Showing posts with label birds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label birds. Show all posts

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book Review of What It's Like to Be a Bird

Robin in my Backyard

 Are you ever curious about the habits of birds?  Did you realize that a bird's senses of vision, hearing, touch and smell many times surpass the same senses in humans?  Did you know that if you "ate like a bird" you might eat more than twenty-five pizzas each day?  These are just a few of the many things you'll learn about birds in the book What It's Like to Be a Bird.  


I received a copy of this book as a Christmas gift and have found it fascinating.  It is a rather large, coffee table type book that is full of information on the birds of North America.

The book is divided into three sections.  In this review, I will give you some insight into each of the sections.  The photographs I am including in this review are birds that I photographed in my backyard.


First Section: Introduction

Female Downy Woodpecker

  • The introduction section of the book is 32 pages full of information on birds in general.  This section talks about the feathers on birds, the senses of birds and how they relate to human senses.  There are sections on 
  • Food
  • Survival
  • Social Behavior
  • Movement
  • Physiology
  • Migration
an much more.  This area is full of interesting information.  Some examples include:
  • There are 11 thousand species of birds today and 800 are regularly found in North America.
  • Birds visual ability varies greatly between species.  Owls have great night vision  and Eagles see five times more details than humans and 16 times the colors.
  • Some birds spend their entire winter in the air, even sleeping while they fly.

Second Section: Main Body of Book

In this section of the book the author tells us about over 200 different species of birds.  The author has two pages for most species and they include beautiful colored illustrations of the birds and are full of interesting facts about each type of bird.

One good example is the section on Finches.  The first page shows a beautiful illustration of a male and female House Finch building a nest.  The information says that these finches are aptly named because they have adapted to living around houses and often make their nests on items around the houses such as hanging plants and window ledges.  On the page with Goldfinches we are told that they travel in flocks almost all year and it is believed that some birds stay together in small groups for months or even years.

Third Section: Listing of Birds in this Book

In this last section of the book you find a list of all the birds that have been covered in the book.  It includes the page number for more information along with a paragraph summarizing that particular bird.

Here is some of the information included on the Northern Cardinal.  It tells that the bird is named for its bright red color which is like the cardinals in the Roman Catholic church.  The paragraph goes on to say that the Northern Cardinal is one of the most widely recognized birds in North America.  It adds a couple of interesting facts such as that it is common for male cardinals to feed the adult females.  In this way they are signaling their ability to find food.

This is a book I would highly recommend for anyone interested in finding out more about birds.
Here is a calendar I made of my backyard bird photos.  It is offered on Zazzle.
  



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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

6 Ways To Help Wildlife In The Year Ahead

 

Butterfly On Wild Flowers By Raintree Annie

If one of the things you would like to do in the New Year is to do more to help our precious and often at-risk wildlife here are six easy ideas reviewed.

Even if we do just one of these we will be helping wildlife and nature. Do all six and your garden could be transformed into a wildlife haven in less than a year! 

In our gardens, balconies and patios we can all do one thing for wildlife and make such a huge difference. Some of these ideas are very easy indeed while others require a little more thought and time but all are fun and not difficult for most people to achieve. You may well find children enjoy being involved in many of these activities as well.

 

1. What To Do With The Old Christmas Tree 

I hope you had a lovely time at Christmas and an attractive, decorated Christmas tree.

We will keep ours up in the house for a little while longer but now is the time to think about what to do with it once the time comes to take it down.

I find it quite depressing to see all the Christmas trees outside people's houses ready to be taken away by the refuse collectors, of no more use to the neighbourhood. 

I do not like waste and feel there is a better way to recycle our old Christmas trees long after they have given us so much happiness. 

Making a woodpile with the chopped branches, creating a stumpery, shredding it and using the shreddings for mulch or even just laying it down in an undisturbed area of the garden for habitat and shelter all help our gardens and our wildlife.

What Do You Do With The Old Christmas Tree discusses more uses for our old Christmas trees.  

 

2. Don't Be So Tidy in The Garden! 

This may be an easy one to follow! However, I understand many of us like to have a neat and tidy garden, all edges carefully trimmed, leaves gathered up and all weeds eradicated. There is something very pleasing about a neat and tidy garden. However for nature, for wildlife they need us to be a little messier in our gardens.

Wildlife view our gardens as s source of food, warmth, shelter and breeding sites so they look for leaves, woodpiles, shrubs, water and long grass to name a few. 

There is a way to have a mainly neat and tidy garden and to help wildlife though. Messy does not have to mean ugly.

A small log pile can be made attractive to us and useful for wildlife, leaves left in borders or in a small pile out of the way are an invaluable source of shelter and food and just leaving things a little less manicured can be a boon to nature generally. 

We can easily designate a small area of the garden where we allow it to be a little wilder. In fact, I think a garden that aims to attract wildlife is especially beautiful and full of sound and sights and life. 


Diary Of a Wild Country Garden. Are we Too Tidy In Our Gardens? Raiintree Annie 


If you decide to do this you will reap the benefits in terms of seeing more birds, butterflies and bugs and attracting more insect and bird predators to your garden to help you with the pests and diseases all gardens have to deal with. For more ideas please see Are We Too Tidy In Our Gardens? 


3. Provide Water For The Birds 

Perhaps the most important thing we can do for birds is to provide water. Birds need water to drink and clean their feathers. This is vital for their health and wellbeing.

It is also something that fewer homes provide. Many people think about feeding the birds but less think about the need for water and bathing. Do You Have A Bird Bath In Your Garden? discusses this further with tips to help our beautiful birds. 

As long as the water is clean and fresh and ideally we need to change it every day or every few days, it does not matter too much what the container is. 

However, many of us choose to have a lovely looking birdbath or a cute novelty birdbath to make our gardens look gorgeous while assisting the birds. You can find beautiful examples here Reviewing Basalt Birdbaths 

In addition to beautiful birdbaths, I  also use plastic saucers on the ground on our patio to help the smaller birds like these gorgeous sparrows in my garden. I know other wildlife like hedgehogs and squirrels visit the water as well. 

 

Sparrows Bathing by Raintree Annie

One of the main pleasures to us of having a birdbath is to watch and photograph the gorgeous, beautiful, fascinating birds every day from the comfort of our own home.

I like a variety of birdbaths around the garden and so we have several beautiful birdbaths and these ordinary saucers placed around the garden so that the birds do not have to compete for water and bathing rights! 



4.Leave An Area Of Long Grass 

This is an easy one to fulfill if you have a garden with a lawn. Simply designate one area of the lawn and do not mow it all. 

Rather than taking action to help wildlife, this one is all about inaction! Do nothing and wait and see what happens to that small patch of long grass.

It will be interesting to see if you grow any wildflowers or clover. See how liberating it can be to grow daisies and dandelions and how insects love them! Watch out to see if your long grass attracts bees, butterflies or hoverflies. 

It's easy, free and a very simple way to help wildlife especially insects. It does not need to be a big area, just what you feel you can allow to grow a little wild.  

If you do want to take it a step further and grow some wildflower seeds, you will need to take up some of your grass as grass will generally out-compete the wildflower seeds. 

Simply strip the grass away, rake the soil into fine tilth, sow the seeds according to the seed packet and wait for them to grow. The only work you will need to do then is to cut back the wildflowers in autumn.


5. Grow A Window Box For Wildlife

We do not all have big gardens and lawns and may wonder what can we do to help wildlife when we live in a flat or apartment or a house with a hard landscaped yard.

However, if we have a balcony, room for a hanging basket, a window box or a small patio area for pots we can undoubtedly attract and help wildlife. For more ideas on how to attract wildlife in a smaller space, please see Can You Attract Wildlife If You Only Have A Patio Garden Or Window Box

It is amazing how butterflies, bees, lacewings, hoverflies and ladybugs will find their way to your window box given the right flowers and conditions. 

 Depending on where you live you may need to protect the container in winter. If you are gardening on a balcony, always bear in mind the weight of any containers when filled with soil and plants does not exceed what the structure can take. 

A simple container is all we need. You can fill your window box with flowers both perennial and annual or decide to grow vegetables, it is up to you. 

Some flowers are better for wildlife than others, but really as long as the plants have some flowers the insects and bees will find them. 

Flowers I have found successful in window boxes and hanging baskets and troughs include bright cheerful Marigolds along with Nasturtiums and evergreen Ivy for trailing. Verbena, Fuchsia in a bigger pot and Heather are lovely. 

You do need to give Heather acid or ericaceous soil so it will need to be mixed with other acid-tolerant flowers. I also like to put in a few dwarf yellow daffodil bulbs to cheer up the containers.

If you like you can grow wildflowers in a pot and I have done this for several years. You do just need to make sure that the soil is very poor as wildflowers, in general, need poor soil. I use old compost and lots of grit in my wildflower containers. Bees and all manner of insects adore these wildflower pots! 

I love to grow herbs such as Rosemary and Lavender and Chives do well also in containers. I would give most herbs a try in pots. Good for us to eat and great for wildlife. Bees seem to always love my Chives!



Your container can easily look good for you and be good for wildlife. You will want some evergreens like Rosemary or Heather there and other summer flowering perennial and annual flowers for interest and nectar for as long as possible.

For ideas on making a healthy balcony garden please see Totally Natural Healthy Ways to Increase Your Garden's Growth - A Garden Review


 


6.Give Nature A Home 

One lovely way to attract and help wildlife is to give them a home to live in and raise young. Whether it is a Bird Box, a Bee House, Insect House or a home for hedgehogs it is possible for everyone with any outdoor space, however small to contribute. Here is an idea for a lovely Birdhouse For Eastern Bluebirds 

Over the years many habitats that our birds and insects require to live and breed have been lost. Houses are built without space for birds to nest, grass that is artificial is useless for wildlife and there are fewer places left for bees and bugs to live, hibernate and breed. 

However, if we all do a little we can help to reverse this and give our valuable wildlife a home. 


 


If you love nature and know adults and children who would like to do more for wildlife you may wish to buy nature-related gifts for Birthdays, housewarmings and special events this coming year. For ideas please see Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed






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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

5 Wildlife Gift Ideas Reviewed

Bird In Tree By Raintree Annie
It is wonderful to buy a gift that will be appreciated and be of use and joy to the receiver long after the day it is given. 

If your loved ones are interested in wildlife or like gardening with wildlife in mind here are some beautiful gifts they will enjoy for a long time. 

These gifts are perfect for helping our wildlife and give hours of happiness and interest to your loved ones. They will enjoy watching the birds, carefully observing the many insects and spiders and learning about the fascinating world of wildlife. 

Many of these gifts are suitable for children to seniors and will keep on being of interest, not just when they open the gift but for all year long.  Here are a few ideas of wildlife gifts from my own experience.

1. Insect Or Bug House. 

These are fantastic for attracting all manner of insects and spiders. You simply hang it up in a sheltered spot away from winds in the garden and ideally about 6-7 foot high. I find it is ideal to place an insect house near a pond if you have one, or a hedge or trees or a mixed flower bed. 

You will know that you are providing a lovely home for all manner of insects such as lacewings, ladybugs and butterflies that will make it their home or resting place and often provide beneficial activities for the garden in terms of predating and pollinating. 

Gardeners will love it as it will attract beneficial insects to help them in the garden and anyone interested in insect life will appreciate being able to observe the bug hotel filling up! I have one and although it takes a little while for the insects to know it is there once they find it they move in!


 A lovely gift for a young child interested in bugs through to an adult gardener. 


2.Wildlife Books

A wildlife book for a child just starting on the discovery of nature is a beautiful and thoughtful gift. When introducing children to the fascinating world of wildlife you want the book to be fun educational and interesting.

 A book like this can be the very start of a lifelong love of nature and wildlife that will bring joy, understanding, fun and interest to children and develop a deep love of wildlife and conservation that can last a lifetime. A beautiful thoughtful and truly giving gift.
  


If gifting to an adult a beautiful wildlife book gift is Kate Bradbury's "The Wildlife Gardener."I have given this book as a gift myself and it was very well received. I then ordered another one for myself it was so good! You can read more about it in Diary Of A Wild Country Garden Why I Bought The Wildlife Gardener Book Twice! 


3.Bird Bath 

One of the most important things we can provide to wildlife is fresh clean water. It is essential for birds to drink every day and bathe to clean their feathers every day for their good health. 

In towns and cities especially, birds need birdbaths with fresh clean water in as many gardens as possible. If you have a birdbath in your garden you will attract a wide variety of birds all year round and once they know it is there it is likely to become very popular!

Our birdbath has bird visitors from robins, sparrows, blue tits and blackbirds to name a few every single day all year round!

This is a fantastic gift for many people from the enthusiastic birdwatcher, to anyone who simply enjoys watching the antics of the birds, to the bird photographer who can gain many opportunities to take amazing photographs of birds in action at the birdbath throughout the year.

Many of these birdbaths are also very beautiful decorative pieces for the garden.

 


4. Bird Feeders Station
 
Especially in winter but really all year round birds need additional food to help them survive. A bird feeder set will be lovely to look at, help the birds and give immense pleasure all year round to anyone who loves birds and enjoys watching their antics or learning more about them.

 Great if a young birdwatcher is learning about how to identify different birds as they will visit birdfeeders again and again and with luck will attract a wide variety of birds to learn about.

For anyone, it is beautiful to spend some relaxing time simply watching the birds and often getting to know regular visitors.  I can spend hours simply watching the birds without realising how much time has gone by! It adds interest to the day and a wonderful connection with our wild visitors.
 
A very useful addition to this gift is to give with a supply of good quality bird feed so that they can get started right away on Christmas day!    

There are various ideas and gifts for attracting birds to a garden along with various birdfeeder products in this post from Diary Of A Wild Country Garden Wild Birds Visiting Our Garden 

Baby Robin By Raintree Annie


5.Birdbox.

Many people like to attract wildlife to their gardens and a great way to do this is to hang up a birdbox. Smaller birds like bluetits often love to use these and I have had success in my own garden.

Anyone of any age interested in wildlife can spend ages watching the birds bringing in nest material and identifying them. If fortunate, they may see the baby birds fledge all the while learning more and appreciating wildlife!

Simply hang the birdbox in a sheltered shady spot far away from any birdfeeders or birdbaths so that it is not too busy or noisy for the nesting birds to raise their brood. Ideally, it should be sited in a place where it will not get too hot as this may be difficult for the baby birds to tolerate. 

Then it is a matter of waiting to see if you can attract a breeding pair and raise young in the garden. I feel it's a good idea to have bird nesting boxes in place by early January at the latest so that the birds have time to get used to a new feature in the garden and can assess it long before nesting time. 

It is amazing to watch and highly educational for young people and a real pleasure at any age. 
 



Whichever gift you choose for your loved one, if they love birds and wildlife they will love the thoughtful nature of your gift to them. 




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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Review of Spring Bird Photography

Young Sparrow
Spring is one of my favorite times to photograph birds.  It is so wonderful to wake up in the morning and hear all the birds singing in the trees.  Each day I look through my camera zoom lens and try to locate new birds to my area.  Some are just passing through during their migratory routes and others will stay here for the summer.  Still others are year round residents that are growing their families in the spring.  The photo above shows a young sparrow that I captured on our back fence.


Mockingbirds



I was walking in our neighborhood park when I spotted a group of Mockingbirds.  I have rarely seen them in our yard so I was excited to see several in the park.  As I watched the birds, I soon saw a young Mockingbird in the same area.  They look quite in a disarray with their feathers all fluffed out.  I wasn't sure what I was seeing at first but I took some photos and looked them up in my bird book when I got home. 



Changing to Spring Clothes


Some birds change their colors in the springtime.  One that does this in our area is the American Goldfinch.  In the winter the bird has a brownish coat but as warmer weather approaches the feathers molt into a brilliant yellow color.  They are a delightfully colorful little bird that I always enjoy seeing at our finch feeder.


The below photo shows the American Goldfinch in their winter coat. You will note they just have a touch of color under their beak.


The Birdbath a Popular Spring/Summer Hangout


The birds seem to love the birdbath in the warmer weather.  Most birds just stop by for a drink, but the Robins love to hop right in for a splashy bath.


It seems like we are having a lot of Robins this spring.  They don't really go to the feeders but they do love the birdbath.

New Bird for Our Yard


I am always on the lookout for new birds in our yard.  This spring I spotted a white crowned sparrow.  They are quite a stately looking bird.


Whenever I see a new bird, I try to photograph them from several different angles.  I then pull out my bird identification book and look for them.  I also post photos online and ask for help or confirmation for my identifications.

The book below has been a big help in my bird identification.




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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Spring Forward, Renewal, Rebirth, Revival and Joy!

March 8th is Spring Forward Time! A Garden Review!

 

spring, bird feeding, bees
Image from Pixabay

Yeah, for all our Naturalists/Gardeners/Backyard Enthusiasts and those who are patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for Spring's arrival.  From my own personal experience I know how most of us are feeling right about now.  We can't wait for longer days and warmer temperatures and getting our hands back into the soil.  We want to poke around to see what's about to spring up out of the ground.  We also look up to see where the birds are too.  That first robin or yellow finches just make us so happy.  Our time is coming quickly!


Things Outside are Changing Quickly!

 
Now that it's March, we can look forward to longer daylight hours (it's already light at 6:00 in the morning)!  The bugs and the bees are waking up from their long winter slumber and looking desperately for a food source.  Even the birds are making a comeback.  

Those of us who love hummingbirds will be watching the Hummingbird Migration Maps for 2020!  They are already in parts of Florida and coming to your neighborhood soon!  Be the first one in your neighborhood to mark the map with the first sighting in your area. 


Spring, so much to do and so much pleasure in doing it too!


If you hang out bird feeders, now is the time to get them ready.  Clean and disinfect them all carefully.  We want to feed the birds and not harm them.  Clean feeders are a must!  Pathogens that can harm them can and might live over in the winter months.  There is need to be extra vigilant in making the birds source of food a safe source.  

Wash down all bird feeders, clean out birds nests from last year and give this years birds a really good chance of thriving and surviving.  Clean them out with a mild bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to a sink full of hot soapy water).  Make sure you rinse them well and let them air dry before setting them out again.  

 

Special Care for Hummingbird Feeders!


Many people give up on putting out hummingbird feeders because they do require extra care.  It may seem wasteful, but their nectar needs to be changed every week.  Spoiled nectar in feeders can cause their death.  No one wants to be responsible for that!  So in the early spring, before you even see them, you need to change that nectar every week.  

Make only a cup of nectar at a time, so as not to waste all that sugar water.  And remember, red dyes are NOT NECESSARY  to attract those little flying gems.  Your hummingbird syrup should be roughly 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of water.  The measurement does not have to be exact, but close is good.  Use only 1/2 to 1 cup of syrup in your feeders (keep the rest in the refrigerator) until you are sure the hummingbirds have found you!  Once you know they are coming to your feeders, go to town and fill it right up.


Maybe this is the year you decide to help the birds and the bees.

 
You can easily do this with bird feeders, bird houses and even bee houses.  The birds and bees give us so much enjoyment, it's the least we can do to make them welcome in our yards.  Our own Renaissance Woman will even teach you how to make your own bird feeders if you feel so inclined.  It would be a great spring time activity for your children or grandchildren.  Check it out right here: DIY Mason Jar Bird Feeder!

Building bird houses is also a lot of fun and an easy craft to share with your family as well.  The most important thing to remember is that certain birds require different housing.  Some are solitary breeders, while others love to be in community.  You might have to do some research to find out what kinds of birds come to your neighborhood, before you start building.  This review might help you get started! What you need to know about  Basic Bird House Construction!


The Bees are Getting a Lot of Press Lately!  The Key to Success

 
Science has let it be known that the bee population is in trouble.  If we don't have them as pollinators our whole food sources are at risk.  So let's help those pollinators by growing gardens that feed them all spring, summer and fall.  It's not hard to do and I'm sure you will enjoy the efforts that you put into making a beautiful "bee" friendly garden. 

There are a few guidelines that will help you to help the bees!  
  • Plant a garden that will give lots of blooms all season long.
  • Plant single flowered species rather than the big double and triple flowers.  The singles produce more nectar and the bees can easily get to it.
  • Plant lots of different annuals as well as perennials.
  • Build a bee house.
  • Have a water source available too!

Do you need more information?  I like this website for all inclusive information about bees and keeping them happy!  The  Honey Bee Conservancy  I like to keep my family happy, so, with my son-in-law being a beekeeper, this is for him!  I try to do my part in helping him help the bees and I get to enjoy some of the honey too.

Spring is a time of Renewal, Revival, Rebirth and Joy!  Let's make an effort to help Mother Nature in all of this,  by doing something to help all her little creatures.

feeding the bees, helping Mother Nature, hummingbird feeders
Image by jggrz from Pixabay








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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Review of Designing Collages and Composites in Photography


Putting photographs into collages is a fun way to display a grouping of photos.  In the grouping above I show a simple collage with a group of my bird photos.

Create a Simple Collage in Lightroom


The above collage is one that I created in Adobe Lightroom.  To make this collage I moved several of my bird photos to the Print option at the top left of the Lightroom screen and then followed the directions to add the framing and sizing.  You also have options to change the color on the frames and the background and to add some text.

Here is another collage that I made in the same way.


Composites


I belong to a Facebook group called "Create 52" where each week we have a theme to create a photograph and post it on the page.  One of our recent themes was called Collages/Composites.  I posted one of the collages that I made on Lightroom.  I then decided to try to stretch my knowledge and try some of the composites.  Many of the other members were posting some very interesting composites.  Composites are a very creative way of using your photographs.  For my first try I went to Photoshop and opened the collage of the Cardinals and then opened a texture that I had of snow.  I combined the two into one photograph and then changed the opacity to get the desired effect.  Here is the resulting photo.


More Advanced Composites


After seeing some of the other posts in our "Create 52" group, I decided to try some composites using multiple photographs.  I had been on a field trip with a group I help mentor in photography and we went to a local college and several students displayed their musical instruments for us to photograph.  I took several of the photographs and combined them into one design and then used a photo of some sheets of music for a texture.  Here are two of my designs.  Remember, I'm just learning but I think you can get the idea.



Creating your own Collages and Composites


If you are interested in trying one of these procedures there are a lot of tutorials that will help you online.  If you have Photoshop just search for tutorials for creating composites in Photoshop.  If you use other editing software just search online and I'm sure you will also find tutorials for them.  Many of the tutorials are on YouTube and are free.  You can watch them and pause whenever you need to review a step.  I have learned a lot on YouTube.


Zazzle Design from my Collage





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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Review of Bird Photography in the Snow


I love photographing birds and in the winter a snowy day can give a wonderful backdrop for my bird photographs.


Female Cardinal


As I reviewed articles online in preparation for writing this article, I found many tips on photographing in the snow.  Most of these talked about protecting your camera, wearing gloves with the fingers cut out and that type of tips.  I have a different setup for photographing birds right from the comfort of my own home and that is what I will be sharing in this article.

Photographing through Glass



The photograph above, as well as all of the photos on this page were taken through glass.  I have tripods set up in my home that I use to photograph the birds in our yard.  The photograph above was taken through our sliding glass doors in the kitchen.  I often get a surprised reaction when people hear that I photograph through glass, but it has worked well for me.

               When photographing through glass
                be sure to keep the glass clean.

I keep a cloth handy to quickly wipe away any smudges on the glass.  On a snowy day I will frequently open the door to wipe away sleet or drops that have formed on the glass outside.

                Set up the camera as close to the
                glass as possible.

I have my cameras set up on a tripod just inches away from the glass.

My Setup


I have two cameras that I use to take my bird photography.  Both are set up on tripods.  
  • Sony A57 DSLR set up with a Tamron 200-600 zoom lens.  This camera is perfect for getting the birds that are at a bit of a distance.  I use these when the birds are at my far feeders, up in the branches of the trees along the back of our property or in the bushes.
  • Sony a6300 mirrorless camera.  This camera set up with a 70-210 zoom lens is perfect for the birds on the deck and in the closer feeders.  I use it in connection with a wireless remote so that I can sit at the kitchen table and trigger the shutter release when I see a bird.  I used this setup in photographing the BlueJays pictured below.













Bright Colored Birds on a Snowy Day


I love to photograph all birds but catching some of these brightly colored birds against the snowy backdrop are my favorites.




















Dark-eyed Junco or Snowbird


Another favorite of mine is the Junco which is commonly called the snowbird.  It has a dark top and white underside which looks great on a snowy day.


Zazzle Products from my Photographs





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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Review of Mockingbird Information


Mockingbirds have long been the subjects of songs, literature and even movies.  When an early December snowstorm brought the first Mockingbird I had seen to my backyard feeders, I was curious to find more information about these popular birds.

Some Facts about the Mockingbird

From Miriam Webster dictionary I learned that Mockbirds are" a common grayish North American bird (Mimus polyglottos) related to the thrashers that is remarkable for its exact imitations of the notes of other birds."

I did some more research using Wikipedia and All About Birds online and the National Geographic book "Backyard Guide to the Birds".  Here are some additional facts I discovered.

  • Mockingbirds are a New World group of passerine birds. (Passerines are distinguished from other birds by the arrangement of their toes-three forward and one back-which helps them in perching)
  • They are best known for their habit of mimicking other birds, insects and amphibians.
  • There are actually 17 different species of Mockingbirds.
  • Only the Northern Mockingbird is normally found in North America.
  • Mockingbirds are well known for their fun personalities of mimicking other birds songs.

 Mockingbird in Music


As I was researching Mockingbirds, I kept coming up with song lyrics and music with references to the bird.  Here is one of the most popular ones, a lullaby sung by many top musical artists.  Here is the first line.

Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird And if that mockingbird won't sing, Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring.

Does that sound familiar to you?  I found this cute child's book that features that song.




Mockingbird in Literature

I found several references to the Mockingbird in books.  The most famous is a Pulitzer-prize winner by Harper Lee.



Another book I found with a reference to Mockingbird in the title, is this fun sounding book on cocktails.  The books teams up various classic books with a cocktail.


I took the three photos of the Mockingbird about a month ago and I have not seen the birds since.  I'm hoping they come to visit my backyard again soon.


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Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Platform Bird Feeder Reviewed

Flat Bird Feeder Works Well

I just had to replace my original platform bird feeder. I thought I might share with you what I replaced it with. The original was made of wood and eventually rotted off of it's pedestal. Bummer!

platform bird feeder
Some birds like a platform to feed from
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I do love to feed my little backyard friends and I have found over the years that using a platform bird feeder works well for attracting a variety of the winged creatures to my yard. For one thing they are much easier to fill with seeds and treats and so much easier to keep clean.

Wood vs Recycled Plastic


As I mentioned above, the first platform or tray feeder that I purchased was made from wood. It lasted for several years but finally succumbed to the years of being in the weather and literally fell off of the pole that it was attached to. So, for a replacement, I found one that is made of recycled plastic. That shouldn't rot, me thinks! 

I have seen that many people complain that the little screens rot out in their platform feeders. I hadn't experienced that but the nice thing is that my new one came with two new screens. So, now I can keep the old ones as spares. 

The size of this feeder is nice! The inside measures 20 inches by 15 inches which allows for several birds to feed at a time. My favorites are the cardinals who prefer to eat from feeders that are stationary. I get all sorts of birds to come to the platform. I stopped using the ones that I have to take a lid off of to add seed. They get dirty on the inside and can cause bacteria to grow and they are so difficult to clean. The platform works best in our yard. 

I only have one complaint and it isn't the manufacturer's fault. Squirrels can easily come up and rob the feeder of food. I gave up a long time ago on trying to keep the critters away...it is a battle I can't seem to win. So, the squirrels eat at the feeder too. So, do raccoons but there is no getting away from it. 

It took longer for my new platform to arrive than I thought was necessary. Again, that isn't the manufacturer's fault. It was a shipping issue that caused the problem. Waiting longer was aggravating but once it came, I was extremely satisfied with my purchase. The birds are loving it, too.

If you find that you are in need of replacing your old feeder or would like to try one in your yard, I can highly recommend the platform feeder made from recycled plastic.





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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Review of Attracting Birds to My Backyard

                                                    

Black-capped Chickadee


I have often been asked how I attract the large variety of birds to our backyard.  In the past  several years I have documented 31 different types of birds.  I believe that the wide variety of food that I put out for the birds helps to attract different types of birds.  These birds provide hours of entertainment for my husband and me.  In this post I will share with you the different types of bird food.

Mixed Variety Bird Seed

In several of my bird feeders, I use a mixed variety of bird seed. This type of mixture includes sunflower seeds along with other mixed seeds.  I have not found any one brand that seems to be better in attracting birds, so I usually buy whatever is on sale.  Here is the type that I purchased last.

                                                   



In the photos below you will see the variety of birds that enjoy the mixed bird seed that I keep in several different feeders in our backyard.





Nyjer Bird Seed

I have a finch feeder that I keep filled with Nyjer seed.  These seeds are small black seeds that don't fall through the small mesh of the feeder.  This feeder attracts many different birds, but it is particularly popular with finches.  In the photo below you will see Goldfinch enjoying the Nyjer seed.


The birds in this photo look like they have spotty or dirty looking feathers.  That is due to the fact that this photo was taken in early spring and they were still molting.

                                              


Suet Nuggets

This year I have started to put suet nuggets in a feeder.  This food has become very popular with woodpeckers.  Downy woodpeckers are frequent visitors of the nugget feeder.




I sometimes put whole peanuts in this feeder.  They last longer than the nuggets but I find it hard to tell when the feeder is empty because the empty peanut shells are left behind.  Here is a Red-bellied Woodpecker enjoying the peanuts.




                                                            


Suet Cakes

Another popular bird food is suet cakes.  I keep one hanging in my backyard feeding area year round.  They are frequented by a wide variety of birds.  In the photo below you see a Grosbeak that visited the suet cake this spring.


Hummingbird Feeder

Each spring I look forward to seeing my first Hummingbird of the year.  I hang out the feeder starting in early  April.  I make my own food for the feeder boiling 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of sugar in my microwave.  After cooling the mixture I add it to the feeder.  It is important to change the mixture every week to ten days and more often in very hot weather.



Bird Bath

In addition to the various bird feeders I provide a bird bath on our back deck.  This gives the birds a place to get a drink and in the case of Robins to take a bath. This spring I looked out one day to see a whole group of Bluebirds lined up on the edge of the bird bath.

 I love to see the Robins splashing in the bird bath.








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