Spring is Coming!

I can feel it, it’s in the air, and I have become obsessed with birding.  My house is all windows in my main great room, and the way it is situated, it feels like I live in a birdhouse.  So I’ve been working on bird things, but this year I’m getting serious. I’m doing planters along my deck (wraps around more than 1/2 of the house) that will be full of birdie flowers, shepherd’s hooks off the deck with bird feeders, plenty of bird feeders in the front and back yard.

Here I can get a lot of birds as either permanent residents or migratory or they breed in this area, but mostly I’m wanting Baltimore Orioles, Purple Martins (this could be next year’s project) and I want to get my hummingbird group solidified, and I want some woodpeckers. I already have lots of Cardinals.

For those of you that are serious yard birders, any tips and advice for me?  I know to clean the hummingbird feeders every other day or oftener. I’ll be putting out the jelly and nectar and oranges for the orioles about mid-April (that’s a little earlier than they show up, and it will make some other  birds happy while we wait).  Hummingbird concoction will go out about the same time.  Suet is out now, I even found some disgusting wormy suet for the second phase of keeping the orioles around, they need meal worms in their diet I think around mating time with the grape jelly.

Bird advice?  I have some huge trees on my property, oak, maple, and I’m thinking of doing the bark dough thing to get some woodpeckers to settle in the area.

  • Ariel says:

    I love having birds come visit! I get A Lot of hummingbirds, though I have no feeders.

    Heads up for West Coast bird lovers: there’s a salmonella spread happening and conservation groups are asking that folks take down their feeders for the time being.

  • rosarita says:

    No advice here but my neighborhood has been full of bluebirds lately. I love them.

  • Dina C. says:

    I wish you well in your birding venture Patty! I have two friends who feed the birds and then take beautiful photos of them. One of the gals is a serious birder and takes road trips with her husband in a camper and searches out the birds she wants to see for her life list. My house backs onto a creek with woods, so we get a lot of birds around here, too. I love spotting them.

    • Patty says:

      Yeah, not that serious. I just want to make a nice, welcoming spot for them to come and get food so I can watch them. They are endlessly fascinating!

  • Tara C says:

    We have hummingbirds visiting our South African lilies here in San Diego. So lovely to see them swing by for a daily snack.

    • Patty says:

      Oh, you guys get so many beautiful hummers there. We get the standard ones. I would like to live a warmer spot just for that reason. enjoy!

  • Musette says:

    btw – the suet will encourage the woodpeckers. Get a tail-prop feeder, as the larger peckers require it to stabilize to feed. I get red-bellies, Downys…. somebody else Big (but not huge) – if you put a tailprop feeder on your deck (with a baffle) you should get them all year long. Nothing prettier than a red-belly in Winter.


    • Musette says:

      last thing (for now 😉 – to minimize prep drama, I make a lot of HumJuice at once (probably 2 quarts) and keep it in the fridge – early in the season, before the flowers are out (and they are recovering from their journey) I do a bit less than 1/2 – 1/2 then, once the flowers are about and you have ‘your’ hummers situated in the garden for the season, I reduce it to 1/3sugar = 2/3 water.

      Don’t freak if you get a charm, then all of a sudden, nothing. Once you are on the trapline, migration will be … odd. Your birds will be the last to come in. Prior to that, you will be on the migration route, so you’ll see a bunch, then nothing, as they have moved on and the next charm hasn’t yet appeared. Rinse and repeat.


      • Patty says:

        Check! Am getting my feeders all washed out and ready for April feeling, and will do the stock up on the stock up on the HumJuice (love that!) when they start showing up! I had some the first two years I was here, which were clearly a family that had been here, and then I screwed up last year and did not get the HumJuice out in time, and I lost them. 🙁

    • Patty says:

      need to go see what a tail prop is. I got one with a bigger ring around it for the cardinals since I read they like to perch and chow, and they seem to like those, But off to find this tail prop feeder and see if I already have one!

    • Patty says:

      Oh, woodpeckers, optimum area to put them? next to large trees, out in the open?

      • Musette says:

        I put mine out in the open because that’s all I have (open)and I love looking at them – my tailprop feeder is about 8′ from my office window – I keep the blinds down but open and they seem fine with it! xoxo

  • Musette says:

    You know I am All Bird, All Day!
    So. Starting with your hummers – do NOT use the red dye stuff – and, as my ex-MIL (who gets probably 75 hummers daily on her TN property) says, the cheap, red-bottomed feeders are best – and I concur. It will take a year or two before you are on their trapline, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a lot right away.

    Seed – I would definitely go with safflower, as it will deter squirrels and grackles. Cardinals love it!

    Don’t forget a water source – you can easily put a birdbath right there on your deck (I use a heated one, unplugging during the summer, because the one thing birds always need is water, even/especially in Winter)

    You will need to deter squirrels from all of your feeders – as you know, squirrels are… well, squirrels. ‘tube for the best baffles.
    For flowers – salvia for the hummers. They. lose. their. minds. And the flowers will signal to them quicker than the feeders that your house is a source of chow and decrease the amount of time for them to see your property as a trapline destination.

    Your deck is magnificent – you will do well!!! xoxoxo

    • Patty says:

      Got the birdbath, will be ordering the safflower next time. I already have a bit supply of sunflower and finch food and suet. A lot of my feeders are squirrel resistant, they have that weighted thing.

      Salvia, huh? butterfly bush too? do you do salvia from seed, sow direct or do you get a little plant?

      • Musette says:

        both. I have a salvia ‘Park’s Lighthouse Whopper’ that self-seeds every year and I have grown from seed but tbh, I would rather not – I have enough other things to keep afloat. The little plants are fine – and they become big plants pretty quickly. I have never seen a hummer on my buddleia, ever – but they LOVE hosta flowers. Pretty much anything ‘throaty’ – I have a couple of honeysuckles they go mental for. Fully half of the flowers I have are for the hummers.
        Interestingly, they rarely go to the lilies…

  • Cinnamon says:

    I’m not big into birds. As I’m near the coast, we get a lot of gulls, who are profoundly annoying (and do things like drop half a sandwich in the garden). More into insect life (got so excited yesterday as saw the first bee of the season). Once I am further along with garden stuff will get the bee house up. Decades ago, on a holiday to Sanibel in Florida, saw Pileated woodpeckers. Absolutely enormous and very loud, but totally gorgeous.

    • Patty says:

      Have you ever tried to raise bees? I think that must be a lovely thing to do, but I love them and am deathly afraid of them! I love woodpeckers. We are having an household argument on whether we want them as residents of the yard, and I’m vetoing everyone and doing everything I can to get them! I love Sanibel. I went there twice, I think. Just a beautiful, peaceful place.

      • Musette says:

        Raising bees is a pain in the ass. I did it for several years until I came to my senses. If you’re doing it for pollination you would do better to encourage the natural, in situ pollinators. If you’re doing it for the honey you can get better honey elsewhere, without all the drama.


  • Kathleen says:

    I have to advice to offer,?your plans sound impressive already! I’m only commenting to say I share in your love of birds. I’ve always kept several feeders, just with a premium wild bird seed mix. Something for everyone and it amazes me so many share the feeders, big and small. I also have hummingbirds.
    Best wishes for your sanctuary!

    • Kathleen says:

      No advice to offer I meant to type…

    • Patty says:

      Thanks, Kathleen! I always loved birds, but had been very casual about feeding them. The cold snap and finding some dead birds in my front yard just killed me. So I’m dedicated to a year-round feeding operation for my year-round feathered residents. Your bird sanctuary sounds perfect and full of lovely feathered friends!