Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.
Nature happens. We cannot MAKE natural things happen (or NOT happen). We can create habitats to encourage natural things to happen around us, but there are no guarantees.
Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.
I had a batty room mate the other night. It snuck in some small opening, probably along the edge of my sliding screen door. It was greeted by my cat, and the chase and flapping of wings woke me up. I flipped on the light switch and met my roommate for the night: a Big Brown Bat!
After hustling the cat out of the room and closing the door to confine it to my bedroom, I snuck out to get a long pole, namely a skylight crank pole. I opened the balcony door and lowered the upper sash of the double hung window to give him two escape routes. I turned on the balcony light, hoping to attract moths to lure the bat out.
But my bedroom ceiling peaks at 10 feet high, and the bat just wouldn't fly low enough to fly out the window or door. Every time I nudged him with the pole, he just flew a few circles around the high ceiling and would land and hang upside down at the peak of the ceiling.
It was 4:00 in the morning and we were not making any progress, so he decided to just stay the night, hanging high at the ceiling peak. We left the door and window wide open just in case he wanted an early check-out.
Big Brown after his check-out
But in the morning, he was still perched in the same place. We tried a new tack: we put a towel on the end of the pole and when we put it near him, he clutched onto the towel. We quickly stuck the pole outside the door, and the bat took off and landed on the balcony rail. After a quick photo, he was gone, hopefully returning to his bat house on the front of the garage.
Three bats in there - I hope one is my room mate. (We'll clean the wasp nest out after they've left for the season)
Don't worry - the cat is okay and we're okay, albeit a little tired from some lost sleep due to our uninvited house guest.
This spring, our friend and WBU customer Carol C. gave us a gift from her heart: she dug up and shared some Cardinal flower from her garden.
Cardinal flower, or Lobelia cardinalis is a perennial with beautiful red flowers. Their tubular shape makes them attractive to hummingbirds and as hummingbirds partake of the nectar, they serve as a pollinator for the plant.
Cardinal flower can tolerate sun as well as part- to full shade, but with our sandy soil, I thought it was best to plant it in mostly shade. It prefers moist soil (I have none!), so I added a good deal of organic material to the hole I dug, and I am watching it closely to make sure the plant doesn't dry out. It looks beautiful underneath the plum tree just off the corner of my front deck.
It did bloom this year, but between the shock of transplanting and the relatively dry summer, I'm assuming nectar production was minimal. I did see hummingbirds visit it occasionally, giving me an opportunity to share a picture or two with you.
Thank you so much to Carol for sharing this gorgeous plant with us. We will always think of her when hummingbirds visit it!
And if you are lucky enough to have Cardinal flower in your yard, why don't you think about sharing some with a friend? That's the fun thing about perennials: you can share them and still never seem to run out!
Is this a picture of the last male hummingbird? It was taken August 21st and it could just be the last adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird I see until next spring.
Fall hummingbird migration is in full swing and adult males are the first to depart. My resident adult males are probably already gone, and any adult males I've seen over the past week or so have probably been migrants stopping to refuel at my nectar-rich patch.
While it is much easier to record arrival dates than departure dates, I've tried nonetheless and over the past four summers, the last adult male was seen somewhere between August 24th and August 28th, with the average being August 25th.
So I'll probably have a couple more days to enjoy the handsome devils. It seems like only yesterday that they first arrived.
If you're not being dive-bombed by hummingbirds when you walk out your door, you might be missing quite a show!
Hummingbird young fledged weeks ago so the number of hummingbirds out there is greater than just a month ago. Migration has already begun, so all hummingbirds are bulking up for the long trip to their winter home in Mexico or central America. And in some areas where the summer has been unusually dry, nectar-bearing flowers are producing less natural nectar for the birds.
As a result, RIGHT NOW is the best time of year to enjoy hummingbirds at your feeders!
If your hummingbird feeders aren't busy, as they should be, or if you want to attract even more hummingbirds, here's some steps you can take to enjoy all the activity:
Add more feeders. You can accomodate more birds by having more feeders in your yard. This is especially the case considering the hummingbirds' territorial nature.
Refresh your nectar often. Hummingbirds choose feeders just like they do flowers and those feeders that provide the best source of quality nectar get the most visits. Make YOUR feeders the ones the hummingbirds choose by providing clear, fresh nectar in a 1-to-4 sugar to water ratio.
Clean your feeders. Again, hummingbirds are looking for the best quality food sources. Slimy insides or mold around the ports make your feeders less attractive to the birds.
Don't delay - take these steps right now so you can enjoy the final weeks of hummingbird season!
I used to think that Blue Jay young were the biggest Big Babies! They dwarf other young birds like the chickadees and nuthatches, coming out of the nest big and noisy and so needy!
Young Blue Jay
But this summer, I've had a family of Common Grackles in the yard, and their big whiny young are the new winners of my Big Baby Award!
They follow their parents around begging for food and crying and crying and crying. The high-pitched squawking can go on for 10 minutes at a time. The parents ignore them, as if saying "if you're big enough to follow me around like this, you're big enough to get your own food! Now bug off, junior!"
Congratulations to the young grackles on their new award. Better luck next time, baby jays!