How do I Attract Orioles? The Bird Shed Answers!

how to attract orioles to your backyardWith the fall migration, we often get asked how do I attract Orioles to my backyard?  First you must meet its survival needs. Fortunately, it is easy to do so for the different species of orioles.

Eats: Feeding orioles is easy, whether you provide orange halves, grape jelly or yummy nectar. Planting berry producing bushes, fruit trees and nectar producing flowers are also ways to offer orioles natural food sources. And as always, feeders should be clean and in easily viewed areas.  Last but not least is to keep the food fresh to attract the most birds.

Drinks: All birds need water for cleaning and bathing, and orioles are especially attracted to shallow birdbaths and moving water. Choose a birdbath with a wide but shallow basin and add a bubbler or dripper to attract the most birds. A birdbath with orange decorations or a terra cotta design can also catch orioles’ attention.

Home: Orioles are shy birds that are typically solitary, though they may be found in pairs during the nesting season or in small groups after young birds have fledged. Offering protected spaces such as leafy deciduous trees and dense shrubs will make the birds feel more secure and welcome. Choose trees and shrubs that are native to your region so the birds will recognize them more easily, and opt for clumps of trees rather than solitary plantings.

Nesting: While orioles do not nest in birdhouses, you can encourage them to build their nests in your yard if you have willow, elm, oak, poplar, cottonwood or similar trees. To make the area even more attractive, offer nesting material such as pet fur, hair, or 4-6-inch lengths of yarn or thread for the birds to weave into their nests.
More Tips for Attracting Orioles

Plant flowers in orange hues in your garden near nectar producing blooms, or add an orange gazing ball for a burst of oriole-attracting color.

Keep oriole feeders separated from human activity and other feeding areas. These are shy birds that may not venture too close to busy areas until they are used to the setting.

Put oriole feeders out in late March or early April to attract the first spring migrants, and keep feeders out late into the fall for birds moving down from the north. This will maximize the number of orioles that visit your yard.

Fall Birding Events

178522633Here are some great fall birding events between now and the end of the year.  So grab your trusty binoculars, your field book and some warm clothing and get birding!

Birding Festivals 2013

Credit: Larry Hitchens

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, MD, hosts an Eagle Festival on March 9, 2013

For a jaw-dropping natural spectacle, it’s hard to beat a bird festival. National wildlife refuges make great bird festival locales because they’re bird magnets; many protect important bird habitat along the country’s major fly routes. To see great masses of birds, look for festivals that coincide with spring or fall migration. Here are some major refuge-centered festivals scheduled for 2013, in the order they will occur.

Here are some major refuge-centered festivals in 2013:

Midwest Birding Symposium

Thursday, September 19- Sunday, September 22 — Lakeside, OH
The festival includes field trips to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

Wings over Water Wildlife Festival
Tuesday, October 22-Sunday, October 27— Outer Banks, NC
Pick from scores of talks and trips on birding, paddling, wildlife photography and natural history.  Field trips will go to Pea Island andAlligator River National Wildlife Refuges. All proceeds go to the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, a nonprofit that supports national wildlife refuges in eastern North Carolina.

Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival   
Thursday, November 7 – Monday, November 11 — Harlingen, TX
The festival includes field trips to Laguna Atascosa, Lower Rio Grande Valley and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges. Featured events include lectures, workshops, birding trips, boating on the Arroyo and other guided trips. Look for great kiskadees, green jays, Altamira orioles and chachalacas.

Festival of the Cranes
November 19 – 24 — Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, NM
Thrill to skiesful of sandhill cranes and snow geese at a world-famous birding festival. Enjoy tours, talks, workshops, field trips, dusk fly-ins and dawn fly-outs.

Repost from U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System Homepage

Name that bird!

Test your birding skills. Can you guess the bird by just listening to it?


Fall Birding Tips

fall birding, bird shedThe weather in the northeast has been rather cool as of late, and it reminds us that fall is fast approaching. Fall is a great time to go birding, but just as birds change their behaviors as the seasons change, so too must birders change how they approach birding if we hope to enjoy the great bounty of birding opportunities of fall.  Here are a few fall birding tips to get you ready:

Fall Birding Benefits

Fall is after most birds’ nesting season and young birds help create larger flocks for birders to spot. This is also a peak migration time, bringing many different birds to areas where they wouldn’t normally be seen. Because of this, fall can often be one of the most productive seasons for birders who know how to take advantage of it.

Where to go birding in the Fall

Knowing where to find birds during the autumn months can make the difference between seeing the same local species and spotting new migrating visitors. The best spots to bird in the fall include:

Waterways: Migrating waterfowl and shorebirds travel near bodies of water, including coastal areas, lakes and rivers.

Cliffs: Thermal air currents near steep mountainsides or cliffs are the best place to spot migrating raptors.

Grasslands: Open grasslands that have gone to seed are a hotspot for migrating sparrows and songbirds.

Of course, any suitable bird habitat can be a great place to check for unusual species in the fall. Don’t neglect your favorite birding hotspots as you watch for traveling visitors.

Here are a few fall  Birding Tips

Get your backyard ready

Like most of year, have your water supplies continually filled and ready to go.  With dropping leaves, make sure they are clean of leaves and other debris that could mask them.  As the flocks migrate, they’ll be especially hungry and it is always recommended to have an ample amount of feeders and tasty morsels ready to go!

Identify Birds Carefully

Fall is an exciting time that may bring many transient birds to an area, but avoid jumping to unusual conclusions when spotting an unfamiliar bird. Young birds often resemble other species and can be tricky to identify properly.

Dress Comfortably

The weather can be unpredictable in the fall, ranging from Indian summer heat to pre-winter chills in just a few hours. Dress in layers, and don’t forget to add a touch of bright yellow or orange to your attire if you will be birding in areas where hunting is popular.

Watch the Time

As the days grow shorter and the birds more diverse, it can be easy to forget when the sun goes down. If you are birding in the evening, be sure to keep an eye on the clock so you aren’t caught far from safety as darkness settles.

Attract Migrating Birds

It isn’t necessary to venture far to see unique migrating birds in the fall. Stock your backyard with seed and water, choose late blooming flowers, and try other tricks to attract migrating birds right to your door.

Keep Dogs Leashed

Birds gather in large flocks in the fall as they prepare to journey to their winter habitats, and so many birds in one location can be overly stimulating to a dog. If your dog will be joining you on a bird walk, keep it securely leashed so it does not disturb our feathered friends.

Check Flocks Thoroughly

While from a distance a flock of birds may seem to be made up of a single species, many birds congregate in mixed flocks after the nesting season ends. Check flocks carefully to see if there are any unusual members you wouldn’t want to miss.

Bird Frequently

During the fall migration, new birds will arrive at the same location every day. Visiting one location repeatedly can yield a range of unique species and is a great way to learn the migration habits of different birds.


My birding expedition for Owls and Herons

birding heron the bird shedHaving a friend point out a Great Horned Owl nesting site is truly a gift.  When Jack told me about a local nest, I loaded my car with kids and adults and a good telescope and we were off.  This birding trip is a “two-fer” jaw dropper for anyone.  The owls are nesting in the middle of a busy and possibly the largest Heron rookery in Eastern Massachusetts.

No need to worry about making noise.  We shambled around the back of an esker talking and hollering.  We turned a bend and for some it was the first time seeing an active Heron rookery.  Wow.  Dead pines standing tall in a small lake all sporting one or two heron nests and each occupied by adult Great Blue Herons either sitting or standing and with their wispy breeding plumage waving in the wind.

My notes from Jack said the owls were in the sixth or seventh heron nest from the left and within 2 seconds I was on it.  There was an adult lying low with her tufts standing incongruously against the horizontal twigs and there, next to the crouching adult was a nestling covered in white down, standing tall and wobbly and peering over the lip.

Everyone had turns at the scope, with some more junior members having to be lifted up to the eyepiece.  Having taken a quick look, they were off to find anything they could satisfy their curiosity.  This left the adults with plenty of time to scope the nest and check out the herons, the swallows and the blackbirds.  Three flickers swooped by and landed in a variety of positions atop a dead pine (see Audubon print for a timeless depiction).

Parenting is a common bond in nature, with adults keeping a watchful on their surroundings and respecting each other’s distance and the young endangering themselves with reckless abandon and curiosity.

Lastly, the term “rookery” is really a misnomer.  In Europe, a rookery is the mass nesting site of rooks, and a heronry is the same but for herons.

Looking for a way to attract the beautiful Evening Grosbeak?


Looking for a way how to attract the beautiful Evening Grosbeaks? Here are few simple steps in bringing these joys of nature up close and personal.

  • Make the area as natural to evening grosbeaks by giving it what it really likes. Use a location inside or on the outskirts of a forest in the Northeastern portion of the United States.
  • Use sunflower seeds, removed from the flower, throughout your yard or nature area. Position the seeds far enough away from any heavily used human areas so as not to disturb the birds while they eat. We recommend you start doing this 1-2 weeks before you could even expect to see one.
  • Install bird feeders around the area to further attract the birds. Use a general wild bird seed mix, plus add extra sunflower seeds, to the food. Did we say sunflowers again? Evening grosbeaks love to eat sunflower seeds, so throw plenty of the seeds out there.
  • Hang suet around the area as an additional way of attracting these birds. Add some additional foods such as safflower and or maple seeds for a scrumptious feast for them.
  • Keep bird feeders, feeding tubes and platform feeders filled with ample amounts of sunflowers! Once the Evening Grosbeaks figure out your area is filled with beak delicious morsels, many will flock to your area and be happy and loyal customers. That is until you run out of sunflower seeds. We said sunflower seeds again… go get some!

Happy Birding!

Evening Grosbeak tips to attract

Birding by ear – A good birding method for new or experienced birders

birding listening by earBirding by Ear is an activity many people do unintentionally.  Whether it is awakening to the dawn chorus or noticing the calls of birds in the backyard while fixing a car or raking a lawn, most people have sudden moments of unexpected appreciation for bird calls and songs.  There are those though who go to what I call the next level, which is being able to identify the bird based on its call.  Perhaps there are a few birds that they recognize with ease, such as the raucous screeching of the Blue Jays, or the harsh barking of an American Crow, or the more delicate name calling of the Black Capped Chickadee.  Each backyard hosts a variety of birds and each species is readily identifiable.

From this elementary level, it is possible to elevate in several directions of mastery.  For example, in the spring, hordes of young birdwatchers from Europe spend thousands of dollars to descend upon the New Jersey shore.  These foreign birders eagerly anticipate lying on the ground at night and listening to the calls and identifying the migrating warblers passing overhead.

Another direction for bird listeners is taking a scientific approach to breeding patterns.  By listening carefully to the composition of individual bird song, the bird listener can identify repeated patterns, patterns that may also be repeated by other birds of the same species.  By matching the patterns, the scientist can draw conclusions about nesting behavior, territory, and distances traveled by fledglings in search of new territories.

Similarly, each spring, the truly talented bird listeners with remarkably sensitive hearing will take part in the Breeding Bird Atlas studies.  These birders have mastered the myriad of calls sung by birds that breed in their regions.  They stand on pre-assigned spots early in the morning and wait to hear the calls.  By noting the species and the number of birds in each species they can report back on the breeding populations of each species.

Me – I am taking great satisfaction in hearing my 8 year old son responding with his “Tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea” when he hears the Carolina Wren outside his bedroom window and watching him and his little friends calling back and forth “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.”

About Us

In 2001, The Bird Shed began as a small company, running its operations out of the basement of a private home. The company was started mainly to satisfy the curiosity and love of bird watching.

Since 2001, The Bird Shed has grown into a nationally successful birding and outdoor supply company, offering 7000 + products to bird and nature lovers.

Over the course of our success, we have tried to keep the most important facet of this hobby as our mission statement. “To protect and aid nature in a positive way,” is what we base our decisions on each day. With declining bird populations, due to sprawl and growing housing markets, as well as, pollution, experts and researchers have stated that providing nesting sites and feeders for a variety of birds and backyard wildlife can help to protect declining species.

Since we opened for business In January 2001, we’ve enjoyed our customers and have grown because of them. We believe our success is a result of:

• The selection of quality products at competitive prices,

• Our ability to aid our customers with correct information and equipment they require for bird watching,

• Our ability to react to the season and ship quickly and on time.

To keep up with the changing times, we are going to be offering newsletters and blogs from birding experts to answer questions from customers.

We hope you find this information helpful in your search to aid and support wildlife in your area.

We also believe in recycling as much as possible and will frequently re-use cardboard boxes for shipping. Over the next year, we will be adding products made from recycled materials and hope you will enjoy them as much as we are enjoying finding new ways to save the environment.

If you have any questions regarding our business, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to serving you.

The Bird Shed Team

We are back online

After many months of being down due to our Blog being hacked, with a malware virus, we are back online. Unfortunately all the wonderful articles and posts over the years have been lost. We are in the process of trying to recreate some of those if we can. In the coming days, we will start posting  the same great articles about backyard birding, wildlife and many things to do and see outdoors.  If you have any good posts to inform our fellow birders please feel free to add to the blog.

Please come back soon,

The Bird Shed Team