Monday, February 28, 2011

Backyard Birdwatching 1

  It doesn't matter where you live,if you feed them, they will come. Having birds in your backyard is as easy as feeding them.Once they start coming, you'll probably begin to wonder about their names and why they behave the way they do. Before you know it you'll probably get a book about them, and if you're really hooked, a pair of binoculars to see them up close. Birdwatching is enjoyed by over 65 million Americans, and once you start,you'll see why.

    Getting started is pretty easy. First you'll need a feeder. Bird feeders come in all shapes and sizes and can be homemade from everyday items found around the house or store bought. Fancy or simple, the birds will come. As your knowledge of your local bird species increases you'll be able to attract certain types of birds to your backyard. I generally like them all, but there are some that I like more than others.
    Pictured above is my backyard feeder.It consists of a 4" x 4" x 8' post sunk 2' in the ground with a little concrete for support, a platform with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage, two sides and a roof. On the sides of my feeder I have placed two suet feeders as well. The wood came from scraps left over from a construction job at Camp David in the nearby Catoctin Mountains, so you could say that our birds are getting the presidential treatment! The wood I used is red oak and has held up very well for the past 6 years without any special care.

    The object of a feeder is to provide a clean,safe feeding station off of the ground where seed can become moldy and  get exposed to potential contamination by dampness, bacteria, animal droppings, lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Not all birds will visit your elevated feeder,some are ground feeders, but you would be surprised at the number of ground feeders that secretly convert when no one else is looking. Here is a link for an easy platform feeder: . Your backyard feeder can be as simple or complex as you wish, here are some plans for wide variety of feeders: .

    Another way to attract birds is to have birdbath close by with a steady supply of fresh, clean water. Water left too long can develop algae in warmer climates and possibly spread disease among our feathered friends, so make sure and maintain your birdbath by cleaning it regularly and changing the water. Below is our birdbath which I put together from on old concrete birdbath basin and a communication tower beacon.

The tower light came from the top of a 450' guyed tower on Maryland's Eastern Shore in Salisbury,Md. Once you have a bird feeder and a birdbath,you'll be well on your way toward endless fun and learning as you progress in your knowledge and appreciation of your own backyard wonders. Good Luck!

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