Category Archives: Wings & Things

Backyard Birdscaping

As wildlife habitats are threatened by incessant development, the creation of a bird-friendly environment, or “birdscaping”, is crucial to the existence of our wild bird population. A well planned birdscape will provide our fine feathered friends with a dependable source of food, water, and shelter while affording an enjoyable and educational activity for the entire family.

Benefits of Wild Birds 

Birds, the perfect backyard guests, provide more benefits than many homeowners realize. Wild birds can..

  • Control insects by feasting on both flying and crawling insects as well as slugs, snails and other creepy-crawlies.
  • Pollinate plants by flitting from flower to flower as they seek out insects and seeds to eat, all the while spreading pollen amongst the blooms.
  • Manage weeds as they consume copious amounts of weed seeds before the seeds ever have a chance to sprout.
  • Control rodents when raptors visit the yard in search of mice, rats, gophers, voles or other unwanted pests.

Attracting Backyard Birds

Fortunately, it is easy to attract a wide variety of backyard birds when you offer them what they need most – food, water and shelter.


Wild birds rely on both natural and supplemental food sources, so it is important to consider both when birdscaping. Feeding the birds is most important in the winter when natural food may be scarce, but they will visit feeders at any time of year. Migratory birds require additional food in the spring and fall as they pass through the region. Nesting birds rely on full feeders in the summer.

Wingard’s Market is proud to carry Cole’s Wild Bird Company products! A family busines (just like us) built on specialty blends that Richard and Nancy Cole originally produced in their home. The results were stunning as wild birds flocked to their feeder in record numbers. The neighbors took notice, and the rest is history.

All birdseed is not equal. Cole’s seed mixes are based on solid research of the dietary needs of birds and formulated to attract the most birds to the feeder with less waste. Give Cole’s seed blends a try today and see the difference for yourself.  Learn More!

Would you like to purchase on-line or in-store? Click here. Wingard’s makes it easy!

Some food tips:

  • Provide a variety of natural foods for birds by planting berry bushes, seed-bearing flowers, and nectar-rich flowers.
  • Leave imperfect and fallen fruit on the tree and ground for birds to nibble.
  • Minimize pesticide use so birds can count on insects as a secure food source.
  • Add supplemental feeders to your yard, such as seed, platform, suet, and nectar feeders. Clean all types of feeders weekly to avoid mold that can be dangerous to birds, and be sure feeders are full when birds need them most.


Improve your backyard bird habitat by adding water. Birds require a constant supply of clean water for drinking and bathing. This is especially important in late summer, when water is generally scarce, and in the winter, when it is frequently frozen.

Some water tips:

  • Place bird baths in a protected location safe from predators, and keep the baths filled at all times so a fresh supply of water is constantly available.
  • Thoroughly scrub algae off of bird baths as soon as it appears. Clean your bird bath weekly to minimize bird waste contamination.
  • Provide motion for greater attraction by using a bubbler, wiggler, dripper or fountain. Birds will see the sparkles and hear the splashes of the moving water encouraging them to visit.
  • Use Mosquito Dunks to safely prevent mosquito larvae in warm weather. A clean bird bath with moving water will also harbor fewer insects.
  • Add an outdoor-safe submersible heater to the bath in winter to keep the water from freezing or consider using a fully heated bird bath during the coldest months.


It is important to offer safe and comfortable shelter for your wild birds to nurture their young, protect them from predators, and shield them from the elements. Planting trees and shrubs and providing bird houses, along with roosting boxes and pockets, are all beneficial additions to your birdscape.

Some shelter tips:

  • Landscape with both deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs to offer birds different types of shelter in all seasons.
  • Minimize pruning to give birds denser, more secure shelter to take advantage of when they feel threatened.
  • Plant in layers and create thicket-like pockets or corridors in your landscape so birds can move around freely without feeling exposed.
  • Supplement the shelter in your yard with good quality bird houses, winter roost boxes or nesting pockets to give birds even more options to stay safe and secure.

When you meet birds’ needs for food, water and shelter, your birdscape will soon be home to a fun & friendly flock of Backyard Birds.


Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can help you determine which plants and products are best suited for your backyard birdscaping.


If you haven’t seen them already, it’s definitely time for hummingbirds to appear in South Carolina.  Thousands migrate north from Florida, Mexico, Texas, and South America, some tracking as far as Ontario.  According to Clemson University, mid-March was the arrival time for the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, the most prominent species that we see in the Midlands.  Watching these beautiful, tiny creatures fly to and from feeders and plants is simply mesmerizing and most certainly a sign that spring has arrived!  

To witness and enjoy the flight and feeding of hummingbirds, you need only add a feeder or two, and include a few of their favorite flowering plants to provide the nectar that will entice them to visit.  Many shapes and sizes of hummingbird feeders are available that provide a functional use and serve as an attractive addition to the garden.  Next time you visit Wingard’s, check out  our Birding Department located in the Fresh Produce Market.

It’s easy to make your own nectar…simply mix 1 part sugar in 3 parts water.  The sugar will dissolve best if the water is hot (be sure to let it cool before you put it in the feeder).  Store extra in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days. No need to add red dye, IN FACT, it may actually harm the little hummers. The nectar will last a bit longer in a part shady/sunny spot.  Clean the feeder frequently, at least twice a week, to avoid build-up of mold, especially as the weather gets warmer. Use a vinegar and water solution rather than soap. 

It’s a good idea to hang the feeder near a hanging basket or flower pot that contains one of the many plant specimens that attract hummingbirds.  Plants that attract hummingbirds typically have brightly-colored, tubular-shaped flowers that make it easy for the tiny birds to feed on nectar. They love red blooms, because the bees don’t, but there are many other bloom colors they will also visit. Once hummingbirds find a reliable food source, they’ll keep coming back for more. Try planting a variety of specimens so that you will have something blooming at different times from spring to fall.


AGASTACHE/Giant Hyssop/Hummingbird Mint – perennial in the mint family; showy, fragrant, long-blooming with spikes of flowers that bloom most of the summer.

CARDINAL FLOWER/Lobelia – perennial that blooms in late summer to fall; produces cardinal red blooms; great for wet areas.  Grows 3-5 feet tall.

COLUMBINEperennial; unique bell-shaped bloom with spurs in early spring; available in many colors; grows 3-12 inches tall.

CROSSVINE/Bignonia – Vigorous perennial vine that climbs by using tendrils to wrap around stems or bark for support as it grows up tall objects like fences, walls or pine trees. Blooms in late winter to early spring on new wood in clusters of 2-5 flowers. Flower color can range from orange and yellow to reddish-orange.

INDIAN PINK/Pinkroot – SC native perennial with showy, tubular flowers that mature to scarlet red in early summer. Each flower opens with 5-pointed petals that create an intense yellow star. Prefers moist soil; grows in an upright form, 1.5 – 2.5 feet tall.

MANDEVILLA/Rocktrumpet – Annual vine; produces bright colored, trumpet-like blooms and glossy green foliage from spring to fall.

PENSTEMON /Beardtongue – Perennial; many cultivars, with various bloom colors, as well as foliage colors; tall spikes form in spring with colorful tubular flowers.  Prefers dry, well-drained soil – will not thrive in moist soil.

PICKERAL WEED Perennial; great around ponds and lakes; grows in shallow water no more than a foot deep. Shiny green lance-shaped leaves emerge in the spring from below the water and eventually grow to 3-5 feet above the surface. Purple-blue 3 to 4 inch long flower spikes appear several weeks after the foliage, spring to fall.

SALVIA/SAGE Annual and perennial varieties available; many colors and growth sizes; annuals bloom spring to frost.  Here are just a few of the perennial cultivars: Cleveland sage (blue), Pineapple sage (red), Autumn sage (many colors), Mexican Bush sage (deep purple), Purple sage, Salvia microphylla (many pink and red cultivars), and Royal sage (red).

ZINNIAAnnual in the daisy family; assorted colors and bloom sizes available; deadhead spent blooms. Fairly drought tolerant.

The Scoop on Bird Feeders

The Scoop on Bird Feeders

Bird feeders offer the best way to turn your own backyard into a mini oasis for the wild birds in your area. They’re usually filled with a variety of seeds to suit the different species of our feathered friends. The most popular types of seed include millet, safflower, sunflower, and thistle.

Apart from satisfying the hunger of birds, bird feeders also provide an excellent treat for your feathered friends. To everyone’s surprise, some birds you would never think of can be witnessed in our very own backyards. Bird feeders come in different varieties and design depending upon the species of bird they cater to. The most common types are hopper feeder, seed tube feeder, hummingbird feeder, suet feeder, and oriole feeders.

  • Seed feeders are very popular; they come either with tubes or hoppers. Mainly these feeders are laden with sunflower seeds to attract birds like chickadees, nuthatches, and finches.
  • A suet feeder comprises of a cage-like structure made of metal, coated with plastic. It is this plastic that contains a cake or suet. Suet is mainly a bird feed including animal fat, which prevents the feed from turning rancid and protects it from the adverse effects of moisture. Also, they could be hung from windows or any tree tops thus giving us a clear view of the birds in action. These bird feeders attract woodpeckers the best.
  • Unlike the seed feeders, Hummingbird feeders offer the feed in a liquid form. This usually consists of sugary syrup solution that is particularly preferred by hummingbirds. To attract the bird, the solution is painted in bright color. But care should be taken while choosing the coloring material, for often birds fall ill to harmful coloring agents.
  • Oriole feeders are orange in color. They too supply a liquid form of nourishment. They primarily cater to birds having a uniquely pointed beak and tongue. Apart from the quality of the feed provided in a feeder, the success of this feeder largely depends on its location and when its placed out of reach of intruders like squirrels and cats.

In spite of providing us hours of bird watching entertainment, feeders still do have their own negative impacts on the bird community. If the feeders are not kept clean, they can spread disease among birds as they come in contact with one another.

bird feeders

We encourage you to stop by Wings & Things and check out all the different varieties of bird feeders we carry. There’s no way better to enjoy your backyard then inviting an array of beautiful birds to dinner.


Here at Wingard’s Market, we specialize in providing outstanding customer service, offer professional gardening advice, and answers to your everyday gardening questions. Stop by and visit our Beautiful Gift Shoppe and Fresh Produce Market while you stroll under century-old pecan trees. It’s truly a Garden Wonderland!

Located at 1403 North Lake Drive in Lexington, SC. Call us at (803) 359-9091

Become a Winter Bird Watcher

become a winter bird watcher

Nothing is more beautiful than looking out your window to see the bright red of a cardinal or the lovely colors of a blue jay perched on a bare winter branch. Bird watching in the winter is an amazing experience, and even the chatter of a chickadee can bring a smile to even the grayest winter day.

While most folks enjoy cold days snuggled up warm and dry in their homes, winter is the ideal time to venture outside to bird watch.  The bare trees make it easier to observe birds in their natural habitat, making winter the best time to sharpen your bird identification skills.  

Here are a few tips to make your backyard winter bird watching a success.

  • Bird feeders, unfrozen bird baths, and suet feeders are all ideal for attracting birds to your yard.
  • Provide food and water every day. Once birds realize your yard is a consistent feeding stop they will keep coming back.
    • Stop by Wings & Things located inside the Produce Market at Wingard’s Market for a complete line Cole’s Birdseed and Suet, perfect for winter feeding.
  • Position your bird feeders in a sheltered corner of your yard that is protected from winter winds.
  • Plant native trees where they can be seen from your windows.
  • Leave stocks of wildflowers on throughout the winter such as dried flower heads of asters, coneflowers and other native plants for birds to feast on when other food is scarce.
  • Wildflower stalks also provide places birds can seek refuge from storms and predators.
  • Invest in a pair of binoculars so you can get up close to the birds that visit your backyard.

If you’re a new bird watcher, winter is the ideal time to begin.  Your yard is quiet this time of the year, and it’s easier to chart and log what you see before the onslaught of migrating birds starts showing up.  Make it an enjoyable winter pastime that involves the whole family.  Make a chart and leave it on a clipboard by your favorite viewing window. 

Here is what you’ll want to record:

  • Name of the bird. (If you are not sure what it is, leave a bird field guide close by for identification)
    • Stop by Wings & Things located inside the Produce Market at Wingard’s Market and pick up the bird field guide “Birds of the Carolinas.”
  • Date observed
  • Time of day
  • Place in the yard you saw it. Birdfeeder, brush, tree, birdbath
  • Activity (eating, nesting, drinking, etc.)

By keeping good notes of what you see you may uncover a pattern as to when you see the most birds in your yard.  You’ll learn the behavior of the birds that call your backyard home, and over time you’ll find out how to keep them coming back year after year.

In our South Carolina yards, you can expect to see one or all of the following species.  How many can you log from your own backyard?

If you want to enjoy bird watching even more, here are a few Apps and Bird Watches you may want to check into.

Winter Bird Watches

Smartphone Birding Apps


Here at Wingard’s Market, we specialize in providing outstanding customer service, offer professional gardening advice, and answers to your everyday gardening questions. Stop by and visit our Beautiful Gift Shoppe and Fresh Produce Market while you stroll under century-old pecan trees. It’s truly a Garden Wonderland!

Located at 1403 North Lake Drive in Lexington, SC. Call us at (803) 359-9091

Attracting Purple Martins to Your Yard

Attracting Purple Martins to Your Yard

Please note: Wingard’s Market will not be hosting any Purple Martin tours for the 2019 Season.

Central South Carolina and especially Lake Murray is known to be a favorite nesting spot for the beautiful and graceful Purple Martin.

Preferring to have a water source nearby (swimming pools, ponds, lakes) they are not your typical backyard bird. Members of the Swallow family, Purple Martins historically nested in cliffs and hollow trees, but today they thrive in man-made nesting structures. Typically social birds, they love to nest in colonies and will very likely return to the same nesting site year after year.

Purple Martins flock to Lake Murray


Understanding the Purple Martin’s particular needs is the key to attracting and enjoying these beauties in your yard.

Where most of your favorite backyard birds will visit your bird feeder, Purple Martins feed mainly on flying insects, which they catch in flight. Even grabbing a drink of water is different from your standard backyard bird. They will fly over open water and skim the surface to dip their bills in for a drink, instead of perching to sip like most birds. If you want to encourage them to your bird feeding areas, you can offer bits of crushed eggshells.

As with attracting any bird to your backyard, if you provide their basic needs for survival (food, water, shelter and nesting sites), you can invite them in.

  • Food – Purple Martins almost never visit bird feeders. They will skim over open grassy areas feeding on flying insects. As a bird landlord, you will want to avoid using insecticides in and around your yard that would kill off their main diet source.
  • Water – If your home is near a natural water source you already have a good chance they will find your yard home-worthy.
  • Shelter – Purple Martins are aerial birds and prefer open areas, as opposed to tall trees and bushes. They are agile fliers and will soar and dive around open spaces looking for food. Keep brush and vines cleared away from the base of their nesting boxes. They will avoid any areas that also attract ground predators, such as cats, raccoons, snakes and squirrels. Provide perching spots such as wires, clotheslines or antennas, far away from bird predators.
  • Nesting Sites – These birds are cavity-nesting birds and prefer old woodpecker holes, specialized gourds, and bird houses that are perched high off the ground in open spaces. The perfect spot for nesting is about 60 feet from your house and 40 feet from any large trees. The standard rule to constructing a Purple Martin house is there should be no trees taller than their houses within 40 feet. If you remember one thing it should be this: trees and Purple Martins do not go together. They construct their nests with dried pine needles, dry twigs, straw, leaves, grass, and feathers. Offer a stash of these favorite nesting materials in an unused suet feeder where they can get to it easily.

This is just a quick guide to attracting Purple Martins to your yard, but we have so much more to share with you stop into Wings & Things inside the Produce Market for more information.


Here at Wingard’s Market, we specialize in providing outstanding customer service, offer professional gardening advice, and answers to your everyday gardening questions. Stop by and visit our Beautiful Gift Shoppe and Fresh Produce Market while you stroll under century-old pecan trees. It’s truly a Garden Wonderland!

Located at 1403 North Lake Drive in Lexington, SC. Call us at (803) 359-9091

Create a Wildlife Friendly Backyard

Wildlife Friendly Backyard

Providing a suitable habitat for the wildlife in your backyard starts with you. Many of us don’t realize that the things we do contribute to the elimination of the natural habitat for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife in our backyards.

The Foundational Four
In order to create a wildlife habitat in your backyard, there are 4 things that every habitat needs and those are Food, Water, Cover, and Space to Raise Young.

There are things you can do that can provide adequate habitat for wildlife. Creating garden spaces that include native plants, water sources, nesting boxes and other features will add value to your yard and give wildlife a safe place to live and grow.

Feeders, Boxes, Plants & Pets
There is surprisingly a lot more to bringing birds to your backyard feeder that you’d think.

Invite wildlife to your backyard:

  • Planting more trees and shrubs is a major factor in attracting wildlife to your backyard.
  • Provide at least two places for wildlife to mate and raise their young. Mature trees, wetlands, shrubs, and wildflower patches are good choices.
  • Animals need a safe place to drink and bathe, add a garden pond or birdbath away from cats and other household pets.
  • Nesting boxes and bird houses are a great way of making up for the impact urban development has on natural nesting habitat.
  • Build a brush pile with yard debris to provide shelter for wildlife.
  • Add bird feeders near trees so birds can fly to cover and provide adequate food through the winter when natural foods are scarce.
  • Provide food for wildlife by planting native vegetation that supplies wildlife with nuts, berries, nectar and seeds throughout the seasons. Plant native plants suited for your growing conditions.
  • Studies show that year-round supplemental feeding at birdfeeders actually enhances the health and longevity of bird populations.
  • Eliminate the use of pesticides. Caterpillars, bugs, bees, and butterflies are the most harmed by pesticide use.
  • Domestic cats are a leading cause of songbird deaths. Keep them inside and away from your backyard wildlife areas.
  • Invite your neighbors to join you in creating friendly environments. Several joining yards designed to attract wildlife would be more effective than one single backyard.

What’s in your backyard?
BirdsMammalsSnakesLizardsTurtlesFrogs & SalamandersPollinators & Insects

Make creating a wildlife sanctuary a family affair. Discuss how you are helping design areas that will give wildlife a natural place to thrive and grow. Plan new gardens with a specific wildlife in mind. Create a butterfly garden, plant flowers that bees use to produce honey, add nest boxes and bird houses to save the birds, and add water features and habitat for small mammals to enjoy.

Certify your Garden
Learn how you can “Certify Your Garden” to show your commitment to wildlife!


Do you have questions about Backyard Birding or Wildlife?

Zach Steinhauser, our resident Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Specialist would love to help. Check out of Ask Zach page for answers or submit a question by emailing


Here at Wingard’s Market, we specialize in providing outstanding customer service, offer professional gardening advice, and answers to your everyday gardening questions. Stop by and visit our Beautiful Gift Shoppe and Fresh Produce Market while you stroll under century-old pecan trees. It’s truly a Garden Wonderland!

Located at 1403 North Lake Drive in Lexington, SC. Call us at (803) 359-9091