Around Halloween it’s usually a bat topic that makes an appropriate blog post. But this display found floating on a social network was just too good to pass up! It may have been hand made, because we can’t find it for sale online anywhere. How original, and if you happen to be a dog lover… it’s just awesome!
None of this has to do with birding… but it’s where I grew up.
With Sandy’s recent and vast rage on the east coast, social network’s news is more relevant… as my home town was hit hard, yes this was the storm of the century. Someone renamed Sandy (as she just sounded too friendly) to Sandra because she wasn’t so friendly… South Jersey was pummeled, especially the barrier islands.
Thankfully friends fared well with the exception of the usual inconveniences; no power, no phones, no cable, closed roads, etc. The beach appears to be on Atlantic Avenue now (yes, the monopoly game) and there’s much cleanup ahead. Large portions of the boardwalk were seen floating down the streets too. It’s rather difficult looking at photos of destruction of the place you grew up – yet alone being there through the storm. Our hearts go out to all those affected, and all the four-legged, and winged ones who suffered as well 🙁
It’s usually spring when most folks think of putting up a birdhouse, or elementary school teachers ponder projects utilizing birdhouse kits. Truth be told… now is an excellent time for a birdhouse kit project!
As days grow shorter and temperatures dip, most migratory birds are well on their way to southern wintering grounds. But the hard-core resident birds who brave harsh winters would really do best if they had a place to call home too. Installing a new house not only provides a roosting spot on cold nights, but protection from wind & rain, and from predators as well.
Fall is the time to clean out old nests and repair birdhouses if needed. These are high ticket real estate spots for birds during winter. Several birds will huddle together in a birdhouse to stay warm through body heat, and bluebirds especially have been known to do this. Finding a place to roost at night for a bird, is like crawling under your covers at bed time for you. That content, peaceful, and safe feeling you get which allows for your bodies’ rest… it’s universal, with mammals, felines, canines, and even birds! It’s plain instinct.
Another way to help birds through winter is by creating a brush pile in a corner of your yard. These piles give birds a helping hand with protection from the elements and from predators, as they can enter the cover and move about through the small spaces. Generally, larger limbs go on the bottom, with smaller branches or twigs piled on top. And the leaves… oh those messy fall leaves – save them for the brush pile! They contain insects that birds will forage on for the next few months (or until it freezes) depending on your locale. They also add cover and shelter to the brush pile.
Of course heated birdbaths and stocked feeders will keep resident birds at your residence through the coldest weather if the sources are consistent. Home made suet is fairly easy to make and inexpensive, and a real favorite for most birds during cold weather. But the main thing is to put up the vacancy sign, and let birds know they’ve got some swell roosting spots at your place. Fun birdhouse kits are a great way to do that!
By the way, the kit shown above requires no nails or glue. The panels slide together like a puzzle, and it can be stained or painted any way you like. Hey, camouflage is a pretty popular pattern in nature!
Please help house the birds!
Who doesn’t like cool stuff, and why would you be here unless you’re into birds? We really love backyard birding, almost fanatical about it! But the cool stuff has to work… for the birds. Be it nesting in spring, roosting at night, trouble-free feeders, misters that don’t leak, or solid heaters for baths in winter… it has to work well!
Our website, The Birdhouse Chick, affords us this really neat aspect: to live vicariously through buying and product sourcing. But when combined with a fanatical birding hobby, this can be dangerous! We’re sort of known for unique birdhouses, and I promise… the sources are wide and varied! Working with smaller companies and individual artisans, we’ve met some great folks along the way too.
Some of the prerequisites for new items are; Would we use it, is the quality there, and is it good for the birds? The useability just has to be there, real stuff versus fluff. All bird houses must have clean-outs, drainage, ventilation, proportional entrance and floor space, ample distance from entrance to floor, and it still has to be cool enough to want one in our own yard! But uniqueness may at times override functionality, and that’s not good for birds. Twenty five years of experience certainly helps, but who are we to say? If it’s questionable, then it’s likely not a good fit for the website.
One local artist crafts some pretty cool houses and feeders. The boathouse shown here has been a staple for the past few years because it’s unique and totally functional. While picking up some more the other day, Frank’s new creation had been erected in front of his shop (photo above). I liked it immediately, but started thinking about the feeder placement between nest boxes. Hmmmm, how safe is that for nestlings? Might this design attract dreaded starlings or house sparrows? They’re a major threat to most songbirds. One could always omit the birdseed, but then what’s the point? See what I mean… fanatical!
We were all birding beginners at one time or another, and like all things, learning comes from experience or research. But we also want to entice more people to the exciting hobby of birding, for themselves and the birds. Thus the continuous search for unique birdhouses and feeders that are fun and functional. So the jury’s still out on that feeder/house combo, but it sure is cool!
Would you file this one under hopper feeders? Because it’s definitely not a tube style, nor a platform (although it does have one). Do you think birds know about “thinking outside of the box”? They must have some clue, because instead of eating downward in natural fashion, they eat upward with this feeder. Huh? That’s what we first thought too… until we saw it in action!
The All-Weather Feeders are truly an innovation in wild bird feeding. These hopper bird feeders absolutely keep seed dry in the most horrid conditions, and only dispense seed that’s required at a particular time – for that particular bird. Ten seed ports installed on the underside of the big hopper are totally protected from the elements… even sideways rain! Birds use the tray to land and perch, while feeding from above, allowing you full view of all feeding birds. The tray is also useful for acclimating birds while the feeder is still new to them. Additional treats (like shelled peanuts or suet chunks) may also be used on the tray itself to further entice feathered friends.
Available in four or six-quart capacity, the All-Weather Feeder offers an optional pole mount attachment too. Black oil sunflower or a safflower/sunflower mix tends to work best. The seed ports are too small for striped sunflower seed. Made of sturdy polycarbonate that won’t yellow over time, the feeder also comes with a full ten year guarantee against breakage.
No more cleaning out wet seed after rain and snow (when birds depend most on a constant food source). 100% weather-proof feeder keeps seed dry and available at all times, no matter the weather! Truly an innovation in wild bird feeding, it just goes to show that all hopper bird feeders are not created equal!
Dubbed “the Gilbertson Nest Box” it might just resemble a coffee can at first glimpse. The shape is definitely similar, although the birch appearance is much more aesthetic. Actually, there’s a lot more to these bluebird houses than meets the eye!
Not only North American Bluebird Society (NABBS) Approved, these unique style houses are bluebird-approved too… big time! The birch-like log is PVC, so it outlasts most wooden boxes. Painted darker on the inside, it must resemble a natural nest cavity for bluebirds? The overhang roof helps thwart some predators, and the elements. A good 6-inch depth from entrance to floor helps protect nestlings from bully bird attacks. And, they’ve got to be some of the easiest birdhouses to install too. Half-inch conduit fits right in the hole on the back portion of the roof. Placing 8-10 inches in the ground keeps these light-weight bluebird houses sturdy.
A baffle is suggested to further protect nestlings from ground predators, and one can be made fairly easily and inexpensively too. We did one from 4-inch diameter PVC pipe. An end cap is needed, along with a radiator or hose clamp on the pole to secure the baffle. Some hunter green spray paint makes it not only effective, but good looking as well.
The same kind of baffle may be constructed using stove pipe, and likely for even less cost. The important thing is that it wobbles (making it harder for critters to climb) and the length should be at least three feet.
Ok, back to the bluebird house: If you’re one who monitors the progress from egg-laying through hatching, and fledging, the Gilbertson is a tad different. After the first few times you get the hang of it and it’s actually fun to be able to look down and see everyone in full view. (But don’t do this too close to fledge time, you could cause a premature take-off). A simple squeeze between thumb and forefinger with both hands (right below the roof) elongates the PVC, and the house pops right off the two screw heads that securely hold it in place. Sounds weird? Maybe… but it’s pretty ingenious!
Of all the bluebird houses around our property, the Gilbertson, for some reason is the first to see nest building activity each spring. This past season, it hosted three successful broods and 16 fledgelings! Pretty good for one little coffee-can looking nest box! So these bluebird houses are not only NABBS Approved… they’re definitely bluebird approved too!
P.S. Fall is the perfect time to install birdhouses! Even though it will be months before anyone begins to nest, places for roosting are equally important for resident birds. We do see some snow and frigid winters here in North Georgia, but bluebirds still stick around if the habitat is suitable. We find that heated baths, daily mealworms, and roosting spots keep them fat and happy around our place 🙂
When it comes to housing the birds, just about anything’s possible… as long as it’s a proper nest site. This would include ventilation, drainage, clean-out, adequate floor space, and a decent distance from the entry to the floor in order to protect nestlings. Since one of the most popular trends these days is recycling, the three R’s; recycle, reduce and reuse have spawned some of the most unique and unusual decorative birdhouses.
This Mechanic-Inspired A-frame is handcrafted from barn wood and tin, featuring a genuine spark plug perch, old tools, and a metal predator guard made from… I’m not sure what? But it keeps squirrels and others from enlarging the entrance! Using vintage finds for accents can create wonderful conversation pieces, plus swell nesting spots for feathered friends.
This large, triple compartment church birdhouse is also handcrafted of old barn wood and tin. The vintage iron cross is rich with texture, while the roof lines and windows provide nice detail, it’s even signed by the artist (Jim and Vickie Smith) for 2012. Although it may only host one brood at a time during nesting season, you can bet all compartments will be occupied by resident songbirds on a cold winter night! Even during the off-season, decorative birdhouses are put to good use. They really do make for great roosting spots. Some birds will line their roosts with nest material, while others prefer a bare floor and just gathering for warmth through body heat.
As natural nest cavities slowly disappear with every tree that’s cut down, you can help house the birds in any style that tickles your fancy. From rustic or whimsical, to mod and futuristic, there’s a decorative birdhouse out there for you… and your avian amigos!