Tag Archives: bird seed

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.

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.

Things You Can Do To Help Nesting Birds

When building a nest, birds search for just the right location and the right building materials. So, if you want to help them out and attract more birds to your yard, there are a few things you can do to make them feel at home.


One – Above all, make sure your yard will be safe for birds. The last thing you want to do is attract birds and their young if there is obvious danger. Avoid using herbicides and pesticides in your yard during breeding season and keep cats indoors.


Two – Raising the young takes a lot of energy. Well placed bird feeders and a good source of clean water make it easier for stressed mommy and daddy birds to provide for their chicks.


Three – Provide various materials birds might use to build a nest and leave them in easy  to discover places. Here are some suggested materials:


Dead trees and branches (perfect for cavity nesters)

Twigs – (both rigid and flexible)  

Mud – (Robins love it)

Dry grass and straw (not treated with chemicals)

Human hair or horse hair

Pet fur (not treated with flea or tick chemical)

Moss, bark strips, pine needles, dead leaves

Snake skins (if you happen to find them)

Spider webs and caterpillar silk (provides good binding material)


Be sure to have the materials out in secure places so they don’t blow away. You can hide them in a suet cage or a mesh bag. It’s a good rule of thumb to use only natural materials and avoid things you find around the house. For instance, never put out dryer lint since it can be coated with residue from detergents.


If you really want to push the easy button, put out some ready-made bird houses. By having feeders as well as water nearby, you can significantly lessen the difficult task of building a nest and raising babies for your backyard songbirds. Having a back yard that feels safe, has plenty to eat and drink, along with a few strategically placed building materials will provide your feathered friends with everything they need right at their fingertips – or beaks as it were. Then just sit back, relax and enjoy watch this showcase of courtship, nest building, and parenting.


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.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak – Cole’s Bird of the Month for May

It’s one of the most striking birds around. The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak has beautiful contrasting colors. He’s black and white with a rose-red chest. The female is not so colorful enabling her to blend in with her natural surroundings. She’s brown with streaking and a white stripe over her eye. Young male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have brown and white streaking, a pinkish chest, and a bold face pattern. These songbirds are medium sized and stocky with large bills.

You can find the Rose-breasted Grosbeak at feeders, forests, and woodlands in much of the central and eastern United States at this time of the year. Some are migrating to their summer home in Canada. Some will breed in the central and northeastern parts of United States.

In addition to its good looks, another distinctive quality for the Rose-breasted Grosbeak is its voice. They sound a bit like American Robins, but some say a robin who has had singing lessons. They also make a sharp chink like the squeak of a sneaker. Want to hear the song of the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak?  Click here:

These birds use their thick bills to feast on seeds, fruits, and insects, but they are not averse to stopping at backyard feeders for a little something different. If you want to attract them to your feeder, fill it up with Cole’s Special Feeder or Nutberry Suet Blend, which they will eat with abandon. They also like Cole’s straight Safflower seeds and Raw Peanuts.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks breed in forests in the United States and Canada. They are most common in regenerating woodlands and often concentrate along forest edges and in parks. During migration, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks feed on fruiting trees to help with the long journey to Central and South America where they spend winters.

Thanks to Cole’s Facebook fan Kathy Panian for the nomination. Please click the link below to join the conversation 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. For more information, visit www.coleswildbird.com.

What Do You Do When A Bird Flies In?

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 webbird@coleswild.com

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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.


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.

The Rufous Hummingbird: Cole’s Bird of the Month for August

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!

The Northern Flicker is Cole’s Wild Bird Products Bird of the Month

Northern Flicker is actually the name for several subspecies of medium sized woodpeckers which include the Yellow-shafted Flicker, Red-shafted Flicker, Gilded Flicker, Guatemalan Flicker, and the Cuban Flicker.

They are beautiful birds with striking markings. The males and females are grayish brown with horizontal barring across the back and wings. The tail is white with brownish black bars and solid black tips while the breast is light brown to off-white and has blackish brown spots. The best way to spot the males is to look for a stripe that may be bright red or black that starts at the beak and looks like a mustache down the side of the neck.

Northern Flickers live all across the North American continent as well as Central America and in Cuba. If you live west of the Rocky Mountains, you’ll see the Red-Shafted, east of the Rocky Mountains, you’ll find the Yellow-Shafted, and if you live in the Southwest, you’ll see the Gilded.

Although Northern Flickers have adapted well to living around humans, making their homes in urban areas, the suburbs, the edge of forests, parks, meadows and farms, they’ve struggled over the past 20 years. Sadly, the population is declining because of intense competition with European Starlings for nest sites combined with the removal of prime nesting trees every time land for a new subdivision or commercial center is cleared.

Northern Flickers tend to be picky nesters preferring to nest and excavate in a tree of their choosing, but when a good tree is not available they will use posts and birdhouses, or even re-use and repair damaged and abandoned nests.

Northern Flickers are the most terrestrial of all North American woodpeckers and can usually be found on the ground hopping along looking for ants. These birds love to eat ants. They eat more ants than any other bird species in North America with ants alone making up 45% of their diet. The other 55% is comprised of flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and snails with some fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts thrown in to round things out. Occasionally, they will visit a feeder, but that is not very common.

Northern Flickers return to their breeding ground in March and April. A few weeks after returning, courtships begin. By late April to early May, pairs have bonded and begin to breed. They are monogamous for life, but if a bird loses its mate due to death or disappearance, it will find a replacement.

Both the male and female aggressively defend a territory, which consists of the prospective nest site and its immediate surroundings. Vocalizations and “drumming” are used to define and defend territory boundaries. This bird’s call is a sustained laugh, “ki ki ki ki “and is easy to identify when heard. Since the drumming is about territory defense, they like it to be as loud as possible. That’s why woodpeckers sometimes drum on metal objects. One Northern Flicker in Wyoming could be heard drumming on an abandoned tractor a half-mile away. Once incubation begins, however, the pair spends less time defending their territory and will even allow other pairs to move into the vicinity and nest nearby.

Northern Flickers are adaptable, beautiful birds with an upbeat call and a big appetite for ants. If you see one or have photos of one, please share them on the Cole’s Wild Bird Products Facebook page.