A Touch of Nature – 1/1/05 – The Herbs Place

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Clean – The After-Holiday Cleanse 🙂

Time to cleanse all those holiday goodies.  We process a lot of junk food we shouldn’t be eating, so January is a popular time for cleansing.  Clean Start is our most popular cleanse.  Read more

A Touch Of Nature
January 1, 2005 Issue

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What’s Happening Here at Bluebird Cove

About mid-December we had some nice weather here in Virginia, so I went outside and cleaned out any dried flowers that no longer had seeds in them.  Our yard certainly looked a bit messy compared to some neighbors who had cleaned out their garden plants before the green was gone.

Many people don’t realize how much wildlife depends on the seeds of "spent" flowers.  You get to enjoy those beautiful flowers, but the birds look forward to the plant after it turns to seed.  

You can save some money on buying bird seed if you will allow your plants to remain for the birds to "pick clean."  They will also get a greater nutritional profile for their winter diet by having some variety from your plants.

Our salvias and coneflowers were a real joy to the finches as they held on and bobbed around as they ate in the chill.  Doves and sparrows came behind and ate up what spilled onto the ground.  

I’ve often wondered if birds that eat from feeders or perches were created "messy" so that the ground-feeding birds would be well taken care of 🙂

Snuggle up with your honey and stay warm this winter!  Get out some bird books and study so you will recognize more of your visitors at the feeders.  


Critter Facts

Backyard Jungle

Backyard jungle is a sophisticated, free, kid-friendly website where users around the world can load photos, drawings, and descriptions about the natural surroundings where they live, their "backyard." Users manage and map their own information, share it with other people who visit the website, and visit and comment on the backyards of other users as well.

With other people worldwide users can explore and answer the question, "What’s out there?" All the content (information, photos, and drawings) on the website is loaded by users themselves.  Backyard Jungle

Those Amazing Birds!

Houses and Nest Boxes

Houses and nestboxes are structures that come in a purposeful variety of shapes and sizes that take the place of natural cavities, which are in ever-shorter supply.  

Q:  Do birds occupy nest boxes when they are not breeding?  In December, we saw some sparrows trying to get into our chickadee box, the same box that was of interest to no birds last spring.  And, how important is the location of the box in relation to its attractiveness to birds?

A:  Some birds use nest boxes or tree cavities in winter as roost sites.  They fly into the box at dusk and stay there until morning, probably for extra warmth and safety.  Birds that do this include chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, woodpeckers, bluebirds and brown creepers.  Some birds, such as bluebirds and creepers, roost communally, which is many individuals of the same species roosting in the same box.  Communal roosting may provide added warmth.  Winter roosting by birds is a good reason for you to leave bird houses up all year.  Houses can face in any direction.  However you may want to face them away from the direction of prevailing winds in your area just to give the birds a little added protection from the weather.

Q:  Every spring we’re excited because nest construction is started in our bluebird boxes.  But every spring it turns out to be something other than bluebirds — sometimes wrens, but usually sparrows.  How can we tell whose nest it is before the birds actually move in?  And then, what can we do about it?

A:  House wrens build their nests of short twigs and then add a small softer lining, which is an easy nest to identify.  House sparrows build a sloppy nest of lots of coarse grass, strings and feathers that tends to arch up over the sides and even under the roof of the nest box.  Bluebirds build a neat, cup-like nest of grasses or pine needles.  Because house wrens prefer to nest near vegetation, you may discourage them by moving the nest box out in the open, 100 feet from vegetation.  House sparrows are not native birds and therefore are not protected by law.  You legally can remove their nest material from the box; if this is done repeatedly it sometimes discourages them.

Q:  When is the best time to put up nest boxes for returning spring migrants?  The box I built last year out of plywood was filled with red ants when I took it down in October.  Should I treat the interior or start over?  Will birds nest where there are ants?

A:  This is a question similar to "When is the best time to plant a tree?"  The answer: The best time was 20 years ago, but the next best time is today.  As for nest boxes, as soon as you are able to drive the stake into the ground to hold them up, it’s time.  For the box with ants, first clean it out and then move it ten or more feet away from last year’s site.  Check it once the birds have built their nest, and if ants are invading again, put some sticky substance like Tanglefoot around the pole to keep them out.

Many cavities are created by woodpeckers, which excavate new holes every year. These subsequently are used by wrens, flycatchers, swallows, bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and others.

Wondering about proper dimensions for each bird type?  See a handy chart here

This information is used with permission from LittleChickadee.com.  Please visit for your birding supplies and more bird information

Nature’s Bounty For Us

Nature offers essential oils with potent properties that can be used in many ways around the home. For health, bath, beauty, and household cleaning supplies. Here’s our featured recipe for this issue:

High Blood Pressure

10 drops lemon
10 drops sweet marjoram
10 drops ylangylang
30 drops clary sage

Read more about the href=”/essential_oil_recipes_sp_4/”> benefits of these oils, find other recipes, and purchase oils

Herbal and Supplement Solutions by Health Topic

Do you need to build a body system for better health and wellness?  Herbs have been used by people around the world for thousands of years.  This site lists natural solutions by health topic: Supplements by Health Topic

Pets Are Nature At Home

Pet Supplement Catalog by Health Topic

Pet Success Stories Using Nature’s Remedies

Free Natural Pet Email Newsletter

Healthy Pet Corner for Birds, Cats, Dogs, Horses, Rabbits & Reptiles

Shopping With Purpose

Please Note:  We receive no compensation for promoting these businesses, other than the delight of sharing alternative shopping experiences for those who would like to make a difference while shopping.  🙂

Wildlife Works – Environmental Clothing Company

Dedicated to saving wildlife, they sell 100% organic cotton casual clothing for men and women and proceeds go toward protecting wilderness areas and providing jobs for rural people so they can afford to let wildlife live.  

They have projects in Kenya, Africa, and in British Columbia.  They’re also exploring ways to bring Consumer Powered Conservationsm to the Nepal border region within India, where the Red Panda is critically endangered, and to Uganda, where mountain gorillas are under threat of extinction.

Look at what’s on sale here.

"Green" Info – Making It a Way of Life!

Book Swaps

It’s a great way to build community, pass on the love of reading, and keep books circulating through people’s hands.

In the USA:   USA Book Swaps

In the UK:  An excellent how-to resource is an informational packet offered by the National Literacy Trust’s Swap-A-Book campaign.

Sunshine Concentrate – Detoxify Your Soaps and Cleaning!

This environmentally-friendly cleaning and washing concentrate is nothing less than wonderful.  We’ve used it for 15 years for laundry, hand soap, pet baths, soaking produce, dishwasher, cleaning, and a multitude of other uses. This product has saved us money and health.  No more "itch" of chemical soaps.   Sunshine Concentrate

Muse On Nature

Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

— Psalms 36:5-6

Making a Difference for Our Environment!

Habitat for Humanity Environmental Home in New Orleans

Two days before Earth Day, Shylia Lewis and her four children became the proud owners of a unique house, sponsored by Greenpeace, the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity and the Healthy Building Network.

The house was designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible while remaining within a standard Habitat budget. The main environmental attribute of this house is that it is PVC-free.

Read the whole story here.

P.S.  Other "green" homes are being built by Habitat for Humanity around the country.  One of them is in Nelson county here in Virginia.  If they can do it within the budget constraints they have, you know that we can get it done too!  

Think green if you are about to embark on a home-building project.  It’s not "too expensive" like you thought it was!

The Frugal Life – Learning to Live With What You Already Have

Living more simply is a great way to effect change in your own personal environment. It helps the planet also. The Frugal Life website has lots of ideas on getting back to basics. They also have a free newsletter emailed twice a month.

Written to encourage families wanting to stretch their dollars, it includes articles or tidbits on topics such as: finance, decorating, gardening, and household tips from subscribers and questions from the website forum.  

Sign up for their free email newsletter.
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Copyright and Reprint Information
The content, suggestions, and web links in this newsletter are for informational purposes only and not necessarily endorsed by our sponsor "The Herbs Place.com."  This is a personal publication by Donna L. Watkins.  The ideas and information expressed in it have not been approved or authorized by anyone either explicitly or impliedly.  In no event shall Donna L. Watkins or "The Herbs Place.com" be liable for any damages whatsoever resulting from any action arising in connection with the use of this information or its publication.  This newsletter may be forwarded without any alterations without seeking permission.