ABOUT ME -
My name is Amy and I'm a birder living in central Florida. On this blog I post book and birding product reviews as well as birder gift ideas and announcements related to my birder gift shop on this site. I also have a personal birding blog called Powered By Birds.
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Unless otherwise stated, all books and other products reviewed on this blog were purchased or independently acquired by the reviewer. Readers who make a purchase by clicking on links in product reviews or featured t-shirt posts (T-Shirt Tuesday) may result in the blogger receiving a commission or referral fee.
This video shows a beautiful American Kestrel wood carving by artist Lona Hymas-Smith. Click the gear icon to view in HD and then make the clip full screen to see the detail on this amazing work. To learn more about the artist, visit Wood Carvings and Sculptures from Lona Hymas-Smith.
It’s been over six months since I first reviewed the EcoClean Dinner Bell bird feeder. While I was super happy with the feeder and the bag of Bark Butter that came with it, it took a while for the back yard birds to catch on. It seems in the rule of 2s game, this feeder and food fell into the “2 weeks” category.
I’m happy to say that both the feeder and the suet bits got a lot more action following my initial review. With the help of my WingScapes BirdCam I can report that at least nine species visited and used the feeder during the winter months. The Bark Butter was especially popular with Yellow-rumped Warblers; I must have hundreds of photos from the BirdCam just like this one.
When there was a spike in visits from Common Grackles, I lowered the upper dome, to mixed success. While hopping down from the feeder pole is impossible for them with the dome lowered, the large birds figured out they could access the feeder when approaching laterally, by flying in. This photo shows the dome before I lowered it.
Here are few more happy visitors.
After several months of use, the feeder is holding up very well and I’m still quite pleased with it. The large upper dome, which continues to keep the food dry and fresh, may not keep out every last grackle, but I don’t mind at all.
The Big Year comes out on DVD and Blu-ray one week from today. I’m excited to be able to offer my readers the chance to win a copy of The Big Year on DVD! It’s super-easy to enter – just leave a comment below! The giveaway is open to anyone with a U.S. or Canada street address. Past blog contest winners are eligible. The winner will be picked via random drawing on Tuesday, January 31st; post your comment by 11:59PM on January 30th to be eligible for the drawing.
Threadless has another great clearance sale going on right now with shirts as low as $9. As usual there are some cool bird ones among the dozens of sale tees. Here are some of my favorites.
Bird Brain ($9 on sale) is a detailed anatomical drawing hummingbird mashup. To see the design details, click through to the original submission, where the artist wrote this shirt makes a fantastic way to impress that pre-med / ornithology co-ed you’ve had your eye on all semester.
The Northern Black-capped Gumchewer is on sale for $9. I think this funny design of birds chewing bubble gum is my favorite shirt of this bunch. May have to buy this one before the sale ends!
Song Bird is also on sale for $9. The bird kind of looks like a Limpkin with short legs (and something wrong with its head). Click through to the original submission to read the artist’s cute description of this whimsical design. In part: Native lore credits the long necked bird with the origin of music.
The Incredible Hawk is available on sale shirts ($9) and hoodies ($24.50). The hoody has a neat shield design on the front pocket area with the full “angry bird” design on the back.
Field Study 01 ($9 on sale) is a really beautiful design with a couple of very unfortunate spelling errors. The silhouettes are accompanied by a key, and two of the bird names are misspelled. Bummer.
The Messenger is on sale for $9. Like many other Threadless designs, this one is available on other products like iPhone cases, prints, and laptop skins, too, at society6.
Owls Ask Too Many Questions ($9 on sale) is really popular, though its not my favorite. The girly style is nearly sold out (just one left as of this writing).
Bird Nests ($19 on sale) was part of a imaginary sports league challenge. The back of this shirt has a circular logo for the Fighting Bird’s Nests along with the slogan “Go Nesty Go!”
Since moving house in June, I’ve been trying to get the hang of back yard bird feeding here in Florida versus what I was used to in northern Illinois. I made the mistake of keeping unsealed bags of bird seed in the garage (hello meal moths), of offering nyjer bird seed in summer (no takers), and of using uncovered feeders in the rainy season (leading to a wet block of spoiled seed). I’ve gotten rid of the moths but I’m still working on using different feeders to offer appropriate seed to the regulars.
The EcoClean Dinner Bell Feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited is just what I need in our yard now. The small open feeding tray is covered with a sturdy, over-sized, clear plastic dome. The dome can be raised or lowered depending on the type of birds you’d like to attract. I’ve left it about as high as possible to offer the contents to any bird who wishes to visit. The dome protects the seed from the elements, which means the seed stays fresh longer when it rains. The tray has small drainage holes, which would be especially handy in case I ever decide to use the feeder without the dome. Click any photo for a larger view.
Easy to assemble
The EcoClean Dinner Bell is sold disassembled; assembly was extremely easy and only involved screwing the dome and the tray onto the metal wire.
A versatile feeder
This feeder came with a bag of Bark Butter Bits, which I have been offering along with some other general wild bird seed.
The EcoClean Dinner Bell is also compatible with WBU’s seed cylinder system, and is appropriate for almost any other type of bird food. The following video from WBU shows birds feeding on live mealworms and on a seed cylinder, both from this great feeder:
Bark Butter Bits are small suet balls (kind of like Dippin’ Dots for birds!). Bark Butter is known to attract over 100 species of bird (wow!) and these little balls of suet are perfect to offer a small amount to our small-but-growing group of back yard birds.
Cleaning is easy
According to WBU, the EcoClean products “feature a patented technology that inhibits the surface growth of damaging bacteria, mold and other microbes. This protection won’t wash or wear away, and it uses environmentally friendly technology.” This means that there’s no need to use bleach when cleaning this feeder. And cleaning is a breeze with this open feeder. While it’s extremely easy to completely disassemble the unit for cleaning, it’s not really necessary with such an open-style feeder.
In addition to providing me with the feeder-bark butter combo for review, WBU has generously offered my blog readers the chance to win a product of choice (valued up to $50) from their great catalog of back yard birding supplies and gifts.
Here’s how to enter the giveaway:
1. Mandatory entry: Visit http://shop.wbu.com/ and then leave a comment on this blog post telling me which product you’d like to win (up to $50)
2. Get one extra entry by becoming a fan of Wild Birds Facebook Page. Leave an additional comment on this post to let me know you’ve done this.
3. Get one extra entry by signing up for the Wild Birds Unlimited Newsletter (sign up in the sidebar box here: http://www.wbu.com/). Leave an additional comment on this post to let me know you’ve done this.
So go ahead and browse through the WBU online shop catalog and pick out your favorite product. Here are some links to feeders and seeds to get you started:
This contest is open to anyone with a U.S. address. The winner will be picked via random drawing next Tuesday, December 20th, so all entries must be received by 11:59PM EST on Monday, December 19th. Good luck! Even if you don’t win, visit http://shop.wbu.com for great holiday gifts! For standard shipping, place your order before 9AM PST for holiday delivery.
I’ll leave you with a Wingscapes BirdCam image of the very first visitor to my EcoClean Dinner Bell: a Carolina Chickadee – keeping dry along with all that seed in the rain!
One of my favorite t-shirts is this Barred Owl design from Threadless. It’s called Owl Nebula and I just got an email newsletter telling me it will be on sale for just $10 tomorrow, November 24th.
Threadless shirts are designed by members; anyone registered with the site can vote on t-shirt concepts. After the voting process, some designs are printed by Threadless. New tees come out each week and there are often some great bird shirts in the mix. I have a lot of favorites but many of them are sold out right now. Here are a few that are available now (I’m not sure if they will also be on sale tomorrow).
Besides Threadless I have some awesome owl shirts from Birdorable in my closet, too. Owls are Cool is my absolute favorite. There are currently nine owl species on Birdorable so check them out to see if your favorite species is there. With the code ZBLACKFRIDAY you can save $5 off the t-shirts shown below on Friday, November 25th; shipping is free on orders over $50.
Birders were excited when John James Audubon’s 226th Birthday was commemorated with a Google Doodle on April 26, 2011.
Hundreds of Google Doodles are now available on t-shirts, mugs, and other gifts, on Zazzle.com, the Audubon doodle included! It isn’t available on the complete Zazzle product assortment, which is too bad, because I think it would be suited for things like Zazzle’s custom binders, rectangle stickers, and iPhone cases, but it’s still available on some cool things.
The design has a white background, but you can use Zazzle’s customization tools to make the white parts of the image transparent on the canvas print, so you can make a plain white background a bit more interesting. I added a light yellow wash to the example below.
Unfortunately the customization has been turned off on the apparel and other products, but they have picked out suitable shirts for this design.
Coincidentally, I’ve just added a bunch of vintage Audubon print work to the MagnificentFrigatebird shop. They are in the Historic Bird Illustrations section. Everything here is totally customizable, so feel free to play around with backgrounds, changing product styles, and adding your own text or images!