Plan a water park for wild critters

August 1, 2011

August is here and if you don’t already provide water for your yard wildlife community, here are some suggestions. Actually, you need to provide water all year around and you don’t have to waste water to do it.

Bird baths do more than attract birds. Easy home-made bath: a large plastic or clay flower pot liner placed on top of a two-foot tall strawberry jar. Fill the liner with about an inch and a half of water and you’ve got a first-rate bird attractant.

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Birdbath Basics

July 21, 2011

In this time of drought we need to consider providing water for our feathered friends as well as pets and livestock. The most common form of water for birds in the home landscape is a <a href=””>bird bath</a>.

Installing a birdbath is a great way to attract many species of birds to your yard or garden. A birdbath is an artificial “puddle” or small shallow pond, created with a water-filled basin, for birds to bathe and ‘cool off’ in, and drink from. A birdbath can be a garden ornament, small reflecting pool, outdoor sculpture, and part of creating a vital wildlife garden.

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Unique Homes for Your Container Gardens

July 11, 2011

Save a few memories and the environment by giving old items new life in your landscape.

Add a few extra holes to a leaky bucket to create a container or fill an old cracked bird bath with plants instead of water.

Recycle cookie, cracker, and popcorn tins into planters. Use a hammer and screwdriver to punch in some needed drainage holes.

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Make your yard attractive to a variety of fine-feathered visitors

July 11, 2011

Photo courtesy of Duncraft

A lush yard also helps birds feel safe, noted David Bonter, an ornithologist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, N.Y. He suggests collecting twigs and branches that fall out of trees to create brush piles for predator protection.

House cats in the outdoors kill millions of birds each year, he said, adding that keeping them inside is a good idea both for the cat, who can contract diseases and parasites, as well as for the birds.

Another way to attract birds to your yard is with food. Bonter advises against buying elaborate mixes birds will pick through to find what they like. Instead, fill each bird feeder with one type of seed that will help attract the birds you want.

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Garden Q & A: Treating yards for mosquitoes

July 11, 2011

Q: Many of my neighbors are having their yards treated for mosquitoes. We’ve always controlled ours by making sure there weren’t any standing water sources in the yard by cleaning out the gutters regularly and changing the bird bath daily.

This spring, I noticed an increase in bad bugs in our yards and a decrease of good bugs. Is it possible there is a correlation between the spraying for mosquitoes and the increase of bad bugs?

A: While I have no way of knowing what your neighbors are spraying, anything that kills mosquitoes would likely affect other insects as well. Many of the mosquito sprays are contact sprays that kill insects on contact, not just mosquitoes. I would bet there is a direct correlation between their spraying and the absence of good bugs.

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From the Corner You Can See the Bay

July 7, 2011

You see, we’d had this cheap assed little bird feeder hanging on the back, deck outside the kitchen’s sliding glass doors for about seven or eight years. A lot of birds came to feed, including a flock of pigeons (they call then) doves in south Florida but I know a pigeon when I see one), Well, Tom had sawed off most of the perch rods at the feeder, so the pigeons couldn’t roost but posed no problem for smaller species. The pigeons would strut around on the ground after that to catch the seed that fell from the bird feeder unto the deck floor.

Read more from Norm McLean here

Bird sightings: Green-tailed towhee

July 7, 2011

Courtesy Dave Allison

This bird sports a red cap on the top of its head with white lores and a white bib under the bill that is bordered by a black and white stripe. The breast is gray and the flanks buffy. The face is gray and the upper parts are an olive green. The wings and tail are edged in yellow-olive.

The green-tailed towhee is a ground bird feeder that forages by using a double scratch with its feet. It eats seeds, fruit and insects and their larvae. This towhee is easily overlooked in the underbrush.

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Bird Feeders

July 7, 2011

Photos by Don Reimer

by Don Reimer

Numerous articles have outlined the basic bird feeding routines. Assorted seed are recommended: black oil sunflower and niger seed are staples; “scratch seed” such a fine-cracked corn or millet, thrown down for ground feeding birds. Suet is a welcoming diet for woodpeckers and others. Since suet may turn rancid in hot summer weather, I parcel it out sparingly to the baby woodpeckers arriving at bird feeders daily. Water is also a positive element in attracting birds. And adequate cover adds a sense of security as birds feed.

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Tracking beauty on the wing

July 6, 2011

As eastern painted buntings flock to bird feeders, volunteers help scientists map their numbers

Debra Carr, 51, attracts painted buntings to her property in rural South Carolina by setting up 16 feeders brimming with white millet. When the kaleidoscope-colored birds arrive during their spring migration, usually in early April, she sets up a chair and watches them, keeping track of their numbers.

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Birdy in the Window

July 6, 2011

Photo credit:

The best way to attract birds to a yard is by providing plenty of food and water.

“Most commercial bird feeders will work fine as long as they are sturdy, easy to clean, and have adequate drainage,” advised Dr. Ian Tizard, director of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.

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