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)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easy Straw Hat Bird House

You've seen them on sheds and the sides of garages--old straw hats where the top of the crown has fallen apart.  And then some very smart birds have used those hats for their nest.

They not only look rustic and inviting, but they make a beautiful statement while providing a great place for your favorite backyard birds to raise their young.

Here's what you'll need to make this easy project:

  • Newspaper or old tablecloth to cover your work surface
  • Large straw hat with a 4" (approx.) deep crown to accommodate most backyard birds
  • Stapler
  • Glue Gun
  • 12" x 12" piece of bubble wrap or other thick plastic to cover back of hat
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters
  • Assorted silk flowers of your choice
  • Bottle cap measuring 1 1/2" in diameter
  • Marking pen
 I found my straw hat at the local craft and hobby store, along with the silk flowers and bubble wrap.  They also carry glue guns, wire cutters and staplers, if you don't already have them.  This project cost under $20.00, but will vary with your location and the supplies and tools you already have on hand.

  1. Start by tracing around 1 1/2" bottle cap or jar lid with marking pen in the middle of crown top;  and then cut on marked line with scissors.
  2. Turn hat over and place bubble wrap over the back of the crown opening.
         3.  Use staple gun and start by attaching each corner to back of hat with a staple; then fill in with staples approximately every inch or so.  We don't want baby birds falling out!
Don't worry about the staple points showing through on the other side of the hat brim.  They will be covered by your flowers.

           4.  Use your wire cutters or scissors to clip off silk flowers from their stems.  Leave approximately 1/4" to 1/2" of the stem so you have a glue attachment point.  Save the leaves from the stems to poke in between the flowers at the very end.

5.  Use your glue gun to attach each flower over the staple points along the top of the straw hat brim.  Then begin to fill in empty spots with more flowers and some leaves.

Remember to have fun with this.  There is no right or wrong way to add your flowers.  You can place a band of ribbon or lace around the bottom of the hat crown behind your flowers if you wish.  Maybe you want to add a pretty bow as well.  
I wouldn't make ribbon tails that might flap in the wind and spook your birds, though.

Note there are 2 small metal grommets reinforcing air holes in the crown of my hat.  If your hat has those holes, you can hang your creation so that the holes face downward.  That way any moisture or condensation from inside the bird's nesting area has a way to evaporate or drain.

Speaking of hanging your hat--the straw is so flexible that you can poke a hole in it with an old nail or awl.  Be sure to leave at least an inch between the edge of the hat brim and the hole.  Alternatively, you can put a small square of duct tape behind the hat brim before you make your hanging hole.  That will reinforce the brim area so it can't rip out when hung.

I hung my hat on a cup hook that I had screwed into the wall.  Hang yours from 5 to 7 feet off the ground.  Then stand back and admire your creation!

Keep in mind, it may take a while before your birds find this inviting home, so be patient!
Have fun.

How to Make a Bird Nesting Basket in 5 Easy Steps
Building the Ultimate Brush Pile for Your Birds

Pearl's Backporch Scrapbook

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why You Need to Keep Feeding the Birds in the Springtime

Help Out Mom  & Pop!

Adult birds work their feathers off providing protein-rich insects and creepy crawlies for their offspring.
Offering easy meals at the bird feeder helps them tremendously.  They don't have to spend time and energy foraging for themselves, and they can devote more time to poking good stuff down their babies' throats!
So make it easy on your poor mom and pop birds, and continue to feed them until their babies have 'flown the coop'.
If you have bears in your area, they will be waking up about now, too.  So I totally understand if you have no choice but to hide your bird feeders from the big hungry animals!
Otherwise, do make sure your feeders are well stocked during this critical time in your birds' lives.

Grandma Pearl

Photo Attribution:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/harpers/2507688238/

12 Secrets to Get Birds to Actually Move Into Your Bird Houses!

 Secrets to Getting Birds to Actually Use Your Bird Houses

Okay, you’ve added bird houses to your yard to help make a difference in the survival of your wild birds.  You know that a lot of natural nesting places no longer exist, like old fence posts, dead trees, and hedgerows.  But how do you entice insect-eating woodpeckers, bluebirds, wrens, chickadees, titmice, finches, nuthatches, and tree swallows (among others) to move in to your bird houses?
These are my secrets to entice birds to move in to those bird houses you’ve proudly added to your yard:

  • Mount your bird house securely on a post, pole, or tree with the entrance hole facing away from the prevailing winds.  In most cases that would be facing east; and the morning sun will gently warm the inside of the bird house.  Facing towards the south is not a good idea because of the excessive heat and sun glare.  

  • Keeping your bird houses up year round can provide much needed shelter from harsh climates and strong stormy conditions.  Birds will huddle together inside a birdhouse to keep warm and dry during bad weather.  They will remember the safe, secure structure and return to use it for raising their families.

  • Selecting different sizes of birdhouses will attract a variety of birds.  They prefer rustic and primitive wood structures that mimic what they would find in the wild.  The appearance and thickness of barn wood is ideally suited to maintain insulation against both heat and cold, and tempt nesting site seekers.  Old barn wood’s very nature suggests just the right stuff to attract a wide variety of cavity nesters!

  • Birds like to have their own territory, so spacing bird houses about 20’ to 25’ apart helps to minimize squabbles between neighbors.  The outer perimeter or edge area of your property is the ideal place to hang or mount a bird house. 

  • Chickadees especially seem to favor a bird house that is close to shrubs like lilacs, honeysuckle or weigela.  The density of those plants gives them a chance to survey their area for any possible predators before proceeding to their bird house.  You see they don’t want to give away the location of their eggs or nestlings.  Bushes also provide lots of protein snacks your birds need when they have a bunch of mouths to feed!

  • Most nesting birds like a home that is between 5’ and 10’ off the ground.  Bird house entrance holes should be between 1-1/4” and 1-3/4” in diameter to accommodate most backyard birds.  Make sure your mounting pole is sturdy and does not sway or wobble in the wind.  Our feathered friends need a secure and reliable place to raise their young. 

  • Be sure to add a baffle to your mounting pole to discourage critters from seeking out birds’ eggs or nestlings.  A torpedo baffle works well against raccoons, while a cone-shaped baffle will deter snakes.

  • Keep mice from setting up housekeeping in your bird houses by adding mint to the inside of the house.  Mice hate mint!  You can also plant a tub full at the base of your bird house pole.  That works well for me because mint can be very invasive.  Planting peppermint, spearmint or chocolate mint in a large pot and training it up the pole makes a pretty and fragrant garden statement.

  • Fire ants can be a nuisance at best, and are downright lethal to baby birds at worst.  Peel  fresh oranges and throw the peels on top of the ant hill.  You can use any kind of citrus because fire ants hate the oils in the fruit’s skin.  Fire ant deterrents containing the volatile oils of citrus fruits are sold online and at local plant nurseries.   

  • Keep your bird houses clean!  Birds will pass up a bird house if stuff from a previous tenant has been left inside.  Before nesting season begins, clean out any debris, old nesting material, spider webs, etc.  Then wash the inside of your house with a solution of 1 part chlorine bleach and 9 parts of clear warm water.  Rinse thoroughly, and set out in the fresh air to dry totally before remounting.  It is vital for the health of the next generation of birds to take just a few minutes to perform this cleaning.  In doing so, you destroy any parasite infestation or bacterial diseases that might otherwise claim the lives of your baby birds.
  • Birds need a nearby source of clean water, either natural or provided by you in the form of a bird bath or fountain.  Feathers need to be preened and cleaned on a regular basis; plus, birds get thirsty just as we humans do.  Providing clean water is always a great way to attract birds to your yard. 
  • Plant a vegetable and/or flower and herb gardens.  Color and fragrance attract birds and give them a reason to nest nearby.  The critters that appear on your flowers and veggies are tasty treats for your birds and their youngsters.  Most of our feathered friends require a steady diet of protein-rich bugs and creepy crawlies. 

Hanging up a bird house comes with a responsibility to the birds that will use it for raising their young.  Place it where they will be happy to use it, and keep it clean.  Do this and you will have a yard full of happy, healthy adult and new baby birds!