Bird Bio: Red-Headed Woodpecker

I had a very pleasant surprise at my feeder full of Woodland Blend yesterday.  It’s a common bird to TN, but uncommon to birdfeeders; the Red-headed Woodpecker.  Sometimes people will mistakenly identify the Red-bellied Woodpecker as a Red-headed, but they really are extremely different.  The video I took and posted shows both species visiting the same feeder.  In over 25 years at my home in Pegram I’ve only seen Red-headed woodpeckers one other time.  The habitat around my home is heavily wooded, hard-wood forest.  Obviously not the habitat Red-headed woodpeckers prefer.  However, one can easily see Red-headeds at Montgomery Bell State Park and Bowie Nature Park where there are a lot of pine trees.  They seem to prefer more open habitat with evergreens.

The Red-headed woodpecker is easily identified by its entirely red head, neck and throat.  The back and wings are black with a patch of white visible on the wings.  The chest and belly are snowy white.  This insect, seed, and nut eater can be seen at feeders but not likely with regularity.  Numbers of this stunning bird seem to be on the decline in large part due to habitat loss and competition from Starlings for nest-sites.

AND…

The first Rose-breasted Grosbeaks of the season were reported this week being seen at feeders.  I saw one briefly yesterday but was unable to get my video camera in time.  Have your feeders ready because the Grosbeaks feed heavily as they migrate through the area.  They like sunflower, safflower, and shelled peanuts, and will use a variety of feeders including tube and platform.  Occasionally, they may be seen at suet feeders.

Product Profile: Carpenter Bee Traps

As many of you know April and May can be the worst for carpenter bee activity. This is when the new brood of bees is emerging and can make for a high traffic area. Carpenter bees do not eat wood but do feed on plant pollen and nectar; however, they excavate dry, unpainted and weathered wooden objects such as doors, windowsills, roof eaves, railings, decks, untreated poles, fences and wooden lawn furniture to lay eggs. They prefer pine, fir, Cyprus, oak and redwood, especially if the wood is not covered with bark, is unpainted or unfinished. 

There are many ways to reduce carpenter bee numbers but using a trap can be effective without spraying chemicals. We are stocking a new trap that should be more effective and easier to use. The way the trap works is the bees are attracted by the half inch holes and enters the box. The bee then follows the light into the jar at the base and is trapped. This new trap has the option of being mounted to a structure or it can be hung. The collection jar is a mason jar which is very handy for relocating bees after being trapped. Simply cap the jar with a mason jar lid and place a new jar on the trap. We find we catch the most bees in April and May when their activity is at its peak.

Tips for carpenter bee trap success.

Mounting or hanging your trap: get it right up against a wooden structure that has the most bee activity. If the trap is off by itself it is unlikely that you will catch any bees.

Baiting the trap: bees will find their way into the trap on their own but if you want to speed up the process try and knock a bee down and get it in the jar alive. The trapped be will release a pheromone that will attract other bees into the trap. Trust us we have seen it work.

Don’t let bees die in the jar: As quickly as a live bee will attract other bees into the trap, dead bees will discourage other bees and lower the effectiveness of the trap until cleaned.

Campania Cast Stone Pre-Order Sale.

Spring means yard and garden planning and, of course, Mothers Day is coming.  Have you been looking for just the right cast-stone birdbath, fountain, statuary, or planter for your wife, or mom?
Between now and April 10th  
you are invited to make a special order with The Wood Thrush Shop for Campania products and receive 20% off your order of $150 or more.

Feel free to look through Campania’s website for a full listing of products they offer. Or look through the catalog at our store. 
The address is www.campaniainternational.com 

The ordering and shipping process usually takes about a month from order to delivery. This is because Campania makes most of their cast-stone pieces to order.

Please call, email, or come by the shop with any questions you may have and for item pricing.
Phone: 615-356-7640
e-mail: thewoodthrushshop@gmail.com

All special order sales are final unless the product arrives damaged or defective.
We require a 50% down payment of your full purchase price.
Special delivery on large items from our store to your home is available for an additional fee.

Spring Migration

Spring migration is in full swing which means there will be a lot of great birds to see if you spend a little time looking in any of our wonderful parks, on area greenways, and even in your own backyard. Get your binoculars out and your ears ready because the neo-tropical migrants will be passing through middle Tennessee on the way to their summer breeding areas.  Warblers, vireos, tanagers, flycatchers, swallows, hummingbirds, and many other species are there for the viewing if you invest some time.  Early in the morning, between 6 am and 10 am are typically best because many of these species travel at night then settle down in the mornings to feed and rest.  For daily sightings reports you may want to subscribe to TN bird.org, or visit Tennessee Birding’s Facebook page.  There are links to these sights on our website.

We are only days or a week or so away from the first Ruby-throated hummingbirds to arrive, or pass through the area. Don’t get too eager with putting out several hummingbird feeders, though.  While you may see one or two early hummingbirds they are not usually very interested in the feeders.  One feeder with a small amount of nectar is sufficient.  For up to date information of migrating hummingbirds you may visit www.hummingbirds.net/map. Also a great site for hummingbird information is www.hummingbirdresearch.net

At your seed feeders, around mid-April, expect to see the always popular Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Indigo buntings.  Most years the Grosbeaks can be seen for about a month before they move on to their breeding grounds, usually well north of us.  Of course American goldfinches are here in abundance year round but the males are beginning to put on their bright yellow spring plumage. Your feeders may have gotten a little slow of late as many of our local resident birds are spending much of their time courting and finding nest-sites. So now is a great time to give your feeders a little cleaning. Soon, though, feeders will explode with activity. As the breeding season progresses, many birds will take great advantage of feeders for a quick and easy food source.  It is during this time birds expend a tremendous amount of energy so the feeders become very important to them.  In my yard I will see suet consumption double during the spring months.

Noting the size and shape of the bird, primary colors, stripes, streaks, spots, and anything particularly unique is key to identification.

So, get out there and see some birds you haven’t seen before.

A Few Bird Watching ID tips:

Ø  Binoculars are essential.  You cannot see real detail on a bird without the magnification of a binocular. 

Ø  Initially, spend less time looking in your field guide and more time looking at the bird.  Committing to memory, or jotting down details should be first priority.  Noting the size and shape of the bird, primary colors, stripes, streaks, spots, and anything particularly unique is key; beak shape, wing shape, and behaviors too.  The type of habitat the bird is seen in is often overlooked by novices.  The type of habitat can sometimes confirm or deny the type of bird being seen.

Ø  After that is when the field guide comes in handy. Instead of going through page by page, narrow down what family the bird is likely in based on the information from initial observation.

So, get out there and see some birds you haven’t seen before.  It’s fun, interesting, and it gets you moving outdoors.  If you’re stumped by a bird you’ve seen come in and we’ll be glad to help you figure it out.  

Product Profile: Extended Reach Poles

erva long reach poles.jpeg

Ever try putting your squirrel proof feeder on a shepherd’s pole just to find out that it isn’t as squirrel proof as it should be? It’s not the feeder but it is the wrong pole that’s the problem. A squirrel proof feeder like the Squirrel Buster is very effective on the right pole and less effective on the wrong pole. The main thing to consider when pairing a weight activated squirrel proof feeder with a pole is how far your feeder hangs away from the pole. If it hangs too close squirrels may gain access by leaning out to the feeder leaving most of their weight on the pole, thus not triggering the feeder to close. Most feeders recommend a measurement of 14”- 18” from pole to hook. This ensures the squirrel climbs down on, or jumps to the feeder putting his full weight on the feeder. We have a few long reach options here at the shop that work great with the various weight activated feeders. The extended reach pole gets your feeder an ample 20” out from the pole and even allows for an extension to make the pole taller. This pole is also available in a deck rail mount option. We also have a super duty Shepard’s pole that has a 16” reach. This pole is great for larger feeders and is available in single and double hook options.

As always if you are having trouble with squirrels on your bird feeders stop by the shop and we will be happy to help.