Although I can’t say for sure that butterflies actually use butterfly houses, there sure are some beauties to adorn your garden. This pole-mounted butterfly house features rich redwood with hand-etched glass panels. I can say with certainty that butterflies absolutely adore the gentle spray from leaf misters! We use two during the summer months and see daily activity throughout the season.
Over ripened fruit is also a butterfly favorite. Bananas, melon, pears and oranges that are just a tad past their prime are a sweet treat for these winged wonders. The fruit also attracts fruit flies and these provide butterflies with additional protein. Molded fruit is not advised, so it must be monitored to assure this doesn’t happen. Set fruit out on a plate, on a deck or porch rail, even an up-turned pot will work. But the butterfly garden must be part of the equation too.
Native plants to provide nectar are necessary in creating a butterfly garden. Wild Columbine, Rose Verbena, Button Bush, Blue Lobelia, Cardinal Flower, Asters, and Milkweed are a few favorites. Besides nectar plants, host plants are needed for the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. These plants will likely be “munched” in the process, but they’ll come back again next year, and you’re providing critical butterfly habitat by letting them go. Some of the more popular host plants include Parsley, Dill, Fennel, Carrot and Milkweed. Trees include Wild Cherry, Willow, Plum and Poplar.
Adding a place to “warm in the sun” is also quite attractive to butterflies. You can easily arrange heat-absorbing rocks in a sunny area, add some sand and salts and keep the area moist to further entice butterflies. It’s recommended to first line the area with plastic to keep the salts from leaking into the soil. Definitely stop using any pesticides, chemicals or fertilizers in the area as well, most people tend to overlook this important factor when creating a butterfly habitat.
So… although I can’t say for sure that butterflies use butterfly houses… these are some good ideas on creating an enticing butterfly habitat at your home.
Every single bird feeder (and even some birdhouses) at our place sits with a squirrel baffle attached to it. Don’t get me wrong, I like squirrels and feed them pretty darn good, but it’s just never enough. Squirrels are fine in the yard~just not in the bird feeders! Many folks would agree with this too.
One 3-arm feeder pole that’s next to the driveway has been the new target of our crafty critters lately, as they’ve learned to jump from the side view mirror of the car when parked near the feeder. This has caused a new plan in parking management, as the second car in is NOT allowed to pull up to the end of the drive. It’s an inconvenience, but saves a lot of birdseed!
Both hanging and pole mount squirrel baffles are essential to backyard bird feeding if squirrels happen to be present. It’s the only thing that really works. If you have a fancy shepherd’s hook with no straight end to slide the baffle over, these cone shaped ones work like a dream on any size feeder pole. A simple clamp and innovative design will make your feeders squirrel-proof in no time flat!
A customer recently told me she purchased those “hot meats” to deter squirrels. From experience I know these will work effectively… for a little while anyway. Pounds of Cayenne pepper has been added to our seed stash-but to no avail because the crafty critters get used to it. The easiest solution to squirrels is hands-down – squirrel baffles!
For most of April and May, we’ve been giving away free nesting materials with all orders. Throughout most of the spring season, you can encourage birds to take up residence at your place with nesting materials. Different species build their nests accordingly, so we’ve used varied materials to make up the packages.
Shown here is a Pop-Outz suet feeder, and we’ve been giving them away too! The recycled plastic makes a perfect container for offering the nesting materials. Suet is always a welcomed treat for both resident and migratory birds and the Pop-Outz is a super fun way to serve it. No-melt suet or doughs are made specifically for warm weather feeding and the energy boost really helps out migratory birds after a long journey.
But back to the nesting materials, ours were comprised of horse hair (from mane, tail and body), decorative mosses, like Spanish, sphagnum, and the yellow straw-like stuff, feathers and strips of aspen wood. Aspen fiber happens to be another favorite among North American birds, and is found in many of the commercial nesting material kits.
A mesh produce bag from the grocery store (like the kind apples come in) also works great for offering nesting materials, and we use them around our yard. Things like the Birdie Bell are also wonderful for nest materials, plus year-round feeding too.
Entice birds to take up residence at your place by creating a suitable and friendly environment. Food, water and shelter are the basics, be it natural or man-made… the birds will thrive and flourish!
Because I lack any really decent photography equipment, the image isn’t so great, in fact I was pretending to digiscope with a pair of cheap binoculars. But that’s not the point of this blog. The bird feeder pole where this cardinal is perched sees a whole lot of activity in our back yard. From bluebirds and chickadees to titmice and woodpeckers, the four-arm bird feeder pole offers the perfect perching spot to rest and hunt.
Recently we had a semi-successful brood of bluebirds. Five babies made it out into the world, but the task of raising all five alone must have been too much for mom. Three days before these babies fledged, dad went missing. Perhaps the red-tailed hawk who hangs around, or my neighbor’s pain in the $#@ cats had gotten to him? Although I’ll never know his fate, he did leave his legacy in the three thriving juveniles. They like landing on this bird feeder pole because the mealworm dish is attached to it. They have options where to land and perch, and because the pole’s arms are at two levels, the babies can ease their way down to the dish. New males are in the area, but they’re not so kind to the babies, Mother Nature sure can be brutal at times 🙁
So here’s another pretty bad photo of dad bluebird before he disappeared, perched on the same bird feeder pole. It’s really stinks not having a decent camera because the birds in our yard are many and varied. There’s an Eastern Phoebe feeding two babies, three kinds of woodpeckers, all the usual suspects, and a thrasher who hangs around. Now, if the darn starlings would just hit the road… all would be well.
Two years ago, a moving photograph taken by National Geographic went viral – appearing on television shows and newspapers throughout the world.. It depicted a group of chimps “mourning” a deceased member of their family. Earlier this morning, National Geographic released a video depicting a similar situation, where several chimps react to the passing of a nine-year-old.
The experts presenting the video tread softly when calling the chimps’ behavior “mourning,” as they are still in the process of determining whether or not chimpanzees are capable of such an emotional reaction.
Enticing butterflies has become a huge past-time for many gardeners and backyard birders alike. Earning nicknames like “flying flowers” and “winged jewels” these graceful beings bring joy and delight to many with their sheer presence. But what really works to bring butterflies to your place? There’s butterfly houses, and butterfly feeders, and butterfly baths, and puddlers too!
Although I’m no expert, during summer months you’ll find daily butterfly activity in our garden that’s pretty amazing. We have no butterfly house, nor do we use a feeder. The secret is a leaf mister and flowers which provide food in the form of nectar. Host plants are extremely important too – this is where butterflies lay their eggs. Host plants also provide a food source for the emerging caterpillar. Be forewarned though…heavy munching will occur on your host plants.
We see mostly Monarchs and Swallowtails, and Milkweed serves as the host plant. Lots of native shrubs and flowers entice butterflies and keep them around all season. Mature White Fringe Trees line the back yard, Service Berry shrubs sit in the front, Columbine, Trumpet Vine, Native Hibiscus, and Bottlebrush are just a few other plantings around the yard.
Butterflies do adore over-ripened fruit like bananas, oranges, melon and pears, but you must be sure the fruit does not mold. Butterfly puddlers are popular too, but it’s rare that they’ll drink from an open water source. Instead, the clay absorbs the water, and butterflies will sit upon the dampened clay surface. If using a butterfly feeder, it should have a wick to absorb and draw up nectar from the basin, as butterflies will eat from the wick.
This season create a butterfly habitat by planting a few native species that will help them thrive and flourish. Add a leaf mister and you’ll see the increase in activity. If you build it… they will come!
A Gilbertson nest box was their preference, and soon 5 Bluebird eggs sat in the nest. A pair of Eastern Bluebirds who braved a harsh winter in North Georgia found their perfect nest site. It wasn’t long at all before the eggs hatched and five babies slept comfortably in the pine straw nest. I’m not sure when the eggs were laid, but the next time the box was checked it contained the cutest naked babies.
Then some trouble for our Bluebird pair 🙁 Nothing had gotten into the box or killed the babies, it’s dad who had disappeared. With babies fully feathered now and overflowing their nest, dad had been missing for two days, at this crucial fledge time too.
The next box check revealed that mom had managed to fledge all five babies, so this gave me hope for at least a partially successfully brood. I supplemented the the worms with calcium carbonate powder to help build strong bones, and doubled the number of worms being offered in the mealworm feeder.
When raising bluebirds, both parents will feed the chicks for thirty days. Even second or third broods receive help from older siblings. Super mom was on her own, and the nasty storms during their first few nights out in the world didn’t help at all. I was like the worrisome mother. Sometimes another mate is found and the new male may or may not help to care for her brood. About two weeks after fledging, a new male was spotted gorging himself at the mealworm feeder. My only hope was that some of the worms were for the babies.
Two days ago I spotted one of the babies perched on the pole above the mealworm feeder… yellow mouth wide open and screaming his little head off! It was truly a terrific site and gave me hope that more of the five are thriving.
Website Connects Pet Owners with Pet Lovers to Help End Pet Overpopulation
NORFOLK, VA – May 3, 2011 – Life challenges, such as those brought on by the recent recession, often prevent pet owners from spaying or neutering their pets. However, with the help of the FiXiT Foundation and its new initiative launching today, GetYourFix.org, pet owners in need are now able to find sponsors to fund their pets’ spay/neuter to help prevent overpopulation.
“Every eight seconds, a dog or cat is euthanized in U.S. shelters because of overpopulation,” said Kellie Heckman, executive director, FiXiT Foundation. “With GetYourFix.org, we hope to put an end to this by helping those in need. Paying it forward is a common gesture in our society. This is an opportunity to do something for the greater good, as well as save the lives of millions of animals.”
GetYourFix.org is a website where pet owners can post a need for a “fix,” and “funders,” who want to have a direct impact on ending animal overpopulation, can connect with them and sponsor their pet’s surgery. Funders can connect directly with a low cost spay/neuter clinic or veterinarian to donate the funds or have FiXiT coordinate the surgery on their behalf.
“Many pet owners have already posted profiles to GetYourFix.org and shared their stories,” said Stephanie Downs, president of the board of directors, FiXiT Foundation. “Some of them note that they saved an animal from an abusive situation or abandonment and are unable to afford spay/neuter. Others mention that they recently lost their job or moved from poor living situations. Despite their economic status or how they became a pet owner, everyone should have the opportunity to spay or neuter their pets, and GetYourFix.org provides just that.”
There are countless heartbreaking stories of pet owners who want to spay or neuter their pets, but need a little help. One profile story is of Squeaky. Her owner is a truck driver that never planned on being a pet owner, as he knew he did not have the resources, but rescued Squeaky from an abusive situation. Once spayed and housetrained, Squeaky will accompany him on his long treks. There is also the story of Mepurr Clyde, a seven-month old kitten who was adopted for his owner’s autistic son. However, Mepurr has just began spraying, and the owner is unable to afford the cost of the surgery because she recently lost her job.
“The goal of GetYourFix.org is to close the affordability gap of spay and neuter,” said Downs. “With the increasing number of mandatory spay and neuter programs, and many without funding opportunities, GetYourFix.org is a way to connect needy pet owners with sponsors to ensure that they are able to comply with these programs while providing the best possible care for their pets.”
The FiXiT Foundation launched a year ago to end euthanasia due to pet overpopulation. Recently, it implemented a spay/neuter case study on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands to test various incentive programs to entice pet owners to spay or neuter their pets.