Attracting Warblers

Fall is a Great Time to Garden for the Birds

Fall is the best time to plant and perhaps you are thinking about adding something to your landscape that appeals to birds and wildlife. Fantastic! Adding plants is a great way to attract birds of all kinds but especially those that do not regularly visit seed feeders. I’m referring to the small tropical birds known as Warblers. This diverse and beautiful group of birds goes unnoticed by many backyard birders because their yards don’t have the habitat appeal necessary to pull them in. Each spring Warblers migrate into and through TN on the way to their breeding destination. As they travel they are searching for food, water, and suitable, safe resting areas.

Native trees and shrubs are critical to attracting birds of all kinds and especially warblers. Native plants attract native insects, an important food source to migrating birds. In spring when leaves are first opening the first caterpillars begin hatching which is an abundant and important food source for all migrating birds. In early fall native trees and shrubs are producing fruit that will help fuel their migration back to the tropics. The fruit also attracts native insects which then become an important source of protein. You can’t go wrong planting natives because they are, typically, less susceptible to disease and insect problems.

 Male American Redstart

Male American Redstart

 Yellow-rumped warbler

Yellow-rumped warbler

Here’s a short list of some of my favorite native plants and shrubs:

 Devils Walking Stick, Berries

Devils Walking Stick, Berries

 American Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

Serviceberry               Bottlebrush Buckeye            Devils Walking Stick

American Beautyberry  Redbud                                Dogwood

Hawthorn                       Persimmon                           American Holly

Winterberry                    Eastern Red Cedar               Mountain Laurel

Sumac                            Oak and Maple varieties       Viburnums

and there are so many more great plants to choose from.

But Warblers need water, too, and from my experience water is the x factor.  It is probably that my water source is very easy to see from in my home that I have seen more Warbler species there than anywhere else in my yard.  Bubbling, moving water is much more appealing than the standard pedestal type birdbath.  Keep the water moving in some way and birds will be drawn.  There are drippers and misters that run on water pressure provided by a standard outside faucet, and waterfall rocks powered by an electric pump that are quite effective at keeping water moving.  I recently hung a plastic jug with a pin hole above a standard pedestal birdbath.  When filled with water the jug will provide a steady drip for a few hours at a time.  The dripping and subsequent rippling effect is absolutely more appealing than a still source of water.

So, if making your yard more appealing to birds is on your mind think about native plants and water.  It is a combination that most definitely works.

For more information about native plants please take a look at the TN Native Plants Society website, www.tnps.org, or check out a local grower like Growild located in Fairview, TN. Their website is www.growildinc.com

Fall Migration Notes

Fall Migration is underway and while your birdfeeders will slow down as we approach October birdwatching will only get more interesting.  Have your binoculars with you and ready because warblers are pouring through middle Tennessee stopping to feed in the early mornings on insects and berries.  Mornings are the best time to see lots of different species of warblers.  And mornings after a storm tend to be even better.  Make time to visit one of the many great local birdwatching areas this fall to see some of them.  For information about great places to birdwatch click on the links below…

  • Tennessee Birding Trails is a great website for locating trails for specific types of birding.

  • Tennessee Birding Facebook group has an active community of birders who post often.

  • Tennessee Ornithological Society (TOS) Nashville Chapter is having their Radnor Lake Wed morning bird walks September 19th and continue each Wednesday through October 10th. Please meet in the west Parking lot outside the Visitor’s Center at 7:30am. Come rain or shine. With the exception of ongoing downpours or thunderstorms.

  • TN-BIRD email list is a free list that allows you to get updates of bird sighting from other birders in the area. to receive emails simply click on “find and join” at the top right of the tn-bird page, search for list name tn-bird, and follow the instructions on signing up your email.


One of the more interesting, easy, and fun things to see in the fall is the migration of Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks. In the evenings, particularly in areas where there is outdoor lighting, like high school football games and shopping malls, Common Nighthawks gather and feed on insects. Downtown areas tend to be very productive areas to see both.

The Common Nighthawk, a member of the Goatsuckers family, measures around 9 1/2 “in length. They are gray-brown with slim, long wings that have a distinctive white bar near the tips. They are most active at night but can be seen midday as well. They fly with long easy strokes but can quickly change direction and appear erratic as they catch flying insects. Male Nighthawks have a white throat and white band across a notched tail. Listen for the unusual “peent” call of the Nighthawk.

The Chimney Swift is a short swallowlike bird with long, slightly curved wings. Peterson’s field guide to Eastern Birds describes it as a “cigar with wings”. Always in motion, Swifts appear to continually fly never landing to rest and constantly “twitter”. They measure about 5 ½” in length and are uniformly grayish to brown. During migration Swifts have been known to roost together by the thousands in a single chimney. On more than a few occasions I have witnessed a “funnel” of swifts descending into the chimney of a downtown building while on my way to a Predators game. It is a fascinating sight.


And About Hummingbirds

We may see Ruby-throated hummingbirds well into October so keep your feeders out with fresh nectar as there may be several waves of hummingbirds still coming through TN on their return to Central and South America. The belief that feeders should be taken down to cause the birds to migrate is incorrect.  They will leave when they are ready whether there is a feeder present or not.  

Campania Cast Stone Special Order Sale

birdbaths, fountains, statuary, and planters make great gifts

Between now and saturday October 6th

 
We invite you to place a “special order” 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 3 weeks from order to delivery. This is because Campania makes 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.

Fall slow down at feeders

Many of you have already noticed a slow down at your feeders.  Sometimes it can be abrupt and dramatic.  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 tremendous 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.  I don’t know about you but a good frost sounds good right about now. 

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.

Keep this in mind while you are buying your seed next time.  It’s advisable to buy smaller quantities until birds begin visiting with more frequency in November.  Remember, the more seed you end up storing in a container over the next two months the more chance there is of having a bug hatch.   

And while birds take a break from your feeders take time to give your feeders a thorough cleaning.  Warm soapy water, a brush, and a little effort are 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.

Store update: Item are still available on our 50% off table. Also all remaining mailbox covers, flags, and door mats are 50% off to make room for new fall and winter designs.

Happy Labor Day weekend!

We hope everyone has a fun and safe Labor Day weekend. If you need bird feeding supplies don’t forget to stop by on Friday or Saturday. The Wood Thrush Shop will be closed Monday September 3rd. We will re-open on the 4th at normal hours.

Things are starting to slow down a bit at seed feeders, so I thought it would be a good time to revisit some old blog posts that are still very relevant for this time of year with the upcoming fall migration.  Click on the linked title of each blog post to see the entire post.

Peak time for Hummingbirds: As many of you are aware the Hummingbird activity has geared up quite a bit since mid-August. Click here to read our blog post detailing all the reasons we see so many of these little birds this time of year.

Hummingbird Happy Hour: Don’t forget there is still time to purchase tickets to the Hummingbird Happy Hour at The Warner Park Nature Center on September 7th. Proceeds from ticket and art sales will support the Bird Information, Research and Data (B.I.R.D) programs. Click Here for more info.

Drippers, Misters and Moving Water: This time of year water can be scarce. Having a clean fresh birdbath is a great way to attract birds. Click here to check out this blog post all about adding moving water to your birdbath or backyard water source.

Bird Bio: Chimney Swifts & Common Nighthawks: Soon if not already we will start seeing signs of fall migration and what better blog post to revisit than the bird bio on Chimney Swifts and Common Nighthawks. Click here to read our bird bio