Birdorable backyard birds on a bird feeder in winter

Can you identify all these birds?

February marks a special occasion for bird lovers across the United States: National Bird-Feeding Month. This observance sprang to life in 1994 through the initiative of John Porter, an Illinois Congressman who recognized the pressing need to support our avian friends during the toughest stretch of the year. With the chill of winter in full swing and natural food sources dwindling, the importance of bird feeders becomes ever more pronounced, serving as essential lifelines for beloved backyard bird species.

Serving appropriate foods is crucial. Black oil sunflower seeds are known to attract a broad spectrum of birds, nyjer seeds are particularly favored by finches, and suet cakes cater to the dietary needs of woodpeckers, nuthatches, and others. By offering a diverse selection, you can enjoy the presence of a wide variety of birds right in your backyard.

But sustenance isn't the only necessity; water plays a vital role too. Birds need water not just for hydration but also for maintaining their plumage through bathing. A heated birdbath can be a lifesaver during those freezing February days, providing a constant source of water when natural supplies are locked under ice.

Creating a safe haven for these birds is equally important. Ensure that feeders are placed well out of reach of predators and provide ample cover for birds to seek refuge at a moment's notice. The safety measures extend to your household pets as well; keeping cats indoors during the winter and all year long can significantly reduce the risks to visiting birds. Additionally, consider applying decals to windows to prevent birds from colliding with the glass.

Engagement with the natural world and bird doesn't have to end with just feeding and watching. Participating in citizen science projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count, which takes place February 16 to 19 in 2024, not only enriches your bird-feeding experience but also contributes valuable data to bird conservation efforts. Citizen Science projects like this offer a unique way to connect with a community of like-minded individuals who share a passion for birds and their conservation.

Birdorable Downy Woodpecker on a peanut feeder

Downy Woodpecker on a peanut feeder

Popular U.S. Backyard Birds and How to Attract Them

  • Northern Cardinals
    These vibrant red birds are a joy to behold. Attract Northern Cardinals with black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and cracked corn placed in hopper or platform feeders. 
  • Blue Jays
    Known for their intelligence and striking blue plumage, Blue Jays are drawn to peanuts, sunflower seeds, and suet. A sturdy tray feeder or a hopper feeder is best for them. 
  • American Goldfinches
    These small, bright yellow birds prefer nyjer (thistle) seeds or hulled sunflower seeds. Use a tube feeder with small perches to accommodate goldfinches
  • Black-capped Chickadees
    Friendly and curious, chickadees love sunflower seeds, peanut bits, and suet. Tube feeders or small hopper feeders work well for these tiny birds. 
  • Hummingbirds
    To attract hummingbirds, who migrate as early as February in some southern U.S. areas, use nectar feeders. A homemade sugar water solution (four parts water to one part white sugar, boiled and cooled) will bring these buzzing beauties to your garden. Never use mixes with artificial dye in your hummingbird feeders.
  • Bluebirds
    Bluebirds are attracted to mealworms, suet, and fruit slices. Place these on platform or hanging feeders for best results. Depending on where you live, you might attract Eastern, Mountain, or Western Bluebirds.

By taking part in National Bird-Feeding Month, you can do more than just feed birds; you can help contribute to their survival during the winter months, ensuring the continuity of their populations.

Cute Backyard Bird Gifts

Crane Festivals

Sandhill Cranes in flight

It's Crane Week! You may be wondering where you can find cranes. There are cranes on every continent except for South America and Antarctica. With their elaborate mating dances, haunting calls, impressive size, and epic migrations, cranes are celebrated all around the world. You can join other crane enthusiasts at various crane festivals around the United States and beyond.

The Whooping Crane Festival in Port Aransas, Texas This huge annual festival celebrated its 22nd year in 2018. The fest takes place at the end of February each year and features field trips, speakers, workshops, a trade show, and more.

Crane Festival in Kearney, Nebraska This annual festival takes place in late March. Birding field trips, information sessions, and other activities are offered for participants.

Monte Vista Crane Festival in the San Luis Valley of Colorado This festival takes place in March each year. Visitors enjoy viewing spectacular flocks of cranes, ducks, and geese in a beautiful mountain setting.

Chrissiesmeer Crane Festival in Chrissiesmeer, South Africa This annual festival takes place in July. Visitors can see South Africa's national bird, the Blue Crane, as well as the spectacular Grey Crowned-Crane.

Cranes of the World Festival at the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin This family-friendly event will next take place on August 4, 2018.

Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival in Alaska This annual festival will next take place August 24-26 2018.

Yampa Valley Crane Festival in northwest Colorado This festival from the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition will next take place starting August 30, 2018. The fest features guided bird viewings, live raptor presentations, photography workshops, and much more.

Whooping Crane Festival in Princeton, Wisconsin This annual one-day festival includes activities like a pancake breakfast, vendors, triva, and guided tours.

CraneFest in Bellevue, Michigan This combined crane and art festival will next take place October 13-14, 2018. Each day the festival features artists, food vendors, and conservation-related information and activities. Stay for the spectacular evening fly-in of cranes that takes place in the hours before dusk.

Sandhill Crane Festival in Lodi, California This festival will next take place November 2-4, 2018. The event celebrates the return of the cranes for the winter and features related presentations and workshops for participants.

Black-necked Crane Festival in the Phobjikha Valley of Bhutan This celebration takes place in mid-November, when the cranes return to Bhutan. The fest highlights the importance of preserving and appreciating the endangered crane.

Festival of the Cranes in Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico This huge six-day festival takes place in November at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and offers over a hundred activities like photography sessions, birding trips, and more.

International Vulture Awareness Day (IVAD) may be tomorrow, but we here at Birdorable love vultures all year, and we can't wait to introduce our newest Birdorable bird: the Lammergeier, or Bearded Vulture.

Birdorable Lammergeier

Lammergeiers like to eat dead things (just like people, if you think about it!), but they are a bit picky when it comes to their favorite treat: bone marrow! While they can easily swallow some bones, very large bones require a bit more work. Lammergeiers are so smart, they have a great trick to get at the bone marrow inside the bones of very large carcasses: they drop them on rocks! The bird will hold the bone and fly up high above a rocky area. At just the right moment, it will drop the bone so that it is broken or shattered by the rocks below. The Lammergeier then proceeds to chow down on the bone fragments along with the nutritious marrow inside. To help you celebrate IVAD, please have a look at our free fun vulture downloads, including an all-new Lammergeier coloring page. And check out our cute Lammergeier gifts.

Yes, vultures can be cute - our Birdorable vultures prove just that! Although vultures may be known for eating dead things, using projectile vomit as a defense measure and even cooling themselves by urinating on their own legs, these carrion-eating baldies aren't all about the ick-factor. For example:

Egyptian Vulture
  1. The Egyptian Vulture is one of the few species of bird to use tools. It will lift small rocks in its beak and smash them into ostrich eggs to crack the hard shell. Clever birds!
  2. While Lammergeiers don't use tools, they do have a clever way to get at their favorite food. They will drop large bones while flying in order to crack them into pieces. With clever strategies like that, who needs tools?!
  3. Several vulture species lack vocal organs so they are only able to hiss or grunt. No screaming banshees here!
  4. Several species including the Turkey Vulture are extremely gregarious. Birds will roost in large community groups which may include several hundred individuals. The vulture's motto: We Are Fa-mi-ly!
Birdorable California Condor
  1. California Condors are especially fastidious and may spend hours a day preening their feathers. Beauty queens!
  2. Courting Turkey Vultures will gather in a circle to perform hopping movements around the perimeter, with wings spread. Yes, they put on the dance moves to attract a sweetheart!
  3. The Rüppell's Vulture holds the height record for avian flight, with the ability to fly up to an altitude of 37,000 feet. These birds have their place in the avian extreme games!
  4. Vultures often remain inactive until the sun has warmed up the air with sufficient thermals to support soaring. These sleepyheads need the sun to get going on their day's work. I know some people like that!
  5. The Palm-nut Vulture is so named because its favorite food is the nut of the Oil Palm tree. A veg-loving vulture!
  6. The Cinereous Vulture is also known as the Monk Vulture, because its ruff of neck feathers resembles a monk's cowl. Even vultures get funny nicknames.
  7. Often vultures gorge so much they can’t fly. Vultures know how to pig out, and they aren't afraid to do it!
  8. The Turkey Vulture can glide for over six hours without flapping a wing. Another extreme avian sports contender, category: endurance.
  9. California Condors and several other vulture species mate for life. How romantic!
  10. The Hooded Vulture is abundant through most of its range and is usually unafraid of humans. They are sometimes called "garbage collectors" by locals. In fact all vultures are nature's original waste managers!
  11. Like many wildlife species vultures have suffered from loss of habitat and illegal hunting. Several vulture species have suffered up to a 99% population decrease in India and neighboring countries due to poisoning from livestock pharmaceuticals.

That last trivia point is not actually one of our favorites, but it is an unfortunate fact. Today is International Vulture Awareness Day 2009, which promotes vulture conservation. This post is part of the Blog for Vultures carnival coinciding with IVAD09. Learn more about vultures, vulture conservation and awareness by visiting the other participants in today's virtual event. Click on the nifty badge below to learn more!

Superbowl of Birding

Birdorable Football
Mass Audubon's Superbowl of Birding IV will take place this Saturday from 5am to 5pm. The Superbowl of Birding is a 12-hour competition in Massachusetts whereby different teams try to find as many birds as possible during the day. Different birds are worth different points and prizes will be awarded in nine different categories. We'll be rooting for one of the teams participating in this year's competition: the Bloggerhead Kingbirds. The team is made up of birding bloggers Christopher, Patrick, Corey, Quintus and N8. Christopher contacted us earlier this week to make a logo for their team, which we were very happy to do! He requested a Loggerhead Kingbird with a laptop and binoculars and here's the result:
Bloggerhead Kingbirds logo
You can read more about the team here: http://natureblognetwork.com/blog/nature-blogging-20/. Good luck Bloggerhead Kingbirds!

Last Sunday we participated as Team Birdorable in the 14th annual Big Sit birding event. The Big Sit involves observing as many different bird species as possible while remaining in a 17 foot diameter.

We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of a county preserve: Prairie Wolf Slough in Lake County in Illinois. Our first bird was a Mallard flying over, and then the first of many flocks of Canada Geese leaving the slough for the day. Other flyovers included Killdeer, Herring Gull, American Crow, Great Egret and Great Blue Heron. American Goldfinches and Red-winged Blackbirds were the most abundant species. Our total species count was 16, nowhere near fellow Illinois Big Sitters Birdfreak's impressive total of 42. We had a lot of fun during our first Big Sit and we are looking forward to participating again next year!

Prairie Wolf Slough
Prairie Wolf Slough
Prairie Wolf Slough
Prairie Wolf Slough
Prairie Wolf Slough

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day, so remember to put out some new peanuts and a fresh bowl of water for your backyard or balcony birds. Here's a bird's eye view of our beautiful planet:
Birdorables around 
Earth

22 April is Earth Day

Two weeks from today is Earth Day. April 22 marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970, when on April 22th twenty million Americans took to the streets to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. The Earth's area covered by rainforests is rapidly shrinking as rainforests have been subjected to heavy logging and agricultural clearance throughout the 20th century. Thousands of species are being driven to extinction each year due to the removal of habitat with destruction of the rainforests. :( Show your rainforest support with this Birdorable design featuring the South American Keel-billed Toucan:

Birdorable Save the Rainforest t-shirt

Check out all our Birdorable Support a Cause designs.

Today, 5 January 2008, is National Bird Day. The Animal Protection Institute (API) and the Avian Welfare Coalition (AWC) calls on activists around the U.S. to take action on behalf of captive birds by drawing attention to the exploitation of other countries' native birds by the U.S. pet industry on National Bird Day. For more information see www.nationalbirdday.com.

Happy National Bird Day