'Tis the season for making merry, and it's easy to add a bit of merriment to a backyard bird feeding station with this month's featured feeder, the Holiday Chalet. A sturdy wooden hopper feeder with baskets for suet, nuts or other treats on each end, this is a large-capacity feeder ideal for winter feeding, or when holiday commitments keep you from tending your feeders as frequently as you'd like. The blinking LED lights are a fun, colorful accent sure to bring holiday cheer to every backyard birder!
Nervous about adding a lighted feeder to your backyard? Check out all the bird feeder reviews for more conventional options, and stay tuned each month for a new featured feeder!
Photo © Perky-Pet
This week's featured bird is an exciting one to see in the yard, and the bird itself always seems excited - the brown-headed nuthatch is a tiny ball of feisty feathers that is hardly ever still. Acrobatic and agile, these birds are found throughout the southeastern United States year-round, and will readily come to backyard feeders that are nuthatch-friendly.
Have you seen the brown-headed nuthatch? Share your sightings in the comments!
Photo © David Seibel
Is your tree already trimmed? Now it's time to decorate a Christmas tree for the birds! A great project for kids and fun for the whole family, there are many different edible decorations you can make to create a festive bird feeder tree for all your feathered friends to enjoy. Try these easy options:
Add these edible decorations to trees and shrubs around your yard, and backyard birds and other wildlife will enjoy the seasonal treats while you enjoy the extra beauty each visitor brings to your yard.
Cranberry and Popcorn Garland
Photo © Emily
The Christmas Bird Count begins December 14 and runs through January 5; are you ready to participate? Brush up on your winter birding skills and be ready to join one of the largest citizen science projects in the world!
Not sure if there's a count in your area this year? Find your local counts and learn more on the official CBC website!
Photo © Doug and Kim Cummins
Every new day is a new opportunity to enjoy birds, and every week I answer a reader's question to help them do just that. This week, Mary from New Jersey asks...
"It seems the only birds I see at my feeders are house sparrows. I'd love to see different sparrows - my neighbor has some white-throated sparrows - but how can I get them to visit?"
Sparrows are often overlooked and because many of them look similar, it can be challenging to identify sparrows and realize that you may already have more than one species visiting. There are also many ways to attract sparrows, including offering ground-feeding areas with millet and cracked corn, low bird baths and a dust bath area for them to enjoy. With a little perseverance, you'll soon see more sparrows at your feeders!
Have you been keeping up with all the reader questions this year? Check out the Mailbag Monday archive to be sure you haven't missed out!
Photo © John Beetham
Wind turbines can be deadly to birds, particularly large raptors, but despite the risk, the federal government is seeking to extend the length of permits that allow wind farms to unintentionally kill eagles. According to Fox News, the change would extend permits from the current five years to a 30-year term, granting companies holding the permit an exemption from prosecution for killing certain numbers of eagles in that time frame. Conservationists argue that further study is needed to determine the environmental effects of wind farm facilities.
Do you agree with these permits in the interest of promoting more sustainable energy sources? What term do you think should be suitable for regulatory permits? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Photo © Larry Hennessy
Backyard birders may specifically plant fruit trees for birds, but fruit farmers often suffer losses to birds when hungry flocks damage crops. According to Phys.org, a new trial using dancing inflatable figures is showing promise to help protect the crops without stressing the birds. The air dancers - the same tall figures that often grace used car lots - have enough random motion to discourage birds and were the most effective of several protective measures tested in New York vineyards and blueberry orchards.
Different birds do damage to different crops, but many birds - particularly thrushes, waxwings and starlings - can easily strip trees and consume hundreds of pounds of fruit in just a few hours or days, depending on the size of the flock and other available food sources. If you have fruit trees, how do you protect your produce from the birds? Share your tips in the comments!
Photo © Rusty Clark
All hummingbird lovers know the proper nectar recipe to feed their favorite flying jewels, but new research is showing that hummingbirds can digest more forms of sugar than previously believed. According to News Medical, a University of Toronto study has compared how hummingbirds digest both glucose and fructose, switching from one form to another with easy to support their high-energy lifestyle. It is hoped that further research about hummingbird digestion could lead to treatments for humans who have difficulty digesting sugars.
Hummingbirds may not be around to sip too much sugar water at this time of year, but if you do have overwintering hummingbirds in your area, make sure you take steps to keep hummingbird nectar from freezing on the coldest nights!
Photo © Larry Hennessy
Today marks five years since I became your Birding / Wild Birds Expert, and wow, has it been a crazy five years! From daily bird news, weekly featured birds and hundreds of articles to photo galleries, monthly photo contests and more, there's always something fun to share about birding. In just this past year I've introduced the Featured Feeder each month and I've added more do-it-yourself projects for bird houses and feeders. I hope to do even more outreach in the next year, including some exciting new promotions. Thank you for flying along with me!
Now, let's make the next five years even better - share your ideas and inspirations in the comments, and I'll work to make all your birdy aspirations come true! Feedback is always welcome, of course and I'm always open to suggestions.
Frosting and Candles
Photo © TheDeliciousLife
This week's featured bird has some of the most colorful plumage of all woodpeckers in North America - the Lewis's woodpecker has black, green, pink and silver-gray coloration instead of more classically camouflaged colors. A western bird, this woodpecker is named for explorer Meriwether Lewis, and is a target bird for many birders visiting the appropriate western habitats.
Have you seen the Lewis's woodpecker? Share your sightings in the comments!
Photo © Kevin Cole