All posts by coleswildbird

Hummingbird Haven

One of my favorite sounds in the garden is the distinctive whir of hummingbird wings. Often before I see one of these tiny birds, I hear the creature.

Usually this occurs when I’m near one of the many tubular flowers I have growing in my yard. Hummers love such flowers, because their long beaks can extract nectar from deep in the blooms where other pollinators fail.

“Watching a hummingbird is enchanting. Their tiny size and incredible speed make them a natural wonder,” says Elaine Cole, owner of Cole’s Wild Bird Products, Inc. Hummingbirds flap their wings an astounding 70 times per second—hence the whirring sound they make. They can move in every direction, including backward.

Perhaps even more intriguing is the fact that hummingbirds are considered New World birds. According to my colleague, The Backyard Birder, Jennifer J. Meyer, these little gems can only be found naturally in the Americas and aren’t from other continents.

Luring hummingbirds to your yard

If you want to attract hummingbirds to your garden—and even get them to land on your hand—Cole notes that you need to provide them with a steady stream of food. Hummers are true “grazers.” They must eat once every 10 to 15 minutes, which is why they have to visit 1,000 to 2,000 flowers each day.

“Provide safe, reliable food sources for hummingbirds, and they’ll come in droves to your garden,” says Cole.

Hummingbirds require a steady source of insects and nectar to feed themselves and their young. You can provide nectar through flowers and a hummingbird feeder. The flowers and other plants in your yard attract the insects.

Hummingbird flowers

As mentioned, blooms that attract hummingbirds are tubular. The tiny birds also like brightly colored flowers, such as red, bright pink and yellow.

Some favorite hummingbird flowers include trumpet flower, bee balm, sage, honeysuckle, iochroma, petunia, foxglove, hollyhock, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), daylily, penstemon and fuchsia.

Encourage your plants to flower as much as possible by fertilizing them regularly and deadheading so they create more blooms.

To ensure that the flowers and other plants in your yard have plenty of insects to sustain the hummingbirds and their young, avoid treating the yard with chemical pesticides. Instead, let nature take its course. The birds in your yard will generally keep the insects under control. Think of an insect invasion as a temporary smorgasbord for the hummers in your garden.

Hummingbird feeders

“A hummingbird feeder is one of the most effective ways to consistently entice and encourage hummingbirds to visit your yard,” says Cole. She advises choosing a hummingbird feeder with an elevated perch, which makes it safer and more comfortable for the birds to feed.

Put sugar water in the feeder, and don’t add red food coloring. Check the feeder at least bi-weekly to ensure a steady supply of fresh food. Clean the feeder as needed with one part white vinegar to four parts water.

Hang feeders in the shade. Too much sunshine and warmth can cause fermentation of sugar-based liquids.

Provide water

“Hummingbirds also adore bathing, so make sure to add a water feature to your yard, such as a drip fountain or mister,” says Cole.

How to get a hummingbird to land on your hand

According to Cole, it’s possible to get a hummingbird to land on your hand. To do so, she advises sitting near a feeder that is visited regularly by hummingbirds.

“Remain still so the birds realize you’re not a threat,” she says. “Repeat this procedure several times a day for a few days, wearing the same clothing. Each day, move a little closer until you’re sitting right next to the feeder.

“Next, hold the feeder or cup your hand to use as a perch underneath the feeding ports. It can take some time, but with consistency and patience, you’ll experience a close-up encounter.”

Julie Bawden-Davis is a garden writer and master gardener, who since 1985 has written for publications such as Organic Gardening, The American Gardener, Wildflower, Better Homes and Gardens and The Los Angeles Times. She is the author of 10 books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening, Fairy GardeningThe Strawberry Story Series, and Indoor Gardening the Organic Way, and is the founder of Her backyard is a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.

Love Is In the Air – And It’s Very Loud!

Spring bird feeding: Helping birds during a critical time

This guest post comes to us from Elaine Cole, owner of Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co., based in Kennesaw, Georgia. Enjoy!

Love Is In the Air – and It’s Very Loud!

I have a serious love/hate relationship with spring. I love the bright green foliage, pretty colored flowers blooming after a long dreary winter, and of course the warmer weather. I look forward to the arrival of my garden catalog and indulge in the idea that this spring I will actually plant the beautiful garden depicted in said catalog. I feel a wonderful sense of hope and new beginnings.

Birds chirping prettily, light winds tickling newly budded trees, the subtle trickle of the creek filling up after a good spring rain – yes, the sounds of spring soothe me. Except for one….

Plunk! Plunk! Plunk! What the heck was that?! I run through the house looking for burglars breaking in only to realize it is a very determined male suitor fighting off his imaginary rival. You have almost certainly experienced this annual ritual: Male birds see their reflection in a window or car mirror and go berserk trying to defend their territory from themselves. In the past I have tried everything to prevent this loud cacophony, without any lasting success.

So now I just exhale and resign myself to a few hours of annoying plunks and grumpily accept that I will have some extra window cleaning and car washing to do before long.

A pair of Northern Cardinals engage in courtship feeding. Photo courtesy of Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co.

Eventually the suitor takes a break and I settle down to read my newly arrived garden catalog without interruption – or so I think. A rapid fire metallic banging soon echoes throughout my house, and once again I’m up searching for this new source of annoyance. Of course! It’s a woodpecker on my chimney cap drumming out a love letter to all available females in the area. “Hello ladies! It’s spring and if you’re looking for a good provider with killer rhythm and an inexhaustible determination to beg for a mate, then here I am!”

Fortunately for my sanity, there is one aspect of springtime mating rituals that I actually look forward to – courtship feeding. I admit I am a closet romantic, so watching a male offer a delicious sunflower seed to his mate as proof of his undying love just makes me sigh (in a good way this time). Realistically I know he is simply demonstrating his ability to provide, but please let me have my fantasies! Not only do I find the gesture endearing, I believe it to be an absolutely genius adaptation of nature. I mean seriously, what girl is going to spurn a man that brings her good food?

So, I say help a fellow out and make sure he has plenty of ammunition in his “wooing” arsenal. Not that my motives are purely altruistic. Let’s face it, the more time he spends gathering food for his honey, the less time he has for messing up my windows and playing drums on my house.

A Blue Jay grabs a peanut. Photo courtesy of Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co.

You might think that all these newly formed bird couples can forage just fine on their own right now. With all the new growth and pleasant temperatures, surely the birds have plenty to eat, right? Surprisingly, just the opposite is true. In our minds there are plenty of berries and insects because we see so much new foliage; but in reality, the availability of natural food for wild birds doesn’t really peak until late summer and early fall. Right now, they are hard-pressed to find steady food sources. Combine that with their incessant drive to mate and defend territories, and wild birds actually need as much help now as in winter.

Personally, I like to mix dried mealworms (just as nutritious as live mealworms but without the “ick” factor) and suet kibbles, then offer it up in a mesh or bowl feeder. Without question it is the most popular feeder in my backyard. It provides an easy meal high in needed protein and fat. Every egg-laying female knows the value of a good mealworm, and high-fat suet kibbles make for a lovely dessert.

Another good option in the spring is fresh fruit. Outside temperatures are not yet high enough to cause rapid spoilage, and it’s a great source of easy nutrition. Oranges, grape halves, and even banana slices are all appreciated this time of year. If fresh is not convenient, then go with a high-quality seed and fruit blend from your local nursery or hardware store. Look for soft fruits that wild birds would normally eat like apples, cranberries, raisins, and currants. Adding protein-packed pecans and nuts to any blend is always a good idea regardless of the time of year.

Of course, all that baby-bird-making preparation works up a mighty thirst, so don’t forget a clean water source. Nothing goes better with courtship feeding than a nice cold libation. Hopefully by helping wild birds survive their springtime needs, you’ll eventually get a chance to enjoy it yourself – without ear plugs! — Elaine Cole

Elaine Cole is the owner of Cole’s Wild Bird Products Co., based in Kennesaw, Georgia. She also wrote for us about feeding birds in winter.

What Makes Cole’s Different From Other Brands?

If you have had the pleasure of using Cole’s, you already know the difference. Cole’s simply attracts the most birds because it’s the highest quality birdseed on the market. The reason Cole’s is so different is because of how the company started. It didn’t begin as a company focused on making big profits. Cole’s started out of a genuine love for birds and a desire to attract more of them.

Richard and Nancy Cole started the company after Richard created his own birdseed. He researched what birds like to eat the most. He combined the best seeds and nuts in order to bring lots of birds to his feeders. His family, friends and neighbors started requesting his blends of birdseed. That passion continues today. Cole’s is not focused on becoming the largest birdseed company with the most profits. Click on the video and hear more from Richard.

Birds Keep The Bugs At Bay

During the summer, it’s important to know that birds are eating tons of bugs. They’re feeding their young lots of tasty caterpillars, moths, and more. So, if you want to keep these natural insecticides around your home, please don’t use chemical insecticides. Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products, has some insight about how birds help you keep the bugs at bay.

Why Are Hummingbirds So Territorial?

Have you ever gone out to your hummingbird feeders and noticed one bird trying to dominate every feeder? Hummers are fiercely competitive when it comes to protecting a good food source. Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products, explains why some hummingbirds seem to be so territorial yet others seem content to share the feeder.

The Benefits of Feeding Wild Birds

Have you ever thought about the benefits of feeding wild birds? Most of us who feed them already know that there’s just a simple and relaxing joy to watching the birds come to the feeders and interact. You learn a little about nature and the nature of your feathered friends.

Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products, discovered his love for feeding wild birds decades ago. In this video, he talks about what he loves about it and what others get from it.

How Often Should I Clean My Bird Feeders?

Many of us wonder just how often we need to clean our feeders. The answer is “more often than we’d like”, according to Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products. Richard gives you insight and tips about cleaning your bird feeders and lets you know why it’s so important to make cleaning a part of your bird feeding routine. Enjoy the video and please share on your social networks so all of us can keep the birds safe and healthy.

If you are in the market for a new bird feeder, Cole’s has you covered. We sell several types of easy to clean feeders.

Cole’s Bird Feeders

Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-run business that packages its own top quality line of wild bird feed, feeders, and suet products. Cole’s specializes in chili infused seed products designed to make your feeder a birds only “hot” spot. Cole’s was born in the garage of “mom and pop” entrepreneurs, Richard and Nancy Cole, back in the early 1980’s and today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area.


Does Feeding Wild Birds Make Them Too Dependent on People?

Have you ever heard that if you feed wild birds too much or too often, they could become lazy and unable to find their own food? You can relax. Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products, answers that question in the video below. If you don’t have time to listen, we’ve included a transcript from his interview.

“Oh you hear that a lot. Don’t you that the bird will sit around eat and become lazy and then they won’t know how to forage for themselves. It’ simply not true. They’re not human. They don’t have the human tendency to do that. It’s not going to happen that way. They eat what they need. That means they’ll forage around for food in the wild. They’ll  also come to your feeders and pick up what they need. They’re not going to overeat. If they we’re going to overeat, you would see overweight birds unable to fly. That’s not gonna happen. It’s not the way they work. They eat what they need. Put out the food and enjoy watching the birds. They’ll be ok,” said Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products.

Scarlet Tanager: Cole’s Bird of the Month for December

Male Scarlet Tanager singing

It’s the perfect Bird of the Month for December. The male Scarlet Tanager’s bright, beautiful red coat trimmed in black makes him look ready for any holiday party. While cheerfully dressed in crimson for the spring and summer, he tones it down a bit throughout the fall and winter trading his festive outfit for a more subdued olive and black. This allows him to blend in like a true master of disguise, and consequently he looks more like the female and immature males who are olive and gray year round.

You’ll find Scarlet Tanagers all over the eastern United States during the summer. If you want to spot the beautiful Scarlet Tanager in your area, head for the forests and look for the males in the tops of trees. You’ll want to listen for the distinctive chick-burr call note. You can hear it by clicking on the video below.

Scarlet Tanagers feast mostly on insects and spiders during mating season adding fruit once migration begins in the spring and fall.  If you want to attract Scarlet Tanagers to your backyard, your best lure might be a nice birdbath. Keep in mind they generally like to stay high in the trees, but they do need to drink and bathe. In early spring, try Cole’s Dried Mealworms, suet cakes, orange halves, and ripe bananas for getting them to your feeders.  Cole’s Natural Peanut Suet ™ is chocked full of peanut butter, giving tanagers a boost of energy similar to what they get in a protein filled snack of grasshoppers and bees.

Known for their striking fiery red against black coloring and their distinctive call, Scarlet Tanagers are one of the most alluring songbirds and a source of inspiration for centuries. Henry David Thoreau once said the Scarlet Tanager “… flies through the green foliage as if it would ignite the leaves” – a more definitive description there never was!

Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-run business that packages its own top quality line of wild bird feed, feeders, and suet products. Cole’s specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a birds only “hot” spot. Cole’s was born in the garage of “mom and pop” entrepreneurs, Richard and Nancy Cole, back in the early 1980’s and today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area.

Yellow throated Warbler

It’s among nature’s cutest creatures. The Yellow-throated Warbler has bright colors and a beautiful voice. That’s why so many birders love them. If you’re lucky enough to see and hear these elusive little birds, you can easily distinguish the adult males from other warblers.

The male Yellow-throated Warbler has a bright yellow throat and upper chest.  His face has a bold, black mask that stands out against the yellow on his throat and the white stripe above his eye. The black and white striping on his feathers contrasts nicely against his gray back. He’s quite the sharp dressed man and appears to know it announcing his presence loudly by singing as he goes. The females and juvenile males look similar but aren’t quite as bright.

Yellow-throated Warblers are faithful to one love interest. They spend most of the spring and summer in the southeastern United States nesting in the tops of hardwoods. You can spot them searching for insects and spiders as they pry into crevices along tree branches. Unlike other warblers that move quickly and sporadically while hunting for food, the Yellow-throated Warbler is more confident and cool with slow and deliberate moves as they search the branches, leaves, and ground.

These warblers get all they can from Spanish moss. They use it for foraging as well as for nesting. They typically create a cup-like nest and raise one to two broods a season. The female does almost all the work caring for the young and teaching them to fly.

These active warblers have a distinctive and pleasing song. The males tend to sing high in the trees with a cheerful, high-pitched song. The females have what’s been called a husky call note.

Click on the video below to hear the song of a male Yellow-throated Warbler.

See what makes birders everywhere want to attract these bright little birds when you click on the video below that shows a Yellow-throated Warbler giving himself a bath.

If you’d like to attract Yellow-throated Warblers to your yard, you should know it isn’t easy as they are not attracted to a wide variety of seeds; however a good quality Black Oil Sunflower and high fat suet like Cole’s Suet Kibbles will bring them in close. Cole’s sells the highest quality Oil Sunflower on the market.

If you have videos or photos of Yellow-throated Warblers, please share them on our Facebook page, where we’d love for you to join our community. Thank you for supporting our family business.

Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-run business that packages and distributes its own top quality line of wild bird feed, feeders, and suet products. Cole’s specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a birds only “hot” spot. Cole’s was born in the garage of “mom and pop” entrepreneurs, Richard and Nancy Cole, back in the early 1980’s and today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area.