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Backyard Bird Habitat

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Picture top right: Goldfinch spends his retirement years in my back yard.

Duncraft- Save up to 40-70% on Birdfeeding (125x40)

Create your own Backyard Bird Habitat and start enjoying more birds right in your own backyard!

Female House Finch
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Having a WATER SOURCE is most important.
Even if you don't want to mess with seeds, water can bring beautiful birds into your yard. Find something shallow (1.5") and non-slippery -- not a deep birdbath. Make sure to change the water often, and keep the water source full in the summer months.

Black Phoebe
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Watching a birdbath can bring you hours of endless enjoyment. For birds, it's the spa, Starbucks, or the local pub!  It's where birds get together, compare feathers, get stuff off their chests, and catch up with what's going on in each other's nests.

Male & Female House Sparrow
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#1) Make sure it's in a place where you can sit and enjoy watching the birds. I have nectar feeders in my front yard with a water source so I can enjoy the birds from my kitchen and front windows. My gazebo with seed feeders and another water source is off my back patio with a hammock for some real R&R.

Bird Watching Lady Backyard Bird Habitat
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#2) Make sure that seed feeders are not in a place where you will have a weed problem.  I have a concrete floor in my gazebo. The dirt area around the outside of the gazebo is not watered so as to discourage birdseed from sprouting. I also rake the dirt areas once a week when I clean out the gazebo, and I make sure that any feeders that are over planted areas are wildflower areas. I use only black oil sunflower seeds in those feeders. The worse thing that will happen is that I will get some 10" sunflower plants, which look cute mixed in with the other wildflowers.  Some recommend heating the seed in the oven to to keep it from sprouting, but honestly, can you imagine doing that to 30-40 lbs. of seed every week?  Keep in mind, in areas where you want to hang feeders but are worried about weeds, you can hang nectar feeders.

#3) Pick a location that is not near something that can't handle a little... um... bird poop. Locate your habitat back in the corner of your yard and not near your spa, barbecue, clothesline, stored boat, and so on.

House Finches
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Shepherd hooks are inexpensive and can be purchased at almost any location that sells plants. They are fast and easy to install and can help you hang feeders out right away. They can be put into the ground anywhere or set up in an old wine barrel on a patio with flowers planted at the bottom.  They are great for nectar, fruit, suet or seed feeders. I also like the fact that they can be moved if need be.

Female House Finch
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It's fun to add some flash to the garden with some speciality feeders made by artisans. I got this one up in Idyllwild, CA. It doesn't hold much seed, but it sure is sweet and makes me smile. 

American Goldfinches
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American Goldfinch & House Finch
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Bird feeders can be purchased just about anywhere. The most important thing to look for in a feeder is ease of refilling and cleaning. Some feeders are very cute but not at all practical. Make sure to pick a variety of seeds to attract different types of birds. Pay attention to what seeds the birds in your area like to eat. Sometimes the cheap seed is full of fillers that the birds don't eat, so you end up with a lot of waste. Try starting with the following seeds: black oil sunflower seeds, mixed finch seed, thistle seed, and a wild bird food mix. After a while you can add some of the different bird mix bleeds that you find on sale at your local hardware, pet or feed and seed stores in your area.

Anna's Hummingbirds
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Hooded Oriole
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The most important thing to look for in a nectar feeder is if it's easy to clean. Once again, some feeders are very cute but not at all practical. Your nectar feeders have to be cleaned every week with soap and water. You should replace the nectar once a week, regardless of whether the feeder is empty or not. Nectar will go bad, and this is not a good thing for your birds to be drinking. You can buy nectar, but it is less expensive to make it yourself. It's easy, so try it! The trick is to boil part of the water and completely dissolve the sugar first (until the water becomes clear) before adding the balance of the water. I use an old one-gallon plastic milk container. I boil 2 cups of water in a glass measurement cup in the microwave. While waiting for the microwave, I put 3 cups of granulated table sugar into the gallon container (use a funnel). Then I add the boiling water into the container and shake it around for a minute or two until the water becomes completely clear. Then just add water until you reach the fill line about 2.5 inches from the cap. Look at the picture to see the fill line. REMINDER: NO FOOD COLORING IS RECOMMENDED. I mark my container so it's easy the next time to remember how I made the nectar. I then fill my feeders and put the leftovers in the refrigerator where it will keep for another week. I also marked the word "Bird" on the container after I had a friend come over and chug-a-lug some nectar thinking it was cold drinking water.

Make your own Hummingbird Nectar
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Male Broad-tailed Hummingbird
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During oriole season you don't need to hang hummingbird feeders. The hummers will drink from the oriole feeders with no problem. I usually hang both only because the hummingbird feeders will feed ten birds at a time, and during spring it helps to keep the peace around the feeders. If you find that one bird is dominating a feeder, hang several together in a cluster and they will all play fair. At least most of them!




Male House Finch
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Male American Goldfinch
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You are out enjoying your backyard bird habitat when all of a sudden a sharp-shinned hawk flies in and eats one of your favorite goldfinches. That is exactly what happened to my husband and me. It was disturbing, to say the least. I understand that hawks have to eat too, but not off my feeders! They can hunt the birds out of the trees like they are supposed to. So, here are some things to think about when setting up your habitat. Make sure there are trees and bushes nearby the habitat so birds have a place to escape. Hawks need a direct flight pattern to strike. I have all the sides of my gazebo covered with wire except for two openings where the birds enter to feed. It takes a while for them to figure it out, but they all do. Also, I have the bottom covered with PVC lattice that is easy to clean. The birds love to climb through it. We still had a problem on the ground right outside the gazebo, so we stuck some tomato wire in the ground sig-zagging it around the outside. The birds like to land on the wire before going into the gazebo to eat. This has really helped to deter the hawks from eating in front of us.




I will post them on the website from time to time.