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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Photo by: Beth Willis
The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a small songbird with an abundance of energy. It’s striking ruby-colored feathers, for which it is named, are a rare treat for bird watchers patient enough to track a male bird and wait for it to reveal those crimson colors. Only the males have the noted ruby crown.
Tracking these birds is no easy task. They flick their wings quickly and dart through thick foliage searching for the next meal of insects or spiders. The “flicking of the wings” serves as a mean of scaring the bugs out of hiding. When the insects are startled, that’s when the Ruby-crowned Kinglet strikes.
Below is a video that shows you this squatty little bird that looks as if it has no neck. It’s olive and gray colored with bright white rings around its eyes and bright white bars on its wings. This is how most people spot the birds, by looking for the color pattern. The ruby feathers aren’t something you’ll see often. Also, watch for the wing flicking and listen for the male’s loud song and his double noted call. You’ll hear both in the video.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets migrate back to the far northern areas of the United States and Canada for summer breeding. They are monogamous during the mating season. While the females do most of the work to build the nest, the males gather food. The couples usually have one brood each year. The 4 to 10 eggs are incubated for 12-14 days. Once the eggs hatch, both mom and dad take part in feeding for another 10-15 days then the young birds quickly leave the nest.
Ruby-crowned Kinglets like to breed in tall, dense forests. If you want to attract them, keep in mind, they like spruce, fir, and tamarack. In the winter and during their migration period, they seek out shrubby habitats, deciduous forests, parks, and even trees in the suburbs. In order to make your yard safe for them, you should also avoid insecticide sprays. In addition to the usual diet of spiders, wasps, ants, bark beetles, and many other insects, the Ruby-crowned Kinglet consumes copious amounts of seeds and fruit.
Bird lovers live for the challenge of trying to catch a glimpse of this energetic bird’s elusive and striking red feathers. If you are lucky enough to see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and get a photo or video like the one shown above by Beth Willis. We love showing your photos to our Cole’s community of backyard birders. The best time to spot one singing is the spring or summer season. So, be on the lookout!
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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 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.
This hummer wants out!
Many of us who love feeding birds have had the unnerving experience of having a bird fly in to our homes. So, what do you do when it happens? You start by trying to remain calm. Your goal is to help the bird get back outside without it getting too stressed or injured.
Wrens, in particular, are curious birds known to fly into homes. If you do have a wren in your home, just know they are also pretty smart about figuring a way out. The most important thing to keep in mind is that to a bird “up is out.” Loosely translated that means they will always look for a way out in an upward direction – even if they have an open window available down low. You may have to consider getting the bird to fly away from an upstairs window. Usually though, just leaving the room will give the bird space to find the outside opening on its own,
Here are a few steps to take right away.
Switch off all fans IMMEDIATELY. Birds often try to escape by flying up towards the ceiling and many die upon coming in contact with fan blades.
If you have cats and dogs, get them out of the area. Either put them in a closed room or outside. This way, they don’t stress or attack the bird.
If the bird is in the kitchen, switch off the stove, hood vent, and any heat-generating appliances that may harm the bird should it collide with the appliance. Cover all pots, pans and kettles that have hot food or liquids in them.
Open all the doors and windows to enable the bird’s escape. Close all doors to other rooms to stop the bird from becoming more confused and flying deeper into the house.
Do not use loud noises, sticks or hard objects to chase the bird out. Use your hands to gently wave, push, pick up or otherwise direct the bird towards and open door or window. A soft net, such as a swimming pool or butterfly net, may be used to catch the bird and get them outside – just be careful and gentle when releasing the bird.
If the bird appears stunned or injured, throw a light towel over the bird and gently pick it up. Inspect the bird for injuries. Injured birds should be brought to a vet for treatment. Birds that are merely stunned can be kept in a shoe box until they recover and are ready to be taken outside and released. Be on the lookout for dogs and cats that may be waiting to pounce on a dazed bird.
Do you have an interesting or funny story about a bird getting into your house? We’d love to hear it! Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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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 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.
European Turtle Doves have long been a symbol of Christmas holiday celebrations. Best known for the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the turtle dove’s first connection to the Christian holiday actually dates back to the birth of Jesus as depicted in the Bible.
Representing innocence, purity and enduring love, turtle dove lore throughout the ages is well documented in such noted authors’ works as William Shakespeare. In his famous poem about the death of ideal love, “The Phoenix and the Turtle,” the title isn’t named for the reptile, but for the turtle dove instead.
While turtle dove imagery is featured prominently in books, poems and songs, the general term “turtle dove” does not actually refer to any one specific bird, but rather a group of Old World doves including the Mourning Dove, Ringed Turtle Dove, and most specifically the European Turtle Dove. Here in the United States you are most likely to see the Mourning Dove and the Ringed Turtle Dove in your back yard depending on where you live.
A distinctive band of color on the top of the neck makes it look like the dove is capable of drawing its head into the neck, like a turtle – hence the term turtle dove. European Turtle Doves are light gray to brown with black spotting on their wings and white tail feathers. A typical adult male turtle dove has bright pink patches on the sides of his neck with a light pink coloring that reaches his breast. The crown of the adult male turtle dove is very distinguishable because of its bluish-gray color. While females are similar in appearance, they have more brown in their feathers and are a bit smaller in size. Juvenile turtle doves look striking like adult females only darker in color.
This graceful bird has an interesting mating ritual. The male begins by flying and gliding with his wings outstretched and head down. After he lands, the male will approach the female with a puffed out chest, bobbing his head, calling out loud. Their mating call sounds like “coooo-woo-woo-woooo” and is often mistaken for an owl. If the female is impressed by the male’s performance, she consents to a romantic grooming of each other’s feathers.
Once the two get together they form a strong pair bond that can last several breeding seasons. Like most birds, they prefer to nest in trees, but unlike most birds they are not averse to nesting on the ground should no suitable trees be available. Interestingly, both parents take part in the incubation process. These birds are dedicated to being parents and rarely leave the nests unprotected. If by any chance a predator discovers the nest, one parent will usually employ the quintessential decoy maneuver by pretending its wing is broken – fluttering around as if injured only to fly away when the predator approaches it.
Compared to other songbirds, their diet is a bit bland. European Turtle Doves are not huge fans of snails or insects instead preferring to munch on seeds such as canola, millet, safflower, and sunflower. They will even eat a bit of gravel or sand from time to time to help with digestion. Though they love to visit bird feeders, they are most often seen foraging for food on the ground. Whether it’s up on the feeder or down on the ground, they are always pleasant to watch.
Known for their gentle nature and lasting bonds, European Turtle Doves are the perfect symbol for all things Christmas. That’s why they are Cole’s Bird of the Month for December.
The Rufous hummingbird packs quite a punch in its little body. It’s known for having a feisty nature and a brave determination to protect favorite feeders and flowers. Rufous hummingbirds will chase away much larger hummingbirds and even chipmunks and other small animals.
The male Rufous has bright orange on his back and belly, as well as a stunning red coat, making him easy to spot and identify. The female Rufous is green with a mostly white neck. A bright orange spot on her throat is the female’s most distinguishing feature. Both males and females move in a dart-like fashion with precise maneuverability.
In addition to a feisty nature, Rufous hummingbirds are also known for their stamina. They have the longest migration, as measured by body size, of any bird in the world! They travel almost four thousand miles making the one way trek from Alaska to Mexico. In case you’re wondering, that equates to more than 78 million body lengths for the three inch hummer. It’s closest competitor, the 13-inch-long Arctic Tern’s one-way flight of almost twelve thousand miles, is a little more than 50 million body lengths.
The Rufous breeds farther north than any other hummingbird in the United States, traveling all the way up to Alaska in the summer. For a little rest and relaxation they then head down to sunny Mexico for fall and winter. Many people along the Pacific Northwest look forward to seeing the Rufous as these mighty little birds make the long migration up and down the western United States.
Additionally, they have a great sense for location, which comes in handy when looking for food on a daily basis. They can remember exactly where a specific feeder was a year ago, even if it has been moved. The typical habitats for these birds are open areas, such as yards, parks, and forests.
Along with visiting feeders, Rufous hummingbirds enjoy feasting on colorful tubular flowers, such as scarlet gilia, mints, lilies, fireweeds, currants, and heaths. To get the protein they need to survive, they eat insects like gnats, midges, and flies. They’ll live in gardens for a while, but move on fairly quickly after one or two weeks. To take good care of these amazing birds, you should make sugar water mixtures on a one to four mixture (one cup of sugar for four cups of water). Be sure to do away with the sugar water if it becomes cloudy or the feeder fills with insects because the spoiled nectar can ferment producing a toxic alcohol.
If you hear a hard ticking sound or a clicking tik or chik that is doubled like ch-tik or ch-ti-tik, there is a Rufous nearby. The adult male will also make a buzzing sound with its wings to draw attention to itself. They make a ch-ch-ch-ch-chi sound, which is very similar to a stutter. Interestingly, immature males do not make any noise or typical sounds at all while they are diving.
When it comes to tough little birds, with lots of aggression and a will to fight for food, you can’t beat the Rufous hummingbird. If you want to see a female Rufous fiercely defending her feeder with everything she has including her quick moves, fanned out tail feathers and quirky sounds – just click on this video and stand back!
Many people mistake a House Finch for a Purple Finch. It can be tough to tell them apart. They are about the same size and shape, but the difference is in the coloring. The males can be distinguished by the shades of color. The male House Finch is an reddish-orange, while the male Purple Finch is a reddish-purple.
- Male House Finch
- Male Purple Finch
- Female House Finch
- Female Purple Finch
The House Finch has what looks like streaking on the breast and the sides. The Purple Finch has stripes but not streaking. The Purple Finch looks as if it someone poured purple dye on its head and the color moved over the original brown and cream and flowed down the back and down the chest. The House Finch has color along its eyebrow, but the entire head does not have color. The House Finch also has color on its chest. You’ll have a tougher time trying to tell the female House Finch and Purple Finch apart. Both are various shades of brown and white with no distinguishing colors. The female Purple Finch has bold facial patterns. She has a distinctive white streak over her eye, a dark cheek patch, and a white stripe at the bottom of the cheek. The female House Finch looks mostly brown but has some white feathers showing through on her sides and back. The female Purple Finch has what looks like white and brown streaks down the breast and dark brown coloring on her back. Both the House Finch and the Purple Finch love to eat sunflower seeds and sunflower meats and will often visit feeders to get them. You’ll see House Finches all over the eastern part of the United States. Purple Finches live in the north and breed in southeast Canada. Now, that you can spot the differences, you’ll enjoy watching for House Finches and Purple Finches at the feeder!