Helping Our Bird Friends in Winter

by Donna Lewis

Don’t be fooled by our nice weather…  just around the corner could be lurking a cold winter blast.  Hopefully not a blast from the past (I am talking about the 10 days of freezing temperatures we had. So, there are some pretty simple things you can do to help our feathered friends right now.  Better to do these things while it’s nice for us to go outside.

We built and installed a platform under our front porch for the Phoebe’s to build their Spring nest on.  This is to hopefully keep them from putting 10,000 pounds of mud everywhere on our porch trying to build their own platform for their nest.  Boy is that messy. I have never done this before, so we will see if they use it.

Many species of birds like open platforms. Here are a few: Chickadees, Wrens, Phoebes, and Nuthatches. Ducks and other large raptors also use large platforms that are higher up.

Also new is a Bluebird feeder. This is an attempt to keep the dried mealworms from blowing off the platform dishes onto the ground and getting them wet and icky in winter weather. It’s hard for any insect-eating bird to find food in the winter.  

I have also stuffed the Bluebird nest boxes with dry pine needles for extra protection from the weather. I have shown here the area behind my house where I feed the Bluebirds and put out eggshells for the Purple Martins. The cow panels make perfect perches for the birds. Perches are very important if you want to draw any birds to you.

Bluebird house

I have placed these feeders away from the regular feeders so we don’t have conflict between the birds, and I can see it easily from inside the house.

These are my regular feeders. The open hopper is a favorite of most all my regulars, Cardinals, Chickadees, Titmice, and just about every bird.

So, you can do a few things that will assist our wild friends. Do what you can.

Babies Everywhere

by Donna Lewis
(with additional photos by Sue Ann Kendall)

This is Suna’s Phoebe mom, eating sunflower seeds and amaranth, or waiting on a fly.

Anywhere I look I have baby birds right now, which is a wonderful thing for a naturalist. Who could be bored right now with so many little creatures to look at?

On our front porch we have a nest with five tiny Eastern Phoebes. They are fly-catchers and love things with wings.

This morning mama tried to force a giant beetle down her youngest daughter and I thought for awhile I might have to preform the Hine-lick procedure…

Donna’s Phoebe babies taking a nap
Suna has a phoebe nest atop an old swallow nest.

Then in my Blue-bird houses I have five babies in one house and six babies in another. Again, bugs are on the menu.  This year the Blue-birds decided to run off the Purple Martins so they could use their perch to look for predators near their houses.

Over in our barn I have a nest of baby Carolina Wrens in a bucket that was hanging on the wall. If you have never seen a wren baby you would not believe how tiny they are. They are the cutest little things ever. There are only three babies.

Up in the oak trees about 18 feet high we have some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Now talk about a tiny house. You can barely see it. It is wrapped in moss and is very concealed.

I love this quote.

There are ton’s of Cardinal nests everywhere. They eat bugs and from my feeders. I have them year round.  They are regulars here.

Then at last my beautiful Purple Martins, who came very late this year, are starting to lay their eggs finally. That unfortunately will cause the babies to mature during the hottest time of the year. 

I have seven nests with eggs and more that have not started yet.  I have the fewest Martins than ever at this site.  There are many potential reasons for this, and it’s hard to determine for sure.

But the ones I do have sing to me, and it’s all worth the trouble.

Nature is everywhere you are.  All you have to do is look.

Heaven on earth.