Thursday, January 15, 2009

Attracting Birds, Butterflies, Moths, Bird Feeding, Helping Injured Birds & Butterflies, Making Home-Made Suet

For details on WHICH PLANTS ATTRACT WHICH BUTTERFLIES, their identification and photos, natural defenses against predators, warning coloration, how to help an injured butterfly, and more, go to my article at
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/32344/how_to_attract BUTTERFLIES, or check the comments under this category. (Ex. Help an injured swallowtail (8/4/05). For details on ATTRACTING BIRDS; which birds eat which seeds, which only eat on the ground, orioles & hummingbirds, birds that eat suet, or insect-eating birds, etc., go to my article at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/34074/how_to_attract BIRDS. Also check the comments below for: Best method to attract bluebirds to a bluebird box, 1/8/06; help a baby bird that can’t fly, 10/15/05; home-made suet recipes, 12/14/05, etc. Feel free to ask or answer questions here, or share your intriguing experiences. Tip: Many birds have a party eating peeled bananas on the ground. Robins love cooked macaroni and cheese and grape jelly. Chickadees love peanut butter.

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19 Comments:

At 10:11 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

I highly recommend that you visit Gayla’s spectacular BUTTERFLY DISPLAY within her site about Fractals at her Butterfly Gallery. (I’ve left a comment, explaining in layman's terms, what Fractals are under my “Nature’s wonders/fractals/sky sitings, etc.” category.)

 
At 5:55 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Before I start, thought it would be useful to know for distinguishing between the two, MOTHS rest with their wings spread, while BUTTERFLIES fold them up. Okay, WHAT FLOWERS ATTRACT BUTTERFLIES? I have an affinity for native prairie plants. My absolute, infallible choice, for sure get some PURPLE CONEFLOWERS (echinacea). Last year the monarch butterflies were sparse in the U.S. because they had trouble in Mexico again, but haven’t heard of anything this year. COMMON MILKWEED (asclep ias syriaca) is great, too. Monarch caterpillars feed on the leaves, & the butterflies seek the nectar. Also try the bright orange-flowered BUTTERFLY WEED (asclepias tuberosa), which is in the milkweed family. GREAT BLUE LOBELIA (lobelia siphilitica) and its red version, CARDINAL FLOWER (lobelia cardinalis) attract monarchs, swallowtails, etc. Then there’s BEE BALM (monarda didyma), with several varieties, and WILD BERGAMOT (monarda fistulosa). The two are related. Try some BLAZING STARS (liatris), including GAYFEATHER ( liatris spicata). I get frequent visitors to my JOE-PYE-WEED (eupatorium purpureum), and yes, GOLDENROD (solidago). The culprit causing allergies is Ragweed pollen. Goldenrod pollen is too heavy to be carried by the wind. BULL THISTLES (cirsium vulgare)may be a true nuisance, but their rosy-purple flowers are beautiful, and they attract butterflies, bees and goldfinches. Even good old-fashioned ALFALFA, thanks to a farmer who let me transplant a few sprigs to my yard, works, and I’ve heard that LARKSPURS or DELPHINIUMS are a treat for butterflies and moths. I just planted some GOLDEN ALEXANDER (zizea aurea) because a friend of mine recommended it, but warned me that it’s self-seeding, so it spreads, and some OREGANO. I’ll have to monitor them when they bloom. PHLOX, DAISIES and BLACK-EYED SUSANS are among many others, but my list only includes plants that work in my yard. From my yard to yours, may our visits from butterflies be bountiful.

 
At 11:17 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

Just learned (from one of my Google ads!) that PURPLE MARTINS don't eat seeds from a feeder, because they only eat insects. The best way to attract them is to put up a purple martin house.

 
At 11:35 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

ATTRACT A VARIETY OF BIRDS TO YOUR YARD by giving them your leftover food. (That also means getting a doggy-bag when you don't want your leftovers from a restaurant.) Birds appreciate LEFTOVER POTATOES in any form, whether you put them in a suet feeder or on the ground. Put leftover MEATS, INCLUDING CHICKEN & TURKEY in a suet feeder for NUTHATCHES AND WOODPECKERS. Scatter your BREAD, TOAST, ROLLS, and even BANANAS and MACARONI & CHEESE on the ground for robins and other ground-feeding birds. Believe me, they'll love it!

 
At 8:52 PM, Blogger kathy said...

Great Ideas here! If i didn't have 3 dogs and 4 cats, that's exactly what i would do. Right now my dogs eat up everything!;-) One thing i do want to get, is a humming bird feeder.

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Katt, and everybody, if you get or have a hummingbird feeder, don't use the solution that's sold for hummingbird feeders (or only use it sparingly; not the full amount that's suggested). The red food dye they use isn't healthy, and while it's true that red attracts hummingbirds, most hummingbird feeders have an adequate amount of red on them.

Instead, make your own solution using 1 part of sugar to 4 parts of water (i.e. 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of water).

Also, when you're heating the water to melt the sugar, don't let it get any hotter than necessary. Twice when was preparing my solution, I let the water get way too hot, and I was too impatient to let it cool down enough before I poured it in. Talk about meltdown and leakage...needless to say, I had to throw the feeders away and go to the store, mix up a new batch... Now I heat the water a bit to tepid, stir the solution around with my finger in the pot to make sure it's not too hot, and as soon as the sugar's melted, I take it off the heat and pour, knowing it's safe. Can't believe it took me two tries to learn!

 
At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Dar, I just wanted to say that I did not realize that Robins, which I have in my front yard eating worms, will not eat seed from my feeder either. Being from Minn. I love the Robin, who ignores me constantly! I guess I could get a Worm feeder. Regards.

 
At 2:16 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

No, you don't need a worm feeder! Toss some bits of bread or rolls(birds prefer white; they're apparently not concerned about healthy grains, like us) on the ground. Doesn't have to be fresh; you can use some that's too dried out for your preference. Just not moldy. Other birds love bread, too. Also, robins adore macaroni and cheese! And if you have any bananas that are too ripe for use in baking or eating, peel them and leave them on the ground. The birds truly have a party over them.

 
At 10:05 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

Besides camouflage, many species of wildlife are colored in ways that indicate their diets. For example, flamingos are pinkish-orange due to their diet of shrimp.

Although the milkweed plant's leaves are poisonous to most animals, milkweeds are the Monarch Butterfly's main diet. Thus, monarchs are toxic to their predators. There's no coloration involved here, but Butterfly Weed is a member of the milkweed family, and it has bright orange flowers that are similar to the color of Monarchs.

I just learned from my new friend, "floridacracker," at Pure Florida, that this food vs. coloration tie-in is called "warning coloration." Not only does his site have a picture of a fantastic example, but his other photos and accompanying explanations contain a wealth of knowledge you shouldn't miss. Please click on the link above; you'll be glad you did.

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Sorry, everyone, but some suggestions for attracting butterflies accidentally were posted under "Flowers, trees, etc." Could you please check under there, too? My apologies.

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

Regarding BUTTERFLIES, I found some fascinating, and in the case of the Monarch, vital information written by Maja Beckstrom for the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

MONARCHS: Monarchs migrate south to central Mexico every year. (In Minnesota, they usually leave in late August.) But the loss of Mexican forests, according to Beckstrom, along with development, pesticides and the eradication of milkweed through modern agricultural practices, have contributed to a decline in the butterfly’s populations during the past five years. Conservationists are urging people to create monarch “way stations” by planting clusters of milkweed, the only plant monarch caterpillars eat.

Tiger Swallowtails: Swallowtails are named for the tail on their hind wings, which resembles the forked tail of a barn swallow. The tail has a survival purpose. If a hungry bird bites the tail, it breaks away, and the butterfly escapes.


(My additional advice): Plant some purple cone flowers (Echinacea) in your yard. They are absolutely the best plant for attracting monarchs (and swallowtails!), which in turn lends to their survival. Echinacea is a tall, upright plant, with stunning flowerheads consisting of pink petals topped by an orange cone. (7/17/05)

 
At 6:12 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

By far, the one plant tiger swallowtails converge on in my yard is phlox--pink or white doesn't matter--they love 'em!

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

If you find an injured swallowtail butterfly (for example, if part of a wing is missing and it can't fly), generally there's no way you can heal it, and they do have a very short lifespan, but you can help his quality of life. I'm not sure if this works for all butterflies, but I learned this from a friend who lives, breathes and works in one of those butterfly houses:

"Soak a cotton ball or something similar in either juicy juice or gatoraide (they prefer purple or red colors), then put the cotton in a bottle cap or lid from a jar and place it near the injured butterly. He can drink from that and get all the nutrients he needs until his life is over."

Thanks, Mary! (8/4/05)

 
At 10:47 PM, Anonymous Sandy said...

Today, Charlotte and myself enjoyed watching a cardinal come on our deck and walk around. Later, I watched a cardinal go up and down the crab tree and then I saw a squirrel eat something in the yard and run off.

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

So unbelieveable hearing from you! Thanks for sharing about the visitors to your yard. Just in case you didn't know, the bright red cardinals are males; the more orange/brown ones, females.

We've had a baby cardinal, always accompanied by his father, in our yard for a couple weeks now, and boy is that baby talkative! I never realized cardinals layed eggs this late in the season. They're one of the few colorful birds that stay in Minnesota year-round, and they retain their colors year-round. (In comparison, male goldfinches, which we don't get in the city in St. Paul, turn from their spectacular deep yellow to a greenish cast during the fall and winter.) Cardinals also use our feeders the latest in the day, compared with other birds. Besides their daily forays, they're always there after sunset!

Send me an e-mail! Would love to talk to you. And thanks so much for the post! (9/11/05--Darlene)

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

IF YOU FIND A BABY BIRD that can't fly, you CAN return it to its nest. According to the March-April '05 issue of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, our fear that the chick's parents will smell our human scent and reject it is a myth. "Most birds have a poor sense of smell. Place the bird back in the nest. If it's learning to fly and continues to fall out of the nest, keep people and pets away for a day or so until it gets the hang of it." (Darlene-10/15/10)

 
At 8:16 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

To make your own suet: Recycle your leftover food! Every time you fry hamburgers or any meat where the fat runs off, pour the fat into an empty soup can and refrigerate it. Meanwhile, every time you have leftovers, be it meat, or vegetables including potatoes and peas, put them together in a container and refrigerate it. When you have enough to fill your suet container, you’ll have to thaw your saved fat first, because it will have hardened, but only make it a bit soft. If you scoop it out into a microwave-safe bowl, you can “nuke” it. Then throw in the leftover food you saved, stir everything together and put the conglomeration into your suet container. The birds may take as long as a week to discover it, but once they do, they’ll quickly use up your supply.

Also, when it’s too inconvenient to work with the fat runoff, you can just put leftovers like chicken and turkey, both the meat and the skin, or big chunks of potato and meat from a leftover roast, right in the suet feeder without the fat holding it. The birds will love that just as much. Use your imagination, and have fun! (Darlene-12/14/05)

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

BLUEBIRD BOXES: Don't put up just one bluebird box, because the odds are it’ll be taken over by tree swallows instead. The trick, according to Dan Prusi, from Floodwood, MN, is to place two bluebird boxes about 30 feet apart on the edge of an open grassy area. Usually one box attracts a pair of tree swallows, which defend the neighborhood from other tree swallows, but allow a bluebird pair to nest next door. (With paired boxes, he often sees as many as 75 swallow hatchlings and 20 young bluebirds in a single summer nesting season.) (Darlene—1/8/06)

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Darlene said...

For an in-depth, detailed article on attracting butterflies, which plants attract which butterflies, identifications and photos, see my article at Attracting Butterflies. 5/21/06, Darlene

 

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