Our species is very good at taking. We take down a woodland to build another Walmart. We take off mountain tops because it’s cheaper to extract the coal. When it comes to habitat we take and take and take, and then wonder why we don’t see any birds or butterflies anymore.

My garden, and those of every wildlife gardener I know, is about giving back. Giving back my tiny slice of the planet of which I am the steward. Giving back some native plants so that our bees don’t continue to disappear, so that butterflies have someplace to lay their eggs, and so the birds have something to feed their young.

Nearly one third of all U.S. birds are endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to habitat loss, invasive species, and other threats.

Habitat loss is the key in these declines. Yes, there are organizations devoted to protecting habitats, but the total amount of protected land in the U.S. is only 5% of available lands. And this is simply not enough. 80% of available land in this country is held privately, and that is where you and your Ecosystem Garden play a crucial role.

Every time we choose to create, restore, or protect habitat in our wildlife garden, we are choosing to become responsible for the health of the wildlife in our area.

Here are 197 tips for birdscaping your garden:

Birdscaping Your Garden

Gardening for the Birds Every now and then I come across a book that just blows me away with its message of creating welcoming habitat for wildlife. Gardening for the Birds: How to Create a Bird-Friendly Backyard, by George Adams is one of those books. It’s a must-read for any wildlife gardener who is interested in attracting more birds to your wildlife garden… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

1. 7 Steps to Birdscaping Your Garden: Habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation due to human activity is the leading cause of bird population declines. Birdscaping your garden will create an oasis in a desert of development. Birdscaping is one of the very few activities that truly follows the motto “If you build it, they will come,” and grants immediate gratification. I’ve seen proof of this over and over in my work designing and installing wildlife gardens… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

2. Landscape for Wildlife: Bird Design: Here are landscaping for wildlife resources for birds. You can look for resources regionally by going to the Landscape for Wildlife menu. You can also find plants for wildlife resources by going to Regional Plant Lists for Wildlife Resources… ~Kelly Brenner

3. This Garden is For the BirdsSeriously though, my garden really is for the birds. They are the reason that I began to learn how we could use our gardens to help them. I am a birder. Almost nothing makes me happier than to go out into nature, binoculars in hand, to watch my feathered friends. And I am really happy that I can do that in my own backyard… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

4. My Garden Is For the Birds: “I value my garden more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs.” ~Joseph Addison As spring has continued on its merry way, we have been overrun with birds in the garden. This is not a bad thing. It is actually a joyous time… ~Donna Donabella

5. Audubon Ambassadors at Home: Being Bird Lovers of the first order, members of The Audubon Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) were moved to action by messages of declining bird species numbers. Realizing the importance of suburban backyards as critical habitat for their feathered friends, ASNV members created a “Healthy Yard Pledge” and applied for grants to help them develop a program to educate and aid homeowners… ~Suzanne Dingwell

6. Who’s in Your Wildlife Garden? Learning to ID Birds by Song–Old Sam Peabody, teakettles, Beefeater, party, and beer. What do these have to do with your wildlife garden? Your Ecosystem Garden will be a magnet for birds, and all of these phrases can be associated with a specific song. Learning to identify your avian friends by their song is a wonderful way to experience the birds that visit your property… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

7. Bird Life History Resource: When designing for wildlife research into a specific animals life history is essential. Fortunately for many animals there are more and more resources all the time, especially online. Birds have long been focused on as a recreational hobby and that benefits everyone because we are able to learn more with so many people in tune and observing all the time. One of these fantastic resources is produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology… ~Kelly Brenner

8. Creating a Bird Garden: Bird Gardens are a treat to anyone that appreciates gardening, wildlife, the outdoors, and of course, birds. Whether you have years of experience with bird gardens of your own or are wanting to start your first one, I hope you can take something useful from this article. All successful bird are comprised of 3 very important elements: cover, food and water, and nesting. Get these three things right and you will have a bird filled garden in no time… ~Nate Armstrong

9. Creating Bird-Friendly Urban Landscapes: “The three most important things homeowners can do to help birds are eliminate pesticides and free-roaming domestic cats and add native plants.” By helping birds, homeowners also will be helping other wildlife. “Birds are good ecological indicators,” Tallamy says. “If you have a diverse native bird population, it’s a sign that the ecosystem as a whole is healthy.” ~NWF

Environmental Issues

10. Trespassers will be composted – Scat cat!: However, one particular trespasser invades with impunity – the free-ranging pet cat. And I know I’m not alone in voicing my displeasure. Domestic cat has been listed as the fifth leading cause of human-induced mortality in birds with 118 million in the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, cats also kill untold millions of mammals, amphibians and reptiles… ~Janet Harrison

11. Cats and the Wildlife Garden: An urban wildlife habitat is a gem in the city, providing the elements desperately needed by local and migrating birds, as well as other wildlife, but the same environment can draw in a commonly found predator, the domestic cat. Whether a pet cat or a feral cat, a domestic feline is a relentless hunter, and when compounded by the fact that many regions typically deal with a severe overpopulation of cats, the effect on a fragile habitat can be devastating… ~Meredith O’Reilly

12. Bird Safe Building Guidelines: “It is estimated that 100 million birds are killed every year in the United States alone through collisions with buildings” – NY Audubon. There is a very good resource from NY Audubon called Bird Safe Building Guidelines… ~Kelly Brenner

13. Bird Safe Building Updates: First, from the American Bird Conservancy comes news about proposed legislation that would put regulations on federal building construction. “The bill, HR 4797 calls for each public building constructed, acquired, or altered by the General Services Administration (GSA) to incorporate, to the maximum extent possible, bird-safe building materials and design features.” ~Kelly Brenner

14. In a FLAP – S.O.B. (Save Our Birds)! “Birds provide an accessible connection to the natural world, especially for city dwellers.” (FLAP) FLAP or Fatal Light Awareness Program is a Toronto-based organization with a mission to safeguard migratory birds in the urban environment through education, research, rescue and rehabilitation… ~Janet Harrison

15. City Lights and Urban Wildlife: The effects of artificial light on birds in the city are still relatively unknown but there has been a recent interest in documenting bird kills. Many are killed when striking reflective windows, but lights play into a large number of collisions as well… ~Kelly Brenner

16. Avert Tragedy in the Wildlife Garden: I heard the thump. I opened the door to the welcome mat filled will the most unwelcoming pile of feathers and my heart sank. Based on the small size of the feathers and the coloring, I started poking around the patio for the remains of a brown-headed nuthatch. Very upset, I searched but found nothing…. ~Loret T. Setters

17. Dusty Gedge & Biodiversity Ecoroofs: This week was a very exciting week in Portland, Oregon because the city brought in ecoroof expert, Dusty Gedge. The city of Portland just finished off Ecoroof Portland month, which included an event two weeks ago with vendors and many speakers. This week included two talks with Dusty and an ecoroof design charrette that I was lucky enough to be invited to and participate in… ~Kelly Brenner

Bird Feeding

18. To Feed or Not to Feed… (Birds): Feeding birds is a huge industry in this country: the 46 million U.S. residents who identified themselves as birdwatchers in 2001 spent almost $2.9 million dollars on bird food, feeders, nest boxes, and bird baths. We all love to see birds close-up. But is feeding birds good for them? ~Susan J. Tweit

19. Bird Feeders are not saving the world: Feeding the birds with backyard bird feeders is a popular thing to do. It’s a “feel good” activity that gives joy to those that watch the birds from their window and delights the birds that are willing to visit them. The more birds that visit, the happier the humans are… ~Ellen Honeycutt

20. Locavore” Birds. Grow your own Birdseed: Are we being a bit unrealistic about this business of buying bird seed? I don’t quite understand all this farmland devoted to growing bird seed. I assume that the farmer has to prevent birds from ruining his crop. So, all and all, I don’t think that we are truly helping the birds this way. Instead, we are bringing them to our yard for our own selfish pleasure and depriving them of habitat somewhere else… Beatriz Moisset

21. Bread is NOT Bird Food–Earlier this week I was researching some new bird gardening strategies and I was flipping through my stacks of bird gardening books and I noticed that the majority of these books spend most of their space talking about bird feeders and bird feeding “projects.” While I am a huge proponent of any method that instills in children a sense of awe and wonder about nature, most of these projects involve feeding some type of bread product to your backyard birds: donuts, bagels, stale bread, etc… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

22. Feed the Birds: So to put it in a nutshell, each time that you plant an exotic tree or shrub you are dooming some baby bird to hunger and death. Or, if it makes you feel better, each time that you plant native plants you are helping the birds you love, perhaps even more than you do with your bird feeders… ~Beatriz Moisset

23. Artificial Bird Feeding:: What we don’t know: When it comes to backyard bird feeding, the bird feeder reigns supreme. Many people have one or more feeders in their yards and some people go to extremes with their feeders. However, how many people have stopped to consider if they are benefiting or harming the birds. This is an issue as contentious as keeping cats indoors and there are many viewpoints… ~Kelly Brenner

24. Feeding Feasting Birds: I enjoyed seeing the birds up close for many years in this way. Then the bear came! First, he found the suet feeder to his liking. Then off with the cylinder feeders tops and down the hatch . . . then that left one . . . a little tray feeder rested on suction cups right on the storm window, which was a foot away from where I lay sleeping. ~Carol Duke

25. Caterpillars are for the Birds: Among them you can count some of your most beloved birds, warblers, wrens, sparrows. You see them fleeting about and they may be picking up some of your caterpillar’s brothers and sisters. They will be taking them to their growing brood and ramming them down their hungry throats… ~Beatriz Moisset

26. Invisible Bird Food in the Foliage: Further observation led me to the mummified body of an aphid, not worthy of a bird’s attention; but a clue nonetheless. Where there is one aphid, almost invariably there are more. It didn’t take me long to find clusters of fat juicy green ones under the leaves of the jewelweed. I would have never noticed the well hidden aphids if the bird had not brought them to my attention… ~Beatriz Moisset

27. What Do Birds Really Want? Even passionate bird lovers don’t agree whether it’s helpful to feed the birds in snow-free regions of the country. Populations might become unbalanced. Aggressive birds benefit more than others. Then there’s the squirrel-at-the-feeder issue. But I think we can all agree that birds need and love water… ~Town Mouse

Nests & Nest Boxes

28. Preparing for Bird Nesting Season: Want birds to breed at your place? Don’t do that spring cleanup just yet! Leave the twigs and dead grasses so the birds have easy-to-find materials and you’ll have a great chance at your beautiful wildlife garden being a preferred nesting location… ~Loret T. Setters

29. Get your Bird Houses Ready, Spring is ComingSpring is in the air…finally! After what feels like a long and very cold winter, it’s finally beginning to feel like spring, even though my garden is still covered with snow. But the birds are getting ready for spring now… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

30. Cambridgeshire’s Bird Hotel: Over several years a landowner has turned previous agriculture land into a wetland habitat. The most recent work at the site was the building of a wall sited to offer nesting for different bird species including the kingfisher and sand martin. There are nearly 200 holes in the wall designed for the sand martin while two are designed specifically for the kingfisher and are the first in the country to be so… ~Kelly Brenner

31. Not Your Traditional Nest Box: When we talk about a nest box we usually envision a wooden structure, often in the shape of a human house, hanging from a tree in the backyard. However, if you talked about a nest box in the UK, they may have a different idea. The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) has a page on their website about nestboxes for the roof… ~Kelly Brenner

32. Funky Nests: Another year of Funky Nests from Celebrate Urban Birds provides a whole new range of places that birds will nest. As I talked about in the Funky Nests in Funky Places post from the contest of the previous year, it is always amazing how resilient some species can be. Some of the prizewinning entries from this year include nests on top of tires, scaffolding, a sailboat, a mop and various statues, signs and window ledges… ~Kelly Brenner

33. A Brief History of Birds on Buildings: For as long as we’ve made dwellings for ourselves, many birds have sought to cohabit them with us. In past times beliefs and folklore made them welcome visitors and some were even sought after, while at the same time, many birds were (unfairly) feared and discouraged. Today we still welcome many species while discouraging others, although for different reasons… ~Kelly Brenner

34. Animal Wall in Cardiff Bay: In Cardiff Bay, Wales there is a new housing installation aimed at birds and bats. Gitta Gschwendtner, a German-born, London-based artist worked with ecologists to create the new housing in Century Warf containing 1,000 different boxes… ~Kelly Brenner

35. Nestworks 1 2 3: 51% Studios, an architecture firm from London, has created Nestworks 1 2 3 as part of the London Festival of Architecture, running through this weekend. Their design is three, ready-made nesting structures, blocks, boughs and bushes, that are placed throughout London for people to find, or not find… ~Kelly Brenner

Bird Habitat

36. One Third of U.S. Birds in Danger: How your Ecosystem Garden can Make a Difference–Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar released the State of the Birds report in March of 2009. This landmark study revealed that nearly one third of all U.S. birds are endangered, threatened or in significant decline due to habitat loss, invasive species, and other threats… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

37. Megan Crewe on Birds, Birding, and Bird HabitatI just spent almost two delightful weeks birding in the tropical paradise of Trinidad and Tobago with Megan Crewe of Field Guides Birding Tours Worldwide. Her almost encyclopedic knowledge of the birds of the world, their conservation status, and their habitat needs is astounding! So I thought we’d pick her brains so so she could share some of this wisdom with us…. ~Carole Sevilla Brown

38. A Roof for the Birds:: Creating habitat on the Portland Mausoleum roof:There are benefits to providing habitat in cities. Roofs are open, often unused real estate that is usually wasted. The rooftop offers certain opportunities for wildlife, space that is safe away from predators. Domestic cats kill millions of birds every year and can wipe out entire populations. Other urban predators such as rococo’s and even humans also have no access to a rooftop… ~Kelly Brenner

39. Turning Farms into Wildlife Habitat: I recently had the opportunity to tour several coffee fincas (farms) in Guatemala and I was very impressed that these farmers are passionate about creating habitat for birds and other wildlife on their farms. I’m also encouraged that these farmers are pursuing certification for their fincas as wildlife preserves… Carole Sevilla Brown

40. Farmers Saving Bird HabitatI just returned from a wonderful visit to Guatemala on a birding FAM trip, where I had the opportunity to visit many coffee fincas and other farms. It’s so exciting to see farmers working hard to protect bird habitat, and making that an important part of their operation… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

41. Attracting Birds and Birders: I returned this week from a birding trip in Guatemala, where I saw some amazingly beautiful birds and got to visit some of the coffee fincas and preserves that are working to protect, preserve, and create habitat for birds. On several occasions I was asked for my advice about how they can make their farms more attractive to birds. My advice? The same thing I’ve been teaching wildlife gardeners around the US: plant your garden to supply all of the essential elements for birds and other wildlife and learn to create welcoming habitat for birds so that you will attract more of them to take up residence in your yard… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

42. Have a Cup of Coffee and Help Save Bird Habitat–I recently had the privilege of visiting a family-owned organic, shade-grown coffee farm in Veracruz, Mexico. It turns out that you can support property owners in Mexico and South America who, just like you, are making healthy and responsible choices for their properties. Rewarding these farmers for making great decisions is one of the best ways I can think of to encourage more family farms to make these (sometimes very difficult) choices… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

43. Why Did That Stupid Bird Build Its Nest in a Parking Lot?That was the question I heard as I crossed the parking lot at Todd’s Point in Reid State Park near Georgetown, Maine where I’ve been birding for the past week. The question surprised me, and I turned to my birding buddy and said “Why do we keep building parking lots where birds nest?” ~Carole Sevilla Brown

44. Looking Past the Garden Gate, the Ocean Needs Our Help–Sometimes we need to look beyond the garden gate because all actions have consequences. And the consequences of our consumptive lifestyle are huge. Each of us can make a conscious choice to reduce the amount of waste we add to landfills each year. Less consumption equals less trash. Please do your part to help protect the birds, mammals and other ocean life. Their future depends on in, and so may ours… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

45. Helping Wildlife with Specialized Habitat Needs in Your Ecosystem Garden–Many wildlife species are habitat specialists, which means they have very specific needs for habitat for their survival. It is these species that are most vulnerable to extinction, and many of them are already listed as threatened or endangered… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

Birding With Kids

46. Kids in the Wildlife Garden—Nest Boxes: It may still be winter, but in our backyard, the Bewick’s wrens are already checking out the local real estate market. Last year we were lucky enough to host a pair of nesting chickadees in our backyard. Watching birds select mates, build nests, and raise young is a wonderful education for children. Observing these processes also a doorway into all kinds of great conversations about habitat, life cycles, the “birds and the bees,” and (sadly) sometimes death… ~Christy Peterson

47. Kids and Nature, Enliven Your Life: Yesterday I had a very important date–with my 4 year old neighbor Libby and her 2 year old sister Penny (and their mom, too). They knew that I had seen the Eagles who for the first time ever, are nesting at John Heinz NWR, which is located in the shadow of the Philadelphia Airport. Their Pappy had also seen these Eagles, and they wanted very much to see them, too… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

48. The Littlest Birders: Even very young children who are just beginning to categorize the world (and who still call all 4-legged creatures “doggies) can start to recognize birds as a group. The ability to fly and feathers make birds easy to differentiate from other living things. Wait a few more months, and most kids can start to recognize a few basic species and calls… ~Christy Peterson

Bird Migration

49. Creating Rest Stops for Migratory Birds in Your Ecosystem Garden–You know when you’re driving along the highway for hours and suddenly you have to find a rest stop RIGHT AWAY? Well, birds need rest stops, too! Imagine you’ve flown all night, heading south to your wintering grounds. In the pre-dawn light you know it’s time to land and rest and refuel. You’re TIRED. So you land at the place you’ve rested every year on this journey, only to find that now your oasis is a parking lot. Where will you find the food that is so necessary to your survival? Where will you find a safe place to rest your weary wings? Migratory birds face this dilemma every day of their journey… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

50. The Long Migration: I’m so glad that I’m not a bird. Or anything else that must migrate every year. There are so many unknowns when migrating – what will the weather be like; where will I find food, water and shelter; will I run into problems along the way; how will I find my way there and back; will my “family” remember me when I return? ~Kathy Green

51. Bird Migration and Your Wildlife Garden: We’ve talked about Purple Martins and migration, but at this time of year many birds are migrating to their wintering homes. Warblers, Orioles, Tanagers, Vireos, Swallows, raptors, ducks and geese, Thrushes, Sparrows, and more are all on the move, and may be passing through your wildlife garden… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

52. How Birds Migrate: Migration is an important topic for the urban environment as many cities have an enormous impact on bird migration and many cities, including Portland and Seattle, lay in a major flyway, which is the Pacific Flyway on the west coast… ~Kelly Brenner

53. How to Find Which Birds Migrate Through Your Garden? The easiest way to discover which birds to be on the lookout for in your Wildlife Garden is to use the National Audbon Society website. Find your state and you’ll see all of the Audubon Chapters in your state. Choose the one that is closest to your house and then click through to that chapters website… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

54. Fueling Up: Today’s post from my beautiful wildlife garden is more a pictorial taste treat rather than a descriptive meal. As we all know, it’s hummingbird migration season and the hummingbirds in my yard are on a mission to fuel up their bodies before the long flight. I’ve been blessed with a longer than normal summer season… ~Kathy Green

55. Drop Your Rake and Look to the Skies: This week as I stood outside on my deck during the wee hours of the morning under the light of the full moon, I was thrilled to hear the flight calls of many migrating birds passing by overhead. I paused to wish them safe travels on their journey. Autumn is a very exciting time in the wildlife garden. All sorts of critters are on the move, from the very large to the very small… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

56. What Happens to Migrating Birds During a Hurricane?Hurricane Irene has passed leaving a huge swath of devastation in her path. My heart and my prayers go out to those in North Carolina, New Jersey, and Vermont who have suffered so much. My own inconvenience seems so small by comparison. But for a birder, hurricanes often turn up many birds in unlikely places… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

57. The Magic of Migration in Cape MayCape May, NJ is a magical place at any time of the year, but during migration it is truly spectacular! I’ll be writing more about this phenomenon over the next few days, but wanted to whet your appetite and show you some of the magic… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

Birds Through the Seasons


58. Early spring critters at John Heinz NWRAfter a week of rain, it was so nice to see the sun we packed up the Plotthounds and the binoculars and headed out to our local wildlife refuge, John Heinz located in the shadow of the Philadelphia airport…. ~Carole Sevilla Brown

59. Call Me Grandma! On Valentine’s Day, I was finally treated to seeing dove babies. Mom and Dad must have been out for Valentine’s Day dinner as the nestlings were all alone, one staring out at me wide-eyed. I’ve had camera in hand for days in anticipation of seeing mom and dad feeding the bird babies once they were born… ~Loret T. Setters

60. Tree Swallows Return: Tree Swallows are one of my favorite birds because they are one of the earliest birds to return from their southern wintering grounds. When I see my first Tree Swallow I truly know that the warmer, sunnier days of spring really are coming… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

61. Do Robins Really Return in the Spring?–Or Did They Ever Even Really Leave? I’ve been having a lot of conversations on twitter and on Facebook about spring, most of them along the line of Will it ever get here? It was a very long, cold winter. But many people have noted that one of their biggest signs that spring really is coming is that the Robins have returned… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

62. Hummingbirds Reach Northern VirginiaI told you several weeks ago that the first Ruby-throated Hummingbirds had arrived at the Gulf Coast from their southern wintering grounds, but by now they are as far north as northern Virginia, so it’s only a matter of a few weeks until we begin to see them in our northeastern wildlife gardens…~Carole Sevilla Brown

63. Early Spring Nesting Birds–Did you know that there are already some nesting birds and birds sitting on eggs here in the northeast? Amazing, but true. It’s barely spring and some areas in the northeast still have snow on the ground but some nesting birds have already begun their work… ~Carole Sevilla Brown


64. Help Birds in the Heat – Provide Drinking Water: Much of the country has been experiencing a record-breaking heat wave in the past few weeks. While we stay in our climate control, the birds outside are struggling in the heat and can have difficulties finding sources for drinking water. For those of you who do not typically cater to backyard birds, you can do one small task that would help your local population enormously. Simply set out a bowl or cup of water for them to drink… ~Karyl Seppala


65. How Long Should I Leave my Hummingbird Feeders up in the Fall? I was recently asked: “Should we still be feeding the hummingbirds? I wasn’t sure when to discontinue our feeders so the hummingbirds can move on for the winter.” It’s a good question. Actually when it’s time to migrate, it’s time to migrate, no matter what: feeders full of fresh solution or gardens full of flowers… ~Pat Sutton

66. The Ubiquity of (Some) Birds: But we did get out of the city and over to a swamp tour, which took us through some bayous and a cypress swamp. Here I am, in the land of gators and crawfish and gumbo, and when I scanned around with my binoculars, I saw all the familiar birds of home… ~Ursula Vernon

67. Purple Martins On the Move: It is at this time of year that you will begin to see huge flocks of Purple Martins, and you know that Fall is close at hand. Creating rest stops for migratory birds in your wildlife garden is a wonderful way to support these birds on their long journeys. At the end of the breeding season these birds gather into very large flocks, often over open water. Several towns have annual Purple Martin festivals where you can go at dusk to see the flocks come in to roost… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

68. Autumn, Time for Moving On: Yesterday I was enjoying the peace of my garden space, watching as hummingbirds fought over the feeder, buzzing past my ears, so loud and so quick. I got out my camera and took pictures of my hummingbird friends. They are the best part of my Topanga garden and have given me so many happy moments… ~Kathy Villim

69. Saying Goodbye to the Wading Birds: The other day I heard them, their weird cries drifting from above. A flock of wading birds was migrating south for the winter. I am fascinated by the great egrets and great blue herons that come to fish in the pond behind my garden and will miss seeing them until they return next spring… ~Barbara Pintozzi

70. Why Are My Birds Losing Their Feathers? That’s the question I just received. Mary from Philadelphia sent me this question: I think the birds in my yard may have some kind of disease. They are losing their feathers, and some of them even look bald. Are they sick? Can I do something to help them? ~Carole Sevilla Brown


71. Caring for Birds in the Winter Wildlife Garden: Your wildlife garden can be the key to bird survival through the winter. Our teams of writers both here at Beautiful Wildlife Garden as well as at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens have written lots of wonderful articles to help you birdscape your garden to help birds and other wildlife survive and thrive through the winter. Here’s some of the best… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

72. How to Provide Water for Birds When the Birdbath Freezes–Wild birds need access to clean water all year round, but when winter temperatures dip into the freezing range, this may be harder to find. Birds can quench their thirst by eating snow, but this requires large amounts of energy which they need to keep themselves warm. So what’s a caring Ecosystem Gardener to do? ~Carole Sevilla Brown

73. Patience, rewarded: My husband gave me a heated birdbath for Christmas, and I was all set to watch birds all winter. (I can’t put up bird feeders because the squirrels always pull them down and rip them apart.) I was so disappointed as the days passed without a single bird using it… ~Barbara Pintozzi

74. Big Winter Birds: We had our first freeze of the season this week although it only lasted an hour or two. I love winter in Florida as the types of visitors to the garden vary at this time of year. I glanced out back the other day and was surprise to see a couple of Great Egrets in the pond. I was mostly surprised because Tanner the English setter was out in the yard and hadn’t seemed to notice the white beauties out back. Some bird dog…HA! ~Loret T. Setters

75. The First Cold Day: The vast majority of food in my yard comes from the plants, of course—seedheads from the river oats, berries from the American holly and beautyberry, rose hips from the roses. (One of the roses, a Pink Drift that is supposed to make an attractive but cat-resistant groundcover in the vicinity of the bird feeder, has decided that late November is its time to shine… ~Ursula Vernon

76. Gardening Payoff: Nothing says Christmas time to me like a guy in a bright red suit and the smell of bayberry. I saw a flash of red the other day. “Is it SANTA?” I wondered aloud. Besides, Santa seems hell-bent on the cookie tray, and this guy was dancing through the small, tight limbs of one of my female bayberry shrubs, a.k.a. wax myrtle. Oh, silly me…’tis a male , and this guy was dancing through the small, tight limbs of one of my female bayberry shrubs, a.k.a. wax myrtle. Oh, silly me…’tis a male Northern Cardinal Cardinal… ~Loret T. Setters

77. Snow Birds: “In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” ? Robert Lynd March 20th came cold and full of snow. That week we received an additional foot of snow to add to all the other feet of snow that fell this very white winter. But this was spring… ~Donna Donabella

78. Hard to Swallow? Hardly! Tree Swallow. In Florida, we provide the winter, non-breeding area for this interesting bird thus seeing a different side of behavior. A group of tree swallows are known collectively as a “stand” of swallows. Our winter residents hardly sit, let alone stand. Nearly constant in flight, they soar, snagging meals of insects “on the wing”. A few years back I did a short video while they flew round and round and round… ~Loret T. Setters

79. Winter Birds in the Wildlife Garden: Birds are especially visible in our wildlife gardens in winter, and they are not as fragile as we may think. Access to food, water, and shelter will help them get through the cold winter days.Water is one of the most important elements to provide for birds in the wildlife garden in winter. While birds are able to melt snow to drink, this consumes a lot of energy. Providing clean unfrozen water will help them conserve their energy. I use a heated dog dish in which I place a brick to allow the birds to drink, but not bathe… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

80. Ice Storm! The weather forecast said “up to an inch of snow” but what we got was sleet, freezing rain, and hard little ice pellets one step removed from hail. The roads turned into a skating rink. The schools let out ten minutes after they let in. There was a run on bread, milk, and eggs, proving yet again that the Weather Gods can only be appeased through offerings of French Toast.* For ordinary mortals, this is obnoxious enough. For the wildlife gardener, however, an ice storm is fretful on multiple levels… ~Ursula Vernon

81. Blizzard Birds

We got a lot of snow yesterday, and the birds sure were hungry!

~Carole Sevilla Brown

Citizen Science & Counting Birds

82. Birds Stopping By To Be Counted: I enjoyed participating in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) recently. And with the winter weather, I did not anticipate seeing many birds, and I was correct. I decided to try out the app, BirdLog this year… ~Donna Donabella

83. Project Feeder Watch begins: be a citizen scientist–You can help scientists track fluctuations in bird populations right from your kitchen table or any other place with a view of your bird feeders. Project Feeder Watch, a long-running study by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, kicked off this weekend and will run through mid April… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

84. Can the Birds Count on You? This is the 111th year that Audubon Society has organized its Christmas bird count. This definitive data shows without a doubt that our native bird populations have decreased dramatically over the decades. Most of the declines are due to decreased habitat, but we are not helpless and we can all do much more than wring our hands in dismay. ~Ginny Stibolt

85. Nest Watch in Your Ecosystem Garden–Bird nest monitoring has become a very important tool in the arsenal for biologists and ornithologists who study bird populations. And the good news is that you can help by joining Nest Watch, a citizen science project by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. NestWatch welcomes data for all North American birds… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

86. Counting Birds in the Garden: I could not have guessed how timely this post would turn out to be. I thought, I’ll get a head start promoting the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). After all we want to see more birds in the garden. But who would have guessed that while I was gazing out my window this past gray weekend, that I would see this. Yes a robin visited for quite a while with the bluebirds, chickadees and other birds who I see in the winter garden from time to time… ~Donna Donabella

87. Keeping A Yardlist: Well, I get excited. While Pine Siskins are common birds in general, this is the first time they’ve shown up in my garden. This is what’s called an irruption year—lots of Pine Siskins moving through the south and east, to areas they may not usually appear. Pine Siskins do this regularly, and so you might have dozens of Siskins one year and none the next… ~Ursula Vernon

88. Stand Up and Be Counted: Apparently, the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is done every year all across the nation on days varying from Dec. 14th to January 5th. It has been done for 112 years. My region is Malibu, California. So the numbers my neighbor comes up with on just that one day in our part of Topanga Canyon will be added to the numbers for other participants and a summary compiled for the Malibu region… ~Kathy Villim

Bird Species

Ducks & Geese

89. Not Every Pool is Duck Worthy: Ducks are curious creatures. Sometimes friendly, sometimes very protective, the Mallard (or wild) duck often makes its home in your wildlife garden. All you need is water, a few bushes or trees, some tall grass or other protected place for nesting and you may have a Mallard family inviting themselves to stay for a while… ~Kathy Green

90. Urban Species Profile:: American Wigeon: The American Wigeon is a dabbling duck, which are ducks that tip their front ends into the water to forage while their back ends stick up in the air. For the most part the American Wigeon eats a vegetarian diet consisting of seeds, berries, and plant parts including stems and leaves of both aquatic and terrestrial plants. However, during the breeding season they will eat some insects such as dragonflies, beetles and flies… ~Kelly Brenner

Cormorants, Herons, Egrets, Storks & Rails

91. Dance of Joy: Yesterday on the way to the hospital, I noticed a very large bird in the front yard of someone’s home. It took a few seconds for it to sink in that this was NOT a Great Blue Heron as I originally thought, this was a Sandhill Crane! I made a Uturn and pulled the car over by the side of the road, only to see that there was a whole group of these beautiful birds hanging out in someone’s garden… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

92. Unusual Wildlife Garden Birds: The Wood Stork, a large wading bird of southern swamps who eats fish, is not a typical visitor to a garden, especially one with a stone “lawn,” no fish, and very little else to attract these birds. This house has nothing visibly different than any of the other homes in this development, no wildlife pond, no native plants, nothing at all that would lead one to see why large flocks of Wood Storks, Herons, and Egrets have taken to roosting on the roof of this home, and spending their days looking like garden statues in the stone lawn… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

93. The Beautiful HeronsHerons are some of my favorite birds:, shape shifters, diligent hunters, beautiful plumage, and amazing flyers. Great Blue Heron Little Blue Heron with Great Blue Heron Great Egret Green Heron Baby Green Heron Isn’t he adorable? ~Carole Sevilla Brown

94. Odd Duck: Ok, it isn’t a duck, but it does hang out in a pond. It’s always a great day when you glance out the window and spot an endangered species hanging around. It must mean I am doing something right in my beautiful wildlife garden. In my case, the endangered one is of the avian variety, the Wood Stork… ~Loret T. Setters

95. Cormorant Vs Eel–I have had the best time searching for birds during my visit to Maine this week. And I had a wonderful visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. One of the best things about this garden is that it has coastal frontage that can be viewed from the woodland trails that wind through this site. And from these trails I was blessed to witness the drama of Cormorant vs. Eel… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

96. Invisible Birds of Malibu: People come to the Santa Monica Mountains to be with nature, to get away from the concrete jungle of Los Angeles. They know wildlife lives here, too, that squirrels will be their neighbors, and that coyote & owls will call out in the night. But there are many critters that are rarely seen, even by even by old-timers… ~Kathy Villim

Alcids, Gulls, Terns, and Shorebirds

97. Birding Outside the Garden Gate Atlantic PuffinBut I also like to venture outside my garden gate to watch birds in their natural habitats. And my inner little girl gets very excited by boat trips. So what better activity than pelagic birding? Atlantic Puffins may just be the cutest birds ever, with their party colored beak. They spend all year at sea, never coming to land except for breeding season, where they gather in colonies at several offshore islands…. ~Carole Sevilla Brown

98. Of Timberdoodles and Ecotones: The timberdoodles are back! We’ve probably had them wintering on our property for years, but first noticed them only last year. One night I saw an animal rooting around in the yard, but because it was almost, dark I couldn’t figure what it was–a squirrel without a tail? A bunny digging a hole?? It was not too far from the house, but I needed binoculars to see that it was a woodcock! ~Ginny Stibolt

99. What’s This Gull Eating?–While I was birding in Maine several weeks ago, I got to see a Double-crested Cormorant eat an eel, and I also watched a Herring Gull swallow a tasty snack. But what is it eating? Is it a fish or an eel? I’m not quite sure. What do you think? ~Carole Sevilla Brown

100. A Coastal Treat: The ocean is wonderful, the beaches full of life. What a treat to find a public park that provides refuge for so much wildlife! I came out of the mountains, leaving one gem full of wildlife, and happened upon this coastal gem. Wonderful! ~Kathy Villim


101. Coopers Hawk Takes a Lunch Break in My Wildlife GardenI’ve always been fascinated by food webs, the cycle of life, and the ecosystem of a garden and how the different species fit together. But I was kind of stunned yesterday afternoon when I took the dogs outside and a large bird lifted off from the deck with something big in its talons and flew away so close to my face that I could feel the wind from its wings on my face… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

102. Garden Predator — Sharp-shinned Hawk: Some folks are upset, indeed appalled, when a hawk raids their garden or feeders. Others consider it an amazing opportunity to watch the age-old interactions of predator and prey. Many or most raids are unsuccessful, but sometimes they score and possibly right in front of our eyes… ~Pat Sutton

103. I Marvel At The Courage Of The Little Birds: This morning a Red-Tailed hawk landed in a tree above me. He preened himself. Ruffling a feather, turning here and there. While all around him the smaller birds were atwitter. The blue jays squawked a warning. First one chickadee, then another flew above him trying bravely to draw him away from their nesting area… ~Gail Eichelberger

104. Kestrels are Beautiful Visitors to the Wildlife Garden: Meet the smallest falcon, and one of the most colorful raptors in the Americas, the American Kestrel. This little guy is no larger than a Robin. In fact you may pass them every day but take no notice of that little brown bird perched on a fence post. But take a careful look. Notice those talons and that hooked bill. Those are not the marks of a seed-eating bird… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

105. Urban Species Profile: Peregrine Falcon: One of the most popular of urban birds has to be the Peregrine Falcon. They are watched, monitored, talked about, written about, recorded and rescued in cities around the world. In Seattle, they have been watched in past years via a live webcam. They are the fastest bird in the world averaging over 30 miles per hour in regular flight… ~Kelly Brenner

106. The Raptors Arrive: But what we had been missing from our habitat were birds of prey. We saw these majestic birds from time to time, but always from a distance. We have seen owls, turkey vultures, red tailed hawks and eagles. Some would perch on the fringe of the garden, but most just flew over circling catching the thermals and updrafts… ~Donna Donabella

107. The Hawk in the Garden: I’m a big believer in luck. And by that I mean serendipity. And by that I mean fate. This is why I think that every email could be “the one,” or every telephone ring, or each envelope in the mailbox. Today, I was simply going to the kitchen to get a glass of water when I saw a whirlwind streak of brown and white outside the sliding porch door. Fate… ~Benjamin Vogt

108. Once a Fan, This Week, Not-So-Much: They gracefully soar through the air and rarely do you see the flap of the wings. They appear able to move around on unseen air currents. I relish their beauty against bright blue skies. They snag the high-flying insects, eating “on the wing” without making a stop. It is a hawk commonly called the Swallow-tailed Kite… ~Loret T. Setters

109. Bald Eagle Recovery: This past weekend I traveled to the Conowingo Dam at the Susquehanna River along the PA/MD border to see the Bald Eagles who spend the winter here. I was thrilled to count 18 Bald Eagles perched on the rocks and in the trees above the river.I am reminded that there was a time not too long ago when the presence of even one Eagle along this river was a big deal because the Bald Eagle population crashed due to the bioaccumulation of DDT in their systems… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

110. Portland Raptor Cam: For the last few years a Red-tailed Hawk has nested on the fire escape of an office building downtown Portland. The nesting, egg laying, hatching and fledging of the hawks has all been watching by many people… ~Kelly Brenner

111. You never know who might show up: One of the great things about maintaining a natural, beautiful wildlife garden is that you never know who might show up to visit. When I went inside to add a display case to those already set to go to school, out of the corner of my eye I spied another large bird scheduling a landing. Only this one was slightly different. I just caught a glimpse of white and I immediately knew…the eagle has landed! ~Loret T. Setters

112. Hawks: Chance encounters with wildlife always strike me as quite remarkable, just being in the right place at the right moment and being in that moment is a gift of possibility and intention. Observing birds successfully demands our tuning into their world and knowing the sights and sounds to be aware of. Here are a few of the hawks that share the sky, gardens and forests of this Western Massachusetts hillside… ~Carol Duke

113. Golden Eagles in My Big Wildlife Garden: Okay, I have to admit, I haven’t seen Golden Eagles in my Beautiful Wildlife Garden at my suburban farm, but they do live in my BIG wildlife garden; the San Francisco Bay Area. I consider myself extremely lucky to live right by Mount Diablo, and so have witnessed these majestic raptors in action from time to time… ~Chris McLaughlin

114. The Obliviousness of Small Birds: The usual array of small black-and-white birds were bopping around, squabbling over who gets the good spots on the feeder. And then the part of my brain that knows what the precise view outside my window looks like said “There’s a lump on the fence.”I glanced toward the lump and went “Yeaaarggh!” and jumped back in my chair a little, because the red-shouldered hawk is quite a large animal when your brain is adjusted to the scale of chickadees… ~Ursula Vernon

115. Mystery Hawk Baby–I’m dreaming of warmth. It’s 19 degrees here at home. So my mind wandered to Florida, and the warm rays of the sun on my face. For your enjoyment, these little beauties were photographed in the Everglades. What are they? ~Carole Sevilla Brown


116. Nature’s Cleanup Crew: It was a dark and stormy morn. The rain let up and I took my usual stroll around the yard and smiled at the many butterflies drying out their wings to get the day started. After a walking lap around the pond, I noticed nature’s “cleanup crew” zooming overhead and several made a beeline… ~Loret T. Setters

117. Turkey Vulture: A Bestiary continues with the raptor of the dead, the utterly critical and graceful, even when teetering, Turkey Vulture. Dark as a moonless night this new world vulture . . . nature’s silent black knight, Cathartes aura, emanates mystery. Turkey Vultures are truly remarkable diurnal creatures, preferring carrion to fresh meat and purifying our world as they dine…~Carol Duke

118. Cleaning Up Nature: Most birds feed insects to their young. One exception to this rule is the Black Vulture, which regurgitates carrion to feed its babies. Lovely thought, eh? But vultures and other carrion-eating creatures serve an important role in the ecosystem. They clean up dead stuff. In fact, in taxonomy the family name Cathartidae means “purifier.” ~Meredith O’Reilly


119. Strong and Silent Visitor: A new visitor came to my beautiful wildlife garden this week, swooping silently past my window at dusk. I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye, and went out into the sunroom to see what it was. Looking through the trees, I spotted my guest – a Great Horned Owl was up in the Ponderosa Pine, perched on a limb over the woodpile… ~Kathy Green

120. For the Love of Screech Owls: Screech owls are perhaps the best known owl across North America. This is because between the Western and Eastern varieties, they have a massive range from Canada down into Mexico and Central America (actually there are screech owl species in South America, too)… ~Meredith O’Reilly

121. Happy Owly Days: For the past 10 years, I’ve been blessed to have a pair of Barred Owls who have spent the winter in and around my Wildlife Garden. I love to stand on my back deck at night and listen to them calling back and forth, in their unforgettable ”Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” call… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

122. Barn Owl Neighborly Box — animal habitat installation: Why a barn owl box? My family and I have decided to grow more food. We want fruit and vegetables all year long. Yes, we love our garden and want to share, but rodents seem to go overboard. No thank you, we will keep the rat population down. Barn owls to the rescue… ~Tony McGuigan

Upland Game Birds

123. A Rough Day for Ruffed Grouse: IWell, time to go investigate. I threw on my bogs – they may be popular gardening boots – but I enjoy mine year round – and headed out back to see if we had lost another chicken. Not the way you want to start your morning. But when we got out there – the good news was that the pile of feathers was most definitely not a chicken. Now I am a birder – but not an expert by any means – and I wasn’t in ‘birding mode’ at the moment either – heck – I hadn’t even had my coffee yet… ~Emily DeBolt

124.Make All Prairie Chickens Chick-fil-A: Lesser Prairie Chicken to Be Listed on Federal Endangered Species List “All the Lesser Prairie Chickens should be turned into Chick-fil-A,” said the Fox news commentator, in a stunning display of ignorance. This panel was reacting to the announcement that the Lesser Prairie Chicken is expected to be added to the Federal Endangered Species List… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

125. Wild Turkey: Long before Europeans settled on the North American continent, our native wild turkeys solidly stepped upon the land in great numbers and were an important food source for Native Americans and wildlife alike. I half expect to see one, two or a flock craning their necks as they walk cautiously, not far from where I sit, around viburnum, rosa rugosa and hydrangea bushes, with all uneasy wide eyes directed towards any movement in this human habitat of barn studio… ~Carol Duke

126. A Gift of TurkeysIt had snowed heavily the day before–a rarity down here in North Carolina–and the whole world was glittering white snow and black trunks. I was staring vaguely out the window while doing that complicated motion where you try to dig something from the back of the drawer without removing the contents in front, and then I saw…them.I didn’t dither over identification. There’s nothing else in North America that looks like that. “OH MY GOD!” I screamed. “WILD TURKEYS!” ~Ursula Vernon

127. A Tale of Quail: Just when I think I’ve run out of critters that will come to visit, someone new shows up. I glanced out the window that overlooks the backyard and I spotted a bird taking shelter under a wax myrtle. At first glance I thought it was one of the mourning doves but I realized it was a little too big. As it started to move, I noticed it was rather ROUND. I thought wow, it must be one of the quail… ~Loret T. Setters

Pigeons & Doves

128. When Birds Recycle: I often see the Mourning Doves, which are native to all of North America, high up in the trees, hanging out on power lines and down pecking around the bottom of the pond in a section that is exposed during the current dry season. They are fond of the areas alongside the driveway which has a lot of Cranesbill growing, a plant native to most of North America… ~Loret T. Setters


129. Is Sugar Bad for Hummingbirds? We’ve talked about hummingbird feeders before in discussing how long to leave your feeders up during the fall migration, but this new question came in: “is it really okay to feed hummingbirds sugar water? I avoid refined sugar like the plague, so I’m wondering so I’m wondering if it’s safe for those tiny bodies? ~Carole Sevilla Brown

130. For Hummingbirds’ Sake: I was rather horrified to run across this hummingbird feeder in someone’s yard recently. Just look at that nasty mold. Ick. And yes, the owner was gently but firmly scolded. She also got told that her feeder was now going to become a teaching tool. Given that feeders are filled with sugar-water, black mold is is a guarantee if you don’t take the time to clean out the feeder each time you refill it, and you should be doing so at least every three days… ~Meredith O’Reilly

131. Ode to Percy: I’m sure most of us reading have a story to tell, of some creature big or small, that opened our eyes to another world, a world filled with infinite beauty and complexity, just outside our back door. Here’s my story…Hudson, Massachusetts, 2001: Meet Percy, the hummingbird… ~Ellen Sousa

132. Hummingbirds Return–My friend Karyl is already seeing Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in her Georgia garden. Lucky her! But no matter where you live in the country, the time is soon approaching when you’ll see the return of these birds, too. How to Know When to Expect Hummingbirds in your Wildlife Garden… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

133. Anna’s Hummingbirds, The Hummingbirds of Winter: Luckily, my hummingbird friends are staying ALL winter. No vacation plans for them. In fact, Anna’s Hummingbirds are the ONLY hummingbird species in North America that do not migrate from Southern California. I do sometimes worry about them when winter eves get close to freezing. I wonder: how do they stay warm? ~Kathy Villim


134. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: The second member of the Picidae family featured in ‘A Bestiary’ is the showy and industrious Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. These brightly patterned woodpeckers are frequent visitors to the gardens here at Flower Hill Farm and are somewhat steward-like to a few of our apples, crabapples and hawthorns… ~Carol Duke

135. Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum: Little Drummer Bird: I love this time of year in Florida. The birds have returned; a lot go missing for many months since they are smart enough to travel north during the times of blasted heat. One that I see often in late fall, winter and spring is the Red-bellied Woodpecker… ~Loret T. Setters

136. Downy and Red-bellied Woodpecker: The downy white belly of a Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens mirrors the white snowy landscape in our gardens and fields stretching down and deep into the forest on this chilly March morning. This third segment of Woodpeckers, featuring two woodpeckers not often seen here at Flower Hill Farm… ~Carol Duke

137. Pileated Woodpecker: I was grateful for the warm and bright rays of sunlight that lit up the fiery red tuffs atop two male Pileated Woodpeckers who seem to be strolling along the ground together. The flashes of red captured my attention and I stood transfixed, in awe of these beautiful forest birds as they matched each other in varying gestures reminding me of thoughtful choreography… ~Carol Duke

Flycatchers, Swifts, and Swallows

138. This Bird’s a Lone Wolf: Likely you all know the adage “Birds of a Feather Flock Together” and when you see robins eating in a field, swallows roosting in a tree or geese in flight, there is no denying it. Enter the Easter Phoebe, who seems to say, “Not me baby! I vant to be alone” ~Loret T. Setters

139. Lawn as Habitat: Feeding Phoebes: Right now the Dutch clover in our small “formal” lawn area is blooming like crazy, and every pollinator in central Massachusetts seems to have found the flowers. Many of these little guys will sting if disturbed, so now may not be a good time for playing frisbee barefoot in the grass, but it’s sure fun to watch what’s going on from the porch. Because, our resident eastern phoebe birds are “working the bugs” … ~Ellen Sousa

140. The Charming Black Phoebe: Black Phoebes are one of my favorite birds in my beautiful wildlife garden. Being flycatchers, they love loitering around bodies of water and can be found hanging around our pool daily. Black Phoebes are one of the three native phoebes here in California. But they’re the only ones that don’t migrate. Which doesn’t bother me a bit.

141. Urban Species Profile: Swifts: Swifts are one of the few birds that can draw crowds like rock stars. Their roosting is one of the greatest migration wonders of the natural world and they often choose to share it with us in the urban world. Several species of swifts are well known to roost in chimneys, often where many people have a chance to watch them. On the west coast of North and Central America Vaux’s Swifts roost in chimneys along their migration route… ~Kelly Brenner

142. Swift Night Out:Twice a year Vaux’s Swifts roost in the chimney at Frank Wagner Elementary School in Monroe, Washington. Once a year the school hosts ‘Swift Night Out’ where people come visit from all over the state, and even country to watch the swifts descend at dusk into the school’s chimney. ~Kelly Brenner

143. Urban Species Profile: Common Nighthawk: he Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) is a small, highly camouflaged bird that is most active at dusk. They are not hawks, but are instead in the nightjar family. In the Pacific Northwest the Common Nighthawk arrives in June and stays for three to four months out of each year. They start nesting very quickly and will tend to their eggs and chicks through August… ~Kelly Brenner

144. Interview:: Project Nighthawk: The Nighthawk is a bird that used to be abundant throughout the US but has been in decline in recent years. There are many potential reasons for this, among them is a change in the construction of roof tops. Nighthawks have been known to nest on roofs with gravel tops, but since most roof construction is now tar, they no longer nest on roofs. There are several reasons for this… ~Kelly Brenner

145. Tree Swallows Enliven Spring and Early Summer:: Each spring I smile towards the return of Tree Swallows to Flower Hill Farm. It is a seasonal ritual dear to me . . . the beauty and joyous champagne chirping that accompanies their fluid dance or freestyle gliding is akin to attending a special concert daily. The ocean of air over our farm is enlivened by the swallows swooping and diving through waves of atmosphere within the dome of sky… ~Carol Duke

Mimics & Thrushes

146. When a Yard Cat is OK: Outdoor Cats are always a hot button issue. So, when is an appropriate time to allow a mewing resident in the garden? Well, when it is a Gray Catbird, of course! These charcoal-colored birds with the darker Mohawk stripe on their head will draw your attention with their call… ~Loret T. Setters

147. Bluebirds in the Wildlife GardenWhat do Bluebirds need in Your Wildlife Garden? Nest boxes and other cavities free from predators. To commit to providing safe nesting places for bluebirds is to commit to controlling House Sparrows, Starlings, snakes, raccoons, and other predators… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

148. State of Birds-New York Bluebird: One of my favorite birds has always been the Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis). So you can imagine my glee when I moved to NY years ago, to find out that the state bird was in fact this very same bird I had adored for years, the Eastern Bluebird. And ever since I have been gardening, I have wanted to have bluebirds in my garden to visit often, and perhaps stay awhile to build a nest and raise a few broods… ~Donna Donabella

149. Bluebird Boxes – My Personal Observations:: In fact the first bluebird I ever saw in my life was many years later as a young adult in the 1980?s. The bluebirds built a nest in my friend’s bluebird box positioned on a pole in the middle of her expansive open lawn. She showed me how she regularly opened the side of the box to see the four young fledglings within. I was mesmerized by the mama and papa flying to and fro, feeding their young… ~Christina Kobland

150. Thrush-Bob: “So there’s a thrush that lives on my deck,” I said to another birder, in the course of conversation. “But they’re shy. There’s a reason they call them hermit thrushes.” As is always the case in birding, a picture—even a crappy cel-phone picture—is worth a thousand fieldmarks… ~Ursula Vernon

151. 2013 Bluebird Fledge: I didn’t talk a lot about the bluebirds this Spring since they nested high up in the Purple Martin house, out of reach of my daily nosiness of past years. This week the Martins returned and seemed perplexed by the squatters. They soared, checking angles to see if the house would pass muster… ~Loret T. Setters

152. Bluebird Envy–But I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of everyone that can get bluebirds into their gardens. My neighborhood is very old. Most of the houses are over 100 years old, and they are surrounded by many trees of almost the same age…. ~Carole Sevilla Brown

153. Wearing o’ the Blue: Aye and Begorrah, and a Happy St. Patrick’s Week to you! And a happy St. Pat’s Day it was! New life has emerged in my beautiful wildlife garden. Newborn Eastern Bluebirds reared their heads yesterday (well, two were far enough along to pick up their heads when I took the first photos)… ~Loret T. Setters

154. Parenting Blue Birds and Fledglings: Along with Spring’s explosion of color, Bluebirds become more excited and busy about their nestbox. After carefully building and forming her nest, the female might lay up to five or six blue eggs. She will incubate the eggs and in about two weeks the tiny babies will break free of their shells. Within the thin walls of this rustic nestbox the miracle of life is unfolding… ~Carol Duke

155. Sadie’s Story: In the spring, many songbirds search out areas in my backyard and the adjacent woods for nests and laying eggs. Sometimes they find a spot in a fir tree or underneath the deck stairs. This spring an American Robin selected an arbor in my side yard covered in Carolina jessamine vine. It was an excellent spot that provided shelter and protection from predators… ~Michelle Potter

156. American Robins in Your Wildlife GardenI’ve been watching the Robins pecking through last winters leaves in their search for earthworms, snails, grubs and insects. We tend to think of sightings of American Robins as signs of spring, but Robins are in fact year-round residents in most of the lower 48 US states… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

157. Mockingbird: Melodious but Mean: The war of spring has started. It’s the Northern Mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) vs. the cardinals, bluebirds and ME! While no other bird can match their beautiful song repertoire, the ugly squawk and dive at my precious bluebirds is really rubbing me the wrong way… ~Loret T. Setters

158. Bluebird Success in 2012! As in past years, I had a successful hatching of Eastern Bluebirds on Tuesday. There were five eggs but only four seem to have hatched, although sometimes the runt can take a day or two longer. Mom was still holding firm in sitting on the nest Wednesday and I will see what today brings… ~Loret T. Setters

159. Joys of a Wildlife Garden: Gardening for wildlife brings joy to our lives and offers sanctuary to countless animals whose habitats are being lost daily. Not far from our Crabapple Orchard, a cluster of Viburnums, Rosa rugosa, Hydrangea and Lilac has been the favorite spot of our denizen Catbirds for many years. Their family name Dumetella translates into ‘thicket’ and here the grouping of shrubs creates just that dense environment… ~Carol Duke

160. Native Plants Bring on the Birds: This past week I was thrilled to witness the fledging of the 2011 second broods of Northern Mockingbirds and Eastern Bluebirds at my place. I’m even happier because I believe that there is enough time left in the season for a third brood. Year 2010 only contributed 2 broods of bluebirds and one of mockingbirds in my beautiful wildlife garden… ~Loret T. Setters

161. Parenting Tree Swallows and Fledglings: The Tree Swallows in the south field were busy making their second nest, as the lilacs were blooming . . . spilling their delicious fragrance about the gardens. I defended their first nest from the House Wren, but the swallows finally gave it up to the wren… ~Carol Duke

Chickadees, Titmice, Wrens & Nuthatches

162. Carolina Wrens In the Garden: Crack of dawn the pair of Carolina Wrens that call our yard “home” sing their joyful “tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle” and we know they’ve survived another night. A dear friend gave us a roosting basket which we hung that very day. One of our Carolina Wrens began using it immediately to safely survive the night… ~Pat Sutton

163. How A Chickadee Changed the Course of My Life Work: A long time ago, more than 20 years now, I was doing some very unfulfilling work, exchanging hours of my time for a paycheck, when a little Chickadee grabbed my attention and altered the course of my life’s work in a very positive way. I had just bought a house and was surveying the backyard…. ~Carole Sevilla Brown

164. Cache and Carry: Then I looked closer and realized that no, the salvia was still as dormant as ever. A small tangle of seedlings had sprouted at the edge of the hole dug to accommodate the plant. Suddenly it all made sense. Some small critter was hitting the safflower seed at the feeder and caching a half-dozen seeds together. The question was—whodunnit? I still don’t have any proof, but my money is on a tufted titmouse… ~Ursula Vernon

165. Chickadees in the Wildlife Garden–It makes me so happy to walk through my garden right now, because the Carolina Chickadees have hatched. I could sit by this nest box for hours listening to the happy cheeping sounds coming from hungry baby Chickadees inside the box. Mom and Dad work diligently from dawn to dusk on a constant mission to feed their hungry offspring. With 7 species of Chickadees native to the US, you should be able to easily attract them to your wildlife garden no matter where you live… Carole Sevilla Brown

166. The Little Bird With The Big Voice: The Carolina wren is one of our larger wren species in North America, although even so, they’re not very big. One could stand on the palm of your hand and you’d be struck more by the force of its personality than by its size. This is a flitting, bossy, high-energy, cheerful little bird.If it opened its beak, you’d be really struck by its voice… ~Ursula Vernon

167. In the Bird World, do Brunettes Have More Fun? Bird nesting season is upon us. This week I spotted a Brown-Headed Nuthatch couple dancing back and forth between the pine snag that has been their workshop for several years and the pine tree diner that they visit for a taste of the local fare of insects and pine nuts. I say workshop as they are a bird that may use a piece of wood as a lever to lift bark on a tree when seeking food. Cool, a bird with a tool belt… ~Loret T. Setters


<168. Warblers: If One is a Butterbutt, Should the Other be a Butterhead? This is the time of year when the warblers are a sea of yellow and gray around here. The two most prolific of these birds at my place are the Yellow-rumped Warbler and the Pine Warbler. The Butterbutt… ~Loret T. Setters

169. Orange Crowned Warbler: It’s always exciting to see a new bird species, especially in your own landscape. The colorful and amazing wood warblers are on their way northwards to their breeding grounds, and in Minnesota we’re lucky to have so many stop through for a short while. This warbler behavior illustrates to me the important relationship between planting native plants local to your area to support bird populations… ~Heather Holm

Icterids & Corvids

170. The Quest: Last time I was in Florida, I was on a quest. See, I had never seen a Florida Scrub Jay and I was on a mission to find it. I was visiting my mom who lives near Tampa, so I went online and searched for every place near there where this bird had been sighted… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

171. A Murder* of Crows: When West Nile Virus made its way to Northern Illinois, it hit the crow population particularly hard. Following that silent summer, I did not see any crows for years. I never thought I’d miss them, but I did. Then last year, I started seeing them again. This year, a murder of 3 crows has taken taken up residence in the neighborhood. That’s small for a flock of crows, which usually congregate in large groups… ~Barbara Pintozzi

172. Emerald City Crows: Crows are everywhere, throughout the world, but in Seattle they seem to have a special place of their own. The humble crow is abundant in Seattle, but unlike House Sparrows or Starlings, they warrant a lot of attention… ~Kelly Brenner

173. On a Lark in the Garden: I glanced out the back window and saw bright yellow in the high grass coming toward me. My zoom camera nowhere in sight, I grabbed one of the point and shoots and quietly crept outside. Click Click…what the heck is THAT? Look at that black chevron on the neck. It headed over behind the house… ~Loret T. Setters

174. Parenting Baltimore Orioles and Fledglings: Today we revisit the Baltimore Oriole couple and see how their brood is getting on. Their nest is crafted so carefully and still safely hangs high up from outer branches of the Black Cherry tree in the north field. The babies must be soon to fledge, for when the female began weaving, the cherry flowers were just dropping their thin white petals… ~Carol Duke

175. Orioles in the Wildlife Garden: But the real surprise is that a week later my wife and I were out for a walk. She said she heard a Oriole call. And sure enough, way up in the very top of this maple there was this bright orange bird. As we walked I thought I’d try and immitate his call. Well a block further we look up and there he is in the top of another tree, calling back! ~John Tinelli

Tanagers, Cardinals, Finches & Sparrows

176. Urban Species Profile: Bushtit: The tiny Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is the lone representative of its family, Aegithalidae, in the New World. They are tiny, only about 3 inches, grey and have long tails. The males and females are easy to distinguish because the males eyes are all black while the females iris is light colored… ~Kelly Brenner

177. First Flight of a Cardinal: This is a Cardinal. A fledgling about to take it’s first flight. My gardens are always a work in progress. They are every changing and growing to fit the needs of the many visitors. From the large turkeys to the small moles. There is something for all to eat and drink… ~Kathleen Straube

178. Big Bird, Little Bird: I’d never thought of Northern Cardinals as being very big, until I realized how much smaller warblers are (hummingbirds don’t count — they’re smaller than everybody!). Check this out: A Northern Cardinal (21-23cm, 42-48g) is considered mid-sized. I guess that means a Nashville Warbler (10-12 cm, 7-12g) would be small, and a hummingbird would be downright puny… ~Meredith O’Reilly

179. A Good Day To Be A Gardener: If there’s one sure sign of winter for me, it’s the return of the dark-eyed juncos. These adorable little birds appear in late fall and stay all winter, and then one day in spring I realize that I haven’t seen one for awhile. Five minutes later it’s August, because this is North Carolina, after all, and seasons are more of a mutually agreed-upon fiction than an actual meteorological event… ~Ursula Vernon

180. Cardinals in the Beautiful Wildlife Garden: Nothing signals the imminent arrival of spring as the words, “Pitchers and catchers report for spring training.” Spring training baseball games have just begun, which got me thinking about Arizona, where both the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox play their pre-season games. That got me thinking about the Arizona Cardinals.

181. The Sparrow’s Curse: As I type this, there are approximately twenty million sparrows poking around through the leaf litter under the feeder outside my window. The vast majority are white-throated sparrows, like the lovely fellow on the left. I have no problem with this. They can be white-throated sparrows all day long, and more power to them.

182. American Goldfinch in my Beautiful Wildlife Garden: Sometimes called the wild canary, this little acrobatic bird is found year-round here in the San Francisco Bay Area – and are especially eye-catching in the spring. While I tend to champion females of all species, I have to hand it to the male goldfinch. His racy-yellow plumage gives him downright tropical good looks… ~Chris McLaughlin

183. Stubby’s Story: Statistics show that by the early ’90s urban sprawl in California had reduced the coastal sage scrub ecosystem by more than 90 percent. As you may know, coastal sage scrub is the habitat of the threatened California Gnatcatcher and Cactus Wren. Another lesser-known example of native bird that has been impacted by this statistic is the California Towhee… ~Rob Moore


184. Birding Tikal–What happens when a thriving city (from 1000 BC to 900 AD) is abandoned and swallowed up by the surrounding rain forest, only to be rediscovered about 1000 years later? I had the opportunity to find out on my recent visit to Guatemala. When humans give up control in a place, Mother Nature has a

185. The View From Temple #4–My heart was pounding in my chest and echoing in my ears, shutting out all other sound, as I stepped onto the first step leading up to the top of Temple #4 in Tikal, Guatemala. I was about to begin a 64 meter high climb to the top. And I was scared… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

186. Listening in on wildlife: I’ve identified a lot of critters around my yard by sound. The brown-headed nuthatches still greet me each day sounding so similar to my dog’s old squeaky toy that the birds went unnoticed for weeks until I found the toy dismantled but still heard the squeaks in the yard. I added American Kestrel to my bird list because I heard its sound as it flew by and landed on a utility pole on the next block… ~Loret T. Setters

187. Birds and Wildlife Gardens of GuatemalaI’ve been invited to participate in a birding FAM trip to Guatemala! And I’ll get to see many of “our” birds in their wintering grounds. Very exciting!I’ll be leaving next weekend for this 10 day birding extravaganza… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

188. The Scarlet Ibis of TrinidadOne of the highlights of my recent trip to Trinidad and Tobago was the visit to Caroni Swamp in Trinidad, a boat tour through the swamp that ended with the spectacular sight of thousands of Scarlet Ibis coming in to roost as the sun set. Here’s a short video I made so you can share this wonder… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

189. Birdwatchers Guide to Trinidad and TobagoWhen I’m planning a trip for a new birding adventure, I like to do a lot of research before I go so that I know what to expect when I get there. Not only do I study the field guide to the birds of a particular area, I will research the natural history, geology, and and ecology of the location… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

190. Birding Wissahickon ParkIt was a gray and foggy day….as we set out to participate in the 27th Annual Philadelphia Mid-Winter Bird Census in our assigned location in the Wissahickon Park. Sadly, because of the weather there wasn’t many birds to be seen, but I’m a pretty good ear birder so was able to catch the calls of the expected birds… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

191. I Discovered a Chestnut-collared Longspur in Biddeford Pool, Maine–Imagine my surprise when I discovered a bird of the western plains on the pathway of the refuge in Biddeford Pool, ME! It looked like a sparrow, but no sparrow I had ever seen before. As I mentally ran down the list of possibilities, I came to the conclusion that it was NOT a sparrow, that it must be a Longspur, but that would mean that this bird was far outside of its range… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

192. Birding Brigantine–Every year a huge flock of Snow Geese gathers at Brigantine NWR near Atlantic City, NJ and I make a pilgrimage to see them each winter. I saw the flock from a great distance when I first entered the Auto Loop, which was a good omen, so I decided to enjoy all of the other birds along the way… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

193. Birding Cape May After Hurricane Irene–When hurricane Irene swept up the coast with huge bands of wind and rain, I knew I wanted to be in Cape May, NJ (even though it had been evacuated prior to the storm). Hurricanes are wonderful for seeing birds way outside of their expected range… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

194. The Maine EventI am having a delightful time staying in the beautiful state of Maine, where the deck of the house looks right out on a lake with an amazing view. I’ve been writing about my experiences while I’m here and these stories appear in various locations around the web, so I though it would be nice to gather them all together for you… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

195. Maine Pelagic Birding–The day was warm, bright, and sunny when we boarded the Odyssey from Portland, Maine for a whale watching tour. Whale watching boats are also a wonderful way to do some pelagic birding, which means ocean birding. Basically you get on a boat and go 80 or 90 miles off shore… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

196. Birding Biddeford PoolOn my recent visit to Maine I was determined to see some birds. I went out on the Odyssey, a Whale Watch boat out of Portland, only to have the weather turn quite foggy, the sea choppy, and I got chilled to the bone. I watched in wonder as a Cormorant took on a really long eel, and managed to swallow it whole… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

197. Birding in Maine–Tomorrow morning I’m off to spend the week near Portland, Maine for the week, and I’m very excited to see some birds and visit some new botanic gardens, plus I have a hankering for lobster rolls and blueberry pie! Last time I went to Maine I spent a good chunk of the summer camping and birding my way all the way around the state… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

198. Where the Birds AreWhen I was a very new birder, and barely knew the birds in my backyard, I attended an event that changed my life. I had found an ad for the Cape May Spring Weekend, and I found it so intriguing I quickly took the plunge and signed up for this birding festival… ~Carole Sevilla Brown

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