Saturday, March 15, 2014

How to attract birds and wildlife during the winter months...

... especially if you live in a region that has been covered with snow and ice
the entire winter like we have been here in New England!
Invest in a heated bird bath!

Our newest visitors, ....

... the gorgeous flock of bluebirds....

...that have taken up residence...

.. in our yard, ...

... are thoroughly enjoying this never ending supply of fresh (unfrozen) water.

Of course that's nothing new to our regulars who visit many times a day 
throughout the harsh winter months. Mr. Blue Jay is a constant visitor to the bath.

Mrs. Cardinal, who had just finished her water...

... and Mr. Cardinal who was headed to the bird bath...

... when I spotted him.

You'll have to trust me that this was a flock of starlings visiting the bird bath the other day.
I have no idea what happened to this photo to make it so blurry!

The sweet mourning doves are always visiting.
Here's one waiting patiently for Mr. Bluebird to finish drinking.

Always gentle and patient, it now waits for a starling to finish...

... but it looks like it might take a while as Mr. Starling has decided to take a full bath.

Finally her patience pays off and it is her turn at the bath.

There's often a line at the bird bath, with someone waiting to take their turn 
as soon as the bird bath frees up.

My little Sammy's don't understand why it isn't called a heated squirrel bath...

.. because they visit just as often as the birds.

Now it doesn't hurt to offer the birds and wildlife a bit of food as well as fresh water, especially during these harsh New England winters. Here you see one Sammy drinking, the one to the left heading to the suet feeder hanging from the deck and yet another Sammy hanging upside down at the suet feeder hanging from the cherry tree.

In addition to hanging suet, we also have a screen feeder attached to our dining room window that we keep filled with seed and such during the winter months. Here's a little tufted titmouse visiting the feeder while Mr. Bluebird, who'd just finished drinking at the birdbath, is contemplating joining Mr. TT.

And when the harsh New England winters come to an end and food becomes more plentiful for my furry and feathered friends...

The screen feeder becomes a little window box, with flats of flowers sitting 
where the seed was once scattered.

Oh, what a welcome sight this will be after the winter we've had!
Can spring and summer truly be just around the corner?

And speaking of summer, although I don't put out as much food in the warmer months as I do during our frigid winters, I provide even more fresh water for my garden friends with multiple bird baths placed around the yard. It's essential that all living creatures have access to water, which is sometimes hard to come by during our oppressive, hot summer months, so they really appreciate a fresh supply of water. 

Here's a mourning dove perched on a small hanging bird bath. Quite unusual because the doves usually visit the larger baths down on the ground, like the one you see behind my bunny planter.

I even caught these young siblings a few years ago playing and drinking from the fountain on our deck one warm summer night.

The animals truly are grateful for the extra help during the long cold winter months, as evidenced by Sammy giving thanks before digging into his meal of fresh suet, seed, and corn. They give me so much more, just with their presence, than I could ever hope to give them.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone! 

Warning - I'm going to be BORING you with more bluebird photos in the very near future! As I said, we've lived here for 33 years and have never seen a bluebird in the yard before, so the flock that has been hanging around since early March is the most unexpected delight!

Till next time,


J said...

This is so heartwarming in its entirety! My favorite is little Sammy giving thanks for the feast. If only we would all be so gracious! We have many of the same scenes here at our station - mourning doves politely perching, squirrels hanging upside down, brilliant cardinals enjoying a snack - the only thing I need is a heated water source. Your post has convinced me of that! Our summer one is pure entertainment, but I think a place to get water is even more important in winter.

NanaDiana said...

Donna. I LOVE that hanging heated birdbath. I have one that sits on the ground on a pedestal and it got buried in snow this year-just could not keep up so I finally just unplugged it. Anyway, I am going to look for one like you have for next year.

Your shed is just darling, by the way!

Love all your sweet pictures of your birds, etc. Bring on the blue bird pictures. I will be looking forward to them. xo Diana

Andrea said...

What absolutely lovely pictures, Donna!

I do not feed or water the wildlife. I used to tho. In fact, I used to put fresh warm water & seed out twice a day, trudging thru knee-deep snow to do it. I'd made a circle about 20 ft. in diameter with my boots & then space the seed every 5 ft. or so. That way everybody had their own little pile so there was no squabbling. Unfortunately all I was doing was setting up my wildlife to be dinner for the hawks... so after about 10 years of feeding them, I stopped. A friend of mine who works for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary told me NEVER to feed wildlife. She said they can take care of themselves quite well without me. And she was right. :) They are alive & well on our homestead even through this brutal winter we've had. God took care of them as He promised He would/does in His Word.

But your pictures are lovely! I especially love the one with the raccoons on the birdbath. I had a birdbath very similar to that one time.... my kids bought it for me for Mother's Day. It took one night before it was broken. The night time critters crawled up on it, tipped the bowl over, and it cracked in half. It was heavy too. I expect a mother & *several* of her babies were on it at one time. The raccoons even crawl up the outside of my screens on my house windows, believe it or not! They peek in my window as if to say: "What's for supper, Mom?" *lol* When I used to feed the birds, I'd have a dozen deer in my backyard at one time, at around dusk.

It's best that I let God handle the feedings!! :-D


Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow said...

I am so glad that the bluebirds are sticking around! Who wouldn' should make a little sign for out there saying "The Enchanted Day Spa" :)

What a treat to have caught the little coons that night!

Susan said...

Hi Donna...

Love your birdie photos. And those bluebirds are gorgeous!

The Sammy photo is perfect for an animal magazine!

Donna, wait til you hear this. I DID buy a birdbath heater and it was NOT CHEAP. It's plugged in, keep the bird bath water VERY nice and NO BIRDS are coming.

There are feeders nearby, filled with seeds, and they come a few at a time to peck at the seeds but the only one using the heated birdbath is Sammy's cousin!

What do you think is the matter? Susan

Gayle Ann Berg said...

Such an entertaining and informative post! The pictures are beautiful. I love seeing the birds and squirrels who call your back yard home. Especially the pretty bluebirds. Your back yard makes me smile!

Cathy @ My 1929 Charmer said...

We didn't buy a heater bath but we did make one! We love helping out our wildlife friends and provide many food sources. We had sproussel sprouts the other night and we had the outer leaves left over and placed them outside the squirrel's went nuts.! Your birds are so pretty, but it rare I see a bluejay out this way, the aggressive song sparrows are "mean" and keep them at bay

Regena Fickes said...

I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy these posts. Down here in Tn. we do not always have always have a harsh winter, but I love to feed my wild "family". I have been blessed with 6 doves this year and could spend hours watching their patient and refined actions. My grandchildren have given many of our regulars names. The lovely doves do not even fly away if I come into the yard and they are feeding. I also get so much more than I give. Thank you for all the lovely photos.

BeachGypsy said...

Donna the pictures today are so delightful!! Enjoying them so!! looks like the bluebirds have returned!! They are so pretty! Love all the animal and bird pictures you capture so well! so many neat little creatures you have there in your yard! They must be so fun to watch!

desertsandbeyond said...

Oh, I loved seeing ALL your visitors! We have ring-necked doves, sparrows, finches, and an occasional starling at our bird feeders. BUT...we also have a Cooper's hawk who flies down and through the trees after a meal every once in a while. We used to have roadrunners and quail, but with all the houses here now, they've been long gone (about 7 years...)...sigh.
Cheryl Ann in So. California

Hcolton said...

I love watching the wild life and feeding them. This is a wonderful post! I love the blue birds especially. Only thing is...I don't like having the feeders so close to the house as the birds make quite a mess leaving droppings everywhere.

Donna said...

That last photo was darling! I know that the wild critters sure appreciate all of your efforts!

Unknown said...

Share all the bluebirds that you want to and we will love it! Such pretty little birds with their little red bellies! Such great pictures, I love looking into your backyard. So different from mine! Hope it is starting to warm up for all of you!

A New England Life said...

I agree, they all love the heated bird bath! Are you feeding the bluebirds? Mine have been voracious lately!

Where is the warm weather???