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At the heart of gardening there is a belief in the miraculous.

~Mirabel Osler~

Birds and Butterflies

Climate change. Surely something is changing. After the soggy spring, summer rolled in hot as Hades in June. Temperatures topped 100 on the side porch thermometer and we saw nary a drop of rain since the end of May. Even our daylilies decided to take a rest and many varieties went heat-dormant.

The combination of heat and drought, the presence of young birds and the beginning of the migration season make summer into fall the most important time of the year to provide water sources in your garden. Don't miss out on seeing your garden come alive with thrushes, tanagers, hummingbirds, and butterflies.


Any kind of container will work, from a simple bowl to a dish, on a pedestal or the ground to a fancy recirculating pool powered by a pump. Moving water will be more noticeable as birds will be able to hear the sound from a distance and will fly in to investigate. A simple, yet effective, means to create water movement is to hang a bucket with a hole above the birdbath and fill with ice.
For tall basins, place flat rocks or pebbles in the water to create a shallow island, as most birds can not bathe in water that is more than a couple of inches deep. A few rocks sticking up above the water will provide landing spots for butterflies.
Regardless of the type of birdbath, cleanliness is important: replace the water and scrub the container frequently.


Some species, particularly hummingbirds, do not use a conventional birdbath, instead, they will fly back and forth through a mister. When wet, they will perch on a nearby branch to preen and dry their feathers.
Turn on a mister at the same time each day and watch the birds show up on schedule for a fun show.

Mud Puddles

A bucket or container filled with sand and pebbles and kept damp will keep butterflies happy and you may see Tiger Swallowtails, Sulfurs, Skippers or Blues. To provide salt, add 1/4 teaspoon plain salt without iodine to 1 quart water. A bit of manure mixed in makes the puddle even more attractive.

Butterflies will sit still for long periods of time at a puddle, allowing plenty of time to flip through a field guide or practicing photography skills. Consider adding a chair or bench nearby to enjoy the view as butterflies discover their new spa.

Imagine several American robins splashing in all directions or pairs of waxwings drinking and bathing at the same time. It's a great show!


August in the Garden:

The w ildlife buffet is open :
Nectar Feeders: