Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

We live on a wooded ridge, and have numerous feeders & trays of seeds out for the birds. The seeds we offer include Black Oil Sunflower, Safflower, Nyjer/Niger (also incorrectly called Thistle seed), and this year we’ve added corn AND the seed cakes in the previous post. We originally added the Safflower because there were some reports that squirrels didn’t like them – These small white seeds are high in protein and fat but apparently have a bitter taste that blackbirds, starlings, grackles and squirrels generally don’t like.

This year we added the corn in shallow pans on the ground under pole feeders to see if it would deter the squirrels from going after the suet/seed cakes. In the beginning, the squirrels checked out the corn…but then went right back to the suet/seed cakes.

Now we seem to be ahead of the squirrel problem. We’ve placed all hanging suet/seed cakes on the same pole and put a baffle under the cakes. The squirrel cannot reach them. And just today, I saw one feasting on corn under the pole.  Score: People 1  –  Squirrels 0   :-)

Last year we added heaters to two of our many birdbaths. All of the birds & squirrels appreciate the open water when the temps slide below freezing. We found the heaters at a farm supply store. Ours look almost like this one. The unit simply lays on the bottom of the bird bath & keeps water available. It never gets too hot, as the thermostat simply keeps the water from freezing. You can see when it’s on, as you’ll see steam rising from the birdbath. We’re very glad we got them. They cost around $30.00.

The list of our January Yard birds is as follows:

  • Northern Cardinal
  • Carolina Wren
  • Blue Jay
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • American Robin
  • Northern Flicker
  • Dark-eyed Junco
  • American Goldfinch
  • House Finch
  • White-throated Sparrow
  • Harris’s Sparrow
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Mourning Dove
  • Pine Siskin
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • Golden-crowned Kinglet
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • White-breasted Nuthatch
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Brown Creeper
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk
  • American Crow

I’ll be adding to this list as they appear or as we recall what we left off. ;-)

FYI: Yes, I know this post was supposed to be about homemade doggie biscuits, but I wanted to get the birds in there. Next up, Homemade Doggie Treats!


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Because our family decided to exchange homemade gifts this year & because we are avid birders, I decided to try my hand at making bird seed cakes. It turned out to be a great success. The basics of this recipe are lard, peanut butter & cornmeal. Other ingredients may be added as you choose. (In addition, I also tried my hand at doggie treats. Stay tuned…that will be up next in this space.)

This is the recipe I used originally – as printed in Birds & Blooms Magazine.

Bird Cupcakes

1 Cup Shortening

2 Cups Chunky Peanut Butter

Melt these together for approximately 1 minute in the microwave.

Mix in 5 cups of Cornmeal.

Fill cupcake tins and top with your choice of nuts, birdseed or dried berries. Cool in the refrigerator. To give as a gift, arrange on a plate or stack and then wrap in cellophane. (I placed several in one of my homemade baskets & put cellophane over the whole thing.) Attach a recipe card so your recipient can make more. Add a bow & you have an instant gift!


Our birds did not take to this right away. So when I made it the second time, I made these changes & now they’ve been arguing over it. ;-)

1 cup lard

2 cups chunky peanut butter

4 cups cornmeal

2/3 C. Sunflower Seeds

2/3 C. Thistle Seeds

Melt the lard and peanut butter. Add the cornmeal & stir to mix. Add the birdseed & mix well.

Fill cupcake pans that have liners. Cool cupcakes in refrigerator or freezer. If the mixture hardens in your microwave safe bowl, it may be reheated to soften. I have also put the mixture in plastic trays that were saved from purchased suet cakes. That works quite well also.  One of the reasons for using cupcakes is that you can easily sit them around in various places on your patio or in your yard.

And as you can see, the birds now really like them – they were especially popular during our last snow storm.  :-)

So something that started out to be about making homemade gifts for family turned into a good deed for our birds. I think we’ll branch out now and try some new and different recipes.  Here’s a list of things you can use from A Home for Wild Birds.

  • Raisins or Currants
  • Dates
  • Shelled peanuts
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Birdseed mix
  • Black oil sunflower seeds
  • Molds to shape your creations
  • String or yarn
  • Lard, shortening or rendered suet
  • Crunchy peanut butter
  • Molasses
  • Oatmeal
  • Stale bread, breadcrumbs or crackers
  • Cornmeal or cornbread mix
  • Cream of wheat
  • Graham crackers
  • Flour (whole wheat flour preferred)

Have fun! Your birds will thank you.  :-)

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It was a day for birding.

The temperature was 37° Fahrenheit.
The mister and I took a drive to Sooner Lake in northern Oklahoma. We saw the usual Buffleheads, Goldeneyes, Mallards, Coots, Cormorants, Scaups, and Gulls – plus a few Harriers. Oh yes, and one Canada Goose acting strange…swimming around with his neck level with the water and his head in the water…we had to watch it for a while to figure out what it was. And the ducks are definitely pairing up…lots of head bobbing & squabbles among the Buffleheads.

But the one surprise for the day came when we heard a Loon – even before we saw it. We watched it swim and dive for a while before we eventually saw it come up with a fish. And here was the kicker, that fish (possibly a Hybrid Striped Bass) was at least as big as the Loon’s head. The drizzle and fog did little to help me out with photography. The poor Loon wrestled that fish for at least 15-20 minutes – even stopping mid-way through to do a little wing-flap. Part way through the tussle, a gull checked in to see what was going on. The Loon finally gave up and went away hungry. But perhaps it learned a little something. ;-)

Here are a few Cool Facts about Loons from All About Birds.

  • The Common Loon swims underwater to catch fish, propelling itself with its feet. It swallows most of its prey underwater. The loon has sharp, rearward-pointing projections on the roof of its mouth and tongue that help it keep a firm hold on slippery fish.
  • Migrating Common Loons occasionally land on wet highways or parking lots, mistaking them for rivers and lakes. They become stranded without a considerable amount of open water for a long takeoff. A loon may also get stranded on a pond that is too small.
  • Loons are water birds, only going ashore to mate and incubate eggs. Their legs are placed far back on their bodies, allowing efficient swimming but only awkward movement on land.
  • The Common Loon is flightless for a few weeks after molting all of its wing feathers at the same time in midwinter.

I can’t wait until the Loons come into full breeding colors. They’re such beautiful birds & their call is mesmerizing!

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“We like to praise birds for flying.  But how much of it is actually flying, and how much of it is just sort of coasting from that last flap?”

Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey

Just returned from a one week photo trip to Southwest Oklahoma – with the destination being Hackberry Flat Wetlands.
The wetlands area includes several canals which draw in shorebirds & ducks. The wildlife department has done a nice
job of leaving tall grasses between most of the canals and the road, which makes viewing easy from your auto.

The grasses also make a nice blind for photography.  I was very happy to come away with half way decent shots of those listed in
the title…and a few more.

  • Avocets
  • White Faced Ibis
  • Black-necked Stilt (It had a broken wing.) :-(
  • Dowitchers (Long Billed or Short Billed or Both. I still have trouble telling them apart.)
  • Sandpipers (Least, Western, Semipalmated & Pectoral)
  • Egrets (Great White, Cattle, Snowy)
  • Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Juvenile)
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Yellowlegs (Lesser & Greater – I think) ;-)
  • Pied-billed Grebes
  • Ducks (Including Blue Winged Teal & Green Winged Teal)
  • Northern Harrier
  • Red Tailed Hawk
  • Prairie Falcon
  • American Kestral
  • Meadowlarks
  • Scissortail
  • Killdeer
  • Red Wing Blackbirds
  • Cliff Swallows
  • Doves (Mourning & Eurasian)
  • Loggerhead Shrike
  • Quail
  • Turkeys
  • Vultures

If you enjoy birding , I suggest you visit the Hackberry Flat Wetlands. Migration season is upon us and now is a good time to see some unusual species. I’m just as sure that Spring would be a great time to visit.

Dowitchers: I believe they are the Short-billed, but not certain.

Long-billed Dowitchers

White-faced Ibis (Juvenile)

White-faced Ibis (Juvenile)

And if you’re looking for a place to camp while you’re in the area, Great Plains State Park dishes out a fantastic sunset. :-)

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Have you ever noticed how many bird sayings there are?

  • Strictly for The Birds
  • Bird Brained
  • Birds of a Feather
  • A Birds Eye View
  • Free as a Bird
  • A Little Birdie Told Me
  • Wise as An Owl (I like that one!)

I’m sure that’s not all of them, but you get the picture. And do you know why there are so many bird sayings?

Me either. But here are some birds got our attention on yesterday’s road trip to Salt Plains State Park.

  • Black Necked Stilt
  • Bald Eagle
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Greater Yellowlegs
  • Semipalmated Sandpiper
  • Avocet
  • Least Sandpipers
  • Stilt Sandpiper
  • Roadrunner
  • Northern Harrier Hawk
  • White Faced Ibis

Yesterday was a day that was strictly for the birds!

American Avocet

American Avocet



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I would. A return trip to the Arkansas River last night proved that. There were over a thousand gathered & resting along the banks – such an amazing sight. And today, on a drive to a nearby city – some 70 miles, many more were observed in a large rural, road side pond.  There had to be over a thousand on that pond and hundreds more in the sky, who had rested and were moving on. I’ve read reports that there are over 30,000 at Great Salt Plains in northwestern Oklahoma. Sounds like a trip over there is in order very soon!

The American White Pelican, one of two species of pelicans in North America, is one of the world’s largest birds.  They can weigh as much as 30 pound and have wingspans that can reach 110 inches. Adult birds are primarily white except for its black-edged wings that are visible in flight. It has a long neck, a long, flattened orange bill with an expandable pouch and short orange legs with big webbed feet.

It was an incredible day of bird discovery and sightings. Some of these we normally only see on the Texas gulf coast.

  • American White Pelicans
  • Ibis (White Faced I think)
  • Several Sandpipers
  • Osprey (!!) In a tree top in a rural area among fields…no water for several miles. Completely fantastic and strange sighting.
  • Cormorants
  • Snowy Egrets
  • Great White Egrets
  • Various Ducks
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Kildeer
  • Plus the normal doves, sparrows, blackbirds, etc.

Seriously an incredible day of viewing…and that wasn’t even the goal for the day.  But it was the icing!

Plethora, I tell you…..plethora!

A few of the thousands of American White Pelicans ascend from a pond in north central Oklahoma, on September 16, 2009.

A few of the thousands of American White Pelicans ascend from a pond in north central Oklahoma, on September 16, 2009.

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The pelicans have arrived in Oklahoma. Make that the American White Pelican. There were somewhere between 600 – 1000 on the Arkansas River (below Kaw Dam) yesterday, joining forces with hundreds of Great White & Snowy Egrets. It was a feeding frenzy on the river. I filled a 2GB card with around 400 images & will go back this evening to see what else is happening. Stand by for updates.

"Listen up, birds...just duck your head in the water like this & come up with dinner. Got that?

"Listen up, birds...just duck your head in the water like this & come up with dinner. Got that?

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