Welcome Home to Our Purple Martins

Folks in eastern North Carolina love Purple Martins and I am one of those folks. My dad taught me to treasure these special birds. Every spring he watched for his Martins to return. And now I do the same thing.

Purple Martins are chatty birds and they eat bugs | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/welcome-purple-martins-eastern-nc/

A Family Squabble

In March, a Purple Martin scout would come and sit on the bird house – these are special houses or gourds. Then in mid-April, if the scout approved of the accommodations, the “family” of Martins would arrive. By this time, you had better have your Martin houses or gourds ready!

The houses must be built to certain specifications – my Martins seem to prefer painted white gourds. They demand a clear flight path and a water source. Of course, they like to have a good supply of bugs. If the Martins arrive early and we have a late freeze, they will suffer because there won’t be any bugs. Click to read more about these spectacular birds.

Chloe’s Easy Homemade Suet Recipe

Big Mill B&B birds need special foods in the cold winter. 

Woodpecker at Big Mill eating innkeeper's Suet | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com//easy-homemade-suet-recipe

Woodpecker enjoys suet meal at Big Mill B&B

I was snowed in so I created this easy, new Suet Recipe with foods I had on hand in the pantry. The birds LOVE it! And children love helping you make it.

Read more about Chloe’s Homemade Suet

5 Birds That Help Protect Your Garden

Chipping sparrow at Big Mill B&B | photo by livesayphotography.com

We all know that birds add beauty and intrigue to our garden; that’s exactly why we add bird feeders and houses to our yards in the first place, but the truth is that the benefits the feathered creatures bring go far beyond aesthetic appeal.

Birds play a great role in preventing insects from eating and destroying the flowers and vegetables we work so hard to plant.

I hope you enjoy this guest article by Ernie Allison:

1.  Sparrows

Chipping Sparrows eating suet at Big Mill. photo by Guy Livesay

Chipping Sparrows (sometimes called Chipper Sparrows) and song sparrows, most commonly found in North America, can be great sights to see in your backyard. They feed on some of the most destructive insects (grasshoppers, beetles, ants, etc.). They also utilize garden weeds for food as well as nesting materials.   [click to continue…]

Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park and Eco Center

Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park is a fascinating world of birds

See owls and endangered birds at Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park near bigmill.com

There are more than two thousand birds from six continents in Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park located in Scotland Neck in eastern North Carolina. It is truly a bird watcher’s paradise!  In fact, it features the largest collection of waterfowl in the world.  [click to continue…]

Innkeeper’s Suet Recipe for Bird and Breakfast

Innkeeper’s Suet Recipe
Our special Earth Day gift to birds here at Big Mill Bird & Breakfast

Suet recipe lures chipping sparrow to Big Mil B&B, a bird-friendly bed and breakfast near Greenville, NC

Earth Day  is just around the corner, so it seemed like a perfect time to celebrate the birds we love with a suet recipe they delight in eating.

When I am cooking for the bed and breakfast guests, I also make suet for our lovely feathered travelers. And this suet recipe is made from things that we all have in our larders, especially innkeepers. Recipe below is easy!  Click here for Suet Recipe for the BIrds

Great Backyard Bird Count – At Big Mill B&B Farm

Bird lovers everywhere  join in the Great Backyard Bird Count

bird watching in eastern North Carolina at Big Mill Bed and Breakfast

Photo by Guy Livesay

We love the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. It’s easy to participate and it helps the birds. You sign up on the website and agree to count birds for at least 15 minutes on at least one of the 4 days of the bird count, more if you want. Everyone is welcome. You don’t need to be an expert. Sign up is easy and free.

We have always had birds here at Big Mill B&B. When I was growing up, my father would tell me the name of each bird by the song it sang. Oh, how I wish I had that gift.  [click to continue…]

Hummingbirds at Big Mill : A Bird’s Eye View

Just settle into the hammock or in a swing on the farm at Big Mill and wait …. but not for very long.

Yes, you’ll have to wind down and be still and quiet – but you will be well-rewarded. Soon, right before your eyes, the birds start singing and hop out of their hiding places, finding bugs and seeds for dinner.

It is magic.

Big Mill B&B is a bird lover’s paradise and a photographer’s dream. A few days ago I set up my video camera, nodded to the hummingbirds and then sat back and watched as they performed just for me. Thanks to the internet, you have a birds-eye view too. Be sure to turn up your speakers — you can actually hear the hummers’ wings flapping!

At one point, there are so many birds flying in and out of the frame, it’s hard to keep count!  Here’s a fun challenge – in the comments below — tell me the highest number of birds you can spot in a single frame?  <Hint: Not just hummers!>

Want hummers in your yard? Get a feeder. I really like these Best 1 Hummingbird Feeders – I’ve used mine for years. Then make up a sugar syrup Hummingbird Nectar Recipe and have fun.

Here’s the edited version of the hummingbirds (about 3 /2 minutes long)

And here’s the Extended Play version, perfect for a 10-minute retreat

Chloe Tuttle Big Mill Bed and Breakfast near Greenville NC Big Mill Bed & Breakfast 252-792-8787

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe at Big Mill Bird & Breakfast

Our hummingbirds arrive at Big Mill B&B sometime around Easter – and it is with a flourish and a big show, chattering and demanding food. 

Hummingbird at Big Mill taken by Guy Livesay | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/hummingbirds-at-big-mill-bird-breakfast/

Hummingbirds love the zinnias at Big Mill B&B

And since we are a designated Bird and Breakfast Bird-Friendly Business, we willingly obliged. Guy’s outstanding photo, taken here at Big Mill B&B, earned him 1st place in the 2010 Beaufort County Arts Council Nature/Wildlife photography contest.

Hummingbird visits the garden at Big Mill Inn near Greenville | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/hummingbirds-at-big-mill-bird-breakfast/

Hummingbird getting lunch at Big Mill zinnia

Guests often ask me if there is any time during the year when you should stop feeding hummingbirds? If you have had a similar question, here’s my answer:

It is perfectly alright to leave the feeders out until freezing weather arrives. The birds usually leave when their food sources (flower nectar and bugs) are no longer available. You may get a traveling hummingbird guest en route to warmer climates.  Big Mill seems to be a favorite spot for such hummingbird “refuelings!”

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

4 parts hot boiling water
1 part refined white sugar
Few drops of red food coloring, optional, but not necessary

Stir this mixture until all the sugar is dissolved. (Audubon suggests that you boil the sugar to kill any bacteria. If you change the water every day, this is not necessary).

Allow solution to cool before filling feeders. This sugar water can spoil in hot weather, so change it often, at least two times a week or more. Store any excess nectar in the refrigerator.

So, have you had any good hummingbird sightings this summer?  Share your best photos with us over on Big Mill Bed and Breakfast’s Facebook page .

And while you’re there, take a minute to write on our “Wall.”

Chloe Tuttle, Innkeeperinnkeeper at Big Mil Bed & Breakfast 252-792-8787

Update: I turned on the video camera and caught about 10 minutes of wonderful action at the hummingbird feeder the other day. Check it out here if you could use a 10-minute nature retreat:

Hummers-at-Big-Mill-Inn | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/hummingbirds-at-big-mill-bird-breakfast/

Click on photo to SHARE or PIN for LATER

“Bird & Breakfast” Special at Big Mill B&B

In honor of Earth Day, 2009, we are celebrating our first
Big Mill “BIRD and BREAKFAST.” 

Find details about our earth-friendly special below.

Birders love the variety at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast in eastern North Carolina
Guy Livesay took this photo of one of our feathered Goldfinch guests
admiring our gorgeous azaleas in full bloom.

We offer food & lodging for finches, bluebirds, purple martins, barn swallows, Carolina wrens, hummingbirds, cardinals and throngs of other birds. There is no charge, but they are encouraged to pose for photos and to sing.

Big Mill B&B in Eastern North Carolina is a feast for bird lovers
(Bluebird photo by Guy Livesay)

Many feathered couples stay at Big Mill Inn and they especially enjoy our homegrown sunflower seeds and suet.  In fact, our Big Mill Birds are quite discerning and refuse to eat the store-bought suet.

So while I am making breakfast for our people guests, I whip up a batch of homemade suet for our Big Mill bird guests.  They love it! I am excited to have discovered a great use for left over bacon fat — it makes great suet!

Birds at Big Mill love our Suet

The woodpeckers at Big Mill really like fruit so any excess fruit goes into the suet. I have great hopes of making soap with the bacon renderings some day, but that hasn’t happened yet.  Until then, it is suet.

Big Mill SUET RECIPE for the Bird

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  • 3 cups corn meal
  • 1/2 cup shelled seeds like sunflower or thistle
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (store brand is fine)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup rendered fat.    (lard, bacon drippings, etc.
  • Several large pine cones
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped fruit and/or a cup of quick cooking oats

In a large bowl, mix the corn meal and seeds together. Using two forks cut in the peanut butter, as you would for a pie crust.

Melt the fat and pour into the corn meal and peanut butter mixture. Mix well and allow to cool. If it is too runny, add more corn meal or some oats.

Stuff the suet into a pine cone. Hang several of these stuffed cones from a limb (as in photo above.) In a few days your birds will love you. I hang mine near a feeder to speed this process.

This recipe is very flexible-and a good way to use grease and fruit. Store excess suet in the refrigerator.

Birds near Greenville, North Carolina at Big Mill B&B, named a birder friendly business
(Photo of Big Mill Bed and Breakfast Goldfinch by Guy Livesay)

We are Bird Friendly and our birds know it. Moses has retired and poses no threat. Big Mill Bed & Breakfast 252-792-8787

Birds of Lake Mattamuskeet and Pocosin Lakes

Lake Mattamuskeet and the Pocosin Lakes of eastern North Carolina come alive every winter as thousands of tundra swans and snow geese make the journey from the Alaska tundra to our Inner Banks. Both refuges are an easy day trip from Big Mill Bed and Breakfast.

Bird watching in eastern North Carolina's Lake Mattamuskeet | https://chloesblog.bigmill.com/birds-of-lake-mattamuskeet-and-pocossin-lakes/
Photo of Tundra Swans by Guy Livesay of Livesay Photography

Click to read more about the Birds of Lake Mattumuskeet and Pocosin Lakes in eastern NC