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Birds and Blooms ExtraBirds and Blooms Extra

Birds and Blooms Extra May 2018

Even more of what you love from North America's #1 bird and garden magazine, celebrating the beauty in your own backyard.  Published on the months in between the Birds and Blooms magazine, Extra features vivid photographs, useful tips and expert advice to inform, inspire, and connect enthusiasts who share a passion for backyard birds and gardening.

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from the editor

It was cold and rainy the morning of our company’s annual spring bird walk. Four of my bravest co-workers and I pulled the hoods of our rain jackets up and strolled into Lake Park, a local hot spot with walking paths that overlook deep tree-filled gullies along Milwaukee’s lakefront. It was late May—the best time to see the colorful migrating warblers that stop in our area for some rest and a few quick meals. Through the raindrops, we saw yellow, chestnut-sided and magnolia warblers, among other species. We trudged through puddles for about an hour until I admitted defeat with chattering teeth: “Guys, I don’t know how much longer I can stay out here.” The hour was a lucky one, though, because we spotted these fast-flying, flashy warblers in their natural habitat.…

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this month

CELEBRATE Make nature even more fun for the kiddos in your life by creating an outdoor search for them on National Scavenger Hunt Day, May 24. Experiment Grow something new this year, like one of Burpee’s Take 2 Combos that produce both slicer and cherry tomatoes. (Kirsten grew one last year and loved it!) Get away The Mariposa (California) Butterfly Festival is May 5-6. A 5k run, a parade and the release of 5,000 butterflies are popular events. mariposabutterflyfestival.net GIVE Surprise the moms in your life with Birds & Blooms magazine. Order and pay for a gift subscription online and give a second one for free! birdsandblooms.com/give2gifts SHARE Send us your best spring bird photos: birdsandblooms.com/submit…

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fresh sights

Hawthorn Crataegus species, Zones 3 to 9 Commonly used as a border plant in backyard landscapes, hawthorn is a wildlife haven that feeds nectar-seeking butterflies in spring and hungry songbirds in autumn. And hawthorns are host plants for larva of many butterflies, including white admiral and gray hairstreak. Attracts: Light needs: Full sun. Size: 20 to 45 feet tall. Grown for: Seasonal interest. Foliage: Burgundy to orange autumn color. Popular species: Washington ( C. phaenopyrum ) thrives in much of the U.S.; Crusader cockspur ( C. crus-galli inermis ) is thornless; black ( C. douglassii ) features edible fruits. BIRD BENEFITS Many hawthorn tree varieties have thorns, which are a blessing for nesting or roosting birds seeking shelter from predators. However, humans beware!…

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offer a warm welcome

Hang a few birdhouses in your backyard and get ready for a rewarding adventure as you witness the awe-inspiring life cycle of birds. When birds nest on your property and raise their young, it’s so gratifying. “It’s the ultimate standard of success,” said Robyn Bailey, project leader of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s NestWatch program. “And it brings a greater diversity of birds to your backyard.” Here are a few tips to get you started. Choose the right house. Tailor the house to the bird you want to attract. If you’re hoping for a nesting songbird, buy a standard nest box with a 11/2-inch entrance hole, commonly called a bluebird box. Birdhouses with a smaller hole, about an inch in diameter, are ideal for chickadees and wrens. The needs of nesting owls are more…

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rain garden favorites

1 Blue cardinal flower LOBELIA SIPHILITICA , ZONES 4 TO 9 Spires of beautiful blue flowers appear in mid- to late summer. It blooms later and tends to live longer than the red cardinal flower, a relative. Give this sun-loving perennial a bit of shade if your summers are very hot, and plant it in the wettest part of your rain garden. Why we love it: It attracts native bees, bumblebees, birds and hummingbirds. Plus it’s deer-resistant! 2 Buttonbush CEPHALANTHUS OCCIDENTALIS, ZONES 4 TO 9 Add fragrance and seasonal beauty to sunny rain gardens with this native shrub. Butterflies, hummingbirds and bees are sure to stop by the aromatic flowers in early summer. Later, round fruits replace the flowers and persist into winter. Why we love it: With new compact varieties, such as upright Ping Pong at…

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give your basil a boost

Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs around, thanks to its spicy-sweet leaves and the way it adds a flavorful zing to pastas, sandwiches and sauces. But this leafy herb can be tricky to grow. It needs plenty of sunshine, well-draining soil and regular harvesting in order to thrive. Follow these seven basil-growing tips for garden success. • Grow what you need. Before you fill your garden beds with basil, think about how you’re planning to use it. If you just want some fresh basil on hand when you need it, two to three plants should be enough. Home cooks who want to whip up flavorful pesto or dry leaves for winter pastas, sauces, soups and stews will need to grow at least six to eight plants. • Start with seeds…