Phoebes

moon phase Week of 04/21/2002 Favorable days to cultivate

Phoebes

Organic farmers are always thinking of ways to keep the fly populations under control without using poisonous sprays. Keeping a healthy natural environment for their animals and families is the main concern for the organic farmer.

Itís simple really, all they have to do is encourage insect-eating birds to their property.

Bluebird houses are put out on the fence post around the farm. These birdhouses may be used by other insect-eating birds besides bluebirds. Welcome too are tree swallows, wrens and chickadees.

A purple martin house may attract these larger swallow-like birds to the farmyard. They eagerly catch flies and mosquitoes around the livestock or garden. Their beautiful melodic songs are a special added treat whenever purple martins live nearby.

Houses for brown bats are put up under the eves of the barn to encourage them to move in and help keep flying insects in check.

Barn swallows build their mud nests in under the beams of the barn and the machine shed. Barn swallows and cliff swallows may build their mud nest up under the eves of the house or garage. A couple of nails an inch apart are all they need to construct their nest around. Itís not unusual to see 30 or more swallows hunting flying insects around an organic farm. A pair of these fast flying birds eat thousands of flies and mosquitoes every day.

If you are lucky some chimney swifts may build their nests on to the inner wall of a chimney. They too dine on flying insects.

A pair of eastern phoebes fly in and out of the pole shed carrying moss, mud, grass, cow hair and feathers. They have decided to put their nest just over the inside door. These little flycatchers call their names to each other all day. Phoebe! Phoebe! Much less shy than most types of flycatchers, the Phoebes will build a nest most anywhere they take a liking to. They like to nest under an overhang away from the rain or they will build a nest inside any building they can get into. Under a small roadside bridge is also a favorite place for them to raise their families.

In early spring when the first flying insects appear, they are the target for a hungry phoebe. The little phoebe returns to southern Wisconsin the first or second week of April, and there may not yet be many flying insects to catch. The skillful phoebe perches on a branch or the peak of a building and watches for any flying insects to pass by. When they spot one, they zoom from their perch and snatch it up in a flash. Then they quickly return up to their perch and continue watching for another insect meal. This hunting process is used by other kinds of flycatchers and is called "hawking for insects."

All the birds I mentioned are a true joy to watch and add a great deal to the beauty and value of any property. A healthy environment is a happy one and the happy songs of birds can only enrich your life. So go organic and bring some happiness into your lives. And what can you do to bring some of these wonderful birds into your life?

All art ©2013 Organic Valley

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