Bird Feeding

People feed wild birds to bring beauty to their outdoor spaces, for therapy or relaxation and for educational purposes for themselves or others. Some put bird feeders in their yards, hang them from trees, and put them on fences and in gardens or patios. Wild birds can be fed in your gardens or patios anytime of the year.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimate in the spring there are approximately 10 billion wild birds in the United States and in the fall approximately 15 billion wild birds. This large increase in the fall is due to the fact that all the babies will have hatched.

Of those that feed birds, approximately $3 billion a year is spent on bird food by backyard hobbyists. They also spend $800 million a year on accessories for birds such as bird houses, bird baths, bird feeders, and other birding accessories.

There are all types of feeders. Here are just a few examples of the types of feeders that are available. There are also many more varieties of bird feeders constructed of many different materials.

  • Suet feeder
  • Open hopper
  • Single tube feeder
  • Twin tube feeder
  • Free standing feeder
  • Circular bird feeder
  • Liquid feeder
  • Fruit feeder
  • Platform feeder
  • Ground feeder

There are different types of feeders in relation to the types of birds you are trying to attract and the region of the country you are located in.

For example, the Blue Jay, can be found in almost every state in the country depending on the time of year. Blue Jays like a variety of feeders and a variety of bird food.

The types of bird feeders Blue Jays prefer vary in size and type. They like tube feeders, covered platform feeders, suet feeders, large open hoppers. They also like to eat on the ground to forage for whatever they can find.

Blue Jays like to eat seeds; safflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds and hulled sunflower seeds. Here is a list of some of the other foods that Blue Jays enjoy to eat.

  • Cracked corn
  • Fruit
  • Mealworms
  • Milo
  • Millet
  • Peanuts
  • Peanut hearts
  • Suet

There are all types of bird seed and bird food available on the market today. It is best to know, as in our example, the Blue Jay, the types of environment for housing and the types of food they prefer. Most feed stores that also sell bird see will be able to help you with the types of food and feeders for the birds in your region of the county.

Proper Bird Care for Your Backyard

Bird Houses

If you didn’t clean your bird houses last fall after all the birds left, then now is the time to do so. Here are some things you should do to make sure your bird houses are ready for the new arrivals this spring.

  • First of all, if you have followed me at all, you will probably have a bird house with a hinged roof. This just makes it easier to get at the old nest in there and clean things out.
  • Using rubber gloves, lift the roof of your bird house up and clean out the old nest and any loose material still left over.
  • Make a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water to clean your bird house. Yes it is safe. This will clean the house and prevent disease. Remember bird safety is the goal here.
  • Using a stiff bristled brush scrub the inside of the bird house with the solution that you made. Be sure to clean the house thoroughly.
  • Once you have finished cleaning your bird houses, rinse them off thoroughly using just water. As long as you rinse the houses well, using the bleach solution is no problem at all.
  • Make sure your houses are completely dry though before you put them back up.

Bird Feeders

There are so many different types of bird feeders out there for sale and they all should be cleaned from time to time. Depending on the feeders you are using, after a while, you will have bird droppings and old decomposing seeds at the bottom of your feeder. This all breeds disease that will hurt your birds.

However taking some time to do a little spring maintenance on your feeders will go a long way to keeping your birds healthy, safe and coming back year after year.

There are a number of feeders on the market today

Platform feeders are just what they say and rather straight forward. Same with window feeders. Hopper and house type feeders are usually harder to get at depending on their design and of course you have the tube feeders just to name a few.

In most cases, unless your feeder is in really bad shape, you can get by with a stiff brush and soapy water to clean them out. Depending on the type of feeder you have, you may have to lift the roof off or in the case of a tube feeder take it apart, but cleaning them out is not a big chore.

If your feeders have gotten really bad, then I would suggest using a cleaning solution that consists of 9 parts water and 1 part bleach to soak your feeder in. In this case, once you have cleaned the feeder with soapy water, just soak the feeder in this solution for a few minutes. Maybe 10 to 15 minutes will do just fine.

Be sure to rinse your feeders out thoroughly when you have finished cleaning them and be sure they have completely dried out before you use them again.

Another thing to remember when cleaning your feeders is to clean the ground below them. The seeds and droppings that have fallen to the ground will decompose as well and some birds will eat off of the ground, so if you really care about bird safety in your backyard, do clean up the mess there as well.

Hummingbird Feeders

Hopefully you have cleaned these up last fall before you put them away however I do know how busy we can all get and I do know how time can get away from us all, so if you didn’t clean them last fall, then when you are doing your spring cleaning is a perfect time to get this done and here is how you do it.

If you have followed me at all and have taken my advice, then you will probably have a hummingbird feeder that is easy to take apart. Because of the solution you make to feed them and depending on the air temperature outside, their food can get moldy quite quickly and if you have tight spots in the feeder it could be difficult to get to the mold.

Usually you can use a solution consisting of 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water to soak you feeder in. While soaking you can use a brush to make sure you get it completely clean.

If you have waited too long and the feeder is really bad you can us a solution consisting of 1/4 cup of bleach to a gallon of water to clean your feeders. Soak the feeders in the solution for a while and then try to brush out the mold. Be sure to use rubber gloves.

In each case, no matter what solution you have used, be sure that you rinse your feeders completely before you use them.

Bird Baths

Whether you have a heated bird bath that you have used all winter long or an unheated one that you are going to begin using again, I would make cleaning them out as part of your spring cleaning routine.

Just use a stiff brush and hot soapy water to clean them out. Again be sure to rinse them well before you use them.

So… get all your spring maintenance and bird care chores completed early and then just sit back and enjoy your backyard birds.

You can follow these links if you are looking for ideas and suggestions for attracting birds [http://www.grandpas-backyard-fun.com/attracting-birds.html] to your backyard or if you want additional information on wild bird seed.

Enjoy the Outdoors With Your Pet

There are dozens of tents available in different sizes, colors and style suitable for any pet there is. If you love to travel and you want your dog or cat to be a part of your journey, then you could invest in a good quality portable dog/cat tent. The following are two major categories of pet tents mainly for dogs and cats and other premium quality tents available in the market today.

Original Pet Tent – Consist of two external fiberglass poles arc over the top and crisscross from corner to corner for support. A multi-purpose pet tent which can be used on hotels, camper vans, and airports.

Pet tents – Large for Parrots, Ferrets, Cats, Little Dogs: can accommodate birds, ferrets, guinea pigs and a number of other household pets. Collapses for storage and pops open for continued use.

When trying to buy portable tents online, try to be specific and be very detailed with the tent you want to buy. Dog and cat tents come in different sizes, shapes, colors and style. Owners should choose the tent that perfectly suits their pets unique taste for a new snug since this will become his temporary hiding place during camping and other outdoor trips. Generally, these tents are easy to set up because of its pop open feature and its also takes less time to fold since its collapsible.There are also much more features such as waterproof tents, durability, etc. which you can choose from the store in order to get the most appropriate features and options you are seeking. If you want to get top of the line dog and cat tents, then you should go for branded ones however, those kind of tents do not come cheap yet provide the most desirable comfort and safety for your pet.

Having a Pet During Childhood

  • An Activity Partner. Having a pet, a dog for example, helps a child become active. A dog encourages a child to walk, run, play and frolic in the sun or even dance in the rain keeping the child away from becoming inactive. Such activities help develop a child’s physical and motor skills.
  • Encourages Good Social Behavior. A child is often encouraged to befriend another child with a pet whether that is a dog, a cat, a bird or rabbit. Pets encourage a typically shy child to become socially active and thus gain confidence and win many playmates and friends. Confidence could help a child become ready to eventually face a tougher adult world.
  • Helps in Emotional Development. Having a pet enforces the responsibility taught by parents to a child through the love and care that has to be shown to the pet. The involved tasks of course may depend on what the child can or cannot do at a certain age but the positive emotional development that could be gained from the experience will last throughout the child’s existence.
  • Promotes Desire for Knowledge. The interaction between child and pet promotes an inquisitive mind in a child leading him to ask questions. Like for instance when a child wants to know how to teach a dog some tricks, what food will do the pet good other than satisfying a hunger, etc. Parents naturally have a big part in supporting a curious child. The desire to learn could start due to the influence of pet ownership but when a child learns that parents are willing to support a need to discover things, the child could be encouraged to learn more beyond pets. This promotes cognitive skills.

Pets can be so much a part of a childhood, creating a special bond that is beneficial to the development of a youngster. A child who is in need of healing whether physical, mental or emotional will be nurtured by the experience of having a pet. However, the decision to have a pet should be backed by the right reasons because it does entail responsibilities which should not be taken care of by the child alone. The commitment has to be established among the family as a whole. But once the decision has been made and the commitment is there, the positive results of having a pet is beyond definition that is simply priceless. And you may even see that in many years through your child.

About Catching Birds

Every day, we can feast our eyes on blue herons, roseate spoonbills, white egrets, wood storks, ibises, ospreys, hawks, cormorants, pelicans and (sometimes) eagles resting on our lawns or fishing in our man-made lakes that are stocked with fish. When I walk in the late afternoon, I often take binoculars along to get a better view of the birds that are just out of eye sight. I never tire of watching them.

Birds have been in our life and even in our house since our middle daughter was in grade school and we were living in California. She fell in love with the smaller tropical birds that you see in pet shops. The first bird was a cockatiel that was hand raised and very tame. He loved to sit on heads and shoulders and once he chose to do this to a TV repairman just as he bent over the back of our TV set. I heard his scream from the other end of the house. I don’t know who was more frightened, the bird or the repairman.

Our daughter had two parakeets in a cage in her room. One, Marco, was very tame and could be let out for short periods. One day she called and asked me to bring the two birds to school for show and tell. Obediently I picked up the cage with the two birds and headed for the car. But when I placed them on the driveway to retrieve the car keys from my pocket, the cage door swung open and Marco flew the coop. Horrified, I watched him until he settled in a large tree by the corner of the house. I waited a few minutes, then decided I’d better take the remaining bird to school where our daughter was waiting,

At school, I handed her the cage, mumbling something about Marco’s absence. But after the show and tell was over, I knew I had to tell her the truth. She burst into tears and asked to go home to look for him.

When we returned to the house, I was surprised to find that Marco had remained in the tree but on a much higher branch. I pointed him out to our daughter and when I saw her sad face, I knew what I had to do. I retrieved the extra birdcage from the house and loaded it with bird seed. Then, cage in hand, I started to climb the tree. I’m no athlete and climbing trees was never something I did well (even in my prime) but I was determined. With help from a step ladder, I reached a V in the tree and when I looked up, I saw Marco watching my every move. Carefully I maneuvered to the next protruding branch and, when I looked down, I knew this was my limit.

I balanced the cage on a branch above me, door open and hoped the seed looked good to a hungry bird. Marco cocked his head, looked at the bird seed and looked at me. He hopped down to a closer branch. Fifteen minutes later, he came a bit closer. My legs were cramped, my back hurt and the ground was much too far away but my daughter’s tearful face at the bottom of the tree kept me going. Marco moved again, his eyes on the cage. Then – bang- he was in and I secured the cage door. My grateful daughter took the cage from me and I carefully made my way down the tree, very happy to feel the ground beneath my feet.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last bird escapade. About a year later, my daughter decided to raise finches to sell to pet stores. We constructed an aviary in the back yard and soon it was occupied by dozens of finches. But our building skills left something to be desired and a few weeks later, we discovered at least half the finches had escaped through an opening in the screen that had come loose over the door. The escapees were flying overhead and perching on top of the aviary. I remembered the method I had used to trap Marco and thought maybe it would work again.

I grabbed the old birdcage, filled it with seed and then surveyed the yard. There was no tree to climb but there was a small one to hide behind. I tied a fishing line to the cage door and left the cage in front of the tree. Then I released enough line to get me behind the tree. I kneeled down and pulled the line taught so the cage door was wide open.

It didn’t take long before the first finch hopped over to the door, enticed (I hoped) by the bird seed within. As soon as he hopped in, I let the fishing line go and the door swung shut. After I returned the finch to the aviary I repeated the exercise again and again, until we had most of the birds back in the aviary which, by now, had been patched up.

However, the birds were only part of the menagerie. We also had two dogs, a cat, a rabbit, two chickens and one duck. A friend of ours would bring his son to our house to visit because the child thought our yard was the zoo! And he might have been right.

When we moved from California to Syracuse, New York, the aviary had to go but the pet birds – one parakeet, one cockatiel and an African grey parrot – came with us, in addition to two dogs. We traveled by air to our new home and created quite a stir at baggage claim when the three crates holding the larger creatures rolled down the belt. I hand-carried the parakeet and cockatiel in a small cage. They, too, startled other passengers with their small vocabularies: hello, how are you, good-bye and cockadoodle-doo.

A year later, when my daughter left for college, we found a wonderful new home for the cockatiel and parakeet with a woman who had an equally tame female cockatiel. The last I heard both cockatiels spent most days riding on her shoulders and the parakeet followed close behind. The African grey parrot got sick and, when I learned that the veterinarian treating him had a room at home just for her parrots, I offered her ours in return for the bill. It was a win-win but most of all, I knew the parrot had a good home.

Cleaning A Bird Aviary

Cleaning of feeders and bird baths

Cleaning up of bird feeders, water dishes, and bird baths should be done on a daily basis. This is not just to provide fresh water and bird seeds, but also to keep away germs from developing over time. If you’ve set up a weekly schedule, it is best to still include these items during clean-up time.

Set up a routine for you to follow and for the birds to get used to

Having a cleaning routine helps the birds from experiencing too much stress. It is also important that you’re the one who always do the clean up to also prevent stress and anxiety among the birds. As your pet birds become familiar and used to your presence, it will be easier to get in and out of their abode anytime.

Use a corner of the aviary to isolate the birds

When things are still stressful for your pets, it is best to use a separator to isolate them from the area that’s being cleaned. Dedicate a corner for the birds whenever you need to clean up their living space and make sure it is cleaned first before they are enclosed in this portion. This usually helps in reducing restlessness and anxiety among birds, and it truly is beneficial especially when there are hatchlings.

Use mild disinfectant when cleaning

You can dilute a strong disinfectant in buckets of water. If you like it chemical-free, you can use vinegar or baking soda instead. Wipe clean the bird boxes, perches, walls, and other dirty parts of the enclosure. On a daily basis, you can also do this especially on the most soiled or dirtiest portions of the aviary; otherwise, you can schedule on a weekly or bi-weekly schedule.

A Zebra Finch

These finches don’t have any particularly unusual or awkward care requirements, and as such they are not difficult birds to look after. A cage is of course necessary, but it doesn’t need to be as big as it would be for many other birds. A larger cage will always be preferred though, and for any more than a single pair of finches you’ll need a much larger enclosure. Still, this is the case for any pet bird species.

One frequent concern amongst potential buyers is how noisy the finches will be – constantly squawking birds may well make you unpopular with your neighbors! However Zebra Finches are fairly quiet birds, and while they are not silent, they can easily be kept in a flat or apartment without annoying anyone living nearby.

Their diet can be catered for with a wide range of commercially available products that any pet store will supply, and the cage can even be lined with newspaper if you don’t want to buy anything more expensive. Further research is obviously recommended to see exactly what your pets will need before you get them, and there are many comprehensive care sheets both online and in books.

Zebra Finches will live comfortably at room temperature and so they can be very easily integrated into the average home, although they should always be kept away from cold draughts and air conditioning units. They may need some exposure to UV light, and some people choose to buy special lights to achieve this, but it shouldn’t be an issue in most houses.

Choosing to buy a couple of these birds is a reasonably long term commitment as they should live for at least six years, but this isn’t exceptionally long and is shorter than many species, making them a good choice for a first bird. If you’ve never owned a bird before, then Zebra Finches are certainly a better choice than something like a parrot that may outlive you!

Yellow Belly Turtle

In the wild they are frequently found where great densities of algae occur. They occupy ponds, swamps and marshes. Most active in the morning, they can often be seen basking in the sun.

The shell of the adult yellow belly turtle averages between 8 and 10 inches (20.3 and 25.4cm) long. Females are slightly bigger and can sometimes reach 11 inches (27.9cm). Usually a mixture of brown and black at the top, the plastron underneath is distinctively yellow with some green spots. Its skin is predominantly olive-green, but features odd patches of yellow on the legs and neck.

The yellow belly turtle can be kept indoors, but bear in mind that it will need a tank capacity of at least 60 gallons when adult. If you are planning to own more than one, add 20 gallons per turtle to the equation. Young hatchlings can be kept in a tank of 15 gallons.

A basking area with a temperature of at least 80 Fahrenheit (26.6 degrees Celsius) should be provided. Since they sleep at night, the basking light could be turned off when it is dark.

Males eat more meat than females and, as with several other species of turtles, hatchlings also eat more meat, in the form of insects, tadpoles, spiders and worms, than adult turtles do. This species eats carrion when it is available.

In nature, young turtles may spend an entire winter still confined to their nests after they hatched. The vivid colorings of the hatchlings fade as they mature. They eat pond plants such as elodea and cabomba, but can also be fed Romaine lettuce, escarole and collard greens. They eat in the water. While aquatic plants can be left, uneaten non-aquatic plant matter should be removed after a while.

One reason why they make great pets is their friendly demeanour. Even a shier turtle, is quickly won over once it trusts you.

Another word of caution applies to their handling. The shell is actually part of the skin, making it easy to hurt them without meaning to. To be on the safe side, do not let your hand stray too near to the turtle’s beak.

Habitats for Happy Reptiles

A typical housing for a pet such as this is an aquarium tank or terrarium. Depending on the size of the animal, the size of the tank will usually range from 10 to 30 gallons, even more for larger creatures. Snakes will need a tank that is horizontally oriented, and lizards need one that is taller so they can climb. The housing should be made out of glass to keep the animal from scaling the sides, and in some situations, it may need to have something blocking the back and side views for the safety of the pet.

The lid is normally made of mesh to allow for airflow, and it must be secure enough to retain a tricky critter. Some reptile’s needs require that the whole screen be exposed for maximum airflow, though there are times, such as when the snake or lizard will need extra humidity to assist with shedding, when it may be necessary to block half or more of the screen to stop airflow and retain moisture in the housing.

Each reptile has its own heating and lighting needs, so there is no one size fits all for this. A pet store can advise you about this, but most snakes and lizards need a lot of heat, and one area of the housing should be especially warm for basking. Heat lamps and heating pads that go under the tank or under the substrate can provide the right temperature.

The substrate for geckos, lizards and snakes can be something as simple as chemical-free paper, but many owners prefer to use reptile carpet or sanitized mulch. The former is good for animals that may ingest small particles of substrate that could impact their digestive system. The latter is best for snakes and animals that like to burrow.

Furnishing for a reptile habitat is simple. The pet needs a few things to hide around and climb on such as branches and shrubs. It also needs something to go into to hide. This is usually a small, enclosed box or something similar. It should have some moss or paper towels in it to hold some moisture to provide humidity.

Quality Turtle Breeders

Additionally, it is important for turtle breeders to maintain a healthy environment for their turtles. This environment should cater specifically to the type of turtle. Water turtles prefer to live in large, deep aquariums with clean water and copious room for swimming. Since they defecate in the water frequently, it should be changed out on a daily basis and have heavy filtration to prevent the water quality from becoming bad. Land turtles prefer habitats with dry substrate and larger amounts of horizontal space to utilize, which will give them room to move freely. They also appreciate a shelter space where they can hide, sleep or get away from stressors they can perceive outside of the cage.

Most breeders who have a good handle on their work will also be familiar with the behavior patterns of healthy turtles, as well as the patterns that sickly turtles may display. These patterns are important to recognize, since they are very good indicators of whether a turtle is thriving and can indicate whether something different needs to be done in their care. A good breeder should be able to show any new owner what a thriving turtle looks like, and will be able to explain articulately what warning signs can indicate that a turtle is sick or failing to thrive. For instance, healthy turtles will be active and exhibit a healthy diet and curiosity about their surroundings, while turtles that are not thriving may be inactive or reluctant to move.

In addition to being a good source for a first turtle and beginning information for care, an ideal breeder will also provide an ongoing source of information for owners who become more serious about their turtles later. These breeders may also have connections into local turtle breeding chapters or organizations, providing even more connections and opportunities for informational exchange. They may provide timely information about nutritional or scientific developments regarding the care of turtles. While choosing to obtain a turtle from a breeder obviously has the benefit of obtaining a guaranteed healthy young turtle, connections to respectable turtle breeders are also a valuable connection in the years following the purchase.