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Birds & BloomsBirds & Blooms

Birds & Blooms August/September 2019

Birds & Blooms is the #1 bird and garden magazine in North America with more than 1 million subscribers. We pride ourselves in celebrating the “beauty in your own backyard” with a mix of expert advice and personal stories from our family of readers. Our magazine covers a wide range of topics such as attracting hummingbirds, building birdhouses, gardening for butterflies, feeding birds for less, growing veggies, tales of readers’ birding experiences, plus a whole lot more.

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from the editor

It’s normal for me to leap up in the middle of a conversation to get a better look at a bird flying overhead or flitting about the trees. And more recently, I find myself hugely distracted by butterflies, too. Monarchs and red admirals are the most common fliers in my yard, but this issue, brimming with butterflies, has me watching for even more varieties amid my urban landscape these summer months. Butterflies are small—some the size of a thumbprint—and they pause for only seconds at a time. This makes it difficult enough to glimpse the intricacies of their wings, never mind look long enough to identify a particular species. Many stories in this issue will help boost your ID skills. See close-up views of the commonly confused American, painted and West Coast…

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this month

SUBSCRIBE Sign up for Birds & Blooms Extra to get more of what you love between your regular issues of Birds & Blooms. Read Look for our newest publication, Backyard Bird Field Guide, on a newsstand near you! Use it to help ID birds, recognize common behaviors and attract more of your favorite fliers. Grow Tara Steffen of Berne, Indiana, planted mums for fall color and was surprised by how many painted lady butterflies stopped to enjoy them. BUY FRESH Support your local markets this summer, especially during National Farmers Market Week, the first full week of August. Share your best finds at TRAVEL Go to the Henderson Hummingbird Hurrah, Aug. 17 in Henderson, Minnesota.…

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home, sweet home

Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata, Zones 3 to 6 Perfect for filling out butterfly gardens, swamp milkweed is less aggressive than common milkweed yet has all the nectar benefits. It grows in challenging conditions, but prefers a sunny, moist spot. Blooms range from shades of pink to white. Attracts: Light needs: Full sun. Size: Reaches 5 feet high and spreads 2 to 3 feet. Grown for: Showy, fragrant midsummer flowers. Foliage: Long, tapered leaves. Cultivars to try: Ice Ballet dazzles with all-white flowers and darker green foliage, or host the belle of the ball with Cinderella’s fuchsia blooms.…

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the golden birds

Seeing a vibrant yellow American goldfinch at a feeder is enough to make any birder’s heart skip a beat. Among the muted plumage of pine siskins, chickadees and sparrows, these bright beauties are a shock to the system. “They are very striking,” says Scott Gremel, a wildlife biologist at Washington’s Olympic National Park. “They look like tropical birds.” Male and female goldfinches appear markedly different during breeding season, when males molt into bright yellow body feathers with black wings and cap and an orange bill. Juveniles and females are less colorful year-round. In winter, males have a dark bill and dull yellow body feathers, and look more like the females. These feathered friends mainly eat seeds, cracking them open with their short bills. Favorite seeds include Njyer, thistle, black oil sunflower, alder and…

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invite more butterflies

1 Butterfly weed ASCLEPIAS TUBEROSA, ZONES 3 TO 9 Distinctive clusters of bright orange flowers are a must-stop destination for butterflies, especially monarchs and black swallowtails. After all, it didn’t get its name for nothing. Butterfly weed grows 1 to 2 ½ feet tall and blooms from mid- to late summer. It tolerates dry soil and prefers plenty of sunshine. Why we love it: The showy bright orange blooms are deer resistant and drought tolerant, and butterfly weed is easy to grow from seed and super resilient—a major win! 2 Cleome CLEOME HASSLERIANA, ANNUAL This old-time garden favorite, also called spider flower, gets its common name from the long and threadlike flower stamens and elongated seedpods. Cultivars come in white, pink, rose or purple flowers and quickly reach 5 to 6 feet tall. Newer cultivars, between 12…

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garden ladies

PAINTED LADY When the wings are open and folded down, look for salmon orange markings with white and black areas, plus five white spots on the black part of each forewing. AMERICAN LADY Wings unfold to reveal yellow and orange patterns, and the forewings have a black patch and a white bar at the wing edge. Look for a small white spot within the orange patch—it’s a key field mark that its close relative, the painted lady, lacks. WEST COAST LADY Identify this lady by its squared-off wing tips and four small blue eyespots on the hindwing. Find it from Southern California to Washington and within the western half of the U.S. When painted ladies migrate, the groups are sometimes so massive that they show up in radar images.…