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Nature’s Best By Elma Chapman - Backyard Birds

There’s a rainbow in my back yard. It’s orange and red and blue and black and yellow and green and white. Whenever I look out the kitchen window I’m likely to see a flash of color as someone speeds to or away from one of my feeders.

The cardinals are here year-round. In the winter they don’t mind company, but in the summer they are quite territorial and chase other cardinals away. That’s the red.

The orange and black are the orioles. Two years ago someone revealed to me the secret of having orioles in your yard and I’ve had bunches of them both summers since. It’s not oranges, as many people think. They like those, but what keeps them coming back is grape jelly. You can buy oriole feeders that have little bowls for the jelly. An ant moat is a nice accessory, because ants enjoy a little grape jelly, too. An ant moat is an inexpensive little bowl you hang between the feeder and whatever it’s attached to. You fill it with water and the ants can’t get to the jelly. Put up an oriole feeder and if the habitat is right, you’ll have orioles. You’ll probably also have raccoons, so I bring the jelly in each night. Having a detachable bowl is necessary so you don’t have to bring the whole feeder in each night and it also makes cleanup a lot easier. And if I don’t get the jelly back out early enough the following morning I definitely hear about it from the orioles!

Yellow and black are my goldfinches. They like thistle seed. Most bird seed I only put out in winter, when I feel the birds really need a little extra help, but since I feed them all winter when they are drab olive, I like to keep feeding the goldfinches when they molt back to their bright yellow feathers. And they seem to think that the ant moat on the oriole feeder is their special drinking place. Nobody seems too taken with my current birdbath, so I think I’ll try a different design.

Green is from the hummingbirds. They like my feeder on the front porch. Sugar water is so easy to provide. You don’t need any special food that is sold in stores. Just boil sugar and water in a ratio of four parts water to one part sugar. Let it cool and then fill the feeder. You might want to increase the amount of sugar the first time, just to get them conditioned to coming to your feeder, but four to one is the usual amount. They also like flower nectar and I often see them by my coral bells. It seems funny because that is such a tiny flower and the hummingbirds have such long beaks, but it works for them so I guess I shouldn’t question it. If you’re going to buy a hummingbird feeder, be sure to look for one that comes apart easily for cleaning. Some are quite pretty and artistic, but a real pain to keep clean. Avoid those!







My newest visitors are the bluebirds. One of my husband’s friends makes bluebird houses and he offered us one. It’s quite an ingenious design, made from a PVC pipe with a removable top for cleaning out between nestings, side ventilation because it has to be in the full sun, and a 1½-inch hole, just the right size for a bluebird. He gave us details on what to expect: first they come and check it out, walk around on the roof maybe, and peek inside. Eventually they’ll build a nest. It’s about time for the second nesting to start. Bluebirds will nest up to three times in a summer. We put the box up around noon and within two hours there was a bluebird checking it out! I didn’t notice the bluebird the next day, but yesterday there was a male and a female both inside at the same time. I’m taking that as a good sign!

These certainly aren’t rare birds locally, but they definitely bring color to our yard. And if you can’t get out much for whatever reason, watching the birds from a window is one way to enjoy nature from indoors.