How can an apple attract the attention of various backyard birds and butterflies?
Lue Reed of Spencer knows. It was her idea, and a pretty good one at that.
The idea was good enough to be featured in a new book entitled "1,029 Backyard Birding Secrets" published by Reiman Publications of Wisconsin.
The 192-page book is filled with birding secrets from readers of "Birds and Blooms" magazine coast to coast.
Reed's idea was published like this:
"Peel one side of an apple, score it a little bit and hang it from a tree branch with wire. The finches really love this summer treat. Even butterflies stop by to feed on the juice."
Judging from the bite-marks in the apple currently dangling from a tree in Reed's backyard, the trick works well in the wintertime, as well.
"I don't know how I got the idea," Reed said. "I just happened to think of it. I also put some half-oranges out in the summertime and the birds seem to like that, too."
If apples and oranges can attract a cardinal, that's a plus.
"Those are my favorites," Reed said.
Birds, however, are only part of Reed's fascination with animal watching. She and her husband, Jim, often spend their free time cruising the countryside for a glimpse of some Iowa wildlife.
"We have bird feeders up, but we also like to go out and drive around the country looking for birds and deer," she said. "We like to go out to Stolley's and look at the geese a lot, too."
It's a pastime, she said, that started years ago when the couple would load their five kids into the family car to view wild animals in the Peterson area.
According to Reed, the couple also gets their fix of wildlife viewing by subscribing to various magazines with country living themes. Through these publications was where Reed learned that Reiman Publications was searching for birding secrets.
Reed had no idea her tip would be considered for a hardcover book.
"This was surprising," she said. "It's also kind of nice."