Thursday, January 6, 2011

Winter is for the Birds

Winter is for the Birds 
by Jan Doble - posted to the Virginia Gardener Magazine 01/04/11

Eastern Bluebird and Cardinal

Summer and Fall are long gone and now we're officially in the midst of winter. If you haven't already, now is a great time to turn your attention to the wonderful variety of birds that call Virginia their home. As a gardener, I feed the birds year-round, but the real action doesn't begin until the weather cools down. Once that first snow falls and the temperature drops to freezing, families of birds in every color move in to dine primarily on what we provide in our feeders. We offer a variety of hardy cuisine, to include black-oil sunflower nuts, hulled sunflower nuts, safflower seed, Niger seed, suet and sometimes peanuts.

Northern Flicker

What I consider to be most important in getting the birds to come--and to come on a continuous basis--is a source of water. The day we added our heated birdbath was the day I realized just how much of a difference fresh water makes in the birds' choice of winter stomping grounds. When it's snowing, because the water is prevented from freezing, they are lined up along the edges of the birdbath, merrily drinking away. Whenever I look out my window and the birds seem few, I'm alerted that the birdbath needs refilling. It never fails to amaze me how quickly they return once it's filled up again.

Eastern Bluebirds

Every year, since we added the heated birdbath, we have been thrilled to see large groups of bluebirds, woodpeckers, finches, tufted titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, bluejays, and many others. They come here to eat and drink, and because we have bushes and trees that provide protection, some even make their winter homes here. Others fly back and forth from our yard to a more sheltered area where they make their nests. Each spring they bring their young to learn to eat from the feeders and drink from the birdbath.

Redbellied Woodpecker

I hope you will enjoy reading my posts about attracting birds and wildlife to my yard, as well as everything else plant and nature related that I will share with you. I encourage you to leave comments and share your backyard experiences, as well. Please don't hesitate to ask questions. While I'm not an expert in anything, I will make sure I find an answer or at least direct you to a helpful resource. I look forward to our connection through this online community!

Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble
Written by Jan @ http://www.thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/ Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

39 comments:

  1. Most lovely and colorful birds!

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  2. I love the Northern Flicker and the bluebirds! Each year that passes seems to bring at least one more type of bird to my garden. I've yet to see more than one or two bluebirds but I have hopes of attracting more.

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  3. My husband feeds the birds year round too. We love Jan. - March for the abundance of birds in our yard..We do have some birdbaths and keep them full, although we have a creek running in our back woods that doesn't freeze so the wildlife have plenty of water. Summer we do our best to attract bees and butterflies through our plants and flowers. Nice post today!

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  4. Thanks Linda, Ginny & Darla.
    I am always amazed at the number of bluebirds that appear!
    A running creek definitely makes the need for a heated birdbath unnecessary!

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  5. Great article and outstanding photos, Jan! Thank you for sharing :)

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  6. Great photos of the birds. We really need a heated bird bath. I've seen some birds chip at the ice around the edge of ours and break it out. I guess they can eat ice if needed but I'd like them to always have water.

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  7. Bless you for taking care of the birds in your area. I need to do the same here. They are beautiful surrounding the snow covered tray. Have a nice day.

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  8. Your first photo is like right out of a magazine, like you asked them to pose. The cardinal looked like he wanted to steal the show and grab the attention.

    I am going to try to use the hulled sunflower seeds like you showed, because I am forever cleaning up the mess they make with the seed shells. My cockatoo eats them in the shell, but I am going to get the songbirds the gourmet food. Hope he does not get jealous.

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  9. Amazing those birds so wonderful colord and how they learn yoour food suplay greats Jacky (the Netherlands)

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  10. Jan,
    Bluebirds at the feeder, new to me! Loved seeing the flicker too, very beautiful.

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  11. Joey, thank you so much;-)
    GSS, I've really enjoyed our heated birdbath...it's worth the investment. Or you can always buy heater inserts to put into existing ones.
    Becca, thanks so much for your kind words!
    Donna, the hulled sunflower nuts really are enjoyed by all of the birds and make no mess!
    b.p., thanks so much for your comment.
    Randy, I think the reason the bluebirds eat continuously from our feeders is the hulled sunflower nuts. They love them. That, and the available water.
    Thanks everyone;-)

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  12. Your bird photos are always so super. I like the first one with both the cardinal and bluebird.

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  13. Beautiful photos. I love the ones with the bluebirds around the bath. We had a heated birdbath when we lived in PA and I need to get another one. Obviously the birds really appreciate it!

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  14. Thanks so much Janet...I don't know about 'always', but sometimes I'm just 'lucky'!
    sweetbay, it's been pretty cold down your way this winter, hasn't it! you probably need one with all the snow and cold temps;-)
    Thanks for stopping over!

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  15. A heated bird bath? That's news to me. I'm sure that has kept the birds more comfortable in the Winter. Those birds are gorgeous. You make they happy, they make us happy just looking at them :)

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  16. Hi One,
    the heated birdbath is to keep the water from freezing. Otherwise the birds cannot drink.

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  17. Jan, you get to see some absolutely stunning birds! The Redbellied Woodpecker is such a beautiful little thing with that brilliant orangey-red cap! The Bluebirds are simply gorgeous, as is that brilliant speckled Flicker ... but I have to say the Cardinals always make me stop in my tracks! They are magnificent. So are your photos ... what a joy to finally pop in and be treated to this great post!

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  18. Jan, super Clematis collage on your home page; do I sense Picasa at work? You've done such a beautiful job. I love the idea of a heated birdbath; I will look into this. Does it need to stay in the same place in the garden all the time? I'd be wary of the buildup of bird droppings if I couldn't move it around.

    I listened to a podcast out of Virginia -- Cathy Lewis does a monthly podcast with the gardener Jim Orband. You might be interested in listening to this if you haven't heard it yet. You could google for "hearsay with Cathy Lewis".

    Sheila Averbuch -- Stopwatch Gardener

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  19. WOW! Aren't they all soooo gorgeous!

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  20. Thanks for your sweet thoughts, Bernie. The red-bellied woodpecker has more red in its head than on its belly but is a stunner, for sure;-)
    Hi Sheila, yes, I have been making my collages using Picasa. It's not difficult and it's free;-) As for the birdbath, it is resting in a separate holder that's attached to my deck by a clamp. The basin itself is rinsed out regularly and the water refilled. Otherwise, yes...it would be a mess. But it's right on my deck & easy to access.
    Thank you for sharing the podcast info. I'll keep my ear out for it;)
    Debbie, thanks so much for stopping over again today. If I was 1/8th the photographer you are I would have bragging rights! It's really a huge compliment to have you say that.

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  21. Smashing bird photos! I have never seen a Northern Flicker so I had to check in my bird book and discovered they are common, permanent residence of Georgia. I also read they are often mistaken for the red-bellied woodpecker so I will have to take a closer look my woodpeckers! I am considering a heated bird bath. I never thought I would need one in GA but the past few winters have been dreadfully cold. You have sold me that I need to invest in one.

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  22. Hi, Jan;
    Your pictures are so lovely. I let out a little gasp when I saw they cardinal. Such amazing birds. We really don't get those kind of birds around here and that makes me sad. I did follow your advice (I know you mentioned it today but i think I read it here in a post awhile back) about adding a heated water source for birds. I did that. But, now we have scary hawks and eagles on the deck. ;>)

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  23. I was running on empty tonight, Jan, til I popped over here to check your latest post. These birds filled me with such joy, especially the dear little bluebirds, which I've never seen here. We don't have a heated birdbath, but I think it is an investment we should make. Do you have a particular type you recommend? It seems to me there are several types out there, and some are better than others, perhaps in terms of safety?

    We have many Northern Flickers here in our area, though I don't know that they have come to the feeders yet. There are downy and hairy woodpeckers, and we get the odd visit in the trees by pileated woodpeckers, and the occasional barred owl on the property as well! There are cardinals here in the Valley, but my place is a bit too exposed and windswept, methinks, for them to come to many of our feeders. I do keep hoping, however.

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  24. Dear Jan, We have a heated bird bath, too, and it attracts bluebirds and other wonderful birds. But I have never seen bluebirds on the feeder.

    I love this site, Jan. I just took some time to explore. My word, you are so talented! The products in your store are amazing and I'll definitely be returning there.

    I did not know you once lived in Bethlehem. That is where I worked for the last 12 years before I retired. A beautiful city.

    You have inspired me to redo my blog. Unfortunately, I don't have your talent with a camera!

    Wishing you a healthy and happy gardening year! P x

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  25. Today I went to buy myself a heater for my bird bath, and left it sitting there at the store because it was too much money! Now I feel guilty. LOL I particularly like your northern flicker, gorgeous!

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  26. My dear, You always have the best bird photos! The Northern Flicker is splendid....gail

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  27. Wonderful post Jan. Backyard birding is a subject near and dear to my heart. Your photos are outstanding!

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  28. Dear Jan, I loved your bird post. What great pictures, and I'm absolutely intrigued by and envious of your heated birdbath. My birdbath attracts plenty of birds in the summer, but in the winter it's frozen like everything else. Great idea! I'll be looking forward to your further posts on birds and other wildlife in the garden. Barbara

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  29. What a lovely variety of birds you have, Jan! I've been so disappointed this year that several of my usual visitors, like the woodpeckers, haven't returned. Maybe I should expand the bird buffet here and look into adding a heated birdbath. Love all those little bluebirds on the bath!

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  30. Hi Jan,

    The photos are so stunning. I grinned when I saw them.

    Good, solid help for people who want to attract birds, but don't quite know how.

    Thanks dear,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

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  31. Hi Jan and thank youy for your kind comments on my blog 'Garden of Eaden'. I have been checking out your own blog - very impressive - and was wondering if you were interested in swapping links? Kind regards Simon. You can contact me on gardenofeaden@googlemail.com

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  32. Hi Jan, great photos. Snowing here today.

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  33. Gosh, you have a lot of different birds in your area of Va. There's a pileated woodpecker that lives in the woods in front of our son's house. See that suet cage..do you think that tulip or spring bulbs could be planted into that so the squirrels and chipmunks won't dig them up? Plant it as deep as you normally plant bulbs..I think it would work.

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  34. amazing set of photos! love the little bluebirds on the snow.

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  35. So thankful to learn this from you Jan. The birds are will be happy, fed and taken care of when they visit your place.

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  36. Those blue birds are so beautiful. Not seen any in my country. Found your blog at Edith's.

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  37. Love the pics of the bluebirds. We see them in the summer, but come winter they head south.
    Suzanne

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  38. Oh, that Northern Flicker is gorgeous! I'd be so excited to see that many birds in one spot!

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  39. I don't think Larry put our bird bath heater out this year. I got it for him for a gift a few years ago, and instead of using it in a bird bath, he used to use it to help his fish stay alive in his whiskey barrel. I don't know if any birds were able to drink from that, but a raccoon got the fish this fall, so I think he dumped the barrel out. I'll have to ask him about that.

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Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment! Please enjoy your TODAY and all of the gifts in YOUR garden of life!

Jan

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