Bird Bio: Hermit Thrush

Look for the elegant Hermit Thrush in brushy areas and understory of forest. I consistently see Hermit Thrush at Hidden Lakes State Park in the wooded part of the trail back near the trail that leads to the “dance floor” on the hilltop. There is quite a bit of bush honeysuckle and vine honeysuckle in this area which provides a lot of food and dense cover.

 Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

 Related Bird: Swainson’s Thrush. Click picture for more info.

Related Bird: Swainson’s Thrush. Click picture for more info.

 Related Bird: Wood Thrush. Click on picture for more info.

Related Bird: Wood Thrush. Click on picture for more info.

The Hermit Thrush is mostly a buffy brown but has bold spots on the breast. It is distinguished from other thrushes by its reddish colored tail and distinctive white eye ring. If you see one look for its habit of flicking wings and tail pumping (click here for a quick video). This is the only thrush normally seen in the winter in North America. This is not a bird you can set out to attract. On occasion I have seen Hermit Thrush below my birdfeeders during wintery weather, perhaps picking up pieces of suet or bits of seed. Some customers have seen them attracted to live mealworms, too.

Those of you who truly love feeding birds understand how it enhances your life.

This Holiday Season consider giving the gift of birds to a youngster, friend or loved one needing an interest, or to someone you may know confined indoors.

The Wood Thrush Shop is offering a starter bird feeding kit for $39. The kit includes choice of hopper feeder, or Droll Yankee tube feeder, choice of Black-oil Sunflower, Safflower, or Woodland Blend 8# bag, and a Pocket Naturalist guide to Tennessee Birds.

These items regularly retail for $52.

Get someone started feeding birds and help them discover a whole new world right outside their door.

Choose between a hopper or tube style feeder, a bag of sunflower or safflower, and a Tennessee folding guide for $39.

Bird Bio: Fox Sparrow

Sparrows are a family of birds that the backyard birder tends to overlook. All sparrows seem to be lumped into the same vague description of “little brown birds that mostly stay on the ground”. Sparrows, though, are a pretty diverse group. Yes, they have many similarities but upon closer inspection you can see just how beautiful and varied they are. The Annotated Checklist of Birds of Tennessee recognizes 26 species of sparrows, 10 of which breed here. Many are considered rare, to uncommon, to seasonal, with few as year round residents. This time of year we see with regularity Field Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Juncos are included in the family, too. This week we’re going to focus on the Fox Sparrow. Last weekend I was birding at Hidden Lakes State Park on McCrory Ln and really had fun looking for sparrows in the lower meadow area along the Harpeth River. I got several good looks at Fox Sparrows as they darted from cover to cover feeding on native plant seeds.

 Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

 White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

 Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

The Fox Sparrow is a large sparrow measuring up to about 7”, which is just a little smaller than a Northern Cardinal. It is recognized for its heavily streaked rusty colored breast, and a rufous, or orange-brown tail, which is more noticeable in flight. The rusty brown combined with gray around the neck gives it its foxy look. Its song is described by Peterson’s Field Guide as brilliant and musical; a varied arrangement of short clear notes and sliding whistles. Click on the picture above to hear their song and read more. Behaviorally it feeds similarly to the Eastern Towhee scratching with both feet on the ground while foraging. It is a very distinguishable hopping forward and back motion. Look for Fox Sparrows to appear on the ground below feeders during wintery, snowy weather. Millet is a food of particular interest to them. By April Fox Sparrows leave this part of the country to go back north to their breeding areas.

Bird Bio: Red-breasted Nuthatch

Male Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Females have browner caps and paler rusty underparts.

Hello backyard birders. The bird feeding action has gotten fast and furious with the onset of some cold, wintery weather. All over middle-TN there have been an abundance of great winter bird sightings. Pine Siskins and Purple Finch have arrived early and in good numbers. It is believed these species will show up here in greater numbers to spend the winter when certain food sources they require are lacking in more northern areas of the country. Look for them to go to feeders with sunflower, safflower, and finch feeders with nyjer or sunflower chips. The usual cast of winter characters is being seen around feeders as well. Look for White-throated Sparrow and Juncos feeding on the ground, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Kinglets and Brown Creepers showing interest in suet feeders.

The bird we are featuring this week, though, is the Red-breasted Nuthatch. I consider seeing this beautiful, busy little bird as a real treat. It’s not every winter they show up in this area but so far this year is showing a lot of promise.

The Red-breasted Nuthatch is smaller than the more common White-breasted Nuthatch, about 4.5” in length, and has a broad black line through the eye and a white line above it. Its call is higher and more nasal than the White-breasted and has been described as being similar to a tiny tin horn. They are considered common in areas with lots of pine and/or cedar trees, so if you have any pine and cedar close to your home be on the lookout for these great little birds. They have been seen recently all around Nashville visiting seed and suet feeders. There have been lots of posting about the Red-breasted Nuthatch in the Tennessee Birding Facbook group. If you haven’t visited this group it’s one way to keep up on new sightings.

New seed crop is now coming in our deliveries. I always look forward to the arrival of the new crop. The seed is very clean and has a fresh, earthy smell. See you soon.

Fall Wood Thrush Shop Notes

Right on schedule we are beginning to see birds returning to feeders. Yesterday, I had a nice group of Goldfinches appear at a feeder with Wood Thrush Shop Finch Blend. Of course they were in their drab winter plumage. Be on the lookout for Pine Siskins mixing in with Goldfinch flocks. Downy and Red-bellied woodpeckers were visiting the suet, and Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches were busily making repeated trips to the black-oil sunflower feeders. Cardinals are showing up, too, but usually very early and very late, before first light of day and just before night. If it wasn’t for their “chipping” calls indicating their presence they could easily be missed.

 Goldfinch in winter plumage.

Goldfinch in winter plumage.

 Pine Siskin can mix with goldfinch through the winter months.

Pine Siskin can mix with goldfinch through the winter months.

We mentioned a couple of weeks ago to be on the lookout for some of our winter visitors. Sure enough we are seeing and getting reports of White-throated sparrows, Juncos, Purple Finch, Yellow-bellied sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Brown Creeper. Wood Thrush employee Eli got this great shot of a Brown Creeper in his yard. Brown Creepers are most likely to visit suet feeders. Suet is a great addition to your seed feeders and can attract some very interesting birds, particularly in winter.

 You can follow Eli on instagram at  lightorflight_photography

You can follow Eli on instagram at lightorflight_photography

If you haven’t given your feeders a good cleaning in a while now would be a good time. And if your feeders need a little maintenance keep in mind we stock parts for quite a few of our feeders and can usually make repairs on the spot, or in a day or two. If you’ve had seed stored in a container for a few months a word of caution. Open it outside because it may be full of Indian Mealmoths and you don’t want them getting loose in the house. They don’t go after your clothes but prefer things like dry dogfood, flour, crackers, cereal, etc.

And speaking of seed we have been getting questions about a seed sale. Typically we wait until the harvest is in full swing and new crop begins to appear. This will give us a chance to see if seed prices are going to increase, or decrease. Seed is a commodity and prices are subject to change based on supply and demand. At some point we will announce a “Seed Sale “and you will be able to buy multiple bags at a discount and to be stored here.

The holidays are right around the corner which means The Wood Thrush Shop is gearing up with new merchandise as well as some of the old popular standbys. As always we will be stocking the very popular

Mr. Bird Birdseed Ornaments and a variety of bird and wildlife ornaments. A new feeder or a Heartwood birdhouse always makes a great gift.

And look for weekly special through the coming months. Between Friday Nov. 2 and Thursday Nov. 8 all Droll Yankee and Aspects products will be 20% Off. That includes seed feeders, hummingbird feeders, baffles, weather guards, trays, and accessories.


Product profile: Popular Nikon binoculars


This week we are profiling our most popular binoculars. Perhaps your old binos just aren’t providing you with a sharp, bright image anymore, or they’re out of alignment. Maybe your significant other has mentioned needing a pair of binoculars for hiking, birdwatching, canoeing, or ball games. Between Friday, Oct.19 and Friday, Oct. 26 all binoculars will be marked down. Come in and let us assist you to determine which ones would be best for your needs.

Nikon Monarch 7

The Monarch 7’s are our top of the line stocked Nikon binocular.The 7’s are equipped with premium ED (Extra-low dispersion) glass, lenses, and prism coatings. ED glass improves resolution and brightness to extreme levels, but also enhances your viewing experience with a wide field of view, close-focus and comfortable eye-relief.

nikon monarch 7.jpg

Customers that look through these usually say, “Oh, wow” because of the extremely bright, clean and crisp image. They are fantastic performers in low light conditions and have a nitrogen-purged housing making them fog proof/waterproof. These binoculars would satisfy for a lifetime. We stock the 8x42 and the 10x42. Available to order are the 8x30 and 10x30 models.

Monarch 7. Regularly priced 8x42 $479 10x42 $499 Now $35 Off.

What do the numbers, 8x42 and 10x42, mean?

The first number that you see (8, or 10) is the amount of magnification. So, for example, an 8 power binocular is magnifying the object you’re looking at 8 times.

The second number (42) is the measurement of the objective lens, 42 mm. The objective lens is the lens furthest from your eyes, while the ocular is the lens closest to your eyes. The objective lens is the light gathering part and influences the field of view.

Field of view is how wide an area is encompassed in the binoculars' image. It can be expressed as an angle (8°), or as the width in feet of the image at 1000 yards (420 ft.) ... Field of view is a matter of eyepiece design. More magnification usually means a narrower field of view.

Monarch 5

The Monarch 5’s have been a staple of The Wood Thrush Shop’s optics inventory for many years. In quality, they are just a notch below the 7’s and lack some of the extra features. The 5’s have ED glass producing a bright, crisp image. They have been recognized in birding magazines many times as a “best buy”.

nikon monarch 5-2.jpg

Also waterproof/fog proof, the 5’s offer some of what the more expensive binoculars have but in a more comfortable price range.

Monarch 5. Regularly priced 8x42 $299 10x42 $329 Now $25 Off

Prostaff 7

The Prostaff 7’s fit the difficult category of good optics, whether for home, out in the field birdwatching, or going to a game, at a price under $200. Multi-coated lenses, long-eye relief, and waterproof up to 3 feet of depth for 10 minutes.


The shop stocks the 8x30 and 10x30 but available to order are the 42mm models. They are not as physically small as a compact, but close. They perform, however, like a standard size binocular. Because of the smaller body these binoculars have become a popular choice for women who tend to have smaller hands. A binocular comfortable to hold is a very important factor.

Prostaff 7. Regularly priced 8x30 $189 10x30 $199 Now $20 Off

Long-eye relief defined. This is a term that every eye glasses wearer should pay attention to. It's all in the design of the eyepiece. For any binocular, there is an ideal distance that your eye should be from the eyepiece. This distance is called the eye relief. Some binoculars have eye relief of only 15mm or less. Even though the eyecups twist down to let glasses wearers get closer, it's not close enough. Such binoculars are suitable only for people who don't wear glasses.

Exactly how much eye relief you need depends on your glasses. If they are small and close to your eyes, you might get away with a binocular whose eye relief is only 15mm. Most glasses wearers need longer eye relief than that, at least 16mm or more.

Prostaff 3

The Prostaff 3’s are available in 8x42 and 10x42 models. Known for a wide field of view, being very lightweight, and having a generous eye relief, the Prostaff’3’s fit the consumer looking to spend under $150. Other features include waterproof/fog proof performance, turn and slide multi-click eyecups to fine tune comfort, and rubber armoring for shock resistance.


Proistaff 3. Regularly priced 8x42 $119 10x42 $129 Now $20 Off

We stock compact binoculars as well. The Nikon Travelite’s are known for extremely light- weight portability and are available in 8x25 and 10x25 models. The Prostaff ATB are also 8 and 10x25 and are rugged and waterproof. The Trailblazer 8x25 is the smallest of the compacts but is rugged and waterproof, perfect for tucking in a coat pocket or day pack. It comes with a carrying case that conveniently threads onto a belt.

All Compacts $15 Off including Travelite 8 and 10x25, ProStaff 8 and 10x25, Trailblazer 8x25, and the Carson 8x22.

 Trailblazers 10x25

Trailblazers 10x25

 Travellite 10x25

Travellite 10x25

 Prostaff ATB 10x25

Prostaff ATB 10x25

Carson 8x22

And the best thing we offer for kids is the Carson 8x22 Sport Binocular. Most “kids” binoculars are so cheaply constructed with cheap materials that they are priced from $10 to about $20. From our experience with such binoculars any child is going to have a frustrating experience trying to see anything with them. And what they see will not be enhanced at all.

carson 8x22.jpg

These little Carson’s are great for small hands, easy to use, and the optics are good enough that the image will enhance the object of their viewing interest. These are great to learn on before graduating to something more serious and valuable.

Carson 8x22 Regularly priced $48 Now $33