Great Job New York~Ivory Ban is Official!


June 23, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 11:24 am

IFAW Statement on New York Ivory Ban: We Love New York

Washington, D.C. (June 23, 2014) – Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), issued the following statement regarding a bill passed last week by the New York state legislature which bans  the sale and purchase of elephant and mammoth ivory and rhino horn:

“A big victory for endangered elephants and rhinos, as New York enacts a landmark law to ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn.

These bans are important tools for regulating, and, we hope, eventually ending the ivory and rhino horn trade. Every 15 minutes on average, an African elephant is slaughtered for its ivory tusks to support a mass consumer demand. Rhinos, which are also poached for their horns, are similarly threatened. The U.S. ranks as one of the largest ivory consumers in the world and New York serves as one its biggest entry points and markets.

Promising regulations are gathering momentum at the federal level. As one of the first states to pass such legislation, New York is carving a path for others to follow.

We love New York’s actions and congratulate and thank our coalition partners in encouraging the passage of these bills.”

To learn more about IFAW’s work to crush the ivory trade, please visit http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/our-work/elephants/ending-ivory-trade.

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.

Honoring Sammy with Tabby Cat Wood Birdhouses


June 21, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 8:27 pm

tabby cat wood birdhousesMy friend’s a pretty decent writer, some of the cat stories are quite touching… this is one of them. If you happen to be a cat person who’s crazy enough to have a few wood birdhouses that resemble your cats (us), or even one who’s remotely fond of your pets, then read on. And if you’ve ever wondered about an animals’ capacity for love or understanding – this will should also be of interest.

 Dumb Animals

My animal rescue work has brought a number of new friends into my life.  This story is about two of them:  Sara and Michelle.  Either of them will happily and readily tell you that each is the others very best friend.  I don’t know much about their history — things like how they met and how long they’ve been friends.  I do know they both have dedicated countless hours and immeasurable amounts of energy to making lives better for neglected and abused animals, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s one of their most important characteristics.

In the spring of 2012, Sara left Florida and moved out west.  One of her last rescue efforts before leaving this part of the country (she continues her work on behalf of animals prior to moving was to place a leukemia positive cat with me.  He’s a big, fluffy, all black guy that I named “Bartholomew,” (heavy on the “MEW,”) in hopes he’d be a mellow fellow.  Turns out that I usually sammy's arrival-he fancied the orange tabby wood birdhousecall him “Bart,” as in Black Bart.  He’s not a bad cat, just an independent guy who never has had much use for sitting in laps or having his head rubbed or human interaction of any sort.

In July of last year, Michelle and her daughter rescued a poor little waif of a kitten from animal control.  As the Fates would have it, he tested positive for leukemia. At Sara’s urging, Michelle contacted me, and tiny orange Samson (Sammy) came to live at my house.  If ever there was an irresistibly cute kitten on the face of the earth, Sammy was that cat.  Everyone who met him fell instantly in love with him.  I did my very best not to tumble head over heels for him because I know the usual outcome for kittens born with the leukemia virus, but I was powerless to resist his charms.  Within two days of his arrival here, I was hopelessly hooked.

sam at his bestSammy was clearly a cat that veterinarians label “at risk.”  He was anemic, underweight (at his prime, he was less than six pounds), prone to respiratory infections, and generally frail.  But what he lacked in physical stamina, he more than made up for in sweetness and personality.  Truly as endearing an animal as has ever crossed my path.
Three weeks ago, Sammy took ill.  He’d been sick other times and always managed to pull past it, but this illness was more serious.  I took him to the vet in late May and over the next 20 days, we threw most of the pharmacy at him, but with no immune system thanks to the wretched leukemia virus, he couldn’t fight this foe.

He and I were at the vet’s office when it opened this morning.  In three weeks’ time, he’d lost nearly a quarter of his body weight.  His chest cavity was filled with fluid leaving him on the verge of congestive heart failure, and the vet said his lungs sounded like crinkling cellophane, almost certainly pneumonia.  The only compassionate choice was to kiss his head over and over and over for all the people who loved him and send him on his way.Cats paying respects to sammy

I brought him home in his burial box and left his body on the deck with the group of cats he’d hung out with while he was my boy — including big black Bart.  From the first picture, you can see that several of his pals spent a minute or two paying their respects.  One by one, most of them went on their way, but Bart lingered.  And lingered.  Bart and Sammy hadn’t been particularly good buddies.  They didn’t fight, but likewise, they didn’t snooze together or engage in a close friendship.  It struck me as odd that Bart needed all this time to say goodbye to Sammy.

Bart not letting go of SammyLook at this picture.  Bart is hugging Sammy’s burial box — not unlike what I’ve seen humans do if they’ve lost a particularly beloved family member or friend.  When I went to pick up Sammy’s box, Bart literally clung to the towel that was draped over it, begging me to let him have a little more time with Sammy.  I remarked out loud to Bart that I didn’t understand why he was so upset by Sammy’s death since they hadn’t been that close in life.

As I put the box back down, Bart fixed a gaze on me that ate right to my soul.  Anyone who’s spent much time around animals knows the look I’m referring to.  It’s the one that roughly translated means, “I know you’re merely a human being and therefore have limited cranial capacity, but try really hard to think about this situation.”  Pause, pause.  “Think about how it is that Sammy and I came to be your fur kids.”

Picture the light bulb blinking on over my head…. Okay.  Got it.

Bart wasn’t just saying goodbye to Sammy for himself.  He was Sara’s emissary, bearing her spirit all the way from Colorado to be here to lend comfort and support to Michelle and her daughter’s spirits for the loss of precious Sammy.  Bart knew the importance of drawing the circle of love very tightly around Sammy’s earthly remains so that all the people who had played a part in saving his life (albeit for much too short a time by our human measure) could take sustenance from each other and find the strength to move past this sorrow.

Oh, the lessons these dumb animals impart.  Dumb animals, indeed.  If anyone ever makes a comment about unthinking, unfeeling animals, maybe you’ll tell them about how Bart & Sara and Sammy & Michelle came together for one essential group hug at precisely the right, crucial moment.

Sammy’s physical body is gone, but his beautiful soul and boundless wisdom will live on in my heart.  Celebrate his life.Farewell to Sammy~Rest in Peace

Pollinate the Garden with Hummingbird Feeders


June 18, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:53 pm

Staked hummingbird feeders in the garden add charm and tiny sprite action!Hey, it’s National Pollinator Week!

One of those little things often taken for granted, pollinators play a huge role in the environment and our food sources. Albert Einstein said “if the bees go, we go four years later”. This is a scary thought, as bumble bees are now being considered one of the “at-risk” pollinators of today.

Hummingbirds are pollinators, and extremely beneficial in the garden. Sadly, more and more folks are saying they’re seeing less of the tiny sprites this year. The long harsh winter may have had an adverse affect on their migration, as there were no food sources upon arrival in the gulf states. Nothing was blooming yet from where they could draw nectar.

Butterflies draw nectar from feeder wicks or flowers as opposed to drinking from a hummingbird feeder

Photo by Cathy Keller

Some other surprising pollinators include: hover flies, bats, native bees, moths, and certain beetles and wasps. Laying off the pesticides helps these species thrive, as well as using native plants in the landscape. Butterflies are also major pollinators, but unfortunately are also on the “at-risk” list. Over-ripe fruit is attractive to them, and also draws fruit flies which they’ll consume. Place a chunk of melon, orange, apple or strawberry on a plate in the garden for the flying gems.

Entice beneficial pollinators to your garden by keeping hummingbird feeders fresh! Sugar ferments and spoils after just a few days in the heat. Hummingbirds won’t touch it and may not even bother to check the feeder again. And ants, just one ant in the nectar ruins the whole batch! Use an ant moat to protect nectar from these pesky critters. A dab of petroleum jelly around the top of the hanger will also thwart ants, but tends to melt after a few days of extreme heat.

The solution should be changed every 2-3 days in hot weather. Consider making your own nectar so feeding the sprites isn’t as costly. Simply plain table sugar and water… no red dye needed! Nothing else should ever be added to the solution. One cup of sugar to four cups of water, the ratio is 1:4 sugar to water. Quick, easy and economical, store unused nectar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Plant annuals and perennials that bloom throughout the season. Tube-shaped flowers are nectar producers, as well as native vines and salvia. Using these and other native plants in the garden provides a natural and steady food source for pollinators.

Leave some bugs. A great source of protein, hummingbirds and butterflies go after tiny insects (gnats, fruit flies and others) as a large part of their diet. With the spring nesting season and lots of babies out there now, insects are an important food source. If you’re using pesticides in the yard, stop! They’re no good for anyone :(

Fresh water is integral to all friendly fliers. If you’re lucky enough to have a pond, creek, or stream on your property, chances are great pollinators will visit. If not, consider adding a a shallow bath. A birdbath needn’t be fancy… just shallow and fresh. The maximum depth is just 2-3 inches, even a plastic plant saucer works well. If stagnant water is of concern, consider one of many bird bath accessories to keep the water moving. Water wigglers, bath drippers, solar fountains or leaf misters are just a few options that keep water fresher for longer periods, and prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. Hummingbirds, butterflies and songbirds are attracted to these fun additions, and will stick around to use them daily.

So there you have it… celebrate National Pollinator Week by enticing these friendly fliers to your place!

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day from Inside the Blue Bird Houses!


June 15, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:47 am

blue bird housesMany males in the winged world also labor in raising their families, so today we salute all of the hard working dads who help raise their kids!

A typical view inside blue bird houses, dad keeps a watchful eye on nestlings, while taking turns with mom bringing food to the babies.

The digs: A male bird’s skill at nest building is a sign of his suitability as a mate; he invests huge effort in the task. Males will build multiple nests to attract females, they’ll continue to build new nests until a female is happy with the construction and chooses one.

The food: Many male birds help raise their families, bringing food home to the babies.  Sometimes they even have to incubate the eggs alone or take turns with the female.  Male bald eagles, for example, take turns sitting on the eggs as well as bring food home to the young.Gilbertson Nest boxes are popular Blue Bird Houses

Protection: In species where both parents care for the young, the male often gathers food while the female spends more time brooding, keeping the baby birds warm, sheltered and safe from predators.

- Western Bluebirds usually breed in monogamous pairs.  By the end of breeding season, most daughters disperse; most sons and the occasional daughter remain with their family for winter.  In spring, the yearlings go off and nest on their own, but sometimes one or more sons stay to help their parents.  Sometimes a bluebird with his own mate will help at his parents’ nest, while also feeding his own young next door. Source citation: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Happy Father’s Day to All~We salute your dedication to family!

Big Daddy of a Copper Bird Feeder for Dad~with 10% off


June 11, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:13 am

copper bird feederGive dad a gift he’ll really enjoy and use… like everyday!

If he’s a nature kind of guy who enjoys the outdoors and especially birds… these feeders are the bomb! Crafted with utmost quality, of durable vinyl/PVC. So what’s the big deal about vinyl? It absolutely lasts!

These copper bird feeders are guaranteed for life, they’ll never rot like wood, warp, peel, split, crack or mildew. What you see is what you get too. The vinyl mounting collar below the base slides right on a 4×4 post, doink… done! The decorative brackets are already attached, even the finial on top won’t wear because it’s not wood. The surface has texture so it doesn’t look like plastic, a few folks have sworn these were wood!

The copper stays bright for about four years before it even begins to weather, turning pretty dark before ever displaying the slightest hint of green. A copper lacquer may be applied if bright and shiny is your thing, say in 3 or 4 years down the road.

Like that pretty patina color? Got ya covered with this version!Copper Bird Feeder Its a rather large feeder and requires a good bit of space to display its elegance. Gazebo feeders like these are bird-friendly as seed stays protected from the elements, and birds are sheltered while eating.

A new large capacity feeder is done in a hopper style as opposed to the center feeder tube. The copper hopper’s huge and holds ten or twenty pounds of seed, depending on the model (two sizes). Yep, 10 lbs. of seed without having to refill as often. And if that’s not enough options, the hopper feeder comes in post-mount and hanging designs.

copper bird feeder

 

Take 10% off these copper bird feeders – or any others with promo code MC10. Good through 6/30/14
 

Confessions from the Mealworm Feeder


June 7, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:18 am

mealworm feederAddiction can be a terrible thing… and I fear that feeding worms has actually become one!

So the worms are meant for this guy, his spouse and kids. Okay, the chickadees can have some, the titmice can too because they have nestlings to feed. Brown headed nuthatches stick around their box long after babies have fledged, they’re too much and may need a permanent address? For the first time phoebe finally has a family (that I’ve actually seen anyway) so of course they must take turns at the mealworm feeder – may you grow strong and thrive little phoebes!

Cardinals won’t touch worms… until they have babies to feed. The catbirds are simply out of hand, wish they’d just stick to the grape jelly!  Have you ever seen 20,000 meal worms in a plastic shoe box heading for dormancy in the fridge? It’s become the norm as live worms cost less when buying in bulk. The worms aren’t bad, but the overnight shipping can kill ya!mealworm feeder

Using this open dish as one of the mealworm feeders is really just asking for it, but babies can’t figure out the enclosed bluebird feeders, or jail type ones with open grid cage. Carolina wrens certainly can, they’re always the first to figure out any new feeder containing mealies!

mealworm feederScreen feeders are nice and easy to use for humans and birds alike… but the worms crawl out! Anything with texture or tooth worms can grip allows cling and crawl action! No worries, anyone who drops to the ground meets their fate by a robin or thrasher just waiting below for the great escape!

So the addiction? The grower must think I eat worms myself, the quantity has now increased to 25,000 worms a pop… and this is every four weeks or so. And I wonder why I’m broke?

Naturally Man Made Butterfly Feeders, huh?


June 3, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 5:34 pm

butterfly feeders A few, yes there were actually three or four butterflies spotted in the yard last month. Because winter dragged it’s sorry butt into spring again this year, there really wasn’t anything blooming yet from where butterflies could draw nectar. Offering leaf misters through summer (which butterflies love), we’re really not ones to offer butterfly feeders, because there’s enough to maintain in our wildlife habitat already!

Quick… run to the store for plants in bloom so the flying gems might have something to eat and decide to stick around! This hibiscus did nicely, as well as this orange tube thingbutterfly feeders… I couldn’t tell you the name, but most tube-shape flowers are nectar producers (good to know).

Enter a local artisan and glass blower spotted at a craft show. Hhmmm? Can you make us some glass flowers and put them on a tall stake? We want to use them in the garden as butterfly feeders! After a few weeks and some back & forth… ta-dah!

Some of the most beautiful staked glass butterfly feeders we’d ever seen, they came out awesome! The pics don’t really do them any justice, because sunlight accents the colors and makes them sparkle. butterfly-feedersOn a 36-inch stake, they’re perfect anywhere in the garden, and are quite versatile for birds too.

Complete with a piece of sea sponge which acts like a wick, butterflies can draw nectar naturally as they do from flowers. Fill it with water as a sipper for any songbird, or a few spoonfuls of grape jelly for orioles, cat birds and other migratory birds. You can even do suet chunks or seed in winter for your resident fliers.

Hand-blown glass and locally made ensure these feeders are unique and high quality, and we can promise if the habitat is right, both butterflies and birds will be winging their way right to them!

The Neighbor’s Cat and Ground Bird Baths


May 30, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 3:07 am

bird bathsThe Rocky Mountain ground bath with dripper is pretty cool, birds actually sit and wait for it to start in the morning… but it no longer sits on the ground due to man-made predators :(

One of the oldest and most intense arguments… cats vs. birds and there’s basically two sides; birders and the people they refer to as “cat crazies”- those who let their cats roam because they believe it’s good for them. Ferals who roam are a problem for birds (but that stems from human ignorance too). Still, there are birders who are responsible cat owners and keep their feline friends indoors. We fit this category – four cats, whose outdoor time consists of a screened porch, and they’re pretty happy with the arrangement.

The neighbor “rescues” cats from the shelter, but they stay outdoors for the most part, which drives me bonkers! At times it’s infuriating, heated words have been exchanged on several occasions. The husband says “just shoot the cat”, but truth be told, I’d rather shoot the wife because it’s not the cats’ fault! Suggesting the cat sport a collar with a bell worked, but it really doesn’t help the birds too much.

bird bathsA couple of cool ground bird baths are always in use around our yard, but they’re not on the ground anymore! This stinks because birds tend to bathe more naturally at this level. Enter tree stumps, large planters, small tables, and anything else that will add height to the bird baths. An excuse to add yet another, hanging style too.

The dripper birdbath now sits  atop of a large planter, the big wood textured bird bath will look good on a tree stump, and the birds will definitely adjust in a day or two at most. Would’ve much rather kept things status quo, but it’s really not fair to the birds. Their lives needn’t be compromised due to the neighbor’s stupidity! And hey… one more hanging bath to maintain won’t make a big difference in the scheme of things… especially since we’re already known in the neighborhood as the crazy bird people :) bird baths

Americana Decorative Bird Houses


May 24, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 3:46 am

decorative birdhousesIn honor of Memorial Day patriotic themes abound, everywhere is red, white and blue… and birdhouses too!

Reclaimed materials are used to craft these decorative birdhouses with vintage style. Hand made in Texas, Lorenzo Padilla creates original pieces using historic architectural elements and salvaged materials.  Unique bird homes are reborn in these fine artworks, each is branded with his trademark emblem. Tin roofs and iron adornments pretty much started here about 20 years ago, widely copied by others today-but not the same!decorative birdhouses

Some of the siding and materials date back to the nineteenth century, sturdy woods rich in history that will withstand elements beautifully.

For nest clean-out, it’s fairly simple to back out 2 screws on the roof and gently lift the tin panel. Chickadees, wrens, titmice and other small songbirds will be happy to take up residence and call these places home.decorative birdhouses.. a fine nest site and roost for cold nights too.

A few other decorative works for home and garden can be found. Tall cabinets with scroll front grates (which haven’t made it to the site yet) are absolute works of period art.

Although these houses are for the birds – most folks prefer to keep them as indoor decor!

Wishing all a Happy & Safe Memorial Day Holiday!

Attract Them and Offer Roosts with Bat Houses


May 22, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 2:10 am

Bat HousesThey make some cool shelters these days, from vintage to Victorian, recycled plastic, even kits to build your own bat houses. You can try your luck at attracting bats without a big investment. But why would anyone want to attract them? One word – beneficial would sum it up best!

Bats are major pollinators and seed spreaders. Natural insect control is another huge advantage to hosting these friendly mammals (yes, they’re mammals). Even small bat colonies will consume thousands of mosquitoes and other pests nightly.

Habitat plays a key role in attracting any friendly fliers to your place. This holds true for butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds too. If pesticides are being used, stop! They’re harmful to the to the environment, wildlife and the ecosystem in general. Pristine, manicured lawns are becoming passe, more naturalized areas are in style. This doesn’t mean jungle… it involves use of native plants, naturalized beds, and varied habitat.

You can attract bats by offering places for them to roost (other than your attic vents). Bat houses needn’t be plain square boxes, but stylish shelters that complement the landscape. The two shown are handcrafted in the USA, and made from solid cypress.bat houses

If water exists on your property, there’s a strong likelihood bats will use your shelters. Being near a creek, stream, or pond is preferable. They require a stable environment, steady temperatures within their roosts. Facing the houses south will allow full sun exposure to warm the boxes. Two bat houses are even better, facing them in different directions and allowing for varying temperatures. Leaving an outside light on at night may also assist in bringing bats to your place. As bugs swarm the light, bats will follow if they’re currently near your property.

Height is important when installing the houses as well. Some say 10 feet is sufficient, others claim 15-20 feet from the ground is best. Mount directly on a tree, structure or pole.

You can learn more about housing specs and hosting bats from The Organization for Bat Conservation.