed boating excursion, we anchored in a lovely cove for the evening.  As dusk approached, the sunset and simple stillness were truly amazing. That is, until the bats came out… then it was funny!

Dive-bombing only my friend’s husband, “they’re harmless” and “it’s nothing” was the advice offered in between belly laughs.At dusk, bats decended upon the boat

Fast forward to this weeks’ event:

The incident started around 3:00 A.M. and ended roughly two hours later. Awakened by a “thump”, some fluttering and odd noises, I remembered the bathroom window (facing a wooded yard) was left slightly cracked sans the screen. One inch, it wasn’t wider than one inch – but enough for the little guy to get through. If you can roll your tongue with no vocals… that was pretty much it, like a low, soft motor.

Jolted from a sound sleep “what, where?” The cats were absolutely beside themselves, all I had to do was look in the direction of their interest. Then I spotted him, frantically flying from room to room, downstairs, upstairs, back and forth! The only audible was flapping wings and occasional fowl language when he flew directly overhead.

The wingspan was big, how did he get through that window, and why? This ain’t no bat house! What could have possessed the flying mammal to enter? A predator? Are bats territorial? Do owls eat them? They’re the only other nocturnal predator in the area, hey, I’m the birdhouse chick, not the bat lady!

It was evident the little guy was growing tired of all the commotion as well, he began perching/hanging from the ceiling in the bedroom. Of course this had to be in the vaulted part where nothing I had could reach him! With my nerves starting to finally settle, and realizing that pulling the sheets over my head wouldn’t solve anything, the plan was devised.

The bathroom-open the window all the way and get him back into the room from whence he came. Shut the door and he’ll figure it out with sounds of the great outdoors. Twice the opportunity presented itself and twice I failed, not fast enough for him. With stronger resolve, the third time was a charm. Done! His movement was still detected a few minutes later and then silence – he made it out alive… or at least I had hoped.

Waiting until daylight I opened the door slowly to be sure, no signs. Checking all possible nooks and crannies where he could’ve possibly dropped dead, I was convinced he escaped… it was awesome except for the next task at hand.

Bat guano detail… omg! It’s an innate habit of all living beings, a universal law of nature… poop when nervous. Droppings were found in every room of the house – but hey, at least it’s not liquid like bird poop, right?

So there it is, because I laughed at my friend while being dive-bombed by bats on the lake, karma came back tenfold. Literally Bat Sh*t crazy, ay?

 

Who Uses Those Fancy Copper Roof Birdhouses?


August 21, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:08 am

Single entry copper roof birdhouseSome birds use houses and some just couldn’t be bothered. Well, it’s more along the lines of instinct let’s say. Just as some folks have houses for birds, while some prefer an elegant birdhouse on their property. It’s because of the aesthetically pleasing design and great quality they look so perfect in the landscape. But these copper roof birdhouses are definitely meant for the birds!

Bluebirds or tree swallows are likely to use a single entry home, with good chances of titmice, nuthatches or chickadees taking up residency in these, or even a triple-entry style. You’ll never find goldfinches, cardinals, robins or jays setting up house in one of these beauties though. Their preferences are hedges, shrubs and trees.

On a more stately scale, martins are likely to nest in a larger house with 8 or 12 entries, often referred to as larger copper roof birdhousesdovecote styles, but we promise… doves will never use them! The only doves around our yards are mourning or ring-neck doves. On an extremely rare occasion, a white dove may be spotted-but these are domesticated and used for release at weddings and special events (not a fan of this practice).

Nobody will use any of these stunning birdhouses if you:

    • never tend to it
    • block the entries
    • keep it indoors for decor… but over the years we’ve heard this and seen this, and it’s kind of sad because we’re bird freaks-but to each his own. Chocolate and vanilla, right?

One important thing to note if you’re planning to provide these houses specifically for birds to nest and raise their young: house sparrows! Once heard of as sparrow slums, the multi-entry houses are always inviting to killer house sparrows. And killer in its true meaning, (not like killer-awesome) house sparrows are very aggressive towards native songbirds. Due to a shortage of natural nest cavities, competition for nesting space is brutal… just ask any bluebird or martin landlord :( If house sparrows are prevalent in your area, diligence is required to keep them at bay… regardless of any birdhouse you may offer.  Don’t take our word for it, detailed info on identifying and controlling these non-native and invasive birds can be found at sialis.org

Gear Up that Window Hummingbird Feeder


August 15, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 11:47 pm

A tiny sprite perched at her window hummingbird feederThe southern trek approaches and hummingbirds instinctively know to fuel up for the long journey. As daylight hours become shorter, all migratory birds are preparing for their long flights south.

Because hummingbirds are so territorial, they seem to spend more time fussing over  (defending) their claimed feeders than actually eating. This time of year can be a trip if you really observe the tiny sprites. Adding an extra feeder is most helpful, if you can add two… even better. Consider a window hummingbird feeder, or at least placing one of them within view from inside your home. It’s an ideal way to catch small glimpses of action here and there while going about your daily routine. If we could sit on the deck all day and just watch… many of us would, the sprites are that mesmerizing.

Migration is a frenzied time around feeders. In the Eastern part of the country, male Ruby Throats begin their journey first.  So aggressive around feeders, it seems their lives depend on that nectar. Females and juveniles follow, but you’ll never see  them in groups or flocks because they fly solo. Even first-timers follow the instinct Mother Nature gave them to fuel up and find better digs for winter. Some land in Mexico for the season, while othersPlace their swing near your window hummingbird feeder journey further to Central and South America.

Nectar solutions can be a little stronger now as some recommend changing the ratio from the standard 1:4 to 1:3. One cup table sugar to three cups of water. The extra calories serve hummingbirds well in their quest to fatten up.

It’s also the optimal time for a swing! Say what? A hummingbird swing… really! Have you ever seen them? They’re hanging perches for the birds to rest while guarding their feeder. When we first installed ours, it seemed so-so, not a whole lot of action. But once the big migration was under way… omg, what a hoot! It’s the original, it’s Pop’s Hummingbird Swing and here’s the real story – enjoy!

Heated Bird Baths in Summer?


August 12, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:54 am

heated bird baths in summerSo when it’s 90 degrees, how useful is that heated bath? Certainly unplugged and cord tucked for the season, it will still see daily activity and may even be life savers for some birds during severe drought. Regardless of seasons, water is a critical life source for all beings.

When folks turn their baths over for winter, the birds who depended on that water source must find another. I wonder what they must think? The birds that is- not the people! “Don’t they understand, we need water in winter too! It really sucks trying to eat snow, takes too much energy.”

Whether you’re thinking of purchasing your first birdbath, or adding an extra one to your habitat, heated bird baths are a wise choice for year-round use. Because another severe winter looms on the horizon, resident birds will benefit as will your whole bird-watching experience!

And on those dog days of summer? Ice cubes offer a refreshing spot, or even accessories like solar fountains will create a most welcoming haven for feathered friends!heated bird bath is summer

Nyjer Feeders are Busy Now


August 9, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:42 pm

Nyjer Feeder with no more vacancies!They’re the last ones of the season to nest and raise their young, they’re also the only ones who molt twice per year. It really puts goldfinches in a class of their own. It’s the busy season for them, feeding the tiny black seed almost exclusively to babies. During the year, spells of non-activity may be common around nyjer feeders… but not now!

If you offer nyjer or thistle seed year-round, chances are great these birds will stick around. They won’t nest in a birdhouse, but prefer mature trees and shrubs for building their digs. Considered resident birds, in winter you’ll see dull brown-olive plumage, but their sweet song will still grace the garden on the dreariest days. A fresh water source will further entice these friendly fliers.

A fickle seed nyjer can be, it must be fresh for the birds to partake. Should the seed sit in your feeder too long, it may become moldy or rancid and they won’t touch it. One of the benefits of this long tube feeder is the ability to fill it from both ends. By alternating top and bottom refills, there’s no way for older seed to accumulate at the bottom like most feeders.

Another popular style is mesh or screen, offering an all-over feeding space as opposed to individual perches. In recycled plastic, some are durable enough to last a lifetime.Nyjer feeder with mesh screen feeding area

And the last benefit of thistle? It won’t germinate! You’ll never see a nasty weed below these feeders. So fill it up, keep seed fresh, offer a bathing spot and American goldfinches are bound to claim your garden as home sweet home!

Use a Squirrel Baffle to Protect that Nest!


August 3, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:54 am

Squirrel baffle for wood postSquirrels can be such a major nuisance around bird feeders, hence the baffle was invented. Aptly named to foil their shenanigans, lots of options are readily available to accommodate wood posts, garden poles, and hanging feeders too. Even fancy shepherd’s hooks have been taken into consideration, with a squirrel baffle that splits or opens to install – then locks back together.

With generally cooler temperatures in most parts of the country this summer, the busy nesting season has seen many birds on their second and third broods. Some use birdhouses (bluebirds, wrens, chickadees) and some don’t (cardinals, goldfinches, hummingbirds) preferring to nest in mature trees and shrubs.This bluebird nest box would benefit from a squirrel baffle

Sadly, birdhouses get their share of thieves, from squirrels and raccoons, to snakes, cats and larger bully birds. Eggs and babies may be killed by territorial birds or eaten and just disappear all together.

One wouldn’t think it’s common practice to use a raccoon or squirrel baffle on a birdhouse… but until you’ve lost a nest of babies to one of these predators, it makes perfect sense! Use a squirrel baffle to protect birdhouses too

The image at left is a bit fuzzy, but it illustrates the use of two different kinds of baffles  protecting these houses. The one on the right is even home-made, using PVC pipe and an end cap from the home improvement store. It should really be at least 5 inches in diameter (this was our first try) and it works on the “rocking principle”.

A simple search for stovepipe baffle will show you how to make an expensive and effective design for posts or poles to thwart both raccoons and squirrels. Grow strong and thrive little bluebirds!

 

 

Newest Bat Houses are Vinyl/PVC


July 28, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:45 am

New vinyl bat houses stand up to the elementsSmart innovations (made in the USA) using durable materials means better quality, especially for items that remain outdoors. For seven years, we’ve had phenomenal feedback on all of our vinyl birdhouses and feeders – in fact some folks even thought they were made from wood!

With the popularity of natural insect control, and the increasing aversion to pesticides (thank goodness), bat houses have become a top preference for zapping those blood-sucking, nasty insects!

This brand new bat shelter with many a creature comfort will entice friendly brown bats and keep them roosting around your place. One tiny single bat can eat more than 1000 mosquitoes per night, now multiply that by 65, which is the approximate capacity here.

Made in the USA, the new vinyl design is completely impervious weather… will not crack, warp, split or mildew. The light color actually helps cool the box and stabilize inside temperatures during warm summer months. That’s important stuff if you’re a bat! It also blends well with the lighter colors of exterior paint on many homes – and that’s important stuff to people, it won’t stick out like a sore thumb!

Mounting height should be at least 15 ft. from the ground, on any structure, tree, or 4×4 post. Be sure entry is free and clear of any limbs or branches which might impede landing. It may take a little time for bats to discover their new digs, but if they already reside in your area, occupancy could be immediate. Having water nearby is more appealing to them; as in a creek, lake, stream or pond. Not a requirement, but more suitable habitat.

So vow to quit the bug zappers and chemicals this year, it’s far better for everyone’s health and the environment too. Try a bat house and entice these friendly, furry little mammals to your yard!

 

 

Good Luck with Parts for Bird Brain Hummingbird Feeders


July 25, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:23 am

Replacement parts for Bird Brain Hummingbird FeedersThey were really great feeders, so it’s sad the company’s no longer around. Trying to find replacement parts for the old Bird Brain hummingbird feeders could pose quite the challenge. A recent customer would absolutely attest to this fact.

Even their feeders with the rubber or plastic flowers… nada, zip, zilch, replacements just don’t exist.

But wait… the light bulb goes off and it’s a brainstorm for Bird Brain. Parasol! Yes some Parasol’s feeders use a red glass flower with a long stem. But will they fit correctly? The only way to know is try and see. So with said customer on the phone, one glass hummingbird feeder from each company was pulled to experiment. Parasol feeder tubes work great in most Bird Brain Hummingbird Feeders

It worked – like a charm too! The glass flowers actually looked better than the original parts. Even with the stem a little bit shorter, it doesn’t have much bearing as hummingbird’s tongues are twice as long as their beaks. Sometimes there’s concern that the feeder port doesn’t reach to the bottom of its vessel, but truth is, it’s not required.

Fun and vibrant, the sprites loved Bird Brain Hummingbird FeedersEven their styles with rubber feeder ports (which had no stems at all) will accommodate Parasol’s feeder tubes beautifully. Doh… forgot to photograph the new combination!

So you’re actually in luck if searching for Bird Brain feeder port replacements, because Parasol’s work great!

By the way, if there’s been a lull at your hummingbird feeders you’re not alone. Many people are saying the same thing. It could be the sprites are nesting, or maybe there’s just not as many this year? In either case… they’re back! We spotted several last week, and our local bird buddies said the same thing. So it’s time to clean your feeder and be sure nectar stays fresh. And in about one more month, prepare to be dazzled when their migration begins.your hummingbird feeders won't make them stay You may even need to another feeder!

The Ever So Versatile Bird Feeder Bracket


July 21, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 1:58 am

This bird feeder bracket attaches to a deck or porch rail for multiple uses. Versatility is good and mobility is even better when referring to a bird feeder bracket. Seasons change and birds migrate, so why would you want to offer the same old, same old throughout the year? Plus, once the birding bug hits, there’s always a need for one more feeder, or one more bath, or one more something in the yard! We can verify this first-hand :)

A simple deck-mount bracket (circled in yellow) accommodates a leaf mister during summer months. Actually mounted on the front porch, the extended arm bracket just slips right onto the rail. This makes it easy to move, and with the mister attached, makes for a happy and lush garden below. When it’s time to put the misters away in late fall, a bird bath or feeder will likely hang from the same spot. In early spring there’s always nesting materials offered in this spot.

Want to see more species of birds but limited on space? No trees to hang from and only one feeder pole in the yard? Check this cool bird feeder bracket with quick-connect that attaches right to a pole – no hardware needed. With a sleek curved shape and leaf design, there’s room for 3 or 4 more items. All of a sudden you’re seeing new birds in the same space!Branch type bird feeder bracket

No-melt suet is great for warm weather feeding as migratory birds enjoy it too. Grape jelly in an oriole feeder entices cat birds and woodpeckers.

Again, if space is limited for hanging feeders, remember that birds bathe naturally at ground level. Fresh water is the easiest way to entice feathered friends. A shallow pan of water is bound to bring some birds who may never even visit feeders. Keep the water fresh and more importantly… shallow. With lots of juveniles about, deep water can be fatal. No more than two inches is a perfect depth for birds to bathe, wade, preen and drink. Adding some stones or a few larger rocks gives birds added security with better footing, they make it easier to land and perch.

For all those who “don’t feed birds in summer” well, you happen to be missing two exciting times during the year when neotropic birds migrate. The opportunity for catching some new species pass through is pretty incredible… even for veteran backyard birders! That flash of orange from a Baltimore oriole, or the vivid colors of a painted bunting are in part what it’s all about!