Tag Archives: wild birds

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.

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.

The Bald Eagle: Cole’s Bird of the Month for July

It’s only fitting that in a time when we celebrate our nation’s independence, we choose the Bald Eagle as our bird of the month. The Bald Eagle has served our country as the national emblem since 1782 and while it is hard to believe that anyone would disagree that such a majestic and beautiful bird would be anything but perfect to symbolize the strength and freedom of America, The Bald Eagle was not always a favorable choice.

In fact, in 1784 Benjamin Franklin made it clear he had no part in choosing the Bald Eagle over the Wild Turkey. Franklin didn’t like the idea of choosing a bird that steals its food from others and could be so easily intimidated by small birds. “For my own part,” he wrote, “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. … Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.”

As far as stealing food goes, indeed the Bald Eagle seems to prefer grabbing an easy meal from another bird or a human to going to the trouble of hunting. Bald Eagles are also happy to go dumpster diving or grab a bite on the road. While Bald Eagles are skillful hunters and fishers, they’re not picky about what they eat or how they obtain each meal. These eagles prefer fish but will eat snakes, turtles, rabbits, and waterfowl. The Bald Eagles’ love for fish is what drives them to set up territories near oceans, lakes, rivers, or streams. You’ll find them up and down the U. S. coasts during various times of the year.


Ben Franklin may not have admired the Bald Eagles’ hunting abilities, but he’d have to admire their home building and parenting skills. Their nests are huge, and year after year couples will return to the same nests making it larger and more elaborate. While most nests are about five to six feet in diameter and two feet high, they can be much bigger. According to the website for the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest bird’s nest ever built was constructed by a pair of Bald Eagles near St Petersburg, Florida. The site reveals that the nest was examined in 1963, and it measured nine feet six inches wide and twenty feet deep. The nest was estimated to weigh more than two tons.

Record Breaking Nest

Once Bald Eagles begin incubating the eggs, they are incredibly dedicated parents. They will stay in the nest through the harshest winter weather. A National Geographic documentary follows a pair of Bald Eagles who illustrate the challenges and the fortitude of these amazing birds. At one point, the father must make a painful decision about how long to stay with his nest. After he has lost hope that the female will return, he does abandon the nest. Sadly, the female did not return because she died from an unknown cause.

Eagles are depicted as strong and powerful, but in reality this top of the food chain raptor has a very hard time just surviving to the mature breeding age of four years. Born weighing just a few ounces, the odds are stacked against these vulnerable creatures from the beginning. Mom and dad feed the young for the first four months, then they must fend for themselves.  It’s at this time that the young eagle struggles to survive. In fact, it’s estimated that only about one in ten eagles makes it to four years old. The ones who do make the cut are powerful hunters and can be expected to live to be about 20 – 25 years old.

Although at one time Bald Eagles were endangered because of hunting and herbicides including DDT,  efforts in the 1970’s to bring back this national emblem have worked and populations have increased. It is no longer considered endangered.

If you want to see Bald Eagles, head for water where they winter in large numbers at lakes and national wildlife refuges. Below is a link showing the best places for spotting Bald Eagles.

Where To Spot Bald Eagles

If you have photos or experiences with Bald Eagles, 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.


Yellow-rumped Warbler: Cole’s February Bird of the Month

Yellow-rumped Warbler: Cole’s February Bird of the Month

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is among the most bright and colorful of all the birds you will see at your feeder. In the winter, you’ll recognize them as fairly large warblers with a subdued color palette of yellow and brown. But watch out for the spring makeover when Yellow-rumped Warblers display a striking bright yellow against charcoal gray and black with some bold white thrown in for effect. The yellow for which they are named is on the face, sides, and of course the rump. “Butter butts,” as they are known to some, are very active throughout North America during the summer.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler feasts on a steady diet of bugs and spiders in the spring and summer. Insects have no place to hide with these birds. They will pull them out of spider webs, scoop them off the surface of rivers and oceans, pick insects out of seaweed on the beach and even catch them in mid-flight.  During the cold winters when there aren’t as many insects around, they eat berries. In fact, they are the only type of warbler that can digest the waxes found in bayberries and wax myrtles.

During the mating season, the female builds the nest and the male helps out by bringing her material. The couple will have one to two broods during a season then move on to the southeastern United States and South America for the winter.

If you want to attract Yellow-rumped Warblers to your feeder, try Cole’s Nutberry Suet Blend, Special Feeder, or Dried Mealworms. Since they are also greatly attracted to suet, a generous offering of Cole’s Suet Kibbles and Hot Meats suet cakes are guaranteed to get these beautiful little birds’ attention.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler has an upbeat song, and you can hear it by clicking on the video below.

Thanks to our Cole’s Facebook fan Jeremy Bock for nominating the Yellow-rumped Warbler as our Bird of the Month for February. Do you have photos of Yellow-rumped Warblers? If so, please share them with our Facebook community. Join the conversation on ColesFacebookPage

Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.ColesWildBird.com.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

A Purple Finch couple with a few American Goldfinch friends

Cole’s Wild Bird Products is a family-owned company that distributes wild bird feed and suet products. The company is known for offering the highest quality products on the market. Cole’s also specializes in chile infused seed products designed to make your feeder a bird’s only “hot” spot. Cole’s started in the garage of mom and pop entrepreneurs Richard and Nancy Cole back in the early 1980’s. Today it distributes to retailers nationwide. Cole’s is located in the metro Atlanta area. For more information, visit www.ColesWildBird.com.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Cole’s Bird of the Month for June: The Pileated Woodpecker

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.


Please click the link below to join the conversation on Facebook.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.

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.

People Have Been Feeding Birds for Centuries

Since February is National Bird Feeding Month, we wanted to share a bit of history about what is now one of America’s top hobbies. As it turns out, humans have been drawn to bird feeding for a very long time. Here are four interesting facts about the history bird feeding.

One) According to naturalist James Fisher, a monk who lived in the sixth century was one of the earliest known bird feeders. Saint Serf of Fife tamed a pigeon by feeding it.

Two) Henry David Thoreau wrote of feeding birds at Walden Pond in 1845. Around the same time period, John James Audubon wrote about feeding hummingbirds in his most famous publication, The Birds of America.

Three) In the harsh winter of 1890-91 in Britain, national newspapers asked people to put out food for birds. In 1910 in the United Kingdom, Punch Magazine declared that feeding birds was a “national pastime”.

Four) In January 1994, Illinois Congressman, John Porter, read a resolution in the Congressional Record declaring February as National Bird Feeding Month.  This observance was established because wintertime is one of the most difficult periods in North American for birds to survive in the wild.

Today, more than 50 million Americans put out a billion pounds of bird feed each year. In fact, according to Wikipedia about one in three adult Americans feed wild birds in their backyards. The relaxing hobby that helps people feel more connected to nature is now known as the second most popular hobby in America. Gardening is listed as the number one hobby.

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.

Five Facts about Turkeys

Turkeys Can Fly

Turkey Are Missing From The First Thanksgiving

According to the Washington Post, there is no proof that turkey was on the dinner table during that famous feast of 1621. Historical documents do reveal the mention of deer and fowl, but no specific bird is named. William Bradford, who served as governor of Plymouth Colony, mentioned “wild turkeys” in a letter. But, no one cites turkey on the menu that day.  President George Washington made Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1789. President Lincoln moved the holiday from November 26th to the fourth Thursday of November in 1863. Turkey became a popular dish for Thanksgiving only after a magazine editor wrote a recipe for turkey and dressing in the mid 1800’s.

Turkeys Are Hunters

Did you know turkeys are omnivorous creatures, meaning their diet includes a wide range of food, from both animal and plants.  Wild turkeys will munch on acorns, berries, small reptiles, snakes, frogs, salamanders, large insects, snails, slugs, and worms. They will also indulge in sand and gravel for grit. Commercially raised turkeys are the types that are usually sold for food. Those turkeys are likely to be fed very specific grains, and some graze on weeds and grasses.

Turkeys Snooze Up In The Air

Turkeys are large and heavy birds, so you might assume they prefer hanging out on the ground. However, turkeys like to perch on top of tree branches when they snooze. This helps to keep them safe from predators like coyotes, foxes, and even raccoons. Turkeys usually sleep in flocks, and when it’s time to wake up, they call out to the rest of the group to make sure their fellow turkey buddies made it through the night in one piece before coming down.

Wild Turkeys Are Speedy

Turkeys, despite their size, can fly and they can reach speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. They usually fly low to the ground because they find food while on the ground. But, they can fly short distances quickly. Domesticated turkeys, those raised for food, have become so “fattened up” that they have lost the ability to fly.

Turkeys Have Two Stomachs

One is called the glandular stomach. This is where food is softened and broken down. The broken down food then enters the turkey’s gizzard. The gizzard has tiny stones that turkeys typically swallow. These stones are called gastroliths and help with breaking down food for digestion because turkeys don’t have teeth. A turkey’s gizzard is very muscular and turns the food  into mulch before sending it to the intestines.  Sometimes food can be moved back into the glandular stomach, if more digestion is necessary.

Turkeys are fascinating birds with the ability to sleep in trees, hunt animals,  and protect the flock. This Thanksgiving, remember and share these five fun facts about your feathered friends.

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.

Birds Stage a Sit In

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.

Since we’re studying birds this year for science (we homeschool), we’re back to refilling the feeder frequently–we decided to incorporate it into our homeschool budget, so no more angry bird sit-ins as of late! 

Awe, What A Cute Window Shopper!

Imagine seeing this adorable little customer looking in your store window. That’s what happened to long time employee Karen Theodorou as she was closing up shop at the Birdwatcher Supply Store in Buford, one of the retail outlets for Cole’s Wild Bird Products. Karen says she had just closed out the register around 6:30 on July 13th and was headed for the door when she looked up and saw what appeared to be a curious pooch. She looked closer and realized it was actually a little fawn all alone at the door. Karen sat all her things down and grabbed her cell phone to take a picture. “He couldn’t see me because of the reflective glass. So, I snapped a few photos,” Karen said.

The store is located in front of a large forested wetlands area. So, employees are used to seeing wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and hawks behind the store. Karen assumed this little fawn came from the back and had wandered to the front of the store, where it could run into potential danger. “He was right in front of a busy shopping area, and the street isn’t far away. So, I wanted to make sure he would head in the right direction, back to the woods and his mother. He saw the reflection in the glass and hit the store window. I went outside, and he ran toward the store next door and fell on the wet sidewalk. But, he got up quickly. I followed him to make sure he headed in the correct direction, back to the woods,” said Karen.

As soon as Karen got home, she went straight for Google to find out why this little fawn might be without his mom. She found out that fawns are commonly seen away from their moms. There’s a very good reason for that. It’s nature’s way of keeping the fawns safe from predators. It seems the fawns don’t have a strong scent, but their mothers do. So initially, mom stays with the fawn just enough so that it can nurse. By one month old, the fawn begins foraging for food and by three months old, it is weened. If you’d like to read more about fawns, please check out the article below.

Wild fawns aren’t adoptable!

Here’s a photo of Karen Theodorou as she is banding hummingbirds. She describes herself as “a nature nut”. Thanks, Karen! Please share this story with friends. And, join Cole’s on Facebook.

Coles Wild Bird Products


Karen Theodorou



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.