Bird Bio: Cedar Waxwing

In winter here in middle-Tennessee you are likely to see a flock of these beautiful birds as they descend on a berry laden tree or shrub, and strip it clean of its fruit before moving on to the next supply of berries, or birdbath opportunity.

Cedar waxwings are predominantly in middle-Tennessee during the winter months roaming about in small to large flocks devouring berries and taking over birdbaths.  They are distinguished by the crest on the head, black mask, soft brown and yellow plumage, and the yellow band on the tail, as if it’s been dipped in yellow paint. Present but not easily seen, unless you are looking through binoculars, are the red tips near the end of the wings.  They are slightly smaller than a Cardinal.

Because they are so unpredictable in their comings and goings it is hard to offer them anything in the way of food.  Having the types of plants that produce berries and providing a water source are the keys to attracting this elegant bird.  It is an uncommon resident of Tennessee outside of the winter months. 

Cedar Waxwings have actually been known to get drunk on berries that have begun fermenting.  Cold temperatures concentrate the sugar in fruit, and then a temperature increase accelerates the speed at which the sugars break down.  The alcohol that forms is more potent than what would normally come from fermented berries-sort of like vodka instead of beer.  They will binge on the berries until tipsy and actually have difficulty flying straight, or in some cases stumbling around on the ground.  The likelihood of hitting windows in flight increases as well.  The reflective window decals we have at the store are quite effective at reducing window hits.  If you experience a drunken bird in your yard you could help the bird by collecting it in a box with some soft bedding and let it sleep off the effects in a quiet place.  Usually a bird will recuperate in a couple hours.

Great Holiday Gift Ideas

The Wood Thrush Shop has some great gift ideas for the birder and nature fanatic in your family ranging from $3 and up. We're ready to help any way we can. Take a look at some gift ideas below and stop by and see John, Jamie, Eli, and Nathan. The Wood Thrush shop will be open from 10am to 2:30pm Sunday the 24th. Tuesday the 26th we will resume regular hours from 10am to 5:30pm. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Gift certificates are available for any amount.

Field guides on birds, bugs, butterflies, and wildflowers.

Nikon Binoculars.

 

Nesting Boxes for Bluebirds, Chickadees, Wrens, Screech owls, Ducks, and we even have Bat Houses.

Squirrel Buster bird feeders make great first feeders. They feed all the birds and discourage the squirrels all in one package.

 

Mr Bird Seed ornaments.

We have bird ornaments of all kinds.

Wind chimes 

 

All Types of birdbaths and accessories. 

Seed always makes a great gift and we have tons.

 

Whats Christmas without a fresh pair of socks. 

T-shirts!

Hummingbird feeders are great for the birder in your family.

 

2018 bird calendars including two made by local artists.

Nature inspired drink coasters.

 

BeeGlow tea candle lanterns.

Mail box covers.

Key Hiders. 

Fountains

Canvas Totes.

Metal animal sculpture.

Puzzles for the birder in your family.

Hand carved stone owls make great garden accents.

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.