Watching Backyard Birds

Welcome to the August 2021 issue of Watching Backyard Birds! A ruby-throated hummingbird graces the cover of this issue. Impossibly strange and endlessly fascinating, hummingbirds touch us in ways no other birds do. Also, columnist Julie Zickefoose writes about one of life’s ultimate little luxuries—running water in a shallow basin, placing it underneath a favorite window, and hearing the ruffle of small birds’ wings. Also, can a bluebird have two husbands? When does fall migration start? How do you encourage grosbeaks and buntings to visit a feeder? Our hairiest columnist has answers. Find all this and more in the August issue of WBB.
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Welcome to the June issue of Watching Backyard Birds! If you live near bright lights, flat roofs, or trees, listen for the beard call of the common nighthawk feeding on the wing above your backyard on warm evenings. Also, there’s something about a fledgling that makes people want to rescue it, but columnist Julie Zickefoose urges folks to resist the temptation to carry out a well-intentioned abduction. Lastly, our hairiest columnist answers reader questions about bald cardinals, Nyjer’s short shelf life, easy-to-clean feeders, and when to prune your trees. Find all this and more!
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Spring has sprung! The yellow warbler graces the cover of our April 2021 issue. One of the most widely distributed warblers in North America, the yellow warbler is sweet-sweet-sweeter-than-sweet in its unmistakable red-streaked yellow plumage. If you know when to look, you might even see one in your own backyard! Also, warblers are wonderful, but not every spring day is full of migrants. Contributor Eirik A.T. Blom encourages us to view spring with new eyes and succumb to the uncommon pleasure of common birds. In her Watcher at the Window column, Julie Zickefoose works hard to keep the impenetrable tangles of multiflora rose in check, but she is also learning to look at the invasive through the eyes of the birds—as a curse that is least part blessing. Find all this and more!
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The sprightly white-throated sparrow graces the cover of our February 2021 issue. Regardless of whether whitethroats are of the white-striped or tan-striped variety, their song—one of the few heard this time of year—is a reminder that the return of spring is inevitable. Columnist Julie Zickefoose reminds us that the variability in different foods and feeders helps make bird feeding interesting. When exposed to a new food long enough, birds will try most anything, sometimes with surprising results. Also, as joyful as it can be to satisfy the taste buds of “the regulars” at our feeders, attracting unusual species can result in a feeling of triumph. Try our tips for luring these “wish” birds to your yard. Find all this and more!
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The Steller’s jay graces the cover of our last issue for 2020. While some folks are quick to denounce these impudent loud-mouths, contributor Ferris Weddle finds it rather difficult to dislike such a loveable rascal as this extremely intelligent bird. How much does Julie Zickefoose love peanut butter suet? Our esteemed contributor counts the ways and shares her recipe for the soft, crumbly dough that brings all the birds to the yard. Also, readers wonder: Where’d the downies go? Where do birds sleep? Birdsquatch, our hairiest columnist, has answers. Find all this and more in the December issue of WBB!
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Here’s a taste of what’s inside our October issue! The white-breasted nuthatch is our cover species. While the rest of the bird world goes up, the nuthatch goes down. This unusual headfirst feeding behavior is only one of many reasons bird watchers are drawn to this dapper little bird. Though the cold ushers in death to so many things naturalist Julie Zickefoose loves in her gardens, it also stunts many viruses and bacteria that thrive at feeders in summer. As much as she will miss her avian friends, Julie determines a hiatus from feeding is sometimes the right thing to do as the seasons turn. Also, check out answers to ten of the most frequently asked questions we receive about backyard birds.
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The Cooper’s hawk takes center stage in this issue of WBB. A native of dense forest, this species has adapted to our tree-filled suburban environment with remarkable ease. Editor Dawn Hewitt conducts a pseudo-scientific experiment to see which of her hummingbird feeders attracts the fewest bees. Also, the privilege of watching young hummingbirds embark on their life journey in her southern Arizona yard has helped contributor Marion Ball overcome the worries and concerns of the pandemic.  Find all this and more in our August 2020 issue!
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Orioles take center stage in the June 2020 issue of Watching Backyard Birds! While eight oriole species brighten backyards across the US, the Bullock’s is a western specialty found fairly frequently in yards with scattered trees. Learn more about this beautiful bird in our species profile. Also, whether you are a casual backyard bird watcher, or your backyard is the starting point for other birding adventures, we have 10 tips to consider when purchasing optics. Find all this and more in the June issue of WBB!
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In this issue, author, artist, and naturalist Julie Zickefoose credits the eastern phoebe with inspiring a name for her firstborn and compelling her to buy a house. How can a person base such momentous decisions on such a nondescript little flycatcher? You’d have to know the phoebe. Author Eirik A.T. Blom encourages backyard bird watchers to look up—many birds that we rarely see in our yards occur regularly right above our heads! Also, Birdsquatch, our hairiest columnist, answers reader questions about a cardinal-woodpecker stare down and how to make your yard attractive to rose-breasted grosbeaks.
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