Travel & Outdoor
Birds and Blooms Extra

Birds and Blooms Extra

July 2020

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

in this issue

2 min.
we all need a laugh

Whether your state has reopened and is rebounding from COVID-19 or you’re still sheltering in place, I hope you’ve found some time to enjoy or improve your landscape or other outdoor spaces. I know I have! Not only do I know my backyard birds’ feeding schedules like never before, but my husband and I have used this time to check a few projects off our list. He finished burying a drainpipe, and we re-mulched all of our garden beds—something we’d been putting off for a few years. Our field editors have used their time wisely as well. Boni Trombetta of West Chester, Pennsylvania, changed her mind about filling in her water garden and fixed it up instead. And Jennifer Broadstreet Hess of Marion, Kansas, is growing a sunflower patch full of…

1 min.
backyard star

Liatris Liatris spp., Zones 3 to 9 Also known as blazing star, liatris is a beacon to butterflies and hummingbirds. The purple flowers bloom in late summer or early fall, depending on the species, and last for a month or two. Liatris can be planted in poor soil, but needs plenty of sun. Many species are native to the eastern U.S. Attracts: Light needs: Full sun. Size: 2 to 5 feet tall. Grown for: Borders, cottage gardens and meadows. Foliage: Lance-shaped leaves. Cultivars to try: Alba tends to grow a little shorter than other liatris and has white flowers. For a smaller plant with purple blooms, grow Kobold Original. WILDLIFE BENEFITS After the flowers fade and dry, liatris still attracts wildlife. Songbirds hover around the fluffy seed heads, picking away at the seeds.…

2 min.
sapphires in the rough

Any sighting of a blue grosbeak is a cause for celebration, because these beautiful birds just aren’t that common. Although their nesting range covers most of the lower half of the country, spotting one is a rare treat. “Most people see them only fleetingly during spring migration,” says Bubba Scales, who owns Wild Birds Unlimited in Gainesville, Florida, with his wife, Ingrid. These blue birds are sometimes mistaken for indigo buntings, another blue Neotropical migrant that arrives at feeders in spring. Warm brown wingbars and a huge bill set blue grosbeaks apart. The female is tawny brown. Blue grosbeaks may visit feeders anywhere during migration, but during the breeding season, they aren’t backyard birds—unless your backyard includes acres of the shrub-dotted field habitat this species seeks. Bubba, a self-described bird nerd, has…

1 min.
the feed

HARD TO FIND No one knows why these beautiful birds aren’t more abundant. In fact, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology reports that the blue grosbeak is so scarce that virtually all aspects of its biology are poorly known. NO SIGN OF DECLINE Unlike some bird species, blue grosbeaks did not experience a decline in population in the last 50 years. In fact, there may be more of these birds around today. “Although this sweet songster spends the spring and summer in our southern states, it must be considered as a rather scarce bird there.”JOHN JAMES AUDUBON IN THE BIRDS OF AMERICA, 1834…

5 min.
shrubs to love

1 Buttonbush CEPHALANTHUS OCCIDENTALIS ZONES 3 TO 11 SIZE: MORE THAN 6 FEET TALL AND WIDE Watch bees, butterflies and hummingbirds flock to these fragrant, spherical white flowers. Buttonbush is also a host for several types of caterpillars. The round fruit persists through winter, providing food for a variety of birds. Grow it in full to partial sun and moist soil. Why we love it: This long-flowering plant provides months and months of enjoyment. DEER-RESISTANT BEAUTY If you’re looking for shrubs that add visual interest to the garden and that deer tend to leave alone, consider including boxwood, common lilac, Carolina allspice or spicebush in your next landscaping project. 2 Kalm St. John’s wort HYPERICUM KALMIANUM ZONES 4 TO 7; SIZE: 2 TO 3 FEET TALL AND WIDE This shrub’s blue-green foliage is the perfect backdrop for…

3 min.
garden goofs

Blown Away After the catkins have finished falling from the oak trees in our yard each spring, I have the honor (according to my wife, Judy) of hauling the leaf blower up to the roof to blow them off. As I was finishing my task last year, I noticed some catkins snagged in a spiderweb on the top of the bathroom vent pipe. I took a passing swing over the pipe with the blower, but the debris stayed in place. I became more insistent, passing over the vent again with no success. Determined to clear the vent pipe, I gave it a whopping 207 mph blast to be sure I moved the entangled catkins. And I did. Unbeknownst to me, I moved more than just the catkins! Judy met me at the door and said,…