Mama Blue sure was busy the last few days. As of the previous nest check there were 0 eggs, but 4 today, an egg-stravaganza… like a special Easter gift!
The whole episode started with a squabble between blues and chickadees over blue bird houses and who will nest where. Not uncommon at all for birds to remove others’ nesting material and raise a ruckus, but never had we seen activity like this before. Mr. Blue not only removed the moss from the birdhouse he wanted… he placed the material in a nearby house as if to say “okay, chickadee, you nest here!” The chickadee would then retrieve the moss Mr. Blue had placed inside! This activity went on for about 20 minutes until we were the ones who actually gave up!
Their nests are completely different, so the winner of choice number one box was confirmed the next day. Chickadees use moss, hair, feathers, and maybe wood chips, while Eastern bluebirds construct their nests with mostly pine needles, dried grasses or weeds. But no eggs, and a week later… no eggs 🙁 And then today 4 perfectly colored, beautiful bluebird eggs.
Not only in the Southeast, but as far north as IL and NY, bluebirds are starting earlier than usual.
Longer days and warmer temperatures have much to do with it. Availability of insects nudged the earlier than usual nest starts too. So as long as the weather cooperates (no snow/ice storms or drenching rains) bluebirds will be lucky to have a good season, with at least two, possibly three broods. Grow strong and thrive little blues!
Happy Easter to All…
May you find bluebird eggs in your house today!
Part of the beauty of heated bird baths is their year-round use and versatility when it comes to accessories. The first day of spring with temperatures reaching into the 70’s, it’s time to tuck cords and/or remove heaters (in the Southeast anyway).
Opt for a water wiggler, bird bath fountain or mister. And above all, remember juveniles’ safety by adding a large rock or river stones for better footing and ease of exiting water quickly if necessary.
Every year around this time, we remove heaters for storage. Out of the same bin comes the good stuff! Bath drippers, leaf misters, the water wiggler and fountain… because moving water simply rocks! It stays fresher longer, prevents stagnation so mosquitoes can’t lay eggs, and birds love it!
Choices are many and you can’t go wrong unless the water level exceeds 4 inches- it’s too deep and birds can drown. Optimal depth is just 1.5 to 2.5 inches, and a bath with sloped sides is ideal for birds to just walk out.
Fountains may be solar or electric, water wigglers run on batteries, while misters and drippers run off the outdoor spigot. These actually use very little water, and butterflies adore the gentle mist as well. They simulate an avian spa with summer activity that promises to amaze! Accessories like these last year after year, making them an ideal investment for the garden and birds!
And for a few ideas from our our own habitat:
They all do… when placed correctly!
It’s just baffling to us when folks claim they can’t keep the pesky critters out of bird feeders! With about 15 different feeders at our own place, squirrels simply aren’t an issue. Yes, we feed them too and no, it’s never enough!
There’s lots of trees and lots of squirrels too- enough for a football game, but they’re relegated to their own feeders along the tree line, peanut butter slapped on a tree when it’s cold, and whatever falls on the ground from bird feeders. They may not seem too happy with the arrangement, but we are and dually so for the birds 🙂
When placing a feeder with a squirrel baffle, it’s well worth five extra minutes of time to plan your strategy. After all, it is a war, but with the right tactics… you can easily win!
One of the biggest, most important issues is the horizontal launching point! You baffle a pole so they can’t climb up, and you hang a baffle over a feeder so they can’t climb down. But none of this even matters if they can jump sideways from something to gain access. And that’s just what they’ll do, with fancy acrobatics and uber-squirrel strength… they’ll launch themselves as much as 10 feet clear over to the feeder if there’s a a good place or thing from where to jump!
Pole mounted squirrel baffles should be placed so the bottom is at least 4 ft. from the ground. If any closer, the critters won’t even bother trying to climb – they’ll jump right up, bypassing the baffle from ground level. Even when placing a feeder that uses a hanging baffle, be sure there’s a 10 ft. clearance between the feeder and any other object such as a tree, railing, wood pile, bench… anything!
Squirrels will test your patience, and they’ll have you believing they’ve won the war. But with a one-time investment in a decent squirrel baffle, and five minutes of thought, you’ll save tons of birdseed and your nerves when dealing with furry critters raiding your feeders!
It’s official… Ruby Throat Hummingbirds have landed along the panhandle and are headed your way!
For the 2016 season, reports show the tiny sprites have made their way to land in their usual spots along the Gulf of Mexico. Possibly a little early this year? It seems we’re always surprised by Mother Nature’s targeted timing, regardless of weather. They’ve journeyed far, some along land masses and some over water, but you can bet all are tired and hungry once they arrive.
Fat reserves have been depleted during migration, so they’re definitely on the hunt for immediate food sources. Luckily this winter has been kinder than previous ones, so some natural food sources may be available in the deep south. Feeders, feeders and more hummingbird feeders is what they’re seeking! Returning to most of the spots they frequented last year, hummingbirds are known for site fidelity. They come back to the same yards (summer breeding grounds) if habitat was good to them last time! Amazingly enough, even the juveniles from last season know to return to the same place.
Now’s the time to dig out feeders from storage and give them a good cleaning. Maybe even time for a new feeder if there was too much fuss over territory last year? Placing one feeder in the front and one in the back may feed more hummingbirds than two feeders within site of each other because some can be such bullies!
A few tips to make it the best season ever:
This handy self-measure pitcher lets you make perfect nectar every time without even measuring – so now there’s really no excuse! Mix and store in one container, no measuring cup, no spoon, no ratios to remember… simple as can be!
Offer nesting material that’s made especially for hummingbirds, it’s even endorsed by The Hummingbird Society. Other birds may also partake, but Hummer Helper is proven to bring more sprites to your feeders because once babies fledge, they’ll learn to feed from nectar sources.
Ants got you down? Hummingbirds get bummed out too! A really small one-time purchase will save batches of nectar from spoiling in feeders. Just one ant ruins the entire contents. They must emit something really awful?
Keep your ant moat filled with water and keep the pests at bay (because ants can’t swim). Your hummingbirds will thank you.
Welcome back little ones… so many folks are eagerly awaiting your return!