Hummingbirds in Maryland

Hummingbirds in MDHummingbirds – those tiny, beautiful little birds that buzz past your ear while gardening, momentarily make your heart jump as if it was a giant bee – are a welcome site (and even sound) to our backyards each summer. This little migrators fly thousands of miles each year to nest and raise babies each year before eventually heading back down to their southern winter homes.

In Maryland, there are several species of hummingbirds that you can see throughout the summer months. The most common hummingbirds in Maryland are the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and the Rufous Hummingbird. On rare occasions in our area you might be lucky enough to see an Allen’s Hummingbird, or a Broad-tailed Hummingbird. To learn more about the species of hummingbirds in Maryland that you might see, click here.

You can easily attract hummingbirds to your yard by planting the flowers they love to feed on, and by hanging nectar-filled hummingbird feeders in various locations. Hummingbirds like a little variety, and are attracted to flower-filled gardens – particularly those with bright red blooms. To learn more about attracting hummingbirds in Maryland, click here.

It’s Bird Migration Season!

Indigo Bunting spotting in Carroll County, MD, April 2014
Indigo Bunting spotted in Carroll County, MD, April 2014

Spring has sprung, which means it’s migration season in the bird world! During the migration season, birds in our area travel the Atlantic flyway between wintering and breeding grounds. Bird watchers can expect to see species they normally don’t see, such as this Indigo Bunting spotted in Carroll County, Maryland in late April. What a beauty! Other birds that you may see at this time of year include hummingbirds, orioles, warblers, owls and even bald eagles.

There are different types of migratory birds – those that migrate short distances, those that migrate medium distances, and those that migrate long distances such as from Canada to Mexico or further! Migration is necessary for some birds, but is also a hazardous journey. Physical stress, lack of food and man-made threats such as tall buildings mean that not all of the birds that migrate will make it. Efforts are being made in cities nationwide to help decrease the man-made threat to migratory birds. Birds traveling through city areas become disoriented by lights that are left on in tall buildings, and strike the windows while flying. Lights Out Baltimore tirelessly works to try and convince property managers to turn off these lights. Not only does it help birds, it has the added benefit of saving energy, too. Learn more about this organization on their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/savethebaltimorebirds  Learn more about migration on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at: http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/migration/

How to Attract (and Help!) Migratory Birds

Migrating birds fly hundreds – even thousands – of miles on their route to spring and summer breeding. Needless to say, all of that wing-flapping requires fuel! To help attract a variety of birds to your yard (and help them on their long journey), offer a variety of high quality bird food. Also try a variety of feeder types, and locate them in different spots in your yard. Some birds will venture out into the open to feed, while others are more comfortable sticking close to trees and shrubs. A nearby water source such as a bird bath or fountain is also helpful. Your local Ace Hardware & Hearth stores in Pasadena and Glen Burnie, Maryland, as well as Ace Home & Leisure in Annapolis / Edgewater, Maryland have a wide variety of exclusive quality bird food blends, bird feeders, bird houses, nesting materials and everything you need to keep those beautiful birds coming to your yard.

The Secret to Attracting Goldfinches and Bluebirds

A simple change in seed, from straight Nyjer seed to Finch Feast seed, will GREATLY increase the number of “goldies” at your feeder. Couple the change in seed with the use of a Yellow Spiral Feeder, which has 1/8” round feeding ports versus typical “thistle slits”, and the numbers grow exponentially. As an added bonus, this seed blend and feeder will also attract Downy Woodpeckers and the elusive, and rare, Indigo Bunting.

Bluebirds, although common, will go to the yard with the “good stuff”. Their absolute favorites are live meal worms and Patio Low Millet no waste seed. When you use the Audubon Cage Feeder, you can also feed Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, finches, Downy Woodpeckers and more, all while eliminating squirrels, Black Birds and grackles from raiding your feeders.

“Birdy, it’s Cold Outside!” Tis’ the Season for Bird Houses in Maryland

Bird Houses in MarylandI really can’t stay

(But birdy, it’s cold outside)

I’ve got to go away

(But birdy, it’s cold outside)

Okay, so maybe those aren’t the exact words to the classic Christmas song, “Baby, it’s Cold Outside.” But our lyrics better illustrate our point. The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and guess what? It’s cold outside! And while birds everywhere will soon be heading south for the winter, they aren’t there yet.

Even birds aren’t immune to the cold temperatures and wind chill. And while you huddle indoors for warmth, where do they go? Most are stuck in trees, trying to avoid the icy cold wind and rain. But what if there was a better way? What if you could do something to help?

Tis’ the Season for Bird Houses in Maryland

Cold weather is quickly moving in as we should speak. Birds will be looking for shelter to escape the cold weather, sleep through the night, and avoid high winds.

The Answer: Bird Houses

Bird Houses that were used for spring broods are often used again for roosting boxes through the cold season. Even birds of different types can often be seen sharing a night in a bird house (turned roosting box).

“I have seen blue birds and hairy woodpeckers sharing the night,” explained Ace Hardware and Hearth’s Pete Peterson. “How Cool!?”

Now is an excellent time to add some new birdhouses to your backyard. Be sure to consider that birds like Bluebirds, Downy Wood Peckers, Chickadees, Titmice, Carolina and House Wrens will prefer to have a bird house with a specific sized opening and be a certain height off the ground.

To inexpensively add warm places for birds, roosting pockets are a great choice. They are typically made of rattan or wicker and have a little built in hanger attached to it.

Caring for your Bird House

The proper housing, nesting materials, house placement and cleaning are necessary to attract and care for your backyard birds. Start by completely cleaning and scrubbing your bird house. Since most boxes are of wood, cleaning is simple: use soapy water then rinse. Dawn dishwashing detergent works great. Next obtain a “nesting lift” to raise the area up to prevent mold and dampness from harming the birds. A nesting lift is a black metal grid that has a ¾” raised edge on its side. These, along with a wide selection of bird houses, are available at Ace Hardware & Hearth in Pasadena and Ace Home & Leisure in Edgewater. Both feature extensive birding sections, including bird houses of all shapes and sizes for Maryland birds, such as bluebirds, wrens, finches, purple martins and even owls. Don’t hesitate to ask our experts any questions you may have. Ace is here to help.

Finally, gather a generous handful of sun dried grass and place it on the nesting lift inside the box. VOILA!!! A perfect welcoming bedroom for our backyard pets! It’s like having a Bed & Breakfast right in your back yard.

If you have any questions about Bird Houses or Birding in Maryland, please visit AceHardwareAndHearth.com today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Cleaning Bird Feeders

Cleaning Bird FeedersIt’s that time of year again. No, not fall (although it is). It’s time to thoroughly clean your Bird Feeders. Yes, even your bird feeder needs cleaning from time to time. And fall is the perfect opportunity to do so, because this is the time of the year when birds are more interested in the rich harvest of fruits, nuts, seeds and berries available on perennials and shrubs then there are in your bird feeder. These foods help the birds build necessary fat reserves for their migratory trips. So you will begin to notice fewer birds around your yard this time of year, giving you the perfect opportunity to clean your feeder.

Plus, with the rains that have come recently, many feeders are holding moist seed that grows mold that can kill many of our wild pets. Birding Tip: Wet seed can be dried in the oven and reused.

Cleaning Bird Feeders

First of all, purchase a black tub (approx. 7”Dx20”Wx30”L) usually used for cement mixing at your local Ace.

Plastic and recycled material feeders:

  1. Make a solution of 10 parts water to 1 part bleach in the tub
  2. Allow to soak for two hours
  3. Using rubber gloves and a feeder brush (double ended on a wire stem), vigorously scrub the feeders until clear and free of dark material.
  4. ALLOW TIME TO DRY THOROUGHLY…use a hair dryer if you are short on time.
  5. Note: use red cider vinegar and baking soda to hand clean if bleach is not for you.

Wood feeders:

  1. Avoid soaking because time required for drying may be a hindrance. A moist wooden feeder will grow bacteria and mold quickly.
  2. Spray either of the above mentioned solutions and scrub thoroughly to remove all debris.
  3. Use Birdhouse and Feeder Cleaner for a naturally safe solution. It is available at Ace in Pasadena and Edgewater.

We don’t recommend putting bird feeders in the dishwasher. After all, would you put a bed pan in your dishwasher?!

Want to learn more about Birding? Head to Ace

Ace Hardware & Hearth in Pasadena and Ace Home & Leisure in Edgewater both feature extensive birding sections, including dozens of bird feeders, such as tray and post feeders, hanging feeders, suet feeders and liquid feeders.

Don’t hesitate to ask our experts any questions you may have. Ace is here to help.

If you have any questions about Cleaning Bird Feeders, Birdbaths or Birding in general, please visit AceHardwareAndHearth.com today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Birding Tips: Birdbaths attract more Birds than just Birdseed alone

Birdbaths attract more Birds than just Birdseed aloneThe weather may be cooling and birds may soon begin to migrate south for the winter, but that doesn’t mean birding season is over. Migrating birds land in yards to rest, bath, fluff their feathers for added warmth and eat a healthy meal, giving homeowners the perfect opportunity to attract many different varieties of birds. However, if you want to successfully attract birds to your yard, you need to supply all of the above criteria, not just birdseed.

Birdbaths attract more Birds than just Birdseed alone

Birds need water for drinking and bathing just as much as they need food. For this reason, it is important to offer both feeders and birdbaths. This will give you the best chance to attract birds to your yard this autumn.

Birdbath Tips

  1. Birds seem to prefer birdbaths that are on ground level, though elevated birdbaths will also attract birds.
  2. Be sure to change the water every day to keep it fresh and clean.
  3. When the weather begins to near freezing, a birdbath heater will keep ice from forming.
  4. Multiple birdbaths are better than one. This gives smaller, more timid birds a fair chance when the big birds hoard the bird bath.

Interested in purchasing a birdbath or birdbath warmer? Head to Ace Hardware & Hearth in Pasadena or Ace Home & Leisure in Edgewater. Both stores have extensive birder sections. And don’t hesitate to ask our experts any questions you may have. Ace is here to help.

If you have any questions about Birdbaths or Birding, please visit AceHardwareAndHearth.com today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Hummingbird Season is here! Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

Attracting Hummingbirds to your yardThey may have come a little later than normal, but Hummingbird Season is finally here! These tiny, swift-moving birds are a favorite of homeowners everywhere. And, if you play your cards right, you could attract these delightful birds to your yard!

Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

  1. Hummingbird Feeder: First and foremost, head to your local Ace and purchase a hummingbird feeder. Ace Hardware & Hearth in Pasadena and Ace Home & Leisure in Edgewater have extensive birder sections. Be sure to place this feeder in the same spot every year, change the nectar at least once a day and clean inside and around the ports with warm water (soap or detergent is not recommended) and a stiff bottle brush. If possible, each spring install your feeder before insects arrive and before flowers bloom. Finally, hang your feeder in a partially shaded area, direct sun can cause the sugar and water nectar mixture to separate and leak from your feeder.
  2. Hummingbird Plants: Plant a few of the hummingbird’s favorite flowers, including Black & Blue Salvia, Bee Balm, Red Hummingbird Salvia, Cardinal Flower (Red Lobelia), Lantana. All are tubular in shape with a high nectar content. Plants are also great for attracting insects, which are a good source of protein for hummingbirds. Do not use any pesticides on flowers from which hummingbirds feed.
  3. Source of Water: Hummingbirds love drippers and misters. They will swoop in and out of the water with incredible glee.
  4. Pest Control: Bees, Bald-Faced Wasps, and Cicada Killer Wasps are a hummingbird’s worst nightmare. These insects not only hog nectar feeder holes, but they pose a serious threat to the hummingbirds. To help combat the problem, consider buying a feeder with a bee guard or smear a little olive oil around the nectar ports. Some pest, however, should be left alone, like spiders. Keeping spider webs around can help hummingbirds in their search for nesting material.

Want to learn more about hummingbirds? If so, head to Ace Hardware & Hearth in Pasadena or Ace Home & Leisure in Edgewater. Both have extensive birder sections. And don’t hesitate to ask our experts any questions you may have. Ace is here to help.

If you have any other questions about our blog, “Humming Bird Season is here! Tips for Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard,” our experts are here to help. Please visit AceHardwareAndHearth.com today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Tips for Attracting Bluebirds to Your Yard

Attracting BluebirdsAs a homeowner, are you tired of seeing the same boring birds in your backyard each and every day? Do you want a little more variety? A little more color? Well, why not try and attract everyone’s favorite bird: the Bluebird? It is the bird that everyone wishes would visit their backyard and nest in their bird house.

“The bluebird carries the sky on his back”- Henry David Thoreau

What you may not know is that there are actually three species of bluebirds: Eastern, Western and Mountain. Each species is common in residential yards, rural fields and meadows, and occasionally urban or commercial areas. And because eastern bluebirds have made a comeback from near extinction, they are willing visitors to any yard that provides what they like.

Tips for Attracting Bluebirds to Your Yard

  1. Purchase a Bluebird Nesting Box: The best bluebird nesting boxes are well-ventilated, have drain holes, a 4” x 4” square floor, a 1.5” hole, no perch, and are made from cedar.
  2. Avoid The Tree: Believe it or not, the best place to hang your bluebird nesting box is not on a tree, but a pole or post with a baffle. It is even better if this pole is in an open area away from other bird houses and bird feeders. Bluebirds like the nesting box 40” high to the center of the hole in the box. Use Diatomaceous Earth or Snake repellent sprinkled around the base of the pole to deter snakes.
  3. Monitor the Nesting Box: Look for and remove bumble bees, wasps and ants.
  4. Food and Water: Around this time, most bluebirds have fledged their first brood and are presently feeding those new hungry mouths. They love live mealworms, bluebird nuggets, and Patio Low Millet blend seed. They respond to a dinner bell announcing your presence to fill their feeder box. It is best to employ a bluebird feeder that has a hole in each end, a top that flops up and a plexiglas front for viewing.
  5. Landscape: Bluebirds enjoy landscapes with dogwood, serviceberry, viburnum, sumac and mulberry.
  6. Don’t Use Pesticides: We repeat: do not use pesticides.
  7. Visit Ace: Ace Hardware & Hearth in Pasadena and Ace Home & Leisure in Edgewater have extensive birder sections. We have live mealworms, bluebird suet nuggets, nesting boxes, mealworm feeders, and everything you need to turn your backyard into any bluebirds dream home. We also have a cute selection of bluebirds gifts and flags.

Bluebirds will often have two more broods in a summer, so, get ready for the fun!

If you have any other questions Attracting Bluebirds to Your Yard, our experts are here to help. Please visit AceHardwareAndHearth.com today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Birding in Central Maryland: The Right Bird Seed can make a Big Difference

Ace_Jan14

“Cheap” bird seed is anything but cheap. In fact, it is actually one of the more expensive ways to stock your bird feeder. Why? Well, these cheaper seed mixes tend to have a lot of filler, such as cracked corn, milo, and wheat. These are low on the desirability list of most birds. So, these birds simply “kick out” the undesirable filler to reach the more flavorful seeds, like black oil sunflower.

In the long run, you will end up spending more money on “cheap” bird seed. The more cost-effective way to stock your bird feeder is to purchase a seed mix that only includes desirable seeds. This way, birds that visit your feeder will not “kick out” any seed. There will be no waste and the bird will more than likely eat the seed right there or in a nearby tree.

Cost Comparison: A single bag of Birds Gone Wild, which retails for $24.99 at Ace Hardware and Hearth, will last as long as four economy mixes at $8.99 per bag ($35.96 total).

Ace Hardware and Hearth: The only place in Maryland to get these Edible Seed Blends specially formulated to attract Desirable Birds.

At Ace, we have Bird Food for Maryland birds! Whether it’s cake or plug suet to attract wood peckers and clinging birds, nuts and seed feed to attract titmouse, chickadees and nuthatches or thistle to attract finches, we have it all at Ace. Our most popular seed blends are Birds Gone Wild, Woodpecker Wowie, Cardinal Candy, Clingers Charms, Nut & Berry Buddies and Patio Low Millet. These blends are designed to attract and keep birds in view longer.

More birds…less waste… less money

Ace’s unique and extensive birder sections in our Pasadena and Edgewater stores have the bird food to fit any bird feeder.

One more Birding Tip: A heated bird bath allows birds to wash oils from their feathers so they can better fluff them, providing more insulation for their bodies. Heated bard baths also attract a wide variety of birds, such as Eastern Bluebirds, catbirds, mockingbirds and robins, throughout the winter months.

If you have any further questions about Birding and Bird Food, please visit AceHardwareAndHearth.com today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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About Us: Ace Hardware & Hearth, Ace Home & Leisure is a Premier Caldera and Bullfrog Spas Dealer Serving Washington DC, Greater Baltimore with Stores in Glen Burnie, Edgewater, Pasadena, MD.
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