Tag Archives: bird bath

chickadee in birdhouse

Getting Birds to Come to The Backyard

Wildlife is abundant in Florida.  Birds are everywhere so getting them to come to the backyard is not difficult.  They enjoy the same things here as they did when I lived in the North.  If you’d like them to visit regularly, give them a proper welcome. They need food, water, trees and places to land and hide.

Birds Love Water

Like us, birds need water to drink. Birds also love to play in the water.  It looks like playing, but they are cleaning their feathers. They dip their heads and swiftly shake from head to toe while fluffing out their plumage.

In the north cardinals are more rarely observed than they are in Florida. It was a wonderful sight when they landed in my snowy winter yard. Here they are everywhere. But they are still just as afraid and skittish. Any movement will scare them off.

I captured (not so great) video of this red cardinal splashing around in my makeshift birdbath. I have a good view from my home office area and with the windows open, I can hear the birds land in the birdbath. He stayed there preening for a good five minutes, but the video is short.

This cheap “bird bath” was thrown together one day using a large plastic plant saucer with a brick in the center (or a rock would work). The brick helps hold the saucer in place and gives the birds a place to stand. Birds don’t like deep water and I don’t like the price of real birdbaths, so we are both happy! Sometimes birds will line up waiting for one bird to finish for the next to have his turn – like these gray catbirds waiting for the cardinal to finish up.

bird bath
The Gray Catbird waits for the cardinal to be finished.

I’ve also seen robins, mockingbirds, goldfinches, a thrush, brown wren, and bluejays at the water.  Change the water daily, and put it in the sun to remove mold in summer.  The water can get pretty hot in summer, so it needs to be changed more often.

Feed the Birds

A winter ritual for me when I lived in New Hampshire was to stock my big metal barrel with sunflower seeds. I had to keep a heavy rock on top so the black bears wouldn’t get into it.  Feeding the birds in winter was a nice thing to do.  Here in Florida I will not feed them, except to provide plants that may have berries or fruit they eat.

In the North I would make my own suet, which the birds LOVED. Suet is not used in summer (unless you buy the non-melting kind), nor is it used in Florida where it will go bad quickly.  If you decide to make your own, you’d better make a lot – it goes fast.

hanging tray feeder
Going Green, recycled tray feeder for birds

The tray feeder is something I will try in my Florida backyard.   I don’t plan to buy seeds for it.  Seeds will draw squirrels and the birds don’t need feeding here.

The tray feeder will be used for old bread and fruit bits that some birds may like. When pulling worms from garden vegetables (think big juicy tomato hornworms) or grubs from the grass they can be plopped into this feeder and birds will swoop down and scoff them up!  I already have the shepherds hooks .

Trees and Bushes

Birds like to have a place to hide, or land, which is up off the ground. I have two cats, but they have never caught a bird in this yard. I had a cat once that was an absolute killer, but these cats are not. The birds seem to know this because they come to my yard even when the cats are sleeping near the garden.

Trees, like the Dahoon Holly which grows next to my property, are perfect places for birds to gather. My yard has scrawny oak trees and a few palm trees, but the birds love the tangled mass of branches right next door.

The Dahoon Holly tree is not something I was familiar with. This wild specimen grows hanging berry clumps and draws the birds to feed.  It’s maze of branches give the birds a great place to rest and feel safe.

Dahoon holly tree with red berries
Dahoon Holly

Bird Houses and Shelter

The previous section pretty much covers shelter in my opinion, but some people like to add a birdhouse to the yard.

I used to have one and watched the chickadees build a nest inside. If I see a chickadee in Florida it won’t be the northern Black-capped chickadee (in my photo), it will be the Carolina Chickadee.

chickadee in birdhouse
New Hampshire – Black-capped chickadee at birdhouse

Then there are the curious big birds that stroll through.
Don’t you love the Sandhill Cranes? They are the coolest birds. These three come strolling through the yard regularly, and they are not afraid!

(For great photos of backyard Florida birds visit the CatandTurtle blog. It’s how I discovered that the gray birds in my photo were catbirds.)

tiny watermelon on the vine

Here’s What’s Happening in My Florida Yard in May

Aside from the fact that the raccoons are helping themselves to all my tomatoes… red and green… I am still attempting to grow a garden.  The raised bed is filling slowly with dirt and compost, and right now I have cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, bell peppers, and eggplant growing.

So far I am eating tomatoes and cukes.  Still waiting for the peppers, squash and eggplant.

raised bed gardening
New Plants in My Raised Bed Garden

None of my vegetable plants were doing very well.  They had plenty of sun and water.  The problem was the soil.  I have been buying bags of organic dirt, but I don’t think it had any type of compost in it.  So I  bought a few bags of compost, and that has helped. I had started my own compost in a pail on my porch and I added that to the raised bed.  What I really need is a composter.

Now my older eggplant is flowering again.  I have some green peppers and can see little cucumbers beginning to grow. But I need more dirt and compost.

eggplant flower growing
Maybe I’ll Get an Eggplant
cucumber blossom on vine
Tiny Cuke

The Rose bush is blooming, with small, but beautiful roses.

I must go outside and check them every day, because the flowers don’t last. Just the other day I got a pure white rose on this bush! But I waited too long and lost the opportunity to get a photo.  Roses are difficult to grow and with the humidity here, I’m afraid of black spot – or whatever they get.

pink rose
Pink Rose with Peach Center

Down toward the back of my house the watermelon vine is getting longer, and baby watermelons are popping out along the stem.

tiny watermelon on the vine
Baby Watermelon

Since I’ve amended the soil with compost, the peppers are doing better. The bells are not very large yet, but I’m afraid the raccoons will pick them before I get to.

green bell peppers growing
Finally, my peppers are growing!

It’s been so dry here in Florida for months. This tropical location is in need of rain. We’ve had very few rainy days, and there have been fires all over the place.

Because of this, I decided to add a cheap bird bath to the corner of my garden. Using a big plastic pot saucer, I added some broken bricks left over from the building of our patio, and filled it with water.   It sits on the corner of the raised bed.  Each day I spray it out and refill while I’m watering the garden.

I do get birds who drink and bathe in the thing. A female cardinal especially seems to like it, and a Cowbird (I think) had a nice long bath the other day. Of course my cats drink from it as well!

bird bath
My Cheap Bird Bath

I know that if I was still living in New Hampshire, gardening would hopefully begin this Memorial Day weekend. Their garden veggies won’t be coming in for a couple more months.