Birds and Blooms Blog

Get the latest birding and gardening tips from our expert bloggers.

A Year of Blogging about Birds!

Rob Ripma

I was recently looking back over some of my previous posts here on the Birds & Blooms blog and realized that I have been blogging about birds here for almost exactly a year! Since my very first post on October 17 of last year, I’ve written more than 90 articles and covered a very wide variety of topics. The following is a list of ten of my favorite posts that I’ve written so far, and I look forward to another year of blogging about birds for Birds & Blooms magazine.

1. Birding Basics: Choosing Binoculars without Breaking the Bank

2. Bird Species Profile: Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbills are incredibly beautiful birds!

Roseate Spoonbills are incredibly beautiful birds!

3. Birding Basics: Using eBird to Find Species

4. Celebrating the 4th of July with Bald Eagles

5. Lesser Known Birding Hotspots: Goose Pond FWA in Indiana

Goose Pond FWA has a good number of Dickcissels on the property.

Goose Pond FWA has a good number of Dickcissels on the property.

6. Bird Photography Tips: Patience is Key

7. Backyard Bird Feeding: A Green Heron

8. The Lodge at Pico Bonito: Birding Hotspots

Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds are the most common species at the Lodge at Pico Bonito. They were easy to see and photography from my table during lunch.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds are the most common species at the Lodge at Pico Bonito.

9. Birds & Beans – A Great Gift for Coffee Lovers and Bird Lovers Alike

10. Should You Attend a Birding Festival?

Birch Bark DIY Candle Holder

Jill Staake

A few months ago, I spotted a new item at my local craft store: Sticky Barc paper, which is really a very thin veneer of actual wood with an adhesive back that can easily be used in craft projects. I bought a roll of “Rustic Birch”, not knowing what I was going to do with it, but knowing I’d come up with something. This fall, I decided to use some of it to create a DIY candle holder that resembles a tree trunk, accented with a hole-punched bit of cardstock and a wood maple leaf. I bought the plain glass candle holder at my local dollar store, making this fall craft fairly inexpensive and easy.

Birch Bark DIY Candle Holder

Birch Bark DIY Candle Holder Materials:

  • Round glass candle holder with straight sides (not tapered)
  • Barc Wood Roll, Rustic Birch
  • 1.5 inch strip metallic green cardstock, 12 inches long
  • Maple leaf paper punch
  • Wood leaf accent
  • Tacky craft glue
  • Rubber bands
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter, or ruler and pencil

Birch Bark DIY Candle Holder Materials

Birch Bark DIY Candle Holder Instructions:

  1. Clean the candle holder well – rubbing alcohol is ideal – to remove any residue.
  2. Measure the circumference and height of the candleholder and cut a piece of Barc Wood paper to fit. (A paper cutter works best for this.)
  3. Remove the adhesive backing from the Barc Wood paper and wrap around the candle holder. Trim the seams so they overlap just slightly.
  4. Apply a thin layer of craft glue where the ends of the paper meet. Use rubber bands to hold the paper in place while the glue dries.
  5. Use the maple leaf paper punch to randomly to make cut outs on the strip of cardstock.
  6. Apply craft glue to the back of the cardstock strip and wrap around the middle of the candle holder. Use rubber bands to hold it in place while it dries.
  7. Remove all rubber bands. Use craft glue to attach the small wood leaf to the front of the candle holder.

Birch Bark DIY Candle Holder

The wood veneer is thin enough that the glow of a candle shines through beautifully. I’m considering making these in a variety of sizes to create a little “forest” of birch bark candles on my dining room table.

Love decorating with a leaf motif? Try making these Leaf Patterned Painted Pillows too.

You Don’t Say: Fight Club

Lorie

You Don’t Say: Fight Club

In our December/January issue, we feature this fun snapshot from Cari Povenz of Grandville, Michigan. Do you have a clever caption for this picture? Share it below and you might see your caption and name printed in the February/March issue of Birds & Blooms!

Purple Finches are Heading South

Rob Ripma

A couple weeks ago, I posted about the Winter Finch Forecast that predicts which finch species will be moving south this winter in response to a limited food supply in the north. You can read that post here. Since then, it has become very evident that Purple Finches are already on the move!

Purple Finches are quite often misidentified. The much more common House Finch looks very similar and is regularly mistaken for this species. Although many times identification issues arise due to the similarity of females of different species, it’s actually the male House and Purple Finches that seem to cause the most confusion. It’s much easier to show the difference between the two species than it is to describe it so here are a few images to help you identify these similar species.

Female House Finches show brown streaking on the sides and very little pattern on the face.

Female House Finches show brown streaking on the sides and very little pattern on the face.

Compared to the female House Finch, the female Purple Finch shows a bolder facial pattern  and is more heavily streaked on the chest.

Compared to the female House Finch, the female Purple Finch (above) shows a bolder facial pattern and is more heavily streaked on the chest.

Male House Finches show a red head and chest as well as bold brown streaking on their sides. (Photo by Brian Zwiebel)

Male House Finches show a red head and chest as well as bold brown streaking on their sides. (Photo by Brian Zwiebel)

You can see that the color on the Purple Finch's head is slightly different than on the House Finch. Also note that the streaking on the sides more closely matches the color of the head and chest. (Photo by Brian Zwiebel)

You can see that the color on the Purple Finch’s head is slightly different than on the House Finch. Also note that the streaking on the sides more closely matches the color of the head and chest. (Photo by Brian Zwiebel)

You can see all of the eBird reports of Purple Finch in the continental US since October 1st here. Have you seen any Purple Finches in your yard this fall yet?

Welcome Sign Fall Craft

Jill Staake

I wanted something simple and cheerful for my front door to welcome guests this fall, so I created this welcome sign using a few supplies from the craft store. Even though it uses fabric for the base, the addition of hard coat Mod Podge means this decor can stand up to all but the very harshest weather!

Welcome Sign Fall Craft

Welcome Sign Materials:

  • 8″ x 8″ stretched canvas (found in the art supplies section of the craft store)
  • Fat quarter of calico cotton in print of choice
  • Wooden “Welcome” (measures about 10″)
  • Red berries floral pick
  • Acrylic paint – Antique Copper (or color of your choice)
  • Mod Podge – Hard Coat or Outdoor formula
  • Tacky craft glue
  • Two sponge paintbrushes
  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • Stapler (optional)

Welcome Sign Fall Craft Materials

Welcome Sign Fall Craft Instructions:

  1. Cut the calico cotton fabric to approximately 10″ square.
  2. Spread a generous coat of Mod Podge on the front of the canvas frame.
  3. Lay the fabric, right side up, over the Mod Podge and smooth into place.
  4. Working one side at a time, spread a generous coat of Mod Podge on each side of the frame. Fold the fabric as if you were wrapping a gift and smooth over the sides and around to back. Trim extra fabric as needed. Allow to dry.
  5. While Mod Podge coat one is drying, paint the wooden “Welcome” with acrylic paint. (Tip: Use a cotton swab to paint small inside areas of letters.) Allow to dry.
  6. Apply a second generous coat of Mod Podge over the fabric on the canvas (front and sides). Smooth with sponge brush to achieve an even finish. Allow to dry.
  7. Use craft glue to add wooden “Welcome” diagonally across the canvas as shown.
  8. Trim floral pick and add to sign as shown, or any way you desire. Allow glue to dry.
  9. Cut 8″ length of twine. Secure to back of sign by stapling in place (tie twine around staples), or use craft glue. Trim extra twine.

Tips: If you’re making this sign to hang indoors, you can use traditional Mod Podge. If you’re more of a “sparkly” type, try using the Mod Podge formula that includes glitter, or dust glitter over the top coat of Mod Podge before it dries.

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