Winter Months for the Birds
"Baby it's cold outside!! Remember to keep your bird feeders full. Here at the store, we have seen chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and finches. The goldfinches are a drab brown and gray We'll keep feeding them and they'll stick around. Then one day next March they'll reward us with a beautiful transformation to their bright yellow breeding plumage. Remember the birds at this time of year and throughout the winter. They depend on our kindness to get through these tough months.
SPECIAL EDITION-- Bats Get a Bad Wrap!
Without Bats, our world would be a very sad place. The myths of bats sucking people’s blood and turning into vampires are just that, myths! In fact, bats are vital to pest control, pollination, seed spreading, and fertilization. Bats eat their body weight in bugs every night and one delicacy for them, besides mosquitoes, is the corn earworm (aka tomato fruit worm) which destroys all kinds of plants from artichokes to z-watermelons! Bats are major pollinators too, we have an abundance of fruits thanks to the busy bats. The percentage of bats that carry rabies is no larger than the percentage of rabid dogs, yet people still have dogs as pets. Why not have bats in your backyard to eat the unwanted bugs and pollinate your plants. The best part is they don’t even need to be house-broken. Yes, For The Birds carries Bat-houses. Stop in, pick one up, and help dispel the Bats bad rap.
Fall Months for the Birds
"I feel like Snow White," I said with a giggle and Bev just laughed. We were both reveling in the sheer joy and beauty of hundreds of butterflies flitting around us and from flower to flower in our own garden. The flower that attracted these lovely creatures is called Greg's Mist and it grows easily and must be like divine chocolate to the butterflies. The garden we planted is right outside our shop and has been a haven for our birds, the bees, and now our butterflies. What a great gift it is to walk by it each day as we come to work. It reminds us to be thankful for all the blessings we have been given and to take a moment to laugh out loud and enjoy life.
SPECIAL EDITION- Cleaning your birdhouses
“Clean up, clean up,
Clean up, clean up;
Everybody do their share!”
Yes, it’s that time again, The Great Birdfeeder and Birdhouse, and Birdbath, and Roosting Box Clean Up. Whew! That was a mouthful. But you get the idea. It’s time to clean it all up so it is ready for the next season. Why? You might ask. Because cleaning out your birdhouse is like changing the sheets on the bed before a new guest comes to your house. Also, you should clean out your birdhouse to prevent any diseases, fungus or bacteria from living inside which could spread to nesting birds and kill a mother and her young. Another good reason to clean it up is that we don’t want to leave old nesting material in there which can attract unwanted critters. So where do we start?
Gather supplies: Screwdriver, hammer, bottle or feeder brush, scrub brush, gloves, sealable plastic trash bag and “cleaning solution.” A good simple “Cleaning solution” is one part bleach to nine parts water.
B.Birdhouse and Roosting Box Cleaning
First of all, take your birdhouses, roosting boxes down (make sure they’re empty). Open up your birdhouses and roosting boxes and dump the contents into the sealable trash bag. Seal and toss.
Scrape out any Mud Dauber nests. (To prevent these in the future take a bar of unscented soap or wax and rub it over the interior surfaces of your CLEANED bird house or Roosting Box. This will prevent future mud nests as the mud will not adhere to the sides of the box).
Use you scrub brush and “cleaning solution” to scrub the interior floor, corners, and all sides of the box. Make sure vent holes and the entry are scrubbed well too.
Rinse with water thoroughly and leave the box open to the air to dry.
Once the box is completely dry, check it to make sure it is in good order; repair any damaged parts.
C.Feeder and Birdbath Cleaning
If you can remove the top of your birdbath, great, if not, you’ll be able to clean it in place.
Open your feeder and dump out any old seed.
Using a stiff bottle or feeder brushes and the “cleaning solution” each feeder should be cleaned inside and out, including all feeding ports, perches, lids, platforms, and reservoirs. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before filling with seed. Birdfeeder should be cleaned with a soap and water solution monthly.
Using a scrub brush and your “cleaning solution” scrub your birdbath top, sides and bottom. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry in the sun.
If you have a hard water or calcium build up, fill the birdbath with white vinegar and let sit for about an hour. Then scrub out with a scrub brush, rinse thoroughly and allow to dry in the sun.
It’s simple—but vital—to stop disease-causing bacteria. The effort is a small price to pay for the pleasures of watching and hearing birds at our feeders.
QUIZ TIME!!!Safety and Protection for our Winter Birds
Raise your hand if you know the difference between a Nesting Box and a Roosting Box. Oh, I can see we are split about 50/50 but that's okay because in a few more seconds we'll all have our hands in the air. The short explanation is Nesting Boxes are for having babies and just the immediate family; Roosting Boxes are Equal Opportunity warming shelters, "come one, come all! Roosting Houses are used in the winter and as many as 12 different species, everything from woodpeckers to Titmice, will gather inside one roosting box to share warmth during the cold, damp, and windy times.
The inside of the Roosting Box has scored sides for clinging birds like woodpeckers, and there are dowels at different heights for the perching birds. Unlike Nesting Boxes there are no vent holes and the entry hole is placed low to keep the rising heat inside. There is no discrimination among these roosting birds. If the bird is alive and produces body heat it is welcomed in.
Birds that roost in your backyard are more likely to nest in your backyard come spring. That is when the Nesting Boxes come into play and no one is welcome in any Nesting Box other than Momma, Poppa, and Baby birds. I have included some pictures of our Roosting Boxes. Come on in and make a haven for our winter birds in your yard.
SPECIAL EDITION--Don’t Put Those Hummingbird Feeders Away Yet!
We were thinking of cleaning our Hummer feeders and putting them away for the winter when, to our surprise, we got some new hummers visiting and demanding nectar. They kept buzzing the feeders and chanting “we want nectar, we want nectar.” Well, not really chanting but they let us know we better get on the stick and whip up some fresh new nectar and boy did they go for it!
The Rockport Hummingbird Festival was last week but that does not mean the hummingbirds got the message to all migrate south. In fact, Hummers do not migrate together. Each bird decides for his or herself the right time to take off. The Fall Migration is quite a trek. Many of the brave little aviators will leave our Texas shores and fly 18-22 hours straight over 500 miles of the Gulf of Mexico to winter in the Yucatan. Whew, and I complain about driving home from work.
Now, more than ever, we need to keep our feeders clean and fresh, changing them twice a week so that our flitty-feathered friends can fuel up for their trip. They need to increase their body weight 25-40% so they have the stamina to beat their wings up to 80 times a second as thy soar above the waves. You may get visiting Hummers too because the birds that have been up north have had to migrate overland this Fall and need to stop and refuel before they continue. Watch for new species, this is an exciting time.
Don’t worry about enticing your Hummers to stay. Unlike many houseguests, they know exactly when to leave and there is no nectar we can concoct that will trick them into staying. So, keep your feeders filled and cleaned until late October and help our happy little Hummers have a healthy hiatus in the southern reaches.