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)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Create Habitat to Attract Indigo Buntings

Male Indigo Bunting by Grandma Pearl
I absolutely love these beautiful little sapphire colored finches!  They have a lovely, bubbly song; but best of all they consume tons of insects.  Farmers love to see them working on the bugs in their fields.  Living in the woods, I appreciate these tiny powerhouse bug eaters.  My first sighting of the beautiful 5 1/2" male Indigo Bunting was on May 11, 2013.

About a week later I caught sight of a soft fawn-colored female Indigo Bunting.  She was flitting about rapidly in the understory of the woody shrubs that have multiplied throughout our woodlot.  That's their preferred habitat, along with hedges and thickets.

Because I love these little birds so much, I set about devising a plan last year to attract them permanently to my yard.  Before that they had stopped by in the spring just long enough to tantalize me with their beauty, then proceeded to leave without even a second glance back!  I was determined to find a way to attract my little blue finch friends and make them want to stay for the summer, before heading back to South America or Mexico at the first sign of cold weather in the fall.

So here was my plan:
  1. Plant shrubs and vines that they love to use for shelter, nesting and food.
  2. Be sure to add their favorite foods to the feeders first thing in the spring.
  3. Place shallow containers of water low to the ground.
  4. Add colorful quick-to-flower seed-bearing annuals in containers placed all around my yard.  
The raspberry canes and grape vines were installed in the backyard, which is within a few feet of the edge of our woods.  And it's one of the few sunny areas I have here because we are surrounded by large hardwood trees, as well as white pines.

Those berries will eventually ripen and please our little fruit-loving buntings, as well as cardinals, grosbeaks, orioles and waxwings, among many others.  As they mature, the thorns of the raspberries and the tangles of the grape vines will provide excellent shelter from predators; and lots of safe nesting spots.

In the meantime, by adding my special birdseed mixture to black oil sunflower seeds I have enticed my wonderful Indigo Buntings to stay around. 
SUCCESS! This time they didn't leave!  Birds have excellent memories.  If they find a good source of food, shelter and nesting opportunities, you can be sure they will remember and return.
Male Indigo Bunting eating a sunflower seed
by Grandma Pearl

My special mixture contains raisins, dried pumpkins seeds and cherries, millet, safflower seeds, chopped peanuts and other chopped nuts, including pistaschios and walnuts, and finally canary seed!  My little blue finches are ground foragers primarily.  Fallen seeds pushed aside by other birds are pounced on eagerly under the bird feeders by the buntings.
I have recycled some shallow round cake tins and placed them on bricks near the ground.  The smaller ground foragers enjoy a splash and a drink often.  Adding a flat stone or two, and making sure the water is fresh and clean daily has also pleased a lot of my birds, including the Indigos.  Be warned though, if you have neighborhood cats patrolling, do not put your birds in harms way!  There are hanging bird baths available that are much safer for birds that might otherwise fall prey to 4-legged predators!
Male Indigo Bunting loves to forage for seeds.
by Grandma Pearl
Planting cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, tickseed coreopsis, salvia and nasturtiums and other annuals that produce seeds will encourage seed-lovers like the indigo buntings to stick around.  Remember, it is very important not to use toxic weed killers or other toxic chemicals on your plants or lawn.  Those toxins are harmful to birds and fatal to the bugs they like to eat.  Make your yard and gardens bird-friendly and they will reward you by eating the bugs and weed seeds.  You will have a lot less gardening chores if you ask the birds for their help!
Grandma Pearl


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