Basic Bird Identification


Rare Bird Photos - Kern Specialties

California Nature Events & Festivals

California CBC's

Great Backyard Bird Count Online Bird Guide

Joe Morlan's California Birding Pages - An interactive map of  California with birding statistics, sites and other resources for all 58 California counties.

Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter US Geological Survey put this fantastic site together on bird identification.

eBird A site where you can record your bird sightings, a joint project of the National Audubon Society and Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

Kern County Birding by Michael McQuerrey - A listserve discussion group of Kern County Birding

CalBirds by Steve Sosensky - A listserve discussion of rare birds, birding events and other things significant to California birders

The Bird Digest by Dave Ranney - A digest of bird discussion around California.

Guide to some Birds of Kern County

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Green Heron

Lark Sparrow

Exotic Bird Species

Eurasian Collared Dove - Streptopelia decaocto

European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris

House Sparrow - Passer domesticus

Ringed Turtle Dove - Streptopelia risoria

Rock Pigeon - Columba livia

Rose-ringed Parakeets - Psittacula krameri

Spotted Dove - Streptopelia chinensis


Kern Butterflies

Tulare Butterflies

Kern Dragonflies

Kern Fish

Kern Amphibians

Kern Reptiles

Kern Birds

Kern Mammals

Exotic Animals

Exotic Plants

Sensitive Species


Birds of Buena Vista Area   

Birds of the Kern River Parkway

Birds of Hart Park

Birds Of Pin Oak Park

Birds of the Kern National Wildlife Refuge

Birds of Pixley National Wildlife Refuge

Mammals of the Pixley National Wildlife Refuge

Mammals of the Kern National Wildlife Refuge


Kern Butterflies

Kern Dragonflies

Kern Fish

Kern River Valley Amphibians

Kern Reptiles and Amphibians

KRP Amphibians & Reptiles

Kern Birds

Kern Mammals

Kern River Watershed Rodents

Ferns of Kern

Kern Trees


Kern interior chaparral and woodlands

Great Basin Desert  

Valley Grassland

Mojave Desert

Sierran Forest


Trees of Kern County

Ferns of Kern County  

Flora of the Kern River Preserve


Setting up your Bird Feeders

Figuring out where to set up your bird feeding station is one of the most important steps. Placing your feeders in an area where you can see them safely from the house will add hours of pleasure to your daily life. There are two things to remember, that birds need someplace to escape to and that if your backyard is full of cats, no place may be safe. So, look for areas that have some type of cover or perches, a bush, tree, or a woodpile. A brush pile near your feeder will make shy birds feel more at home.

One of the easiest ways to attract birds is to have running water available. Even in the dead of winter this is one of the most important aspects to becoming a magnet for birds. Make sure you keep water stations clean, in summer many types of bacteria can foul the water and in winter small amounts of bacteria or mold can kill cold stressed birds.

Locally, we don't have to worry too much about mold build-up as long as the feeders are cleaned frequently, but areas that have abundant rainfall are more prone to rapid mildew. One thing to remember when buying feeders or bird baths is how easily mildew can be removed from them. Mold can kill our feathered friends.

Another thing to remember is to make it easy on yourself, place your feeders in locations near hoses and your feed bins. If it becomes a chore dragging hoses or spreading seed then you might neglect to refill and clean your feeders properly.

Important Rule for Feeding anything - including yourself!


What type of Feed

Knowing which birds are likely to visit your backyard is key to beginning to know what type of feed to put out. Look for area checklists and see when certain birds are likely to visit your area. Woodpeckers are for the most part found year-round in central California, but they do migrate, so spring and fall expect to see more of them.

Woodpeckers of course enjoy acorns, but this year has proven to be one of the worst acorn crops in years. Putting out suet might just keep the woodpeckers alive not just be a supplement. Planting oaks for future years should guarantee woodpeckers in your yard.

Hummingbirds enjoy many flowering plants especially the red varieties. Penstemon, fuchsia and gilias are three that come to mind immediately. These are native to my region and grow with little care or fuss. Try to find plants native to your region for ease of growing.

In central California, there are fewer species of sparrows in summer so the bulk of their foods should be grown for fall through spring feeding. Growing different types of flowers from the aster family are best as many flower in fall.

Types of supplemental feed

I have seen woodpeckers drink from hummingbird feeders, jays trying to hover like hummingbirds on suet feeders, and many other strange antics. The point is most animals will eat what is available, so many times trial and error will help narrow down what works best in your yard.

  • Sparrows - Wild bird seed with millet and sunflower on platform feeders or scattered on dry ground. Birds that prefer sunflower seed will empty tube feeders to get at the sunflower seeds wasting much seed.

  • Finches - Thistle seed in sock or tube feeders and regular wild bird seed on platform feeders or scattered on dry ground.

  • Most birds - Black-oil sunflower seed in tube, hopper or platform feeders.

  • Nuthatches, jays, chickadees, titmice, grosbeaks, and cardinals - thick-shelled gray-striped sunflower seed and shelled whole nuts.

  • Hummingbirds - 4 cups of water to one cup of sugar - boiled then cooled. No dye is necessary.

  • Orioles - 4 cups of water to one cup of sugar - boiled then cooled. No dye is necessary. Slices of fresh fruit.

  • Woodpeckers - Commercial suet in suet cages - peanut suet is the favorite of my yard birds and raw unsalted peanuts or shelled whole nuts in peanut feeders.

Store your seed in a clean, dry, air-tight container, such as a metal or plastic garbage can. Store suet in the refrigerator until ready to use as heat can make suet rancid and unhealthy for birds. Store clean boiled sugar solution in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Tips for a healthy bird bath

Put bird baths where droppings cannot fall into them. Don't place them under feeders or perches.

Rinse and scrub birdbaths as often as possible, at least daily in summer. Clean out bird droppings immediately.

Once a month, scrub with a light bleach solution (1/4 cup of bleach in 2 gallons of water), rinse thoroughly and refill.

Tips for a healthy feeding station


Disinfect feeders every few weeks or sooner if needed (if they get wet or moldy). Scrub with a weak bleach solution (1/4 cup of bleach to 2 gallons of warm water). Rinse and allow feeders to dry before refilling.

Use hummingbird feeders that are easy to clean.

Rinse hummingbird feeders thoroughly with  a vinegar and water solution and then rinse well with clean water, every time you refill them. [Every day in hot weather and every three days in cooler weather. ] A specially designed sponge or bottle brush can help. If you use bleach as a last resort, follow-up by cleaning the bleach out with a vinegar and water solution.

Get some spatulas and brushes and keep them with your bird supplies for easier cleaning.

Shake your seed feeders to loosen compacted seed before you refill them.

Dump out wet or moldy seed then clean the feeder before refilling.

Clean all hulls off platform feeders and out of seed trays daily.

Move your feeding station when the ground beneath it becomes covered with seed hulls and droppings.

Rake, sweep or wash the old site to remove hulls.

Turn up the soil to refresh the area.

If you provide suet, reduce the amount you offer in hot weather. Runny suet can stick to birds' feathers. Use rendered suet or heat-resilient suet blocks that are available commercially.

Don't use petroleum-based products on your feeder poles or wires to hinder squirrels, ants, or other feeder-marauding creatures. Petroleum (jelly, oil, grease) is impossible for birds to preen or wash out. Squirrel baffles and non-poisonous ant guards are available commercially.

If you see a sick or dead bird at your feeders, stop your feeding for a few weeks to keep  healthy birds from being infected. Remove and discard in the trash any dead birds unless you suspect it may have died of West Nile Virus: wrap and refrigerate the bird and call: 1-800-WNV-BIRD

Nature Alley is dedicated to protecting natural communities wherever they exist. She is involved in many scientific and educational programs, promoting environmental appreciation and ethics.

Frontispiece: Different types of bird feeders hang on a coated wire between trees in my backyard.

All text, drawings and photos by Alison Sheehey NatureAli. No rights assigned, all rights reserved. Thanks to Barbara Mansfield for reviewing this page.

Nature Alley P.O. Box 1832 Kernville, CA 93238 Email
Copyright 1998-2015
by Nature Ali. All rights reserved.