Welcome to my Bird Blog!

Welcome to all my fellow bird lovers and gardeners! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Migratory bird populations have taken a nose dive in the past 40 years. But you can help bring their numbers back by creating beneficial, beautiful and fun habitats in your own backyard. Discover favorite plants and environments that shelter and feed colorful songbirds, as well as how to make them feel welcome by offering their preferred natural foods.

Grandma Pearl
(Connie Smith)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Baby Red Tailed Hawks Have Hatched

It's always fun to watch an active hawk's nest, and this one is no exception.  The nest belongs to Big Red and Ezra, 2 Mated Red-Tailed Hawks whose nest is high up on a light pole above the athletic field at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

The little ones have hatched as of this date.  Mom and Pop will be busy catching rodents and other critters to feed their babies.
Here's the link to view these amazing animals up close in real time:

Awww!  Aren't they cute!  Newest Red-Tailed Hawks as of April 24, 2013
from http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/16/Red-tailed-=_Hawks/

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

The Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are very active at the feeders right now.  Every time I put some day-old bread out, they are there with bells on! 

This is a photo of one of the male Red-Bellied Woodpeckers that frequent my woods.  You can't miss their 'kwirr, kwirr' call as they swoop in for sunflower seeds.  All the other birds scatter in the wake of this impressive and handsome 9 1/2" bird.  

I see them year round because I feed them year round.  In the wintertime I hang suet cakes and peanut butter log feeders for them to enjoy.

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker
by Grandma Pearl
This is a photo I took just recently that clearly shows the 'zebra' back of the Red-Bellied Woodpecker.  That young white birch tree is one of their favorites, as you can see from all the tiny 'seed' holes in the bark.  It's not far from the feeders.

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, as well as Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, use these holes when they eat sunflower seeds.  They wedge the seed in and bang it into tiny edible pieces.

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker clinging to White Birch tree
by Grandma Pearl
You can tell the difference between male and female, or juvenile, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers by looking at the top of their heads.  If the head is red on top, it is a male.  This is an adult female red-bellied woodpecker with no red on the top of her head.
A juvenile would have a brown head with no red on the top.
Once in a while I catch sight of the rosey blush on the stomach of these wonderful birds.

Woodpecker tree where Red-Bellied Woodpeckers excavate and fill food storage holes.
by Grandma Pearl

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers make rows of holes in which to store their seeds, nuts and wild fruits.
'Zebrabacks' as they are also known, are found more commonly in the south, but have expanded their range to include Michigan, New York and parts of New England.  I'm grateful for that, not only for their beauty but for their voracious appetite for beetles, caterpillars, ants and grasshoppers!

 Short Video of Red-Bellied Woodpecker excavating a nest cavity; and vocalizing.

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker in her favorite tree.
by Grandma Pearl

More Red-Bellied Woodpecker Pics. . .

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blue Jays Eating Bread

I had a day-old roll from the restaurant, so I broke it up for the blue jays.
from Grandma Pearl

Mr. Blue Jay checking out what's for breakfast this morning!
from Grandma Pearl

Blue Jays are very clever mimics.  They often screech like a hawk to scatter other birds.
from Grandma Pearl

Blue Jays are stealth flyers when they are nesting.  They use deceptive maneuvers to keep their nesting spot a secret.
from Grandma Pearl

Blue Jays are clever mimics and can imitate most sounds they hear, including phones, people, machines and other birds!  Click here to learn more about these amazing mimics of the bird world.
Grandma Pearl

7 Natural Ways to Entice Orioles to Your Yard

Female Oriole at Grape Jelly Feeder
from flickr.com, CC-BY-SA

oriole and nest
from flickr.com, CC-BY-SA
Have your orioles arrived yet?  Mine should be coming along any day now.  Are your oriole feeders hanging out and filled with fresh nectar?  If not, start putting them out now so they will be in full view for any oriole scouts that arrive early.  They'll be scoping out the neighborhood for tall trees in which to build their pouch-like nests; and for easy food sources. Providing nesting material is a good idea, too.  Cut lengths of yarn or twine about 4" to 6" long and drape them over a tree branch where the female oriole can easily see them.  To find out more about these gorgeous, voracious bug eaters, go to 7 Natural Ways to Entice Orioles to Your Yard  
oriole eggs from

Beautiful Male Oriole at Nectar Feeder
from Grandma Pearl

5 Tips to a Bird Safe Yard
Find more info on birds and creating safe habitats at RusticBarnwoodBirdhouses.com

Grandma Pearl

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Seed Catch Tray and Squirrel Guard Solves 2 Problems with One Product!

Amazon.com:  Droll Yankees giant seed tray squirrel guard with clamp
If you always have a mess under your bird feeders like I do, this product from Amazon.com serves double duty.  I have a bunch of squirrels that love to climb the feeder poles.  This large seed tray/squirrel baffle keeps the squirrels on the ground, and the seeds that land in this tray are available to the birds so they don't go to waste.  There are several woodpeckers that work at the tube feeders, pulling seeds out before picking the 'perfect one'.  The rest end up on the ground; so this baffle solves that problem, nicely!

My Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks really enjoy the seed tray/squirrel baffle
by Grandma Pearl

Add sunflower seeds and or fruit for another bird buffet!
by Grandma Pearl

The female Rose-Breasted Grosbeak enjoying seeds and oranges
by Grandma Pearl

I added oranges to the tray because there are Orioles around.
by Grandma Pearl

Grandma Pearl
Learn More About Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Do You Love Hummingbirds?

Then you need to know about a new citizen science project that you can contribute to using a free mobile app or your pc.  Record sightings, dates and times, kinds of hummingbirds you've seen and where, using your mobile phone or home pc.

Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
from istockphoto.com

Visit hummingbirdsathome.org to join the newest Audubon research project for FREE!  You'll be a part of a valuable scientific resource that's tracking little-known hummingbird migration routes and behaviors.  Great for kids and adults!

Grandma Pearl

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Little Flying Jewels

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bird Window Collision Solutions

Every year millions of migrating birds, as well as those visiting bird feeders, die from colliding with windows.  This happens most often during spring and fall, but also if bird feeders are located more than 3 feet from windows.  One solution is to move your feeders to within 1 1/2 feet to 3 feet of your windows.  That way the birds cannot get up enough speed to do themselves harm even if they do strike the glass.

Another very affordable diy project is to apply translucent tape to your windows and sliding glass doors.  It is just a matter of cutting, peeling and sticking; that's all there is to it.  And it will save your birds from injury and death.  Birds can see the ultraviolet reflection this kind of tape provides, but it is 'see-thru' to humans.

Two sites I have found where you can buy this tape online are:



Grandma Pearl

Why Do Birds Fly Into Windows?

The true cost of coffee - BirdWatching Magazine

The true cost of coffee - BirdWatching Magazine
How that morning cup of coffee affects the birds you see this spring.  This is a very important issue that should be shared all around the world!  This article outlines the different certifications you see on your coffee container, and what they mean in relation to our migratory songbirds.  Please take the time to read this very informative and interesting article.
Grandma Pearl

Find rustic & primitive-style birdhouses 

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Walk in the Woods in New York State in Early Spring

Robin's nest in pine tree
Photo by Grandma Pearl
The sun is shining brightly and the temperature has finally climbed above the freezing mark!  So this morning I have decided to take a walk in the woods.  In a pine tree along the way I spotted a bird's nest.  This was constructed of mud and grass, about 5 1/2" to 6" deep and about 6 feet off the ground.  I wasn't able to see inside, but here are a couple of pictures I snapped.  By the way, it belonged to a robin that was perched nearby!

Robin's nest from another angle--couldn't quite see inside the nest.
Photo by Grandma Pearl

Robin perched in a nearby tree watching me!
Photo by Grandma Pearl
Further along I spied a deer peeking at me through two oak trees.  It's a young one: I suspect about 2 years old maybe.  It has lost it's winter coat, so that's a good sign that spring is really finally here.

Young deer peeking through 2 oak trees.
Photo by Grandma Pearl
The leaves are crunchy because we have yet to see much rainfall.  It's great to see there's no more snow, though!  
Squirrel nest high in oak tree.
Photo by Grandma Pearl

Junco foraging in leaf litter for bugs.
Photo by Grandma Pearl
There's a male junco foraging in the leaf litter for bugs.  I've seen them grab a leaf with one foot and then hop up and backwards, taking the leaf with them and causing it to turn over.  They are crafty insect hunters!

There goes a squirrel--
Too fast for me to catch with the camera, but I can see an old squirrel nest up high in a tree.  It has autumn leaves in it, so I suspect it was used at that time.
Junco checking out the dead grass for insects and their eggs.
Photo by Grandma Pearl
And there's another junco in a grassy area.  They like to look for juicy caterpillars to feed to their young.  I think it's a little too early in the season for that to be the case here, though.

I found an interesting rock that doesn't look like anything else around here.  I wonder where it came from?  It's yellow and has a chalky look and feel.
Yellow, chalky rock; the gray rocks below are more typical of this area.
Photo by Grandma Pearl

Sunlit forest floor; some old leaves are still hanging on from last year; there's an evergreen forest in the distance.
Photo by Grandma Pearl

On the way back to the house now, and the birds are very active at the feeders.   Chickadees, woodpeckers and nuthatches are happily zooming back and forth.  There's a nuthatch on the ground under the feeder.  I don't believe I've ever seen them do that before.  They're usually on trees and the feeder hanging upside down!

Nuthatch foraging on the ground.
Photo by Grandma Pearl

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Bobolinks Remembered

We lived on a rural road about 3 miles from the nearest small town, so my days and nights were filled with the sounds of nature.  One that I remember most clearly is the bobolinks that lived in the nearby marsh. Their bubbly, energetic songs emanated from all corners of that boggy area.  To see them you were reminded a little of the red wing blackbirds that also took up residence there.  Their sizes were similar, but the distinctive yellowish nape of the male bobolink set them apart; that and their amazing vocalizations.  

They are mixed in my memory with the swamp sparrows, quail, pheasants, turkeys, red wings, mockingbirds, orioles, and a whole host of songbirds that enjoyed snapping up mosquitoes and a myriad of other insects, dining on wild blackberries, crab apples and weed seeds galore.  It was a feast for my ears and a banquet for the birds!
Grandma Pearl
Male and Female Bobolinks
photo from audubon.org
Female Bobolink
photo from westboroughlandtrust.org

Bobolinks Bring Back Childhood Memories-Video from TheMusicOfNature on youtube

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hairy Woodpeckers

It's chilly again today, though the sun is deceptively bright.  Looking outside it seems as though it should be much warmer than 28 degrees.  Leftover March winds blow a steady 15 miles an hour with gusts about 25 mph, but the woodpeckers don't mind.  That's the thing with birds, they adapt so easily to whatever happens don't they!

Male Hairy Woodpecker hugging his favorite tree.
Photo by Grandma Pearl

Hairy Woodpecker all plumped up against the cold air.
Photo by Grandma Pearl
This beautiful Hairy Woodpecker uses this swamp birch tree quite often, as you can see by the bark that has been used for insect probes.  It is located not far from the bird feeders, so it serves as a convenient destination for lots of different birds.  I have supplied my woodpeckers with suet all winter long because it is rich in fats that help keep them warm, while also keeping their feathers in tip-top shape.  

Once in a while especially in the springtime, my woodpeckers take a liking to our metal chimney pipe.  It certainly makes a distinctive sound when they begin to rat-tat-tat on it; I suspect the woodpeckers see their reflections and 'attack' the other woodpecker that has invaded its territory.  It's also a possibility that because the sound echoes far and wide, a prospective mate could easily home in on the source of that sound.

I know that lots of people have trouble with woodpeckers banging on their wood siding.  There are several reasons for that behavior, one of which is to call a potential mate to the area.  Another is to actually hunt for insects within the wood siding.  Sometimes an infestation is discovered when a homeowner asks an exterminator to investigate.  If you are having trouble with woodpeckers damaging your home, read my article about Tips to Keep Woodpeckers Away 

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