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Archive | Bloomin’ Summer

Manage Mosquitoes While Enjoying the Great Outdoors

 Eliminating standing water, improving drainage in the landscape, weeding and proper mowing are just a few of the ways to help manage the mosquito population.

Eliminating standing water, improving drainage in the landscape, weeding and proper mowing are just a few of the ways to help manage the mosquito population.

By Melinda Myers

Don’t let disease-carrying mosquitoes keep you indoors this summer. Instead, employ these eight tips to protect yourself and manage these pests in your yard.

Do a bit of yard and garden clean up.  Remove weeds, manage neglected gardens and keep the lawn properly mowed to reduce resting spaces for adult mosquitoes.

Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed. Drain water that collects in buckets, kids toys, tarps, pool covers, clogged gutters and downspouts. Clear the gutters and downspouts so water can drain freely.  Store items that tend to collect water in a shed or garage.

Evaluate drainage patterns in your landscape. Improve drainage by amending the soil with organic matter. Install French drains, drain tiles and other drainage systems if needed. Or turn it into a water feature. Consult your municipality first for any relevant guidelines and restrictions.

Manage water in birdbaths, fountains, ponds and rain barrels. Change water weekly in birdbaths and wading pools. Add a pump to keep water moving and prevent breeding. Or use an organic mosquito control like Mosquito Dunks and Bits (SummitResponsibleSolutions.com) in rain barrels and water features. The Mosquito Bits quickly knock down the mosquito larval population, while the Mosquito Dunks provide 30 days of control. They are both safe for pets, fish, wildlife and children.

Add a fan to your outdoor décor. The gentle breeze keeps these weak flying insects away. Consider taking one to the garden when weeding.

Provide short-term relief when entertaining outdoors with the help of citronella oil or scented candles. Scatter lots of these throughout the area and within a few feet of your guests.

Cover as much of your skin as possible with loose fitting, light colored clothing. Mosquitoes are less attracted to the lighter colors and can’t readily reach your skin through loose clothing.

Further protect yourself from disease-carrying mosquitoes by using a personal repellent. For those looking to avoid DEET, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also approved products with the active ingredient picaridin, IR3535, and the synthetic oil of lemon and eucalyptus. Avoid products that contain both sunscreen and insect repellents as you need to apply the sunscreen more often than the repellent.

Implement some of these strategies and then get ready to enjoy the outdoors mosquito-free all season long.

Gardening expert Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set, and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ website is www.melindamyers.com.

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Five top trends in container gardening

BLOOM-Five-top-trends(BPT) Gardening is a peaceful activity that eases tension, reduces overall stress and promotes longevity. One long-term study found that daily gardening reduces the risk for both dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With all of these benefits, there are ample reasons why people of all ages and lifestyles should start digging in the dirt.

You don’t need a big yard or lots of room to enjoy a beautiful garden. With so many options for indoor and outdoor container gardening, there’s no limit on the number of gardens you can have. Container gardening is a great way to color up a small space, add depth and height to your yard or easily change up the look of your patio. No matter your skill level, enjoy the benefits of gardening with these container trends:

Foliage gardens

Foliage plants are no longer just accessories for your small space garden. You can create an entire display simply out of rich, colorful foliage plants. Fountain grass, papyrus, vinca and grassy rush are all great additions for adding vibrancy to your container garden. Mix and match with various textures to find a unique display that speaks to you.

Petunia tower

A petunia tower is a great way to add an unexpected element to your container garden collection. A flower tower is easy to make and sun-loving Tidal Wave Petunias will bloom all season long on a patio, deck or pool area. You will need only three Tidal Wave plants. The Red Velour have great color and texture and make a strong statement. Plant them with good potting soil into a 10 to 12 inch wide plastic nursing pot. Place a three-foot metal tomato cage into the pot. The cage should be as wide at the bottom as it is on the top. Now slip the entire plastic pot into a glazed pot that’s about one to four inches wider, and voila!

Hanging baskets

Hanging flower baskets bring your plants to eye-level, where everyone can enjoy their wonderful scents and sights. Add beauty to an otherwise dull porch, wall or rafters. Try planting succulents for a virtually care-free container garden. Petunias, calibrachoa and pansies also make wonderful additions to hanging baskets.

Combination containers

Who says your container garden can only have one plant? Get creative and play with different color and texture combinations of plants and flowers. You can make up your own mix or search online for combo recipes by other inspiring gardeners. Mix foliage with flowers and use a color scheme to build a balanced and beautiful container.

Indoor container gardening

Take your favorite hobby inside. Even if you have a small apartment, there’s no need to rule out house plants. Find the best place for each plant, depending on their light requirements. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try different locations until you find the best spot for your indoor containers. For sun-loving plants, just be sure to place them on a windowsill for maximum light exposure.

With so many options and room for creativity, container gardening is a trend that’s here to stay. Tap into your inventive side to build a container garden that brings joy and wellness both indoors and out. For more gardening ideas, tips and tricks visit wavepetunias.com.

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Living landscapes matter

Lawns and gardens are ecosystems that help us all

Lawns provide a safe place for families to gather and for children and pets to play. Grass is also brilliant at combating many environmental challenges.

Lawns provide a safe place for families to gather and for children and pets to play. Grass is also brilliant at combating many environmental challenges.

(NAPS)—While in some parts of our country, people are replacing their lawns with rocks, mulch, cacti and plastic grass—deadening the landscape in order to conserve water—you may not have to.

“Having a lawn and being a good environment steward are not mutually exclusive,” explains Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). “Grass is a vital part of our living landscapes that contribute to our communities, our families and our health.”

Lawns provide a safe place for families to gather and for children and pets to play. But grass is also brilliant at combating many environmental challenges. For example, a good lawn:

•Filters and Captures Runoff. When it rains, water “sheets off” hard surfaces, such as hardscapes, parking lots, driveways and roads, turning rainwater into fast-moving, storm water runoff. Grass, however, slows down and absorbs runoff, while also cleansing water of impurities and dust. The grass filtration system is so effective that rainwater filtered through a healthy lawn is often as much as 10 times less acidic than water running off a hard surface.

•Reduces Heat. Lawns can be outdoor air conditioners. Turfgrass dissipates the heat island effect caused from asphalt, concrete and other hardscapes. Remarkably, studies have shown that lawns can be 31 degrees cooler than asphalt and 20 degrees cooler than bare soil. That means lower energy bills for you and a nicer environment for everyone.

  • Improves Air Quality. Grass also plays a vital role in capturing dust, smoke particles and other pollutants. Without grass, these pollutants will remain in the air, resulting in more “code red” air quality days.
  • Absorbs Carbon Dioxide. The lawn is the largest carbon sink in the United States. Carbon sinks are natural systems that suck up and store greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The dense canopy and fibrous root system in a lawn sequesters carbon so well that it outweighs the carbon used for maintaining the lawn by as much as sevenfold.
  • Generates Oxygen. Lawns are incredible oxygen producers. A turf area 50 feet x 50 feet produces enough oxygen to meet the daily needs of a family of four.
  • Supports Biodiversity. Grass, trees, shrubs and other plants provide food and habitat for birds and small mammals. Insects, spiders and worms live among the grass blades and below the surface in the turf, so your lawn can support biodiversity and wildlife.
  • Controls Soil Erosion. Turfgrass controls erosion through its natural, dense and fibrous root system. Without grass, soil erodes into streams and lakes, muddying the waters and limiting how sunlight penetrates the water. The nutrients and chemicals carried with soil can cause algae blooms, which steal oxygen from the water and kill fish.

Lawn or no lawn is not the question

So how to maintain a living landscape—even under tough conditions like a drought?

First, choose the right turfgrass for the climate zone and lifestyle. Hundreds of varieties of turfgrass exist, and some of them—such as buffalo and Bermuda grass—are excellent for drought conditions. When established, these grasses require very little water and are hardy enough to survive foot traffic, children’s play and pets.

Secondly, know that too much water is actually bad for grass. Overwatering causes the grass roots to grow horizontally, rather than vertically. With less water, the grass has to work harder and will grow its roots deeper into the soil in search of moisture. This helps it do a better job of trapping carbon and releasing oxygen.

People also need to change the perception that lawns must remain green. It’s okay to let your grass go brown. Grass will grow in cycles, “turning on and off,” based on the resources it gets. As water becomes less available in an area, grass will slow down, go dormant and turn brown. Turfgrass is resilient. It will green up again when the rains return.

Lastly, incorporate native plants with adaptive plants and grasses suitable for the climate. Add pollinator plants that provide food and habitat for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other animals and insects.

For more information, go to www.opei.org/stewardship.

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Why you should aerate your lawn this fall

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(StatePoint) Fall is a great time to aerate the lawn. Whether you do it yourself or hire a lawn care professional to do it for you, aeration at least once per year provides a number of benefits to your lawn, say experts.

The main benefit is to relieve compaction and increase pore space, which promotes gas exchange and microbial activity in the soil and creates a better, more supportive environment for lawn health and vitality. Aeration also promotes better soil drainage, which helps keep disease at bay and allows more water to percolate into the soil from rain or irrigation, meaning less runoff and more water getting where it needs to go.

“Ideal aeration timing depends on turf type and geography,” says Lloyd Von Scheliha of Exmark Manufacturing, a manufacturer of turf care equipment. “But annual aeration provides valuable agronomic benefits to virtually any turfgrass.”

With that in mind, here are some tips from the experts at Exmark to get the most benefits from aeration:

  • Timing: Ideally, aeration should take place during times of active growth to help with recovery. Avoid aeration during times of heat stress or times preceding dormancy. It’s typically best to aerate cool season grasses in the spring or fall, while with warm season grasses, it’s best to aerate in late spring or early fall.
  • Proper equipment: Use gear that meets the needs of your lawn. For example, Exmark offers a 30-inch Stand-On aerator that makes quick work of even large properties with the ability to easily maneuver around landscape features.
  • Follow-up: After aeration, it’s a good idea to water the lawn, as well as a good time to apply fertilizer or overseed if needed. Be careful not to apply a pre-emergent if you plan to overseed, however, as it will prevent the new seed from growing.

Don’t let this important, but often overlooked lawn care task escape your attention this season. At the ideal time for your lawn, either take it upon yourself or hire a professional to give your grass a better chance at thriving.

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Outwit the squirrels 

To keep squirrels out of your bird feeder, remove debris and spilled seed from the ground around the feeder that could be attracting them.

To keep squirrels out of your bird feeder, remove debris and spilled seed from the ground around the feeder that could be attracting them.

(NAPS)—Bird feeding can be a fulfilling hobby, if you know how to outsmart a clever squirrel who’s eating your birdseed. These tips can help:

Baffles: Install baffles, at least 15 inches wide and sloped, between the top of the feeder and its hanger on a hanging feeder or between the ground and the feeder for feeders on posts.

Spinners: String spinners on a horizontal line.

Location: Mount bird feeders on a smooth metal pole at least six feet high and prune any branches within a 12-foot radius.

Feeders: 

  • Metal Feeders help minimize the damage from hungry squirrels.
  • Wire Cages placed around a bird feeder will keep squirrels out and allow smaller birds to continue feeding but prevent larger birds from accessing the feeder.
  • Slammer Feeders designed with doors triggered by a large bird’s or squirrel’s weight close and hamper access to seed.
  • Interactive Bird Feeders such as the Squirrel Boss Bird Feeder. This humane and effective squirrel-proof bird feeder has a remote control operated by you from inside your home that gives the squirrel a harmless static shock correction that tingles but doesn’t hurt the squirrel in any way. For more information, visit www.squirrelboss.com or call (888) 476-9499.

Seed: Squirrels are less enticed by nyger, millet, safflower, canary and canola seeds. Adding capsaicin to birdseed can also deter squirrels.

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Join the Arbor Day Foundation in September 

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Receive 10 free trees for planting in Michigan

Everyone from Michigan who joins the Arbor Day Foundation in September will receive 10 free trees as part of the Foundation’s Trees for America program.

Through Trees for America, everyone is encouraged to plant trees, which benefits the environment and improves quality of life. With nearly 1 million members and supporters, the Arbor Day Foundation is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to planting trees.

Everyone joining in September will receive an eastern redbud, white pine, sugar maple, white flowering dogwood, pin oak, red maple, river birch, silver maple, northern red oak, and Colorado blue spruce.

“This group of trees was carefully selected to yield year-round benefits in Michigan, including beautiful spring flowers, cool summer shade, spectacular autumn colors, winter berries, and nesting sites for songbirds,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation.

“These trees will also add to the proud heritage of Michigan’s 119 Tree City USA communities,” Harris continued. “For the past 39 years, Tree City USA has supported effective urban forestry management across Michigan, and planting these trees will enhance the state’s tree-planting tradition.”

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting between October 15 and December 10. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they will be replaced free of charge. Easy-to-follow planting instructions are enclosed with each shipment of trees.

New members of the Arbor Day Foundation will also receive The Tree Book, which includes information about tree planting and care.

To receive the 10 free trees, send a $10 membership contribution to Ten Trees, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410, by September 30, 2015, or join online atarborday.org/september.

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American Chestnut

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Benefits of the American chestnut tree were important for building United States society but a disease, unknowingly imported across the ocean, has mostly eliminated benefits. This happened to elm trees when Dutch elm disease was imported. Recently this occurred when the Emerald Ash Borer beetle was imported in 2002. Our livelihoods, economy, and landscape ecosystem functions are dependent on preventing exotic species from becoming established in native nature niches.

The rapidly growing chestnut was highly valued as a durable wood. Important uses included tool handles, furniture, doors, plywood, poles, fencing, railroad tires, and tannin. It had little shrinkage, minimal warping and good gluing qualities. The tree provided fruit that was roasted and sold in markets.

American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) were a co-dominant species in the oak-hickory-chestnut forest that extended from Maine to Alabama and from the Atlantic Ocean to Michigan. Now the forest is referred to as oak-hickory. Southeast Michigan was the western range limit for the chestnut. Individuals at the edge of their range are considered ecologically important because they seem to offer more hope for adaptive genetic change. Fringe individuals might be better able to survive in new and changing environments. Their DNA might provide what is necessary to help the species survive in a changing world provided the living conditions do not change too rapidly.

Introducing new diseases that a species has never experienced is often devastating. It is a major reason Native American populations died when diseases like small pox were introduced by Europeans to America. Disease introduction to the American chestnut caused it to disappear from most of the landscape and ceased its function as an important ecological contributor in the eastern deciduous forest.

Fortunately, there were individuals that survived for some reason in outlying areas of the species range. The reason for survival has not been clearly determined. One factor could be fringe range individuals might have genetically variability that helps survival. Natural abundance ended in southeast Michigan but individuals lived farther west and north in Michigan. I have seen American chestnuts in Saginaw, Grand Traverse, and Kent Counties as well as many other counties. It is especially considered a rare sighting to find a large chestnut because few survive the disease to reach large size.

A fungus blight (Endothia parasitica) introduced from eastern Asia in the early 1900’s arrived in imported exotic chestnut tree species and devastated the ecosystem. The blight affected countless species beside humans that used the American chestnut trees for survival. We worry about diseases like Ebola and a variety of diseases that might challenge human survival. Diseases that challenge the survival of chestnuts, elms, and ashes also have great ecological significance on biodiversity. Other species like Purple Loosestrife, Garlic Mustard, and Phragmites crowd native species and eliminate them from healthy nature niche communities.

Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary is home to a large reproducing American chestnut that has a diameter of three feet. Hope continues that a disease resistant variety might be able to help the species reclaim its place the Eastern Deciduous Forest.

Help species survive by planting native species to help them and associated animals thrive where you live. Remove invasive exotic species. Encourage landscape nurseries to avoid selling species that crowd out native species when they escape the garden or yard. There are non-native species suitable for the garden and yard that are not invasive. Invasive species are harmful to society’s economy, livelihood, and functional ecosystems. Nurseries sell products to make a profit and choose stock that customers purchase. You determine the biodiversity we pass on the future generations by what you purchase and plant and whether your yard is maintained to encourage native species.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

 

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Fear of frost? Tips to keep your garden growing through fall’s chill

BLOOM-Keep-garden-growing1(BPT) – As summer winds down and frost threatens, even avid gardeners may be tempted to pack up their trowels and call it a season. You may think it’s better to leave the victory garden gracefully, than risk the disappointment of watching crops wither in chilly temperatures. But fear of frost and failure don’t have to stop you from enjoying a fruitful fall garden. With the right plant choices and a few tricks, producing a hefty harvest can be easy.

A few facts about frost

Frost occurs when temperatures drop enough to condense and freeze the moisture in the air. In fall, when air temperatures sink, it’s common to find frost layering the ground, leaves and crops. Frost may occur frequently in the fall before the ground really becomes frozen – known as a hard freeze.

BLOOM-Keep-garden-growing2While a hard freeze generally heralds the end of the growing season and frost can harm warm weather crops like oranges, some veggies actually do very well – and taste better – when nipped by frost. By stocking your fall garden with frost-loving varieties, you can ensure your garden remains victorious and bountiful right up to the first hard freeze. Not sure when the hard freeze will occur in your region? Check out the USDA Freeze Map.

When you consider the many advantages of fall gardening, frost shouldn’t be feared. Cooler temperatures mean you’ll have a more comfortable experience while working in the garden, and you’ll have fewer insect pests and weeds to deal with.

Frost-friendly choices

Just because the growing season is over for summer crops like tomatoes, you don’t have to give up gardening before the cold winter weather. Instead, clear out the remnants of summer plantings and debris and get the ground ready for fall favorites like spinach, cabbage, collards and kale. These hearty, leafy vegetables – available from Bonnie Plants – actually like the chill weather and can stand up to some frost.

Certain root veggies, such as radishes and turnips, also do well in cooler temperatures. All are packed with nutrients, so you can plant them knowing you’ll be filling your dinner table with fresh, nutritious, great-tasting veggies this fall. For a list of fall-weather favorites, tips and harvest advice visit www.bonnieplants.com.

Get a good start

When planning your fall garden, time is of the essence. Start with well-established, vigorous plants like those Bonnie Plants offers in some regions at garden retailers.

Starting out with more mature plants not only allows you to get your fall garden growing faster, it helps ensure your vegetables are strong enough to endure unexpected or extreme temperature variations. And remember to choose short-season varieties that will produce quicker in fall’s shorter growing season.

When frost arrives

Even though your fall vegetables might be able to handle the cold, you may want an extra layer of protection for unseasonably cool nights. Fortunately, you can do a lot to protect plants from sudden dips in temps.

Growing veggies in the right spot can make a big difference. Choose a location for your garden that gets plenty of sun, especially in the morning when you’ll want plants to quickly shake off overnight chill. Planting in a raised bed also helps insulate plants and their tender roots from ground freezes. Container gardens are also great for fall; when a severe frost or hard freeze threatens, you can bring plants inside, overnight for protection.

Sometimes you may want to cover plants against extreme cold. One option is a cold frame. Typically constructed of wood and glass or plastic, the frame sits over plants like a portable mini greenhouse. You can build your own – an online search will yield plenty of how-to plans – or purchase a prefabricated one. For less severe situations, simply turning a pot or bucket upside down over tender young plants can be enough to shield them from cold.

When fall arrives, you don’t have to fear frost, or give up your garden. Success starts with choosing cold-hearty varieties that prosper and produce well in cool weather. Visit www.bonnieplants.com to learn more about fall vegetables.

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Weathering the storm: 9 necessary tips for using a chainsaw to clear debris

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(BPT) – It’s storm season, and as soon as a tornado or hurricane strikes, clean-up begins.

Often, storm clean-up requires participation from volunteers who supplement the work of experts in removing miles of debris. Many are weekend warriors who have never tackled such an immense task – and may never have used a chainsaw in such rigorous circumstances.

Those brave volunteers need some guidance on how to prepare for, use and maintain a chainsaw during intense storm clean-up efforts.

Jared Abrojena, an Antioch, California-based certified treeworker and certified arborist, addresses the topic in layman’s terms. The 2015 ISA Tree Climbing World Champion, Abrojena is an expert on how to trim and fell trees. He often shares insights from his own experience working with a team of arborists to clean hundreds of fallen trees on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, just weeks before the 2013 Masters.

Abrojena’s nine necessary tips – if followed – ensures that the work of brave storm clean-up volunteers is safe and effective. They are:

  • Safety first. Take some time to train before getting started. Be sure to read through the owner’s manual for the chainsaw you’ll be using.
  • Be prepared. This is a catch-all of tips regarding regular chainsaw maintenance and the possession of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Map it out. Assess the full scope of damage, and creating a plan for how to tackle it. The plan should include coordinating with other volunteers, divvying up the work and prioritizing
  • Know your limitations. Don’t volunteer for a job you’re unprepared for. There will be plenty of work to go around, so only tackle tasks that you are comfortable handling.
  • Buddy up. No one should trim trees by themselves, given the risk of error or injury. Pair up with another volunteer, but stay a safe distance apart when operating saws.
  • A good start. A chainsaw is best started on the ground, with the chain brake engaged. Don’t “cut” corners during intense, fast-paced clean-up efforts.
  • The right cut. To achieve the right cut, use careful pruning practices to relieve tension from a branch or tree limb.
  • Take it easy. You aren’t Superman, and most mistakes occur when you’re tired. Take frequent rests and stay hydrated.
  • Pamper your equipment. Ongoing maintenance during storm clean-up is critical, since you’ll be pushing your chainsaw hard. Pause often to clean filters and tighten chains.

Interested? Contact Kelsey Walker of Ketchum (404) 879-9294 or kelsey.walker@ketchum.com to learn more and to request a customized byliner from Abrojena for your publication.

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How to attract the most colorful birds to your backyard

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(BPT) – Sparrows to doves, mockingbirds to magpies, every bird that visits your backyard this season will bring its unique brand of delight. Yet when a particularly colorful species shows up, you can’t help but feel a special thrill at the beauty of their plumage and song. You can take steps to draw the most colorful species to your feeder and fill your backyard with their vibrant, bright displays throughout the season.

First, research what types of birds live in your region. Some species may summer in your area and then winter elsewhere. Some may arrive in spring to breed and raise young, only to move on as fall approaches. Online resources such as the Audubon Society’s bird guide can help you identify the colorful species that may be found in your area this summer. Next, take action to make your backyard attractive to the birds you want to attract. Provide their preferred nesting habitat, plenty of fresh, clean water and a reliable supply of their favorite foods in a style feeder they favor.

The bird-feeding experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some expert tips on common colorful birds found throughout North America and the types of bird feed they prefer:

*Cardinals: Among the best-known and most-loved backyard beauties, cardinals vary in hue from the brilliant red plumage of the males to the more subdued brownish red feathers of females. Both genders have black markings around the beak and darker feathers on the wings and back. Cardinals are seed eaters and are particularly fond of Safflower and Cole’s patented blend, “Hot Meats,” seed. They are attracted to the bitter taste of Safflower and go nuts for the spicy flavor of Hot Meats. Hot Meats are nutritious sunflower meats infused with fiery hot habanero chilies. A great no-waste, no-mess feed, it delivers more feed per pound, and no need for under-the-feeder cleanup. The chili peppers taste hot to mammals like squirrels, but birds do not feel the heat at all. Cardinals also appreciate suet, so be sure to serve this high-energy food in different varieties throughout your back yard.

*Bluebirds: Don’t mistake the sassy blue jay for a bluebird. These brightly colored birds sport brilliant blue feathers on their heads, backs and the tops of their wings, and warm russet fading to white on their bellies. Bluebirds stand out not only for their beauty, but also for their taste in feed. Bluebirds love spice and suet, so try a feed with some kick, like Blazing Hot Blend. All natural and chemical free, this blend combines a patented habanero chili oil formula (which appeals to birds but keeps squirrels at bay) with the most-preferred types of seeds. Bluebirds love every form of suet, so serve up Hot Meats Suet cakes, or a specialty suet like Suet Kibbles. They also favor mealworms, so to avoid the “ick factor” of serving live mealworms, try Cole’s dried mealworm version.

BLOOM-Attract-birds2*Goldfinches: When one of these bright yellow and black birds visits your yard, it’s like a slice of sunshine has settled at your feeder. With vivid yellow bodies, black masks above their beaks and black and white striping on their wings, goldfinches are among the flashiest, most vivid visitors to backyards. Lure them with sunflower, and niger seeds, or try Finch Friends, which combines their two favorite seeds in one mix.

*Indigo bunting: Another beautiful blue bird, the indigo bunting is also known for its boisterous and lovely song. Indigo buntings favor seeds and berries, but will also eat insects. To beckon this bunting to your backyard, try serving White Millet, a favorite seed choice.

*Baltimore orioles: That blaze of brilliant orange, capped by black may herald the arrival of a Baltimore oriole in your backyard. Woo these flashy fellows by serving cut fruit and berries, as well as peanut butter and suet. Cole’s Natural Peanut Suet Cake delivers the peanut butter base that orioles and other songbirds prefer, paired with the energy benefits of nutrient-dense suet. An interesting fact is orioles will try and feed off of hummingbird feeders; they like the nectar!

To attract the maximum number and variety of colorful birds, be sure to provide a range of feed types served in a variety of feeder styles, including tubular feeders for seeds, bowl feeders for fruits, berries and nuts, and hummingbird feeders for nectar drinkers.

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