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

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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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Birds Butterflies and Bees in the Garden, What you Need to Know

How to successfully attract birds, bees and butterflies to your garden and enjoy them all season long!

Everyone that I know is so tired of winter.  Once the clocks have moved ahead for Daylight Savings Time, all of us are just counting down the days until we see those first signs of spring.
I have not yet had the delight of my first Robin or Blue Birds.  I know though that they will be coming very shortly.  And I am ready to welcome them all with some special treats that I know they will love.
birds, butterflies and bees in the garden, attracting wildlife, garden birds
Monarch Butterfly and bee on Asters
                                          

Three Basics That Are Essential

If you want the birds, bees and butterflies to come to your yard, you need to provide some of the things they will want.  
Like any other living creature, these little marvels of nature are looking for shelter, food and water.  Those are the essentials for any living being that you would care for.  Garden visitors are no different in that regard.  The only other thing that they may be looking for, would be a safe place to nest.  Trees and bushes are great for that!


Flowers are food!

Bees and butterflies and yes even the birds are looking for flowers to feed their appetites.  Pollen laden plants are a bee's best friend.  Butterflies and bees like nectar laden flowers too.  Birds are more attracted to seed heads that will come later in the year.  But they will use petals, and leaves to line their nests.  


Attracting different kinds of birds.

If you set out bird houses, you will certainly get some feathered friends calling your yard their home too.  Feeders for finches and hummingbirds will almost guarantee their arrival at your doorstep.  Plant the right kinds of flowers and you will have an abundance of these lovely little creatures to watch and enjoy.

Butterflies, birds  and bees will enjoy a bird bath.  The birds will splash around cooling themselves off in the heat of the summer, while the butterflies and bees will also stop for a drink and a little rest.  Butterflies and bees can also make use of the sugar water that is in your hummingbird feeders, so don't be surprised to see them there too. 

Having a place that is rich in flowers and shrubs with a few trees for their safety will make all of these creatures very happy to call your home, their home too!

Picking the flowers and shrubs to enhance your garden!

If you really want the butterflies, bees and birds in your garden, here is a list of some of the best ones to plant.

  1. Butterfly bush, as the name indicates is a magnet for many different types of butterflies, but they are also a magnet for hummingbirds too!
  2. Sunflowers, their flat heads are wonderful landing pads for all garden critters.
  3. Coneflowers will attract bluebirds, bees, and butterflies as well.
  4. ServiceBerry Bushes will attract cardinals, robins, cedar waxwings and more.
  5. Phlox is another great plant to attract birds and butterflies.

If you enjoy having these critters in the garden with you, make their lives easier by planting lots of the flowers that they love.  The list above is just a small sample of what plants are great to encourage wildlife in the yard.  It is by no means a complete list.  For that I refer to my book produced by Birds and Blooms Magazine.  


Gardening for Birds, Butterflies and Bees!



You can get your own right here! It is a great resource book and one that you can come back to and reference for future garden projects or additions.

You might also like to take up photography when you see how beautiful it is to have these creatures in your garden.  Mary Beth (another writer on Review This) shows us what it's like to take pictures and how to do it too!  You can check out her article right here: Bluebird Facts and Photography

Having a natural flower filled garden will surely bring you and all the visitors to your garden a lot of joy and happiness.  The colors and scents, along with all the activity will inspire you to enjoy the beauties of nature.

butterflies in the garden, attracting butterflies into the garden, garden flowers
Swallowtail Butterfly
attracting bees into the garden, garden bees, garden flowers
Bee with sunflower






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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Review of Bluebird Facts and Photography


I have long been a fan of Bluebirds but until this year I have not been able to  capture any photographs that I really liked.  During a very cold spell in January a group of Bluebirds visited our backyard and I was able to capture some nice photos.  I had a camera set up on a tripod in front of our glass doors and I snapped away as the Bluebirds checked out our feeding spots.  For those interested I am using a Sony A57 with a Tamron150-600 lens.  My camera is set to A (aperture mode) and I'm using a 6.5 aperture in most of these photos.



Eastern Bluebird Identification

These birds are small thrush type birds with a round head and big belly.

Male Bluebirds

The male Bluebirds are particularly bright in color as you can see in the photo above.  They have a bright blue colored head and back along with their tail feathers.  Their throat and chest are a bright rusty color.

Female Bluebirds

Female Bluebird

The female bluebirds have the same color pattern as the males and they are a similar size, however their coloring is much more subdued.  Their head appears an almost grayish color as you can see in the photo above.

Juvenile Bluebirds

The juvenile Bluebirds have spotting on their backs and chests and some blue
beginning in their wings and chests.

Feeding Behavior and Diet


From spring to early fall the Bluebirds diets consist of mainly insects.  In the winter they rely mainly on fruits.  As you can see in the photo above they will also resort to seeds in the winter.

I have found that if I do not clean out my flower containers after blooming season the Bluebirds and other birds like to rummage through the dead plants.


Nesting

Although Bluebirds will use a nest box they also like holes in old trees, particularly old woodpecker nests.  They fill their nests with grass and other plant material.  A Bluebird usually lays 4-5 eggs and they are inculpated by the female for 11-19 days.  The fledgling birds leave the nest in about 19 days.

References

I gathered my information from several online sources as well as from my book Backyard Guide to the Birds.  Here are my references.
  • allaboutbirds.org/guide
  • Audubon.org
  • wild-bird-watching.com

                                              



Zazzle Products from my Photos





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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review of Backyard Birdbath

Meeting Place

Creating a Bird Friendly Backyard

My husband and I really enjoy watching the birds in our backyard and in the past year I have become passionate about bird photography.  I have always had a feeder or two in the backyard but never really thought about the rest of the environment for the birds until this year.  In researching the best ways to have a bird friendly yard, I realized what I was missing was a bird bath.  



 


After spending some time looking through Amazon and reading all the reviews on various birdbaths, I decided on the pedestal bird bath shown above.  It had several features that fit my needs.

  • It is made of a lightweight  resin that is frost resistant and durable
  • It is 28.25 inches high and 20 inches in diameter...just the right size for my patio or flower bed
  • It holds 8 gallons of water
  • You have the option of adding sand to the base for stability.  I have not done this at this point and have had no issues with it tipping.
When I got the birdbath delivered I found it came in three pieces and was very easy to put together.  I decided to locate it on the edge of my patio and set it up and within hours I had birds visiting.


Robins

I knew there were Robins around our area, but since they do not normally come to feeders, I rarely saw the in our yard before I got the birdbath.  Now they come regularly both to drink and to take their baths.  They are very entertaining as they splash around in the birdbath.  Below are a few photos of a Robin enjoying his bath.



I was able to capture these photos while sitting at my kitchen table and photographing through the sliding glass doors.


Other Birds Enjoying the Water

While the Robins are the birds I've seen taking a bath most often, many other birds stop for a drink of water.  This Yellow Bellied Sapsucker stopped in our yard for the first time after I put out the bird bath.
Even the Mourning Doves enjoy the water.

Birdbath

I got the birdbath about 6 months ago so it has made it through the winter and seems to be very durable.  I love the design and the way it shows up in my photos.

Birds

Birds need water for both drinking and bathing, so if you don't already have a birdbath for your yard I hope you will consider adding one both for the birds and for your enjoyment.




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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review of Tips to Photograph Florida Birds

Black Skimmer

Discovering Florida Birds

This past year I have really gotten interested in photographing birds, so it is only natural that when we were planning a trip to Florida I also planned on discovering a new variety of birds to photograph.  I started out by purchasing a good bird book on Florida birds and spent some time reading and studying the different types before our trip.  I found that many of the birds common to my area of the mid-west also resided in Florida.  Many birds that I commonly see in my own backyard such as the: Cardinal,  Robin, Goldfinch, Starling, Robin and several different woodpeckers also call Florida home. Florida, however, also has a wide range of birds that I never see in the mid-west and it was this set of birds that I was interested in photographing.  I started my exploration by going to a pier near where the inlet joins the ocean.  On the first day I saw a lot of Rock Pigeons and several Brown Pelicans.  I was just leaving the pier when the colorful bird in the photo above flew in and landed on the beach.  I thought he was very unusual looking with his distinct black and white coloring and the bright orange at the base of his bill and orange legs.  With his distinct colorings he was easy to identify in the bird book.  My book states that he is 18 inches and has up to a 3 1/2 foot winspan.  We were in Florida a month and this was the only time I saw this bird.  I feel fortunate to have been able to get a good photograph.

Bird Book for Florida

Here is the book that I used to identify the birds I photographed in Florida.  It is laid out with sections on birds of various colors.  That made it easy to find a bird from my photo.  It also has a great index in the back to cross reference various birds.


Birds at the Beach

When taking a walk on the beach I was delighted to see a wide variety of birds.  When I had been to Florida in past years I had noticed the gulls and the little birds that ran in and out of the waves, but I had never really realized how many different varieties there were.
When I took the photographs and then went back to our condo to look them up in the bird book, I found there were several different types of gulls and the little birds could be sanderlings, terns, or perhaps even a Ruddy Turnstone.  I learned to pay attention to the size and shape of their bills, the color of their legs, their basic shapes and their colorings.  Even when I had all these characteristics figured out I learned within each specie there were different colorings for summer vs winter birds, breeding vs non breeding and male vs female birds. Identifing these birds was sure more complicated than it first appeared.
Below are two of the different gulls I photographed and identified.
Laughing Gull

Ring-billed Gull
The small little birds that seem to run in and out with the waves are always fascinating.  Here are a few I captured in photos.
Royal Tern

Sanderlings

Ruddy Turnstone

Birds by the Lakes

I also took several walks around nearby lakes and found some very interesting varieties of birds.  Some of these I had to work a bit harder at identifying.

This bird is a Little Blue Heron.  It is 24 inches and is a dark slate blue color.

This next bird is a Double-crested Cormorant.  I had a bit of trouble deciding on this bird, but after Looking at both of these photos I narrowed it down to a Double-crested Cormorant.





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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Birdhouse Selection Process Reviewed

Your Birdhouse Selection Is More Important Than You Might Think

I wanted to take a little time today to discuss some important things to remember about the process of birdhouse selection. You might be thinking what process? I just find one that will be cute in my yard, hang it and the birds will come. Well, that may be one way but I can tell you it won't bring you much success if you are actually hoping to encourage birds to nest in your yard.

If you do not care whether birds actually nest in the birdhouse, you can pick something that suits your taste and reflects your personality for your yard or garden. My husband and I would get a real kick out of a birdhouse like the one below but I doubt that we would have much luck actually getting a bird to use it to lay their eggs and hatch their offspring.

Birds are not attracted by what we humans think is cute, pretty or quirky. They want safety for themselves and their young. So, there are things that we should take into consideration if we want to provide a place for our feathered friends to call home.

Important Things To Consider In Your Birdhouse Selection

  • Sizing
  • Heating and Cooling
  • Proper drainage
  • Safety
  • Mounting and accessibility
It is a good idea to research the species of bird that you hope to attract and find out what size entrance hole is best for them. The size of the floor space is important, also. You want enough room for the adult bird and the growing young to be able to move around. The distance from the floor to the entrance hole is also important. 

The materials that the birdhouse is made of is important, too. Wood is your best bet because it can stay cool in the summer and provide warmth in the winter. 

Look to see if the birdhouse provides drainage. You do not want water to stay inside where it can start to grow mold or bacteria. A nice overhang on the roof will also help to keep water out of the birdhouse.

A lot of the pre-made birdhouses have a perch. Most bird species do not require a perch at their nest. The perch actually allows an unsafe area where a predator has an easier way to get into the inside of the nesting area. Painted or stained birdhouses can be toxic to our feathered friends so natural wood is safer to use. 

You should also select a birdhouse that is easy to mount and has one side that you can open. You will need to open the birdhouse to clean it. There are several ways to mount the different styles of birdhouses but your best bet is to have it on a pole. Predators will have a more difficult time with a pole than a tree or fence. 

Research Before You Buy

I feel that if you really want to successfully encourage birds to nest in your yard or garden that a little research can help you make a good decision. Perhaps invest in a book that gives you the information you will need.

The book above has been produced in association with the National Audubon Society. Advice from them can be trusted for a safe and inviting birdhouse. It covers several species of birds to build a birdhouse for, from the little wren to even raptors.

As I write this article, we are approaching the time of the year that birds begin to choose a place to nest and bring the next generation of their species into the world. If you want to be a part of that, find a safe birdhouse to place in your backyard or garden. 



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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Review Some of Grammie Olivia's Favorite Things

Grammieknows is what my darling little ones tell everyone, whenever I answer a question for them. 

Sometimes the answers are true and other times they are a story that makes absolutely no sense, but has them laughing in the aisles.  My propensity for telling tales has earned me the moniker of being a know it all.....So I guess the nickname Grammieknows fits pretty good.


Trilliums 2016 from  Grammie Olivia's Garden. 


What Grammie does Know is, that gardening is a balm for the soul and works nicely to make a body tired, so that sleep can, eventually make the body rest.  Working in the garden not only makes the body tired, but it is great exercise.  As we age, we need that exercise to keep us moving one step at a time.  You know (and Grammieknows) if you don't use it, you'll lose it!  It is so true with exercise, if you don't move those muscles, arthritis and weakness will take over.  


Muscle Medicine
 


Gardening also provides a way for you to enjoy the beauty that is all around.  From the ground right up to the sky, flowers and plants make the world a more beautiful place. It doesn't stop at the ground level either.  All those flowers planted in garden beds, encourage bees, butterflies, birds and small animals to gather and enjoy the work of your hands.


Finding great tools to use to make the job easier is also a lot of fun.  I have my special tools that I just can't be without!  Like any other craftsman, looking for new tools is a joy and I love sharing those great finds.  You can see some of the tools I love in another Review This Article, I love my tools.


Being green minded, may be avante garde today, but I have been that way for a long time.  I don't encourage the use of chemicals in any way, shape, or form.  There are natural solutions to every problem and I try to search those out.  When something works particularly well, you will find me sharing that with everyone who will listen. 

 


Recipe for Homemade Weed Killer

Like my favorite weed killer, that is made up of Vinegar, Salt and Dawn (Blue) Dishwashing liquid.  I know you want the recipe now....  So, it's one gallon White Vinegar,  2 cups of Salt, and 1/2 cup of Dawn.  Always shake it up well, before applying.  Put it into your sprayer or divide it up into several different spray bottles (make sure you label them) and use early in the morning(on a dry day) for your weed issues.


Gardening is such an incredible opportunity to stand on God's earth and work to make the world a better place to live, breathe, and be!


You will find me on Review This, or on my website, www.grammieknowshow.com and sometimes on Facebook posting things of interest to gardeners  and those who enjoy flowers and nature at https://www.facebook.com/GrammieKnowsWeekendGardeners.
The other places where Grammie Olivia posts things of interest include  Pinterest for fun and lots of interesting subjects that just tickle her funny bone.  You can check out some of the interesting things Grammie Olivia finds online right there.  


I love to hear from others, so use one or all of the platforms I have shared with you to drop me a line.  I will answer, because after all, GrammieKnows.




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