The Lake Hills City Birds

Chattanooga’s Charming Visitor: The Eastern Phoebe

Chattanooga’s Charming Visitor: The Eastern Phoebe

Welcome to the scenic city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, where nature enthusiasts are treated to a year-round spectacle of avian wonders. In this week’s Lake Hills City Birds, we’ll shed light on a delightful feathered friend who frequents the area – the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe). This unassuming yet fascinating bird is a year-round resident in this region. In this blog post, we’ll explore its unique characteristics, its role in the ecosystem, and an intriguing tidbit about how it became the first banded bird in North America.

The Eastern Phoebe: A Familiar Face

The Eastern Phoebe is a small, unassuming bird. Yet, its presence in Chattanooga’s backyards and natural areas is anything but ordinary. These songbirds are known for their charming and distinctive appearance, making them a popular subject for birdwatchers, photographers, and even casual observers.

Identification and Appearance

Measuring about 6-7 inches in length, Eastern Phoebes are primarily grayish-brown in color with a paler belly. They possess a characteristic dark, square-shaped head, which adds a little sophistication to their overall appearance. The white underbelly and tail edges offer a beautiful contrast, making them relatively easy to spot.

Habitat and Range

The Eastern Phoebe’s habitat ranges from woodlands to suburban areas. It is found throughout the eastern United States, including Chattanooga and the surrounding areas. These birds are adaptable and can be spotted near rivers and ponds. They make their nests from mud and grass. They can be found on bridges, barns, and houses.

Diet and Behavior

Eastern Phoebes are insectivores and predominantly eat flying insects. Their meals would involve catching flies, beetles, and mosquitoes. They are known for their distinctive hunting technique, which involves perching in a prominent spot and flying out to catch insects mid-air. You might often see them perched on a branch or wire, returning to the same spot after each foray, which is a standard behavior.

The First Banded Bird in North America

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Eastern Phoebe’s history is its association with the practice of bird banding. In the late 1800s, an American ornithologist named Wells Woodbridge Cooke banded an Eastern Phoebe, making it the first bird to receive a leg band in North America. Bird banding involves attaching a small, numbered metal band to a bird’s leg to track its movements, behavior, and longevity.

This groundbreaking act marked the beginning of bird banding as a valuable scientific tool in ornithology. Cooke’s work led to a better understanding of avian migration, distribution, and lifespan. While Eastern Phoebes may not undertake remarkable migrations, their role in kickstarting bird banding paved the way for countless scientific discoveries in the field of ornithology.

Eastern Phoebes in Your Backyard

To attract Eastern Phoebes to your backyard, consider creating an environment with suitable nesting sites and insect access. Here are some tips:

  1. Insect-Friendly Garden: Cultivate native plants and flowers that attract insects, as these will become a vital food source for Eastern Phoebes.
  2. Water Source: A small birdbath or water feature can be a draw for Eastern Phoebes and provide them with a source of hydration.
  3. Avoid Pesticides: Refrain from using pesticides in your garden, as they can harm the insects Eastern Phoebes rely on for food.
  4. Quiet Observation: Be patient and enjoy quiet moments observing these delightful birds from a comfortable vantage point.

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In Conclusion

The Eastern Phoebe is a captivating bird that graces Chattanooga’s landscapes year-round. Its charming presence, distinctive appearance, and historical significance as the first banded bird in North America are of particular interest to bird enthusiasts and nature lovers. As you set out to enjoy bird-watching in Chattanooga, remember to watch for the Eastern Phoebe – a true gem of the city’s avian population.

The Lake Hills City Birds

The Enigmatic Drummer of Chattanooga: Northern Flicker Bird-Watching

The Enigmatic Drummer of Chattanooga: Northern Flicker Bird-Watching

Welcome to the scenic backyard bird-watching experience in the heart of Chattanooga, Tennessee! Suppose you’re looking for a genuinely remarkable avian encounter. In that case, we invite you to join us in exploring the fascinating world of the Northern Flicker. This charismatic woodpecker species calls Chattanooga home and offers a delightful blend of natural beauty, mystery, and rhythm. Join us as we uncover the secrets of the Northern Flicker’s life, habitat, and behavior.

Getting to Know the Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker, scientifically known as Colaptes auratus, is a unique woodpecker species that stands out in the avian world. Unlike other woodpeckers, Northern Flickers forage on the ground for their favorite meal – ants and beetles. They are large, striking birds with a brownish-gray body, a prominent black bib, and a vibrant flash of color on their tail and wings, which varies between a golden yellow or red hue, depending on the subspecies.

Northern Flicker’s Preferred Habitat

Chattanooga, Tennessee, provides an ideal habitat for Northern Flickers with its diverse urban and rural environments. These birds enjoy open woodlands, suburban areas, and city parks. They enjoy foraging in open fields and lawns with plentiful ants and beetles. If you want to spot a Northern Flicker, keep an eye out for them, probing the ground with their sharp bills in search of their favorite snacks.

Unique Drumming Behavior

One of the most captivating aspects of the Northern Flicker is its distinctive drumming behavior. These woodpeckers are often called the “Hollywood Drummer” because of their rhythmic and attention-grabbing drumming sounds. While their primary purpose is not to create a musical performance, they drum to communicate with other Northern Flickers during mating season and to establish territory.

During your bird-watching adventure, pay close attention to the distinctive drumming sounds of the Northern Flicker. It often begins with a few slow taps, followed by a crescendo of rapid drumming, which you can hear from quite a distance. Each individual has a unique drumming pattern, so if you hear one, you can identify it again later.

Northern Flicker Migration

The Northern Flicker is a migratory bird, and Chattanooga is a popular stopover for them during their migration seasons. In the spring, look for their arrival as they migrate northward; in the fall, witness their return journey south. These migrations provide incredible opportunities to observe Northern Flickers in action and see their unique behaviors.

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Bird-Watching Tips for Northern Flickers

  1. Timing is Everything: Northern Flickers are most active during the early morning and late afternoon. Be sure to plan your bird-watching outings accordingly for the best chances of spotting them.
  2. Use Binoculars: A good pair of binoculars will help you get a closer look at these birds, especially when they are high up in the trees.
  3. Camouflage Yourself: Blend in with your surroundings as much as possible. Wear neutral colors and creep to avoid scaring off the birds.
  4. Bring a Field Guide: A bird guidebook specific to your region can be a handy reference for identifying different species.
  5. Keep a Bird Journal: Taking notes of your sightings can help you keep track of the Northern Flickers you encounter and their unique behaviors.


Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a fantastic location for bird-watching, and the Northern Flicker is one of its hidden treasures. This woodpecker species will surely captivate your heart with its charming drumming habits and beautiful plumage. So, grab your binoculars, head out to the scenic spots in Chattanooga, and immerse yourself in the intriguing world of the Northern Flicker. Happy bird-watching!

The Lake Hills City Birds

Tennessee Warbler: Tiny Wanderers in Your Backyard

Tennessee Warbler: Tiny Wanderers in Your Backyard

Welcome, fellow bird enthusiasts, to another exciting installment of Lake Hills City Birds! Today, we’ll dive into the beautiful world of the Tennessee Warbler, a migratory bird that might just be visiting your backyard this season. With their striking plumage and lively personalities, these tiny wanderers are a joy to observe. So, grab your binoculars, and let’s explore the fascinating life of the Tennessee Warbler.

Basic Facts About the Tennessee Warbler

Before we get too carried away, let’s start with some basic facts about these delightful songbirds:

  • A Splash of Yellow: Tennessee Warblers are known for their vibrant yellow plumage, which can be pretty eye-catching when they flit about your garden.
  • Migratory Marvels: These birds are known for their remarkable long-distance migrations. They can be seen in Tennessee from April to May and again from August to September, and oftentimes, they signal the height of migration season for Tennesee. They breed in the boreal forests of Canada and spend their winters in Central and South America.
  • Tiny Treasures: Tennessee Warblers are relatively small, measuring 4.5 to 5 inches long. They have a wingspan of about 7.5 inches.
  • Diet and Feeding: These warblers primarily feed on insects during the breeding season. However, they have a penchant for seeds during migration, making flower beds with dead blossoms an attractive buffet.

Migration Season Delight

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s migration season, and our feathered friends are on the move. Tennessee Warblers, in particular, are fond of the seeds found in the dead flowers of your backyard flower beds. It’s quite a sight to see a flock of these little songbirds flitting around, searching for a snack. To make your backyard a welcoming stopover for them, here’s a tip: resist the urge to tidy up your garden too soon. Leaving the dead flowers in place provides an excellent food source for these travelers, and you might get a front-row seat to their antics.

The Beauty of Dead Flowers

Dead flowers often get a bad rap as eyesores in the garden, but they serve a vital purpose for migratory birds. During migration, Tennessee Warblers and other songbirds must refuel on their long journeys, and flower beds filled with seeds offer them a readily available and nutritious meal. The seeds provide a tasty treat and contribute to the warbler’s energy reserves, ensuring they have the stamina to continue their journey.

Before you embark on your fall garden cleanup, consider waiting a bit. Your decision to let nature take its course can provide a vital pit stop for these charming travelers and contribute to their overall well-being.

Welcoming Tennessee Warblers with Suet

In addition to leaving those dead flowers for the warblers, another way to attract these charming birds to your backyard during migration season is by putting out suet. Suet is a high-energy food source that many species of birds, including the Tennessee Warbler, relish.

With their voracious appetite for insects and seeds, Tennessee Warblers will undoubtedly appreciate your suet offering during their migration journey. You may also attract other avian visitors looking for an extra energy boost before continuing their long flights.

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As migration season unfolds, take a moment to enjoy the presence of Tennessee Warblers in your backyard. These tiny wanderers bring color and vitality to your outdoor space as they search for sustenance. Remember to leave those dead flowers for them to enjoy and consider putting out some suet to give them an extra treat.

Birdwatching during migration season is a true delight, and each encounter with these remarkable birds is an opportunity to learn more about their incredible journey. So, grab your binoculars, sit back, and savor the magic of the Tennessee Warbler’s visit to your garden. Happy birdwatching!

The Lake Hills City Birds

Tufted Titmouse in Your Backyard: Feeding Habits and Safety Guide

Tufted Titmouse in Your Backyard: Feeding Habits and Safety Guide

Welcome back! Today, we’re revisiting a beloved guest – the Tufted Titmouse. These petite, vibrant birds are easily recognized by their striking black, gray, and white plumage and that distinctive tuft of feathers adorning their heads. They are quite whimsical and it is a joy to just watch them flittering around the yard.

Feeding Preferences:

One of the most endearing qualities of Tufted Titmice is their enthusiastic approach to dining. These feathered friends are not picky eaters and enjoy a diverse menu that includes:

  1. Seeds: Titmice are frequent visitors to bird feeders stocked with sunflower seeds and other nutritious treats. They also are big fans of suet, so ensure your feeders are well-supplied.
  2. Insects: During warmer months, titmice adds insects like caterpillars, beetles, and spiders to their diet, making them natural pest controllers for your garden.
  3. Berries and Fruits: Titmice have a sweet tooth and relishes fruits such as berries and small fruits like blueberries. Planting berry-bearing shrubs and trees can be an irresistible invitation for these feathered foodies.
  4. Nuts and Acorns: Titmice appreciate nuts and acorns, often storing them for later consumption. Peanuts, in particular, are a favorite. It is always entertaining to watch these little birds take them back to their homes.

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The Hoarding Habit:

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Speaking of food storage, Tufted Titmice are known for their impressive hoarding skills. They stash food away for later. Like us, these little birds are all about meal-prep.

Favorite Watering Spots:

Tufted Titmice loves ant moats on top of hummingbird feeders or small water trays on bird feeding stations. There are some people who like to put bleach in the ant moats of their hummingbird feeders, which can be harmful to the birds. It is better to avoid such practices for the safety of our feathered friends.

Ensuring Backyard Safety for Tufted Titmice:

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  1. Maintain Cleanliness: Regularly clean your bird feeders and water sources to prevent disease from spreading among the bird population. Titmice are communal birds, so a clean environment is essential for their health.
  2. Pet Precautions: If you have pets, especially outdoor cats, consider keeping them indoors or closely supervised. Titmice are vulnerable to predation, and your furry friends could pose a threat.
  3. Window Hazards: Reflective surfaces like windows can confuse birds, leading to collisions. Reduce the risk of accidents by applying window decals or using window screens.
  4. Nesting Boxes: Provide nesting boxes in your backyard to offer shelter and a secure place for Titmice to raise their young. Titmice readily utilizes these boxes when placed at the appropriate height and location.

As our tufted companions continue to grace our backyard, let’s play our part in keeping them safe and well-fed. Keep those feeders stocked with their preferred seeds, maintain a welcoming and clean environment, and take steps to minimize potential hazards.

Create a backyard haven for Tufted Titmice, allowing you to enjoy their delightful antics throughout the year. Happy birdwatching!

The Lake Hills City Birds

The Brown Thrasher: Georgia’s Avian Jewel

The Brown Thrasher: Georgia’s Avian Jewel

Brown thrasher sitting on a fence.

Welcome back, fellow bird enthusiasts! Today, we’re diving into the world of the brown thrasher, not only Georgia’s proud state bird but also a fascinating and feisty character in the avian kingdom. Are you joining us from Tennessee? If so, you’re in for a treat as we explore the intriguing rivalry between the brown thrasher and Tennessee’s state bird, the Northern Mockingbird.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the brown thrasher, its distinctive characteristics, habitat, behavior, and storied skirmishes with the mockingbird next door. So, grab your binoculars, a cozy spot in your backyard, and let’s dive into the world of these spirited feathered neighbors.

Meet the Brown Thrasher

The brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is a beautiful and charismatic songbird that takes the spotlight as Georgia’s official state bird. With its rich, earthy plumage, vibrant yellow eyes, and distinctive long bill, this bird is a true gem of the southeastern United States.

Physical Characteristics

One of the first things you’ll notice about the brown thrasher is its size, as it’s one of the largest songbirds in North America. Measuring about 11 to 12 inches in length and boasting a wingspan of up to 14 inches, it’s an imposing presence at your bird feeders.

The brown thrasher sports a warm, reddish-brown back, a cream-colored belly with bold dark streaks, and striking chestnut wings with conspicuous white wing bars. Its long and elegant tail flicks energetically while foraging, lending a charming touch to its appearance.

Habitat and Range

These thrashers are known for their preference for dense, shrubby areas such as woodland edges, thickets, and overgrown fields. They’re widely distributed across the southeastern United States, making their home from Florida all the way up to parts of New England.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Regarding dining habits, the brown thrasher is an omnivore with a diverse palate. They enjoy a diet that includes insects, spiders, fruits, and even the occasional small vertebrate. Their long, curved bills are ideally suited for probing the ground and flipping leaves to uncover tasty morsels.

Vocal Prowess

Its melodic and extensive song repertoire sets the brown thrasher apart. This bird is known to mimic the sounds of other birds and animals, incorporating various notes and phrases into its song. If you ever hear a medley of tunes in your backyard, it might just be a brown thrasher putting on a performance.

The Brown Thrasher vs. The Tennessee Mockingbird

Let’s delve into the fascinating feud between the brown thrasher and the Northern Mockingbird, Tennessee’s state bird. These two avian neighbors share more than just proximity; they often engage in territorial disputes that have intrigued bird enthusiasts for generations.

Brown Thrasher & Northern Mockingbird.

Territorial Battles

Both the brown thrasher and the Northern Mockingbird are fiercely territorial. They are known for their assertive behaviors when defending their territories, which frequently overlap in the southeastern United States.

When these two neighbors share a patch of prime territory, it’s common to witness spirited confrontations. These avian adversaries use various tactics to assert dominance, including singing loudly, displaying their plumage, and even engaging in aerial chases.

Vocal Showdowns

One of the most striking aspects of this rivalry is the vocal competition between the brown thrasher and the mockingbird. While the brown thrasher is a skilled mimic with a diverse song repertoire, the Northern Mockingbird is unparalleled in its ability to imitate the sounds of other birds, animals, and even mechanical noises.

During territorial disputes, the mockingbird often engages in a vocal showdown, showcasing its impressive mimicry skills by mimicking the songs and calls of other birds. The brown thrasher, in response, may intensify its own singing, creating a cacophonous symphony that can be both mesmerizing and bewildering.

Creating a Bird-Friendly Backyard

Now that we’ve explored the remarkable brown thrasher and its intriguing interactions with the Northern Mockingbird let’s discuss some ways to make your backyard a welcoming haven for these feathered neighbors.

Plant Native Shrubs and Trees

One of the best ways to attract brown thrashers and other native birds to your backyard is by planting native shrubs and trees. These plants provide food and shelter, creating an ideal songbird habitat.

Consider planting species like elderberry, holly, and dogwood, which produce berries that brown thrashers find irresistible. The dense foliage of native shrubs and trees also provides nesting sites and protection from predators.

Offer a Varied Diet

Provide a diverse menu to entice brown thrashers to visit your backyard regularly. Set out dishes of mealworms, fruits, and suet in addition to birdseed. These offerings will cater to the thrasher’s appetite and keep them returning for more.

Provide Fresh Water

A clean and reliable water source, including the brown thrasher, is essential for all birds. Consider installing a bird bath or a shallow dish of water where they can drink and bathe. Be sure to change the water regularly to keep it fresh and inviting.

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Limit Pesticide Use

Pesticides and herbicides can harm the insects that brown thrashers rely on for food. To create a bird-friendly environment, reduce harmful chemicals in your yard. Instead, opt for natural and organic gardening practices that promote a healthy ecosystem.

Practice Patience and Observation

Finally, remember that bird-watching is all about patience and observation. Keep your field guide and binoculars handy, and spend time quietly observing the avian activity in your yard. The more you watch, the more you’ll learn about the behaviors and interactions of your feathered friends.


The brown thrasher, with its distinctive appearance, captivating song, and spirited rivalry with the Northern Mockingbird, is a true gem of Georgia and the southeastern United States. Backyard bird enthusiasts in Tennessee have a front-row seat to the drama between these feisty neighbors.

By creating a bird-friendly environment in your backyard, you can attract brown thrashers and contribute to the conservation of native bird species. So, whether you’re listening to the melodic songs of a brown thrasher or admiring its tenacity in territorial disputes, remember that these feathered neighbors are an integral part of the rich tapestry of nature right outside your window.

The Lake Hills City Birds

Feeding Hummingbirds

Feeding Hummingbirds

The only hummingbird I have seen in my yard so far is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. I have several of them here right now, fighting over the feeders. In the city, hummingbirds like neighborhoods with mature trees and shrubs. They like gardens with plenty of flowers.

Did you know that the location of a hummingbird feeder is more important than the color? Some people place the feeders close to a window, which can be a hazard to hummingbirds. It is recommended to hang the hummingbird feeder at least 15 feet away from windows to prevent the birds from hitting the glass.

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Ideally, the feeder should be positioned 10-12 feet from trees or bushes where the hummingbirds can safely fly to if they sense danger. Predators such as cats, hawks, blue jays, grackles, and owls have been known to prey on hummingbirds, so it’s essential to hang the feeders in areas where the birds can enjoy their meal without fear of harm. If you have a cat, it is not advisable to hang the feeder on a tree limb. Using tall shepherd’s hooks is a good alternative.

Another important factor to consider is keeping the feeder clean. This particular hummingbird feeder features small glass balls, making it easier to clean. It is crucial to regularly change the sugar water, as stagnant water can develop harmful bacteria. Larger feeders should not be filled completely with sugar water, as it should be changed every few days. In temperatures above 90 degrees, the water should be changed daily or every other day, while on cooler days, it can be left for 2-3 days. Proper education and adherence to best practices are essential when feeding hummingbirds.

In addition to their nectar and sugar water diet, hummingbirds are known to include insects in their meals. I have personally witnessed these agile creatures skillfully capturing mosquitoes and gnats on the fly. It is fascinating how their diet incorporates both sweet floral nectar and small insects, making them versatile and resourceful feeders. Creating a garden full of flowers can greatly enhance the chances of attracting more hummingbirds to your yard.

The Lake Hills City Birds

The Charming House Finch: A Guide to This Colorful Backyard Bird

The Charming House Finch: A Guide to This Colorful Backyard Bird

When it comes to the world of backyard birds, the House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) is a true star. These charming little creatures are common in many parts of North America and have found a way to thrive in urban and suburban environments. Today, we’ll look closer at the House Finch, exploring its fascinating characteristics, behavior, and tips for attracting them to your backyard. So, let’s dive into the world of this delightful avian neighbor.

Understanding the House Finch

  1. Physical Appearance: House Finches are small birds measuring 5 to 6 inches long. Their plumage is a blend of brown streaks and vibrant colors, with males sporting a bright red crown and throat while females have a more subdued brown and streaked appearance. These differences in appearance make them easy to distinguish.
  2. Range and Habitat: House Finches are incredibly adaptable birds, and you can find them throughout North America. They are often seen in urban areas, parks, gardens, and farms. Their versatility in habitat choice has helped them thrive in various environments.
  3. Dietary Preferences: House Finches are primarily seed-eaters. They have a particular fondness for sunflower seeds, but they’ll also enjoy various other seeds, berries, and fruits. Providing these foods in your backyard can attract House Finches and provide them with a reliable food source.

Behavior and Interesting Facts

  1. Singing Talent: These little birds are known for their cheerful and melodic songs. The males often sing to attract females or defend their territory. Their musical notes can add a delightful touch to your backyard.
  2. Social Creatures: House Finches are social birds, often found in small flocks. Watching their interactions can be entertaining as they engage in playful antics and vocalizations. There is a belief in popular culture that the House Finch mates for life; this assertion isn’t true. They are monogamous for the duration of the mating season and may produce up to three clutches of younglings in a single season, but the bond does not carry on throughout their lifespans.
  3. Nesting Habits: House Finches are known for their adaptable nesting habits. They readily take advantage of man-made structures, such as hanging planters, eaves, and even outdoor light fixtures. Nesting materials like twigs, grass, and boxes can encourage them to make your backyard home. 

Attracting House Finches to Your Backyard

  1. Provide Food and Water: Offering a variety of bird feeders stocked with seeds and a clean birdbath for drinking and bathing can make your backyard a House Finch hotspot.
  2. Plant Bird-Friendly Plants: Planting native shrubs and flowers that produce seeds or berries can create a natural food source for House Finches. Consider options like sunflowers, coneflowers, and berry-bearing bushes.
  3. Nesting Boxes: Installing nesting boxes or providing nesting materials can make your backyard attractive for House Finches. Just be sure to place them in safe, secure locations.

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The House Finch, with its vibrant colors, sweet songs, and adaptable nature, is a delightful addition to any backyard. By creating a welcoming environment with food, water, and suitable nesting spots, you can enjoy the company of these charming birds year-round. So, turn your backyard into a haven for House Finches, and you’ll be treated to a colorful avian display that will brighten your days. Happy birdwatching!

The Lake Hills City Birds

Mourning Doves: Graceful Visitors to Your Backyard

Mourning Doves: Graceful Visitors to Your Backyard

If you’ve ever spent a tranquil morning sipping coffee in your backyard, chances are the gentle cooing of Mourning Doves has serenaded you. These elegant birds are expected guests in backyards across North America, and today, we’re here to introduce you to their world.

The Elegance of Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves are renowned for their understated beauty. Their soft gray feathers, slender tails, and striking ringed eyes give them a unique charm. Their wings emit a soothing sound when they take flight, adding to their elegance. It’s no wonder that they are considered the symbol of peace and grace among birds.

The Musical Duo: Mourning Dove Calls

One of the most captivating aspects of these doves is their melodious cooing. Their call can be confused with an owl’s to those listening with an untrained ear. If you’ve ever wondered who’s responsible for those mournful yet soothing sounds in your backyard, it’s likely a pair of Mourning Doves. They use their calls for communication, especially during courtship.

Intriguingly, each dove has a slightly different coo, and these coos can range from a gentle “cooOOoo-woo-woo” to a more rhythmic “coo-coo, coo-coo.” These calls can be enchanting, adding a harmonious touch to your outdoor space.

Mourning Dove Behavior

Mourning Doves have fascinating behaviors that make them a joy to observe. They are ground feeders, primarily dining on seeds and grains. Scatter some birdseed in your garden, and you’ll likely find them pecking away gracefully.
When it comes to nesting, Mourning Doves are models of loyalty. They often mate for life and share the responsibility of raising their young. Their simple nests can be found in trees, ledges, or even on your porch if you’re fortunate. It’s truly heartwarming to witness their devotion.

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Mourning Doves in Your Garden

If you want to attract these lovely birds to your backyard, it’s surprisingly easy. Consider setting up a bird feeder stocked with seeds. They’ll also appreciate a birdbath for a quick dip. Providing a peaceful and safe environment will make your backyard an inviting haven for Mourning Doves. 

Mourning Dove Conservation

While Mourning Doves are common, it’s essential to be mindful of their conservation. Their populations are stable, but responsible bird-watching and conservation efforts are still crucial. By providing a safe and welcoming space for them, you’re contributing to their well-being.


In your backyard, these graceful creatures bring an air of tranquility and beauty. Mourning Doves are the perfect companions for your morning coffee, adding their gentle coos to your moments of serenity. As you watch them feed and care for their young, you become a part of their world, and they are a part of yours.

So, next time you hear their mournful coos, take a moment to appreciate the elegance and charm of Mourning Doves. Share your dove-watching experiences with fellow backyard bird enthusiasts and join the community of those who find joy in these beautiful visitors.

The Lake Hills City Birds

Feeding Hummingbirds

Feeding Hummingbirds

Did you know it is easy to make your own hummingbird food? Use regular granulated sugar. Do not use honey or sugar substitutes. Avoid using dyes or food colorings in the nectar.

In the summer, I use 1/4 cup of sugar per 1 cup of water. During this season, the hummingbirds have plenty of flowers to obtain nectar from as well. As the weather becomes cooler, I adjust my recipe to 1/3 cup of sugar per 1 cup of water. I provide them with a little more sugar due to the scarcity of flowers around, as they rely on the additional energy for their migration journey.

When making a large batch of nectar to store in the fridge, I always boil it. If I am just making a small batch to change out in a couple of days, I do not boil it. I just pour the water from my Berkey and sugar together in a jar and shake it until it is dissolved.

During the hot days of summer, I change out the nectar every couple of days. So, I only put a small amount in each feeder. It can ferment quickly in hot weather. Change it often.

I have only seen Ruby-Throated hummingbirds in my backyard. That doesn’t mean that other types of hummingbirds haven’t visited. I just haven’t captured any on video or camera. Hummingbirds are so quick, it is difficult to tell exactly what kind they are unless they sit still for a few seconds. That’s why it is nice to have a camera set up at the feeders.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are those beautiful green hummingbirds we see at this time of year in Chattanooga, TN around our hummingbird feeders. The males have an iridescent red throat. It looks almost black when the lighting isn’t good.

Female Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a white throat with some light gray feathers. The females are typically larger than the males. Juvenile ruby-throated hummingbirds also have a white throat like their mothers.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the only species that nest in Tennessee. All others are just passing through to their nesting locations. There are two migration routes that Ruby-throated hummingbirds follow in the spring and fall.

The first route is across the Gulf of Mexico. Before they make this long journey, they double their body’s fat. This may be why you see some chunky hummingbirds later in the season.

These small birds fly southwest over the Gulf of Mexico to reach Mexico. The distance across the Gulf of Mexico is over 500 miles. This is a direct route with numerous obstacles in their way.

The second route follows the coastline, outlining the Gulf of Mexico. This is the longest route, spanning over 2,000 miles. Along this route, the birds have the opportunity to rest and refuel.

No one is sure why some choose the shorter route over the longer one. I guess it is no different from us humans; some prefer the scenic route while others opt for the shortest and quickest one.

I have tried several different feeders. This is the favorite style among the hummingbirds that visit my backyard. I have the third one.

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The second favorite is my ring hummingbird feeder. I purchased mine on Amazon, but it is no longer available. You can purchase individual ones like this if you want to try feeding the hummingbirds from your hands.

The Ruby-throated hummingbirds are very territorial. You can often see one hummingbird chasing the others away. I even have a video of one chasing a chickadee off a bird feeder that was near its feeders. It helps to set up feeders in different areas of your yard instead of all together. That way, separate territories can be established, and one bird isn’t controlling all of the feeders.

It is also helpful to have a water source for the hummingbirds. A shallow bowl with water or a birdbath with a bubbling fountain will attract hummingbirds. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for videos of hummingbirds, all of my backyard birds, cooking videos, gardening, and DIY projects.

The Lake Hills City Birds

American Goldfinch

This time of the year the American Goldfinches return to Lake Hills. A flock can be seen in the park enjoying dandelion seeds. They still have their winter colors which are a much duller color than the vibrant colors they have in the spring and summer.

This is a photo of the winter colors. This bird is probably molting. Notice how the colors look patchy? Birds shed (or molt) their feathers at certain times of the year to make way for their new colors. Goldfinches molt in late winter and late summer.

They love foraging through the tall grasses of the park. They enjoy all sorts of seeds. In March the grasses start growing tall here. The weather is still too cold to mow. These birds love it.

Here is a Goldfinch enjoying some flower seeds. When I put seed in my feeders, I make sure to have sunflower seeds because those seem to be a favorite of Goldfinches.

Female Goldfinches are brownish in color. The males have the bright yellow feathers.

Goldfinches breed later than most birds around here. They start to nest in June/July. They wait until plants like milkweed, thistle, and sunflower plants have produced seeds, which goldfinches incorporate into their nests and also feed their young.

They love when my sunflower seeds dry out. I plant them just for the birds. It is so entertaining watching these beautiful birds enjoy the seeds straight from the sunflower. They eat mostly seeds.

I hope you get some of these beautiful birds in your backyard. Add sunflower and nyjer seeds to your feeders for a better chance of attracting them.