Bird Feeding with George Petrides
Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.
Sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard.
One exciting way to enjoy the upcoming fall migration is by supercharging your yard and feeding station for hummingbirds. The hummingbird nesting season is pretty much complete, and you may already have noticed increased activity in your yard. As this pre-migration period kicks-in, hummer numbers at your feeders will increase as the birds prepare for their journey south. Migrating is an energy-intensive activity and hummingbirds must bolster fat reserves to fuel their migration flights. Adding an additional feeder or two and providing natural food sources will benefit the birds and provide some fun high-speed entertainment when hummingbirds flock to your yard.
There are several hummingbird festivals around the country, here are a couple of the more popular events.
Aug. 23 - Aug. 26
Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration
Fort Davis, Texas
Sept. 13 - Sept. 16
30th Rockport-Fulton HummerBird Celebration
Many garage doors have a cord with a red handle for lowering the door. When the door is up, the red handle will sometimes draw a hummingbird into the garage, where it can have a difficult time escaping. Paint the handle black or cover it in black tape to prevent this problem.
If a hummingbird does get trapped in your garage, try closing the door and turning off the light. Hummingbirds do not like to fly in the dark and can sometimes easily be picked up and taken outside. Hold the hummer gently, open your hand slowly and give the hummer a chance to orient itself before it again takes to the air.
A singing bird creates musical sounds using its syrinx. This organ is a kind of double voice box at the bottom of the bird’s windpipe. Where the windpipe branches into the bird’s lungs, two sets of membranes and muscles vibrate at high frequencies as air is exhaled. In fact, while singing, a bird can alternate exhaling between its two lungs and thereby sing in harmony with itself.
Usually a male that is defending a territory or attracting a mate will sing from one of the highest or most conspicuous perches available. This favorite spot may be used repeatedly. On the other hand, some birds such as larks, Bobolinks, and buntings – often sing while flying. And while birds do not usually sing around their nests, a few may sing a quiet “whisper song” that can be heard for only a few yards.
In the final analysis, different birds sing different songs, but they usually sing for the same reasons.
Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak
And who knows, some of those reasons may be that they are well-fed, stress free, and what we would anthropomorphically describe as “”happy!”
Offering fruit and nuts is a good way to attract species that do not normally visit seed feeders.
Fruit eaters include :
and many more
Raisins and currents: Soak overnight and offer on a platform feeder or shallow dish.
Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and grapes: Cut in half and offer on a platform feeder or shallow dish.
Apples: Offer sliced or chopped apples on a platform feeder or shallow dish.
Orange and grapefruit: Slice in half and nail to the side of a tree or offer on a platform.
Watermelon: There is usually a little meat on a watermelon rind or un-eaten portion. Placed in a good location it attacks a few bugs, also butterflies, mockingbirds and cardinals. Last year a Red-bellied Woodpecker that seemed to have a taste for watermelon would visit fairly often.
Grape jelly: Popular with orioles.
Peanuts are popular with woodpeckers and nuthatches. Shelled raw peanuts can be offered in feeders designed for feeding peanuts. Offer peanuts in the shell on a platform feeder or on the ground.
Peanut butter also works for the above species plus native sparrows and Pine Siskins. Offer straight or mix the peanut butter with 3-4 parts corn mill. Spread the mixture on a tree trunk, place in spaces in a pine cone, or fill holes drilled in a board or dead limb.
One reason we feed wild birds around our homes is that we presume they appreciate a little help from their human friends. Another reason is that we simply enjoy having them around us. We like watching their antics, seeing their colors, and listening to them.
Each bird species is capable of making a variety of sounds that it uses to communicate with other birds. These sounds are songs, which usually are long and complex, and calls, which usually are short and simple. By encouraging birds to visit our yards, we are more likely to hear most of their vocalizations.
Songbirds account for nearly 60% of the world’s 9,500+ species and almost 40% of the more than 900 species found in North America. For the most part, only the males “sing” – a consistently repeated pattern of tones. The females of a few species, including Northern Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, also occasionally break into song.
Birds generally sing more in the early morning and late afternoon. While singing behavior varies among species, most vocalizations take place during the breeding season. Lags occur during the short mating season and when the young are being cared for. Singing usually pauses when the nesting season is
The songs of birds are learned, not inherited. If a White-crowned Sparrow grew up with only Song Sparrows around, it would learn Song Sparrow songs. Fledgling birds first develop a “sub-song” that matures into an adult primary song in about a year. Although Chipping Sparrows have only one basic song, Song Sparrows may have 10, some wrens may have more than 100, and – as many of you well know – Mockingbirds seem to have a repertoire of a couple hundred songs that are voiced endlessly!
In Part 2: We learn more about how, where and why birds sing.