Beginning Bird to speak

woodhavenacademyMarch 4, 2008

Good morning, my name is Taffy and I am homeschool my boys in Southwest Florida. We love birds and would like to invite them to our yard. I intend to turn this adventure into a educational unit study and I NEED help!!

Our neighborhood is not overbuilt and we have large open fields. I do have trees in my yard.. two Carrotwoods and one Oak. The birds we usually see are Doves, Grackles, Crows, Mockingbirds, an occasional Woodpecker, scrubjay, and little hoppy birds..LOL I don't know what they are.

I know there are other birds in our area, but I don't know what they are either.

What do I feed these birds and what can I do to invite other birds in my yard?

We thank you for the knowledge that you have!


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Add some bird houses and nesting material. A birdbath or water source and feed them. Bird seed is a good start. Most birds love sunflower seeds. Black oil is favorable for smaller birds like yellow finches, titmice, chickadees. I don't think you want to encourage sparrows, grackles. They are not native to the US and are a pest to our native birds. Great project for kids!! Have them look up information about House sparrows and Grackles. Then have them look up Bluebirds. This is a great project because the Bluebird is actually threatened because of the introduction of these european birds. Good luck and have a lot of fun. They might have fun building bird houses, too. There is so much information on how to on line!!!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 7:16PM
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leslie123(Z8 WA)

Check out the National Wildlife Federation's website for lots of info about gardening for wildlife. The boys might have fun getting your backyard certified as a wildlife habitat - they can learn what wildlife requires (food, water, shelter, etc.) how to provide it, what plants are available for food & shelter where you live, what animals (not just birds) might be near where you live. It's a very useful site.

Have fun!

Here is a link that might be useful: National Wildfife Federation's wildlife gardening

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 10:57PM
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Thankyou. My youngest son and I found a site online that allowed us to hear different bird's calls. It was really neat. The boy and my toddler nephew threw a big bag of birdseed all over the front yard today. The doves should love that!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 11:41PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Be sure to obtain a good field guide for indentification. Knowing what you're seeing is a great part of the enjoyment. Visit your local book store to see a big selection before deciding which one to purchase.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 2:07PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)


I hope you don't mind a slight correction/clarification. Just want to let people know some grackles are native to some parts of the U.S. I don't think grackles tend to be most people's favorite even if they are native, but I like their sound and look.

-- Lori

Here is a link that might be useful: enature link on grackles

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 6:15PM
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terrene(5b MA)

In addition to a feeder or two and a bird bath, birds need habitat or vegetation for nesting and roosting, and to provide food. Also to seek cover when the escaping from predators. This includes a mix of large trees, smaller trees and shrubs, and grasses and flowers. Birds love thickets and dense evergreens for cover. Dead trees and branches are critical habitat for cavity nesters and roosters (which includes the beautiful Eastern Bluebird), and birds also LOVE brush piles.

Look for trees and shrubs that are native to the region that you live in and provide nectar, berries, nuts, etc. You can also grow some beautiful perennials and annuals that make nectar for hummingbirds and seeds for the birds.

Insects are a primary food source for birds and an important source of protein. It's best to have an organic yard that is habitat for insects, because that attracts a lot of birds.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 1:15PM
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your posts have been so helpful! Tell me, how do I discouragae the Grackles from coming in and taking over the food anyway?

We bought 2 tray feeders today. They come with a plastic insert to one can be a bath for the birds. They have drainage holes in the bottom. I also bought a tube feeder for the little hoppy birds. It is to windy to put anything out today though.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 1:54PM
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Please see this other thread that I posted before. I think it is an important teaching point that birds don't just eat seeds and berries. Birds eat a LOT of insects; insects are high in protein and provide important food for the baby birds. Birds also help keep the insect population at the right level.

Native plants help attract insects (not hoards of them!) which are there for the birds to eat.

It's a very easy to read book and has lots of pictures and lists so it is easy to apply the knowledge.

Here is a link that might be useful: Message about insects for birds

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 6:01PM
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You can do a lot to attract birds and wildlife, but mostly habitat will bring them in.

Tray feeders allow larger birds to feed, lokk into some tubes for smaller birds that grackles etc can't access.

Build habitats to attract butterflies, salamanders, etc as well as birds.

What a wonderful gift to pass on to the children, GREAT JOB.

The link below may help you with some habitat, feeders, feed ideas and other stuff.


Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening For Wildlife

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 1:22PM
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loris(Z6 NJ)


I haven't had trouble with grackles, but have had trouble with house sparrows and squirrels in the past. I did an Internet search for you using "discourage grackles", and found the sort of thing you're looking for. I'm attaching one link. I see one of the common recommendations to discourage grackles is to use safflower seed. I use that now because I was finding my bird feeder on the ground each day thanks to the squirrels. What I've found is both squirrels and house sparrows will eat safflower seed, but I see the house sparrows there very rarely, and the squirrels aren't knocking the feeder to the ground anymore. My favorite feeder bird are chickadees. They eat the safflower seed as do titmice, downies, nuthatches and cardinals. I must admit, when I ran out of safflower seed and used black oil sunflower seed, the birds seemed to enjoy that much more.

There are other recommendations I don't have personal knowledge of. I have heard in the past heard of bird feeders for use by small birds only that are controlled by the weight of the bird landing on them, or by being enclosed by a grate.

Good luck. -- Lori

Here is a link that might be useful: from Stokes birding site

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 2:17PM
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