It’s that time of year again, when the daylight hours start to dwindle, and the southern migrations begin. Most notably, the hummingbird migration, because if you’ve been feeding the little sprites through summer… there’s no way you can miss the frenzy around feeders!
Activity around hummingbird feeders is just mad! Almost in a frantic, and desperate attempt to guard their spots, hummingbirds are buzzing like crazy, and drinking down nectar from big feeders in a matter of one to two days.
They know it’s critical to fatten up for the long journey back to Central and South America, just imagine how much fuel that takes? And summer weather has not been kind to them…or any other wildlife for that matter 🙁
The brutal temps and severe drought killed off most of the flowers and shrubs that provide nectar. This makes the trip for hummingbirds up North a bit more difficult. They’ll search for activity (other hummingbirds at feeders) as they make their way through the southern states.
Consider adding another feeder, or even two, that will increase the likelihood of more successful flights home. And if you think your hummingbirds are gone, please wait for the slow-pokes and stragglers! Some folks keep feeders out year-round, as strange sitings have revealed the migratory bird in northern states during frigid winter months.
Nectar solutions may also be increased this time of year to benefit hummingbirds. The usual ratio of 4:1 is perfect during lazy summer months, but these guys mean business now! Increase the ratio to a 3:1 solution for added calories. Three cups of water to one cup plain table sugar. If you feed commercial nectar mixes, just use about 25% less water for an added punch.
If hummingbirds graced your yard this year, chances are they’ll be back next year. Practicing “site fidelity” is another really cool thing about these fascinating birds. And hey, even if it’s just one of those little plastic inexpensive hummingbird feeders (that doesn’t much appeal to you) they will absolutely appreciate and love it right now!
Elements found in the natural world are sometimes those that create a most unique setting or focal point in the landscape. Trends even point toward man-made items using recycled materials which create a finished piece that imitates nature herself. Most common in textile design, it’s spreading to all sorts of products these days.
Of these two unique bird baths, one is wood, and one is handcrafted using 60% recycled materials. Can you tell which is which? Actually, it’s pretty amazing stuff!
The first bath is teak, and you may think: Teak? Yes, because of the durable properties, and denseness of the wood, it makes for a really cool bird bath (no pun intended). Birds bathe naturally at ground level, and this beauty, complete with non-toxic sealant, provides an excellent water source to entice feathered friends. It’s simply gorgeous in the landscape, and durable just like that high-end teak furniture we all dream of having!
Now this is the bird bath that’s hand made using mostly recycled materials, but you’d absolutely swear it was cut from a huge old tree! The shape, texture, and color all say this is a piece of tree… but it’s not!
Any ground bath may be placed on a deck for great close up views of your birds. An old tree stump is ideal for placing one too. A plant stand, or even an interesting planter all make perfect choices for supporting a ground bath.
By the way, fresh water really is the best way to attract more birds, especially with the terrible heat and drought that’s plagued most of the country this summer. Just keep water fresh… and the birds will come!
Increasing in popularity as a better option for natural insect control, bat houses have come a long way in the past few years. Because installation may be on a structure; your house or an out building on the property, as well as a tree or pole, they may remain in full view. Thus some newer styles are more detailed with an aesthetic that encourages folks to utilize them. By quitting the pesticides, your yard will see more birds, butterflies, and more flowers, and a healthier environment all the way around!
This Victorian style bat house is handcrafted in the USA of solid cypress. The shingled roof and slat-front detail are really just for us humans, while the double chamber living quarters with landing pad is attractive to bats. Expect a double-chamber model to house about 100 bats. Cypress offers a stable environment for bats by keeping ambient temperatures level or constant.
A single chamber bat house offers roosting for about twenty or so bats. This is a good way to get started to lure the beneficial furry friends to your place. This vintage style home offers a very cool design element not found with the “standard box” models. Again, handcrafted in solid cypress, it proves to be durable for many years of use.
Either of these fine bat houses would make a unique addition to the landscape. If you happen to be near a pond or creek, chances are favorable at luring occupants. For more information on bats and their benefits, visit OBC, the Organization for Bat Conservation.
With the big migration underway, it’s a hectic and busy time of year for hummingbirds! It’s not the temperatures, but rather the number of daylight hours which dictate migration. This natural occurrence, along with instinct tells the tiny sprites it’s time!
For their long journey back to Central and South America, hummingbirds will need lots of energy, and feeders are a critical source for that food. Due to extreme summer weather conditions around most of the country, many hummingbirds have become accustomed and/or dependent on them. Be sure nectar is always fresh and sans the ants!
If the water in your ant moat seems to evaporate quicker than you are filling feeders, this little trick will help slow the process. Cooking oil. Yes; corn, olive, peanut, any kid of cooking oil added to the water will greatly help slow evaporation. Just a drop or two will do it, and you’ll always be covered in the pesky ant department!
But the very best part is the vinyl/PVC construction which makes for superb quality that lasts a lifetime! You’ll find a copper roof birdhouse in square, hexagon, or octagon shapes, ranging in size from small, medium and large, to the jumbo estate size. The number of entrances depends on which birds you’d like to attract, using a single entrance for bluebirds, with eight-or 12-entrance model for martins. Of course house placement and habitat will also determine who may take up residence.
Some folks want them for the aesthetic alone, and on occasion they want to know how to keep the birds out? 🙁
The roof is available in a patina finish (shown above) or bright copper. The latter will actually stay “bright & shiny” for about fours years, at which time a coat of polish may be applied should that brand new look be desired. The copper is treated with a lacquer to keep it from weathering. Also available with no lacquer, it will turn quicker. This is appealing to some who may have an older or restored home with copper accents. If the roof is left to weather naturally, it’s more likely to match the residences’ copper accents for a more cohesive setting.
Even the finials will not rot, they’re a composite resin and promise to remain just as new as day one. Complete with the decorative brackets (also in vinyl), the birdhouses fit right on a 4×4 post. The base includes a collar, or recessed sleeve (where the brackets are attached) that allows for easy installation. All roofs lift off (no screws) for simple nest removal. A copper roof birdhouse like this will grace any landscape with a simple elegance for many years to come!
Sources all over have been telling us this past July was the hottest month on record… ever! As if we don’t know that; by the brown lawns, dying summer flowers, and shriveling leaves. Here’s an interesting article from AUDUBON WINGSPAN: ATLANTIC FLYWAY EDITION on how birds beat the heat.
As temperatures bake much of the United States and the nationwide drought continues, crops wither and fish die. But they aren’t the only ones suffering from the blazing summer. Birds are also trying to keep their cool. But they don’t sweat like humans, or even pant like dogs; instead, they have a variety of unique adaptations to help beat the heat.
In a study conducted on marsh sparrows in 2011, scientists found that bill size correlates to outside temperatures. Marsh sparrows with larger bills live in warmer climates, for example. The study noted that the tropical toucan also possesses a large bill, and has the ability to increase or decrease blood flow to its beak to either promote or prevent heat loss.
Laura Erickson of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, however, points out that the size of a bird’s bill isn’t the only factor that keeps it cool.
“In the case of the raven, the further north you go the bigger their bills are,” says Erickson. “But they need the bigger bill to chip into frozen carcasses in the winter.” Instead, some birds rely on a variety of behavioral adaptations in order to regulate their body temperatures.
Some birds, like the great blue herons that star on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s nest cam, will open up their wings on a hot day, allowing air to circulate across their bodies and sweep away the excess heat.
“We’ve watched the adults move their bodies to shade the chicks,” says Erickson. Great blue herons will also “droop” their wings in addition to opening them to protect their nestlings from the sun. But researchers can tell that the posture does more than just keep chicks cool, because the birds also do it when they’re off the nest.
These are only a couple of behaviors that birds use. When it’s hot, some species will also resort to gular fluttering. The bird will open its mouth and “flutter” its neck muscles, promoting heat loss (think of it as the avian version of panting).
“If you think about a dog panting, their tongue isn’t only allowing evaporation, but is losing a lot of body fluid,” says Erickson. “Birds are much more efficient about water and water loss.”
Even so, birds still need to replenish fluids on a hot day. Installing a birdbath can provide feathered friends with a place to cool their heels in the summer, and get a drink. The water level shouldn’t be too high—only about an inch deep—and the bottom of the birdbath shouldn’t be too slippery. Replenish the water once every two or three days. Otherwise, the stagnant water can play host to algae and mosquito larvae, which can carry the West Nile virus as adults.
Almost as important as water is shade. Temperatures can be far cooler under trees or bushes, and birds often seek out these microclimates. Since a bird’s body temperature is much higher than that of humans—a golden crowned kinglet was once found to have a body temperature of 111 degrees Fahrenheit—it’s doubly important for them to cool off in a hurry. Proteins that shuttle vital information to a bird’s organs begin to break apart at temperatures that are only slightly higher.
Climate change is expected to make droughts more frequent and extreme temperatures more common. And some bird populations are already being affected by the consequences of global warming. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that tree swallows laid their eggs up to nine days earlier because of warmer temperatures in the spring. Several populations of birds, most notably warblers, have also shifted their home ranges northward, and migration patterns are changing to accommodate the change in climate.
Together, these shifts indicate that birds are learning how to adapt to springs that feel like summers, and summers that feel like scorchers.
Ask Audubon: Do birds perspire?
Messy ground waste below feeders… yuk! It’s not a pretty site, creates an unhealthy feeding environment and may even attract some unwanted guests. The mess even deters some folks from feeding the birds all together 🙁
Couldn’t say how many calls we’ve received about feeders attracting rats to the yard… double yuk! Using a premium “no-waste” seed mix, or sunflower hearts may help to avoid the mess. It’s usually the stuff birds don’t want anyway that ends up o the ground (millet, milo and corn). Plus these fillers tend to attract some less desirable birds like crows, house sparrows and other predatory-type birds.
You can still feed the birds and avoid the ground waste using bird seed trays that work. These models are recycled plastic and made for standard one-inch poles or a 4×4 wood posts. Just place one of these fine babies below your feeder and forget the mess. They may not look so large in the photo – but they are very generously sized! Measuring 23×21, these seed trays are proudly made in the US from plastic containers at landfills. Each comes with a label telling you how many containers were used to manufacture the tray. And that’s all well & good, but these recycled materials also come with lifetime guarantees against warping, cracking, splitting or rotting. Now that’s a beautiful thing!
Each seed catcher or bird seed tray has removable screens for easy cleaning. Another cool aspect of using trays like these is new visitors are likely to check it out. The large, flat area containing spilled seed creates a second feeding spot for birds who may never perch at your feeder. Save seed, save money, feed more birds!
In four years we’ve seen three returns… and in my book that’s a beautiful thing. Happy customers are usually returning customers and nothing makes us happier! Sometimes I dread the phone call because I fear shipping and transit was a bit too rough and something broke. But today the call was an amusing repeat situation from about two years ago, and a great testament to product quality.
Mr. Dan O. in Palomar Mountain, CA., had ordered a gazebo style copper roof bird feeder, the one shown here actually. Now these are crafted in PVC/Vinyl, ensuring little to no maintenance, and many, many years of use. He proceeded to tell me he “ordered a vinyl feeder, but received a wooden one instead”. At least this time I wasn’t s so confused! “No… tap on it” I asked him. Explaining that the artist does not work with wood, I think he was convinced that the feeder was indeed vinyl. That’s part of the beauty of these copper roof bird feeders and houses – the vinyl is not “plasticy”, shiny, or cheesy-looking in the least. They actually do look like wood. By the way, the first person to let me know that his feeder was made of wood rather than vinyl, hailed from (near my home town) Cape May, New Jersey. Boy… do I miss the beach.
If you’re looking for an elegant feeder or house that will stand up to the elements while enticing feathered friends, then check out these gorgeous copper roof feeders to grace your landscape. Promo code MC10 at checkout will nab 10% off your order, and best of all… shipping is on us 🙂
Scorching temperatures and lack of rain have left most of the country in the dust-literally. For wildlife, these extended conditions prove to be daunting. It’s difficult to find food and water, and even more critical when raising young. Birds in our yard have actually been taking seed from feeders to feed fledgelings, Cardinals and Thrashers to be exact. Mother Nature’s device of “survival of the fittest” is in full swing this summer.
So as far as feeding birds in summer… why wouldn’t you? Food sources are scarce, and supplemental feeding may mean the difference between life or death for some baby birds.
This edible birdhouse provides seeds for lots of resident songbirds. If protected from the elements and squirrels, it should last a while. And even if the seed goes faster than anticipated, you’re left with a real wren house that provides a perfect nesting site for next season. The wooden house beneath the seed may be stained, painted, or left natural. During the “off-season”, the house makes for a great roosting spot too. Appropriately named the “All-Seasons Wren Casita” it makes a fantastic gift for any birder or nature enthusiast… or even for yourself!
Be kind to wildlife and offer fresh water if you’re in a drought-stricken area. A shallow bowl of water makes a swell birdbath, even a plant saucer is great. Just keep water fresh and birds will come!
The back deck is a perfect place to catch close up views of avian amigos while going about your daily routine. A glimpse out the kitchen or breakfast room window may reveal a little touch of magic that literally takes you out of that routine… if you’re lucky.
Since we never have enough time to “stop and smell the roses” – bringing them closer to home makes it easier! Bird feeder brackets are made for decks or walls, and there are lots from which to choose.
Say you don’t want a feeder and messy seeds all over the deck? No-waste seed mixes eliminate mess, or try a hummingbird feeder instead. Ants are a problem with that? Nope… ant moats will take care of pesky ants.
Forget the whole feeder idea and try a birdbath! Fresh water is the most effective way to entice more feathered friends. Using a bird feeder bracket to hang a birdbath works beautifully. There’s no fuss or mess, just keep water fresh for optimal use. And don’t forget to glance out the window every so often, as a one little bird just might bring a big smile 🙂