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Thread: OK, so birds

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    Default OK, so birds

    I live on a 100 by 200 lot in a treed neighborhood in upstate NY (less so after the new neighbors clear cut their yard) and I want to load it up with landscaping and shelters to have nothing but birds to rest my eye on. What books or info do I want to start with?
    Tom Ambros

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    Default Re: OK, so birds



    A local Audubon Society reserve is about 0.4mi down the road from me and my wife swears by their manual. She even went so far as to seek certification from them as a way to be more disciplined about planting and maintenance...fun stuff.

    http://www.aswp.org/pages/beechwood
    rw saunders
    hey, how lucky can one man get.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Well, you can start right now by putting out some bird feeders! Sunflower seed and suet works for here.

    Find a local nursery (the tree and shrub kind) and visit them in the early spring and tell them what you want to do. They can recommend shrubs that attract birds. Big trees don't really have much to offer for the birds as far as food sources. Have fun!

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Birds eat a lot of insects so really you are landscaping both to grow food and to attract food - insects - to your yard. Shelter is also important so you will be better off with an appropriately untidy landscaping approach. Don’t dead head flowers. Let bushes overwinter. Avoid raking. Avoid mowing. Plant by height and interest. A thyme and sedge mixed lawn area (what we’ve planted in areas) will only grow 3-4” tall.

    But the best attractor for birds is water. And water that makes sound is the best. A dependable source of water is golden for birds, and the only way they find it is by accident or by sound. If you can create a year round presence of water in your yard, that will go along way to building a steady population of regulars. Should be volume enough it doesn’t evaporate entirely, could have a float valve refill or a reservoir for a recirculating pump, should have a shallow section for small birds, and some form of drip in a pan or trickle over rocks that creates noise birds can hear. Doesn’t need to be a waterfall. Just a dribble. Birds will hear it.

    Margaret Roach has a good smart blog that might be helpful. She takes a seasonal approach to gardening with an eye towards animal and birds attracting but also organic vegetables etc. And she has books too that cover the same topics.

    https://awaytogarden.com/

    I follow Hawthorne Valley’s blog from their Farmscape Ecology program. Very interesting conversation on native species and the relationships between plants and human activities and animals and insects and birds etc etc etc. Inevitably it all goes into the knowledge mix that helps understand what might work in a landscape project.

    https://progressoftheseasons.wordpre...r/hvfarmscape/

    Finally, almost everything you would do for butterflies benefits birds as well. So building a garden that helps butterflies will help birds too.

    Native plants only! Lots of options. You won’t run out of things to plant.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    One of the things that we do is leave standing deadwood in the yard for the insects and birds to have at.

    Ditto with the “dead” lower branches on trees. Some of the bird favorites are a scruffy blue spruce and a lilac that are near the feeders. These give the birds cover and bunch of branches to perch on, so they act as staging areas. Another favorite is a gigantic rhododendron, this thing is dense AF and provides year round cover. Sometimes you can hear a whole flock inside and not see a single bird.
    Trod Harland, Physical Educator

    Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. — James Baldwin

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Our local NPR station, WAMC, has a birding show featuring Rich Guthrie.

    https://www.wamc.org/post/birding-rich-guthrie-1
    Jay Dwight

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    But the best attractor for birds is water. And water that makes sound is the best. A dependable source of water is golden for birds, and the only way they find it is by accident or by sound. If you can create a year round presence of water in your yard, that will go along way to building a steady population of regulars.
    Jorn, do you have water for them in the winter too? It takes quite a few watts to keep a decent sized birdbath from freezing when the temps drop below, say, 20* and I haven't been able to justify it to myself, even though I do have a heated bath that I could use.

    I also wonder how far birds will go for water in the winter. My house is almost exactly halfway between a creek that almost never freezes, and the MO river, which obviously always runs, and it's almost exactly 1 mile each way "as the crow flies." I don't know if that's close enough for the guys who come to my feeder - it might be too far for the littler ones.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Mabouya View Post
    Jorn, do you have water for them in the winter too? It takes quite a few watts to keep a decent sized birdbath from freezing when the temps drop below, say, 20* and I haven't been able to justify it to myself, even though I do have a heated bath that I could use.

    I also wonder how far birds will go for water in the winter. My house is almost exactly halfway between a creek that almost never freezes, and the MO river, which obviously always runs, and it's almost exactly 1 mile each way "as the crow flies." I don't know if that's close enough for the guys who come to my feeder - it might be too far for the littler ones.
    Good point. Down in Norfolk VA where my dad lives, he runs a dripper year 'round. Up here that's a good way to freeze your hose bib. We had a piece of carved granite we used as a bird bath in Amagansett. During the winter, I'd heat a kettle of water and take it out to melt the ice. By the time I'd poured the water into the birdbath, the ice was melted and the water was cool enough for the birds. I did it twice a day usually. The white throated sparrows were the primary benefactors in winter. The bath was on the ground under a bush. In summer it was the catbirds, but I just filled it manually since we were renters. Didn't want to start a mudpit with a dripper in the owners' garden.

    Conveniently we now have a lot of water within a small distance, water that seems to somehow flow all winter. There is a very small creek within throwing distance from the bird feeders that runs enough there is open water most days. Quite a few birds use it, including pileated woodpeckers which is a bit comical. And then there is the creek further away. Plenty of birds there. Sometimes hundreds of goldfinches. But in more urban areas, water can be less available.

    Birds will actually travel fairly far for water, but they have to know where it is. They don't seem able to go out of their way looking for water. More like they just stumble upon it while feeding, which is very routine driven. If you've ever set up a birdbath, you may have noticed that weeks can go by before any bird figures out it is there. Once they find it, it gets put into their routine. If I didn't have water in the bath in Amagansett first thing in the morning, the catbirds stood on the porch making noise.

    I'd have to look at what is available for actual winters to know what to recommend. You could use a poultry water heater in a rock/concrete/stone birdbath, but then if the thing malfunctions or there's a power outage, you're likely to crack your nice birdbath when the water freezes. So I suspect some kind of molded plastic or resin bath with built-in heating would be better. And probably more efficient too as it wouldn't be working against the cooling factor of the bath material as much. And put it on the ground out of the wind to stabilize temps that way too, plus provide cover. Birds might bathe in it periodically, but mostly it is just going to be for drinking, so the volume can be lower as well.
    Jorn Ake
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    Default Re: OK, so birds





    A mix of black and stripped sunflower seed for my feathered friends, suet for the woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees and .177 steel shot for the squirrels.
    rw saunders
    hey, how lucky can one man get.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Habitat is great but if you want to see them you have to feed them. My wife and her family are birders. Her parents have a family small yard but feed/water them religiously. They see a large variety pretty much every day.

    We have a large over grown yard with habitat in mind. Feed regularly but not to the degree her parents do. We see our fair share, but not nearly as many as them. However, we know as a fact we have a large multiple more activity than them and are blessed to know they are being raised all around us.




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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by rwsaunders View Post
    A mix of black and stripped sunflower seed for my feathered friends, suet for the woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees and .177 steel shot for the squirrels.
    Sunflower seeds work best at my place too. They totally ignore millet.

    As far as squirrels go, about 6 months ago I bit the bullet and bought two Broam Squirrel Buster Plus feeders. They aren't cheep [ ;) ], but they did solve my squirrel problem, and and have payed for themselves several times over in savings.

    (pic is not mine)

    https://bromebirdcare.com/squirrelbuster-plus/


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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by mg2ride View Post
    Habitat is great but if you want to see them you have to feed them. My wife and her family are birders. Her parents have a family small yard but feed/water them religiously. They see a large variety pretty much every day....
    If your wife is a birder and in VA Beach, she'll probably know a rare hummingbird - a buff-bellied hummingbird - popped up in the Larchmont neighborhood of Norfolk. Has no business whatsoever being there, but there it is. The person whose hummingbird feeders (left out too long but global warming etc.) it visited recognized it as different and posted photos to a neighborhood forum. A birder in the neighborhood saw the photo and I guess all heck broke loose. My dad went over to see it last weekend. I can't tell you how many rare birds show up at people's birdfeeders. Makes for weird moments in neighborhoods. 30 birdwatchers standing in a driveway peering into someone's backyard with binoculars.

    Feeders are about creating a concentration point. The birds are there. Feeder just puts a bunch of them in an easy to see spot. Side benefit is that the birds get a helping hand making it through the winter. Especially a lost hummingbird. Probably a life-saver.
    Last edited by j44ke; 01-18-2021 at 12:03 AM.
    Jorn Ake
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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Mabouya View Post
    Sunflower seeds work best at my place too. They totally ignore millet.

    As far as squirrels go, about 6 months ago I bit the bullet and bought two Broam Squirrel Buster Plus feeders. They aren't cheep [ ;) ], but they did solve my squirrel problem, and and have payed for themselves several times over in savings.

    (pic is not mine)

    https://bromebirdcare.com/squirrelbuster-plus/

    I’ve had the same feeder for the past couple of years and I agree, that it works as advertised. The suet holder which is to the right of the feeder, holds two cakes (vertically) and it’s easy to load. I sent Jorn a short video the other day, of two pileated woodpeckers having lunch together on the suet holder...the other birds sit on the sidelines when the pileated couple is dining.
    rw saunders
    hey, how lucky can one man get.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    The person whose hummingbird feeders (left out too long but global warming etc.) it visited recognized it as different and posted photos to a neighborhood forum.
    I'm always surprised by how many critters other than hummingbirds come to my hummer feeder. This past year I saw at least two different types of moths (or at least something that I took to be moths - it was night and they sure weren't butterflies) and birds other than hummers. Happily, this summer the raccoons did not raid it, because their teeth really do a number on the feeder.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by Mabouya View Post
    I'm always surprised by how many critters other than hummingbirds come to my hummer feeder. This past year I saw at least two different types of moths (or at least something that I took to be moths - it was night and they sure weren't butterflies) and birds other than hummers. Happily, this summer the raccoons did not raid it, because their teeth really do a number on the feeder.
    Last year I was surprised when I rounded a corner of my house and there was a black bear, sitting, holding one of my hummingbird feeders between its paws, just looking at me.
    The wrought iron pole holding the feeder was on the ground, bent into a "C" shape like it was a paperclip.
    We just kind of looked at each other for a bit, and then each of us went back to our business. Hey, no harm, no foul. Feeders are cheap, and if (s)he worked that hard, (s)he deserved a sugary treat, I guess.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Yes, bushes and big grasses are what I'm thinking of mostly. Certainly staying away from non-native for a number of reasons - the native ones grow well if you give them the right treatment and the critters from around here know of them. Something that they can eat and hide in are the idea, I think.

    Friends of ours have a cool solar powered fountain and I think I will try and find something like that. It has a pool for them to splash around in and drink from and it makes a little water running noise that they might hear above the city sounds. We have a couple bird baths that get constant use in the back, I think the birds that seem to hang around the front all the time need something.
    Tom Ambros

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    If your wife is a birder and in VA Beach, she'll probably know a rare hummingbird - a buff-bellied hummingbird - popped up in the Larchmont neighborhood of Norfolk. Has no business whatsoever being there, but there it is. The person whose hummingbird feeders (left out too long but global warming etc.) it visited recognized it as different and posted photos to a neighborhood forum. A birder in the neighborhood saw the photo and I guess all heck broke loose. My dad went over to see it last weekend. I can't tell you how many rare birds show up at people's birdfeeders. Makes for weird moments in neighborhoods. 30 birdwatchers standing in a driveway peering into someone's backyard with binoculars.

    Feeders are about creating a concentration point. The birds are there. Feeder just puts a bunch of them in an easy to see spot. Side benefit is that the birds get a helping hand making it through the winter. Especially a lost hummingbird. Probably a life-saver.
    They had not heard but were very excited when I told them.

    Thx

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    If you're on Instagram, check out my friend Peter's account...awesome pics, bicycle content, too.

    https://www.instagram.com/hoppedbirder/

    SPP
    My name is Peter Miller.

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    I live east of Kingman, AZ in the Hualapai Valley. My backyard has a cinderblock fence about 5 feet tall with wrought iron on top. The only predators in my yard had to fly there. I throw birdseed on the ground, maybe three handfuls a day. I have cactus wrens, rock wrens, sparrows, dove, pigeons, and a metric butt-tonne of California quail, sometimes a few dozen. In the evenings and early mornings, I can see up to four great horned owls at a time.
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: OK, so birds

    We had a Cooper's or sharp-shinned working over the chipmunks until they were under control earlier this year. There's a big red tail that works down the tree line behind us, it is pretty funny to see the crows harassing it flying along it looking up going "Cut it out!" petulantly.

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