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Success! ūüôā

As promised, I re-created the edible birdhouses with stronger eye hooks and hung them in a different location (high up in a tree far back in the yard).

Within minutes, the Black-Capped Chickadees were feeding! Granted, they were the only brave ones that first day but it didn’t take long for the White-Breasted Nuthatches to catch on by the following morning, with the¬†Dark-Eyed Juncos snacking happily below (they are ground feeders).

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I’m not saying the squirrels didn’t try but they just couldn’t get to the houses so they had to settle for what scraps the birds allowed to fall to the ground.

Aw, poor babies. ūüėČ

With the voracity at which the birds are feeding, I suspect by the end of this week, the houses will be stripped clean and the process will start all over again.

Oh, my. What have I gotten myself into? ūüėČ

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"Not a Good Sign"

While the concept of the edible birdhouse is sound, it would appear the installation needs some work.

I should have realized the beginning of the end when I woke up yesterday morning and saw this:

(Apologies for the poor focus quality of this image as it was shot with a long lens through a not-so-clean window).

Nervously, I watched the grey squirrels for quite some time throughout the day and though they were able to access the pinecones, they appeared to be completely baffled as to how to get to the birdhouses. 

Relief! ūüôā

"Chickadee... Check!"

 
 
I even felt a surge of hope when I witnessed a visit by an actual bird!

Yippee! ūüėÄ

(Again, apologies…long lens, dirty window¬†= blurry-ish image).

After this shot was taken, I moved the camera to our sunroom where I could shoot more clearly. However, not much activity at the houses by either fur or fowl occurred during the rest of the day so I let things be and resumed my regular daily activities.

Fast forward to this morning.

"Appetizer"

 
The ‘Fruit & Nut Villa’ was now¬†on the ground and being fought over by several grey squirrels while another¬†was up high feasting upon what I now call¬†the ‘Appetizer’. ūüėČ

See that dangling string on the right? Yep, that is where the villa proudly once hung.¬†Upon closer inspection,¬†the small¬†eye hook was still attached to the string so it clearly wasn’t strong enough to withstand¬†the weight of a¬†plump grey hurling itself onto the roof. The house must have dropped like a hot potato.

Sadly, it didn’t take long for the ‘Skylight Villa’ and ‘Sweetheart Cottage’ to meet the same fate.

"Main Course"

While some of you might have¬†erupted in anger¬†over¬†such an outcome, I found¬†it quite comical to watch the squirrels devour the houses. They really¬†are persistent little beasts! I do take some satisfaction, however, in imagining them now, back at their nests, holding their full tummies and moaning like a group of middle-aged men after an indulgent¬†night of pizza, wings and beer. ūüėČ

When it was all over, each house looked like this:

"Picked Clean"

So, it is back to the drawing board. I already have a new batch of edible glue prepared and ready to go. The houses can be reused (they clean up easily with some hot water and a scrub brush) so¬†another attempt is forthcoming.¬†I simply under-estimated my critters and made it way too easy for them.¬†Yes, they may have won the first battle but what they don’t know is I’m in it for the long haul and it’s time to put my engineering degree to good use.

I just hope they¬†don’t start calling me Wile E. Coyote… ūüėČ

If you are looking for that fantastic¬†‘it’s almost spring’ craft project all your feathered friends are sure to love, then LOOK NO FURTHER! ūüėÄ

"Eat Close to Home" (Edible Birdhouses) Nikon D300, 52mm, F/7.1, 1/125s, -0.7EV, ISO 640, Built-in Fill Flash w/Gary Fong 'Puffer' Diffuser, -1.3EV

How adorable are these??! 

"I Heart Birdfeeding" (Edible Birdhouses) Nikon D300, 95mm, F/6.3, 1/200s, +0.3EV, ISO 640

Simple wooden birdhouses, coated with an easy-to-make, non-toxic, edible glue (see recipe below), then adorned with various seeds, cracked corn, nuts, dried fruit, leaves, sprigs, etc., become feasts for the eyes as well as the birds.

"Rise & Dine" (Edible Birdhouses) Nikon D300, 170mm, F/6.3, 1/160s, ISO 640

This was a really fun¬†and fairly quick project. Great¬†for kids, too. (Oh, and since I had a little glue left over I decided to coat some pinecones as well. Hey, every new cul-de-sac needs some landscaping, doesn’t it? ūüėČ )

Let’s take a look at some of the finer architectural details…

"Fruit & Nut Villa" (Edible Birdhouse) Nikon D300, 170mm, F/6.3, 1/200s, Built-in Fill Flash w/Gary Fong 'Puffer' Diffuser, -1.7EV

 
Our first house boasts clean lines and stuccoed walls embedded with a high-quality seed mix containing millet, cracked corn, sunflower hearts and white sunflower seeds.  

The wonderfully patterned roof provides just the perfect¬†touch of color certain to attract the yard’s most sophisticasted of songbirds. ūüėČ

A bit of peanut butter (the natural kind with as much oil taken out as possible Рyou want it on the dry side) mixed into the non-toxic glue ensures a solid hold for dried cranberries, blueberries, pistachios and hazelnuts.

"Skylight Villa" (Edible Birdhouse) Nikon D300, 135mm, F/6.3, 1/100s, ISO 640, Built-in Fill Flash w/Gary Fong 'Puffer' Diffuser, -1.7EV

 
Next up,¬†another¬†villa with similar features to the first but with pistachio nut roof trim and the addition of two pretzel skylights. Neat! ūüôā

 
Last, but not least, is our cozy, one-room cottage, sporting a picket fence, pretzel windows and black oil sunflower seed heart.

(To create details like the heart, I simply placed a metal cookie cutter on the house after it was smothered with a thick coat of glue. Next, I filled the area inside with black oil sunflower seeds then coated the area outside with a contrasting mix of cracked corn and sunflower hearts). 

"Sweetheart Cottage" (Edible Birdhouse) Nikon D300, L:(120mm, F/7.1, 1/160s, ISO 400), R:(130mm, F/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 640)

(Click to view larger)

The black oil sunflower detail is continued all along the roofline while a fresh juniper berry sprig tied off with a piece of red raffia provides the finishing touch.

So, there you have it folks. Yes, I do realize, this is the best these birdhouses will look once word gets out in the critter community. In a most likely feeble attempt to discourage the squirrels, we hung the houses from long strings on the outer edges of single, lighter-weight¬†branches. But, if I know our squirrels, they’ll figure out a way to get to these tasty treats. Doesn’t really matter to me…for one, Milkay’s Animal Kingdom¬†has always been¬†an ‘equal opportunity’ environment; and two, I can always construct more. ūüôā

"Tweet Treats" (Edible Birdhouses) Nikon D300, L:62mm, R:90mm, F/6.3, 1/125s, -0.3EV, ISO 640, Built-in Fill Flash w/Gary Fong 'Puffer' Diffuser, -1.3EV

(Click to view larger)

 
Non-toxic Edible Glue for Bird Seed Houses

Materials

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • Small saucepan
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • Small bowl

 
Directions

  1. Mix water, corn syrup, and vinegar in saucepan.
  2. Bring to a full, rolling boil.
  3. In bowl, mix cornstarch with cold water.
  4. Add this mixture slowly to the hot mixture, stirring constantly until the mixture returns to a boil.
  5. Boil for 1 minute then remove from heat.
  6. When cooled, pour into an airtight container and let stand overnight. Stir well before using.

 
Store glue in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You might have to warm a bit in the microwave (20 second pulse) then stir to use.

Stickin’ with the critter photography today¬†(as they do so crack me up!) ūüôā¬†

A start of a good day involves¬†sunshine and any amount of¬†time spent outside interacting with the local wildlife. Some of the morning chores include dumping and filling birdbaths, setting out corn and filling the feeders. The¬†best time for me¬†(and the part I look the most forward to)¬†is¬†feeding¬†the chipmunks and squirrels their favorite treat (peanuts in the shell). All the resident furries literally come a-runnin’ when they see me walk across the lawn with the ‘peanut’ cup and take a seat on the large rock at the edge of the pool deck.¬†

And so the frenzy begins…¬†

“Hi there, King!” (as in ‘King of the Hill’ since that is where this ‘munk’s home is) and “Good Morning, Chippy!” (s/he lives under our grey shed). “Nice to see you, Squishy!” (lives near the rock¬†waterfall), and so on. Not all of them have names, but we do the best we can and have come to learn how¬†to identify each and every one.¬†Here is a very¬†familiar sight:

“Chipmunk Cheeks” (Eastern Chipmunk) Nikon D300, 200mm, F/5.6, 1/400s, -0.3EV, ISO 640

And if I am not quite quick enough in my peanut tossing, many will come right up to my feet or even, jump up next to me on the rock. I never tire of it.

“Sign? What Sign?” (Eastern Chipmunk in Birdhouse) Nikon D300, 200mm, F/5, 1/200s, +0.3EV, ISO 400

During the chaos last Thursday morning I was very surprised to see a couple of young chipmunks crawling all over our enormous condo-style birdhouse. From what I could deduce, the little ones were emerging from the nest to now be on their own.

The ‘alpha’ baby left pretty quickly (before I could even get the camera in place) but the second baby was much more cautious. S/he didn’t quite seem to¬†know what to make of me or the camera, but quickly realized I meant no harm. (Surely, Momma must have told the wee thing to keep an eye out for the very¬†‘nice humans’, dontchathink?) ūüėČ

I watched him/her for quite

“Home is Where you Make it” (Eastern Chipmunk in Birdhouse) Nikon D300, 200mm, F/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 640, Built-in Front Curtain i-TTL Fill Flash, -1.0 EV

some time as s/he went between episodes of thoroughly checking out the strange new world around him/her and then retreating back to the safety of one of the compartments. 

Of course,¬†I have no idea if the little beast is male or female.¬†The only name I could come up with is ‘Birdie’.¬†It just seems to fit.

Check out that dark spot on the left chest…¬†it will certainly help us to identify¬†Birdie if/when s/he¬†joins in the morning¬† feeding ritual (fingers crossed!)¬†When s/he left¬† for the last time, I wished the little one well and walked back to the house.¬†¬†

Afterall, I was already off to a great day. ūüôā

“Hole New World” (Eastern Chipmunk in Birdhouse) Nikon D300, 200mm, F/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 640

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