Bird wings and feet help you identify that bird

Northern Mockingbird

Northern Mockingbird

I promised I would finish telling you how to identify birds by their wings and feet. Again I am using Sheila Buff’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Birdwatching, but you can also find a lot of this information at the beginning of your field guide.

Admiral Bird

When you see a perched bird, you can look for the coloring on the wings and also horizontal bars or patches. If you are confused, see my picture.

When a bird is in flight, you want to watch for two things: the appearance of the wings and the way the bird flies. I have several good field guides with pictures of birds in flight and also the patterns in which they fly.

Sometimes when a bird spreads his wings, you can see patches or bars. Our Northern Mockingbird is a good example. He flashes large white patches on each wing. Hawks and shorebirds can also be differentiated this way.

Continue reading

Backyard Wildlife Habitat–Nest Boxes

Watching the birdie
Image by ropesandpulleys via Flickr

While it’s still winter time, this is the best time to be thinking about creating your own backyard wildlife habitat. Today’s article is on nesting boxes. What’s that, you ask?

Providing Shelter is the chapter title to Scott Edwards’ “Creating a Bird-Friendly Backyard Habitat.” I also found a web site by Lillian and Don Stokes that talks about birdhouses. I was amazed at the many different forms they took.

Scott does not like the term “birdhouse.” He says that birds don’t actually live in their nesting boxes. Cavity-nesting birds generally build their nest (in some cases they don’t build anything at all) in a box, raise their young, fledge them and then are done with the box. For most North America’s cavity-nesters, the whole process from egg-laying to fledgling, takes approximately one month.

Continue reading

Backyard Wildlife Habitat–Some Shocking Suggestions

Birds are the last surviving dinosaurs.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s the dead of winter for us. Your plants have either dropped leaves, are hibernating or are at least shivering. Why would you want to start thinking about reshaping your yard now?

Actually, this is the best time to plant certain trees and shrubs. And it is as good a time as any to think through how you would like your yard to become a backyard wilderness habitat.

We have been studying Scott Edward’s book, Creating a Bird-Friendly Backyard Habitat, published by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. There are also sites on the Net about birding that might interest you. In this article I am going to make some shocking suggestions. Wait for it.

Continue reading

Backyard Wildlife Habitat–Building an above-Ground Water Garden

we build a pond - part 2: pond foil ready

Image via Wikipedia

Are you interested in having a wildlife habitat in your back yard next spring? The time to think about doing that is now in the wintertime. One of the main needs of your backyard visitors is the need for water.

Here are instructions for building above-ground water gardens.

To build an above-ground water garden

This section describes how to build an above-ground 4′ x 8′ pond that holds about 350 gallons of water. You will need:

  • (15) 8′ landscaping timbers
  • 12 pieces of 17″ rebar
  • 45 mil EPDM rubber sheet
  • The pond will measure 18″ above ground and has a deep area in the middle made by digging out a 4′ x 2′ x 18″ deep hole with steeply angled walls. This leaves a generous 10″ wide underwater ledge on which to place plants. Fish like the deep section that also stays cooler because of increased contact with the ground.

Continue reading

Backyard Habitats-Water Gardens

Low level
Image by ARendle via Flickr

Are you interested in having a wildlife habitat in your back yard next spring? The time to think about doing that is now in the wintertime. One of the main needs of your backyard visitors is the need for water.

Here are some instructions for building water gardens.

There are few endeavors that combine such a variety of disciplines as does the stewardship of a water garden. Botany, fish management, water purity, temperature, color arrangement, environmental balance, wildlife, safety, electrical connections, pumps, filters, rocks, and algae blooms will all become a part of your vocabulary and your life. These factors will be challenging, educational, and exciting.

Continue reading