Garden Decor Not Just for the Birds!

The VIRGINIA SHOPPER’S love for the little birdies twittering in the treetops (not cyberspace twittering!) led to summertime musings about what birds I like best in my garden and how to entice them to take up residence for the long term.Keep Them Safe, Sound, and Well Fed

–           It didn’t take long to figure out I need to provide food and a safe haven.  Summer has its dangers like predators after the new chicks, so I now look for feeders with baffles.  In winter there are slim pickings and sunflower seed feeders supply rich nutrients.  It’s a joy to watch Virginia cardinals (the bright red state bird), and all the other varieties flocking to my feeders after a big snow.

The Williamsburg Bird Bottle  – In the 18th century Virginia colonists used the Bottle to attract birds and control insects. This delightful reproduction is made of redware pottery, modeled after an original excavated at Colonial Williamsburg, VA. Hang from trees or sides of buildings with a single nail. Birds love ‘em!

Architectural Design for Bird Dwellings

–          I found a huge (maybe gigantic) selection of different kinds of bird houses, bird hotels, and bird sanctuaries.  There’s no doubt that avian dwellings are extremely popular.  It’s a case of “help the birds to live, love and eat.  Then help yourself to absolutely delightful spying.”   Not just for the birds, cleverly crafted feeders and bird houses make for amazing garden décor.  Designed to replicate intricate gazebos, post offices, general stores, camping cabins, boats, schools, and even hotels, man made bird houses represent almost any human interest.  Yes, they are whimsical, beautiful, and utterly charming.  But, sometimes I forget their primary purpose is to pamper our singing friends.

The Robber Barons of the Avian World

–          What about squirrels?  I looked for a finch feeder designed to keep those crafty robbers out, and got one that said “Guaranteed Squirrel proof.”   Ha!  The result was a daily circus as twitchy tailed critters took turns hanging upside down, stretching like rubber bands to get at dinner.  Squirrels are the tight rope walkers and the comic villains of the avian world.  I love them anyway for their agility and determination and besides that – they’re cute!

Bird Meditation Salons

–          The Daily Bath – Nothing adds more to my summer garden décor than the sight of bathing beauties in a birdbath.  Wild birds need fresh water to drink and preen and I have birdie spas in different places in my garden.  Would you believe they like it quiet and peaceful with no distractions when they decide to wet their feathers?  They even like their bird baths heated in winter!  Is there no limit to birdie depravity?

Do Hummingbirds Really Hum?

–          Take hummingbirds.  I love the tiny replicas of real birds.  They really do hum (it’s the sound of their little wings beating) and they need a special type of feeder too.  It has to hold sugar water, but I always feel like I’m tricking the little guys into thinking they are drinking flower nectar.  They are so much fun to watch though, and I learned to make my own nectar (a daunting task).  Here’s how:

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Add one cup sugar and stir til dissolved. That’s it!

Making nectar is a lot like making Jello! Hummers love color so I add a few drops of red food coloring for my clear glass feeder.

CONCLUSION:  Scattering bird seed in a wild natural place in your garden can be just as effective as the most intricately designed feeder available, but the fun is in using imagination to get closer to nature.

RECOMMENDATION:  Look for feeders and bird homes that reflect your personality and theirs.

‘TIL WE MEET AGAIN…..  The VIRGINIA SHOPPER

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