Thoughts from the National Wildlife Federation’s blog for growing native plants to help our backyard birds.
Garden for Wildlife Month May 23, 2013
May is Garden for Wildlife Month. Create a garden that attracts wildlife and get certified by NWF (National Wildlife Federation). My garden is certified and this year I certified as an advanced wildlife habitat for creating a bird-friendly habitat. Fun!
You can get certified too. It’s easy.
Tips for Photographing Birds from NWF May 22, 2013
Get tips from photographer Christine Haines, member of NWF’s Flickr group for photographing your favorite birds.
Bird photography tips: http://blog.nwf.org/2013/05/wildlife-through-a-lens-focus-on-birds/
Indigo Bunting! May 21, 2013
We have a new bird in the neighborhood…this beautiful Indigo Bunting! Although the Indigo Bunting breeds in MN all summer, this is the first time I’ve ever spotted one. It was thrilling and it’s been hanging around a couple of weeks. I sure hope it stays around to visit my feeders often.
Are you seeing new species of birds in your yard this year?
Our Tree Swallows Are Back May 1, 2013
We have at least 1 pair of Tree Swallows that return to nest in our garden every year. They returned a few days ago and have been checking out the nestbox each day since. They spend several days just flying around the yard, going in and out of the nestbox before they begin building their nest. Hubs and I get a kick out of watching them and being greeted by their warbly call.
I love the stark contrast in their coloring – iridescent blue/green feathers with bright white breasts (females are duller with more brown in their feathers). These beauties nest in tree cavities, but readily adapt to nestboxes. Hang one in your yard and see if you can attract them! If you want to attract just Tree Swallows, be sure you have the right opening. Too large an opening will attract other birds like sparrows or chickadees. We had to “flatten” the opening a bit. Instead of making it round, we found that a flatter oval shape approximately 2″ wide x 1″ tall works best. The Tree Swallows (and maybe a House Wren) are the only birds that can make themselves small enough to squeeze in.
Did you know…
- Tree Swallows feed on small insects that they catch in their mouths during flight?
- They can eat plant foods as well as their normal insect diet, which helps them survive cold snaps and wintry weather in early spring, such as we’re having!
- Tree Swallows winter farther north than any other American swallows and return to their nesting grounds long before other swallows come back?
- The oldest Tree Swallow on record was at least 12 years, 1 month old when it was captured and released by an Ontario bird bander in 1998?
P.S. As I get ready to share this post today, we have a winter storm warning! 6-9 more inches of heavy snow headed our way. The WORST time for this since plants and bulbs are beginning to peek out of the ground. And it’s really bad for our fruit tree farms and wineries!
It’s Not Spring Yet April 18, 2013
Although the calendar says it’s spring, our northern weather says it’s not! We are still getting hit with rounds of snow and sleet and the temps hover around the freezing mark. Ugh. My poor little Juncos have had to dig for their food.
As I write this, a frozen wintry mix is tapping at my window. At least the patches of grass peeking out from the snow are turning green, so there is hope! It certainly has not been warm enough for any spring flowers to poke their heads out of the ground yet. We need warm sunny days for that.
What’s coming up in your yard? Please share so I can dream of what’s to come.
Brush Pile for the Birds April 2, 2013
When we were cleaning up the yard last fall, my husband made a pile of small branches we’d trimmed from our trees. It was near our rock patio in the back part of our yard.
I asked him to leave it for the winter and he looked at me strangely. I know what he was thinking. He wanted the backyard nice and clean before the snow fell. I talked him into leaving it so our winter birds would have another shelter spot. I know he wasn’t convinced. Just as he doesn’t like to leave any spent flower stalks or blooms left in the beds, I don’t think he really wanted to leave the brush pile either.
But I had a hunch the birds would use the brush for protection and the dead blossoms for nibbling. Many of the birds loved hopping in and out of the brush pile all winter. The Dark-eyed Juncos seemed to enjoy it the most. And the Chickadees are always nosing around and hanging upside down to eat the seed heads we leave in the beds.
We have a small backyard so we have to purposely leave these things for our birds. Do you have natural areas like this in your yard? Or do you create them?