Bird Feeding with George Petrides

Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.

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Attracting and feeding wild birds

Sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard.

Subcategories from this category: Conservation

Blue Jays are not everyone's favorite bird.  Their aggressive behavior can sometimes drive smaller birds away from feeders.  They are, however, very interesting birds and and have their fans.  Here's how they are described in the Bent Life History Series.

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© Stephen Muskie


"The blue jay is a strong, healthy-looking bird, noisy and boisterous.  He gives us the impression of being independent, lawless, haughty, even impudent, with a disregard for his neighbors' rights and wishes: like Hotspur, as we meet him in Henry IV, part 1.


To be sure, the jay has his quiet moments, as we shall see, but his mercurial temper, always just below the boiling point, is ever ready to flare up into rage and screaming attack, or, like many another diplomat, beat a crafty retreat.  He is a strikingly beautiful bird: blue, black, and white, big and strong, his head carrying a high, pointed crest which in anger shoots upward like a flame.  Walter Faxon long ago told me of a distinguished visiting English ornithologist who was eager to see a live blue jay because he considered it the finest bird in the world.  He was surprised to find that this beauty, as he called it, is one of our common birds."

There are several ways to carve a pumpkin into a feeder.  One of the easiest ways is to cut a small to medium-sized pumpkin (3- to 5-pounds) in half.  Scoop out the soft stuff, leaving a shell about 1/2 inch think.   Make perches by making small holes and inserting twigs.  Use 2 loops of twine to make a basket hanger for the feeder, or purchase a hanger from a local arts and crafts store.  Allow the insides to dry before adding sunflower seed.  

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Another approach for hanging is to stick two dowel rods through the pumpkin from opposite sides, then tie the twine to the dowel rods.
  Search Google for "pumpkin bird feeder" to see many creative designs.

Lively as windup toys, nuthatches pirouette on branches and descend headfirst down tree trunks, combing the bark for insects.  Divided into four species, these short-tailed song birds are found almost anywhere in North America where there are trees.

Nuthatches are cavity nesters as some

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Red-breasted Nuthatch has a call that sounds like a tooting tin horn.

Other nuthatch species include the Brown-headed and Pygmy Nuthatch.

Nuthatches visit feeders for sunflower, suet and peanuts.

Staying warm in harsh winter conditions can be a challenge to many species.  Several small birds, including bluebirds, chickadees, titmice and kinglets will use roost boxes to stay warm on cold winter nights.

A next box can be used as a roost box.  Check to make sure it is clean inside as cold weather starts.  Insects or other critters may have move in since the end of the nesting season.

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Most roost box designs have the entry hole at the bottom to help keep warm air in.  Some nest box designs allow the front plate to rotate, with the hole on the top in the summer, and the bottom in the winter.

Something as simple as a small brush pile in a corner of your property can also serve as a good place for birds to find shelter from winter snows and storms.

Posted by on in Attracting and feeding wild birds

Temperatures remain in the 90's in Texas but there winter storm warnings in parts of the country.  So in Texas, we have not seen signs of fall but other parts of the country skipped fall and went straight to winter.  Go figure.  

With cold and snow becoming an issue, here are a couple of thoughts for providing winter protection for the birds.

Winter can be a dangerous time in the backyard.  Leaves are off the trees, making roosting spots much more visible to predators.  Wind, heavy rain and snow take turns making the local environment inhospitable to birds and other small creatures. This is a time of testing for our wild friends.

A simple brush pile can help make our yards a little safer during this harsh time of year.  It’s simple to create, doesn’t require a major investment of time or materials. It does provide safe haven for birds, bugs, and bunnies, among others. The birds can hide from cats and hawks, stay warmer and dryer in snowstorms, and even find a snack in the decaying wood.

 

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Brush piles can be small or large, thin, or tall.  Even a small brush pile offers cover.

Pick an acceptable spot in your yard, some place that won’t be a visual or physical stumbling point for people.  To be of best use to birds, you want to create a kind of thicket, with dense cover on the outside and more open spaces on the inside.  You can start as you would to build a campfire, creating a teepee of dead wood.  Then pile on branches pruned from shrubs and trees, twigs dropped by wind and storms, even leftover greenery from the holidays.  Christmas trees can have a whole new life tucked in a corner of your yard where the birds can hide.

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