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.

Use Bird Seed Trays for Clean Bird Feeding


May 15, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 10:01 pm

bird seed traysAdd them to a post, add them to a bird feeder pole, or hang them… seed trays greatly reduce ground mess and waste. Spilled seed can lead to other problems, like mold which is unhealthy for ground feeding birds, and may attract some unwanted visitors too. Over the years we’ve heard from many folks (especially in the city) who stop feeding birds altogether due to rats… yuck!

Clean feeding is easy with bird seed trays or seed catchers. Using a no-waste seed mix or sunflower hearts also helps alleviate ground mess. They’re pure with no filers – which is what ends up on the ground anyway. Milo, red millet, cracked corn and oats don’t really serve birds well at all, they’ll toss it right out of the feeder on purpose!

Newer designs in recycled plastic make it possible to add the generous-size trays to a 4×4 post or standard garden bird seed trayspole. The large area is inviting to some birds who may never have visited the feeder before. Adjustable Seed Hoops fit almost any type feeder out there, and come in 16-and 30-inch diameter. The smaller size is ideal for tube styles, while the large tray is best for hopper bird feeders.

bird seed trays

 

Should you happen to be one of the “I don’t feed birds in summer” folks – just know that backyard feeders are hopping with activity now as most birds have nestlings to feed. The show of migratory birds passing through is colorful and quite dazzling to catch… so don’t give up the ship due to ground mess!
*Use seed trays to minimize waste
*Switch to cleaner seed mixes with no fillers
*Try No-Melt Suet Doughs for warm weather feeding
*Offer fruit & jelly for migratory birds- it leaves no waste
*Feed dried mealworms (boil and steep to soften) for a real treat!

Why Use an Ant Moat with Feeders?


May 14, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 2:10 am

ant moatSugar, anything with sugar is bound to attract ants! Be it hummingbird, oriole, butterfly or any fruit & jelly feeder… ants will find them-especially in hot, dry weather. They spoil nectar for hummingbirds, the sprites will not drink from a feeder containing ants. Same goes for grape jelly and oranges set out for orioles, and even butterfly feeders offering nectar. Ants must exude something quite nasty as it only takes one to ruin a meal.

The most basic ant moat is simplistic in design, an upside-down umbrella or cup that holds water. Ants drown when trying to cross water. Some prefer to coat the inside with petroleum jelly instead, which also acts as a barrier for ants. To slow water evaporation, you can a drop or two of cooking oil to the moat’s water.

anti-moatEtched hummingbird feeders shown above have unique wood tops and bases and offer their own optional ant moat. With sleek style and matching wood grain, this type of moat features a grooved underside containing an anti-ant substance that lasts for several years. It’s neat and clean with no filling required.

Parasol crafts a mean ant moat, in red or black it looks like, well… a parasol!ant moat We’ve seen goldfinches actually drink from these on hot summer days, even though several birdbaths are always kept clean and full! The ant moats work well with any feeder, regardless of how many vessels. ant moat

You can feed hummingbirds without attracting pesky ants… of course using a no-drip feeder really helps.

As for bigger pests? We caught a raccoon red-handed, drinking from a feeder on the deck the other night. He had both hands wrapped around the feeder, guzzling like it was beer! New solution: bring said feeder inside at night… dang!