Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Backyard Pool Party, For The Birds!

It was just too hot to be on the water this week, I checked the sand spit Tuesday morning and all is well. In the meantime it wasn't just you and I that thought it was HOT!
Let's get out of the sun and take a quick look at the backyard at our house.

A number of years ago, I installed a flowing water bird creek in our back yard, it was always a magnet for birds, but it had served its purpose, it was time to do something a bit different.
This spring I pulled it out and did something a bit different, it was still based on a waterfall or two, but this time it has a bigger, deeper water pool, about a four foot round by two foot deep pond.
In here are a few Koi, Goldfish and water plants and a fountain.
Surrounding the pond is a shallow, one to two inch deep bog area, with a number of shallow water plants, this is the playground for many of this years fledged and adult birds.

With the heat wave, and drought that we are currently experiencing, this has become pool party central for the neighborhood birds, the adults have always brought their fledges here to drink their first water and take their first baths, but with the expanded area that I installed, more and more have come, especially in this heat wave.
At night I have also see skunks, raccoons, opossum and others come in for a drink.
A short-tail shrew has also adopted us, we see him in the daylight often.
This is the lower pond area, it a few feet deep and four feet around, Goldfish and Koi are visible in this photo.
The outside area is the bog, a very shallow area, also with lots of moving recycling water that is a favorite for birds, bathing, drinking or cooling off, it is washed and cleaned daily!
There are two waterfalls and a fountain, lots of aeration, even on these hot days, it stays cool as it only gets an hour or two of direct sunlight.
This is a 24/7/365 water feature, I add a heater in the winter to keep the water fluid, in deep freeze it is very popular, not just with birds but with mammals also, it may be the only open water for miles.

This is the upper waterfall, it flows into a very shallow pool, sort of running brook style,before flowing into the pond. Birds cannot resist it, the sound of running water stops passing birds in flight, to come take a look, a drink and maybe a quick bath.

A side view, we have less than quarter acre lot, the arborvitae and red cedar provide perfect cover for the many birds visiting and nesting in our yard.
Believe it or not, I have had 8 and 10 point deer, right here.

Fox Sparrows are common bathers during migration.

These young Common Grackles are possibly my favorite, their parents seem to drop them off here by the truckload, "spend the day in the pool kiddies, We'll pick you back up before dark"
They are precious, but also have to feel everything with their bills, they are chopping down my Pickerel Weed, and chewing up every plant in the bog. But that's OK!
In Wednesday's heat there were sixteen birds in the bog at one time, all youngsters, Catbirds, Robins, Grackles, Orioles, Starlings, House Sparrows.
We have several other bird baths in the yard, without moving water, Goldfinches and others seem to appreciate these.

Tail-less Catbird at Oriole feeder.
These Oriole feeders are very hot right now, the bottom is filled with sugar water, 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, boiled, stirred and refrigerated. Hummers love it also!
Where this birds feet are, there are trays that I fill with Poloners Grape Jelly, this is natural jelly, with no artificial sweeteners, (the chemical stuff is not cool and may harm these guys) and of course a half an orange.
Beside the Catbirds, It is the place to be if you are an oriole, I've had up to six males, six females and all their kin fighting for a spot at these feeders, and right now is the time to have these feeders out..
You will also be surprised at the number of other species that show up on these feeders.

Where's the Fruit?

I also keep thistle and shelled nuts out during the summer, goldfinches are here daily, sun up to sun down feeding on the thistle, unsalted peanut halves are a easy delicacy for many birds, including this recently fledged Red-bellied Woodpecker.
Happy Backyard Birding!


  1. Hi, I love your blog, especially that pair of longtails in the header! ... Your last photo looks like an adult male Red-Bellied to me; we have families of them at our feeders, too, and none of the young ones has any red on the head; they're all grey-brown, even on the back (not black and white). The adult female has a red nape, the adult male (as in your photo) has red all the way forward to the base of the bill. Nice photo of a typical pose; our adult male also loves to take seeds from the feeder. (Funny that only the male does this and not the female, at least at our feeders!) They also love the oranges that I put out. I never get any orioles, but the Red-Bellies make up for that. I love them!

  2. Nice sharing about beautiful birds! Thanks and keep it up

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