Saturday, January 5, 2008

Watching the Birds

Watching the birds is a favorite pasttime of most, if not all gardeners. It is definitely one of my favorite things to do, especially in the winter when I can watch the birds from the warmth of my kitchen. This year's crop of birds have included more cardinals than I have seen in the past six years I have lived in Woodlawn. I don't know why but I like it and want to attract even more types of birds. (Maybe catch up with Skeeter's 50+ species down in Georgia)

Woodlawn is somewhat removed from the city area and we are blessed with a bunch of wildlife. But even in the city, you too can attract a wide variety of birds to your yard. The key is to ensure you have the four requirements birds need to make their home in your garden. The four requirements are: food, water, shelter, and a place to raise their young.

A garden with nothing but a wide expanse of nicely manicured lawn grass is easy to maintain and even looks good, but it doesn't do much in the way of attracting birds. Planting just a few shrubs like arborvitae, yews, junipers and barberries as shelter for the birds will go a long way toward making the birds feel welcomed in your garden.

Providing food for the birds means planting plants like: viburnums, crabapples, coneflowers, liatris, cranberries, gooseberries, strawberries, blueberries, sunflowers, serviceberries, dogwoods, and oak and nut trees to ensure a food source for all types of birds.

A favorite bird friendly tree I have planted in my garden is a beautiful crabapple tree. Mine really attracts the birds, especially mockingbirds, which I am particularly fond of watching. Off from Bevard Road near the Fort Campbell Boulevard Wal-Mart, there is THE most beautiful crabapple tree I have ever seen. Last winter it was literally covered with 1/2 red-maroon berries. I was in awe and need to make a trip over there to see if it looks the same this year. If it does, I will snap a picture and you all will understand why the birds love crabapples-I even like them and use crabapples in making jelly.

Providing a place for birds to raise their young is as simple as having a brush pile or some old fence posts or even old cars where birds can take up residence and feel safe enough to raise their families. One year we had a family of titmouses nest in Mr. Fix-it's old Impala, just under the front grille. It was thrilling as it was the first year we moved here and we really weren't used to a lot of birds in the area of our home.

Shelter is an area where birds can hide from predators and also vitally important, an area birds can roost overnight to stay warm. I find the arborvitaes serve this purpose in my garden. In the cold evening hours, dozens of birds like sparrows and finches, congregate in the branches of the arborvitaes. The evergreen leaves help keep in the bird's warmth. Spruces, cedars and junipers will provide the same benefit of shelter to the birds as well. When predators approach the birds can easily hide in the thick branches of these same trees. A lawn devoid of any shrubs and trees makes it difficult for birds to find shelter.

Finally, providing a water source while the weather is cold is vital to birds. My little bathtub pond froze almost solidly, but the one spot where the pump sprayed water remained unfrozen. There have been many birds tiptoeing on the ice to the water in order to take a drink. An alternative water source for the birds that I have found works quite nicely, is a heated dog water bowl. These bowls generally cost less than $20 and can be plugged in to an outside outlet in order to keep the water from freezing. I place a rock in mine for the birds to perch. You can also purchase birdbath heaters but the one I use does not reliably keep the birdbath from freezing.

Now, take a look at some birds I watch from my window and if you too have a window with a bird feeder and water source-then great! If not, install a birdfeeder and begin watching your own wide variety of birds!

The bird you hear chirping in the background is not an outside bird, he is my very own little parakeet, Pippy. While watching the video, if you look closely to the right of the bird feeder you will notice a few black cows running up the hill in the background. Something must've spooked them and they were a pleasant surprise while I was recording. I thought it was funny how the female cardinal calmly sat on the bird feeder eating while the bird feeder rotated around and around. This bird feeder has been a great bird feeder other than being made out of plastic. It could not stand up against the squirrels who made quick work of the lid. I moved the bird feeder closer to the house so I could hopefully scare the squirrels away, but have not been too successful. A hungry squirrel is a very determined squirrel-except of course when the bird dogs see it and get the opportunity to chase it!

in the garden....

P.S. If the video does not show properly on your computer, please let me know by either posting a comment or emailing me at Thanks.


  1. It keeps cutting in and out and stopped for good at 58 seconds, just long enough to see the cows start up over the hill. Tried it again and only went for 47 seconds. Like you said with the other video it might be my puter. However I don't have problems with other videos. Love ya.

  2. Ok. It might be my poor old camera, which is getting old and a lot more work in the past year than in the three previous years!

  3. Mine buffered for the fist 8 seconds but I'm cleaning out this computer today and will try later, usually the videos on mine buffer, play the seconds buffered, than buffer , doing this til done. I figured this on out, has to buffer til done, if you check you need to start over?
    btw, the electrian came on thur, its rumored my parts were ordered for Mon., they will be done on Tues. Forgot to mention that, getting busy with digging out a path to the telephone pole, and the phones ringle linging again. Later

  4. Tina, I watched the entire video, eagerly anticipating the cat that I just knew would come into the scene and cause havoc and chaos with the birdies, feathers flying. Alas, no cat. Birdwatching is a favorite activity around here too, but the watchers all have four legs.

    Jean, I think those cows in the background were horses. If I had cows that could move that fast, I sure as heck would be racing them. It must be your computer, because the whole video played no problem for me.

    Dawn with Peaches, hope everything works out with the electrician. Hope the bill isn't too shocking.

  5. LOL. Funny Dragon but since Tina is my first born, I have seen em in real life several tines. No horses, just cows in the pasture.

    BOUT TIME DAWN!!! Maybe you will be moved in within a couple of weeks. Great!!! Keeping my fingers crossed. Maybe by Zackary's birthday. Love ya.

  6. BTW, Dragon, if the bill is too high for Dawn with Peaches (my second born) she and hubby (Jack of all Trades) can make a bill high for the electrician since they have a heating business. Actually I think the electrician and Jack of all Trades have a deal all worked out. Is that right Dawn?

  7. Well, mother you beat me to it. I was going to say, not as shocking as our invoices AND since we are both in the emergency service business......there won't be an additional annoyance fee. But thank-you for the well wishes sent my way Dragon. Signed Dawn with peaches.

  8. LOL I love the Dawn with Peaches...Tks for that Dragon. Makes this ole lady giggle.

  9. Video worked just fine for me also!
    I got a little dizzy watching the merry-go-round though! The Cardinal looked like a child at the playground going round and round! Funny, I did not spot the cows running up the hill until I went back and ran the video again. At first I thought you said crows and I was thinking dang, those are some huge crows, then I remembered the cows when we dropped by to visit you. Funny....

    Dawn with Peaches… Dragon, you are a hoot! Can you call me “Skeeter with the tongue” tee hee, we better not go there or we will get in trouble. I am already trying to talk my way out of that one with wifey pooh! LOL

    We love the birds and feed them daily and I hate to tell you Tina, if you feed the birds, you will never get rid of the squirrels!

    We spotted a squirrel going up a tree in the backyard today with a mouth full of my white fake snow (pillow stuffing) from the front porch winter scene! They have been stealing it ever since I put the stuff out just before Thanksgiving! I have replaced just about the entire batch once already and about time to do it again. They are funny and amuse me with their antics… I am yet to catch one in the action on the porch to snap a picture but fake snow trails to the front woods and the back yard on both sides of the house! I have a picture of a squirrel in action on the porch from last year and I may do a posting on the pet people blog. I did an update on Minnie dog and the cats Friday so go check it out if anyone is interested and you can see my two black furry babies Cheetah and Sheba!

  10. You're right Tina feeding the bird can be fun! The cardinals are great. Something else you could try if you haven't already is suet. We've attracted a few woodpeckers since we started putting the peanut butter based suet out.

    I try to avoid the regular bird seed with filler seed. The ones with dried fruit and lots of sunflower seed seem to work best! The other seed just gets tossed out onto the ground.

  11. Hello Dave...
    We have been feeding the birds for years and as you Dave, have found the filler to be a waste. We use the Black-oil sunflower seed which attracts tons of birds and also thistle in a separate feeder. We have tried different types of suet and do find the "No Melt" peanut butter to be the favorite so that is the suet we stick with... Have them squirrel proof though as the squirrels will eat an entire cake in a day if they can get to it!

    I love the birds in my yard and keep waiting for someone to start a Bird Blog so I can chat with them about my feathered friends…

  12. Hey everyone,
    Just back from my weekend with the Army recruiters in lovely Owensboro. No access to a computer but I can see all is well. Good to hear from everyone.

    Dragon, the orange tabby sneaks out whenever she thinks I and the dogs are not watching. She is a very bad kitty for killing some of my birds but I put up with her because she kills the "rats" too. She knows when I am watching so usually behaves-if not I let the dogs out to put her in her place. She smacked my poor little Link the other day-for no reason! He didn't know what to do. It was funny and I wish I had a video of that!

    Those really were cows. It was odd they were running like that and there were only two. I think maybe a coyote scared them or something! Mom enjoyed visiting this past summer and I think the cows were out there alot. I am very fortunate with my little piece of dirt in that my neighbor behind me has a herd of cows and he is a good neighbor to let me enjoy the view of his beautiful property and herd. I enjoy them very much. Horses might be ok too. Not sure though because according to Skeeter they can be smelly!

    Mom, Dragon is great isn't he? He keeps the Pet People coming back for more and more! I like the Dawn with peaches too. You made my mom's day Dragon and thanks!

    Good luck on the house Dawn. Let us know when the move in date is going to be! I can give you some plants for a housewarming-just kidding. You can get plants from me any time.

    Skeeter, you need to get a video of that squirrel stealing your snow and post it on Pet People. That would be fun to watch! Tell the story. I want to know what he does with it all and when you and the Saint find the nest that should be interesting.

    Hi Dave,
    I love feeding the birds. I like your new bird feeder with the two suet pouches for the birds too. You got lots of gifts to put to good use in your garden-lucky you! You are so right about the filler stuff. I just use the black oil, sometimes niger and the suet in the winter. Have you noticed way more cardinals around this year? Or is it just me? I bet your two year old loves helping dad with the birds too. If you all don't know Dave, his blog is called "The Home Garden" and I really like reading his blog and he is a very smart blogger. He is also a Tennessee gardener close to Nashville. He can be found at:
    I have talked about blogging in general but plan to do a post on garden blogs and already have a draft so more on that later but check him out in the meantime!