Listen to a Carolina Wren Call
Carolina wrens are often heard, not seen. The distinctive ‘teakettle, teakettle, teakettle’ (or ‘germany, germany germany’ or ‘tweedle, tweedle, tweedle’) Carolina wren call rings out through forested areas and wooded backyards in the eastern U.S. Their voices can carry quite a distance. These wrens serenade many birders, singing their verses from perches around the neighborhood.
Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
This wren species is quite attractive with buff to cinnamon colored plumage, a bold white eye stripe, long and down-curved bill, white throat. More often than not, their tails are cocked up in the air, giving a good view of the distinctive horizontal bars underneath.
Birders love Carolina wrens. The species was even named of Birds & Blooms magazine’s Most Wanted Birds.
House wren vs Carolina wren: Learn how to tell the difference.
My home in Colorado is west of their range. But several Carolina wrens once ventured to a wooded area less than a quarter mile from my house. They stayed for several summers and at least one winter. Apparently this location did not meet their needs, as I haven’t seen them for a few years. I used to enjoy walking on the local trail through there and hearing them sing. I even heard them sing while I was working in my yard one time.
Now I have to be content with hearing them, and spotting them sometimes, when I travel further east. I understand that Carolina wrens are attracted to suet feeders and peanut feeders in backyards. Offer these foods if you want to attract them. You can also welcome nesting wrens to a wren bird house.
Next, don’t miss these adorable baby wren photos.
You can find many different types of suet feeders. This style of feeder has the suet cage attached to a vertical wooden platform, giving woodpeckers a place to prop with their tails. A suet bird feeder will also attract nuthatches, chickadees, wrens and jays. Here’s how to make your own suet.
Check out the best sunflower seed bird feeders for your yard
Peanut feeders are usually shaped like a tube, which can be filled with out-of-shell or in-shell peanuts. Here’s how to make a DIY peanut bird feeder. But you can also find them in round, wreath shapes. These types of bird feeders have large holes, so the birds (and sometimes squirrels) have to work to get peanuts out. Blue jays, nuthatches, tufted titmice and woodpeckers particularly love peanut feeders. Want to see birds up close? Try a window bird feeder!
Oriole Fruit Feeder
To attract orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and catbirds, look for fruit feeders that hold oranges, grape jelly and apples. These are great feeders to experiment with, especially in spring and fall, when you’ll see the most migrants. Don’t miss the best-selling bird feeders of 2022.
Sugar Water Feeder
Sugar water feeders are typically found in a few standard shapes, including glass bottle, tube and round dish. Whatever shape you choose, this type of bird feeder will be a magnet for those glorious little flyers we call hummingbirds. Here’s how to make your own sugar water. Also look for orange-colored oriole feeders.
Tube Bird Feeder
Fill tube feeders with sunflower seed or safflower seed to attract many birds, including Northern cardinals, tufted titmice, house finches, chickadees, and grosbeaks. To deter squirrels and bully birds like grackles, look for weight-sensitive tube feeders that close off seed access.
Nyjer Finch Feeder
Often a tube shaped, nyjer feeders hold the special tiny black thistle seed that American goldfinches love. Some types of nyjer bird feeders are a simple mesh sock, while others are made with metal mesh or solid plastic. You can even get nyjer feeders that are several feet long, holding dozens of goldfinches at a time. Check out more of the best finch feeders to serve thistle seed.
Tray or Platform Feeder
These types of bird feeders can either hang from a hook or sit on your deck or the ground. In both cases, the feeding surface is completely open, so birds have plenty of space to land and eat. Tray feeders are often used to attract larger birds like mourning doves and ground-feeding birds like dark-eyed juncos. Look for feeders with holes or mesh on the bottom to allow for drainage. Love cardinals? We found the best cardinal bird feeders and birdseed.
Hopper Bird Feeder
The classic hopper feeder is usually covered with a roof and enclosed on all four sides. It’s common to find these types of bird feeders in the shape of a house or a barn. Sometimes you can even find hopper feeders with suet cake holders on either end. While they typically don’t deter squirrels, hopper feeders do protect seed from rain and snow. Larger birds such as woodpeckers, grosbeaks and mourning doves frequently visit them.
If you want a thrifty, DIY project, take an old log and drill a few holes in the side. These holes are perfect for stuffing full of suet or peanut butter for the birds. Plus, the log feeder gives woodpeckers, blue jays and nuthatches a built-in perch.
Mealworm Bluebird Feeder
Birds That Eat Oranges
Orioles tend to steal the show in the backyard at fruit bird feeders because of their bright colors, but other fruit eating birds like oranges, too. Look for these other types of birds that might stop by to eat oranges.
- Gray catbirds
- Northern mockingbirds
- Red-bellied woodpeckers
- Western tanagers
- Brown thrashers
- Scarlet tanagers
- Rose-breasted grosbeaks
Discover 10 birds that look like orioles.
When to Put Out Oranges for Birds
You’ll have the best chance of success if you put oranges and fruit bird feeders out in spring. Try to anticipate when orioles will arrive in your backyard. If orioles heading north find a good feeding spot, they may just stick around for nesting season and beyond, which means you can see baby orioles for the entire summer.
How to Choose Fruit Bird Feeders
Perhaps one of the best things about feeding birds oranges is the low maintenance. You don’t need a snazzy feeder. Simply hammer a nail to a deck railing or fencepost and stick an orange half to the nail. Or set a couple of orange halves right in your platform feeder. Easy peasy! Here’s more ideas for DIY oriole feeders.
If you are interested buying in a special feeder for orioles, choose one that is orange colored to catch their eye as they’re flying over your yard. Some oriole feeders also offer sugar water and grape jelly.
Learn more about how to feed orioles.
More Fruits to Feed Birds
Don’t stop at oranges. Birds who enjoy a sweet orange treat will often eat other ripe fruit, too. Put out apple halves the same way as oranges. Set an overripe banana, a couple of handfuls of grapes or even chunks of melons on a platform feeder and have fun watching which birds fill up on fruit. Find out what birds can eat from the kitchen.
Psst—orioles can’t resist this oriole nectar recipe.
Keep Fruit Bird Feeders Clean
As you can imagine, fresh fruit spoils quickly, especially in the spring and summer sunshine. Make sure to clean your feeders every few days, remove moldy remains and replace with a fresh batch of fruit.
Next, learn how to identify Baltimore oriole birds.
If you’re on an upcycling kick like most of us, you probably know all the usual tricks: You’ve already bought dryer balls, you might have tried cardboard gardening, and you definitely know everything about composting. But there are plenty of other single-use items you can replace with reusable items—including cling wrap.
That’s right—now you can wrap up that half a lemon without worrying about how much plastic you’re adding to the garbage. All you need is beeswax wrap, an alternative food wrap that you can use for up to a year.
What Is Beeswax Wrap?
Beeswax wrap, or beeswrap, is a sustainable food wrap that can be reused over and over for about a year. It’s breathable and keeps food fresh for longer. Beeswax wrap is heat-activated—you can shape it around food or a bowl by heating the wrap with your hands, which softens the beeswax and creates a seal.
What’s Beeswax Wrap Made Of?
Beeswax wrap is usually made of cotton and coated or infused with food-grade beeswax, tree resin, coconut oil and jojoba oil to give it just a bit of stick. That means you can fold this product over onto itself and the fabric sticks together and seals keeping all your foods fresh.
Because it’s made of mostly natural products, beeswax wrap is completely biodegradable. That means you can absolutely toss it in the compost bin after its stickiness wears off—or even use it as a fire starter!
How Can I Use It?
The uses of beeswax wrap are varied and many, and we definitely can’t cover all of them. But there’s some definitely some benefits that you’ll see right off the bat!
It’s important to note that beeswax wrap can’t be used for raw meat, raw fish or wet food items like cut melons. However, you can toss these in a bowl and then put beeswax wrap over the top (but make sure the food doesn’t touch it!).
Skip plastic bags
Going plastic-free can seem like a lot of effort, but beeswax wrap can make it super-easy. Instead of using plastic baggies for lunch, just wrap a sandwich up in beeswax wrap and you’re good to go. Here’s what going plastic-free in the kitchen looks like.
Keep cut fruits and veggies fresh
After cooking, how often are you left with half a zucchini, cucumber or lemon? Instead of taking up precious fridge space by tucking those bits and bobs into bowls, wrap them in beeswax wrap. (Remember, skip the wet stuff!)
Slow bread from going stale
Whether it’s your basic homemade loaf or focaccia, it’s so easy for bread to lie forgotten on the counter and eventually go stale. Luckily, beeswax wrap is the perfect way to keep it soft and delicious. Some brands even offer special long and thin wraps that you can use for longer breads, so you don’t have to worry about cutting it up or fitting it just the right way.
Keep cheese from drying out
Building an awesome cheese board requires a variety of cheeses. Most people use cling wrap to put away orphan wedges, which is a huge waste of plastic. Plus, it never springs back quite the same when you keep unwrapping and rewrapping your cheese. A great solution? Wrap it up in beeswax wrap.
Build your own snack packs
In search of something to hold your trail mix while you go bird-watching? Need a container for your Cheez-Its while on a road trip? Beeswax wrap to the rescue. Just place the snack in the center of a piece of wrap, then connect the corners to form a pouch.
Is Beeswax Wrap Safe?
Unless you’re allergic to one of its components, beeswax wrap should be safe to use. Unlike plastic wrap, it does have to be rinsed and air-dried to maintain effectiveness and cleanliness, but that’s a small amount of effort for its reusability. It keeps food safe, and may even have anti-microbial properties.
Where Can I Buy Beeswax Wrap?
If you’re ready to dive into the world of reusable food wraps, we’ve got you covered. You can buy ’em online in tons of different sizes and colors.
Our Favorite Beeswax Wraps
Don’t forget to check out these other reusable items you can use around the garden!
What Does a Bewick’s Wren Look Like?
Bewick’s wrens are perky brown colored birds with bold, white eye stripes, similar to the Carolina wrens that are commonly seen in the East.
“This is a pair of Bewick’s wrens (above) who used the open end of this post for their nest one year,” says Birds & Blooms reader Michelle Summers. “The previous year, Carolina chickadees used this spot. I love the birds and put a good deal of effort into providing water, food and nesting facilities for them. Sometimes they choose things like a post in just the right spot over a cute little wren bird house, but that’s OK with me. It is always special to me to witness these tiny little families grow!”
Learn how to attract and identify a house wren.
Look for Bewick’s wrens across most of the western United States. Though common across their range, these songbirds are rarely spotted east of the Mississippi River.
Head southwest to see a cactus wren.
How to Attract Bewick’s Wrens
In the west, some wrens, including Bewick’s, can be lured to backyards with native shrubs and brush piles. Look for them hopping and crawling down low as they forage for insects. You may also attract them to visit a bird bath, especially if it has a small fountain or dripper.
Next, enjoy delightful pictures of wren birds.
Books About Birding
The Backyard Bird Sanctuary
If you’re just starting out learning about common birds and want to design an ideal wildlife habitat in your yard, The Backyard Bird Sanctuary is a useful book about birding to get started. Pair it with the companion Backyard Bird Journal so you can record your sightings.
This award-winning birding book calls attention to a the threatened Florida-scrub jay, a striking member of the corvid family of birds that is at risk due to vanishing habitat. Learn about conservation efforts that are taking place to protect this beautiful bird from extinction.
Birding Without Borders
In Birding Without Borders, read how one birder set out to see half of the world’s bird population within the span of a year. His journey takes him to 41 countries and all seven continents, and he shares all the ups and downs of his Big Year. Check out bird and nature books for kids that make perfect gifts.
Birds of North America
Page through this gorgeous birding book, offering detailed photos of more than 550 birds. Many of the species featured in Birds of North America are shown in various plumage stages, helping readers better identify birds in different life stages. Check out our favorite hummingbird books.
The Bird Way
Birding enthusiasts and casual observers alike will be enthralled by The Bird Way. Take a deep dive into the world of birds and what we know about their behaviors. Learn more about famous birds in literature.
How to Know the Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds
Everyday Birdwatching Stories Book
If you enjoy looking for birds in the backyard and beyond, you’ll love the Everyday Birdwatching Stories book. It is filled with spectacular pictures and heartwarming personal stories about special bird sightings, from orioles to owls. Plus, each chapter features expert advice to help you attract more birds in every season.
Audubon, On the Wings of the World
Perhaps the most unique book about birds, this is John James Audubon as you’ve never seen him before. If you’re new to the idea of graphic novels, you might flip open this tome and think, “A comic book about Audubon?” Dig deeper and you’ll find a beautifully-illustrated story about the famous ornithologist and his life and travels, including controversial topics like the number of birds he killed as he explored. This is no children’s picture book, but instead an immersive experience where the artwork helps you understand more about the story as it unfolds.
Birds Art Life
During difficult times, many people turn to the solace of nature. So it was for author Kyo Maclear, who found the joys of urban birding to be a balm during a challenging year of her life. In this intimate book, she tells the story of her year exploring birding in depth for the first time, and reflects on the life lessons found therein.
Quick – aside from Audubon, how many other well-known ornithologists can you name? Drawing a blank? That’s OK, because Bernd Brunner’s book, Birdmania, will quickly fill in the gaps for you. Brunner relates the fascinating tales of birders throughout time; some have made important contributions to our scientific understanding of birds, others dedicated their lives to conservation, and a few simply became obsessed with the birds they loved. The book is beautifully decorated with paintings, illustrations, and other artwork to enhance the reader experience.
One More Warbler
Author Victor Emanuel is one of the country’s leading birders, and his birding tours attracted celebrities like Prince Philip and Laura Bush. In One More Warbler, Emanuel recounts his stories one bird at a time, starting with the male cardinal that first caught his eye when he was just a boy. He shares tales of his mentors and epic adventures of birding around the world, each vignette sparked by a bird that helped to shape his life. You may not be able to take a birding tour in person with this charismatic man, but his book will let you travel right along with him.
Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White
If you’ve ever enjoyed a chat with other folks who love birds, this humorous book is for you. Dozens of avid birders share what makes birding special to them in this follow-up to the original Good Birders Don’t Wear White. Birding guides, bird photographers, museum curators, and many more relate their experiences with birds in short essays that will make you smile, laugh, and perhaps even cry a little. Illustrated with the charming line drawings of Robert A. Braunfield, this is one of those books about birds that has a little something in it for everyone.
Vegetable Gardening for Beginners
Use helpful vegetable gardening book to plan out your garden, from how to pick the best spot for a garden bed to pairing up the best vegetables to grow together. Check out harvest-themed gifts for vegetable gardeners.
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt
Grow Your Soil!
This gardening book looks below the surface. In Grow Your Soil, learn why the soil you start with is so important to the health of your garden—and how to improve your soil in unique ways. Here’s the best potting soil for every type of plant.
Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners
While you’re a beginner or experienced gardener, turn to this helpful gardening book for everything regarding creating raised beds. In addition, discover which plants are the best partners in a raised garden bed.
Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden
If you’re a fan of cutting gardens and arranging your own flowers, this book offers instructions for how to create your ideal garden. Cut Flower Garden also features step-by-step instructions for how to create a variety of arrangements and garlands.
Males and females of many bird species display different traits and behaviors, and this is especially true for hummingbirds. Next time you’re sitting by a backyard sugar-water feeder, use these clues to identify hummingbird male vs female flyers.
Learn how to attract hummingbirds with 10 expert tips.
Male vs Female Hummingbirds
According to Peter Pyle, staff biologist at The Institute for Bird Populations, the real difference between an adult male vs female hummingbird is in the head and neck feathers.
“The adult males are all pretty straight forward to identify just based on the coloration of what we call the gorget, which is the throat feathers, and the crown feathers, which are the glittering ones on the head that really flash when they hit the light correctly,” says Peter.
Females do not have full bright gorgets like the males. Instead, they sport white throats that are sometimes spotted with dull gray-brown dots, and perhaps a small patch of iridescent feathers, depending on the species. They also tend to have slightly less vibrant back and wing feathers.
Discover 22 jaw-dropping hummingbird facts.
Why Male Hummingbirds Have Flashier Feathers
Male hummingbirds have showier feathers for one reason: to attract potential mates.
Peter says, “it’s all for display purposes.” He notes that they have an impressive trick to get the females’ attention.
“The males can flip their gorget feathers in the sun,” explains Peter. “So when a female lands near a male at his courting post, he knows how to flip his throat so it can look like a strobe light that flashes on and off.”
If you see a male and female hummingbird together in the breeding season, try to stand behind the female without disturbing them. You may be able to catch the flashes of his glittery throat in a courtship display.
Peter says that some males are better at this trick than others. That could be because they are more experienced or have fuller gorget feathers. “And that means that they are better conditioned birds,” he adds. “It helps a female choose a male who is better or higher quality, and her offspring will be more likely to survive.”
How fast do hummingbirds fly and flap their wings?
Young Hummingbirds vs Female Hummingbirds
It’s relatively easy to tell an adult female and male hummingbird apart, but adult females and immature males are much easier to misidentify.
“You have to look at the details on the throat to tell a young male from a female—and in some species you really can’t,” says Peter. That’s because young male hummingbirds don’t hatch with bright neck feathers like the adult males have.
Peter explains that male hummingbirds start to get hints of their adult gorgets about a month after leaving the nest, which is around August or September in many areas. But it can happen even earlier in some species of hummingbirds, like the rufous hummingbird.
In late summer, you can rely on clues from the throat again. Young male hummingbirds may have scattered iridescent feathers or heavier dusky spotting on their throats.
Juvenile females are far less confusing—they look basically the same as the adult female hummingbirds by the time that they leave the nest.
Size of Male and Female Hummingbirds
You may not believe it, but hummingbirds share something with birds from the raptor family. In general, females from both groups tend to be slightly larger than males. Meet the world’s largest and smallest hummingbirds.
“With raptors like owls and hawks, the females are bigger and there’s a really elegant theory behind that, involving prey size brought in to feed chicks,” Peter says. But he notes that it is unclear to researchers why female hummingbirds are larger than the males.
Along with their heftier build, female hummingbirds also have a longer bill. Learn how hummingbirds use their tongues and bills.
Do Males and Female Hummingbirds Behave Differently?
You may also be able to identify a male vs female hummingbird depending on what it is doing. During the breeding season, these birds take on dramatically different day-to-day tasks.
The males spend their time perched on top of trees and shrubs when they aren’t looking for food. They use these lookouts to defend their territory and feeders from rival males and to keep an eye out for females to mate with.
“It’s typical with all birds that bigger, stronger males may dominate a little bit more and be aggressive—especially towards other males,” says Peter.
He says Anna’s hummingbirds are the most common hummingbird species at his home in California. If you set a feeder up behind a house he adds, “an adult Anna’s will typically take over and case any other hummingbirds away from it, including females and young birds.”
Male hummingbirds are fiercely territorial, but that doesn’t make them good fathers. In fact, female hummingbirds do all of the work raising young. So if you see an adult bird in a hummingbird nest or tending to nestlings, you can be sure that it is a female.
When you think about hummingbirds, you probably think about flying. That’s understandable — the buzzy little birds are known for their fast-flapping wings and unusual style of movement. But what about hummingbird feet? How do hummingbirds use their feet, and can they walk? John Shewey, author of The Hummingbird Handbook, helps us break down the mysteries behind hummingbird feet.
Can Hummingbirds Walk?
Surprisingly, the answer is “no.” Hummingbirds don’t have the ability to walk like other birds do. Why is that? John explains: “Hummingbird legs and feet are structurally similar to other songbirds but comparatively reduced in size,” he says. He explains that a hummingbird’s incredible flight skills enable it keep pace with a flower blowing in the wind — but from an evolutionary standpoint, that amazing ability came at a cost.
“Weight is the enemy of flight, so hummingbirds evolved relatively small legs and feet to save on weight,” John says. He says the birds’ bodies are put together in a way that “emphasizes extreme flight dynamics that do not require highly developed ‘foot capabilities,’ like those seen in birds that rely on walking or specialized perching. Like woodpeckers, for example.”
How Do Hummingbirds Use Their Feet?
With that said, just because hummingbirds don’t walk or hop like other birds doesn’t mean hummingbird feet are useless. John notes that hummingbirds do have some mobility with their feet, and they are adept at “scooching” sideways.
Psst—hummingbirds are all about speed — you’ll be amazed by how rapidly their tiny hearts beat.
“They use their feet to grip tiny perches such as twigs, or even human objects like fence wires and tomato cages,” he says. “The feet also serve the critical purpose of helping the birds preen and clean their feathers. Clean, well-groomed feathers are important for flight as well as insulation and temperature regulation.”
Discover even more jaw-dropping hummingbird facts.
Ask the Experts
“My husband and I saw a hummingbird flying around with a cocoon on its foot. What’s going on? asks Laurie Stuchlik of Milton, Delaware. Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Hummingbirds have relatively small, weak feet, and they don’t intentionally use them to carry anything. But sometimes they get one foot tangled in something, and if it isn’t too heavy, they may fly around that way. The females use their bills to gather pieces of spider web and other soft materials to use in their nests, and they may pull off silky strands from moth cocoons. The bird that you saw might have been doing that when it got one foot tangled in the loose outer covering of the cocoon. Usually such an impediment will fall off before too long.”
The Best Bird Nesting Material
Springtime is nesting season, and birds will be busy. Growing plants that offer shelter and leaving natural debris around your yard for bird nesting material are the best ways to care for nesting birds.
Discover how long baby birds stay in the nest and more nest facts.
An abundant material in yards with trees, twigs can be left where they fall or stacked in a tidy pile. Learn about different kinds of bird nests and how to spot them.
Keep moss from blowing away by sticking this nesting material in a crevice of a tree or shrub.
Dried Grass Clippings
To keep dead leaves in place, mix them in with heavier materials such as sticks. Do birds reuse their nests?
The white down from cottonwood trees or cattails is a valuable soft material for nests. Follow these proven tips to attract nesting birds.
Dried needles are among the bluebird’s preferred nesting materials. Learn when bluebirds nest and lay eggs.
Unsafe Bird Nesting Materials to Avoid
- Plastics: Bits of plastic will not break down, contributing to pollution.
- Yarn or string: Strands can get caught on birds and become dangerous.
- Dryer lint: Birds stuff this in their nests, but it dissolves in rain.
- Human hair: Just like yarn or string, it’s strong and can wrap around baby and adult birds.