Thursday, December 24, 2009

We have had snow and colder weather for a while and finally the bears, raccoons and chipmunks have gone into hibernation for the winter.  I can finally leave my bird feeders out just for the birds.  They are making such good use of them that I just can't seem to keep ahead of them.  Sunflowers, suet, nuts and just balls of fat seem to keep them coming back.  My favourite hummingbirds however have flown south for a bit.  Nothing like rushing the seasons but I can't wait to see the first ones coming to my window and hovering there as if to say - what - no food out for me yet?  It seems every year one in particular comes to the window and, as if suspended from a string, will stare at me through the window.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

7 Things to Think About BEFORE You Buy That Bird!

 This is similar to an article I posted last week.  Although it is not exactly the same I am sure you will get the general idea.

7 Things to Think About BEFORE You Buy That Bird!
Once you have decided to buy a bird there are several things you should think about before you actually buy one.  The breed, the size, the cage, and the joy they will bring should be secondary to the things you should know first.

I‘ve had a number of smaller caged birds over the years. I’ve had ones that talk and ones that don’t.  Some that are loud and obnoxious and some that are quiet and shy.  Some that sing and some that squawk.  Some that screech and some that chatter back and forth to each other all day long.     

They All Make a Huge Mess!!  

All birds preen. 

That is, they are constantly either fixing their own feathers or the feathers on another bird.  Sometimes the cat and sometimes the person that lets it perch on their head.  Preening is a whole other story.  Suffice it to say – birds preen and they moult.  Their feathers fall out and new ones grow in.  Of course, every time the birds flap their wings for exercise those feathers are scattered everywhere.  

All birds eat.

Caged birds usually eat seeds and seeds have shells.  Most birds don’t eat the shells so they have to get rid of them and as they don’t have hands to hold the shells – they use their beaks and those shells fly.  Sometimes I think the shells have wings when I find them so far away from the cage. 

However, all is not lost – you can buy cage skirts or make your own that fit around the bottom of the cages to keep the seeds and feathers on the inside, not on your floor. 

If you don’t mind the feathers floating around your house you can always try feeding them the seeds that have no shells.  Bits of fruit and veggies.  Or just resign yourself with the fact and get on with sweeping it up every day.   

 All birds need water.

Clean water to drink – and clear of feathers and seed shells.  I know – you ask – how am I going to keep it clear of feathers and shells when every time one of them flaps – there will be more things in the water.   I have a bird bath attached to the cage but the birds prefer to bathe in their drinking water cups instead.  So every day and sometimes twice a day – the water has to be changed. 

All birds need exercise.

Now with all that eating, preening, bathing and drinking you need someplace for them to exercise.  You will need a cage with enough room in it that is free of toys, drinking and food cups and anything else you might have in there so the wings can be fully expanded.  I must admit – I do allow mine to fly outside the cage now and then and they just love it. 


Now with all that done – they are going to relax – and well, they must get rid of some of that food and water they had.   Rather than you trying to catch the droppings when they gotta go - you can use ripped up newspapers, cedar chips, grit paper and a host of other products that are disposable in the bottom of the cage.   Try to find a cage that is easy to clean – it sure saves a lot of time. 

After a hard day.

All birds sleep – at least all mine do.  It is the only time they are semi-quiet.  Those budgies still chatter when they are napping! 

A cover over the cage at night stops the chatter and they are all tucked in but.... I have a cockatiel.  Cockatiels suffer from night fright and often in the middle of the night the ruckus is enough to wake the proverbial dead.  Squawking, flapping and not only the cockatiel is at it now but the whole lot of them.   After a few nights of that – I have a nightlight in the room for the birds and we all sleep peacefully.

Location to park the bird cage.

You will need a stand or a table to put the bird cage on.  Be careful to ensure that the cage is away from any plants because some plants are toxic to birds and to ensure that the birds don’t make a mess of those beautiful leaves.   They have chewed up some of mine and they take a long time to recover. 

Enjoy your birds! 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Frosty Nights

It is that time of year again when the dahlias and the glads have been hit by frost and now it is time to dig up the bulbs and get them stored until spring.  I have decided this year to put a tag on all my bulbs to see what colors they are for next year.  I always end up with such a hodge podge of color but on the other hand - it is always a surprise.  I did not get as much time to spend in my gardens this summer as I would like to.  I have so many of them it is hard to get to them all.  Thankfully most of them are perennials and look after themselves except for the weeds but there is always a lot to do just the same.  I have a lot of flowers that attract the birds, the bees and the butterflies so there is quite a variety and I like to keep a little color for spring, summer and fall.  I now have some that will still make a statement with their fluffy wands in the winter too. 

This hardy little rose keeps flowering even with the frost on it. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chickadees and Goldfinches

In my yard there are a lot of birds that visit my feeders regularly.  The most predominant being chickadees, nuthatches and goldfinches.  I do have lots of other species that come but not in the numbers that these ones do.  I tried to take some pictures but they are all so fast that you don't even get a chance to focus on them let alone take a picture.  When I don't have the feeders out - they all sit there very patiently waiting for me.  In the trees, the ferns, the christmas lights that I never take down (they make a great place for the birds to perch) while waiting for a feeder or a place to sit when one is there.  As soon as I open the door with feeders in hand they come right over and start to eat before I even get them hung up.  They are so used to me and the cat, that they don't hesitate at all.  Some of them will take the food right from my hand.  Some of them are still nervous but with patience, they too will soon be used to my presence. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Raccoons

As long as I forget to bring in the bird feeders or leave some tasty treats lying around outdoors, the raccoons will find it.  Just when you get a little complacent about cleaning up before retiring for the night you are either rudely reminded before you even get to sleep or you find out very quickly in the morning that you did not put everything away like you should have.  I spend half my time between cleaning up after either the bears or the raccoons.  Like the bears, they don't care if my houseplants remain upright or upside down.  They want every last one of those sunflower seeds that the birds left lying around or that crust of bread the grandkids left behind.  Anything will do whether it is edible or not, gets investigated one way or another.  Several times they have left little presents for me to find.  Not just one raccoon but the whole family leaves it one spot.  Usually on the top step just so you know they were there.   Thinking of this reminded me of a raccoon that we had when I was young.  We named him Bobby.  He was the most lovable animal with the softest hands that he would wrap around your neck and give you a hug or pat your arm when he wanted something.  We had dog kennels and he would often play with some of the dogs but he was always very confused because he could not bark like the rest of them.  He would sit for a long time and wait for one of the dogs to bark and he would go to them and watch them bark.  He never did figure it out. 


Friday, September 25, 2009

No more Hummingbirds

The humming birds have all gone south for the winter so we can clean up the feeders and store them away for next season.  We always know that summer is here when they all come back.  Even thought the humming birds have gone there are still lots and lots of other birds that will stay for the winter and we will continue to feed them. Some of the food I buy but some I make up myself.  I will buy or get beef fat or suet from the butcher or the grocery store and keep it in the freezer.  I also keep those net bags that onions or some other foods come in.  Then when I am ready I put the suet (fat) inside the mesh bag, tie or sew the hole shut and hang then up for the birds.  I also make sure I put them where the squirrels can't reach them. 

 If you want to see a cute humming bird video - check out my website. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chickadee Heaven

We have had a few trays of water out for the birds, chipmunks and my cat to get a drink.  This summer we bought a small fountain to enjoy the sounds of gurgling water on those quiet evenings when you get a chance to slow down a bit.  We discovered that the chickadees much prefer the fountain to not only get a drink from but they have a free shower included in the deal.  Being the polite little things they are, they even take turns sitting over the spout.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Homemade bird food

Indoor pets or wild birds dining at your outdoor feeder enjoy homemade birdseed treats. A simple treat for birds is made by bringing suet or lard to room temperature and mixing in birdseed, nuts, fruits or cereals. The mixture can be spread onto a pinecone and hung from a tree outside or in your pet's cage. Lots of other treats can be made. I will try to include more periodically for you to try.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


With all the wet weather this summer the little brown bats have been a welcome sight in my yard.  Although they are only out from after dusk to before daybreak they are not a visible as some of the other creatures I have around. They eat insects of all kinds like mosquitoes and black flies and can eat up to 1200 mosquitoes in one hour.  Thankfully it was too cool for the blackflies to be as much of a nuisance as usual but the mosquitoes kept the bats well fed.  Above is a great bat house to build if you want bats to stay around and not have to worry as much about them roosting in your house.  The old story about bats getting in your hair is a myth however the guano from bats can be hazardous so be sure to wear a mask if you are cleaning up any area where they have been roosting.  Otherwise - enjoy just knowing they are there and help to combat the massive numbers of mosquitoes in your hard.   

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chipmunks Everywhere!!

I never realized chipmunks could move so fast.  This year the chipmunk population exploded in our yard.  Of course we feed the birds and the chipmunks are a great maintenance crew.  Anything the birds drop the chipmunks clean up before the birds can get there to finish the job.  We even tried to live trap and move some of them to another location but we certainly got the surprise of a life time on that one.  We had an old fellow with a very short tail that ended up in the trap and took him about 2 km away and dropped him off where he would have a great supply of food and water.  About 3 hours later - he was back!!!  We then realized that every chipmunk we had transported to another location came back home again.  That is when we decided to let them stay.  Even the cat has decided they aren't worth chasing any more and they run right over her paws while she is trying to sleep.

Monday, September 7, 2009

My Birds

These are my birds that have found their way to my house one way or another.  The small blue budgie, that the kids have named Blue, was given to me by my great grandson Bailey.  He was very small and when he and his parents had to move they had no place to keep the bird so he asked if I would look after it for him at my house.   Although he doesn't know it - Blue has changed bodies since the first one came.
The gray cockatiel, that the kids have named Cloud, came when my brother-in-law could not  stand the noise he was making and decided that maybe he would be better off here.  He and the original Blue were great friends and chatted to each other and Cloud was much quieter.  A friend of mine had a gray female that she wanted to breed as it was always laying eggs and asked if I would sell my bird to her.  This meant that Blue was alone so we had to get him a companion.  We actually bought 'Sunny' and the two of them became best buds.  However, Cloud was not very happy and refused to do what he was supposed to do and made a lot of noise that my friend could not get used to and she brought him back.  I think I should get another companion for him because the new Blue and Sunny tend to ignore him and he is also very quiet.  The only time I hear him is when he "talks" to the blue jays outdoors.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh Deer!!!

I have a very friendly deer that visits occasionally. I don't know if it is the same one each time because she doesn't have any distinguishing marks on her. However, she loves tulips, hostas and hollyhocks. Every time one gets a bud on it - she eats it. I have moved the tulips to another flower bed closer to the house and the hosta has more leaves so it is still there. I have wanted hollyhocks for some time and finally found some lovely double bloomed ones that were actually in flower. I planted them one evening and I checked them the next morning - one had the whole top bit off. They now have a lovely fence around them. I am hoping that she didn't really like the taste of them because she only ate one. I have my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An unusual home made bird feeder.

I am going to give you a sneak peak at one of the bird feeders in my yard. The bottom was the base of an old, small table I used to have. The top was no longer usable so it was taken off and the bottom part makes a great base for a bird feeder. The tray part is a plastic dish that is used for under flower pots. A little strip of velcro has attached the tray to the base and voila!!! a bird feeder.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bears, Bears and more Bears

Okay - now I am not a happy camper!!  All of my indoor houseplants are out on the deck for the summer.  When I say all of them I had about 60 potted plants that I put out there every year.  This summer has been the worst yet encountered because between the bears and the raccoons I now have 28 on the deck, 3 back in the house, 4 in the back porch and a whole lot of little bits sitting in water hoping they will take root.  I had a yearling bear on my deck the other night. Now that in itself is not that unusual as I regularly get animals wandering around my yard and they often come up on the deck to investigate but this time was different.  He left his mom down by the road and decided to do more than investigate the things on my deck. He bit holes in my water container then upset it, smashed flower pots, bit plants in half, tossed some off the deck onto the ground and finally woke me up in the middle of the night with his antics.  I say he but it could just as easily have been a she - I didn't stop to ask.  The first time I just shooed it.  It came back about 5 minutes later and this time I yelled a bit.  The third time I grabbed a stick, stomped out the door and hollered really loudly.  That one finally got it's attention and got it to realize I did not want it on my deck.  Mind you - I also woke up the downstairs neighbours with that one.

Don't get me wrong - I love the bears when they are passing through, I am just not overly impressed when they stick around and leave piles of mud (or piles of anything), broken pots and flower, and the worst part - waking up the neighbours in the middle of the night.

Things I See In My Yard

In my yard (it is pretty big compared to most I guess), I have everything from insects to moose and weeds to trees and everything in between.  I get a lot of seasonal visitors and some that come no matter what the season.  The most predominant of these are the birds.  Consequently I decided to start a website to sell bird feeders and it grew to include not only outdoor birds supplies but indoor as well.  I haven't finished it yet because it started out as an experiment just to see if I could do it.  After all, I am not a spring chicken any more and thought maybe an older person would have a hard time getting these ideas on paper let along be able to do anything with it.
Would you believe I am now taking courses to learn how to do all this and am having a great time learning it all even if it is a little overwhelming at times. 

I hope you enjoy reading about the joys and antics that go on in my yard and look forward to hearing about yours as well.