Make the ID: Downy vs Hairy Woodpecker

Two woodpeckers who look very much alike are busy inspecting tree bark around North America looking for food. Both look natty in their checkered plumage, but how to tell them apart? Beak Size: The most pronounced field mark is beak size. Downys have small beaks – almost unnaturally so, and Hairys have much larger thorn-like beaks. Size: Hairys […]

Why Are Birds So Quiet Now?

For months now, early every morning the songs and calls would Molting Northern Cardinal Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel start – sometimes before dawn – and the raucous, beautiful and energetic bird sounds from birds like Carolina Wrens and this Northern Cardinal continued filling the soundscape until sundown.  Then one day….suddenly the yard was oddly quiet.  While some juvenile birds were still […]

3 Billion Birds Gone – What Can I Do To Help?

If you are asking this question after reading about the study showing 3 billion birds are gone since 1970,  you White-throated Sparrow Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel are not alone as the enormity of the numbers of birds lost is difficult to comprehend.  Some of the hardest hit birds are ones we see most often  – White-throated Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Eastern and Western […]

Helping Birds: Create Habitat For Them

Mature Native Plant Meadows in a Small Yard Having safe and undisturbed habitat is critical to keeping our birds and planet healthy.  Research published last year by Cornell Lab of Ornithology showing 3 Billion Birds have been lost and the enormous impact this has had on bird populations over the past few decades cited habitat loss as the […]

Helping Birds: Plant Native Trees

Baltimore Oriole Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel What better way to be outside, productive, socially distanced and helping birds than gardening!  Spring is here whether or not we are sheltering inside, and now is a great opportunity to make progress on your native plant garden. Being in nature benefits all of us, and  when we are limited in what […]

Birdwatching During the Corona Virus

Birdwatching Solo Photo Credit: John Chao If you’re sheltering at home, or at the very least practicing social distancing – and especially if you live in an urban environment – getting outside to see spring migration may seem like a challenge at best. Migration is starting, and is it safe or even wise to go birding? It’s critical […]

BOOK REVIEW: Birdsong For The Curious Naturalist: Your Guide to Listening, by Donald Kroodsma

Released just as spring migration is starting, this timely book bringsunderstanding and learning birdsong to a new level. Don Kroodsma is a world-renown authority on birdsong. And apart from understanding it he knows the positive effect of an immersive nature experience. Birdsong For the Curious Naturalist opens with the line “birdsong fills our lives with beauty and […]

How Birds Survive the Winter

  Hairy Woodpecker Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila It’s cold and windy outside, a heated birdbath offers relief to dehydrated birds, and the ever-growing brush pile I started a few years ago is getting a lot of use by birds darting inside to huddle and find respite. I am delighted that the little native plant meadow I planted four years […]

Fall Garden Cleanup….Or Not?

Song Sparrow in native plant meadow Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Putting your garden to bed for the winter can mean clipping, raking and maybe throwing things out. But if you want to maintain your property for birds and wildlife, think first before you do any of these things, as birds and wildlife depend on what […]

In The News: 3 Billion Birds Lost

Last week, a group of conservation organizations led by Cornell Lab of Red-winged Blackbird Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Ornithology released a stunning report of a detailed study which shows a loss of 3 billion birds in North America in 50 years.  It’s a staggering amount of birds – a net loss of 29% of the breeding […]

Don’t Forget the Water!

Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Fresh water for birds is important year round, and as the summer heats up, water is a priority. When temperatures soar, birds need fresh water to avoid dehydration, keep cool and bathe to keep their feathers in good shape.  Fortunately, there are many different ways you can provide fresh water whether you have a […]

Uh Oh, I Found a Baby Bird – What Do I Do?

Northern Cardinal Fledgling Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Nesting season’s most asked question is: “I found a baby bird on the ground – what do I do? ” Well, that’s not entirely scientific, but the question gets asked a lot right now! We expect to see baby birds in the nest being fed and cared for, but what […]

Berry-Important Bushes for Backyard Birds

Gray Catbird Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel It’s time to plan your spring gardening.  Whether you are just starting a native plant garden or already have native plants in your yard, we have some ideas that can make your garden a bird magnet year round by providing food and shelter regardless of the season.  Diversity is critical to providing the […]

Get a Headstart on Spring By Learning Bird Calls Now

Gray Catbird/Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Up your birding ID game this spring by starting now to learn to ID birds by their songs. Often birds are only heard, and by recognizing their calls you can easily add more birds to your list. Not all birds have calls that are instantly recognizable – like the unmistakable call […]

Is Your Backyard Ready For Winter Birds?

Black-capped Chickadees/ Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila As temperatures drop, it’s time to winterize your backyard to make it a popular and safe place for birds. Birds need to stay warm and have adequate food and shelter during cold or stormy weather.  What does your backyard provide?  Here are some of the things you can provide for birds to […]

Make a Difference – Sign Up For the Christmas Bird Count!

Have a blast birdwatching and make a contribution to science by joining a Christmas Bird Count in your area.  Photo Credit: Camilla Cerea/Audubon This marks the 119th year since Audubon co-opted the annual bird shoot and make it into a much bird-friendlier bird count! This year you can join over 70,000 people in the US, Canada, Latin America, […]

In the News: Pesticide That Makes Birds Lose Their Way on Migration

  Indigo Bunting Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Its important to be gardening with organic fertilizers and pesticides, and to keep chemicals out of your bird-friendly backyard. If you find this difficult to do, be aware that some pesticides contain neonicotinoids – a type of neuro active synthetic insecticide chemically similar to nicotine – which affects much […]

A Safe Backyard For Nesting Birds

A Safe Backyard for Nesting Birds     Northern Cardinal Fledgeling Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel Nesting season is upon us, and we are thinking about our backyard and gardens from the birds perspective.  Here are few things the birds you are attracting right now will appreciate your doing for them!   1 – With baby […]

Complete Your Winter Backyard With a Roost Box

Complete Your Winter Backyard With a Roost Box    Chickadee checking out a roost box Nest boxes and roost boxes are important components of a well-maintained bird-friendly backyard. In winter, birds really need shelter from cold, winds and predators. Leaving nest boxes up may help, but during really cold times, birds can best maintain their body […]

Vegetarian Suet Recipe

Vegetarian Suet Recipe   Photo Credit: Stan Tekeila Everybody likes a little variety! Whether or not you are a vegetarian yourself, you may want to try this recipe for suet which doesn’t use animal fat.  It has the nutrition birds need and birds seems to prefer this one to regular suet.  And it lends itself […]

Setting Up For Hummingbirds

   Setting Up For Hummingbirds Rufous -tailed Hummingbird Hummingbirds are on their way to you! In fact, they may already be in your area waiting for your backyard to be ready for them to nest and live in this summer. Sure you can put out a hummingbird feeder, but with a little planning and innovation, […]

FAMILY FUN: Feeding Hummingbirds

  Hummingbird feeders are a great project for birders of all ages.  Seed feeders attract many different types of birds, from sparrows to cardinals  and finches and more.  But feeding hummingbirds requires a little more thought and is very rewarding, as once hummers find your feeder, they will be there consistently for you to see.   […]

Make Your Backyard a Summer Bird Haven

Water is often the main attraction in the summer as temperatures rise and birds become both thirsty and overheated.  In hot weather, fresh water helps birds keep hydrated, keep their body temperature down and keeps their feathers in optimum condition. Often clean, safe-to-visit water isn’t readily available, so leaving fresh water in a shallow basin […]