Tag Archives: attracting birds

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.

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.

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.

The American Redstart: Cole’s Bird of the Month for September

Fall is a great time to watch for one of nature’s most lively and vibrantly dressed creatures. The male American Redstart, with its bold, black body contrasted against its bright orange and bright yellow wings and tail, appears ready for the Halloween holiday.

This lively little warbler isn’t just dressed for Halloween. It lives up to the spirit of the holiday by actually frightening its prey. American Redstarts have a unique style of hunting. They dart in and out of leafs while quickly fanning their tail feathers to expose the striking orange and yellow feathers in a flash. Those fast moving bright colors startle the bugs into the air, where the redstart gobbles them up.

The music video below shows you an American Redstart in action – flashing its tail for food.

Aside from their striking appearance and their ability to “jet” in and out of foliage, you might also identify them by their upbeat song. The males are known for their sweet song, which they use to claim their territory and attract a mate or two.

 

During mating season, the male won’t settle down with just one girl. He’ll stay with the first female until she starts incubating the eggs, then he’s off to find another one. In fact, while other bird species will do this same sort of thing, the American Redstart is a little different in that he chooses a completely separate territory for his new family.

American Redstarts spend the breeding season throughout most of Canada and much of the eastern United States. During the fall and spring migration, people all over America get the chance to see them as they take off to their tropical homes in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. If they don’t normally live in your area, watch for them from September through mid-October and again in April and May.

Their diet is mostly made up of all types of bugs, including, leafhoppers, planthoppers, flies, and moths. During the late summer, they’ll change their diet a bit and will start to snack on various berries and fruits. If you want to attract them, you might plant things like barberry, serviceberry, and magnolia. Also, offering Cole’s Nutberry Suet Blend in your feeders will certainly get their attention.

American Redstarts are worth attracting. You’ll enjoy seeing their striking, bold colors, watching their unique style of hunting, and listening to their sweet songs. If you have photos, videos, or stories of your experiences with American Redstarts, please share them with the Cole’s community on Facebook.

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.

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.
  • Chili 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 Hummer High Rise 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 Chili oil or powder to your hummingbird nectar!

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

Hummingbirds at feeder photo by Laura Taylor.

Birdfeeder Basics

Bring on backyard birds with the right feeders.

When you dine, do you prefer clean and attractive tableware? Does ambiance enhance your enjoyment of your food? Birds feel the same way about their dining habits – the type and cleanliness of your bird feeders directly affects the number and species of birds that will visit your backyard this season.

To attract birds, you need to understand not only what they prefer to eat, but how they like to eat it. For example, while many species prefer seed, some birds like to eat their seed from elevated platforms, others prefer hanging feeders and still others are content to forage on the ground. All birds appreciate a clean feeder to prevent the spread of disease, and none of them like those pesky, seed-stealing squirrels any more than you do.

The bird experts at Cole’s Wild Bird Products offer some guidance for choosing the right feeder styles to attract the maximum number of feathered friends to your yard:

* Keep it clean – Everyone knows you should clean your feeders regularly to prevent disease, but many feeders are a pain to disassemble, clean and reassemble. Many people keep feeders less than pristine because of the hassle of cleaning. Look for feeders that make the process easy. All Cole’s tube feeders have a Quick Clean feature that allows you to remove the bottom of the feeder with the push of a button for easy cleaning access– no need to completely disassemble the feeders to clean them.

* Tube feeders are terrific – For versatility and wide appeal, it’s hard to beat a tube style feeder. These workhorses of the feeder world can handle seeds both large and small – from sunflowers to petite mixes. Tube feeders make great all-purpose feeders or excellent starter feeders for people just beginning backyard birding. Most songbirds will happily dine at a tube feeder.

* Some seeds are special – Niger is a favorite seed type for finches, siskins and several other appealing species, but not all tube feeders can handle this oily seed. If you’ll be serving niger, consider a specialty feeder like the Nifty Niger Feeder. The feeder dispenses the seed through special, tiny holes to limit the amount of waste.

*Cater to the clingy – Some birds, such as chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers and bluebirds, like to cling to the feeder. For these birds, a mesh feeder can be just what the diner ordered. Mesh feeders satisfy a bird’s desire to cling while also keeping larger birds from hogging the feeder. The Mighty Mesh Feeder is great for serving Nutberry Suet, Suet Kibbles, Suet Pearls, raw peanuts and any sunflower-based seed blend.

* The beauty of bowl feeders – Bowl feeders are another versatile style, and are great for serving not only seeds and seed blends, but also dried mealworms, fruit and suet in either kibble or pearl forms. The Bountiful Bowl Feeder comes with an adjustable dome cover that you can raise or lower to prevent larger birds and squirrels from getting to the food – and it also helps protect feed from rain.

* Hummingbird feeders are something to sing about – Hummingbirds are endlessly fascinating to watch, but you have to be quick to catch a look at them. Your best opportunity is when they’re eating, and a hummingbird feeder can help extend your viewing time. The Hummer High Rise feeder gives hummers a penthouse-view with elevated perches and keeps ants out of the nectar with a special built-in ant moat.

* Those darn squirrels – As much as you enjoy watching their antics, you probably don’t want squirrels on your bird feeder. These persistent bandits can wipe out a seed supply in minutes and damage even the best-made birdfeeders. One way to keep squirrels away from all your feeders is to install a Tough Bird Feeder Guard from Cole’s on your existing feeder poles. The simple device uses static pulse to train squirrels not to climb on feeder poles. Use your favorite feeders on your own shepherd staff or pipe-style poles and add the Tough Bird Feeder Guard to keep squirrels away. Only the tube portion of the guard is charged, so the pole and birdfeeder are safe to touch for humans and birds alike.

For more info on birdfeed blends and where to buy visit www.coleswildbird.com

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird: Cole’s Bird of the Month for August

It’s greenish, shiny, quick, and always hungry – our Cole’s Bird of the Month is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. This appropriately named medium-sized hummer has a relatively long and wide tail. It’s kind of the cowboy of hummingbirds, living in the meadows and mountains of the western United States and in the high elevations of Mexico.

The Broad-tailed hummingbird is an independent breed. The males and females will mate and then select their nest site together. But, they don’t like to be pinned down to one relationship. Once the female is ready to make her nest and raise her young, she’s pretty much on her own. The males don’t stick around to help out. In fact, during the nesting season, the males often spend the evenings in higher elevations where they can stay warmer.

One of the most interesting attributes of Broad-tailed hummers is their ability to withstand very cold climates. To stay warm when the temperatures drop, all hummingbirds enter what’s known as hypothermic torpor, a slowed metabolic state that can keep their body temperature about ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Unfortunately, this ability comes with a price – It takes more energy. So, the males often head for the hills at night where the warm air rises as the cold air descends into the valleys. This thermal inversion means the female must use extra energy to keep warm, while the male conserves his.

As it turns out, the promiscuous males need the extra energy to perform their impressive acrobatic courtship dances for the ladies. They fly high in the air, trill their wings, and then dive down to the females hoping the display catches her eye.

To keep up their energy, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds prefer flower nectar from Red Columbine, Indian paintbrush, sage, and Scarlet Coyote Mint; however they’ll also feed from flowers other hummers ignore such as pussywillows and Glacier Lilies. Like most hummers, they always enjoy a protein filled snack of insects when they can catch them.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, we recommend this video so that you can get a close up view.

This is another great video, showing a typical mountainous habitat for Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. This one is in Colorado. You don’t see the hummer until 2:50 into the video.

Used alone or combined with a pretty red flower bed, Cole’s High Rise Hummer is the perfect feeder to attract hummingbirds to your backyard. Hummingbird nectar should be made with a four to one ratio of water to sugar. No red dye is needed.

 

For advice on how often to change the nectar from company founder Richard Cole, click on the link below.

If you have photos or stories to share about hummingbirds, we’d love for you to share them with the Cole’s community on our Facebook page. 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.ColesWildBird.com.

 

If you have any questions for the experts here at Cole’s, please contact us directly. Your quickest response will be from our Contact Us form. We are happy to help.

Greed Got The Best Of Them!

Stop Thief!

We’ve all heard of birds, such as crows collecting coins. But, this story surprised even our veteran bird experts. A popular story has been circulating on the web about a car wash where birds were doing more business that customers. As it turns out the original email was a bit embellished, but according to Snopes.com the main story is true.

Bill Dougherty, of Magic Wand Inc., installs and maintains the machines used at coin operated facilities. After installing one in Fredericksburg, Virginia, he discovered the car wash machine kept coming up short. He didn’t want to believe his trusted employees were stealing, but the machines could only be accessed by keys. So, he set up a surveillance camera and caught the thieves in the act.

As it turns out, his employees were innocent. The suspects were European Starlings. You can see the birds had to actually get inside the machines. They worked in tandem with one going in and the other grabbing the coins and taking off. The original email reported that the surveillance mission paid off when $4,000 in stolen coins was found on the roof. Turns out that part is a bit of an exaggeration. The car wash operator never found a big stash, but he did say that it was quite common to find a few hundred quarters on the ground some mornings.

Upon seeing the story, Elaine Cole,  of Cole’s Wild Bird Products said she had never heard of anything like it, though she knew certain species of birds like crows are attracted to shiny objects. She advises “keep your quarters out of sight lest you be robbed at beak point by that notorious Starling gang!” Richard Cole, the founder of Cole’s Wild Bird Products remarked, “wouldn’t it be great if we could ask them why?”

If you have any questions for the experts here at Cole’s, please contact us directly. Your quickest response will be from our Contact Us form. We are happy to help.

Pine Warbler: Cole’s Bird of the Month for June

Pine Warbler

Nature packs quite a punch in the Pine Warbler. This feisty little bird has no problem standing up for itself. Whether it’s a bright yellow male staking out his claim to territory or a more subdued yellowish female calling out sharp short calls to declare this is her “stomping grounds”, this warbler will not be deterred. In fact, Pine Warblers are daring enough to get up close and personal with people. Just watch this video showing a couple of them willing to venture onto a human hand in order to snatch up a few live mealworms.

As the name suggests, the Pine Warbler generally hangs out in pine trees. They fly high in the tops of deciduous forests of the eastern United States, where they usually find everything they need. They enjoy snacking on pine more than any other seed, and they are the only warbler that will eat large quantities of seeds. For that reason, it is possible for you to see them at your feeders. In the winter, you can lure them with sunflower seeds, suet, mealworms, and yes, even peanut butter. Elaine Cole has the most success attracting these cute little birds with a home-made blend of Cole’s Suet Kibbles and Dried mealworms offered in a Mighty Mesh feeder. She finds their number two choice for a meal is Cole’s Hot Meats suet cakes.

When trying to identify the Pine Warbler, it is very easy to confuse with the more brightly colored Yellow Warbler. To tell the difference and spot the Pine Warbler, the distinguishing characteristics for both males and females are the white bars on the wings, thicker bill, and a stockier appearance. In color, the Pine Warbler has what looks like a coating of olive on the top of its head muting his otherwise striking yellow feathers.

 

Pine Warblers live year round in the southeastern United States. During the summers, Pine Warblers will nest atop or near the tops of pine trees and feast on all types of bugs in addition to pine seeds. In the fall when they migrate, Pine Warblers will form large flocks of 50 – 100 birds mingling with their friends who live year round in the southeast. Imagine seeing all those beautiful birds in one place!

Pine Warblers have an interesting song and learning their distinguishing call is one of your best tools to locating these elusive birds that can hide so well in the trees. Click on the video link below to hear the song. Be patient. It sings at about 16 seconds into the video.

These high flying daring little birds are making a comeback in the United States. Back in the 1950’s the herbicide DDT used to control Dutch Elm disease, killed many Pine Warblers. In addition, much of their native forests were changed or destroyed because of development and logging. Fortunately, in recent years extensive reforestation projects have led to an increase in the Pine Warbler population.

The Pine Warbler is a brave, colorful, and elusive little bird that can feel right at home flying in the tops of trees or grabbing seeds from your feeder or even worms from your hand. If you have photos of Pine Warblers, please share them with the Cole’s online community on Facebook. We’d love to see them.

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.ColesWildBird.com.

Purple Martin: Cole’s Bird of the Month for May

You could call the Purple Martin the “dog” of the birding world. Why you ask? The largest member of the swallow family has come to depend on people and we treasure their friendship as well – You might even consider them man’s second best friend!

You can spot the dark purple males and the brown colored females by their unique, acrobatic flight. It’s that amazing flight and their natural ability to keep insects at bay that have made people want to attract them for hundreds of years. We want them around, and they need us around. While most Purple Martins in the western United States still nest the natural way in tree cavities, Purple Martins in the eastern part of the country nest almost exclusively in manmade houses.

This switch from natural nesting places to manmade homes was caused by the need to survive in an ever increasingly difficult environment. Things were going well between humans and this dark purple insect eater until 1890. That’s when an American businessman got the idea to bring every species of bird mentioned in a Shakespeare play to the United States. Eugene Schieffelin, a drug manufacturer, brought the first European Starlings and European House Sparrows to New York and let them loose. They flourished in this country, but their presence hurt the Purple Martin. These European natives compete for the same territories. The starlings also invade the nests of Purple Martins, often killing the fledglings.

In the early 1800’s, it seemed everyone wanted to attract Purple Martins. While some people built houses from wood or metal, others chose gourds like those used by Native Americans of the time. The houses were so popular in the 1800’s that James Audubon is quoted as saying that he often chose an inn by the look of the Purple Martin houses on the property. His thinking was that the better the landlord kept his Purple Martin houses, the better he kept his inn.

Even today, martins are so beloved that something as simple as their annual migrations attract attention.  With flocks numbering in the thousands, their migration groups cover so much air space you can see them on weather radar. There are numerous festivals throughout the country that celebrate the event.  Probably the most notable thing that contributes to people’s intense fascination with this amazing creature is its unique and memorable flight marked by quick turns and sudden dives. Purple Martins feast on a diet of nothing but insects and they love catching bugs like dragonflies, flies, and bees mid-flight. It’s an amazing display of agility to see Purple Martins skim the surface of lakes to grab a few bugs and take a quick bath. It’s no wonder that people have come to depend on the Purple Martin for entertainment and a natural insecticide.

If you want to attract Purple Martins to your home, you’ll need to do some research. Here are a few things to think about:

One, consider how you will keep nesting boxes safe from predators. Landlords of Purple Martin houses often safeguard them with things like electrified poles, starling traps, and sometimes cages around the houses.

Two, think about whether you have the time and energy to clean out the houses each year so they will return to nest again and again.

Three, if you use insecticides and herbicides on your property, consider whether you could give them up for the safety of your new tenants who will become dependent on the natural foods available in your yard.

The Purple Martin is a beautiful bird with an amazing flight and an uncanny ability to keep the insects from taking over. The relationship between Purple Martins and people is a unique one in the birding world. It seems the more they need us, the more we want to care for them. For more information about Purple Martins, visit www.purplemartin.org. The site has all kinds of helpful advice about becoming a landlord and helping to conserve the Purple Martin population.

Here are a couple of videos we found that you might enjoy.

The link below shows you how to make a Purple Martin house from a gourd.

This link shows you the history and mystery of Purple Martins. It’s an excellent video documentary done by National Public Radio.

If you like learning about all types of birds, please join our birding community by clicking on the Cole’s Facebook page. www.facebook.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 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.

American Robin: Cole’s Bird of the Month for April

They are a welcome sight no matter where you live. The American Robin with its flash of burnt orange and its upbeat song is a sure sign that the cold days of winter are coming to an end. You’ll often notice them foraging for earthworms in early spring. The American Robin is as at ease in the city and around people as it is in the wild of the deep woods.

While some American Robins migrate for the winter, others stay put. For instance, the robins that spend the spring and summer breeding in Canada and Alaska migrate south to the continental United States in the fall. Others winter as far south as Mexico. Many American Robins live year round in the United States, but you don’t often see them in the winter because they seek food in the forests during those cold months.

This time of year, American Robins are often heard voicing their desire for a mate. They’re considered to have the nicest voices and the most cheerful of songs. However, it takes more than a nice song to attract the female. Males have quite the courtship. They sing while raising and spreading their tails, shaking their wings and inflating their throats. If she’s interested, you may see the female approach him. They hold their bills wide open and touch them together. Perhaps it’s their way of kissing.

Once paired, female robins choose the nest site. They build their nests from the inside out. It’s usually in the lower half of the tree. American Robins also nest in gutters, eaves, on outdoor light fixtures, and other structures. The pair can produce as many as three successful broods in one year. The females sleep on the nest, and the males go to roosts.

Robins have a taste for lots of types of food. While in spring, they love earthworms and will even fight each other over a worm, in the fall and winter, they feast on fruit. In fact, they’ve been known to get intoxicated when they eat honeysuckle berries exclusively. If you want to attract them to your feeder, you’ll want to use Cole’s Nutberry Suet Kibbles™. It has the right combination of fruit, nuts, and insect suet. Since robins feed on lawns, they are especially vulnerable to pesticides and herbicides. So, if you do want them to visit your feeders, you may want to avoid lawn chemicals.

One of the most endearing things about the American Robin is seeing it go through its ritual of capturing earthworms. You’ll see a robin run a few steps and stop suddenly. Then, it stands motionless with its head cocked to one side just waiting to see its next meal. The average life expectancy of a robin is just two years, but the oldest known American Robin lived to be almost 14 years old. The American Robin is noticed for its beautiful reddish breast, loved for its upbeat song, and remembered for its unique foraging style. The American Robin is among the most popular of song birds. It’s the state bird of three states – Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Michigan.

Wanna hear the song of an American Robin. Click the video below.

Join the Cole’s conversation about birds on Facebook. We’d love to have you.

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.ColesWildBird.com.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker: Cole’s March Bird of the Month

Photo by Beth Willis

What’s yellow, red, black, and white, loves to drink from trees, and sounds like a cat? Yes, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, of course. This rather small woodpecker can be seen flying from tree to tree and to your feeder, if you serve suet cakes. Its distinctive, bold black and white patterned jacket blends beautifully with its yellow vest and bright red hat with matching neck scarf.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers can easily be distinguished from other woodpeckers by their soft yellow or tan breast and belly. The males and females look very similar, except she has a white chin rather than a red one. The juveniles are similar to the females, but they are more of a dull brown than rich black, and they sport no striking red markings.

Like other woodpeckers, the Yellow-belly has a distinctive undulating flight. Unlike its fellow woodpeckers, the sapsucker has an irregular drumming rhythm and very few vocalizations – the only one of note being a cat-like meow sound.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers may have gotten their names from their habit of drinking sap from trees. They drill holes in a pattern of horizontal rows in small to medium sized trees and once the sap starts oozing, they lap it up. It is a fortunate coincidence that bugs also find the sugary sapwells delicious. You can be sure the sapsucker enjoys every bit of that extra protein along with his sweet drink.

The sapwells are attractive to porcupines, bats, and other birds as well. The hummers enjoy the sugary treat so much that, in parts of Canada, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds time their spring migration with the arrival of sapsuckers.

Elaine Cole keeps them hanging around her own backyard during the winter with a tasty blend of Cole’s Suet Kibbles™ mixed with Cole’s Dried Mealworms. “I also find that the Yellow-bellied sapsuckers love our Hot Meats™ Suet Cakes which I feed out of a homemade suet log feeder, though regular suet cages work just as well,” she advises.

In early spring, before mating, sapsucker pairs have a playful pre-courtship behavior. One sapsucker chases the other around tree trunks and branches. Courting birds will land on a tree and face each other. They raise their bills and tails while they stand with their throat feathers fluffed out and crest feathers raised then swing their heads from side to side. Ironically, while they use this dance as a courtship, it’s the same behavior used between competing males when aggressively facing off over a desirable female.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers build cavities for their nest. They have just one brood during mating season. The male usually excavates the nest in a tree that’s infected with a fungus, which causes the tree’s heartwood or sapwood to decay, making excavation easier.  The male and female stay together to raise the young and may reunite during the next mating season.

During the summer, you can find Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers from Alaska to Maine. During the winter, they migrate through the southern United States going as far south as Central America.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are beautiful, striking birds that are fun to watch and entertaining to listen to. Their courtship, their meow-like calls, and their drumming on metal make them a true pleasure for any backyard birder.

 

Below is a video showing a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker enjoying a delicious treat.

Please share your photos, videos and experiences with this beautiful bird on the Cole’s Facebook page. Just click the link below to join the conversation and to be a part of our birding community.

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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.ColesWildBird.com.

Purple Finch: Cole’s Bird of the Month for January

What’s less than five inches tall yet poses a mighty threat to fruits? If you said the Purple Finch, you’d be right.  The state bird of New Hampshire may look non-threatening to you, but Purple Finches are actually considered predators when it comes to fruits. Unlike many other birds that help to spread the seeds of fruits, these finches eat the seeds, and that’s the end of the line.

While Purple Finches maybe an enemy of the fruits they like to snarf up, they are a friend to those of us in the birding community who love to see them at our feeders. Their distinctive coloring, upbeat song, and playful mating ritual are enough to motivate many people to stock up on Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, one of their favorite treats.

 

Purple Finches have no trouble opening sunflower seeds, as well as most types of seeds and nuts. They have relatively large beaks. The Purple Finch is often confused with its close relative, the House Finch. If you would like to learn about this differences, we have an article devoted to distinguishing these beautiful birds. This stocky little finch that is said to “look like a sparrow dipped in raspberry juice” loves coniferous trees which provide a constant source of food. In addition to feasting on seeds from trees such as evergreens and elms, tulip poplars, and maples, this finch has an adaptable palate and will also eat soft buds and nectar. It enjoys fruits, including apricots and blackberries, plants like dandelions and ragweed, and insects such as grasshoppers and beetles.

Because of the Purple Finch’s desire for the seeds of coniferous trees, they tend to migrate every other year keeping up with the latest cone crop. If you live in the eastern half of the United States, chances are you see Purple Finches every other winter. Those on the west coast and in the northeast may be lucky enough to see these stocky birds all year long. Purple Finches tend to spend their summers breeding in Canada.

When it comes to courtship, Purple Finches have one of the more entertaining flirtations in the world of birds. Courting males sing while hopping and fluffing their feathers in front of the female. The song is a “warbling” one typical of finches. During this ritual, he’ll hold a twig or grass stem in his beak. If the female seems interested, the next step is a flight about one foot straight up, followed by drooping the wings and pointing his beak to the sky. The next and final step maybe mating.

The females do all the work when it comes to nesting. She’ll build her nest far out on a limb up as high as 60 feet. Nest building takes about three to eight days of gathering twigs, roots, grasses, and animal hair. The female is much more drab in color, lacking any red. She’s brown and white with bold streaking on her wings and distinctive white bars on her face.

Although Purple Finches have two to seven eggs and one to two broods, they are declining in numbers. They simply have a tough time competing against House Finches, which usually win when there’s competition for food and territories. The Purple Finch is not considered endangered, but its population has been steadily declining by 1.4 percent a year since 1966.

Purple Finches can put a little spark of color and fun into your winter birding. Their cheerful song, beautiful coloring, and non-aggressive nature make them quite the welcome visitor.  Please let us know if you are seeing Purple Finches this winter in your area.  Do you have photos of Purple Finches? If so, please share them with our Facebook community. Join the conversation by clicking the link below.

 

ColesFacebookPage

Want to see Purple Finches in action, click on this video. It shows a Purple Finch couple as they enjoy a snack with a few American Goldfinch friends.


A Purple Finch couple with a few American Goldfinch friends

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.ColesWildBird.com.

 

Baltimore Orioles: Cole’s Bird of the Month for November

When it comes to color and contrast, the Baltimore Oriole can’t be beat. With bright orange against jet black, accented with white, this little bird makes quite the style statement. Such striking beauty doesn’t come quickly. The males are born dull in color similar to the females with grayish heads and a yellowish-orange breast. It takes two full years to earn that fiery orange color. The older male has a jet black head set against his bright orange breast. White bars on his black and orange wings add to the striking contrast.

The Baltimore Oriole has quite the distinction. It’s the namesake for Maryland’s professional baseball team and the official state bird of Maryland. The Baltimore Oriole was an obvious choice for state pride as the colony of Maryland was being settled. The First Lord of Baltimore, George Calvert, whose family initially governed the state, has a coat of arms with a remarkable  resemblance to the bird’s striking colors.

The Baltimore Oriole is a little smaller and more slender than the American Robin. It has a cheerful, distinctive song. In fact, you’re more likely to hear these beautiful birds than to get the chance to see one. They tend to feed in the highest branches of trees.

Baltimore Orioles seek deciduous trees. They prefer open woodlands, river banks, and small groves of trees. They’ll make a home at the forest edge but not deep in the forest. In addition to tall trees, they’ll also forage for insects and fruits in brush and shrubbery.

If you want to attract Baltimore Orioles, you might want to try growing fruit trees or nectar-bearing flowers. Orioles love very ripe fruits that are dark in color. They go for the darkest mulberries, the reddest cherries, and the deepest-purple grapes. They may also visit your hummingbird feeders. Another way to attract them is to place cut oranges or even a bit of jelly near your feeders or hanging from trees in your backyard.

If you are interested in making your own oriole feeder, here’s some great information for you.

MakeAFeeder.com

If you’d like to see some different types of oriole feeders, this link shows you a few ideas.

ViewFeeders

During the summer, Baltimore Orioles can be found throughout much of the central and eastern United States, as well as in parts of southern Canada. When the weather starts to get cold, they migrate as far south as South America for the winter.

Many people look forward to seeing Baltimore Orioles during the breeding season. Their courtship is a display of song, color, and dance. When trying to impress a mate, the male hops around the female bowing forward and spreading his wings to show her his orange back. If she’s receptive, she’ll respond by fanning her tail, lowering and fluttering her wings and making a chattering call.

Once the two pair up, the female chooses a nest site within her mate’s territory. She’ll build an amazing sock-like nest. The nest is constructed in three stages. First, the females weaves an outer layer of flexible fibers for support. Next, she’ll bring in springy fibers which provides the bag like shape. Then, she’ll weave in a soft lining of downy fibers and feathers to cushion the young. The male sometimes helps by gathering materials. But, he doesn’t do any of the weaving. Baltimore Orioles usually have just one brood during the mating season. Their favorite trees for nesting are elms, maples, and cottonwoods.

Here’s a link to a video of a Baltimore Oriole singing.


This video shows you how to use fruit to attract these beautiful birds.

Baltimore Orioles have an upbeat, distinctive song, striking beauty, and an entertaining courtship. If you get the chance to snap a photo or video of one, please share it with the Cole’s community. Just click below to join the conversation on Facebook. Special thanks to our loyal Facebook fan Linda Leary for nominating the Baltimore Oriole.

Cole’s Facebook Page

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.ColesWildBird.com

House Wren: Cole’s Bird of the Month for October

The House Wren is a small songbird with a big personality. With a reputation for being bold and curious, they are usually one of the first birds seen investigating a new feeder. While this little wren may be somewhat dull in color, it is anything but dull when it comes to behavior. Naturally comfortable around people, they’ll even fly right up to your home in an effort to catch insects or spiders or serenade you with a melodious tune as if to say “notice me!”

They are brown to brownish gray, with darker barring on the wings and back and a lighter colored brown or white on the belly. While the body of a House Wren tends to be compact, the beak and tail is fairly long. House Wrens are distinguished from many other types of wrens by the lack of a noticeable eyebrow.

Though common throughout the entire western hemisphere, this time of year you’ll find many House Wrens on the move seeking warmer weather for the winter. During the coldest temperatures, don’t expect to see them or hear from them. They prefer to stay quiet and hunker down in the protection of shrubs and dense forests. They’ll spend the winter in the southern most United States and Mexico then return as the thermometer rises. In summer, they are active singing and building nests near woods, forests, parks, farms, and suburbs. Not surprisingly, these petite birds with a strong spirit and a cheerful song are aggressive when it comes to territory and nesting.

House Wrens are known for taking over the nests of other birds – including other House Wrens! They’ll do everything from pulling twigs out of a competitor’s nest to destroying the nest or even breaking the eggs of another bird. Not even the size of their competition phases them as they do not hesitate to evict larger birds from a nest. As a result they often end up competing with chickadees and bluebirds for nesting sites.

Home thievery notwithstanding, House Wrens are resourceful creatures that can and will turn just about anything into a nest. They’ll just as soon use a cavity created by woodpeckers or a shoe left in your garage as they would regulation nest boxes created by people. They usually choose a site close to woods, but not too deep in fear of not having a clear sight of approaching predators.

Once in the nest, House Wrens have an interesting way of keeping parasites to a minimum. They often add spider egg sacs to the material used to build the nest. When the spiders hatch, they devour the parasites.

Single males will compete for a female even after she’s already started nesting with another male. About half of the time, the new male displaces his rival. When he does, he usually discards the existing eggs or nestlings and starts a new family with the female. While courtship is going on in the spring and summer, you can often hear the male with his happy and hearty song. For such a small bird, they have no trouble being heard. Click on this video to hear a male as he works on a nest and sings in hopes of attracting a mate.

Watch the male in full courtship mode.

Fledglings are born naked and helpless. They stay in the nest for 15 – 17 days. The video below shows some House Wren fledglings in a nest just before they are ready to fly. During this time, the mother feeds them every few minutes.

If you are perhaps interested in building a bird house to attract wrens, this link from the Missouri Department of Conservation shows you how.

http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/outdoor-recreation/woodworking/build-wren-house

The House Wren is a small but hearty bird that doesn’t mind being aggressive when it comes to mating and survival. It has a strong song and a big spirit. According to Cornell University, the oldest living House Wren lived to be nine years old!

If you have photos or videos of House Wrens, please share them with the Cole’s Community on Facebook. Click the link below to join the conversation and like our page.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coles-Wild-Bird-Products-Company/125017247634656

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 chili-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 – See more at: https://coleswildbird.com/2014/09/downy-woodpecker-coles-bird-of-the-month-for-september/#sthash.Zomt000m.dpuf

Downy Woodpecker: Cole’s Bird of the Month for September

In Above video, hear the drumming of a female Downy Woodpecker.

If you have backyard feeders, chances are you get the pleasure of watching Downy Woodpeckers on a consistent basis. These relatively small woodpeckers love to frequent backyard feeders, and they are amazingly friendly with people. Several youtube.com videos show Downys feeding from people’s hands.

The Downy Woodpecker dons what looks like a black and white checked coat. They’ve enjoyed this classic black and white look long before humans caught on. The wings are black with white spots, and the belly is mostly white. Downys have black and white tail feathers, and watch for a white bar above the eye. The males are also easily distinguished with a spot of red on the back of the head.

These striking birds also have a short bill which helps to set them apart from other woodpeckers. While it’s hard to tell a Hairy Woodpecker from a Downy Woodpecker, you can usually differentiate by the smaller size of the Downy and the smaller bill. In fact, the Downy is the smallest woodpecker in North America. Downy Woodpeckers mix well with others. They can often be seen mixed into a flock of  chickadees, nuthatches, creepers, and kinglets.

You can find Downy Woodpeckers in just about every habitat. They love forests as well as residential areas and city parks. Listen for their drumming and for the characteristic high-pitched pik note and the descending whinny call.

The best part about the Downy Woodpecker is that Americans can enjoy them year round. Downys can be found from Alaska to Florida and almost everywhere in between. The desert southwest is the only part of the United States where Downys are not present. They can also be found in most of Canada. Only the far northern regions of Canada are excluded.

The males and females work well as a team, with the male chiseling deep into wood with his longer and stronger bill. The female is smaller than the male, and her beak is as well. The female pries under the bark with her shorter bill. The pair is able to share the food resources without competing with one another.

If you want to attract the Downy to your feeders, be sure to use suet. They love suet, but they will also eat peanut butter, peanuts, millet, and Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.

See just how friendly Downys are in this video by Kelly Dodge. She’s an artist who paints birds. The video shows her hand feeding one.

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.coleswildbird.com

The Indigo Bunting: Cole’s Bird of the Month for July

The Indigo Bunting isn’t just another pretty face in the world of birds, it’s also as upbeat and cheery as it is beautiful. The bright blue male of the species sings with gusto from sunup to sundown during the spring and summer. He loves to perch high in the trees or on telephone poles to sing out his song for the world to hear.

Indigos are small, stocky birds with thick bills. The adult males are a brilliant indigo blue all over, while the females are mostly brown with a whitish throat. They will sometimes have just a touch of blue on the wings, tail, or rump. The young males are brownish blue. Indigos are often mistaken for another striking songbird, the Blue Grosbeak; however the grosbeak is much larger and has rust colored patches on its wings. Indigos are about the size of a sparrow. Also, the Blue Grosbeak has a significantly thicker bill.

If you want to attract these brightly colored, attention getters to your backyard then fill your feeders with Niger seed or White Proso Millet. Along with seeds and berries, they love to eat insects. So, you may want to avoid pesticides to keep this food source in ample supply. If you live near a weedy or brushy area, that’s another enticement. Indigos love to forage in seed-laden shrubs and grasses.

This is the perfect time of year to watch for Indigo Buntings. They breed in late spring and summer as far west as the California border, as far north as the southern central part of Canada, and all across the Midwest and eastern United States. This time of year Indigos are found in pairs, but during the winter they travel in flocks when they migrate to Central America.

Another fun fact about Indigos is that they are known to sing as many as two hundred songs per hour at dawn and then sing about one per minute for the rest of the day. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, young Indigo Buntings learn their songs from older males near the younger male’s breeding ground. This leads to “song neighborhoods” in which all nearby males sing songs that are similar to each other and that are different from those sung more than a few hundred yards away.

If you’d like to hear the songs of the Indigo Bunting, click the link below to watch the video and hear him singing.

We’d love to see your photos of Indigo Buntings and hear about your experiences attracting them. Please join the conversation on the Cole’s Facebook page by clicking the link below.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coles-Wild-Bird-Products-Company/125017247634656

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.coleswildbird.com