Identifying Birds – Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is one of the world’s most stunning woodpeckers. Big, bold and beautiful, a sighting of this bird excites most all birders. In my part of the country we have a very strong and healthy population. This is due to the vast forest areas within the region that are required to hold such a magnificent creature. Regions of the country that have received heavy deforestation find their populations to be very low or nonexistent. Pileated is pronounced either “pahy-lee-ey-tid” or “pil-ee-ey-tid”. The former is the more correct version but the latter is the most used. Both are readily accepted and I use the latter.

Pileated Woodpeckers are very easy to recognize due to their size. If you live in the eastern half of the US, the central latitude of Canada or the Pacific Northwest and see a VERY large woodpecker with a red head, it is positively a Pileated Woodpecker. Its overall length is 16 to 19 inches and has a wingspan pushing 30 inches. The body of the bird is predominantly black as well as the wings when tucked. In flight, the wings have a very distinct white underside and can be seen at great distances. The neck and head of both males and females are striped black and white and each has the very noticeable red head plume or pileus. The males plume will cover his head from the base of the bill to the backside of the head. The female’s red head begins at the very top of the head and continues rearward to the backside. The male has a dominant red stripe, often referred to as “his mustache,” which runs along the side of his head in a continuing line of the bill rearward ending at the throat. Juveniles appear similar to the adults.

The most easily recognized voice of a Pileated starts out with long spaced “kuks” that gradually reduce their spacing as the pitch increases into one long vibrato. Normally, I’ve noticed they repeat their call once or twice, rest for a few minutes and start again. In flight, their call rings loudly and can often times be more harsh in nature. If you hear a woodpecker drumming very loudly in the spring, it is probably a Pileated. This is their mating call and can be heard from great distances. They peck at a hollowed tree that resonates like a big drum. They may also rap on metal power line poles, highway signs or other items that ring loud and long. Once again, the more devoid your area is of natural forests, the more likely your Pileated will use unnatural objects.

The Pileated Woodpecker is the king of the woodpeckers in the United States and Canada. If you have not had the opportunity to view this awesome creature, it is well worth your effort and time to find them. Contact your local Department of Natural Resources and ask them for more information regarding this bird’s population locally. You might find they are only a few miles away from your home.

 

Peter Hurley has been an active nature lover and wildlife enthusiast his entire life and is the owner of The Hurley-Byrd Bird Feeder Co. His vast experience with all things nature has led him to produce some of the finest bird, deer and wildlife feeders in the world.

Visit http://www.HurleyByrd.com/SuetFeeders.html for more information regarding Woodpeckers and the enjoyable way of feeding these beautiful birds. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to visit Hurley-Byrd’s site and write Mr. Hurley directly. You are also welcome to view more beautiful photos of various wildlife throughout the site at http://www.HurleyByrd.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Attracting Mourning Doves to Bird Feeders – Which Feeder is Best?

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves

Attracting Mourning Doves, sometimes called just Doves or Rock Pigeons, etc…, is an easy activity. Doves are year round residents throughout most of the US and summer in southern Canada as well. It is a popular bird found at most feeding stations, typically in small flocks. Getting doves to feed at a station is simple and they are regulars at most all. Getting them to feed FROM a feeder is another story though. Not that they won’t use a feeder but their size typically restricts them from landing on or even setting on one.

We are asked two questions here regarding doves. First is: “How do I deter doves from my yard?” I personal love the doves and cannot figure out why people don’t want them and that’s a whole different article. The other, and more popular question, is: “How do I attract the mourning dove?” Doves are a natural ground feeding bird. Watch them for a short while and you will see they are rather content milling around on the ground picking up whatever gets kicked from your feeders. After talking to a customer for a few minutes, we find that most people are actually asking us how to get doves ON a feeder or what is the best feeder for a dove? That’s a different story all together.

Doves are a large and clumsy bird. Having one land on your feeder is like having a jumbo jet land on a sea going aircraft carrier. Matter of fact, each scenario looks similar to one another in their landing patterns. Like an airplane, a dove tends to glide into a feeder wavering left and right, up and down. So, if you desire the idea of having doves ON your feeders, you will need large feeders. Our largest feeder is actually named the Mourning Dove Series and for good reason. It’s BIG in all ways. The extra room provided by a large hopper feeder or a medium to large fly-through will provide enough room for a dove to navigate its way onto one. We also offer what is known as a seed catcher tray. It’s a large flat platform feeder that is designed to set underneath pole mounted feeders and adds a great deal or “real estate” to any feeding station.

If you seriously want doves to feed from your feeder, I recommend setting up a medium to large fly-through feeder. It allows for a good quantity of seed and gives the doves plenty of landing room. If you desire a hopper style feeder, pick the largest one your budget will allow and look for a feeder with a base platform having extra room around the hopper. The more area you offer the dove, the more successful it will be in landing. Adding a seed catcher tray will positively contribute to your success rate due to its oversized “landing pad.” Once your doves are upon the feeder, they will be more than happy to hang around for long periods of time.

One other thing. When you set up a dove feeder, set up a pole or post mounted one. Hanging feeders tend to swing in the breeze and make a difficult landing situation for the bird, especially a hopper style feeder since the landing area is much smaller. A hanging feeder will also swing more wildly when the large and heavy bird makes its landing.

Feeding mourning doves will add a great deal of joy to your birding world. They typically stay around for long periods of time allowing you to enjoy them more than most other birds. They will still feed from the ground no matter what you do. So in effect, they will be acting as little house cleaners too. The less seed on the ground, the less you have to pick up. I highly recommend catering to this great bird and in doing so, you will be reward with countless hours of enjoyment from their subtle beauty and easy going, calm mannerisms.

 

Peter Hurley has been an active nature lover and wildlife enthusiast his entire life and is the owner of The Hurley-Byrd Bird Feeder Co. His vast experience with nature and wildlife has led his company to produce some of the finest bird, deer and wildlife feeders in the world.

Visit http://www.hurleybyrd.com/MourningDoveBirdFeeder.html for more information regarding the Mourning Dove and the enjoyable way of feeding this calm and beautiful bird. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to visit Hurley-Byrd’s site and write Mr. Hurley directly. You are also welcome to view some beautiful photos of birds, deer and other creatures at http://www.hurleybyrd.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Bird Feeders of Large Capacity – Selecting the Right One

Eastern Goldfinch at Feeder

Eastern Goldfinch at Feeder

We receive a substantial number of requests for bird feeders with large capacities of seed and for good reason. People now live very active lives and bird populations are at a healthy level. Feeders holding a lot of seed can last several days without refilling and have become very popular. Matter of fact, our best selling line of feeder is our largest capacity feeders. Yet each model has varied seed quantities and capabilities with the smallest holding ten pounds of feed and the largest thirty. Due to their varied designs though, each produce different results to meet the needs of most birders.

When looking to purchase a large feeder, first ask yourself what you really need. Is this your first large feeder? What are your actual feeding needs? What birds do you wish to attract? Also, and very important, where will you set it up and do you have the capability of doing so correctly?

If you are erecting a large feeder for the first time because you have a single hanging feeder in a tree, you may not need as large a feeder as can be purchased. For our customers in this category, we steer them to our “smallest” large feeder for one simple reason, they probably do not have the bird population to consume the feed fast enough. Seed that sets in a feeder too long may become stale, rot or begin to sprout. Rain, melting snow and even humidity can affect seed in a negative way and once it goes bad, your birds will not eat it.

The next question to ask yourself is what are your actual feeding needs? If you are home daily or throughout the day a smaller sized feeder will be fine. If you travel for work or are away for extended periods of time, a larger feeder may be needed to keep your birds well fed. If the bird populations are low or high a feeder to meet this population is the best choice.

One of the most important questions to ask yourself is what are your actual feeding needs and what birds do I wish to attract? If you already have a healthy population of feeding birds, going big on a feeder is a natural and correct step to take. But, not all big feeders are designed the same. To the casual observer, our line of large feeders look pretty much alike but this is absolutely not the fact. Keep in mind, even a large feeder can accommodate or discourage larger birds. Our most popular large feeder is one that has an ample feed platform allowing the larger, clumsier birds to land and feed in relative comfort. When you look closely at our largest capacity feeders, you would notice the feeding area around the base is the smallest of all since it needs to accommodate an overly large hopper. This is good if you wish discourage the largest birds like Blue Jays and Mourning Doves and attract more small birds such as Chickadees and Cardinals. But, if you desire a feeder to feed everyone, a more open feeding area surrounding the hopper is a better choice. An excellent question to ask of any large feeder is; what birds does this feeder cater to?

Lastly, and of great importance, where will the new feeder be set up and are you capable of doing so correctly? A huge feeder needs an appropriate location in order to garner as much enjoyment as possible from the investment. Big feeders are designed to be the pinnacle feeder of the yard and need an appropriate location with an excellent, open view. Since these feeders receive tremendous traffic, a substantial number of birds tend to congregate in the nearest cover. The view should be as open as possible to include bushes, hedges, brambles and other vegetative locations allowing you to watch your birds as they peacefully rest or interaction with one another.

As feeders get bigger, they need very stable posts for mounting. In the case of our largest feeder, with an unreasonable amount of wet heavy snow, the whole set up can weigh over 135 pounds. This feeder weighs 20 pounds, holds 30 pounds of seed and its roof is capable of loading up on 85 pounds of frozen snow and ice producing a seriously top heavy feeder. To compound this issue further, bring on some gale force winds to test the supporting post plus the ground its set into. An incorrectly set post can possibly topple over with great force doing damage to anything in its way and probably damaging the feeder at the same time. Keep these thoughts in mind when purchasing and setting up a new feeder for the first time and do not short cut the supporting structure.

With all that said, there is no other feeding station as enjoyable as a large pinnacle feeder. They receive great amounts of bird traffic and typically are a flurry of action from morning to night. All this wonderful activity at your feeder tends to attract even more birds and does so from a great distance. Birds feed by sight and the more birding action you have, the more you will receive. Setting up a large feeder is truly an investment in your love of nature and we encourage you to take the time to pick the right feeder for your feeding station. Ask lots of questions and a good reputable company will guide you in the right choice.

 

Peter Hurley has been an active nature lover and wildlife enthusiast his entire life and is the owner of The Hurley-Byrd Bird Feeder Co. His vast experience with wildlife has led his company to produce some of the finest bird, deer and wildlife feeders in the world. Visit http://www.HurleyByrd.com/MourningDoveBirdFeeder.html for more detailed information regarding the correct choice of large bird feeders and other unique, enjoyable ways of feeding your wildlife. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to visit Hurley-Byrd’s site at http://www.HurleyByrd.com and write Mr. Hurley directly. You are also welcome to view some beautiful bird, deer and wildlife photos placed throughout the site.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Grease Balls for the Birds: Feeding Birds in Winter

Blue tit feeding in winter

Blue tit feeding in winter

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere then you will know by now that winter is only a stone’s throw away. That means freezing cold days and nights, ice, frost and in some cases lots of snow. Once winter does arrive and you are cosy and warm in the house do you ever consider the animals and birds that live, eat and sleep outside? Well you should and in particular the wild birds that fly in and around the garden all year-round.

Do you feed the birds in winter? If you do, and I know many of you do, do you make your own grease balls? Well, making your own bird feed for garden birds is a great idea as you can add whatever seeds including flower seeds you have spare, nuts and other ingredients you like then mix them all together. But to get the ingredients to stick together what do you use? Well read on for my tips on making greaseballs which will keep those wild birds fed all winter long, and it won’t really cost you that much.

What to Feed Wild Birds

These are just some of the ingredients you can use when making the perfect snack in winter for your feathered friends. I use all these and usually all at once but the choice is yours, use whatever you have lying around. Another tip is to save things all year-round. Seeds and nuts will keep so will muesli and oats provided they are kept in an air tight container and somewhere dark and cool. These ingredients alone would guarantee to attract wild birds in winter.

  • Bird seed
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Dry bread
  • Biscuits
  • Muesli
  • Old cooking oil
  • Oats. A similar alternative is porridge oats
  • Cornflakes

Old cooking oil I hear you say? Well yes. If you have a chip pan or deep fat fryer when you clean them out save the oil. I have a large 10 litre drum which I pour old oil into it and then keep it outside near the door. Leave it out there with a lid on until wintertime them use it for the balls. It saves on using fat, margarine or other things to get your grease balls to stick, and you are recycling at the same time.

Other Utensils to Consider

  • Old mixing bowl
  • Old mixing spoon
  • Rubber or surgical gloves

It’s True, it’s True

Yes it’s true, the wild birds around where I live are better fed than me in winter! No wonder there are hundreds all lining up in the morning waiting for their breakfast!

Method

  • Take the corn flakes, oats and muesli and crush into powder or tiny pieces. As a guide I try to get the oats looking like ready brek.
  • Take the bread and break up into small pieces. If I have a lump of bread I will grate it with a cheese grater.
  • Crush the biscuits then add everything including the seeds into a large mixing bowl. It’s best to use an old one you no longer use or go to a cheap shop and buy a cheap one for that purpose.
  • Mix the ingredients together and slowly add the cooking oil until the ingredients stick together.

Now comes the sticky part and that’s why you should wear gloves.

  • Take a lump of the mixture and squeeze together into a ball. If it sticks when you open your hand then it’s ok, if it falls apart keep mixing and add a little more oil. You want it so everything sticks together without being soaked.
  • Once you are happy with the consistency make a ball and put inside the netting then secure. You can use all sorts to secure the netting including electrical ties, bread stoppers, or an old coat hanger like I use.

Save for a Winters Day

As for the netting to put the grease balls in do you save them once they are empty? Again I do and reuse them. I also save the netting that you get fruit and vegetables in at the supermarket solely for this purpose, just make sure the holes in the net are not too small or large. To put them on the tree I use an old coat hanger which is bent at both ends. Just thread one end through the netting then the other end hooks on a tree branch.

And there you have it. Feeding birds in winter with homemade grease balls for all the wild birds will cost you less than you think. Once they are outside and the resident wild birds tell their friends there’s food in your garden you will see a huge increase of birds all clambering for a tasty morsel. These are excellent and easy bird feeders kids can make so why not get them involved too? It’s a great way of introducing them to the wildlife around them.

 

About Wayne Anthony

Wayne Anthony has been writing for a number of years and in that time written about lots of different subjects including health, relationships, gardening, technology and environmental being a few. He is also the author of 2 e-books The Easter Book and The Frugal Gardener. Both are available from his website. Click here for a copy or more details about any writing services you may require.

Wayne ia also passionate about the planet, the environment around us, frugal living and gardening so has started a small blog here

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

6 Easy Ways to Help Wild Birds Survive Extreme Winter Weather

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

1. Keep your feeders well stocked, especially first thing in the morning. After a long, cold night, your backyard birds need high-energy foods like black oil sunflower seeds, quality suet, peanuts and peanut butter.

Cardinal in winter

Cardinal in winter

2. Make sure your bird feeders are clear of snow and ice. After a heavy snow, my feeders are covered and need to be cleaned in order for my birds to access their seeds and suet. I like to do this early in the morning so they are assured of a warming breakfast!

Blue Jay & Starling

Blue Jay & Starling

3. Purchase an inexpensive bird bath heater at your local garden center or online. Hook it up to a UL listed and approved outdoor extension cord, place it in your bird bath or in a shallow water trough, and you will please flocks of thirsty birds all winter long. I cover my heater with a flat stone, just because it looks more natural to the birds than a shiny metal object. But you don’t need to; the low voltage and protective coil cover keep birds safe.

Wooden birdhouse4. Install roosting boxes where birds can huddle together at night. These should have internal perches or open mesh attached to the walls to which birds can cling as they sleep. The roost boxes should also have a removable clean out to get rid of debris and droppings on a regular basis. I use wood shavings and saw dust in mine, which make it much easier to clean.

Robin5. Build a brush pile which your feathered visitors can use for shelter and food sources, especially during blizzard conditions. Start with a layer of dry leaves, and add larger trunks of small trees and saplings in a crisscross fashion, which will leave pockets where birds can hunt for tiny insects, and stay warm. Add more to the pile as branches fall and collect around your yard. If you have evergreens, they can be added to the top of the pile as a ‘roof’.

Goldcrest

Goldcrest

6. Plant conifers! These types of non-deciduous trees are perfect all around habitats for your birds. Check local growers and nurseries for native species that will easily acclimate and flourish in your area. Various fir, pine and evergreen trees and shrubs provide food, shelter, nesting places and hiding areas from predators. Their dense habits make them ideal for winter survival refuges your backyard wild birds will surely appreciate.

While it is true that wild birds have adapted physically to handle winter storms and cold temperatures, humans can still make a huge difference in their survival rates. And who doesn’t want more colorful, happy singing birds to brighten their days?

 

Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive.

Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape.

Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Join the fun and visit today!

http://grandmapearlsbackporch.blogspot.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Setting Up a Basic Backyard Bird Feeding Station

Feeding American Goldfinches

Feeding American Goldfinches

Wouldn’t it be fun to build a great place for your little feathered friends to eat, drink and be merry? It’s not hard to do, but it does require a time commitment: a weekend or so, depending upon how much of that weekend you can devote to this cool project, and some basic supplies and equipment. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Tube-style Sunflower Bird Feeder
  • Tube-style Thistle Seed Bird Feeder
  • Platform, Gazebo or Hanging Tray Bird Feeder
  • Multiple Arm Bird Feeder Pole
  • Bird Bath or Shallow Bowl for Fresh Water
  • Torpedo or Cone Baffle to Discourage Raccoons and Squirrels
  • Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
  • Thistle Seeds
  • Shovel or Post Hole Digger
  • Quick Drying Cement and Water
  • Small Level
  • Pole Sleeve (optional)

1. Start by deciding where to place your feeders. Locate the pole no closer than 5 feet away from shrubs or small trees and overhanging limbs to prevent squirrels from launching themselves onto your feeders from nearby branches. If it’s possible, locate your feeding station so that you can see it from the comfort of your home.

Important: Birds see only the reflection of trees, grass, bushes and sky, but not the glass itself. A good way to avoid window collisions is to install feeder poles 3 feet or 30 feet away from glass. At 3 feet your birds can’t gather enough speed to do them harm should they hit the window or glass door. That has been a solution I use, and it really does work.

2. Use a post hole digger or shovel and make a hole about 18″ to 24″ deep. If you wish, you can insert a sleeve in the ground so the pole can be removed when you mow. Remember that your pole should be tall enough so that you can hang feeders 5 to 6 feet off the ground. Back fill with dirt and tamp down.

Permanent installation requires adding cement and water to the hole after making sure everything is straight up and down, as well as side to side using a small level. Follow directions on the cement bag.

3. Now add a bird bath or water bowl, but placing it near your feeders is a mistake. Seed hulls, bird droppings and feathers end up in the water, making it unfit for them to use. Instead, your bird bath should be located near a hedgerow or bushes where they can find an easy escape; or perch, preen and dry off.

4. Once the cement is dry you can fill and hang your feeders. Fill your bird bath and get ready to enjoy visits from wild birds like cardinals, finches, blue jays, orioles and grosbeaks.

Be patient. It sometimes takes a few days to a few weeks for birds to find and use the new feeding station. They will be cautious at first, and they will watch to make sure no predators are in the area. If you are lucky, friendly adventurous chickadees will investigate, then other birds will quickly follow!

 

Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive.

Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape.

Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Join the fun and visit today!

http://grandmapearlsbackporch.blogspot.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Make a Fun and Easy Birding Journal

bird watchingBirds are so much fun to study and photograph. That’s why I have started a birding journal or scrapbook. In addition to identifying returning migratory birds, I can add pictures of my overwintering avian friends as well. I love to see and record the transition from their winter coats to their spring and summer frocks!

A bird journal will help you to keep track of when your spring visitors arrive. That way you know when to add a favorite food to your bird feeders. That’s how I will attempt to entice bluebirds to nest in one of my bird houses this year. I noted their arrival last year and recorded it in my bird journal, so this year I know just when to offer their favorite treat-mealworms.

I purchased my inexpensive blank journal at the local craft store. They can also be found at office supply and discount stores. It is a 6″ x 6″ mini scrapbook, and the smaller size is just right to carry with me on hikes, or on vacation, or just anywhere I go. There are plenty of pages where I can add photos as well as record the date, time of day, temperature and weather conditions, number of birds spotted, and where. It is customizable in that there is a place for a picture and title on the cover, which is accessible from the inside front of the book. It is also a refillable book, allowing me to purchase and add more pages as I need them.

Don’t fret if you don’t always have a camera handy. Many times I don’t. In that case, I just write down as many details as I can about the bird’s color, size, identity (if I know it), and field markings like wing patches, leg and beak color, etc. I also note if the feathered visitor was foraging on the ground, perched in a tree, eating at the bird feeders, seen in the park, or spotted as it soared over a field, etc.

Since I love feathers and all their colors, I collect them and add them to my mini scrapbook pages. I find what bird shed them by checking out my field guide. The guide helps me to learn a lot more about the birds I have seen. I can record an interesting fact or unusual behavior I have learned in my journal/scrapbook, too.

My other favorite ‘bird thing’ is nests. They come in all sizes and consist of differing materials, depending upon the bird that built them. So, if I come across an old nest, I take a photo and describe the materials that were used. It’s great fun when I can actually see and identify the birds that occupy a nest.

If it is possible to see what the eggs or nestlings look like without disturbing the nest or its inhabitants, I make a note of what I see in as much detail as possible. Snapping a quick photo is ideal, but only if it causes no stress to the baby birds or the adults caring for them.

Your personal observations can be an important source of enlightenment for anyone who is fortunate enough to open your bird journal at some point in time. It’s a sad fact that over the last 40 years, some of our wonderful songbirds have declined as much as 60%. Your scrapbook will be a legacy to future generations who may never have the chance to see these birds in person.

Birds surround us on a daily basis. Their songs most often are the background music to our days, even though we are sometimes too busy to really hear them. But if you take a little time out of your busy schedule to make room for the wild birds, it will change your whole outlook!

Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive.

Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape.

Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Join the fun and visit today!

http://grandmapearlsbackporch.blogspot.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

The Amazing Bird-Bug-Tree Triangle

blue titWild birds have evolved to become dependent upon beetles, spiders, moths and other bugs and caterpillars for their very survival. In turn, trees depend upon the birds to help keep them free from insect damage and infestations for their continued existence.

What birds use the insects on trees as a food source? Woodpeckers of all kinds, nuthatches, grosbeaks, orioles, flycatchers, warblers, thrushes, thrashers, chickadees, blackbirds, starlings, bluebirds, cowbirds, grackles, kingbirds, ovenbirds and cardinals to name a few.

Some birds switch up from season to season. For instance, nuthatches eat mostly insects in summer, but then during the wintertime depend on seeds as their main food source. That’s why they are frequent visitors at bird feeders when weather turns cold and insects are less abundant.

Birds can still find bugs ‘wintering over’ and hiding under tree bark and inside the dead heads of weeds and flowers during the coldest part of the year. That’s why it’s important to let old flower and weed stalks remain standing all winter long. Spring is time enough to get rid of them. In the meantime, lots of winter birds can supplement their seed-based diet with essential protein from ‘freeze-dried’ bugs!

What parts of the tree do they scour? Leaves, buds, bark, and branches. The antics of acrobatic chickadees and other birds are amusing to witness as they go about doing whatever it takes to get at those bugs. Other feathered wonders such as juncos and American robins, search under leaves to find the insects that lived in those same leaves in the tree canopy, and have now found themselves on the ground. Keeping the natural balance, while preventing a possible insect population explosion, is one of the best jobs our wild birds can do for trees.

What insects do birds look for? All stages of insects are fair game, from larvae to adults. The damage insects inflict on our trees runs the gamut from minor defoliation to extreme internal structural harm, which can result in the death of the tree. Sometimes bugs do become more abundant than at other times. When that happens, the birds respond by multiplying at a higher rate than average. Lots of food means more baby birds!

Meanwhile, trees have their own defense mechanism when insects do irreversible damage to them. When birds can’t control a major bug infestation, the host tree sends out a chemical signal that travels through the tree roots into the soil and on to the next tree in line. The chemical alert triggers another substance that reacts against the invasion, so when a tree dies, it hasn’t died in vain.

Adults as well as baby birds benefit from the protein, moisture, fats and nutrients present in bugs. Without trees, our world would be dry desert; without bugs there would be no birds; without birds, there would be no trees. Thankfully, we are blessed with birds that maintain the bird, bug, tree triangle!

Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive.

Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape.

Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Join the fun and visit today!

http://grandmapearlsbackporch.blogspot.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Why Are Birds Not Using My Feeders?

Bird feeder at sunsetYou set up your feeding station hoping to attract all kinds of backyard birds. You spent time and money looking for and buying their favorite bird seeds, and still they have not come to your yard! What’s up with that?

Or, you have been feeding birds all winter and all of a sudden they have disappeared, leaving you scratching your head and wondering what you did wrong. If the birds have abandoned your yard in the late spring to early summer, chances are they are seeking cooler, shadier habitats where they can find lots of flying and crawling insects.

Another probability is that the adult birds are molting. That is the process of shedding old worn out feathers which are replaced by brand new ones. While that is taking place their wings are not as strong, which makes them more vulnerable to predators. Birds must seek places where they can hide out safely until the replacement feathers have completely ‘grown in’.

Occasionally I have seen blue jays and chickadees that look mighty shabby. Because I live in dense woods, I suspect their hunger has urged them to venture to my nearby feeders for a quick seed snack.

There are plenty of other reasons why your birds may have stopped paying visits, or have not yet even started to favor your yard and gardens with their presence. Here is a checklist of more possible causes for birds to be absent from your feeders.

• Are your seeds wet or moldy?

• Is it early spring when adult birds are busy laying eggs and feeding their young?

• Have you noticed raptors like hawks, falcons, eagles, owls or merlins perched in the trees near your feeding station?

• Did you place your feeder out in the middle of the yard or garden with no nearby cover for birds to escape from predators?

• Do you have feral or domestic cats that routinely roam in your neighborhood?

• Are you using a cheap bird seed mix that contains little or no black oil sunflower seed?

• Do you have lawn ornaments like whirligigs or spinners that might scare birds away with unpredictable movements?

• Is your yard, or that of your neighbors, frequently filled with lots of people, parties and loud music?

Seeds that have spoiled from being exposed to rain or snow is probably the number one reason for birds not using your feeders. Even if they did eat them, they would likely become very sick and possibly die. It doesn’t take much toxic bacteria to kill a small bird. Scrape away all old seeds, and then use a dilute solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water to thoroughly clean your feeders. Rinse and dry completely before refilling.

As a matter of survival, birds are nervous and can be easily spooked by sudden movements, loud music and anything that might keep them from feeling safe and comfortable. This is true especially if they are considering raising a family nearby.

Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive.

Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape.

Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Join the fun and visit today!

http://grandmapearlsbackporch.blogspot.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com

Wild Birds and Squirrels: Pals Out of Necessity

light autumnThere’s a definite symbiosis between these two totally different species. Squirrels are land and tree based animals that thrive in forest, urban and suburban settings containing food trees like pines, oaks and walnuts. They are world-class acrobats with a talent for climbing trees and branches with dexterity and dispatch.  On the other hand, birds are mostly sky pilots, but they can be found on the ground at times. The ground is a very dangerous place for a little bird to be. That’s where our furry friends come in. Squirrels are highly perceptive of the slightest changes in smells, movement and sounds in their environments. Birds rely on their tree-climbing friends to keep them informed of dangerous situations before they become deadly.

And then you have keen-eyed birds that know when a flying predator is near. If you’ve ever seen birds at the feeder suddenly fly off in all directions and remain hidden for some time, then you may have witnessed a hawk hunting nearby without even realizing it! The squirrels pick up on this rapid bird disappearance because they are just as vulnerable from the sky as from the ground.

Animals that prey on squirrels include hawks as well as coyotes, weasels, mink, foxes, wild dogs and feral cats. The same predators find birds very tasty as well. It behooves the birds and squirrels to ‘watch each other’s backs’ so to speak; survival depends upon this partnership.

Birds tend to be messy eaters. They scatter uneaten birdseed hither and yon. But nature doesn’t waste food. You may often see squirrels and ground-feeding birds side by side under your feeders. Rarely have I seen one chase off another. If I were a bird, I wouldn’t want to offend my bodyguard, and vice versa!

Take a look up into the trees on a late autumn or winter day. You’ll see the remnants of squirrel nests, which are made out of leaves. They tend to build these nests several times during the year. But once the cold, nasty weather hits, they seek shelter inside a nice cozy tree hole. That’s where they prefer to raise their young as well.

Just like the fallen bird seed, those leaf nests don’t go to waste. They are used by birds during the cold winter nights. Birds can hunker down among the leaf pockets to maintain their body heat until the sun warms them in the morning.

I’ve watched a number of different birds stash seeds under pieces of bark so they can come back later for a snack. In the meantime, our intrepid and opportunistic squirrels can’t bear to pass up a free meal. They watch the birds very closely and will often steal that snack for themselves.

Both birds and squirrels rely on the insects in the tree bark for sustenance. In the spring, when both are raising their young, they need to provide protein for strong bones and good development. If a squirrel happens to notice woodpeckers working at a particular spot on a dead branch, for instance, you can be sure he will hop on over for a little ‘look-see’ himself!

It’s a beneficial alliance that the squirrels and our backyard birds have going on. Next time you happen to see one of those pesky acrobatic squirrels on your feeder, remember that they are protectors for the birds, and that it works both ways!

Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive.

Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape.

Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Join the fun and visit today!

http://grandmapearlsbackporch.blogspot.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com