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.
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.
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?”
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.
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see a Pileated Woodpecker in the wild, chances are you remember it as an amazing sight. It’s considered one of the most beautiful of all wild birds with an almost prehistoric look.
The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America. They are about 16 inches long and roughly the size of a duck. With a bright red-capped crest and bold white stripes down its neck, the Pileated Woodpecker is truly one of the most striking creatures in the forest.
Although very noticeable when out in the open, Pileated Woodpeckers aren’t always easy to spot. They can be reclusive and do not regularly visit backyard feeders. They live in forests and love to make their homes around lots of dead trees and fallen logs. You’ll find them searching for carpenter bees and ants while drumming on trees in woodlands where they make impressive rectangular excavations that can be a foot or more long and go deep inside the wood. These birds also use their long tongues to extract wood boring beetle larvae or termites lying deep in the wood. In the video below, above you’ll see one enjoying a hearty breakfast.
Take the time to look and listen for them. They are among the loudest of birds with whinnying calls. Their drum is a deep, slow, rolling pattern. Watch the video below to see one and hear its call and its drum.
With a nesting cavity of 12-24 inches deep, these monogamous creatures prefer large trees in old forests. The male does most of the work to create the nest, but the female contributes as the nest is nearing completion. Unlike other birds, Pileated Woodpeckers don’t line their nests with any material except for leftover wood chips. It takes about three to six weeks to complete the nest and once it’s used, Pileated Woodpeckers rarely return to it. These birds lay from three to five eggs.
Once the nest has served its purpose for the Pileateds, it becomes a valuable commodity within the forest community. The large cavity provides shelter and nest space for many other bird species including swifts, owls, ducks, pine martens and even the occasional bat.
If you want to attract Pileated Woodpeckers, there are a couple things you can do. Make or buy a suet log and keep it well stocked with suet, especially during the winter when they are more likely to visit your feeders. Also, resist the urge to clear out old dead logs, stumps, and log piles – keeping rotten or decayed wood around is probably the best way to get Pileateds to visit. Since these magnificent creatures don’t migrate, once you do get their attention you’re likely to have made friends for a good, long while.
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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.
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.
Ever want to find a honeycomb? Look no further than your friendly Honeyguides. Honeyguides are also known as indicator birds or honey birds because they have a tendency to lead humans directly to bee colonies. The Honeyguides use their demanding call to lead humans through forests and directly to bee hives. Of course there’s a selfish motive involved – once humans take the honey, these birds feast on the grubs and beeswax in the nests. The diet of the Honeyguide is wide ranging. In addition to the fruits of the honeycomb, these birds eat all types of larvae and flying insects. They will also eat spiders and fruits.
They are usually dull-colored (brownish and greenish), while some do have bright yellow coloring in the plumage. They all have light outer tail feathers, small heads with short bills and raised nostrils. Their actual size varies from 10-20 centimeters. These birds have strong legs and toes for clinging to tree barks. Their wings are long, narrow, and pointed to allow vigorous flying and impressive maneuvering.
Honeyguides are typically found in Sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. They love to inhabit forests and woodland areas as well as the tree-line areas in the mountains. As far as migration, Honeyguides are known to be stable residents that may remain in the same area for as long as a year.
Honeyguides have an interesting egg laying process. For starters, they like to use the nests of other birds for their eggs. They usually drop their eggs in other host nests, so that their eggs will hatch along with the host’s eggs. Timing is everything if they want to be successful. Female Honeyguides can be in danger if the hosts notice that they are invading their nests. Typically, the female has 10-15 seconds to lay an egg and leave. Females can lay as many as 20 eggs in a season.
These birds are extremely resourceful and intelligent. From the way they assist their human counterparts for a meal to their daring egg laying practices, Honeyguides are intriguing creatures.
What happened to my Cole’s?
One of our awesome Cole’s customers wrote to us to let us know how unhappy her birds became after she began stretching out the time between feeder refills. We thought this was so funny that we wanted to share her story with all of you. Please share your thoughts and your stories with us as well. We love this stuff! The message below was sent to us by Becky Falkin of Kennesaw, Georgia. We decided that filling our bird feeder every two days is not part of the Falkins’ family budget. So, we’re spacing out our Cole’s birdseed refills. The birds are not taking to this rationing too well. In fact, last night this little fellow decided to express his frustration by having a “sit in”. He stared at us all through dinner. If looks could kill, we would be dead.
He looked quite proud when some other friends joined the protest. We so appreciate Becky sharing these photos and this story with us. We know the birds LOVE Cole’s. Just to let you know, Becky wrote back to let us know, the birds won. Here’s what she told us.
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!
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.
Want to make things a little easier for your feathered friends during these long, hot and humid days of summer? Consider these quick and easy things you can do to ease their stress while at the same time giving you the pleasure of seeing a wide variety of birds at your feeders.
A Bird Bath
Consider offering a bird bath filled with clean, fresh water so that your back yard birds have a place to drink and to bathe. Ideally, your bird bath should be 1 to 2 inches deep so that birds can get in and out easily and quickly. The sound of moving water is a great attraction for songbirds, so adding a fountain mister or a Water Wiggler to create action sounds and movement will not only draw in the birds, but it will also help to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching in the bird bath. Keep in mind, during the summer, the water will evaporate quickly. So, you may need to check your bird bath more often.
A Variety of Food
Give birds a variety of foods at the feeder. Birds expend a lot of energy in the summer raising their young. Frequent food trips back and forth from the nest, teaching the baby birds to fly, and moving the young to keep them from predators requires a lot of extra work. Birds need good, nutritious food for themselves and for the babies. Giving birds a variety of seeds, suet, nuts, and fruits helps to ensure they have plenty to eat as well as a diverse source of good nutrition. You don’t have to worry that they’ll rely too heavily on easy meals – feeder food accounts for only about 25% of a wild bird’s diet.
Plenty of Shade
Three, offer shaded areas near your feeders. Keep in mind, while birds are adept at regulating their body temperature, shade is a welcome break. Landscaping that provides shade as well as food is always a good idea. You may want to consider plants that provide natural food sources as well as plenty of shelter and shade.
Another good way to offer shade is through positioning your feeders so that during the midday sun, the feeders offer some shaded areas. Also, your bird bath or bird houses can be positioned to offer shade during the hottest times of the day.
It is true that birds enjoy a great variety of natural food sources in the summer. Worms, fruits, nuts and insects give them lots of choices. Nonetheless, summer is a demanding time for our feathered friends. By providing fresh water, lots of different types of food, and a few shaded places, you’ll be guaranteed a front row seat for watching and enjoying the birds and their young at your feeders during the long lazy days of summer.
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 birds 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.