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Birds and Blooms ExtraBirds and Blooms Extra

Birds and Blooms Extra

September 2019

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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7 Issues


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from the editor

When I was a fledgling editor at Birds & Blooms, I went to the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival in Harlingen, Texas, and saw my first green jay—a large, boldly patterned green, blue and black bird that’s just as noisy and entertaining as the blue jays I see in Wisconsin. It’s been years since that trip to southern Texas, the only place in the U.S. to see green jays. But I’m still dazzled by them, so I was excited to give these clever birds and their relatives some time to shine in “Blue Jays and Beyond” on page 32. Also in this issue, we showcase the best summer sights in Backyard Tales on page 17. It’s a special 13-page section featuring reader photos of birds, butterflies and blooms at their finest,…

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this month

SERVE SUGAR WATER Keep hummingbird feeders clean and full to feed migrants on their way south. Just a reminder: Mix 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Boil, cool and serve! Read Get to know more butterflies! The Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America is the best handbook. Keep it close while you’re working in the garden. Watch Scan your blooms for surprise guests! Amy Evoniuk of Newburgh, Indiana, spotted an eastern tiger swallowtail on her Pinky Winky hydrangea. GET AWAY See green jays, great kiskadees, green kingfishers and more at the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival Nov 6-10. Go to rgvbf.org for festival schedule and details. CELEBRATE NATIONAL GRANDPARENTS DAY IS SEPT. 8.…

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late-summer stunner

Blanket Flower Gaillardia spp., Zones 3 to 10 Few plants offer a bright sunburst of color quite like blanket flower. Emerging in late spring, the blooms come in a combination of yellow, orange, red and maroon and stick around until September. It tolerates dry conditions, but does poorly in clay soil. Rabbits usually give it a pass. Attracts: Light needs: Full sun. Size: 2 to 3 feet tall. Grown for: An explosion of color and drought tolerance. Foliage: Long gray-green leaves. Cultivars to try: Gallo Red’s deep red-orange flowers are a dramatic magnet for butterflies. For something a little sunnier, try cheery Mesa Yellow. Arizona Sun also offers classic bicolor.…

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ground-level buffets

Many species fly right by feeders, choosing to forage for food on the ground instead. The easiest way to entice these birds, says Nancy Castillo, one of the co-owners of the Wild Birds Unlimited store in Saratoga Springs, New York, is to “sprinkle small amounts of seed, especially around shrubs, to attract birds that prefer eating on the ground, like towhees, juncos and native sparrows.” Some larger birds, including quails, doves, thrashers and cardinals, also prefer to dig into flat-surface spreads. Go Easy on the Seeds Sunflower and safflower seeds, cracked corn and seed blends are all fine for sprinkling directly on the ground. It’s best to serve only a little each day as opposed to piling up a bunch of seeds. This protects seeds from soggy weather and reduces overnight visitors…

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the feed

SUPER SEED EATERS The common ground dove is a sparrow-sized species found in the southern tier of states from California to South Carolina. They nest and feed on the ground. It is estimated that a common ground dove consumes over 2,500 seeds in a single day, storing hundreds at a time in a two-lobed pocket near the esophagus called a crop. “My feeder birds enjoy seeds sprinkled on the ground, too. When traffic is heavy, they’ll feed around the post base.”Lori Bowers CROSSVILLE, TENNESSEE CLEANUP CREW Dark-eyed juncos are among the most abundant species, with numbers estimated in the hundreds of millions. In much of their range, they appear in autumn and retreat north as spring arrives—often feeding on fallen seed.…

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alliums to love

1 Globemaster ALLIUM ‘GLOBEMASTER’, ZONES 4 TO 8 A hybrid cross between two species, Globemaster is considered one of the best and most beloved of the tall spring-blooming types. Purple spheres covered with hundreds of individual florets grow 8 to 10 inches wide, and look fabulous in a vase. Look for bigger bulbs for larger flowers. Why we love it: The sturdy 2- to 3-foot stems add vertical interest, and stand up to wind and rain. 2 Ambassador ALLIUM ‘AMBASSADOR’, ZONES 4 TO 8 Many spring-blooming alliums bear similar mug shots, but they all behave differently. Ambassador is one of the tallest, at 3 to 4 feet, with 7-inch, rich purple globes. Plant a few varieties of alliums that bloom in succession for continual blooms. Foliage tips tend to turn brown before the flowers open. Why we…