Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder...

I have piles of work to my left, and piles of work to my right.  I got home from the gym HOURS ago, and I'm still in my sweaty tank top and yoga pants.  I can't seem to get anything done, though, because in South Carolina, it's bluebird mating season, y'all!

The first blast of really warm weather this weekend brought them out (don't worry, envious Northerners...we're back in the 20s by the weekend!).  I've been watching them sitting on branches...

Preening on posts...

 ...and generally flitting around.


But today I noticed some other behavior.  Males and females both were gathering nest-building materials.

Females alone build the actual nests, but males help to gather the materials.  Here's a female landing on one of our four bluebird nest boxes:

Meanwhile, the males were displaying very aggressive behavior.  Multiple males sat on various branches and flapped their wings in great agitation.

Then I saw an actual male bluebird pair fight for the right to mate the waiting female.

I've spent a great deal of time watching them this morning, and reading about their behavior.  But oh, it's not just bluebirds.  Our trees are alive with little song birds now, and I've been out with my camera in the little time that I've had available this past week.  I wanted to make sure they had plenty to eat, but we were out of traditional bird seed.  I decided to make a non-seed mixture and see how it went over.

The recipe is easy and endlessly adaptable.  Have seeds, nuts, raisins?  Toss them in. 

Basic Recipe

2 - 2 1/2 cups bacon grease (I save our leftover grease in the fridge)
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white flour

Heat the bacon grease and peanut butter until it's melted...

...and mix in everything else.  I packed the resulting (stinky) mixture into a standard loaf pan and put it in the refrigerator until it was mostly solid.

 It looks very much like peanut butter fudge when sliced.  I wrapped up my individual slices and put them in the freezer until needed.

I'm going to put them in little onion sacks or feeder cages, but just to see how they went over with the birds, I set one on top of one of the birdhouse posts (we still need to replace the old birdhouses, but the posts still stand).

Ten minutes later:

Success!  The birds went crazy for it.  It only lasted a day!

Give it a try if you want a non-seed alternative for your backyard birds.  Have a great week!

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