Birds and Blooms Blog

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

Rainbow Seed Tube DIY Garden Gift

Jill Staake

I really do love giving seeds as gifts, and coming up with creative ways to present them. While browsing my local dollar store today, I came across a multi-colored container meant to be used as a daily pill organizer, and immediately knew it would make a fun way to present a rainbow of flower seeds this spring. This DIY garden gift is fast and easy, and you can choose any seeds you like to match the colors of the container.

Rainbow Seed Tube DIY Garden Gift

Rainbow Seed Tube Materials

  • Tube-shaped pill organizer, multicolored (The organizer shown screws apart into different sections. Each section serves as the lid for the section beneath, with a real lid on the top clear container.)
  • 7 packets of seeds, one for each color of the tube (I used white flowers for the clear section, along with red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet)
  • Ribbon in color of choice
  • Cardstock for card (4 X 6 inches shown)
  • Paper punches in butterfly and flower shapes (optional)
  • Multicolored pens
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors

Rainbow Seed Tube DIY Garden Gift

Rainbow Seed Tube Directions

  • Unscrew the sections of the tube.
  • Carefully open each seed packet and pour the seeds into the appropriate colored portions of the tube. Work from the bottom up, since each section serves as the lid for the section beneath it, and screw the tube back together as you go.
  • Tie a ribbon around the tube as shown.
  • To create the card, use the paper punches to cut shapes from the fronts of the seed packets showing the flowers. (If you don’t have paper punches, you can just cut around the shapes of the flowers instead, or cut any free-form shapes you like.)
  • Glue the shapes to the cardstock in the pattern of your choice using the glue stick. Use pens to label each flower so the recipient will know what the seed types are.
  • If desired, write “Plant a Rainbow!” across the top of the card.

Rainbow Seed Tube DIY Garden Gift

Looking for more DIY garden gifts? Try these DIY Gift Basket Ideas for Nature Lovers.

Bird Day Challenge: Kirsten’s Team


Meet Team Kirsten! We’re birding for Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the Birds & Blooms 2015 Bird Day Challenge at The Biggest Week in American Birding on May 9. Donate and show your support for Team Kirsten at our Crowdrise campaign page. We’re raising money for Cornell, a world leader in the study and conservation of birds.

Kirsten is the senior editor of Birds & Blooms, and she’s been with the magazine for almost 8 years. This will be her fourth time at The Biggest Week in American Birding. It’s quite possibly her favorite bird event of the entire year! Even though her team came in second in last year’s challenge with 79 species in 3 hours, it was an absolute blast. It’ll be even better this year with an amazing team, birding for a great cause.

Ken is a naturalist, author and environmental educator, currently living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He used to call northwest Ohio home, so he’s familiar with the area where we’ll be birding. So not only will he be sharing his mad birding skills with the team, he’ll be our navigator. You might know Ken from his frequent articles published in Birds & Blooms magazine.

Ashli grew up on the south shores of Lake Erie in Ohio and began her studies of the natural world at an early age. She now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She currently serves as the secretary for Rio Grande Bird Research, Inc., is a licensed bird bander, and is the project lead for her Black-throated Gray Warbler research project. Ashli is also the secretary of the New Mexico Ornithological Society and sits on the Steering Committee of the New Mexico Burrowing Owl Working Group.

Paul and his wife Rachel moved from Toronto to the country, where they spend time growing their own food and watching birds with their boy-girl twins. He has a love for birds and punk music, so he combined his two loves and created PRBY Apparel. The creative duo make and sell apparel designed specifically for bird-watchers. It’s seriously cool stuff, so check out his online store.

Please support Team Kirsten and Cornell’s bird research now. Even just $10 can make a huge difference!

Bird Day Challenge: Stacy’s Team


I am so proud to introduce you to my team for the Birds & Blooms 2015 Bird Day Challenge! Don’t forget to support my team in our Crowdrise campaign to raise money for the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. This is a very worthwhile organization, and they’ve been pioneers in getting kids active in birding.


Stacy Tornio is the editor of Birds & Blooms, and she’s been with the magazine for 10 years. She loves Biggest Week in American Birding, and her favorite warbler is the black-and-white warbler. Last year, her team won the Big Day Challenge with 88 bird species in just 3 hours. This year, she expects to take home the title again, and she’s hoping to make it to 90 species.

RAYMOND (Stops at Nothing) VANBUSKIRK  

Raymond VanBuskirk has lived in New Mexico his entire life. His infatuation with birds started at the young age of 7, and since then, he’s been studying, banding and watching birds all around the world. He is one of the owners and guides of BRANT, a tour guide company created in 2012. You can find Raymond on one of his company’s tours or sporting Leica Optics at birding events and festivals throughout the country.


Douglas Gray was introduced to birding by his grandfather while growing up on the family farm near Clarksville, Tennessee. He currently resides in Franklin, Indiana and works as a senior engineering specialist…but his passion is birding. Doug leads bird hikes throughout Indiana and beyond, and is known for introducing people of color to the world of birding. However, Doug’s favorite hikes are with children, as he loves engaging with the upcoming generations of birdwatchers.

ROB (Smooth Operator) RIPMA

Rob Ripma, a life-long Indiana resident, is owner and creator of, the place to go to find birds. He is also a partner in Sabrewing Nature Tours leading birding and photography trips in the US and Central and South America. Rob currently sits on the Black Swamp Bird Observatory’s Board of Directors as Secretary. Rob is also a blogger for Birds & Blooms, and you can read his blog posts online.

Go support Team Stacy right now. Just a small contribution of $10 can really help!


Counting Rusty Blackbirds

Rob Ripma

When many backyard birders think about blackbirds, they generally hope that they don’t have any show up at their feeders to eat all of their seed, but there are blackbirds that many birders are excited to see. Rusty Blackbird is one of those species, and today marks the start of the 2015 Rusty Blackbird Blitz in the United States and Canada.

This species population has dropped 85-95% since the mid-1900s (according to the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group), and the annual Rusty Blackbird Blitz helps to continue tracking their population levels. You can learn more about the conservation issues facing the Rusty Blackbird on the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group website.

Be on the lookout for Rusty Blackbirds in the coming months!

Be on the lookout for Rusty Blackbirds in the coming months!

You can find out the dates for your state or province’s Rusty Blackbird Blitz here and submit your sightings on eBird! In order to make sure you submit the best data possible, be sure to read this guide to identifying Rusty Blackbirds.

Build and Learn with LEGO Birds!

Jill Staake

Is there anyone who doesn’t love to build with LEGOs? I will admit that even though no kids live in my house, there are still quite a few LEGOs around to play with. Not long ago, I purchased a new set of LEGOs that were so cool I knew I had to share them with other birders out there. If you’re looking for a way to involve kids in birding, or just enjoy a little playtime yourself, you’re going to want to check out the new LEGO Birds set.

Birds Lego Set

The three birds featured in the set are the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), found in North America; the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), found from Europe south to North Africa and east to Siberia; and the Green Violetear Hummingbird (Colibri thalassinus), found from Mexico down through northern South America. The birds are approximately life-sized, and come with their own stands and labels showing their scientific names.

Birds Lego Set

These birds also each come with their own booklet, both to guide you through assembly and to teach you more about the species as you build. This would be a really fun project to do over spring break with the kids or grandkids. Build the LEGO birds and spend some time researching them on the internet. Then, head outside with binoculars and a camera to take your own Blue Jay photos (tip: they love peanuts!).

Birds Lego Set

The LEGO Birds set is part of the IDEAS program, and I’m not sure how long it might be available, so if you’re interested, I recommend ordering it soon. I guarantee it’s fun for kids of all ages!

Be a Butterfly Hero

Join the National Wildlife Federation in their new campaign to help save monarchs and attract butterflies.

Colorful Winter Gardens

It may be winter, but not all gardens are covered in snow. Enjoy these colorful Southwestern winter gardens.

Monarch Update: Winter 2014-15

Learn whether monarch butterflies are recovering from record low numbers and what plans are being made to help them with this monarch update.

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