Tag Archives: bird photo contest

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

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

Cedar Waxwings are beautiful, social birds that love to eat fruit.

Cedar Waxwings are among the most striking songbirds, easily identified by the black mask on their faces and the bright red tips on their feathers. These red, waxy tips on their feathers and their appetite for cedar berries combine to give them their name. They are about the size of a robin and are usually brown and gray with a beautiful blend of lemon yellow on the tips of their tails and a lighter yellow on their breast.

Cedar Waxwings love to eat fruit. In fact, they can subsist on fruit alone more so than other birds.  If you want to attract them to your yard, it’s a good idea to have lots of berries around. In summer, the best plants to attract them are serviceberries, strawberries, mulberries, dogwood, and raspberries. In winter, you can’t go wrong with cedar berries, mistletoe, madrone, juniper, mountain ash, honeysuckle, crabapple, hawthorn, and Russian olive fruits. The one downside of their fruit rich diet is that they’ve been known to feast on fruit that’s overripe and fermented. Although “drunk” birds can be humorous to watch, in some cases such fruit intoxication can be life threatening. Here’s a video showing intoxicated a bird.

 

In summer, Cedar Waxwings have a taste for protein rich insects like mayflies, dragonflies, and stoneflies. They most often catch bugs mid-flight or pick insects such as spruce budworms and leaf beetles right off vegetation.

Cedar Waxwings can be found as far north as Canada and as far south as the northern tip of South America. Many of them migrate to Canada in the summer where they breed, usually one or two broods during a season. They can be found in the southern United States and all the way down to South America in the winter. People in the northern half of the United States have the chance to see them all year round.

These birds are very social and are almost always seen in large flocks. They have a mating ritual that consists of the male offering a gift to his mate. The two will hop toward each other and then away and then back. You may even see them touch bills together during this little tango. The male also likes to pass a gift to his lady friend. It might be a small fruit, a bug, or a flower petal which she will take and then return. This goes on for a while before she eats the gift.

Cedar Waxwings are beautiful, striking birds with a lighthearted song and desire for social interaction. In fact, this video shows just how social these birds can be. Here a woman is holding the nest as a mother Cedar Waxwing feeds her young.

Our Facebook fan Bethany Satterfield Feehery nominated the Cedar Waxwing for Cole’s Bird of the Month. Thanks, Bethany. We hope you will join the conversation on Facebook. Click 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.

Learn about Turtle Doves

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.

House Finch

Male House Finch

Originally a native of Mexico and the southwestern parts of America, the House Finch is a fairly new bird to eastern North America. In the 1940’s, a couple of risk-taking pet store owners from New York brought them to the United States and started selling them in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Once they knew they were about to be busted, they released the birds into the New York skies. At the time, many people referred to them as “Hollywood Finches” because of their west coast origin.

This new found freedom allowed the House Finch to create new habitats in deforested areas across the eastern United States. Outside of breeding season, they are very social creatures that are rarely seen alone. It is not unusual to see them crossing the skies in a large flock with their feathered friends.

If you are on the look-out for a House Finch, here are some things that may help:

They are usually identified by their small bodies, fairly large beaks, and long, flat heads. They have short wings, but sport a beautifully notched, long tail. Typically, the adult male House Finch is rosy red around their face and upper chest. Their back, belly, and tail all have a brown streak.

One interesting note: the diet of House Finches can affect their appearance, specifically males, making them look very different from one another. According to Cornell University, the pigments in food cause the color variations from yellow to orange to red.  For instance, in Hawaii where the natural diet is low in carotenoids, the birds tend to be yellow. The presence of betacarotene in the diet will cause a more orange color. And, in the east, where ornamental fruits are rich in another type of carotenoid, known as echineone, the birds are red.

On the other hand, the female adults are dull in color. They are grayish-brown with fuzzy streaks and a modestly marked face. During courtship, males sometimes feed females. This begins with the female gently pecking at his bill and fluttering her wings. The male then regurgitates food to the female a few times before actually feeding her. What a way to romantically spoil a lady bird, huh?

When it comes to eating, House Finches are pretty outgoing little birds that collect food at feeders. They like to be perched high in nearby trees to keep an eye out for potential food and potential predators. If there aren’t any feeders in sight, they feed on the ground, on stalks, or in trees. These birds enjoy natural foods such as wild mustard seeds, knotweed, mulberry, poison oak, and cactus. Their preferred fruits are cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, and blackberries. If you want to attract them to your feeder, be sure to include black oil sunflower seeds and white proso millet.

When they are not in their native habitats, such as deserts, grasslands, and open woods, they prefer to occupy city parks, backyards, urban areas, farms, and forests across the United States.

House Finches have a unique twittering song that they like to sing. The male House Finches sing a long, jumbled tune that is made up of short notes. They often end with an upward or downward slur. Females sing a shorter, simpler version of this song. Male and female House Finch calls sound like a sharp “cheep”. If you would like to hear the call of a male House Finch, click here http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/house_finch/sounds. They usually call out when perched or while flying.

The House Finch is a favorite at the feeder. They are good natured social birds with a strong appetite and an upbeat tune.  These birds have come a long way and endured an odd introduction to this country. So, please help them feel at home.