Bird Watching: Easy steps to attract birds to your yard

g12c000000000000000a1661648d62e43ae8232483827846b32fe917873If you want birds in your yard — and not your neighbor’s yard — you’ve got to lure them in with an attractive space filled with what they need to survive.

“Bird watching is fun,” said Rhiannon Crane, project leader with the Yardmap Project at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (Visit for more information about building a bird habitat in your backyard.)

“By providing birds with the right habitat, you can increase your enjoyment by attracting between 20 to 30 species of birds — that amount is doable in an urban or rural setting. More diversity equals more fun,” Crain said.

Additionally, birds are good for your yard and provide an alternative to chemicals for keeping the insect population in check, Crane said.

Like all animals, birds need water, food and structure, which means a safe place to eat, sleep and nest, be pro- tected from the elements and elude predators.

For the water element, “it’s as easy as putting a saucer of water in the yard,” Crane said. Adding a dripping feature or running water is even more attractive to birds.
For a lasting effect that will allow birds to stay over winter months, add a bird feeder to your yard, Crane said. A basic seed mix is a good start, but specialized foods will attract a wider range of species.

Since baby birds don’t eat seeds, Crane suggests planting native shrubs and trees for birds to forage from. These will also attract caterpillars, which the babies can eat.
Consider letting a corner of your yard go wild by creating a brush pile with clippings, branches and twigs as many birds prefer habitat on the ground.
Evergreens also provide natural cover year-round and attract migrating birds.
“You can do a little or a lot,” Crane said. “It’s not difficult to attract birds to your yard.”

Easy DIY bird feeder
There are plenty of eco-friendly bird feeders are available for sale, but how about trying to make your own? It’s easy using just a milk jug and common household tools:

  1. Thoroughly wash an empty 1-gallon plastic milk jug. Replace the cap.
  2. Cut two large holes about 4 inches in diameter in the two adjacent sides of the jug opposite the handle. The holes should be about 2 inches up from the bottom of the jug.
  3. Cut a hole below each of the large holes and insert a twig or dowel rod through diagonally as a perch.
  4. With a large nail, punch two holes in the neck of the milk jug, about 1 inch below the cap.
  5. Run a 2-foot-long piece of wire through the holes, twisting the wire tightly above the cap with several turns.
  6.  To camouflage, brush on green acrylic paint and attach leaves to the outside with clear glue. Add twigs to the top to create a roof. Cover the entire project with clear non-toxic craft glaze so it’s water-resistant.
  7. Fill the feeder with birdseed and use the wire ends to hang it from a strong branch or other support.


Bird Notes | Winter and spring birds both making waves on the Strand

A male house fnch in fresh breeding plumage takes advantage of a seed feeder.By Gary Phillips — The Sun News

A male house fnch in fresh breeding plumage takes advantage of a seed feeder.
By Gary Phillips | The Sun News

A number of our earliest returning spring migrants are currently making their way into and through the area.

On March 13, Jack Peachey and I made quick trip check out to the sod farm at Bucksport and then to walk along the Great Pee Dee River on the north trail of the Yauhannah Tract of Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge.

While the sod farm occasionally hosts migrating shorebirds in spring and fall, the turf fields were too dry to offer any attractive habitat for shorebirds. A nice flock of tree swallows, another flock of yellow-rumped warblers, a lovely male Eastern bluebird and a handful of local resident bird species made the trip worthwhile.

The Yauhannah Tract offered observation of the construction of a new osprey nest site, with a female bringing a clump of nest material to the spot as we watched.

Farther along the trail, a male yellow-throated warbler appeared to be on territory, singing incessantly from the top of a tree in the edge of the river. This handsome little fellow was my first “spring” warbler of the season, and should soon be followed by a number of other tiny winged wonders making their way back from the tropics to claim customary spots for the upcoming breeding season.

Several folks have been happy to report winter finches taking advantage of their backyard feeders: American goldfinch, pine siskin and purple finch have all been noted of late.

Many winter sparrows remain in the area, although their numbers appear to have started decreasing. Baltimore orioles continue to avail themselves of hummingbird feeders, grape jelly and orange sections in area backyards.

Winter hummingbirds have begun to exit our area in order to return to their own breeding territories for the season. As is customary however, the first presumed returnee male ruby-throated hummingbird was reported last week from Georgetown County, right on schedule. The first of “our” returning ruby-throateds start to appear in the area in mid-March, with a more noticeable influx of arrivals the last week of March and first week of February.

Keep your feeder clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives please, and let me know of the first hummingbird arrival to your backyard.

A reminder to report your first chimney swift sighting of the spring to: a reminder to keep a lookout for swallow-tailed kites and report any sightings you make this season to:

sources :


More feeding birds than ever

PEOPLE are ignoring the recession and continuing to feed garden birds says the RSPB.

Robin feeding

Robin feeding

In fact more are feeding birds now than ever before according to the conservation body.

In a survey conducted by the RSPB, six out of ten adults in the UK say they have fed the birds in their garden over the last year, with more than half the population feeding them at least once a week.

Seeds and nuts are the most popular foods to put out – three quarters of those that feed the birds said they provide these – with around two-thirds putting out fat products and kitchen scraps. Price and value came out as the top concern for people when choosing their bird food.

Val Osborne, RSPB Wildlife Advisor, said; “Gardens are vital habitats for some of our most threatened birds like house sparrows, song thrushes and starlings. It’s heart-warming that people are making them as welcoming for wildlife as possible.

“Given the increasing financial pressures on families , it is interesting that feeding garden birds has increased by five percent over the last ten years, suggesting that people have made it a priority to help nature on their doorsteps despite tough times.”

Over a third of households with children said they fed birds as they enjoyed the family coming together to appreciate nature.

Val said: “For many children, discovering garden wildlife can be the first step in getting to know and love nature. A simple activity like filling up the feeders and then watching to see which birds visit can bring families together and inspire a shared love of the natural World.”

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This summer, make a birdbath!

Little fountains, plastic bowls or tiled areas in a garden or indoors can serve as ‘water relief’ for birds and animals in this season

images (9)Summer’s almost here and while humans find it tough to stay cool and hydrated, for birds this is even more so! This time, make a provision for your feathered pals with a birdbath — a small pond or basin, filled with water from which birds may drink or ‘cool off.’ “Bird baths are a great way of lending a helping hand to the birds in our city. In summer especially, they desperately need water. I love keeping bird-baths because I also get to see so many birds that I would otherwise not have seen, except on some tree-top, almost out of sight. Just about any shallow container can be converted into a bird-bath, providing the depression is not too deep, especially for sparrows who need something shallow. I have a natural rock one which slopes towards the centre and tiny birds like sparrows as well as big ones like Pariah Kites (Black Kites) all flock to it,” says Sunita Mohan, a writer, who has two birdbaths at her home in Mumbai and encourages people to make them through her blog. “In summer, it’s important to do this as birds like sparrows, bulbuls, mynahs and babblers are dying out in the city. It’s important to do little things like this to save them.”

Cities need these desperately
In a city where water, especially clean water is a precious commodity, keeping some aside for the birds is a boon for them. Nilesh Bhanage of an animal rescue organisation says he rescues “at least dozens of birds who suffer due to the heat, every summer.” Of these, house crows, rock pigeons and black kites are the most affected. “Birds are, by and large, very delicate creatures, weighing just 100-200g and they cannot take hot weather, needing to have water several times a day and sometimes just taking a bath in water to cool off. And as these three birds (mentioned above) fly throughout the day, they get more tired and distressed.” Our highly polluted cities add to their woes. “Due to the high level of carbon dioxide, depleting green cover and rising temperatures, there is greater humidity which causes the heat strokes, so having a water supply for them at hand in such time is crucial,” he adds.

A water basin for animals too!
Ganesh Nayak of another organisation that saves animals and birds, says that life of a stray is very difficult and the harsh heat only makes it worse for them. He explains how a small step that building societies take, can add up to be a blessing for numerous stray animals and birds in the vicinity. “These bowls double up as feeding bowls for our local stray animal feeders. Once installed society members can request maintenance personnel to clean and refill the bowls frequently. To drive home to the point, we have some cement bowls ready, which we give out for free. All one needs to do is get a mason to install it in the area,” he says.

Needed: a long-term answer
Atul Sathe, of a natural history society, says, while it’s a good idea to have a birdbath that only works for the present and the larger solution is to create and maintain the natural habitat in the city. “We appreciate birdfeeders and the like; they are certainly useful but this is not sufficient. If you want birds in your area the primary thing is to have more trees; more of these need to be planted and that too, of the native variety.”

The other thing, he states, is to have a good soil surface. “In the current state of affairs, most of the city is paved, which means there is little or no soil or insects. Cement also heats up the city. All this can drive the birds away. Thus, the existing need is a soil surface at any cost,” he stresses.

Kinds of baths
-Use a sink or tray.
-You can also take a large terracotta saucer that you use for flower pots.
-A large stone bowl.
-Readymade bird bath.

Make your own bath
-Do not use shiny or glazed surfaces as these reflect sunlight and can scare away the birds. Terracotta dishes are better.
-Place the bath near plants, as that instills confidence in the bird to come nearer and they feel they can take shelter among the greenery when they want.
-Change the water regularly. Just a cup will do.
-If you’re keeping a birdbath in a garden place it partially exposed to the sun as birds do not like the full glare of the sun. Also, it should be at a little height, so that cats can’t reach it. If it is at home, keep it in a quieter area.

What to do when you see an exhausted bird
Advises Nilesh, “Don’t hold it in your hand or pass it from hand to hand. Instead, put it in a cardboard box, which will help it to come out of shock. Keep a little water in a corner of the box. Do not feed it or force it to drink. Call an expert at rescues who will be able to cover it correctly with a wet cloth. Also call a vet who will administer medicine.”

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After drought, birds especially seek feeders

A female cardinal flits off from a peanut filled bird feeder as a downy woodpecker takes her position. As drought continues, home bird feeders will help wild birds survive the winter.

A female cardinal flits off from a peanut filled bird feeder as a downy woodpecker takes her position. As drought continues, home bird feeders will help wild birds survive the winter.

Drought during the past two growing seasons has reduced seed production in wildflowers, grasses and trees. Recent snows have covered food that was available on the ground.

Usually filling backyard feeders is a matter of people enjoying watching colorful birds grab a snack. Nature normally produces all of the food the birds need.

But this winter, feeders are truly boosting wild birds, said Larry Rizzo, a natural history biologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

“I think we can safely say supplemental feeding is helping right now,” Rizzo said. “Drought is somewhat of a factor, but anytime you get excessively deep snow or ice cover, food is hard to get to.”

Large birds, such as wild turkeys, can scratch through deep snow and find food, he said. But smaller birds, such as sparrows or bobwhite quail, cannot.

Melting snow will provide some moisture for wild plants and wildlife. But providing drinking water for wildlife near feeders will draw more birds for watching. Heated watering systems are available at stores that sell bird-feeding supplies.

“One bird I always like to highlight regarding winter bird feeding is the Carolina wren,” Rizzo said. “Deep snow or ice flat out kills them. If you have that bird in your neighborhood, you will help them by feeding peanuts, suet mixtures, or best of all, a peanut butter mix. They love that. Mix peanut butter with corn meal. It’s simple and cheap.”

sources : Missouri Department of Conservation |