Watching Backyard Birds

Most easterners recognize the blue jay, and those who feed birds enjoy their antics at the feeders. In the West, Steller’s jays can dominate feeders. But there are seven other species of jay in North America—all of which are colorful and fun to watch. Also in this issue: Bill Thompson, III, (Bill of the Birds) offers expert advice to help you attract a wider variety of birds to your yard this winter. Find all this and more in the December 2017 issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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A pileated woodpecker with an injured leg turns up at a suet feeder. Find out about North America’s largest woodpecker and what happens to this sad bird. Hint: The story has a happy ending. Eight turkey vultures soared above columnist Julie Zickefoose’s garage for three days one October. The vultures were aware of something foul that Julie didn’t realize. A Denver native has watched the diversity of backyard bird species change through the decades. This autumn issue of WBB offers advice on how to prepare your yard and bird feeders for wintry weather ahead.
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This issue of WBB has a special focus on hummingbirds. Only one species of hummingbird nests the East, but fifteen species breed in North America, including the orange rufous hummingbird. Hundreds more live in Central and South America, ranging from the tiny blue bee hummingbird, to the robin-sized giant hummingbird. Also in this issue: Read one contributor’s story of a hummingbird rescue, and discover ways to deter ants and bees at hummingbird feeders. Find all this and more in the August issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Kick summer off with the June issue of Watching Backyard Birds! On the cover is a spectacular tree swallow, a bird that is increasingly becoming part of the suburban and backyard landscape in North America. June is nesting time for many backyard birds, and Julie shares some insights on several species nesting around her home in southeastern Ohio. Read about the curve-billed thrasher, a common backyard bird in the desert Southwest. Find all of this and more in the June 2017 issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Spring is starting to blossom with the April issue of Watching Backyard Birds! On the cover: the sweet chipping sparrow, an often-overlooked backyard forager who will soon return to nest across North America. It’s time to plan, or even plant your garden, depending upon where you live. Julie Zickefoose recommends blooms that will provide natural food for backyard birds this summer. Birdsquatch, our slightly stinky columnist, tackles the ground under birdfeeders that can be pretty icky this time of year. Find all this and much more in this issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Julie Zickefoose remembers, as a child, her first encounter with eastern bluebirds. In this issue of WBB, she shares lessons learned about feeding and housing them. She shares her recipe for “Zick dough,” a high-protein treat that will have bluebirds, cardinals, woodpeckers, and many other species lined up at your feeders! Also in this issue, Birdsquatch, our tall, hairy, and slightly stinky columnist answers reader questions about feeding suet dough and why nest boxes might fail. Find all this and much more in this issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Watching Backyard Birds December 2016

For reasons unknown, evening grosbeaks stopped turning up in big numbers in winter at feeders in the Lower Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast. Will they return this year? Let’s hope so! Also, Birdsquatch explains the sudden abundance of red-breasted nuthatches, and explains how insect eaters survive winter. Lastly, a few winters ago, a red-headed woodpecker took up residence in a decaying birch tree just outside Julie Zickefoose’s window. Hear his story and much more in this issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Watching Backyard Birds October 2016

Depending on where you live in North America, a strawberry-red finch at your feeder might be a house finch, a purple finch, or a Cassin’s finch. Learn how to tell them apart. “True Nature” columnist Julie Zickefoose recalls seeing a robin eat a hard-bodied insect during drought—despite its preference for soft foods, like earthworms. Read how weather can affect what a bird eats. Find all this and more in our October issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Have you ever stopped to take a good look at a mourning dove? In breeding plumage, their feathers glow an iridescent pink and their eye rings are turquoise—but they’re so common we often overlook their subtle beauty. Julie Zickefoose penned the profile of this fascinating species, and her “Watcher at the Window” column recounts a rescue of a nestling “MoDo” that had fallen onto a busy street. Alos, find out how to prepare your feeder birds for your vacation, and how to prepare your garden to best help birds when the blossoms fade.
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Gracing the cover of our June 2016 issue is the indigo bunting, a spectacular bird found east of the Rocky Mountains in summer. Find out how you can attract this blue beauty to your backyard. June is the month for baby birds to stretch their wings and leave the nest, but fledglings remain dependent upon their parents for a while. Also included in this issue are tips on deterring squirrels and raccoons, a blue bird identification quiz, and a collection of photos from a reader’s New England backyard.
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