Orioles are beautiful birds with an amazing song and bright, sunny plumage. These stunning birds LOVE sweet blossoms and fruit, particularly oranges.
To attract these beauties to your yard you could simply stick orange slices out on posts in the yard, or you can make a decorative treat with sliced oranges with these simple steps.
What you will need:
2-3 inch twigs
string or twine, cut in 12-15 inch lengths
a skewer or knitting needle (I used a knitting needle)
1. Slice oranges in half
2. Cut a few 2-3 inch twig bits
I used willow twigs because they are plentiful in our yard and are flexible
3. Use a sharp knife to cut a small nick in the center of each twig, as shown below
4. Wrap string or twine around nick in center of each twig and tie securely
5. Use skewer or knitting needle to poke a hole through the center of each orange slice
6. Push twine or string through hole in orange from bottom to top, so that twig sits and base of orange
This step is very juicy and sticky, don’t be afraid to get good and messy for the sake of the birds!
7. Hang your finished bird treats in a tree where you can watch the orioles enjoy them!
Orioles love the sweet blossoms of apple trees so I decided to hang some orange slices here for an added attraction.
Orioles build incredible hanging basket-like nests. You can cut some lengths of string or twine and lay them on garden fences or branches for these amazing builders to collect for their nests. Enjoy your bird watching!
Our obsession with poultry started last April when we incubated our first five eggs in my classroom, and amazingly all five hatched! Three turned out to be roosters, they all turned out to be exactly what we were missing in our lives. Chickens are truly incredible animals with such unique personalities and an ability to both create and be food. They help control pests and enrich the soil simply by going about their daily business. Chickens are the perfect bird, and the perfect friend.
Chicken eggs need to incubate for 21 days, being turned at least twice a day to allow chicks to evenly develop and prevent them from getting stuck to the inside of their shells. During incubation eggs need to stay at about 100 degrees and have 60% humidity. We have incubated using electronic incubators, seen above, so we can watch the eggs crack and hatch, this year we plan to have some of our hens incubate eggs as well.
We have learned a lot about hatching and raising birds this year, including how to reverse birth defects and treat chicken injuries naturally. How to prevent frostbitten combs and keep chickens from pulling out each others feathers. We have already seen a decrease in ticks and other insect pests in the year we have had our flock. We also discovered that chickens will hunt and eat live mice- a gruesome surprise that has helped manage another pest problem on the farm!
It has been especially interesting to see how chicken feathers change as they mature. A fluffy little yellow chick can transform into a smooth and silky white hen with black speckles, a brown and tan striped chick can turn into an iridescent red and brown rooster. Here is a look at three of our first chicks and their adult selves. (My students are responsible for the awesome names of the first five chickens.)
Jelly Doughnut was the first to hatch, and our first hen to start laying her beautiful blue/ green eggs.
Our flock narrowly escaped a dog attack because of the instincts and feistiness of our main rooster, Alexander Hamilton, who sustained major injuries protecting his girls.
Now it is Spring again, and time to start the next generation of our flock. Throughout this year we have incubated dozens more chicken eggs as well as turkey and guinea fowl eggs. We currently have 29 chickens, including 5 roosters, as well as 4 guinea hens (we used to have 4 turkeys and 2 more roosters but we ate them).
Our chickens are both beloved pets and a crucial part of our survival. While we name our birds, give them treats like cabbage and meal worms, we also believed that eating what we raise is a critical part of being a responsible and sustainable farmer. It may not be easy to butcher a rooster or hen we have raised from an egg, but we know our birds live free, happy and healthy lives ranging the yard.
I don’t think watching chicks hatch is something that will ever get old. Plus, there is nothing quite so wonderful as a handful of freshly hatched chicks. It truly is amazing to realize that a laying hen has potential to create a new chicken each day. A new life, each and every day.
Stay tuned for more on this year’s hatchlings coming soon!