You might have seen the meme with a photo of excited sports commentators looking as if they’ve just seen the greatest play of all time. Underneath in white text it reads, “People in quarantine watching their bird feeders like...” I didn’t create it, but I might as well have.
It all started when I noticed a few aggressive birds swooping low to torment my fluff-of-a-cat who had just turned one. She probably was infringing on their territory, so no hard feelings. After a few days of observation, though, I realized that my entire backyard — a humble postage-sized plot in a Phoenix metro suburb — was an ecosystem filled with flighty friends.
On the daily, I’ve got woodpeckers, owls, mourning doves, cactus wren, thrashers, and an assortment of other birds that fly in and out. Lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with a lake (quite rare for the Sonoran Desert), I even had a pair of flirting ducks swoop in to chill in my pool and literally shake their tail feathers at each other.
And so it was official. The absence of backyard BBQs with friends, evening bar hopping, a rich calendar of social events, and mornings tucked into a cozy coffee shop had been replaced by a sport I’ve poked fun of over the years: bird watching. I already had a hummingbird feeder I’d purchased long ago hanging in a quiet corner of the yard, but I was determined to make my space even more conducive.
I don’t claim to be an expert birdwatcher; I am rather more of a dabbler. If that sounds like you, perhaps the following doodads that’ve elevated my own backyard bird watching experience will do the same for you.
FOR THE HUMMINGBIRDS
More Birds Elixir Hummingbird Feeder
Not all hummingbird feeders are created equally. Bright colors — and shades of red and yellow, specifically — are more likely to attract the little guys. You also want one that’s easy to clean, holds a decent amount, and doesn’t leak (a true disaster that’ll turn your yard into an ant party). This one offers all the above and I like the vintage aesthetic. Bonus: hummingbirds are great pollinators! For food, boil one-part sugar and four-parts water or buy premade nectar.
FOR PURE FUN
Fred Swing Time Tire Swing Bird Feeder
Have you ever seen anything as cute as this wee-sized, ceramic tire swing? Probably not, and the cuteness is only to be surpassed by birds sitting inside of it. I fill mine with cracked corn feed).
FOR SOME WHIMSY
Carson Home Accents Shingle Roof Birdhouse
The classic birdhouse silhouette is perfectly OK, but this one is particularly charming with its sloped, shingled roof and winding ivy accent. I like that it feels whimsical without being too cheesy.
FOR SOME CLEAN FUN
Best Choice Products Store Pedestal Garden Bird Bath
I don’t know why, but for some reason this $36 bird feeder makes me feel fancy AF. Also, I like knowing that the local birds have a non-chlorine reprieve to splash around in for some good, clean fun.
FOR SOME EDUCATION
Backyard Guide to the Birds of North America
It’s fun to watch, feed, and house the birds, but being able to identify which ones swing through your yard improves the whole experience. Sure, you could always Google it, but this guide by National Geographic makes it more fun.
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