Just when you think winter will never end, the birds give you hope!
New birds and new sounds are starting to float through my yard, birds that announce the arrival of a new season with their presence, uttering songs and calls that start the process of renewal and new life.
Shiny black with an occasional flash of red, the arrival of the Red-winged Blackbird foretells the coming of spring. "Konk-ler-eeeeee! Konk-ler-eeeee!" Like many migrating birds, the "he" arrives before the "she" to scope out and establish territory.
The sound of "Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk! Honk!" makes me look high in the sky to see a skein of nearly 90 noisy Canada Geese. They're headed in a northwesterly direction to locations unknown.
A Song Sparrow arrives, scratching food out of the hardened snow. Not in the singing mood...yet.
The distinctive low-pitched "cr-r-ruck" of a Common Raven alerts me to a dance going on high above the pine trees.
Everyday it seems, a change takes place as spring incrementally moves in to upstate New York.
One of the best things about owning a Wild Birds Unlimited store is the friendships you develop. Over the last 7-1/2 years, our customers have become our friends.
We find that because of the nature of our little shop - a special place for people who love birds - we attract a special type of customer. Customers like Regina and Terry. At Christmas, they surprised us with a very special gift from their hearts - a needlepoint done by Regina's own hands.
As you can see, it is beautifully framed and features four birds: chickadee, cardinal, waxwing and blue jay. A bit of metallic yarn was sewn in to give each bird a little sparkle.
A few months earlier, Regina had asked me what my favorite bird is. And now my favorite Black-capped Chickadee has the top spot in the piece.
This special gift has a place of honor in our home. We lovingly hung it to the right of our front door, where we can enjoy it every day as we take in the bird activity outside.
We feel very honored and so grateful to have wonderful folks like Regina and Terry in our lives, who love to share their passion for the birds with us. Thanks again, Terry and Regina, for a very special gift!
With the right additions, your yard can be even more attractive to resident and migrating birds. Here's five steps you can take to get your yard ready for the birds this spring.
1) Start out Clean!
Start the season with a little spring cleaning! Clean your feeders, baffles, poles, and weather guards with a 10% bleach solution (one part bleach to nine parts water). Do it on a sunny day if you can and let the feeders air-dry in the warm sun. Take time now to repair any weather damage to your feeders and replace those beyond repair. Rake up any debris under your feeding stations.
Also, by offering new or different foods in your new feeders, you’ll attract a greater variety of birds to your yard.
Birdbaths attract a wider variety of birds
3) Add a Bird Bath to Attract New Birds
Birds need water to keep their feathers in top-flight condition and for good insulation on cool spring nights. Add a decorative bird bath that is bird-friendly with sloping sides. If it's too deep, add pieces of slate or a rock in the middle to allow smaller birds to perch.
Clean your existing bird baths with a stiff-bristled brush and a 10% bleach solution (like the one used to clean your feeders in #1). Rinse thoroughly and allow them to completely air dry. Refill your bird baths with fresh water at least once a week.
Carolina Wren love mealworms (and Suet Snacks!)
4) Serve Birdfoods that Contain Bugs and/or Fruit
In spring, a bird’s need for protein increases dramatically. And many insect- and fruit-eating birds like Gray Catbirds, Northern Mockingbirds, Baltimore Orioles, wrens and others are returning from their winter homes. Yet fruits and insects are not naturally abundant yet. You can help by serving birdfood that will help birds until they can transition to eating natural sources of fruits and insects.
Loaded with protein, mealworms can help you attract insect-eating birds like bluebirds or wrens. Many bird parents like the bluebirds will often bring their offspring to mealworm feeders and feed them. Offering live mealworms will create a flurry of activity of birds, and some of our resident birds like chickadees and titmice will also feast on them.
Birdacious® BugBerry™ Blend or BugBerry Stackables™ are full of dried mealworms and four different kinds of fruit. They have added calcium, that helps promote stronger eggs and healthier bones for mother birds and their babies. Other birdfood choices with dried insects include our WBU BirdBugBites Suet.
Fresh and dried fruits are popular with a number of birds and help provide proper color pigments for new feathers and other nutritional needs. You'll find fruit in WBU Suet Snacks, Cranberry Fare cylinders, and in Fruit & Nut Stackables.
Peanuts are a favorite of these Red-breasted Nuthatches
5) Add Peanuts to the Menu
Loaded with protein and fat, peanuts provide birds with the necessary energy to defend territories and raise healthy families. Peanuts out of the shell are an absolute favorite of the nuthatches and Tufted Titmouse. Peanuts in the shell will be taken by jays and woodpeckers. It's especially interesting to watch jays take a whole peanut, tip back his head to send it to his crop, then take ANOTHER whole peanut before flying away to cache them.
These are five easy steps you can take this spring to help our returning and resident birds make an easier transition to warmer weather.
Well, shake it up, redpoll (Shake it up, redpoll) Twist and shout (Twist and shout) C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, c'mon, redpoll, now (Come on redpoll) Come on and work it on out (Work it on out)
You know you twist little girl (Twist little girl) You know you twist so fine (Twist so fine) Come on and twist a little closer, now (Twist a little closer) And let me know that you're mine (Let me know you're mine)
Well, shake it, shake it, shake it, baby, now (Shake it up baby) Well, shake it, shake it, shake it, baby, now (Shake it up baby) Well, shake it, shake it, shake it, baby, now (Shake it up baby)
Twist and Shout actual lyrics written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns
Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.
Nature happens. We cannot MAKE natural things happen (or NOT happen). We can create habitats to encourage natural things to happen around us, but there are no guarantees.
Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.