Paula's Patch: A Minnesota Garden

Come wander in; my gate is always open! Gardening / Birding

Got Nuthatches? May 9, 2011

I love our nuthatches! They are so fun to watch and they are enjoying the peanut pieces we put out this year. Most of the other songbirds love them too, so we purposely chose a globe cage feeder to keep the junk birds and squirrels out. The openings are just large enough for the small birds to climb in and enjoy this nutty treat.

nuthatch |

Get a globe feeder of your own here: Gardener’s Supply

Do you attract junk birds that eat all your food and bully the small birds? Try experimenting with the type of food you offer and the type of feeders you choose.

My hubby and I are always trying new things to keep black birds, sparrows, squirrels and rabbits out of our yard and out of the food we put out to attract the beautiful songbirds. Here’s a few things that are working for us – give them a try:

  • We hung strings of varying lengths from our suet feeders to keep some clever sparrows from flying up underneath and devouring all the suet. Somehow this frightens them! To attract chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches, we offer suet from feeders that are accessible only to those birds than can hang upside down like the one at the right. →→suet feeder |
  • We put Vic’s vapor rub on our sheperds’ hook to deter a determined squirrel from getting to multiple feeders. It’s slippery and they hate the smell.
  • We placed plastic squirrel baffles above and under the suet feeders to keep squirrels from leaping from the tree to the feeder.
  • We have a live trap in our yard at all times to lure and catch rabbits and squirrels. We don’t destroy them; we release them into the wild far, far away.
  • We offer nyjer seed/thistle in a sock-type feeder to attract finches.
  • We offer safflower seeds rather than a wild bird feed mix to attract small birds.
  • We offer grape jelly and orange halves in a dish to attract orioles.

What works in your yard? I’d love to hear what clever ideas you have for attracting birds!


Make Your Own Suet April 25, 2011

I put together a recipe of suet for my birdies. It’s supposed to be a no-melt recipe. I had collected many recipes over the years and I’ve adapted this one to make use of ingredients I usually have on hand. It’s made and stored in my freezer. Can’t wait to try it once my current cakes are consumed.

make your own suet ingredients

  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour (whole wheat or white)
  • 1 cup lard, suet or vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 cup dried fruit (raisins, currants, chopped apricots, or cranberries)
  1. Combine the oats, cornmeal and flour in a large bowl.
  2. Melt the lard and peanut butter in the microwave and add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the fruit. Mix well.
  4. Form into the shape you need for your feeder (I saved some container forms from the store-bought ones we use).
  5. Put in a covered container. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

make your own suet cakes |

Do you make suet for  your birds? What recipes do you find work best for Midwest birds?


Curious Cardinal April 1, 2011

This male cardinal was so cute. Usually my visiting cardinals just grab a piece of food and fly away, but this male was particularly curious. He landed on all the things I have around the feeder area and just sat there checking them out like he’d never been in this neck of the neighborhood before!

cardinal, malePretty funny since I’m sure this is the male that’s been around for years. I’m glad he’s feeling comfortable enough to stay for a longer visit. :-)

Need feeders to attract birds to your yard? Check out Gardener’s Supply for all your birding and gardening needs.


Downy Woodpecker March 21, 2011

We have several families of downy woodpeckers, but there is one male from last year’s brood that is the most frequent visitor to the feeders I have outside my kitchen window.

Since he was born nearby and has always come to our feeders for sustenance, he isn’t the least bit shy. He’s really quite funny to watch. He checks out all the feeders and hangs out on the top of the fence or trellis. None of our other downy woodpeckers do this. They are much too jumpy, grabbing their food and flying off. I rather like that he seems comfortable hanging out. Here he is getting nourishment. Isn’t he cute?
(click images to enlarge)



Female Cardinal March 7, 2011

I’ve been thinking about getting an outdoor web cam that is motion-sensitive. During the winter months, I don’t have a very good spot to capture photos of our birds visiting the feeders outside our kitchen window.

I’ve tried to have my camera at the ready, but just about the time I’m in position, focused and zoomed, the birds are long gone!

Well, one Saturday morning, my female cardinal must have been particularly hungry. She usually is quite flighty, grabbing her food and scooting away.  Well she sat so long, I was able to get a good shot of her even though she was on the back side of the feeder. She’s really so pretty and quite a private gal, just ducking out of view. :-)

Hope you have some of these beautiful birds visiting your feeders too. They are so regal with that little “crown” of feathers on top of their head.

I’d love to hefemale cardinal imagear what birds are at your feeders this time of year – leave a comment below.

Crystal, one of the editor’s of Birds and Blooms, posted an article on their blog recently about the female cardinal. Get more interesting tidbits about this little lady (the cardinal) on the blog. There is also a great picture of a cardinal pair that accompanies the story.

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