Although hummingbirds may have shown up a few weeks earlier this year… their trip home to Central and South America will likely be on target for early fall. If the tiny sprites are present and guzzling your nectar, just wait about another month when numbers may double, or even triple!
The long journey back requires lots of energy, and nectar from feeders is an excellent source to keep hummingbirds engine’s fueled! Even when your resident birds may have already split… groups from further north and some stragglers will stop for refuge.
Last year, we were absolutely inundated with hummingbirds during the fall migration, even our cats (from inside the screened porch) went bonkers seeing and hearing all the buzzing activity! More feeders were needed fast to accommodate the passers-by, and these little glass ones fit the bill well. The Mini-Kins are Bird Brain hummingbird feeders, and sold in sets of three. Hand blown glass in vibrant colors, they’re easy to fill & clean, and two feeding ports are better than one!
Be ready to offer migrating hummingbirds fuel for their long journey home. Keep nectar fresh and hang an extra feeder or two in the next few weeks. Keep leaf misters on during the day (their favorite), and if you have birdbaths with fountains, be sure the water is clean for them as well.
Pigeons? That’s what the dictionary says, but you can bet these dream homes are more than just shelters, and not for pigeons! Chickadees, Titmice, Wrens, Nuthatches and other small cavity-nesting songbirds would be mighty pleased to call any one of the eight compartments their home. Imagine nesting and raising your young in digs like this!
And as for the human host, this fine dovecote birdhouse will grace the landscape with classic and simple elegance for many years to come. Meticulous construction ensures it!
A friend once mentioned these are “sparrow slums” as non-native House Sparrows will nest anywhere. Many folks despise them, especially Bluebird or Martin landlords, because House (or English) Sparrows destroy and decimate our native Bluebirds and Purple Martins. Mostly through competition for nest sites and territory, their behavior is brutally mean to adults, eggs, nestlings, and fledgelings. English House Sparrows? That’s probably where the “pigeons” come from too?
It’s easy to recognize a Sparrow’s nest if you’d prefer them to stay away from your dovecote birdhouses. Trash and a tunnel – yes a tunneled nest filled with a variety of grasses, straw, paper, string, and whatever else they can scavenge best describes their structure. Simply remove the nest to keep them from breeding, and repeat if they return to try again.
On the flip side, some folks have even inquired on how to keep all birds out of their new house? The structures are so pretty they don’t want birds in them at all! Bummer 🙁 Because of the vinyl construction, these houses stay looking brand new for years… and years! Simply wipe clean with a damp cloth, they’ll never need painting, and are guaranteed not to warp, split, crack, or fade – ever!
Well of course I was sans the camera when a Titmouse landed on the bracket where the hummingbird feeder hangs. Above that is a moat to keep the pesky ants at bay and out of nectar. The bird hopped down and perched on the moat, drinking, drinking and drinking again. After this incident I kept a closer watch, and noticed other small songbirds had the same idea.
It seemed strange to me because there are nine birdbaths, two misters, and one fountain around the place! Yes, it’s a job in itself taking care of everything in the yard, but when you’re a backyard bird fanatic… these things happen!
Luckily the afternoon storms have started in the Southeast, bringing rain, wonderful rain! “Crunchiness” is turning green, and plants are looking much healthier. I wish for all drought-stricken areas the rains would come. Even on Facebook, I’ve seen rain dances and rain prayers throughout the daily feeds.
Now usually when it’s hotter than Hades out there, a few drops of salad oil are added to the water inside the ant moat. This addition to the moat water helps to slow evaporation. But after discovering birds drinking from the smallest birdbath in the world… we had to nix the oil.
Be kind to birds and wildlife if your area is parched. Simply placing a shallow bowl or pan of water on the ground will make an excellent refuge for many crawly, winged, or other wild being!
Pretty smart robin… since she can’t enter the traditional fly-in mealworm feeder, she sits directly below it on the ground and waits for escaped worms to drop! Imagine my surprise when I glanced out the window and saw her with a huge mouthful of something… my worms! But she’s got nestlings to feed as well, so hey-whatever works.
Normally live worms are reserved for the bluebirds, but the heat and drought covering most of the country makes it extremely difficult on most wildlife. Actually, crickets, spiders and grasshoppers thrive in these dryer conditions, making it easier for bluebirds and other insect feeding birds. Robins on the other hand, thrive when soils are moist, making their preferred foods more abundant.
One mealworm feeder is an open dish style, that’s where the baby blues first learn to eat on their own. It takes some extra time for them to learn the fly-in feeder. These look more like houses, the worms are inside and there are several entry/exit holes. Luckily nobody else (except for Carolina Wrens) ventures into the feeder. Live worms aren’t too terribly expensive… it’s the shipping that hurts your wallet! Not only must they be shipped via overnight service, but due to high temps, they must be shipped in coolers. This adds size and weight to the delivery-bumping the price even higher. Oh… what we don’t do for our birds!
By the way, during nesting season, it is advised to add calcium if you are supplementing with live worms. Some folks use crushed eggshells, but I’ve never been successful with them. Calcium Carbonate (powder) is inexpensive, and simple to use with worms. Just shake some on the worms to lightly “dust” them prior to feeding. The calcium helps females from becoming egg-bound – eggs actually get stuck in the canal-and it’s fatal too. It also helps fledgelings grow strong bones for a better chance of survival.
It’s been a really dry, really hot summer thus far. Early July temps feel like the end of August and everything is already parched! More so than aesthetics, this brutal weather has a profound effect on wildlife, including resourceful birds.
More so than usual, roadkill has been rampant, likely many young venturing further out of normal range in search of food and water. Even wild birds do what they need to in order to keep babies fat & happy.
In all the years of backyard birding, I’ve never seen such activity at feeders in the thick of summer (other than nasty common grackles). Natural food sources have been depleted by drought and high temperatures… even the bugs that bug us at dusk are fewer than usual. Gnats and mosquitoes are not as bad, even the pesky fly may have taken a hiatus!
Because of these conditions, adult birds are taking full advantage of backyard feeders… and any kind at that! An adult cardinal was grabbing seed from a platform feeder and passing it along to his baby on the ground below. An adult thrasher was pecking through squirrel mix on the ground to feed her baby in the back along the tree line. This mama nuthatch took about fifteen trips from our window bird feeders over to the familiar tree where eggs were laid and chicks hatched. Scurrying to feed six newly fledged birds, the bird feeders containing sunflower hearts proved to be most welcome.
If you typically feed wild birds, but don’t think it’s necessary in summer… think again! Lots of babies out there with busy parents in search of food to raise their young. Please feed the birds and always, always offer a fresh water source. As simple as a pan of water, or a saucer from an old garden pot will do the trick just fine.