Making Bird Tenants Welcome

We have almost made it through.  Soon the sun will be shining, the birds will be singing and it will be spring again.  There is something magical about birds calling our yard their home, but if we really want to enjoy them and our garden we need to create a living space for these creatures so they are welcome guests rather then welcome pests.

The first thing we would do with any company is make sure we feed them.  When looking at a bird feeder we need to spend a little time finding out what birds are local to our area.  Although the design of many bird feeders is similar the way these flying friends eat and what they eat is as diverse as the possible cuisine in your neighborhood.  There is nothing more disappointing then buying a bird feeder and looking forward to seeing a certain type of bird only to find out that particular bird never comes around our house, would never eat out of that type of feeder or doesn’t eat the food we served.  Just like being sure we are aware of the dietary needs of our children’s friend when they come over we need to make sure first we understand the bird feeder needs of our feather visitors.

Once we start feeding the birds and word gets out we have the food they are looking for the birds will flock (pun intended) to our house.  If we want them to do more then just stop buy for a bite we need to provide the birds a nice bird house to live.  Since we now know what kind of birds we will have we can use that information to also determine what kind of bird house they need.  We can get birdhouses in sizes, shapes, colors, and styles so that the house will make the birds want to nest there as well as become a compliment to décor of our yard and garden.

What bird sanctuary back yard would be complete without a bird bath.  As you can imagine a refreshing break from flying around is a nice clean bath to splash in and relax in.  Besides pedestal style bird baths we all think of there are bird baths that can be mounted to a deck railing, ones that can be integrated into our garden pond and many other styles to choose from.  There are even bird baths that come with heaters and de-icers so that your back yard tenants can use them all year round to get a nice drink and keep themselves clean.

If you are lucky enough to life in an area where the are my favorite is the hummingbird.  As we know these speedy little creatures never stop flapping, even to eat.  Of course there is a special hummingbird feeder  just to meet their needs.  If hummingbirds live in your area I would encourage you to get some feeders for them.  It is an exciting treat to watch this beautiful little creature flit around our yard and drink from the feeder.  You won’t regret it.

No matter what kind of birds you end up with in your yard this year make them feel welcome with these few special things you can do to make your world inviting to our avian friends.

Kids at Play: All Season Long

When I received an invitation to participate in the All About Parenting Blog Carnival, I knew just what to do. There needed to be an entry about Kids at Play in the yard and garden. What kid doesn’t like to play outside and explore the yard? Here are a few ideas to make the most of the time your kids spend playing in the yard and garden:

Toys for the Yard and Garden

bubble-mower.jpgThere are several different toys available for play in the yard and the garden. These can range from inexpensive to moderately expensive. Kids like to pretend they are working along-side you, so why not find some kid-friendly tools? There are many different options available for plastic gardening tools and wheelbarrows to even lawnmowers. Remember the bubble mower? It was a fun way for the kids to pretend that they were mowing the lawn just like mom and dad.

Perhaps you want your kids to have gardening tools which are a little sturdier than the plastic ones. You will find several smaller tools such as spades and rakes at your local garden center. They will have several options to choose from to outfit your kids and encourage play in the garden.

Bugs and Butterflies

bug-catchers.jpgMaybe you have a budding entomologist on your hands. These kids will enjoy playing with the many different bug catchers and bug houses that are available for purchase. You can also make a simplified home with an old fashioned canning jar and a lid with holes punched in the top. This will provide hours of fun and excitement as they catch, observe and then release the many different bugs they will be able to find right in their own backyard.

If you have fireflies, show your kids how to catch them at dusk during the summer. This will provide a fun experience for the family.

Don’t forget to have a butterfly net on hand. Your kids will love chasing the bright butterflies and trying to catch them.

You may want to visit your local garden center and buy a container of ladybugs or a praying mantis sack. This will provide hours of fun as the kids let the ladybugs crawl on their hands and they sing the “ladybug, ladybug, fly away home” song. They will enjoy watching for the baby praying mantis’s to hatch. Not only is this a fun activity, but it will be beneficial for the plants in your garden as these bugs get rid of the bad bugs.

Feed the Birds

birdhouse.jpgWhen it comes to birdfeeders, it doesn’t need to be expensive. While you can purchase a ready-made bird feeder, why not have your kids make one instead? It can be as simple as making one out of a milk carton to taking a pinecone, spreading peanut butter on it and then rolling it in birdseed. Attach a string to hang it from a tree branch and then watch the enjoyment that it brings to both the birds and your kids. Your kids will like feeding the birds and watching them flock around the feeder.

Stepping Stones

stepping-stone-kit.jpgOne of the best presents I ever received from my son was a stepping stone he made for my garden. He had fun making it and I enjoyed placing it in my garden path. These can be as simple or as fancy as you like. The kids will enjoy making them and then seeing them in the garden. It is a great way to display some creative artwork.

Plant a Kids Garden

What kid doesn’t enjoy playing in the dirt? There are many different things you can plant in a kids garden that will bring lots of joy and excitement all season long. Here are a few things your kids may enjoy planting in their garden:

  • Easter Egg Radishes—While they may not enjoy eating them, it is fun to see the many different colors that these radishes grow in.

  • Thumbelina Carrots—These carrots grow much shorter and your kids will think they have grown their very own baby carrots to enjoy.

  • Bright Lights Swiss Chard—This chard grows in a rainbow of colors that your kids will enjoy seeing.

  • Beans—Try Scarlet Runners and Royal Burgandy. These beans will provide lots of color and flowers for your kids to enjoy. There are also many varieties of bush beans that they will enjoy growing and some of them even grow in colors such as purple, but change to green when they are cooked. Kids will enjoy the color-changing magic that these beans possess.

  • Potatoes—There are many different varieties available from the standard Russet to the Yukon Gold, Banana Fingerling or for colored fun, try the Blue potato or the Huckleberry variety which is purple.

  • Squash/Pumpkins/Gourds—Squash plants are fun and make a big statement in the garden. Pumpkins are fun and provide excitement in October. Try Baby Boo pumpkins, which are small, or Autumn Gold which starts out growing in a yellow-orange color from the very beginning.

  • Flowers—Plant annual flowers such as zinnias and marigolds. The kids will enjoy having their own garden from which to pick flowers from and give to mom. They will also enjoy the bright colors.

There are several other things that you can do to promote play in the yard and garden. What are some of the things you can think of that I haven’t mentioned? Please share a comment below!