Thursday, December 13, 2012

Backyard Birding is Fun!

A lot of my friends, family, and fellow birders know of my interest in backyard birding. A backyard feeder was my first venture into the birding world, so it makes sense that I still find myself very interested in the subject.
"Back 40" 2007
My wife and I moved to our present location in the suburbs in 2006.  We were looking for a more open place where I could do more birding and astronomy. We found this gorgeous house with this wonderful lot behind it. After purchasing half of the extra lot (neighbors bought the other half) we started to get the "Back 40" cleaned up and the yard and in birding shape. We planted trees and bushes, and erected bird feeders and Bluebird houses.
Me erecting a Bluebird house 2008
It took a lot of work, but we finally started to see birds show up to our backyard! At first we only got Sparrows, Starlings, and a few Mourning Doves, but the more we researched backyard birding in Wisconsin and what approach we should take to get some of the more colorful birds to come to my feeders, the more things started to change.
American Goldfinch 2009
By 2009 we started to see Goldfinches, Tree Swallows and Northern Cardinals showing up. We decided to use black oil sunflower seed, instead of the "mixed seed" you normally find in the home improvement stores. We found that black oil sunflower seed is less wasted and better for the birds. You will pay more for it, but with much less waste, it pays off.  Here is some information about black oil sunflower seeds.

House Finches 2010
By 2010 our small trees started to become large enough that backyard birds felt safe in them. One of the things we learned about setting up a backyard birding site, is to plant bushes and small trees close to your feeders. Small birds feel much more safe if there is a tree to fly into.

American Gold Finches 2009
Adding a bird bath makes for a happy bird community, especially on those hot Summer days. Birds need a fresh supply of clean water to drink and bathe in. Some birds will show up to your bird bath just to splash around in the water. More about setting up a bath bath in your yard.

Baltimore Oriole 2011
Last year we started to work on some of the more popular birds to the feeder like the Baltimore Orioles. By adding a half slice of orange with some grape jelly on top at the right time of year, within a few days they start showing up. Make sure you start this practice early in the year while the Orioles are migrating north.

Blue Jay 2011
We also wanted to get the popular but very loud Blue Jay, so we set up a platform/ground feeder and added peanuts--not the the sort of peanuts that people eat but the bird/animal feed ones you can buy at the local pet store. You can get a 5 lb bag for $8 or so. The Blue Jays and Woodpeckers love fighting over them!

Red-Bellied Woodpecker 2011
Now that we keep plenty of peanuts and suet at the feeders, one of the more popular birds is the woodpecker, like this Red-Belled Woodpecker that shows up a few times a day to take its cut of the peanuts.

That's all for this month, and remember just because it's winter it doesn't mean your feeder should lay empty. Birds need backyard feeders stocked even more in the Wintertime. If you want to check out more of my work please visit my blog at or my Google Plus or Flickr pages.


  1. Great post. I would love to see how the area around your feeders looks. Nothing like watching an area grow - looks like you have a wonderful yard.

  2. Thank you for bird scaping your lot! Not only good for the birds but also for the environment. I'm sure all of the hard work will pay off with lots of enjoyable bird watching.

  3. Thank you everyone, I really enjoy working in the yard making it look better and working better for the birds. Next Spring, we're planting native bushes to bring in some of the ground feeders. Thanks again.

  4. There's nothing more rewarding than creating good bird habitat in one's yard, it's good for the birds, and good for you. Plus it makes for wonderful photo ops. Landscaping our yard for birds is one of our favorite birding activities. Good luck with your continuing efforts!

  5. My dream is to own a couple of acres and make an awesome bird habitat of it. One day! Well done Ricky!

    1. Thank you Robert, we still have a lot a work to do. Thanks again.

  6. A great series of the show, really liked the Nice birds.


  7. Awesome article. Thanks for sharing. I especially enjoyed the tips on attracting specific species to the feeder.

  8. Ricky, wonderful tips on attracting birds to your backyard! You've got some lovely birds visiting your feeders. We are currently building a home out in the country and I'm already coming up with backyard feeder/water ideas. I can't wait to set the whole thing up! Delightful post!