If you have a garden or just some flowers or bushes in the yard, you have likely seen some kind of birds this summer. If you are looking to attract more birds to your garden, there are certain flowers and plants you can introduce to your yard that can help. Or you could just hang some bird feeders. Here are the top five summer birds I enjoy seeing in the Missouri Ozarks area.
These special little beauties only come around in the summer. The rest of the time they spend in warmer climates because their body cannot handle the cold. One of the smallest birds in the world, the ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) is only about three inches long. They are a gold-green color with a white chest and a ruby-red throat. The males have the brightest color red on their throat, making them stand out from the rest.
These cute little critters have such a fast metabolism that they have to eat about two to three times their weight in food every day. Ours typically get their food from hummingbird feeders in my yard. We fill ours with sugar water that is one-part sugar to four parts water. During the hottest time of the summer, we change that to one-part sugar to three parts water. If you have ever watched them eat, you know how they use up so much energy. They can hover for a long time and their wings beat more than 50 times per second.
Hummingbirds also get nectar from tubular flowers that are bright in color. They particularly seem to be attracted to red, which is why so many feeders are red. And some companies use red dye in their nectar, which you should avoid because it is not good for them. Instead, try growing some of these hummingbird favorites:
- Petunias (Petunia spp.)
- Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
- Trumpet Creepers (Campsis radicans)
- Bleeding Hearts (Lamprocapnos spectabilis)
- Salvia (Salvia spp.)
- Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)
- Columbines (Aquilegia spp.)
- Bee Balms (Monarda didyma)
- Cardinal Flowers (Lobelia cardinalis)
- Lupines (Lupinus x hybridus)
This gorgeous bird looks like it could be someone’s pet parakeet with its dark blue feathers and striking brown and black markings. However, the female is usually brown or tan. At about six to seven inches long, the blue grosbeak (Passerina caerulea) is of medium size and we only see them during the summer months. The rest of the time they spend in the southern United States and Mexico. Some of them even go so far as Ecuador.
They visit our feeders full of black oil sunflower seeds all day every day from late May until September here in the Ozarks. But they also enjoy insects like spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, and snails. They even have a taste for wild berries and fruit.
Although they do not drink nectar from flowers, they do enjoy foraging in bushes and shrubs or picking the berries and small fruits from trees wherever they are available. You can also find them plucking insects from various flowers and even in the grass when they are not eating from the feeders.
Another stunning bird, the Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula) is bright orange and black and grows up to almost nine inches long. Females and juveniles are typically a light orange or yellow color. I only see these during the summer but not very often. They like a special kind of nectar and fruits like orange halves and even grape or raspberry jelly. They also sell oriole nectar and special feeders.
Our orioles tend to feed at our hummingbird feeders and enjoy the nectar from certain bright fruits and flowers with nectar. Some of these include:
- Wild Cherry (Prunus serotine)
- Trumpet Vines (Campsis radicans)
- Crab Apples (Malus sylvestris)
- Raspberries (Rubus idaeus)
- Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)
- Serviceberries (Amelanchier lamarckii)
- Mulberries (Morus spp.)
- Dogwood Berries (Cornus spp.)
- Mountain Ash (Sorbus domestica)
- Apple Trees (Malus domestica)
If you are trying to grow fruit for your own consumption or to sell, try placing some bird netting or plastic mesh with ¼-inch holes. You can also try hanging pie tins, flash tape, or orange safety ribbon to keep them away. Others say that wind chimes and other noise-making decorations work well to keep orioles at bay.
The blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a large bird of about nine to 12 inches long. When you see one of these majestic birds, you know exactly what it is. With vibrant blue wings, body, and tail, black and white markings, and that quirky black crest on their head, they stand out from all other birds.
With blue jays, you may hear them before you see them because they are very vocal. They can screech louder than just about any other songbird and will even mimic the hawk quite convincingly. They are cunning and smart, pretending to be a hawk to keep other birds from eating their findings. Speaking of food, they hang around our feeders all summer long and into the fall eating sunflower seeds and suet.
However, they have a variety of food favorites and are not very picky. Toss them a handful of peanuts and watch how quickly they can get them out of the shells. They also eat grain and seeds, so if you are growing these, you may want to hang some scarecrows or other bird deterrents. You can even find them eating acorns, fruit, berries, and scraps on the ground. Some have been known to steal eggs from other birds to eat.
The bright yellow goldfinch is another pretty little bird that can pass for a small parakeet. The American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is only about five inches long and has amazing bright yellow and black plumage. Well, the male does. The female is mostly brown. In birds and other animals, the males are typically more colorful than the females.
We start seeing these tiny birds around May and they hang around through the fall. In fact, they often hang out all year long. We just do not see them as much until it gets warmer. They love sunflower seeds and spend all day at our feeders. However, they eat other things too like insects, which they feed to their babies because they are high in protein.
Goldfinches also love a variety of plants and flowers. Of course, sunflowers are a favorite, but there are many others that they like for their nectar or the insects that feed on the nectar. If you want to entice them to your yard, you need to grow some of these:
- Niger (Guizotia abyssinica)
- Thistle (Asteraceae spp.)
- Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)
- Goatsbeard (Tragopogon spp.)
- Dandelion (Taraxacum spp.)
- Cosmos (Cosmos spp.)
- Alder (Betulaceae spp.)
- Zinnias (Zinnia spp.)
- Teasel (Dipsacus spp.)
- Mullein (Verbascum spp.)
Other Birds You May See in the Ozarks
Of course, there are many other birds that we see here in the summer such as the Eastern bluebird, which is the state bird of Missouri. We also have the tufted titmouse, chickadees, various sparrows, wrens, and finches as well as a wide variety of woodpeckers. I have even seen a roadrunner. But only one time when it was trying to eat the birds at my feeder, and it ran away when I was getting a picture. Yes, they run. I guess that is why they call it a roadrunner. Anyway, happy birding!