Watching Backyard Birds

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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Watching Backyard Birds April 2016

The beautiful rose-breasted grosbeak graces the cover of our April 2016 issue. It won’t be long before these lovely songbirds make their way northward through our yards. Familiarize yourself with this species so you’ll know it when it stops by. Also in this issue: WBB reader Lana Worley discovered an albino hummingbird near her house. With the help of a photographer friend, she documented something few people have ever seen. Table of Contents »

The ever-popular tufted titmouse graces the cover of our February issue. Inside, read all about the five species of titmouse that reside in North America: tufted, oak, juniper, black-crested, and bridled. Also included in this issue: Why would a bird pull hair out of a sleeping dog? Which U.S. president kept a yard list of birds seen at the White House? Does a busy bird feeder mean that bad weather is coming? All of these questions, and more, are answered in the February 2016 issue of Watching Backyard Birds.
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Red-bellied seems like a poor name for this eastern woodpecker. It really is appropriate, though. What happens when a gang of wild turkeys invades turkey vulture turf? A wildlife rumble ensues, and who do you suppose wins? Julie Zickefoose documents it in words and photos, so you can find out! Juncos—sweet little “snowbirds”: The same species that visits your yard in winter can look quite different elsewhere in the country. And find out how an Ohio woman made her Christmas tree even more attractive—to the birds!
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Not all songbirds migrate. If you live near a forest or woodlot, nuthatches likely visit your feeder all year long. Learn more about these familiar “upside-down birds.” Read about a camper who encountered a red-breasted nuthatch that demanded to be fed—from her hand! Find out how to help hummingbirds as they head south, and learn how to prepare your yard and garden to help birds in fall. Julie Zickefoose reflects on a spider that looks like bird poop and doesn’t spin a web! Birdsquatch reveals how it is woodpeckers bang their heads against trees without getting a headache!
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The joy of backyard quail, the fascinating anatomy of the common nighthawk, how to make a dripper to hang above a birdbath that’s sure to draw in birds, befriending crows, transforming a desert yard into an oasis for birds, tips for keeping hummingbird nectar fresh, why birds sometimes turn up their bills at beautiful birdbaths: There’s a lot of interesting reading in the August issue of Watching Backyard Birds!
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Summer is upon us, which means most of our backyard birds have settled into their post-spring routines of incubating eggs and rearing young. Learn more about the northern mockingbird, that familiar backyard songster, and why he so often sings in the dead of night. Find out what you can plant to bring more birds to your backyard, and read about the most common, yet seldom seen, squirrels in North America: flying squirrels!
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It’s spring! Time for the return of hummingbirds, orioles, barn swallows, tanagers, wood thrushes, and many other songbirds that add color and song to backyards across North America. Learn cool facts about hummingbirds, and find out where five familiar backyard birds have been all winter. Read about an Ohio woman who tried for years to attract orioles to her yard. Each spring, her yard was orange with citrus fruit offerings, but not orioles. Then one day it happened: It started raining orioles! Table of Contents »

Seven species of chickadee reside in North America and charm those who offer birdfeeders. Speaking feeding the birds: Consider the hulls. How much messy waste are you buying with each bag of sunflower seed? Are sunflower hearts, more expensive per pound, a good deal after all? Did you know that eastern bluebirds are nonmigratory? Mealworms can help them through the worst weather, but be careful not to overdo this treat they love! Table of Contents »

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