December 16, 2018

Oriole Bird Feeder Use | Attracting & Feeding Birds

Depending on where you live in the U.S. you can expect the orioles to return from mid-April in the south to nearing  the end of May in the North but it’s important to remember that with Oriole’s, timing is everything!

Be sure to have your oriole bird feeder hung in easy view and filled with nectar, oranges, and jelly hung outside a couple of weeks before they are due to arrive.

Orioles are stunning birds and are much anticipated by bird lovers.  Like other species in the bird family, the males are brighter but in Orioles, the females are gorgeous as well.

There are nine species of orioles in the U.S. however only 5 or common enough that you will will probably see them, the others, well you’ll have to go looking for them.

Orioles spend their winters in Mexico and Central and South America, where they can find a steady source of insects, fruit and nectar. Then they migrate north to nest in early spring.

And what a nest they make!  Many orioles find tall deciduous trees, where they carefully weave together plant fiber and sometimes yarn or string if they can find it, to make their nests.  Some orioles will take up to 12 days to construct their pendulous sac-shaped nests which they build on the ends of thin branches.  This placement  keeps the eggs and babies relatively safe from climbing predators and other nest robbers.

Remember this, your chance to see these beautiful orange birds doesn’t last long, because most start to migrate south in August. It’s a thrill to see these beautiful birds for most bird lovers and your chances of seeing them will be lengthened by offering an abundance of food.  These birds arrive hungry and will move on quickly if no food is available.  Whether you spot them for just a day or are lucky enough to have them visit your yard most of the summer, they are one of spring’s greatest bird treasures.

Tips for Attracting Orioles

  • Begin 2 weeks earlier than you expect Orioles to arrive in your area. Your best chance of attracting orioles is when they first arrive in early spring.
  • Use the same nectar recipe for orioles as you do for hummingbirds-four parts boiled water to one part sugar. Keep nectar fresh, change every 2-3 days, and don’t use food coloring.
  • These birds are attracted to the color orange, so they will love this specifically designed feeder for orioles.
  • Make sure your feeder has large enough perches and drinking ports. It’s not unusual for orioles to try hummingbird feeders, but their bills are often too big. Orioles love the color and taste of oranges. Offer orange halves on a branch or feeder. Orioles will also eat grape jelly. Serve the jelly in an open dish or cup, and keep it fresh.
  • When placing the oriole feeder in your yard, think like a bird. Instead of hiding the feeder under an awning or tree, put it out in the open so the birds can see it while flying overhead. If you have a large yard offer more than one feeder.
  • Hang your feeder near a birdbath. If your bath has a mister or dripper, even better. Orioles love the sight and sound of moving water!
  • Put out yarn and string. Hang small pieces from tree branches.  Orioles and other backyard songbirds will use it for their nests.
  • If you don’t attract orioles in your first year, keep at it. It often takes several seasons to find a following.

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Cake Feeder. Homemade Bird Suet Cakes Recipe

homemade bird suet cakesHere is an easy recipe that makes a large number (20-30) of homemade bird suet cakes.

In a large pot, melt 2 lbs of lard and a large jar of crunchy peanut butter together.  Pour into a large container, (I use a bucket) mix in 5 lbs of cornmeal, add 4 pounds of birdseed   Mix well and refrigerate or freeze after making up the cakes.

To attract Bluebirds, try adding oatmeal instead of the cornmeal, chopped nuts and raisins to the cake mix.

I save and reuse the “cake pans” from commercial suet cakes but you can also use a 9″ x 13″ cake pan and cut into size. Line the cake pan with wax paper to make removing the cut cakes easier.  Place the cut pieces into sandwich baggies and freeze until you are ready to use.

You could also roll into balls and insert a Christmas ornament hook for hanging or just  serve the balls at the ground feeder.

To keep the squirrels at bay, sprinkle a little hot sauce on the cut cakes.  The birds won’t taste it but the squirrels will and they won’t like it!

If you need a hanging suet feeder to feed your homemade suet, be sure to check out this cute suet feeder with metal roof in your choice of brushed copper, antique silver, or green metal roof.

Happy Suet Making 🙂

Leigha sig

 

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Photography Tips for Backyard Birds. Capturing the Best Bird Pictures.

Bird Photography isn’t just for pro’s.  With a digital, traditional, or even a video camera and a little patience, you can shoot great bird images in your own backyard.

If you wanted to get the best bird photos you could:perched bird 7

  1. Spend thousands of dollars on photography equipment.
  2. Travel to expensive faraway places.
  3. Wade through muddy swamps, fight off mosquitoes, and sweat profusely in the humidity to get that “perfect shot”.
  4. Check your own backyard

If you like option “D”, they’re going to love my six step plan for snapping great bird photos.  This method has given me professional quality photographs for relatively little money and work.  All it takes is a little practice and patience.  Chances are, you already have plenty of interesting backyard birds in your area, such as Cardinals, Blue Jays, Black Capped Chickadees, Purple Finches, Song Sparrows, Dark Eyed Juncos, Spotted Towhees and more.  So keep reading, and soon you’ll be able to capture a bird photo you’ll be just as proud of as the pros.  And the best part is you don’t even have to leave your backyard!

Step 1.  Put Up a Bird Feeder

Put up a bird feeder.  Almost any kind will due as long as the birds can get the food.  My personal favorite for this activity is a platform feeder.  Although it doesn’t have a lot of pizzazz, it does the trick.  (its’ basically a plane horizontal stand with low walls on the sides to contain the seed).  You can place this type of feeder anywhere, fill it with any kind of seed and use it to attract any type of bird.

Step 2.  Fill the Feeder with Seed

Fill the feeder with tempting food.  There are many kinds of birdseed, and some are better than others.  I prefer Black Oil sunflower seeds because it tends to attract the most birds.  You could also try Millet for sparrows, peanuts to attract Blue Jays, and thistle for finches.  Try a few different offerings in advance to see what kind of birds you will attract.

Step 3.  Location, Location, Location

perched goldfinchPut your feeding station in a good location for photography.  If you don’t have a perfect place, don’t panic.  Find the best spot you can, giving highest priority to areas with good light.  As a general rule, try to follow these guidelines.

• Your best bet is to find a spot that gets early morning sun, which will give you a nice lighting.

• Place the feeder near cover, such as bush’s, trees and other objects so the birds have a spot to perch and the background in the photo looks natural.

• It’s important NOT to put the feeder in the shade.  This will cast shadows on the birds that will show up in your photos.

• Position the feeder near a window, so you can easily capture the moments from inside your home.

Step 4.  Providing a Perch

perched bird 2Place perches strategically around the feeder.  To get nice, clean shots of birds in their natural environment, you’ll probably have to “create” perches.  Birds like to land on branches near a feeder before eating to make sure the coast is clear.  You might want to experiment a little to see which perch works best and where, but I like a plain dead branch stuck into the ground near the feeder.  It’s sturdy, doesn’t wilt and it isn’t complicated.

Mix it up, though.  You don’t want all of your photos to look the same, so give your feathered friends plenty of perches to choose from.

Step 5.  Go Into Hiding

Find a cover for yourself.  You can devise many ways to hide yourself 10 to 15 feet away from your birds.  This distance should be perfect for shooting your photos.  However, depending on your camera, you can move in a little closer if you don’t have the ability to zoom in.

If you have somewhere inside the house that you can shoot your photos from an open window that’s close to your feeder, that’s perfect.  If not, consider putting up a tent in your yard and shoot from inside the tent.  Another option is to build a temporary cover in your yard.  Hang a camouflage tarp over a couple of metal posts stuck in the ground, this too works wonderfully.

Make sure you’re comfortable, though.  Finding the perfect shot takes patience.  If you have a long wait, you’ll want a chair to sit in to keep from getting cramped.

Step 6.  Check Your Equipment.

Use basic, reliable camera equipment.  You can spend a lot of money on fancy cameras and lenses, but they are not necessary.  The three main things you need are a basic lens, a tripod, and a flash.  The tripod will help you keep the camera still and pointed in the right direction while the flash can help lighten a dark picture and put a glint in the bird’s eye.  Pre-focus your camera where you think the birds are crowing to land.  Some birds stay for a only an instant, so you’ll need to snap the picture quickly.

One final tip.

Video Bird photography can also be accomplished with the same idea in mind.  Bird videos you make yourself will bring you hours of enjoyment watching your backyard birds from the comfort of your own living room. While you are away at work or if you don’t have time to watch your backyard birds in person, this is the perfect solution!  Two Bird Cams are available from my store and I’ve provided two short videos so you can see what you can expect from each.

Hawk Eye Nature Cam

Hawk Eye Nature Cam shoots black and white infrared images at night and color video by day.  You can attach it to a tree, a feeder, or inside of a bird house and see your backyard birds like you have never seen them before.  Video credit to YouTube’s Wildman50.

You can get the Hawk Eye Nature Cam by clicking here

The Audubon Birdcam

Audubon Birdcam is a better quality camera (but also more expensive) however, as you will see it records images are clearer.  This is the obvious solution for serious minded bird watchers.

Here is a video from Wingscapes showing you what you can expect from the Audubon Birdcam:

You can get the Audubon Birdcam by clicking here.

Have fun and enjoy your bird photography!

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Feeding Wild Birds in the Winter

birdhouse in snowI’m hearing that parts of the country are already getting snow not measured in inches but in feet!  When I hear this, my mind wanders back to the days that I lived in Western NY and I remember how beautiful it was but also what a pain the neck it was!  I also remember that it was the time I worried most about “my” backyard birds.  I felt like they’d never survive without my feeding and providing shelter for them.  That of course is nonsense as mother nature provides everything birds need to survive the winter.  My providing for  them just helps ME to be able to enjoy their presence year round.   You almost can’t beat the simple beauty of seeing a red Cardinal or a Blue Jay in a snow covered backyard.  It’s simply spectacular!  If you want to see birds in your backyard during winter, just provide for their 3 basic needs.  Food, Water, and Shelter.  It’s that simple.female card in snow

This brings me to the months issue of Birds and Blooms magazine.  Anyone who knows me know that I love this  magazine!  This months issue was so full of craft ideas and beautiful winter wonderland photographs that I just couldn’t put it down!  I wish I had a copy to give to every one of you!  I found so many ideas this month I couldn’t help myself but to share it with you.

Birdseed ornamentsThis month on their website they are sharing how to make birdseed ornaments with just a few ingredients and some cookie cutters.  Another idea and a very inexpensive way to feed your feathered friends that they mentioned was to attach dried corn cobs to tree limbs.  This will be especially attractive to Blue Jays!  When the corn is gone you can spread peanut butter on the cob and roll it in birdseed for an extra treat.  (a very inexpensive way to feed.)  Whether you are a subscriber or not, their website is a really great resource for anyone who loves gardening or birding and I highly recommend that you visit the site here.

With a few simple tasks you can enjoy year round birds in your backyard.

Happy Winter birding!

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The Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Elegance and grace define the Tree Swallow.  With an iridescent coat of metallic blue-green, and underparts and cheeks of pearly white, it’s hard to find a more elegant looking bird.  Grace comes naturally to this lovely swallow as it glides along with its distinctive, swooping flight.

Left on their own, this bird nests in tree cavities and prefers a habitat near forests, hence it’s name.

Listen for single chit or cheet notes.  Durning breeding season, these birds also create a song out of happy, twittering notes.

They are great at hunting mosquitoes and other airborne pests around your garden making them an attractive bird to attract to your yard.  Build or buy nest boxes and attach them to trees in the back part of your yard away from where there is activity.  Optimum opening size is 1 1/2″.  Bluebird-style houses work just fine.  Expect Tree Swallows to dive and swoop at you if you get too close to their nesting territory.

Unlike other species of swallows, the Tree Swallow eats berries and seeds as a part of their regular diet.  Bayberry, dogwood, red cedar, Virginia creeper, and other berries and seeds comprise about 30 percent of their diet.

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Protecting Hummingbird Feeders

Hummer hat baffleProtect your hummingbirds with this transparent hummer hat that fits over your feeder providing shelter from sun and rain for the hummingbirds while offering you the ability to watch these wonderful little birds.  Keeps the squirrels at bay as well!

The “Hummer Hat” is the best baffle made for protecting your hummingbird feeder from squirrels and the weather.  Not only will it stop squirrels but it will also stop pigeons from roosting.

The 17″ clear red dome will never block your view and it is made from 100% recycled Plexiglas.

You’ll also love that it will increase the hummingbird activity around your feeder due to the bright red color which hummerbirds are so attracted to.

Easy to hang and the hardware is included.

Lifetime warranty.

Dimensions: 13.00 x 17.00 x 8.00





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