Planting for year round yard
Knowing which birds are
likely to visit your backyard is key to beginning to know what type
of feed to put out. Read bird checklists for your region to find out
which species and what time of year they might visit your area.
Woodpeckers are for the most part found year-round in central
California, but they do migrate, so in spring and fall expect to see
more of them. Many species of woodpeckers enjoy acorns, but many
years there are few acorns so supplemental feed of suet and nuts
make actually save woodpecker lives. Planting oaks and willows are
great ways to attract woodpeckers to your yard.
Hummingbirds enjoy many
flowering plants especially the red varieties.
Fuchsia, penstemon, and gilia are three that come to mind immediately. These are native
to the southern Sierra region and grow with little care or fuss. Try
to find plants native to your region for ease of growing. Annas
Hummingbirds live in the Kern River Valley year-round.
In central California,
there are fewer species of sparrows in summer so the bulk of their
foods should be grown for fall through spring feeding. Growing
different types of flowers from the aster family are best as many
flower in fall.
Setting up your Bird
Place your feeders in an
area where you can see them safely from the house and you will add
hours of pleasure to your daily life. There are two things to
remember, that birds need someplace to escape to and that if your
backyard is full of cats, no place may be safe. Use areas that have
some type of cover or perches; a bush, tree, or a woodpile. Create a
brush pile near your feeder to attract shy birds.
One of the easiest ways
to attract birds is to have running water available. Even in the
dead of winter this is one of the most important aspects to becoming
a magnet for birds. Make sure you keep water stations clean, in
summer many types of bacteria can foul the water and in winter small
amounts of bacteria or mold can kill cold stressed birds.
Locally, we don't have to
worry too much about mold build-up in bird baths or feeders as long
as they are cleaned frequently, but areas that have abundant
rainfall are more prone to rapid mildew. One thing to remember when
buying feeders or bird baths is how easily mildew can be removed
from them. Mold can kill our feathered friends.
Make it easy on yourself;
place your feeders in locations near hoses and your feed bins. If it
becomes a chore dragging hoses or spreading seed then you might
neglect to refill and clean your feeders properly.
WASH YOUR HANDS BEFORE AND
Tips for a healthy
Put bird baths where
droppings cannot fall into them. Don't place them under feeders or
Rinse and scrub your
birdbaths as often as possible. Clean out bird droppings
Once a month, scrub with
a light bleach solution (1/4 cup of bleach in 2 gallons of water),
rinse thoroughly and refill.
Types of supplemental
Sparrows - Wild bird
seed with millet and sunflower on platform feeders or scattered on
Finches - Thistle seed
in sock or tube feeders and regular wild bird seed on platform
feeders or scattered on dry ground.
Most birds - Black-oil
sunflower seed in tube, hopper or platform feeders.
chickadees, titmice, and grosbeaks - thick-shelled gray-striped
sunflower seed and shelled whole nuts.
Hummingbirds - 4 cups
of water to one cup of sugar - boiled then cooled. No dye is ever
Orioles - 4 cups of
water to one cup of sugar - boiled then cooled. Slices of fresh
Commercial suet in suet cages - peanut suet is the favorite of my
yard birds. Raw unsalted peanuts or shelled whole nuts in peanut
Store your seed in a
clean, dry, air-tight container, such as a metal or plastic garbage
can. Hot weather can make suet rancid and unhealthy for birds so
store all suet in the refrigerator until ready to use. Store clean
boiled sugar solution in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Tips for a healthy
Disinfect feeders every
few weeks or sooner if needed (if they get wet or moldy). Scrub with
a weak bleach solution (1/4 cup of bleach to 2 gallons of warm
water). Rinse and allow feeders to dry before refilling.
Use hummingbird feeders
that are easy to clean. Wash hummingbird feeders thoroughly with
hot, soapy water, and rinse completely, every time you refill them.
[Every day in hot weather and every three days in cooler weather. ]
Get some spatulas and
brushes and keep them with your bird supplies for easier cleaning.
Shake your seed feeders to loosen compacted seed before you refill
them. Dump out wet or moldy seed then clean the feeder before
Clean all hulls off
platform feeders and out of seed trays daily.
Move your feeding station
when the ground beneath it becomes covered with seed hulls and
Rake, sweep or wash the
old site to remove hulls. Turn up the soil to refresh the area.
If you provide suet,
reduce the amount you offer in hot weather. Runny suet can stick to
birds' feathers. Use rendered suet or heat-resilient suet blocks
that are available commercially.
Don't use petroleum-based
products on your feeder poles or wires to hinder squirrels, ants, or
other feeder-marauding creatures. Petroleum (jelly, oil, grease) is
impossible for birds to preen or wash out. Squirrel baffles and
non-poisonous ant guards are available commercially.
If you see a sick or dead
bird at your feeders, stop your feeding for a few weeks to keep
healthy birds from being infected. Remove and discard in the trash
any dead birds unless you suspect it may have died of West Nile
Virus: wrap and refrigerate the bird and call: 1-800-WNV-BIRD
Spring Birding Notes
Summer Birding Notes
Fall Birding Notes
Winter Birding Notes
KRV birding guide...Bob
Barnes local area guide to bird locations and seasons.
Venture Out into
the Wilds with local volunteer researchers
Bird Banding on the Kern River Preserve
and South Fork Kern River
Invasive Species Information
Research in the
Kern River Valley
Important Bird Areas
How YOU can
Kern Valley Pride Day
Travel Information & Maps