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Hello Little Bluebirds

February 1st, 2011

Over the past week Mr Chiots and I have been spotting bluebirds coming to our heated bird bath every morning around 10, we’ve seen up to 5 of them at once. I never see blue birds in the garden during the summer, and have only seen one bird once a few years ago in late February. They’re quite lovely birds and I’m so happy to see them around.

I’m going to be doing some research as to what I can do to make my gardens more friendly to them. I’ve read that they love meal worms during the winter, and I may buy some of those for them, they’re kind of pricey though. I have noticed that they are eating rose hips from the wild rose bush in the lot below us. Planting some rosebushes that produce a nice crop of rose hips might also help attract them.

I have a bluebird house in one area of the garden, but I think it’s too close to the edge of the woods, I’ve never seen any birds nesting in it. I think I’ll try to move it to a more open location this spring, somewhere in the front garden since that’s where the bluebirds seem to be. I’ve read that trying a blue ribbon to it might help attract the bluebirds. The first year we lives here we had an oriole nesting by our garage door, I haven’t seen any since. I’d love to read up on attracting them to the garden as well.

Do you have bluebirds in your garden? Any other birds that are rare for your area?

Unexpected Sprouts

January 5th, 2011

We have a heated bird bath on the side porch by the bird feeder. The birds especially love it when it’s cold and all the other water is frozen. We see birds at it all the time. I empty it out and add fresh water several times a week since birds can be dirty.

Yesterday when I went out to empty it I noticed that a sunflower seeds a bird had dropped in there had sprouted. I guess the warmth of the water provided the perfect conditions despite the below freezing temps outside. What a funny little thing to find in the midst of the cold winter.

You can see all the junk in the water, which is exactly why I empty it out and refill it several times a week. Every couple weeks I scrub it out with vinegar to get rid of the mineral deposits and the germs.

We love providing this service for our little feathered friends. My dad always teases us about creating welfare birds, but they provide us with a lot of entertainment throughout the cold winter months. We gladly pay the little electric it costs to keep them well watered and for the seed and suet we feed them. (we even put filtered water in their bird bath since I’m sure chlorine and all those other chemicals aren’t good for them)

Do you provide any kind of water for the birds in your garden?

First Hummingbird of the Season

May 3rd, 2010

I’ve been watching for the first hummingbird for the last month. I put out the feeder on April 1, knowing that they don’t usually come back until April 15, but I wanted to be ready. I’ve been faithfully changing the nectar (homemade of course) every couple days to keep it fresh and I’ve been keeping an eye on the feeders. Every so often I catch something zooming by but haven’t officially spotted one until last night!

Mr Chiots and I were eating dinner and I saw one at the feeder by the back door. Fortunately my camera was right there and managed to get a quick photo before he zoomed off.

Do you have a hummingbird feeder?

Spring Cleaning is for the Birds

March 22nd, 2010

We do all we can for our little feathered friends, trying to make them at home here at Chiot’s Run and that includes feeding them all winter long and putting up birdhouses all over the garden. This is the time of year when you need to clean out all those little birdhouses, and get them ready for the new chicks.

Mr Chiots is also going to be fixing up the little condemned birdhouse that the wrens just loved last summer. It needs a new floor, good thing we have a bunch of scrap wood in the garage, perhaps a nice new cedar floor.

I took all the wren houses down and cleaned them out. We also have a bluebird box in a side garden, it didn’t get used last year, but I still checked it to make sure it didn’t need cleaned. The bird houses we have attached to the back of the garage also got a good cleaning, we had some black capped chickadees nest in them last summer.

Cleaning out the birdhouses is an educational experience. You can see how different kinds of birds build different nests. The wrens build tiny little nests out of lots of twigs. They filled up the houses with extra twigs to make their nests a specific size. The chickadees used lots of moss and other soft items from around the garden, even a bunch of dryer lint and wool rug fuzz from the vaccuum cleaner that I put in the compost pile.

Look how cute this little nest is. This is just about actual size. This past summer I could hear the little wrens chirping away in this box.

Do you put up birdhouses to attract birds to your gardens?

Feed the Birds

January 31st, 2010

We have a bird oasis in our side yard. We love feeding the birds because it gives us something interesting to look at all winter long. We have 3 bird feeders and a heated birdbath.

I buy big 50 lb bags of birdseed and black oil sunflower seeds at the local farm store to keep our feathered friends fed all winter long. We also put out suet for all the woodpeckers and clinging birds.

We enjoy seeing all the different kinds of birds that come to our feeders. We have a bird identification book that we use to identify any new birds we see. Here are a few of them.

We also have blue jays, mourning doves, black-capped chickadees, house wrens, house sparrows, rufous-sided towhees, goldfinches, purple finches, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, and the occasional pileated woodpecker. And of course we have tons of the Ohio State bird, the cardinal.

Feeding the birds not only gives us something interesting to do during the winter, but it helps the birds stay strong and healthy through the cold winter months. We’ve noticed that since we started feeding them, we have more birds in the gardens in the summer. I had more wrens last year than any previous year and they keep all the cabbage worms off of my brassicas. I’ll keep feeding my little feathered friends and providing them with nice homes to keep them happy.

Do you feed the birds during the winter?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.