Bring Nature to You

Taking a walk every day has become an important part of my healthcare regimen. It is therapeutic and restorative.  But – there are days when this is a difficult task.  On days when I have my Humira injections.  Or, if I am having a difficult bathroom day, sometimes it is not feasible to go out for 20 minutes.  On those days, I am glad that I have built a birding attraction in my front garden.  I can sit in a chair or on my couch and watch nature come to me.  It is very easy and inexpensive to attract birds right to your window.  And, watching them is healing. 

First – I put together a group of Shepard hooks.  These can be bought at your local garden store, Walmart, or you can even find them at garage sales.  They range from $5.00 used to approximately $15.00 new.  You can even buy them in multi-packs online for a bulk discount.

In order to attract finches — we get the beautiful yellow, red (and, on rare occasions purple) varieties — I put out a tube feeder with Nyjer seed.  Nyjer seed may seem pricey when you buy it, but it lasts for a very long time.  And, the finches LOVE it. 

Nyjer seed also attracts beautiful male and female cardinals. They eat from the feeder, and also the seeds that drop to the ground below it.

The mourning doves also enjoy the seed that drops to the ground, and they feed in pairs.

To attract the hummingbirds, I fill two hummingbird feeders.  Hummingbirds start arriving in the yard approximately May 1st every year.  They are drawn to the color red, so if you can buy an inexpensive plastic feeder with red accents and flower openings for their beak.  Or, a glass jar feeder works great, too.  It is not recommended to use the pre-made nectar with red dye.  But, you can buy packets of clear nectar that you mix with water.  Or, make your own.  Just mix 1 part sugar for every 4 parts water.  If your climate is hot, you should check and change your feeder every few days.  If it gets mold on the beak openings or on the inside of the feeder, the birds will get sick.  It is very easy to make and change out. 

Attracting Orioles is incredible! Orioles also arrive in early May. Orioles love grape jelly.  And, like hummingbirds (who like the color red), orioles love the color orange.  So, I bought two small ramekin’s ($1.49 each) and a plastic serving tray from the dollar store.  I put water in the bottom of the plastic tray to keep ants away from the jelly. Then, I just purchase regular, inexpensive grape jelly.  I get mine at Aldi’s, and I buy about four jars at a time (under $6.00 for the month). 

I put the jelly cups between some bushes, so that the orioles are not targets for predatory birds like hawks. With the bushes nearby, the orioles can find cover quickly. Also, you will start to see them sitting on the rocks, planters and bushes nearby the jelly.

Like the hummingbird nectar, I make sure to clean and change out the jelly frequently.  The orioles will empty the small cups that I put it in daily.  So, I rinse them out good and refill.  I have such good luck with the jelly, that I don’t use anything else.  But, oranges are also enticing for orioles.  I have heard that people have good luck putting out orange slices, or oranges cut in half.  I have also seen oriole feeders (for oranges specifically) that you can place the orange on.  They also have oriole feeders for nectar (they have a larger beak opening than the hummingbird feeder). And, a spot for meal worms (you can buy these in bags at your local garden store).  I have only been using jelly (with excellent results).

Lastly, I put out a suet cage with berry suet.  Suet only costs about $1.00 per block.  It lasts about a week.  And, it attracts woodpeckers, red-winged black birds, and starlings. There are lots of flavors to choose from.  And, it stores well.  So, I buy about a month’s worth when I am out at the store. 

Once you have your start-up expenses taken care of – Shepard’s hooks, a finch feeder, hummingbird feeders, jelly cups and a suet cage – the maintenance to keep up these feeders is only pennies a day.  And, the health benefit, to you, is invaluable.  I love the joy I get from these gorgeous birds.  I am present as I watch them flutter – looking at all of their features.  These birds are a daily blessing!

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