Fall Bluebird Activity

We are often asked “when is a good time to put up a bluebird box”?  Every day is a good day to put up a bluebird box.  After all, the sooner they have a chance to see it the better.  Fall is a particularly good time to put out a nest box because bluebirds often show great interest in boxes at this time.  Many people that had successful nesting bluebirds will see them return to nest boxes in the fall and actually go through some of the motions of courting and nesting.  Sometimes they will even put nest material in a box.  What you are seeing is probably just a bonding behavior, not nesting.  Perhaps a successful male and female pair from the previous breeding season is back to stake an early claim on the box, or maybe a male showing a potential new mate a good nesting spot.  So, if you want to get a head start on attracting bluebirds now is a great time to put up a bluebird box.  Now is also a good time to do a little maintenance on existing bluebird boxes.  It’s a good idea to clean out the old nest material now so it doesn’t attract insects that can be a real danger to developing chicks next spring. 

November 11th through 16th take 20% off all Bluebird houses and bluebird house poles.

And don’t forget the mealworms.  We stock mealworms all winter long and as harsh winter weather descends upon us Bluebirds will be very appreciative of the protein rich larvae.  Bluebirds will accept a variety of foods around the feeding stations during the winter months.  Suet and shelled sunflower are the two most notable.  I have seen them at tube feeders as well as platform and hopper feeders for shelled sunflower, and for peanut butter suet at a hanging suet feeder.

Join the Tennessee Bluebird Society

All you Bluebird enthusiasts listen up!  The Tennessee Bluebird Society is looking for new members.  If you have a strong interest in and would like to help protect the Eastern Bluebird, and other native cavity nesting birds in Tennessee, the TN Bluebird Society would love your help.   Please visit their website, tnbluebirdsociety.org.  The Wood Thrush Shop is a proud member and supporter.

Winter Birds Arriving

Dark Eyed Junco

Dark Eyed Junco

White-Throated Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrow

Although things have been a little quiet at the feeders some of our winter visitors are already beginning to appear at feeding stations.  This is the time when I begin ground feeding more.  Birds like Juncos, White-throated sparrows, White-crowned sparrows, and Fox sparrows start to quietly sneak into the picture below feeders and near areas of good cover like the brush piles I’ve created.  This handsome group of little birds likes white millet on the ground.  Sometimes you have to look closely to see them as they can blend into the leaves.  

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskin

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

Other birds we look forward to seeing are Pine siskins and Purple finch, which may be seen in good numbers at finch and sunflower feeders.  Pine siskins and Purple finch are here practically every winter but their numbers may vary greatly.  Pine siskins may go unnoticed at finch feeders, blending in with the Goldfinches in their dull winter plumage.  Siskins are the size of a Goldfinch and their plumage is described as heavily streaked with a touch of yellow in the wings and base of the tail.  Listen for the buzzy “shreeee” sound Siskins make.  A flock of siskins may sound like bacon frying.  Goldfinches have slowly been returning to my feeders this week, although at first they were almost imperceptible because of their lack of color. 

Purple Finch on the left. House Finch on the right.

Purple finches are often confused with House finches.  While we see House finches year round at our feeders Purple finch are typically here only in the late fall and winter months.  The male Purple finch has a more raspberry red color that is most prominent on the chest, head and rump.  The head of the Purple finch is slightly crowned too.  Last year Siskins and Purple finches were a little scarce in this area.  Will this be the year we are inundated with them? 

Suet feeders often produce some of the best surprises of the winter.  Golden and Ruby crowned kinglets will visit suet, as will the Yellow-bellied sapsucker and Red breasted nuthatch, Yellow-rumped and Orange crowned warblers, and Bluebirds and Brown Creepers

Last winter a customer in the Greenhills area had a female Baltimore Oriole coming to a feeder with sunflower hearts.  And every winter there are a few folks that will enjoy an overwintering hummingbird, like the Rufous, Anna’s, or even Black-chinned hummingbird.  If you see a hummingbird in the month of November or December please give us a call.

As always, a consistent supply of water is a great way to attract birds, especially in the winter.  Birdbath de-icers are now in stock.

And Just a Reminder Our

Fall Birdfeeder & Seed Sale Continues

Thru Nov. 8

Click Here For More Info

Bird Bio: Winter Wren

During the month of October several of our winter birds will be arriving.  One of the less common is the Winter Wren.  This is our smallest wren and can be found across the state October through April.  I have seen them most often along the Harpeth River, making their way through dense underbrush in search of food; insects and berries.  Don’t expect to see this 4” bird (Carolina wrens are 5 ½”) at your feeders, although it is possible.  I have only seen this bird at a suet feeder a few times and only during the most bitter and snowy weather. You are more likely to attract them with brushpiles.

The Winter Wren is described as a very small, round, dark wren and has a much stubbier tail than the other wrens.  It has an indistinct buffy eyebrow and a heavily barred belly.  It is a busy little bird, bobbing and flicking its wings and tends to stay near the ground. It has a beautiful, complex song, however, around hear one is more likely to hear its “yip” “yip” call.

A few good places to see a Winter Wren are the Harpeth River Greenway, Hidden Lakes Park, Gossett Tract, and Narrows of the Harpeth.

Fall slow down at feeders

This time of year many of you will notice an abrupt and sometimes dramatic slowdown at your feeders.  You may even notice some species become practically non-existent.  Bird feeders in September and October are typically very quiet. This is surprising to some but actually normal and understandable.  With the conclusion of the breeding season birds are now in less need of a quick, easy food source... your feeders.  While raising their young during the months of March through July birds expend huge amounts of energy and will take great advantage of backyard feeders.  We sell more seed and suet during those months than we do in winter. 

Now young birds are independent and the lives of adult birds are at a much more leisurely pace.  On top of that nature is producing an abundance of food at this time.  Not only are insects still plentiful but every tree, shrub, weed, and wildflower has produced seeds, nuts, and fruit.  There is literally food for birds everywhere.  It is a great example of the fact that birds do not rely on our feeders but simply take advantage of them in times of more demand for food.  So, don’t worry that you are not seeing many birds around the feeders right now.  It is totally normal. About the time we get the first frost, or two, you will begin to see a return of your favorite birds to feeders.  And you will begin to see our winter visitors, like Junco’s, White-throated sparrows, Yellow-bellied sapsuckers, Kinglets, and hopefully, Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, and Red-breasted Nuthatch.

So, while the birds take a break from your feeders now would be a great time to give your feeders a thorough cleaning.  Warm soapy water, a brush, and a little effort is well worth the effort to provide a clean, healthy feeding environment for the birds. 

Disassemble your feeder if possible and soak it warm soapy water. Use brushes to clean caked on debris.

Disassemble your feeder if possible and soak it warm soapy water. Use brushes to clean caked on debris.

AND… look for an email coming soon about a FALL BIRD FEEDER & BIRD FEED SALE

New page on our website!

Just wanted to let everyone know about a new page on our website all about how to Identify birds. There is also a step by step on adjusting your diopter on you binoculars. Also for those of you looking for a printable checklist of Tennessee birds we now have a link to a printable checklist from Tennessee watchable wildlife. Thanks everyone!