In our central Florida back yard, we look forward to hosting Painted Buntings and Indigo Buntings for a few months each year.
Typically we see our first Painted Bunting some time in the fall (some previous first-of-season dates are 9/4/20, 10/22/19, and 10/23/18). The visits are sporadic at first, but starting around the first of the year, we have several individuals visiting on a daily basis. They stick around through April (some recent last of season dates are 4/28/20 and 4/24/18), so they'll be leaving us soon.
Regular visits from Indigo Buntings begin around the first of the year, as well, and they also leave in April, but we usually expect them to leave a bit earlier (in 2020 our last sighting was on April 17).
I'm not sure exactly why we have been so lucky with attracting Painted Buntings and Indigo Buntings to visit us with such regularity and in pretty good numbers (up to 10 individuals of each at a time!), but I know for sure what they like to eat -- the cheap stuff!
Both buntings chow down on millet blends served in simple plastic tube feeders. At their peak, the bunch of them will completely empty our three feeders in about two days. I always find it kind of funny that these knockout beautiful birds like such simple, otherwise undesirable food.
We try to time our stock of millet to the departure of the buntings, because once they are gone, our resident summer birds won't show much interest and we'll switch to offering more waste-free type seed blends, plus shelled sunflower and safflower.
When shopping for bird seed to feed Painted and Indigo Buntings, don't worry about getting premium blends, no mess or no waste foods, or seeds that come with extras like fruits and nuts. If you find a cheap "wild bird food" at your local hardware, grocery, or big box store, chances are it will look a lot like this one from Kaytee -- heavy on the cheap millet. This is what we offer our buntings.
We have some premium hanging tube feeders, but when a squirrel was able to damage one (we accidentally, temporarily let the closest shrubbery grow too close to the feeders) in the middle of bunting time, I looked for something affordable to replace it quickly. This plastic tube feeder is super simple but its held up perfectly for the last four months and I would not hesitate to recommend it. It's about as easy to clean as any other tube feeder and it offers six ports, all of which are used by buntings at times.
Some birds feed by hanging upside down. There are "sock" style thistle seed feeders for goldfinches designed for the birds to be able to hang any which way. Nuthatches and some warblers also move around tree trunks and branches upside down as naturally as they do right side up. I came across these feeders on Amazon that feature images of birds eating upside down. Some are natural. Not all of them, though...
I ran across this Perky-Pet feeder. It looks pretty straightforward, but the Tufted Titmouse on the left side seems to be having trouble using the feeder. It's perched upside down with its beak nowhere near a food port. Maybe it's just playing?
Like I said, there are birds that will naturally feed while hanging or standing upside down. Take, for instance, the clip art nuthatch on this feeder. This kind of feeder is mesh all around, giving complete access to the seed. Old-school, regular-perching birds can use the perches on the bottom, while nuthatches can swoop in an get a seed from wherever.
Then there are bird feeders designed so the patrons have to hang upside down on them, like this feeder for finches. Rather than having a mesh surface like the feeder above, or using cloth sock-style material, this is a clear, solid cylinder feeder with ports for the nyger, or thistle, seed. The perches are arranged below the ports so any bird who wants to get at the seed is obliged to hang upside-down.
Repost of article first published 01/11/2012
We have a collection of Stylized Bird Illustration designs. This week I'd like to highlight another group of three from the series: Stylized Stork; Stylized Horned Lark; and Stylized Swallow-tailed Flycatcher.
Each bird is drawn in simple black or white outlines. These are original, artistic bird designs that look great on a variety of our apparel styles.
This week's highlighted t-shirts feature bird alpha-codes in Euro oval sticker style. These were designed for oval bumper stickers, but the design works on t-shirts and apparel as well. There are 16 species to choose from, and your requests are welcome! Shown here are PIPL (Piping Plover); CALC (California Condor); FLSJ (Florida Scrub-Jay); MAFR (Magnificent Frigatebird); IBWO (Ivory-billed Woodpecker); KIWA (Kirtland's Warbler); WHCR (Whooping Crane); and OROR (Orchard Oriole).
This week's highlighted shirts are inspired by traditional collegiate sweatshirts and tees. We've got something for you, whether birding is your passion or your ornithology is your profession: Property of Birding Dept and Property of Ornithology Dept. The two designs are shown below on a small selection of what we've got available for purchase:
Have you ever gone twitching? Lots of birders do - they hear of a rare bird sighting not too far from where they are, or maybe very far away, and go out and try to find that bird. For serious twitchers, like birders doing a big year, the rare bird doesn't even have to be close at all. It just has to be rare, or otherwise missing from their life list. This week's highlighted shirts are all devoted twitchers.
First up is this t-shirt with twitch-ified proverb: If at first you don't succeed, twitch twitch again. Sometimes you can't get that wanted bird on the first try, but that doesn't mean you have to give up! The text phrase is shown here on a classic fit women's white t-shirt.
This design inspired by Shakespeare reads 'Tis better to have Twitched and lost Than never to have Twitched at all. Even an unsuccessful birding outing is better than a day sitting around indoors, right? You'll get your target bird next time! The design is shown here on a men's or unisex navy long sleeve tee.