Thursday, April 8, 2010

ART me in the Garden.........Bluebirds are in the house

OK, so here's the deal.  This time of year, I can't help but be in the garden.  I'm sure my neighbors think I'm nuts- "did those plants really change in the two hours since she last looked at them?"  Probably not, but I just can't help myself- I LOVE flowers and vegetables and growing them.  And I catch myself wandering my garden over and over again each day this time of year, making sure that I haven't missed anything. 

Then there are my birds.....I haven't actually NAMED my them, but I feel like I know each one.  I can sit and watch Cardinals playing their courting chase for hours.  Listening to the various songs and try to guess who's singing what.  I do a mean imitation of a seven hoot, hoot owl....Boring?  Maybe to some, but for me, I LOVE it! 
Yesterday, I'd resigned myself to the fact that we probably weren't going to have a bluebird nest this spring because their house is right where we've been doing all the work on the dry creek and the raised beds....and I felt we'd hindered their nestbuilding efforts but, I decided to take a peek.  As with entering anyone's home, the proper etiquette for checking a bluebird house is to knock before opening the door.  So I knocked and there was no answer....I felt like this was confirmation that they had left, but still, I opened the door just to take a peek.  AND, I scared the CRAP out of Mama bluebird, who had evidently forgiven us enough to raise her babies with us again. 
YAY!!!  Last year was the first year we had a bluebird house and we were fortunate enough to watch three broods of blue birds being raised- we were REALLY lucky enough to see one fly out of the nest.....I have their house placed so we can see it from both the kitchen and dining room windows.  Like I said, I love watching them :) 
I also enjoy feeding my birds pretty much year round.  The feeders aren't as busy this time of year, but we do get some activity.  I was assured that bluebirds will not actively feed at feeders- suet or hanging ones because they can't land properly on them- no "swoop factor".  I guess, my bluebirds don't know how to read, because they LOVE my suet and visit it regularly all year.....
  Squirrel Repelling Suet Recipe
1 cup lard
1 cup yellow cornmeal
 3 cups rolled cereal oats
 1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
 1 cup sugar 6 fresh habanero  (we grow them specifically for the suet)
 4 tbsp. powdered cayenne pepper
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup of dried fruit (my bluebird's fave is blueberries)
  1. Pulverize the fresh habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers in a blender or food processor. I wear safety glasses and plastic gloves for this step, I also try not to breathe too much......these peppers are STRONG! Set aside.
2.Put the lard and the peanut butter in a glass microwave-safe bowl, and melt them in the microwave. Stir the melted lard mixture very well.
3.Combine the cornmeal, sugar and powdered cayenne pepper in a large glass mixing bowl. Blend well.
4. Pour the lard mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix everything very well. Spoon in the pulverized peppers, nuts and berries. Add the rolled oats a cup at a time, and blend following each addition. The suet should become so thick that you won't be able to stir it. If it isn't quite thick enough, keep adding more rolled oats.
The squirrels will TRY to eat this, but eventually they will associate your suet with tummy aches and leave it alone.  Mine usually lasts two to three weeks with lots of woodpeckers, chickadees, finches and of course blue birds.  While it might get soft in the heat, it never melts.


Yvonne said...

I love your bird houses, I have about 7 houses myself!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Thank you for the great recipe. I don't have any lard, but my neighbor saves bacon grease, so I might try that. I have everything else, even the habaneros, although they are no longer fresh.

I love watching birds, too. They are such great company when I'm outside. Thanks for such a great and informative post.

Jaime Haney aka ArtsyFartsy.Me said...

I love to wander through my garden everyday several times a day too. You can miss something this time of year! Stuff is popping up all over and the tulips can go from closed to open in hours.

You are so lucky to have the blue birds nesting in your yard! I have heard the blue bird box has to go on a certain side of the yard, like east or whatever. Where is yours? I've also heard they prefer open fields but I guess that isn't true cause your yard hardly looks like a field! haha

luthien said...

omg!! what a fun post!! i love the stories you told us here and man ... to have birds nesting in your garden is sooooo cool!! the bluebird is really vivid ... we dun get them here :) but... were you pulling my leg when you said you had to knock before peeking in???

Magpie said...

How cool is that, that the hot peppers don't bother the birds but the squirrels stay away! I have given up with the squirrels ~ I just happily watch their antics as they devour the bird food! I put out plenty for everyone. I slack off in the summer though, when food is more plentiful for them all.

I know what you mean about loving to be in the garden. I don't know what I am checking for, but I just love looking at everything. It's a little early for us, but things are starting to pop out everywhere. I love seeing the perennials coming up, it's so amazing that they can disappear completely and then show up again in the spring.

Plumrose Lane said...

Gosh don't you just love spring!?!

ChatElaine said...

Beautiful birdies! Lovely post Stephanie! I am waiting for our Blue Tits to arrive they usually nest in my neighbours box, we have a robin's box still waiting to see if we get inhabitants this year!! xx

Charlie said...

OMG! Your garden looks fabulous! From what I could see... you need to take more pictures. I'd love to see it. My yard still needs so much work. This winter and the harsh drought we had last summer really did a number on it.
Thanks for sharing that recipe. I'll have to try it. I don't feed the birds because of the squirrels. They drive me crazy!