American Gold Finch: Attracting Backyard Birds

american gold finch

 

I’ve had several American Gold Finch visit my feeder this winter.  I watched them eat sunflower seeds from my garden last summer and became fascinated by their beauty.  The male sports feathers that are a beautiful shade of yellow and black.  They are unmistakable. They have a unique flying pattern, which consists of an up and down motion.  However, their bright yellow feathers turn dull during the winter.  I have learned that they “color up” in the spring and summer months, but lose their bright plumage in the fall and winter.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

Furthermore, American Gold Finch are small birds that love sunflower and thistle seeds.  My feeder contains black oil sunflower seed, so I see them regularly.  This little fellow just grabbed a sunflower seed. I plan to plant wild flowers in my garden this year in hopes that they will be attracted.  My sunflowers attracted them last season, so they will definitely have a place in the backyard.  They cleaned off every sunflower in my backyard.

I can’t wait until breeding season when the males molt and regain their beautiful yellow and black plumage.  If you want to attract these beauties to your backyard here are a few tips:

Place a feeder in a location where you can watch the birds feed.  Finches will eat from platform, hanging or tube feeders.

  • Fill it with black oil sunflower seeds or plant sunflowers in your yard.
  • Hang a thistle sock, they love thistle.
  • Fill a bird batch with shallow water.

I purchased a new camera with a zoom lens, so I’m hoping to get some great shots of them in my garden. Stay tuned for my spring and summer photos of the American Gold Finch.  Bird watching is a great activity to do with kids and get them involved in nature.

 

How To Attract Cardinals in Your Backyard

cardinals

The cardinal also known as “redbirds” is my state bird.  They were the mascot for our high school growing up, so I’ve always had an infinity toward them.  My backyard is full of them and as you can see they eat well.  The males are red with black back/tail feathers and are a standout anytime of the year, but breathtaking during the winter months against the snow.  During mating season, the brighter the better to the female cardinals.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds before you leave.

 

female Cardinals

 

The females have some red, but are mostly tan and gray.  They sing outside my bedroom window in the morning.  They are known to have up to 12 different songs.  While watching them, I’ve found them to be quite sociable.  They wait their turn at the feeder and interact well with other species.  Cardinals love mixed birdseed as well as the black oil sunflower seeds.  They also eat fruit, insects and sap from the trees.  I have yet to see them eat from the suet feeder.  The male is a gentleman.  The majority of the time he will perch on a branch while the female eats and than he takes his turn.

 

male Cardinals
Cardinals usually mate for life and they don’t migrate.  You can enjoy their brilliant color year round.  The male is responsible for feeding the female when she is incubating her eggs.  He guards the nest and ensure predators stay at bay.  Breeding season can last from March – September.  The female usually builds their nest in a dense bush that I have at the other end of my house.  I watch them from afar, the female will leave the nest and build elsewhere if she senses danger.  The male in the picture above is indulging on black oil sunflower seeds.  They usually arrive at the feeder with their mate, but I have seen both feed alone.
attracting Cardinals
If you’re a beginner bird watcher, the cardinal is one of the easiest backyard birds to attract.  They like the platform and tube feeders, so you can use one or the other.  They’re not picky eaters, so regular bird seed or black oil sunflower seeds will meet their needs.  Happy bird watching!

Using Suet Feeders for Backyard Birds

suet feeders

I’m trying to attract different birds to my backyard, so I decided to put up a suet feeder.  What is a suet you ask?  Simply put, it’s fat mixed with corn, fruit, peppers peanuts or  dehydrated insects.  It comes in a brick or log form.  The bricks fit into a small cage.  I purchased mine from Tractor Supply for $2.00 and $.99 for the suet.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds before you leave.
Also, you can use the suet year round.  If you’re going to use the suet feeder in warmer months, I recommend using the No Melt suet.  Check the package to ensure you have the correct package.  Using the suet feeder is cheaper than bird seed.  So, if you don’t want to invest a lot of money in helping nature feed our feathered friends a suet feeder is the way to go.

Furthermore, I’ve discovered that some birds prefer suet rather than seed.  Suet is important to birds, especially during the colder months.  It helps to keep them warm.  Mostly insect lovers like Mockingbirds, Orioles, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers and Chickadees flock to suet feeders.  I have been able to get my Woodpeckers and Chickadees to eat from my platform feeder too.  They love black oil sunflower seeds.As a matter of fact, I really wanted to attract Orioles.  I tried using oranges this spring, but no luck.  I did manage to attract a Mockingbird.  He likes like suet too.  Unfortunately, I’ve heard his mating call in the wee hours of the morning in my neighbor’s yard.  Hopefully,  he will find a mate soon.   I need to get my sleep.

 

attracting backyard birds
suet feeders
how to feed backyard birds

 

I did have a visitor at the suet feeder today, a Carolina Wren along with a Cardinal.  Also, I have also seen Tufted Titmouse (bottom  picture) eating from the suet feeder too.  The Titmouse seems to prefer the seeds though.  But the wren is going for the suet.  Isn’t the cardinal, my state bird, beautiful.  So, I’m hoping as the weather gets colder, more of the birds will eat the suet.  It’s cheaper, and the suet cakes last longer.

What backyard birds visit you?  Do you feed them?  If so, what method do you?

 

Backyard Birds – Dark-eyed Junco Visits

 

dark eyed junco

I ‘ve had new visitors at my feeder recently, Dark-eye Junco also known as “snow birds”.  They appeared a few weeks ago during our first snow, and I must say the pictures don’t do them justice.  They are beautiful birds, a grayish black with a white belly and pink colored beak.  The prefer colder climates, which explains why they have suddenly appeared at my feeder.  Check out my other attracting backyard birds posts.
My research has shown that the Dark-eyed Junco visits backyard feeders in the winter, but breed in forests across Canada, the western U.S., and in the Appalachians.  I recently added a tube feeder to my feeding station, my tree, because the platform feeder holds the snow.  I’ve learned that the Dark-eye Junco actually prefer the platform feeder.  They are called snow birds because they love the snow.  They have interesting habits, they will lay in the snow covered platform feeder and just chill or you will find them scouring the snow covered ground for dropped seed.
                                     Dark-eyed Junco
Snow Birds
If you want to attract these entertaining birds to your backyard feeder, use a platform feeder and fill it with millet, bread crumbs, cracked corn or hulled sunflower seeds.  Remember, platform feeders need to be emptied and cleaned more often than tube feeders because they’re open to the elements.  Seed should be fresh.  I try to add fresh seed at least twice a week to my platform feeder.
Now that I know the Dark-eyed Junco likes bread crumbs, I think I will toast a few slices of bread and keep them on hand to add to the feeder since I don’t have hulled sunflower seeds.  I may make a cracked corn purchase as well.  Most backyard birds like cracked corn.  I use black oil sunflower seed mostly since it is the seed of choice for backyard birds.  I’m looking forward to watching my new visitors frolicking in our fresh snow.

 

Homemade Salsa Canning Recipe

gardening, canning, salsa recipes, fresh garden recipes

 

I decided to make a batch of salsa for the winter.  It was delicious.  This recipe can be eaten fresh or canned for later use.  I thought it would be a great dish during the holidays while watching movies or entertaining, and wanted to share my recipe.  Check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips before you leave.

I used ingredients from my garden to make this batch, but you find the ingredients at your local grocery store or Farmer’s Market.  Farmer’s Markets in warmer climates are usually open during the holiday season and still have fresh produce.  Take advantage of the fresh produce if you’re lucky enough to have a farmer’s market near you.

Here’s what you need:

  • 5  – 6 lbs. tomatoes skinned and chopped  (I used whatever variety I had that was ripe.  I suggest allowing them to drain in a colander after chopping to get rid of some of the water).  Check out your local farmer’s market for fresh home grown tomatoes.  Roma and Amish Paste are great tomatoes to use for salsa.
  • 3 cups chopped onion (I used yellow, red and white from my garden)
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped peppers (You can use a combination of Belle Peppers. I like my salsa spicy so I used a combination of chili, jalapeno, and belle)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  I like mine chunky. If you don’t like yours chunky, cook it longer. Water batch for 15 minutes if your canner. This recipes makes about 8 pints of salsaIt can be served fresh, and it’s just as delicious too.  I couldn’t resist eating the salsa while I was trying to get it into the jars.  So, I only managed 7 pints.

Finally, grow your own tomatoes, peppers and onions next season.  Paint buckets or tubs on your patio, balcony or deck are great ways to grow tomatoes and peppers during the summer.  I will doing a post on how you can start your seed inside to give you a head start on the growing season and planting your tomatoes in a small growing area in March.  I hope you enjoyed my salsa canning recipe, and you will be putting up a few pints for the winter.

You may also like: How to Pickle Peppers and Heirloom Versus Hybrid Tomatoes

 

Holiday Gift Ideas for Gardeners

gardener gift ideas, holiday gifts, gardener gift ideas

 

I’m into gift baskets this season.  I’ve found that my most memorable gifts have been homemade items and gift baskets that I’ve put together for my family and friends I’m an advent gardener and bird watcher.  If you have one on your list, a gift basket would be perfect for them too.  We have put together a list of holiday gift ideas for gardeners. Check  it out:
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Birdseed Peanut Butter Pine Cones

feeding backyard birds

 

Our feathered friends need our help finding food during the cold months.  Insects are scarce and most berries are gone.  One way that I feed the birds is to make birdseed peanut butter pine cones.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds before you leave.

 

peanut butter pine cones for birds

 

This is an activity that is fun to make with your children or grandchildren.  You will need the following ingredients:

  • Medium – large pine cone(s) with a strong top  (Take a walk with your children and let them pick the pine cones)
  • Peanut Butter (Store Brand or whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 birdseed
  • string/twine
  • newspaper
  • Paper Plate or cutting board
  • Freezer bags

Step 1 – Spread newspaper to work on if children are assisting.

how to attract backyard birds

Step 2 – Wrap a piece of string or twine around the top of the pine cone.  You will be using the string to tie around a tree branch, so make sure the ends are long enough to tie around the branch.

 

feeding wild birds

 

Step 3 – Use a plastic knife to spread the peanut butter over the pine cone.  Normally, I use store brand peanut butter because it’s cheaper.  Unfortunately, I was out of the store brand. So I used my Jiff for this demonstration.   Spoon the peanut butter onto a paper plate.  Take this step to avoid dipping the knife that is being used on the pine cone back into the peanut butter.

Step 4 – Spread the peanut butter over the pine cone.   (Do not put peanut butter at the top of the pine cone near the string).   You don’t want the birds peaking at the string. 

 

 

wild bird feeder

 

Step 5 – Cover the peanut butter with the bird and/or sunflower seeds by spreading the seed on paper plate.  Spread it evenly on the paper plate and roll the pine cone until covered.  You can also use a plastic spoon to help fill in the gaps by spooning the seed over the pine cone.  Use your fingers to push the seeds into the peanut butter if needed.  (This can get messy with children, beware).

Step 5 – Next, place the pine cone(s) in a freezer bag for 1 hour before hanging outside.  If you’ve made more than 1 pine cone, leave the additional pine cones in the freezer until ready to use.

Step 6 – Last, hang the birdseed peanut butter pine cones in a place where you can watch the birds enjoy the treat.

Finally, keep plenty of birdseed peanut butter pinecones on hand.  They will devour the treat in a few days.

 

 

Holiday Gift Ideas for Bird Lovers

 

gift ideas for bird lovers

First, this post contains affiliate links.  If a purchase is made, I may be compensated.  All funds will be used to maintain Mother 2 Mother Blog.  Check out my other posts on attracting backyard birds.

Second, the holidays are around the corner.  Have you started your holiday shopping?  If you have a bird watcher on your list, check out our gifts for bird lovers.  Next, gift baskets don’t have to be full of toiletries, candles, and food.  Here’s a few ideas that you can place in a gift basket for a bird lover:

 

 

gift ideas for bird lovers

 

 

  • Binoculars – Consequently, every bird watcher needs a pair of binoculars.  I purchased a pair of Bushnell Falcon’s binoculars from Amazon. I had a wonder time watching the American Gold Finch eat my sunflower seeds in the garden. They devoured every seed.  These binoculars are great for beginners.  Yet, they are getting good reviews from advanced watchers too.
  • A subscription to Birds and Blooms magazine – This is one of my favorite magazines. Each magazine contains articles filled with beautiful photos of birds, butterflies and flowers.  What bird lover wouldn’t want to curl under a cozy blanket this winter browsing the magazine for gardening and bird attracting ideas for the spring and summer.  Click on the link above, they’re offering a 2 year subscription for $15.00.
  • Birdhouses –  For this particular gift, I would suggest that you do a search to determine the backyard birds in the gift recipient’s area.  Make a selection based on your finding, different birds like different types of houses.  No need to purchase a bird house for a bird that doesn’t habitat in the recipient’s backyard.
  • Bird Feeders  – Another idea, check out your local Lowes, Tractor Supply or Home Depot for feeders.  Also, different birds like different feeders.  Buy according to the birds in the gift recipient’s area.
  • Gift Certificate – Great for purchasing seed, suet, a bird book or magazine subscription.
  • CD with bird calls – Bird calls are fun to listen to when gardening or working in the yard.  Great gift for beginners who are just learning the calls.
  • Book to identify backyard birds – Mine sure has come in handy.  I enjoy studying their habits and becoming familiar with the color and markings.  I bird watch from my bedroom window during the colder months while I’m watching TV or blogging.  It’s nice to flip through a book or Google to identify the birds.
  • Packs of sunflowers – Birds love them, they’re easy to grow, and they’re so pretty in a garden.
  • Coffee Mug  – Fill a coffee mug with the recipient’s state bird with a package of coffee or tea bags.
  • A Hummingbird Feeder and Nectar – Also, I would suggest a feeder with an ant guard they love the nectar too.  It may be difficult to find  a feeder this time of year in colder regions.  Try on-line if unsuccessful locally.

Last, place your gifts for the bird lover in a gift basket.  Furthermore, purchase a basket, filler, ribbon and holiday cellophane bags from the dollar store.  This material doesn’t have to be expensive, spend your money on the gifts.  Remember, put the larger items in the back and work forward with smaller items.  If you need to hold items in place, use clear packaging tape.  Finish off your gift with a twist tie to close the bag and a bow.  Now, you’re done and your bird lover will thank you for this great gift.

Finally, we hope you enjoyed our gift ideas for bird lovers.  You may also like:  5 Amazing Gifts From Your Garden.

 

How To Bring Backyard Birds To Your Feeder

backyard birds

                                                       

First, I’m a bird watcher!  Watching birds go by, my, my, my.  Since I’ve started gardening, I’ve starting noticing the birds more.  As a matter of fact, I’ve placed several feeders throughout the yard.  And I love watching the birds enjoy the feed.  My favorites are the Blue Jays and the American Gold Finch.  The Blue Jays love peanuts and the Gold Finch love sunflower seeds.  I find their colors striking.  However, the Gold Finch loses it brilliance and turns a dull yellow after summer.  I have other posts on attracting backyard birds.  Be sure to check them out.

Male American Gold Finch

 

                                                                      Carolina Chickadees

                                                                  Red-bellied Woodpecker

 

                                                                            House Finch

Next, I’m learning the identity of various birds as I go along.  This particular feeder is located outside my bedroom window.  So, this is where I blog and watch my favorite TV shows.  Sitting by the window makes it easy to get great shots while they’re feeding.  Placing a feeder in the yard is a great way to get your children off electronics and interested in the birds.  They can learn their calls, and watch them interact with each other.  Their habits are quite interesting too.

So, to draw backyard birds to my feeder, I fill it with combination of raw peanuts, wild birdseed, and black oil sunflower seeds.  I purchased the regular birdseed from the dollar store, the raw peanuts from Amazon and the sunflower seeds from Lowes.  Tractor Supply has great prices too.  Additionally, I grew sunflowers in the garden this year.  But, they didn’t stand a chance with the American Gold Finch.


Downy Woodpecker

 


Male Cardinal

                                                                                          Blue Jay

 

As a result of the feeder, the feasting starts around 7:00 am and doesn’t stop until sunset.  Because there were no sunflower seeds left to harvest.  Now, I fill the feeder every 2 – 3 days.  I will be adding a suet feeder to the feeding station during the winter.  The birds need the fat during the colder months to help keep them warm.

Finally, I hope that you found my post on backyard birds helpful.  Follow tips and you will have feathered friends in your backyard in no time.  Also, if you missed my post on making Birdseed Cookies, just click on this link.  It’s a fun activity for the kids this winter and they will be helping nature feed our feathered friends.  Do you have your children involved in nature?  What activities do they do?

10 Reasons Why I Garden

vegetable gardens

 

I started gardening several years ago.  Planting a vegetable garden was something that I always wanted to do, but never made the time.  I love fresh vegetables, especially tomatoes.  The taste and price of tomatoes sent me into high gear.  They were expensive, hard and tasted like cardboard.  My grandfather had a garden when I was growing up.  Picking weeds out of his garden was an expectation when I was visiting.  I also remember all of his children being supplied with fresh vegetables during the summer and the week-ends spent canning the harvest.  I have other gardening tips, so please check them out.  Fortunately, I decided to plant my veggie garden and I’m glad I did.  Here’s 10 reasons why:

  1. It’s so relaxing. And I’ve learned to appreciate the open country and the quiet that it brings. 
  2. I purchased an acre of open ground years ago, and it wasn’t being using to its full potential.  
  3. The price of store brought fruits and vegetables are expensive and lack taste.
  4. I love working with my hands, and making things grow. 
  5. Saving money on my grocery bill is a plus.    
  6. Connecting with others who grow fresh vegetables and learning different techniques is rewarding. 
  7. I love walking by the produce in the grocery store smiling because I know mine is better.   
  8. I’ve learned to grow my vegetables from seed.
  9. I love having fresh vegetables, homemade salsa and sauce during the winter.   
  10. I love sharing my harvest with family and friends.

 

Not only does it taste better, but it’s less expensive to grow your own especially if you grow your plants from seed.  Yes, it’s time consuming but rewarding.  When you involve your children, they get a sense of how food grows and will make better choices in food selection.  They will also learn how to sustain themselves, and save on the grocery bill.

You don’t need land to garden to plant a vegetable garden.  Put a few planters on your deck or patio and decide which  veggies to grow.  You can grow tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, radishes and the list goes on in containers.  Do you currently garden?  If so, container or row garden?  Also, check out my other backyard vegetable gardening tips before you leave.