Watching Backyard Birds

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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Our cover species is the jaunty junco—popularly known as the snowbird. With its “leaden sky above, snow below” coloration, it is a welcome sight and symbol of winter for many across North America. Also, we know that birds and humans share some emotions, with fear being perhaps the most obvious. But what about love? Finally, February still means frigid temperatures and snowfall for many, but you will find hints of spring emerging if you pause long enough to listen closely, watch mindfully, and breathe deeply.
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There’s a lot to love in the December 2019 issue of WBB! Contributor Alvah Sanborn profiles the yellow-bellied sapsucker and explains why this clown of the woods more than deserves a second look. Last winter, in an attempt to attract a wider variety of bird species to his yard, BWD‘s Bruce Wunderlich added suet feeders to his backyard feeding stations. It worked! Read his observations of his “new neighbors,” the woodpeckers. Also, author, artist, and naturalist Julie Zickefoose recounts stories of sharp-shinned hawks hunting songbirds in her backyard. In a funny way, she’s rooting for both hunter and prey.
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Here’s a taste of what’s inside our October issue! A familiar bird to many North American bird watchers, the towhee—call it rufous-sided, eastern, or spotted—is always a delight to spot in your backyard. In Watcher at the Window, Julie Zickefoose surrenders the tangle of vines, leaves, stems, and seeds to the winter birds, which find food and shelter in “the wreck” until she clears the beds in the spring. Also, Birdsquatch answers questions about aggressive birds, excluding grackles from feeders, and how to protect Nyjer and thistle seed from the elements. Find all this and more in the October issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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The August issue of WBB is destined to be a keepsake! Co-founder of Bird Watcher’s Digest, the company that publishes this magazine, Elsa Thompson passed away unexpectedly on May 25, 2019. The WBB staff honors its matriarch in this issue. The aptly named gray catbird is a regular summer visitor to many backyards in the eastern two-thirds of the United States and southern Canada—though many a birder has been fooled into looking for a feline after hearing a catbird’s soft mew. Birdsquatch, our hairiest columnist, answers reader questions about how to attract more hummingbirds and how to thwart an aggressive hummingbird bully.
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This issue of WBB brings you two stories about an often-overlooked but common backyard bird of the East: the chimney swift. Columnist Julie Zickefoose recalls the summer she found Carolina wren nests on her house, in her garage, and at numerous other locations on her property. She counted 26 fledgling wrens that summer! Also, our hairiest columnist answers reader questions about feeding birds popcorn, offering pet fur to nesting birds, and how to wean hummingbirds from a nectar feeder in anticipation of moving. Find all this and more in the June issue of Watching Backyard Birds!!
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A rental house with a barn swallow nest provided years of entertainment and life lessons for WBB contributor Norman Lavers. Read his observations of this sleek little bird. Contributor Elizabeth Bacher offers 11 ideas to make your property more appealing and safer for your feathered friends. It’s likely that the most beautiful birds to visit your yards never come to your feeders. Learn how to find and see secretive warblers in your trees and shrubbery! Find all this and more in the April 2019 issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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A streaky brown finch adorns the cover of our February issue, a winter visitor from the north. Pine siskins are often overlooked at thistle feeders, but they are interesting little birds. Also, birds have survived thousands of winters without human help, but we can make their lives easier during icy, frigid spells, and as a reward, draw them closer to us for better viewing. Find out ten simple ways to do this. Find all this and much more in the February issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Our final issue of 2018 features a crimson beauty, the northern cardinal. Those of us who see them all the time tend to forget how striking cardinals really are. In her Watcher at the Window column, Julie Zickefoose muses on the smaller, starker aspects of nature: textures of dried weeds, the bones of a bare tree. Birdsquatch, our hairiest columnist, forecasts an abundance of red-breasted nuthatches this winter. Editor Bill Thompson, III, offers 10 things to do during winter to maintain and enhance your connection to the birds in your neighborhood. Find this and more in the December 2018 issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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