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Hello Friends!

Another couple weeks of hot steamy weather have passed and we hope you have all been staying hydrated and cool. The heat is also a challenge for our feathered friends and during times like these it is helpful to keep fresh water and food in your yard for birds and to limit your disturbance to wildlife so they can save vital energy. Keep reading to the end of the newsletter for details on our bird bath special!

Anyone in the southeast knows that the summer heat often comes with rain storms. It can be difficult to offer fresh seed when it is raining all the time. Weather guards can come in quite handy during weather conditions like this! Simply hang them over your feeders and they will prevent rain from getting in. Come on in and see our great selection of weather guards!

We continue to offer curbside pickup. If you prefer not to go into the store in person, just give us a call and order on the phone. We will bring it out to your car for you! No contact, safe, and helpful! We also offer some items for sale online for in-store pickup!



Monday-Saturday 10-430

and Sunday 12-4

Thank you for joining us in this space!

Happy birding!

Birding a Sunflower Patch

by Wayne Hoffman

I suspect most of us buy sunflower seeds to feed the birds in our yards. I know I do – bags and bags of black oil seeds for one of the squirrel-proof tube feeders, as well as a mix including sunflower and lots of other stuff in a big hopper feeder, also squirrel-proof. A lot of my yard birds really go for the sunflower seeds – Cardinals, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, House Finches, Goldfinches, Brown Thrashers, Mockingbirds, and so on.  In winter, White-throated and other sparrows join the party, mainly feeding on the ground below. 

It turns out some of these birds are also pretty good at harvesting the seeds directly from the plants. At the suggestion of a photographer friend, I drove up to Raleigh on July 21 to visit the famous sunflower patch in Dorothea Dix City Park. This urban park contains a field of about 7 acres planted to sunflowers.  The sunflowers were planted in closely spaced rows, which were also heavily overgrown with a variety of garden weeds (which probably improved the field as wildlife habitat). I left home at 6 AM and arrived around 8:15. The sky was overcast, with temperatures in the low 70s. The sunflower field had at least 40 human visitors, mainly parents with young children. I saw more selfie sticks than I have seen in years. Some of the people were selectively removing seeds from the heads to create pictures – smiley faces, hearts and the like, then posing next to their artworks. About 10 of us carried binoculars and/or long-lens cameras and were here to see what birds were present. Business brought me back to Raleigh July 30 and I managed another quick visit to the sunflowers – this time about 10:30 AM under sunny skies and 90-degree temperatures.

Sunflowers are heliotropic, meaning they orient their flowers to the sun, and gradually shift their orientation through the day. I arrived in the morning, so all were facing east. Post-blooming heads often bend over, face down. By July 21 the flowers were past their peak, but still very attractive to the birds, and on July 30 most were through blooming. The plants seemed to be a mix of varieties. The most common ones had an unbranched stem and a single head per plant, up to a foot diameter. Others had branching stems and multiple smaller heads. Most were yellow with dark centers, but a scattering of orange- and red-flowered plants provided diversity. 

Figure 1. Yellow sunflower, single head per plant (above).

Figure 2. Multiple-headed yellow sunflower.

Figure 3. Sunflower with orange-red head.

The most common birds in the sunflower field were American Goldfinches. They flew about over the field and dropped in in small groups. Typically, they would alight on the tops of the sideways-facing heads, and reach over the edges to extract seeds. 

Figure 4. Male American Goldfinch on Sunflower head.

Figure 5. Male American Goldfinch harvesting sunflower seed.

Figure 6. Female American Goldfinch with sunflower seed.

Indigo Buntings were also conspicuous, particularly a male with a territory in the southeast corner of the field. He sang repeatedly from perches on the sunflower heads. Females were also present but much less conspicuous.

Figure 7. Indigo Bunting decorating someone’s art project.

Figure 8. Indigo Bunting singing,

Figure 9. Chipping Sparrows were also feeding in the Sunflower field.

The other species I particularly wanted to photograph in the sunflowers was the Indigo Bunting’s larger cousin, the Blue Grosbeak. At least one male was present but tended to flush whenever people came anywhere near. I finally caught up with him on a pine tree adjacent to the field on July 30. On that date the field had also attracted a bunch of humongous Green June Beetles – stout bodies and more than an inch long.

Figure 10. Blue Grosbeak.

Figure 11. Green June Beetle.

Upcoming Programs

We have planned three great programs at local birding hotspots for the fall. Registration for each program is $55 per person.

Stay tuned to this space because we are working on some other programs and classes for the fall and winter!

Birding at Lake Waccamaw

September 15 | 8:30-11:30 am

Join local expert and friend of the bird store Wayne Hoffman and store owner Jill Peleuses on a birding trip to Lake Waccamaw. Lake Waccamaw is the largest of North Carolina’s mysterious “Carolina Bay” lakes, with the typical oval shape and sandy southern ridge.  The State Park is along the southeastern shore, and contains a diversity of bird habitats, including pine flatwoods, swampy hardwood forest, and oak-pine sand ridges. We hope to find a variety of land birds, including Bobwhite Quail, woodpeckers, and some early Fall migrants. This is also a good area for observing native reptiles and amphibians, including Alligators and several species of turtles and lizards.

Birding at Fort Fisher

October 27th | 8:30-11:30

Join Wayne and Jill on a birding trip to Fort Fisher. Fort Fisher is an excellent location for a wide variety of land and water birds. The coastal shrubby thicket, live oak trees, marshes, beach, and dunes provide habitat for some of our local favorites as well as exciting migrants. Notable sightings in the area during past Octobers have included bitterns, plovers, flycatchers, and migrating warblers, among others.

Birding at Greenfield Lake 

November 10 | 8:30-11:30 am

Join Wayne and Jill on a birding trip to local hotspot, Greenfield Lake. Greenfield Lake Park covers 190 acres of lush public gardens surrounding a man-made lake.  The 5-miles of walking trails pass through a diversity of bird habitats where we will be likely to see a variety of waterfowl, waders, woodpeckers, and raptors. This is also a great area for observing native reptiles and amphibians, including Alligators, turtles, snakes, and lizards.

Birds Need Water Sale!

Today through 8/20/22 we are offering 20% off any in-stock bird bath

Our staff are awesome and they are happy to help you with anything you see in the store. Come see us and say hi this week! 



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