Tag Archives: Backyard Happenings

Don’t forget the Hummingbirds!

I hope everyone is remembering to clean and refill their hummingbird feeders!!!

I make sure mine are full and ready for these sweet little birds even if I don’t see them coming to the feeders. I have had my 3 feeders out all summer, one of which is in my living room window, but I  just get  an occasional glimpse of a hummer stopping to have a drink.  It could be that there are a lot of flowers around, or we are just too busy with our own lives that we don’t notice them, but yesterday we were given a jeweled treat!  After work, as Brian, our friend Jeff and I sat on the deck, we saw a sweet little hummingbird coming to the feeder.  He’d flit in and out, but not stay for very long, maybe because our chatting was disturbing him, but at least we were able to watch a few of his acrobatic antics!

This morning I was up shortly after 7, grabbed a coffee and my camera to see if I could have a bit of private time with nature, specifically the hummingbird.  I was NOT disappointed!! 🙂  It had rained quite heavily last night and this morning was a kind of misty rain, but getting a damp bottom was a cheap price to pay to be able to watch the antics of the hummingbirds… Did you notice that I said HUMMINGBIRDS?  Yep, plural.  We definitely have 2 different birds coming to the feeder.  There is definitely a male and I’m 99.9% sure that the second is a female although there is a possibility that it may be a juvenile.  There may even be a 3rd.  While I was sitting watching, a bird buzzed, or should I say hummed, past my head to chase off the male from the feeder, then later the female got chased off too.  Hummingbirds can become quite territorial when it comes to a good food source.

I was sitting about 5 or 6 feet away from the feeder in order to get some good pictures, but each time I tried to bring the camera up to snap it would spook them and they’d flit off again.  Finally I just rested my arms on my knees and pointed the camera in the general direction of the feeder.  I put the camera on sport mode so I could just hold the button down and it would snap away.  Ya know, the stiller you try to be, the shakier you get! 😦   Of about 35 shots, 2 came out ok-ish.

Having a little rest

Having a little rest

Having a sip

Having a sip

Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you.  These little jewels are going to need all the help they can get before they start their southward migration for the winter.  Tomorrow and Monday I’m gonna get out the better camera and the tripod and sit and try and get some better shots and maybe some video.

TTFN,

Sherry 🙂

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Death by Bumble Bee?

This weekend my husband Brian and I were doing some staining on our back deck.  When we had finished what we were doing, I went inside to pop on facebook to see what the rest of the word was up to, when Brian called me and said “You’ve got to see this!”  So I hustled my butt back outside to find this.

We’ve never seen a Bumble Bee do this before!  Obviously, we grabbed the camera and started snapping away.  We  got a lot of great pictures, and it didn’t seem to disturb him/her.  Maybe it’s used to paparazzi or maybe it’s just a bit of a diva and likes to be in front of the camera.  For a while, lunch was on me 🙂

Lunch is on me :)

    Lunch is on me 🙂

 

Bumble Bee on my knee 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It stayed on my knee so long that we finally had to pick it up and move it.  The only thing at hand was a screwdriver.  We just scooped it and left it to finish its meal of yummy ladybug juice in peace.

I’ve never heard of Bumble Bees being insectivorous, so I was speculating on the fact that since Monsanto is killing off all of the bees, the bees have decided to go on the attack!  My guess is that they are starting on smaller prey first so they can perfect their technique before moving on to the larger vermin 😛

Ok, I’ve had my fun and speculation… now it’s your turn.  Is this actually a Bumble Bee?  It sure looks like one, but who knows?  Maybe you do.  Maybe Brian and I have discovered a new species… not likely but just in case I’ll call it the Campbellus bugeatus bumbleus 😀

So, go ahead, comment, speculate, have fun with it.

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Hummingbird Update

Yesterday I did a post on feeding hummingbirds.  This morning I opened up my facebook and my friend Garth sent me a link to the most beautiful hummingbird video that I just have to share with you.  Rather than just editing yesterdays post, I felt it deserved a post of its own.  Enjoy

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Hummingbird Season

I live in southern Ontario, Mount Forest specifically and every year I mark Mother’s Day as the time to get my hummingbird feeders

Hummingbirds feeding

Hummingbirds feeding (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

out for those little jewels of the air to drink to their hearts content.  But this year I fear I may be too late.  I occasionally check the The Ontario Hummingbird Project and this time when I looked there had already been sightings of hummers on March 19th!!  Almost 2 months before I even think about getting the feeders out.  They are checking to see if this is due to our unusually warm temperatures this year.

In any event, if you haven’t already gotten your feeders out or you are thinking about starting hummingbird watching (you won’t be disappointed) here are a few tips that may be of some help

Hummingbird feeding liquid

The liquid that is used to fill hummingbird feeders is a simple sugar and water solution.  It should contain ONLY sugar and water and NO OTHER ADDITIVES.

This “nectar is made up of a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water and will produce a liquid that will closely resemble the nectar found in flowers.

Here’s how to make it:

  • Add 1 part sugar and 4 parts water to a pan on the stove.
  • Stir to completely dissolve the sugar while bringing the mixture to a boil.
  • Boil the solution for 2 minutes to release the chlorine and kill any mold spores that may be in the sugar.
  • Remove from heat and cool
  • When cool, add enough nectar to your feeder to last a day or two, the rest may be stored in a closed container in the fridge for up to one week

Clean feeder and change the nectar regularly to avoid mold and possibly harming the birds.

Hummingbird red food color

The red dye in hummingbird food IS NOT NECESSARY to attract hummingbirds, and may actually harm the birds you are feeding.  Us a feeder that has red on it, tie on a red ribbon or add some red silk flowers to your feeder to attract the hummingbirds.

Feeding hummingbirds maple syrup

NEVER use maple syrup, honey, molasses, corn syrup, brown sugar or artificial sweeteners ~ just plain white granulated table sugar.

Choosing a hummingbird feeder

This is my preferred hummingbird feeder.  it’s easy to clean, doesn’t leak, has an ant mote and raised flower ports to divert rain and perches if the birds decide to rest a bit while feeding.  Best of all it’s not expensive!

Where should I put hummingbird feeders outside?

The ideal location would be close to a window in your house so you can watch the hummingbirds while you are indoors.  The feeder should also be hung in a shady spot if possible to keep the nectar from spoiling too soon.  If you use more than 1 feeder, hang them so that both feeders can’t be seen at the same time.  Hummers are very territorial and will guard a feeder by chasing off other hummers that try to use it.  If a territorial hummer can see both feeders he will guard both at the same time and make it hard for others to get a drink.

When my husband and I lived in Utopia, before moving here to Mount Forest, (yes, we did leave Utopia believe it or not ) I had 8 hummingbird feeders out at the same time!  After the first couple of years there were so many hummers that came back I had to place that many around so they could all feed easily.  I could almost set my watch to the birds coming back to the feeders at about 15 minute intervals.  When we left Utopia, I left the feeders behind along with instructions for the next tenants for feeding my little friends.  I sure hope the kept it up.

Well, that’s about it.  I hope we aren’t too late getting those feeders out, and I also hope this has answered any questions you may have had about feeding hummers.  I’m certainly no expert but I do enjoy the little time I have with hummingbirds so I’ve picked up a thing or two over the years, so if you have any other questions I haven’t answered,  please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I’ll get right back at ya.  Who knows, you may be asking a question that someone else is too shy to ask, or even one I don’t know the answer to and I’ll have to research it, but in any case we may all learn something new.

Have a great day,

Sherry

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April 24th, what the….?

Ok, Mother Nature, you can stop messing with our heads any day now.  First you give us a fantastic winter, for those of us aren’t snow lovers, it was wonderful, Thank You 🙂  Then you give us balmy, high 20’s C, sundress & flip flop weather the beginning of March, again, Thank You.  We really enjoyed turning up our faces to the sun and soaking in some much needed Vitamin D.  Then you gave us a sprinkling of snow on Easter weekend.  We can handle that, it’s to be expected…. But this!!! This is just nuts.  What gives???

This folks is what I woke up to this morning.  These are pictures of our back yard.  We are not amused!!

And if looking at it isn’t enough, its a soggy wet snow, you can see how heavy it is by the way the limbs of the tree are sagging right down to the ground. 😦  On my walk to the store this morning, I was slipping and sliding all the way, my socks and shoes are soaked and it’s STILL SNOWING as I write this at 11:20 am with no signs of it stopping.

There is more snow now than there was Christmas Day!!!

Hopefully, Mother Nature, you’ve got your little hissy fit out of your system and you will return us to our regularly scheduled weather…. puhlease!!!

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Sherry

 

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Feed the Birds

Ruby-throated hummingbird, male (Archilochus c...

Image by Vicki's Nature via Flickr

Hummingbirds that is 🙂  If you were lucky enough to get a hummingbird feeder for Mother’s Day, or you purchased you first one for yourself, here in Canada it’s time to get those feeders out.  Actually it’s a little past time for.  Mother’s day is a good rule of thumb for remembering to fill the feeders for these little flying jewels.

Here in Ontario I’ve only ever seen the Ruby Throated hummingbird although there have apparently been reports of others that are considered rare or accidental.  Oh how I’d love to see them 🙂

Keeping your feeder filled and clean is very inexpensive and easy.  Please don’t waist your money on store bought “nectar” and please don’t EVER use the nectar that is coloured red or add red food colour to your home made nectar it is harmful to the birds and is totally unnecessary.  One other don’t is NEVER use honey water solution.  It will ferment and culture bacterium that can quickly become toxic and deadly.

So with the don’ts out of the way here are the simple and inexpensive do’s.

The Proper Sugar Solution Recipe for Feeding Hummingbirds:

Four parts water to one part white sugar. (For instance, one quarter cup of sugar stirred into one cup of water.)

Tap or well water is preferred; do not use distilled as it takes out too many naturally occurring minerals. If you use a water softener, you may want to use partial or totally filtered water; softeners may add too many minerals and salts to the water.

Room Temperature Method: Use very warm water (not hot) right out of the tap. Some brisk stirring is all that is required to dissolve the sugar. Let it cool a bit before setting out a feeder if the sugar water is hot to the touch.

Boiling Method I: Some people prefer to boil their sugar solution to retard the growth of bacteria and mold. Use boiling water to mix up the above-mentioned sugar solution; allow it to cool before placing outside.

Boiling Method II: Sometimes you may still have problems even if you have been boiling your water; the trouble could be contamination in your sugar. This method should take car of the problem. Mix up the 4:1 water-to-sugar solution in your normal preparation amount. Bring this to a boil on the stove and allow it to boil for a minute or two. Bring more (plain) water to the boil in another container at the same time. Pour the boiled sugar solution into a clean and sanitized measuring container (you don’t want to undo your efforts!). If some water boiled off, add plain boiled water to the boiled sugar solution to bring it back up to the original amount it was before boiling. It’s a bit more work, but the boiling method tends to extend the “shelf life” of the sugar solution.

Sugar solution can be made ahead and kept up to a week in the refrigerator.

Discard any sugar solution that has turned cloudy or contains black mold, no matter how “fresh” the solution is.

A tip: Only fill your feeders with enough sugar solution to last, at the most, two or three days. There is no sense in throwing most of the sugar water away when it goes bad before the hummingbirds drink all or most of it.

Cleaning Your Hummingbird Feeder:

Sugar solutions last about three to five days under normal outdoor conditions, longer in the cold and less in extreme heat. Feeders should be emptied and cleaned as soon as the sugar solution starts to appear cloudy (which can be in only a day or two if it is very hot or the feeder is in a sunny location, or if your feeder or solution is contaminated). There are a few different ways to clean and sanitize your feeder; no matter your choice, always rinse your feeders thoroughly after washing. Rinse, rinse, rinse; and when you think you’ve rinsed enough, rinse one last time.

Various cleaning methods include washing in warm water and mild dish soap; in boiling water only or with boiling water and a mild dish detergent; or washing with vinegar and water. Rinse well if you use anything in addition to plain water.

Feeders washed with warm water or warm water and soap can then be sanitized by soaking them in a mild bleach solution (in a 1:10 ratio = one part bleach, ten parts water; I usually go for one small “glug” of bleach per sink-full of water) for an hour, followed by lots and lots of rinsing.

Remember: rinse well!

So there you have it!  I know with my feeders, I can almost set my watch to the hummers coming to the feeder.  The seem to come back and feed at 15 minute intervals.  The antics that they go through are so rewarding to watch.  I’ve even been on the deck wearing a red shirt and had them come right up to me and hover thinking I was a huge flower.  I’m sure they were disappointed but I sure enjoyed it 🙂  It was late September when I last saw our hummer around our feeder last year.

There is a ton of information on hummingbirds and hummingbird feeders on the web if you want more info, but I think these basics are all you need to get started enjoying these little flying jewels.

Sherry

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Robin Sighting

The American Robin

Image by **Mary** via Flickr

Woo Hoo!! Today I saw my first robin.  At 9:15 this morning a robin flew over my house and landed in a tree in my back yard.  I’ve been smiling ever since!  Maybe spring will be heading our way after all.

So in honour of my first robin sighting of spring, I found this cute poem.

The Robin’s Bath

by  Evaleen Stein

A flash and flicker of dripping wings,
A wet red breast that glows
Bright as the newly opened bud
The first red poppy shows,

A sparkle of flying rainbow drops,
A glint of golden sun
On ruffled feathers, a snatch of song,
And the robin’s bath is done.

Happy Spring everyone 🙂

 

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