Let's get the yard ready for Fall birds ...
I've aways been told that the end of Summer has the best salads. Plants produce more as if they know Winter is coming. So, gather your tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions and make a beautiful, easy, quick salad to celebrate the end the Summer and say Hello Fall.
2 ready to eat tomatoes
2 peeled cucumbers
Cut produce to the size you like. Add fresh or dried herbs plus equal amounts of oil and apple cider vinegar. Or use House Italian salad dressing plus cracked black pepper and salt to taste.
For a great taste change, add avocados and leave the skin on the cucumbers.
What to do with your Pumpkins
Have you used pumpkins to decorate your home or porch this Fall season? If so now is the time when we make the change to Christmas everywhere - outside and all over your home. The question is what to do with those pumpkins?
Hungry squirrels and birds will love to have them and it's fun to watch them enjoy and feast on the pumpkins you no longer want or need.Here are a few ways to do it.
Take the pumpkin out to your yard where you see squirrels running around and place the pumpkin upright. Cut a large hole in the side of the pumpkin and watch the squirrels come to check it out. Squirrels love pumpkin seeds and the meat of the pumpkin.
For birds cut the pumpkin in half leaving seeds intact adding a few sunflower or mix seeds to it. Birds will eat the seeds and the meat of the pumpkin. Large birds will eat some of the pumpkin seeds.
Now, what to do after the squirrels and birds have feasted? I cut the pumpkins up and put them in the compost pile. Some I put in my flower beds to enrich the soil. But, if you choose to put the cut up pumpkins in your flower beds don't be surprised to see a pumpkin vine or two growing in with your flowers next year. And that can be fun to watch them grow as long as you do not cut off the end of the vine you will have pumpkins next Fall.
Every year we spend a great amount of time decorating our homes for Christmas. So, this year after I had trimmed a tree, put a wreath on the door, built a Christmas village. I decided to make a Christmas tree for the birds.
I thought it would be simple - I would just order some birdseed ornaments and go outside and hang them on a tree growing in my yard. Well, I found some and if I were going to put some out on a hanger or a hook the price for a few would be reasonable. But, I wanted to fill a six-foot tree. With a little bit of research, I found all sort of recipes to make ornaments and some small suet feeders with items I already had in my home. So that is what I did.
Cookies Cutter Bird Cookies
4 cups of mix bird seed
1 envelope of Knox gelatin
3 tablespoons of flour
3 tablespoons of corn syrup
1/2 cup of hot water
Raisins and broken up peanuts can be added
non-stick cooking spray
Mix birdseed with flour - set aside. In a second bowl add 1/2 cup of very hot water and the Knox gelatin. Once dissolved mix in the corn syrup and pour over the bird seed. Mix well covering all of the seeds.
Spray the inside of the cookie cutters and place them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Pack the bird seed mixture into the cookie cutters -use a pencil end to make a hole in each. Place cookie sheet in your refrigerator for 3 or more hours. After cookies are firm add twine as a hanger. Makes about 20.
Looking around my cupboard I found small cups I had not used in years and matched nothing. I don't know why I had saved them, but I had. Now I had a good use for them.
1 -1 1/2 cups of mix bird seed
1/2 to a whole cup of lard ( bacon drippings can be added to this, but not much).
Heat lard to melting point and mix in the bird seed ( I added some extra black sunflower seeds ) as a treat. Take clean dry cups placed on a cookie sheet and fill cups with mixture. Put an ice cream stick or any small stick deep in the mixture.
Place cups in your freezer for 6 hours. Tie twine on the handle and they are ready to go.
It's that time of the year when hummingbirds will start visiting your yard. Each year they return to your yard from their winter home in Mexico, Panama or deep south Florida. And when they do come .....out will come the hummingbird feeders.
Keeping your feeder filled and clean is just simple basics.
1) Make your own syrup by using 1/4 sugar to 4 parts water. Boil mixture to prevent bacteria from forming in your mixture. Boiling for a minute will be enough time to remove the bacteria while keeping your mixture thin and clear. Cool, fill your feeder and place the remaining mixture in your refrigerator for later use.
2) Keep your feeder clean by washing it with a very small amount of dish soap and rinsing it with a small amount of vinegar or vinegar water followed by a cool water rinse.
I keep two are more feeders so I have one to fill while waiting for the one I am washing to dry. And in the Fall as the hummingbirds head South for the Winter I keep two out so they can build up body fuel for their long trip.
3) Stick to the sugar mixture rule. Do not use red dye, fruit juice or honey to make your mixture. Most often your mixture will ferment more quickly and none of these are particularly good for the hummingbirds. If you feel the need to have a red coloured mixture in your feeder - buy a feeder that has a red coloured glass as shown in the above photo.
4) Change your feeder before it is empty and every few days when it is hot weather.
Enjoy your time with the hummingbirds for Spring and Summer will go by fast and before you know it....it will be Winter and the seed feeders will be out.
Most likely you will be visited by the ruby throat hummingbird, but you may find some other visitors.
Everyone loves to see a pair of Cardinals in their yard. This has been going on for years
starting with the arrival of Catholic European settlers who gave the Cardinals their name. Seeing the red peaked plumed head of the male Cardinal the settlers noticed how much the bird looked like the blessed Cardinals of their faith. And so they were named.
Known as lovebirds (the male feeds seeds to the female as a sign of commitment) they mate for life. Cardinals work together to create their nest and both help with the care of their young. Odd to the rest of the bird world the female (the only female bird) sings and calls the male when she needs food for the young.
The Cardinal pair builds their nest together. The female is the weaver adding some supplies from the male. She builds the nest out dry leaves, twigs, dry grasses and slips of grapevine if available. Starting 3 years ago I kept my Morning Glory vines up after Summer and in the early Spring pulled them down making a pile of vines on the end of a deck post. Within a month the dead vines are gone and often found in nests.
In their nest, you will find 3 to 6 blush beige eggs with a touch of olive brown on them. Cardinals have 2 to 3 broods a year and their young often stay with them adding more Cardinals to your yard.
Because of their strong beaks, Cardinals are seed eaters and love Sunflower and Black Sunflower seeds. However, in Summer, they will eat fruit, berries, insects and grain. They do use feeders but will eat from platform feeders. I use pie pans on my deck rail and the pans work perfectly. Nail them down and the pans are good to go.
Cardinals do not migrate. They will stay within 2 miles of where they were born. In Winter Cardinals roost in groups. Put out roosting boxes to help them endure cold Winter nights and if you have planted Spring flowers that make seed heads leave them on for them to eat the seeds.
You can find Cardinals (known as Northern Cardinals) all along the eastern US and are spreading westward as cities become more bird-friendly. They live in forest, regrown forest, parks, overgrown fields and your backyard. They like spaces that are bushes, have close grown trees and fruit trees
Cardinals are the state bird of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, North Carlina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. Because of their beauty, dedication to mates and musical songs they are our most popular year-round bird. And some believe that when a Cardinal appears an angle is near.
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Do bird need water in Winter?
Do birds need water in Winter? Yes! Here a Cardinal gets a drink from the edge of an iced lake. Help your year-round friends by putting water out each day and changing it when it freezes. It takes a little work, but its worth it. Your birds will learn that water is available and return each day. This is most important when there is no snow - just ice.
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