One of the many joys of life has been to create a little ecosystem in our front yard for beautiful wild birds. Some birds can be seen year round and others stop by for food, water and shelter on their migratory path in spring and fall. I have always had a connection with nature and animals. I love watching the birds fly in and out from our front windows. When a new bird is seen I reach for our bird book to see which beauty the visitor is. I capture and document many of these moments with my smart phone camera or dslr.
These are male and female House Finches 6" stopping by for food during a recent springtime snow shower.
Our wild bird set up is in the front yard because if the birds frequented the backyard the ecosystem would include our two cats who love our fenced backyard and are good at mousing and birding. We love both birds and cats in their own worlds.
This photo is from the first time we saw this colorful bird. It is a Black-headed Grosbeak 7 1/2".
The Scrub Jay 11"-13" is a frequent visitor who lets us know he has arrived with a loud "jree" sound. We grab a handful of peanuts in the shell, toss them out onto the porch and within seconds they have returned to carry off a peanut at a time. Even though they eventually take all of the peanuts each one is lifted and discarded for a better bigger one.
In the Spring we see Male and Female California Quail 7"-9". Later they return with their little chicks following close behind in a line scurrying across the yard to their destination.
This is a male Lazuli Bunting 5"-51/2"! We love it when they come to be part of the bird community, We see them mostly in the Spring and the Fall. In the Spring the male has very brilliant colors.
An American Robin 9"-11" has stopped his search for juicy spring earthworms to get a much deserved drink from the bird bath.
We have a sock feeder filled with thistle seed for these tiny American Goldfinches 4 1/2" and Lesser Goldfinches 3 1/2 ".
This beautiful bird is a young Coppers Hawk 14"-20". When it swoops in, the yard clears very quickly of birds. He is a bird of prey and has come to see if he can catch a meal.
Even the tiniest little female Purple Finch 5 1/2"-6 1/2" brings much joy to our yard while it enjoys a drink and a bath.
Three things are important to provide for wild birds:
Food- Having multiple types of seed will draw a variety of birds to your yard.
Water- for drinking and bathing. In the winter it is much harder for birds to find water especially in cold weather locations. Bird bath heaters are available to keep the water from freezing.
Shelter- trees and large bushes provide good shelter from the wind, rain, snow and predators, as well as a place to build nests.
Thistle Seed- Little finches, especially American Gold Finches and Lesser Gold Finches, love thistle seed. A great way to provide thistle is in the thistle sock feeder.
Songbird Mix- This mix works well for a wide variety of birds that visit our yard. In fact, all of the birds pictured here eat this mix. At times we purchase non sprouting songbird mix from a local bird store in our area to prevent the seeds sprouting in our flower beds.
Unsalted Peanuts in the shell- This is definitely a favorite of the Jays that come to visit.
Water- The bird bath provides water for drinking and bathing. We fill it each day with fresh water from our yard water hose. These visitors are Doves 12".
Shelter- We have two of these evergreen bushes in our front yard. They have provided shelter when the hawks come flying in, during cold rainy weather, as well as during the winter snows.
Field guides to birds are a wonderful addition to the birding experience. Here are some examples of Field Guides. Books like this are a great resource to know which bird has come to visit your yard.
Local Bird Shops
Another resource has been our local bird shop. They have a great knowledge of birds as well as types of seed and accessories. Research your area to find one near you.
Bird sanctuaries can also provide a wealth of information about setting up a bird ecosystem in your yard.
We love our feathered friends that come to visit and make our yard their home. They fill our yard with beautiful colors and song and provide exciting photo moments and memories.
Berry season is one of my families favorite times of the year! Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries we love them all.
We enjoy berries of all varieties purchased from local markets and farmers markets
As well as the berries that are home grown in our garden. Wherever we get them from we realize berries are beautiful food that is also very delicate and perishable.
Have you ever purchased berries with the anticipation of eating them the next day? You place them in your refrigerator only to find them the next morning with mold already starting to grow on some of the berries?! I have a solution to this berry conundrum.
Prepare a bath for you berries out of water and vinegar.
Mix a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 10 parts water.
Pour the berries into the mixture, swirl them around and drain them. There you go! This solution kills any mold spores that may be on the fruit. Yes, this really works!
So before you put those beauties in your refrigerator, remember to give them a bath and they will last much longer!
1o parts water
1 part white vinegar
Make enough of the berry bath to cover the berries.
Place berries in a bowl and pour the solution over them swirl the berries around.
Drain. Voila! Mold free berries! Enjoy!