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Hummingbird Blog If there is any bird that is more beautiful or delicate than the hummingbird, we don’t know what it is! This is the time of year when hummingbirds migrate back to the Chesapeake Bay region and settle in for the summer. Hummingbirds are as ethereal as they are beautiful...you’ll catch a glimpse out of the corner of your eye of a vibrating, luminescent blur and just as you turn your head to get a better look, it’s gone! It’s frustrating. So, how do you create an environment that will encourage them to visit more often and for longer periods of time?

It all comes down to food. Hummingbirds have a famous metabolism that requires that they eat about every ten minutes, which requires them to visit about 2,000 flowers every day to seek out nectar, their preferred food. So that means you either have to provide nectar, outright, using specially-designed feeders, or you need to plant the flowers that are preferred by hummingbirds. Either way, you have to pay close attention to detail, as hummingbirds are notoriously finicky diners.

When it comes to feeders, there are only a few varieties that are reliable because they must be the right shape and color to attract their customers. K&B True Value carries a variety of feeders by both Audubon and Perky-Pet, which use red and orange, the colors favored by hummingbirds, and receptacles that are flower-shaped. They can be hung from trees, eaves, posts, or even affixed to windows for a close-up view. We also carry high-calorie nectar for easy refill. It is important to clean the feeder frequently, around twice per week during the summer months and nectar can be sticky business. You’ll want several feeders in different shapes in different parts of the yard, so that one bird won’t bully the others and prevent them from feeding. One last thing...try not to hang the feeders in direct sunlight as that could cause the nectar to ferment , which would make for some clumsy flying.

Along with the feeders, you’ll want to plant perennial flowers that are on their favorite-food list. Again, red and orange are their favorite colors, and tube-shaped flowers are a real bonanza for them! We have brought in several native perennials that are hummingbird-friendly including:

Agastache

Kniphofia (Red-Hot Poker)

Lantana

Lilies

Honeysuckle

Yucca

Catmint

Lobelia

Some of these perennials can even be planted in hanging baskets so that they can be moved around the yard, deck, or porch. Then, at the end of the season, they can be planted directly into the landscape to come back next year. Hummingbirds also require a certain amount of protein in the form of small insects, so avoid using pesticides in your yard.

Of all the outside décor that you could add to your yard to add visual interest, none is more beautiful than hummingbirds! And it doesn’t take much to create an oasis that will have them coming back year after year!

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Feeding Birds in Winter In our area of the Mid-Atlantic, many species of birds fly south in fall as the days shorten and their food sources becomes scarce. However, other species such as cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, and goldfinches will stay around through the winter and will be eager to visit feeders where they find a steady supply of food. Even though we haven’t had a particularly harsh winter so far, this is the time of year when food starts to dwindle for our non-migratory, backyard birds.

Many of them rely on the spent seed-heads of perennials or berries left over from fall, but it doesn’t take too long before those food sources begin to dwindle. And as the temperatures begin to drop in January and February, birds will need high-energy, high-protein foods to maintain their body temperatures. That means birds need food the most when it is least available in the wild. That’s where you come in!

Offer a feeding station that consists of a birdfeeder filled with one of our quality seed mixes. Choose a blend that is specially formulated to attract a variety of birds. Ingredients should include bird favorites like black oil sunflower, thistle and peanuts, which are attractive to a wide range of birds including cardinals, chickadees, finches, native sparrows and others. K&B True Value carries a variety of feeders specific to the type of seed blend and bird species that you are feeding. Common types include covered or open platforms for any size seed blend, cylinders or tubes for small seeds, and a hopper or "house" style to hold larger seeds like sunflower.

In addition to seed, consider offering suet as well. Birds use a lot of energy in the winter to stay warm and search for food, and suet is the high-energy snack that can help keep them going through the tough times. Rich in valuable calories because it's primarily made of fat, suet attracts woodpeckers, chickadees and many other species. We carry wire-cage feeders designed specifically for suet. The birds will cling to the wire and peck at the food through the gaps.

You’ll become a hub of the bird community once you acquire the reputation for fine dining. Make sure to stay on top of keeping the feeders filled, especially when it is particularly cold or snowy. And if you haven’t yet, join our K&B True Value Birding Club! Just buy ten bags of birdseed and get one bag free! You save and the birds eat. Win-win.

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Toilets

“Did you ever go to a party, go in the bathroom, flush the toilet, and the water starts coming up? That is the most frightening moment in the life of a human being.” -Jerry Seinfeld

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Cool Weather Vegetables

The last couple months of summer were blazingly hot this year. Coupled with the heavy rains in June and July, your vegetable garden probably struggled with higher incidences of fungus, mildew, and pests this year. So if your cukes and tomatoes didn’t do particularly well this season...join the club. But, the good news is that you have another few months of vegetable gardening left with cool-weather vegetables!

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Want to see birds without ever having to leave home? Look no further than outside your own window. All you need to attract birds is the right type of bird feeder and food. And don't be concerned about creating a hardship for birds should you decide to take a hiatus from bird feeding. Backyard bird feeders account for a relatively small percent of a bird's overall food supply, which is why when traditional food is available (i.e., worms, insects, seeds, berries, etc), birds will often opt for that instead.