Hummingbird Nectar Do’s and Don’ts

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe 

The standard formula for nectar is 4 parts water to 1 part table sugar. For example, to make enough to fill an 8-12 oz. feeder you would use:

1 cup water
¼ cup sugar

Pour the sugar into warm tap water and stir until dissolved. Boiling the mixture is fine, but not necessary. You can make extra and store it in the fridge to make the next few fill ups quick and easy. Clean the feeder and replace the nectar every three to five days – sooner if the nectar gets a little cloudy.

As tempting as it may be, you should never put anything other than sugar and water into a hummingbird feeder.

Never add the following ingredients when making nectar at home:

  • Red food coloring While hummers are attracted to the color red, adding red dye to their food is unnecessary and, depending on the chemical makeup of the dye, potentially harmful to their health. Most hummingbird feeders are already predominantly red so as to entice hummers to visit. If you think yours is not red enough, simply add a red ribbon to the hanger or place your feeder near a colorful flower bed.
  • Artificial sweeteners Hummers do not need to watch their sugar intake, so never use any sweetener other than regular sugar when making nectar.
  • Honey or Molasses When mixed with water, honey and molasses create a great breeding ground for potentially fatal bacteria and mold to grow.
  • Chile Oil or Powder While not harmful to hummers if ingested, Chilies are not part of the normal hummingbird diet and therefore should be avoided. Hummers are strictly sweet nectar and insect-eating creatures – anything else might even cause them to quit using your feeder.

Now that the feeder is clean and filled with proper nectar, how do you keep the bees, ants and raccoons from helping themselves?

 

How to make sure your feeder only serves hummingbirds:

  • Bees The Cole’s feeder does not drip so large bees can’t get to the sweet stuff.  Some very small flying insects will squeeze their way inside but will not hinder feeding by the birds.
  • Ants The Cole’s feeder has a built-in ant moat.  Keep it filled with plain water and the ants will not be able to reach the nectar. Never put anything other than plain water into any ant moat device. Water alone will stop the ants.  Many other birds will stop and take a drink from the liquid in the moat, so poisons and repellents are a big No! Some people put cooking oil in moats which may not be harmful, but when rain or shaking spills the oil it definitely creates a big mess to clean up
  • Raccoons These crafty critters present a unique problem. They are everywhere, they are great climbers and they love sweets. You basically only have three ways to go.  You can bring the feeders inside each night, a lot of trouble but most effective. Another method is to mount a hanger under a porch roof or off of a wall where it is away from post and railings the raccoons might climb. Finally, if you prefer to leave your feeder hanging in the yard, use a tall shepherd pole equipped with a Tough Bird Feeder Guard or a good raccoon baffle. Never add ANY Chile oil or powder to your hummingbird nectar!

Hopefully these suggestions will ensure a fun-filled feeding experience and keep the birds safe and healthy!

How Does Cole’s Really Compare?

Terry Allen

Terry Allen

 

Just wanted to share this price comparison with all of our Cole’s Wild Bird Products customers. One of our retailers, Terry Allen, who runs a small shop called For The Birds in Salem, South Carolina recently did his own comparison analysis of Cole’s Blue Ribbon Blend vs. Pennington brand, which is sold at Wal-Mart.

Terry Allen says he always knew Cole’s offered a higher quality product, and he advised customers to try Cole’s and see the difference. But, since some customers were hesitant to spend the extra money, Terry felt the need to illustrate and demonstrate that by buying Cole’s, his customers would save money and enjoy less waste at the feeder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So, Terry invested in a bag of Pennington’s Classic Wild Bird Feed. He carefully separated each ingredient using various strainers. He broke it down, and here’s what he found. Milo, which is listed as the first ingredient (by law ingredients are listed from the highest percentage to the lowest) and wheat, listed as the third ingredient, make up 75% of the bag.


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Screen shot 2013-12-02 at 11.55.47 AMHere’s how milo is described on About.com. “Milo is often used as a filler in bulk commercial seed mixes, and much of the seed will be wasted. Milo has poor nutritional value and very few birds will eat it, though it is a favorite food for doves, wild turkeys and pheasants.” So, if you want to attract songbirds, filling your feeders with milo isn’t a good idea. The birds will kick it out of the feeder and leave a mess in your yard.

As you can see from the illustrations, Allen found that millet makes up 20% of the bag, and sunflower seeds make up just 5%. Again, three quarters of the bag is filled with milo and wheat .

 

 

 

 

Screen shot 2013-12-02 at 11.57.29 AMThe last illustration is the most compelling. Allen found that you’d have to purchase four bags of Pennington’s Classic Wild Bird Feed from Wal-Mart at a total cost of $29.68 to get the same amount of nutritional seed you are getting in one ten pound bag of Cole’s Blue Ribbon Blend at $24.00. With Cole’s you save more than $5.00. You miss out on the mess under your feeders, and you miss out on lugging around three ten pound bags. So, where’s the real value? Allen loves showing his customers what counts, and he says they keep coming back again and again for Cole’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Screen shot 2013-12-02 at 11.57.13 AMCole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.coleswildbird.com

 

Among Our WWI Heroes: A Pigeon named Cher Ami

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It’s one of the most incredible and enduring stories of World War One. A homing pigeon called Cher Ami saved an entire battalion of 194 men. As you’ll see, Cher Ami is a true hero.

It was during the battle of Argonne in France. On October 3, 1918, five hundred U. S. soldiers in the 77th Infantry Division became trapped behind enemy lines. They had no food and no ammunition. The  Germans were firing on them.  A hillside was their only protection. To make matters worse, the allied forces, not realizing the solider’s position, also began firing on them.

By the second day, more than half the men were dead. The remaining 194 had only one hope. They had three homing pigeons. Major Charles Whittlesey was in command. He made the decision to use the pigeons to try to get help. He attached a note to the first pigeon and sent him in to the air. The Germans knew about these homing pigeons and quickly shot him down. He sent yet a second pigeon on the dangerous mission, and he too met the same fate.

Now, the trapped soldiers were left with one pigeon. In desperation, Major Whittlesey wrote the final note. We are along the road parallel to 276.4. Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it.

As Cher Ami took flight for home, the Germans saw her and opened fire. The soldiers watched as bullets zipped all around her. Cher Ami rose above the enemy fire. However, eventually, a bullet hit her, piercing her breast, blinding her in one eye, and nearly severing one leg. She fell to the ground.

Somehow, even though she was so badly wounded, she rose up and began flying again. Cher Ami made it to division headquarters 25 miles away in just over an hour. Army medics worked long and hard to save her. They even carved a small wooden leg for her.

The note saved the lives of all 194 men. Cher Ami became a war hero, just as any other brave warrior. She flew a total of twelve missions before the battle that made her famous. Sadly, Cher Ami, whose name means “dear friend”, died about six months later because of the wounds she suffered that day. But, she is remembered in many ways. She was awarded the Croix de Guerre Medal. She was inducted into the Racing Pigeon Hall of Fame in 1931. She also received a gold medal from the Organized Bodies of American Racing Pigeon Fanciers. Her body is enshrined in the Smithsonian Institution. She is the subject of two books, a poem, and a film. Cher Ami’s story is one of strength, courage, and fortitude.

As a side note, Cher Ami was first thought to be a male or cock pigeon, and that’s why her name is in the masculine French form. Upon further examination during taxidermy, she was found to be a hen. Some accounts still refer to Cher Ami in the masculine. Who says females weren’t in combat in World War One?

Cole’s Wild Bird Products seeks to give all birds, heroic or not, the highest quality bird seed on the market. Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.colesbird1.wpengine.com

A Few Tips For Summer Bird Feeding

 

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Want to make things a little easier for your feathered friends during these long, hot and humid days of summer?  Consider these quick and easy things you can do to ease their stress while at the same time giving you the pleasure of seeing a wide variety of birds at your feeders.

A Bird Bath 

Consider offering a bird bath filled with clean, fresh water so that your back yard birds have a place to drink and to bathe. Ideally, your bird bath should be 1 to 2 inches deep so that birds can get in and out easily and quickly. The sound of moving water is a great attraction for songbirds, so adding a fountain mister or a Water Wiggler to create action sounds and movement will not only draw in the birds, but it will also help to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching in the bird bath. Keep in mind, during the summer, the water will evaporate quickly. So, you may need to check your bird bath more often.

A Variety of Food 

Give birds a variety of foods at the feeder. Birds expend a lot of energy in the summer raising their young. Frequent food trips back and forth from the nest, teaching the baby birds to fly, and moving the young to keep them from predators requires a lot of extra work. Birds need good, nutritious food for themselves and for the babies. Giving birds a variety of seeds, suet, nuts, and fruits helps to ensure they have plenty to eat as well as a diverse source of good nutrition. You don’t have to worry that they’ll rely too heavily on easy meals – feeder food accounts for only about 25% of a wild bird’s diet.

Plenty of Shade

Three, offer shaded areas near your feeders. Keep in mind, while birds are adept at regulating their body temperature, shade is a welcome break. Landscaping that provides shade as well as food is always a good idea. You may want to consider plants that provide natural food sources as well as plenty of shelter and shade.

Another good way to offer shade is through positioning your feeders so that during the midday sun, the feeders offer some shaded areas. Also, your bird bath or bird houses can be positioned to offer shade during the hottest times of the day.

It is true that birds enjoy a great variety of natural food sources in the summer. Worms, fruits, nuts and insects give them lots of choices. Nonetheless, summer is a demanding time for our feathered friends. By providing fresh water, lots of different types of food, and a few shaded places, you’ll be guaranteed a front row seat for watching and enjoying the birds and their young at your feeders during the long lazy days of summer. For more information on feeding the birds, visit colesbird1.wpengine.com

Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a birds only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.colesbird1.wpengine.com

 

White Millet: Just Cheap Filler?

Fiction: White Millet is a cheap filler seed.

Fact: White Proso Millet is the number one choice of many ground-feeding birds like towhees, song sparrows, juncos, and buntings. The problem is that most commercial mixes contain more millet than anything else – a definite negative when put in a tubular or wooden feeder where perch feeding birds are looking for oil sunflower.  If all a sunflower-loving bird finds in a feeder is millet, it will tire of kicking out the millet and move on, leaving you with a feeder full of uneaten seed.
A good mix will contain just enough millet for the ground feeders to benefit from the perch feeders’ habit of kicking out the seeds they don’t like, but not so much that the perch feeders will become discouraged.  That way you attract a greater variety of wild birds both on and below the feeder. So, bottom line – a little millet is good, a lot of millet is bad.

No Such Thing as a No-Waste Birdseed?

Fiction: There are many “no waste, no mess” birdseed mixes available.

Fact: The only true “no waste” seed is sunflower meats (a.k.a. hulled sunflower). “No waste” means that the birds eat every part of the seed or mix so that there is nothing left over or “wasted”. So, any seed that has a shell, or any mix that contains seeds with shells, cannot by definition be “no waste” because the birds do not eat the birdseed shells. Some companies market their mixes as no waste/no mess products even though they contain Safflower (which has a shell), or Niger (also has a shell), or even Oil sunflower (complete with shell of course). Beware of these misleading advertisements or you’re sure to be disappointed when you have to clean up the leftovers.

Birds Won’t Survive Without Supplements?

Fiction: Wild birds need vitamin and mineral supplements added to their birdseed to help them survive

Fact: Most wild birds eat from a wide variety of food sources (insects, berries, seeds, etc.) which guarantees they get all the vitamins and minerals they need naturally. As long as your birdseed is fresh, high quality stuff like Cole’s, your feathered friends are sure to thrive.

Needless to say, real nutritional supplements are not harmful; however, the most common way for companies to add “vitamins” to their products is to simply coat it with mineral oil and add crushed rock.  Current regulations allow a manufacturer to list the nutritional components of mineral oil (iron, zinc) and crushed rock (Vitamin A, calcium carbonate) separately, which can make the birdseed ingredients look more impressive than they really are.  Adding mineral oil to birdseed also makes it look shiny and helps to hide dirt and dust, and of course the crushed rock adds weight to the final product.

Bird Seed Doesn’t Spoil?

Fiction:  Birdseed doesn’t go bad

Fact:  It is important to remember that all birdseed is perishable. Be sure and store any open product in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent the seed from drying out and little critters from finding it.

Cole’s is proud to feature Nitrogen Purged Barrier Packaging to ensure seed freshness and no bugs in every unopened bag. We use the same packaging technology employed by potato chip makers and fresh vegetable farmers to keep their products fresher longer. So you will never open a bag of Cole’s wild bird seed and find dried out seeds or pesky meal moths in it.

In the off chance your birdseed gets an Indian Meal Moth (a.k.a. pantry moth) or two after you open it, it is still okay to use. A few tiny insects will not decrease the attractiveness of the seed to the birds. After all, insects are a natural part of their regular diet.  If you find that these little creatures “bug” you, you can either put your seed in the freezer for 48 hours to kill them, or simply offer it up to your feathered friends in the backyard. They’ll thank you for the easy catch!

Bluebird vs. Bluejay

Are a Bluebird and a Bluejay the same?

Nope!

This is a VERY common question, but the two are completely different genus and species.

Exploding Birds?

You’ve probably heard the old warning about throwing rice at weddings.  You know, the one about the poor birds who’ll EXPLODE if they eat raw rice because the rice expands in their stomach?

Well, you’ll be happy to know that it’s an urban myth.  Rice can actually be a nutritious snack for some geese!

So next time you’re at a wedding and someone throws raw rice, you should rest assured knowing the birds won’t eat it and pop!