Tuesday, May 30, 2006

hummingbird feeder : Beginners flock to Birding 101 to learn basics

Special to the Homer News

It’s like being left out at recess. Everyone is busy doing something: Spinning around on that thing that makes you dizzy, playing 4-square or pushing each other on the swing. And there you are. Watching everyone else have fun. For non-birders, the Shorebird Festival may bring back those memories of being on the outside. But, how can you join in, or get excited about, something you know nothing about?

If the grade school tour around Gull Island didn’t pique your interest in birds, this class might.

9 a.m., more than 30 people gather in the high school choir room for their first lesson. The rest of the birders are out —birding. Karla Hart, Juneau’s Watchable Wildlife Program Coordinator, is the instructor. She waits for people to file in and choose which blue plastic seat they want to spend the next two hours in. Then, it begins.

Hart introduces herself and explains why she is well-qualified to teach a class to people who have never learned how to bird. Reason: She says she isn’t a very good birder, and besides, she’s not a morning person.

After her cheerful introduction Hart asks her first question: How many people consider themselves a birder? No one raises their hand.

“It isn’t some secret society or club,” Hart reassures the class. “You can bird anywhere.”

No response.

So Hart begins to tell the class why birding really is fun. Or how it can be fun.

“Birding is a lifelong pursuit,” she says. “Birding is something you should never stop learning.”

“You can start at one or 60 or 70.” At that nearly the entire class laughs. Most of them fit the older description.

Hart continues to lure the class. It’s relatively inexpensive she says. All you need to get started is a field guide and a pair of binoculars.

She pulls a stack of field guides from a desk. Different people have different tastes in guides, she says. Sometimes drawings of birds are easier for beginners to identify than photographs. Also, it’s a good idea to start with a field guide that is specific to the area, she says. That helps to eliminate all the birds that aren’t. Which could save new birders some time, because there are more than 10,000 species of birds in the world. Hart tells the class that there are “bird chasers,” people who try to see all the species.

One more reason why birding is a good hobby. You can do it anywhere. On vacation or sitting at home watching your bird feeder. Just remember to get a guide specific to the area if you’re traveling.

Now it’s time to see what the class knows about identifying birds. Hart pulls out a stack of pictures and holds the first one up in the air and asks the class to say what it is.

“Puffin!” everyone calls out.

The puffin is followed by a hummingbird, cardinal, toucan, owl, duck, flamingo, ostrich and parrot.

There is a bit of confidence growing in the class. Those were easy.

“I thought you guys just said you weren’t birders,” Hart says with a grin.

There are sheepish laughs from the class.

As you learn the familiar birds really well, Hart tells the class, it will make you more observant and teach you what to look for when you don’t recognize a bird.

Hart begins to quiz the class on how they recognized the birds in the pictures she held up. The shape of the bird’s body, beak and feet are clues about where to look in a field guide. Hart explains that field guides are organized by the type of bird.

“For the Shorebird Festival you’re going to be wearing out the first quarter of your guide,” she says.

Now it’s time for the class to try out their field guides and bird identification skills. Hart reaches into a bag and begins to pull out small, stuffed birds. She suggests that people work in teams and swap guides if they need to. Almost 15 stuffed toys fly out into the class. When squeezed, they mimic the call of the bird they replicate. To make the identification easier, Hart also passes out a list. She promises that all of the stuffed birds are on the list. The class just has to write the number on the bird’s tag next to the name on the list. Simple.

The next half hour is spent flipping through field guides. The birds to be passed along the fastest are a bald eagle and robin. Others take more time, like the Smith’s longspur and hermit thrush.

As she collects the stuffed birds Hart warns the class that in real life they won’t be able to hold the bird and squeeze it to make it talk. When watching a bird that is new, Hart advises the class to not rush straight to their field guides. Spend time watching it, how it moves, what it eats and if it has any distinctive markings. She says that it is a common mistake of beginning birders to think they have discovered a new or rare bird.

As the hands on the clock near 11, Hart gives some final advice to the class.

“If you only go with the good birders, it’s easy to become a lazy birder.”

She says that beginning birders should go with people of their own level. That way they are challenged to figure out birds for themselves.

“Don’t expect to identify every bird that you see,” she adds.

“Make it easy and fun for yourself.”

A final note on birding etiquette — always put the binocular strap around your neck when borrowing a pair from another birder — and class is over.

No more feeling left out. No secret club. Just a field guide and a pair of binoculars. Bring on the birds.

hummingbird feeder : New store opens with new mural

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White Post artist and columnist Doug Pifer painted a mural at Wild Birds Unlimited, owned by Bruce and Dolores Johnson. The store is on Route 11 north in Creekside Station of Kernstown. It opened May 1.

The mural covers the entire wall around the entrance and windows at the front of the store, and depicts birds in a backyard habitat. The mural takes you through all four seasons, showing various feeders and bird attractors. Some 30 species of birds are depicted in situations typical for them.

Habitats for backyard include a garden with hummingbird and finch feeders, a dead snag in an overgrown fence row, an open field with a bluebird house, a house for purple martins and a bird feeder and bird bath set up in a backyard. A cob of corn is nailed to the trunk of a tree to attract squirrels and larger birds.

On either side of the store Pifer painted two 3-foot deep panels just below the ceiling, which depict spring and fall sky scenes. On the right wall, a 30 foot panel shows a spring sky with a treetop containing migrating warblers, and a broad-winged hawk being chased by a kingbird. On the left wall, a 20-foot panel shows an evening sky with a moon. It features a migrating flock of geese, a bat and night migrating songbirds flying across the face of the moon.

©Times Community Newspapers 2006

hummingbird feeder : Summer guest already here

Published Tuesday, May 9, 2006 2:14:01 PM Central Time

Bob Anderson of Marenisco reported Monday, "I saw my first hummingbird (male) at 7:50 a.m. this morning and have seen one four more times this a.m., possibly a different or the same one."

Anderson put out the first feeder full of his homemade nectar on April 17. The earliest bird he has seen in his yard was May 2, 2005.

The Marenisco birder puts out 10 feeders that draw dozens of the tiny hummers to his yard. He charts his first sighting in the spring and last in the fall on a calendar.

Last summer, ornithologist Allen Chartier from lower Michigan came to Anderson's yard to band hummingbirds for two days. Data he recorded about 93 birds during that weekend is on the Web site amazilia.net/MIHummerNet/GOG1.HTM

Sunday, May 28, 2006

hummingbird feeder : Hummingbird Workshop Saturday

BY SARA LINDAU: Staff Writer

Hummingbirds fascinate hu-mans with their delicate, two-inch long bodies and iridescent feathers, weighing as much as a dime and fearlessly visiting porch sugar-water feeders.

Their tiny wings beat so fast, it looks like a blur. They have needle-like beaks.

?Hummingbirds are definitely special for people,? said ornithologist Susan Campbell, who will hold a workshop Saturday morning at the Pinehurst Village Assembly Hall from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on how to attract hummingbirds to your yard. The workshop is free to the public and is the third in a series about different birds and wildlife begun in 2006 by the Pinehurst Conservation Commission?s Greenway Wildlife Habitat Committee.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are prevalent in the Sandhills during the spring and summer, when eggs are laid and hatched, sending their fledglings out of the nest around July. The males, which are smaller than the females, begin to migrate south in August for the winter season.

?I hear from people all the time, a Hummingbird will come to a window closest to a feeder when the feeder is empty, and it seems to be trying to give humans the message that the feeder needs to be refilled,? Campbell said.

Such anecdotes are fascinating, she said. Moreover, the sugar water and nectar aren?t necessary to their survival. The staple protein in the birds? diet comes from small insects such as fruit flies or mealy bugs, Campbell said.

The birds can be aggressive with each other when disputing territory, even doing body-slams, she said.

In some situations, they can fly up to 80 mph, though 40 mph is the normal speed.

Migration patterns differ for some other varieties, she said. The larger rufous hummingbird has been documented in the winter season along North Carolina?s coastal areas, particularly in Dare County.

So far, she?s banded more than 2,000, mostly ruby-throated hummingbirds, and during her year-round research she has studied close to 500 rufous hummingbirds in North Carolina, as well as calliope and black-chinned hummingbirds. She documented the state?s first broad-billed hummingbird, broad-tailed hummingbird, Allen?s hummingbird and green-breasted mango.

Most Wednesday mornings, Campbell does her trapping, banding and recording at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve in Southern Pines, where she works part-time as a naturalist. She allows visitors to observe while she traps and bands the birds, and examines ones she has already banded that may be caught in the trap.

She records data on the birds in a logbook. That data is fed to a database with the federal Bird Banding Laboratory in Maryland.

Hummingbirds need evergreens and other protective vegetation that permit them to be fairly high off the ground for nesting and also for feeding, she said.

?They know cats are a danger to them, but hummingbirds will feed around big dogs without a problem,? she?s observed.

Their legs are short and they depend on their wings more than some other birds, because taking off on the ground is difficult, she said.

Campbell earned her master?s degree in zoology with a minor in ecology from North Carolina State University in 1997. She earned a bachelor?s degree in natural resources with a concentration in wildlife biology from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in 1988. A native of Philadelphia, she lives in Whispering Pines with her husband, Pete Campbell, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency biologist.

Campbell?s hummingbird research work at Weymouth is done on a volunteer basis. She is licensed by both North and South Carolina to band hummingbirds.

She also holds a federal license, allowing her to band them anywhere in the United States.

She is affiliated with The Hummer Bird Study Group in Clay, Ala., and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

Campbell must rely on donations for her research work. Donations may be sent to Friends of the Museum/Hummingbird Fund, Box 26928, Raleigh, NC 27611-6928.

Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at slindau@thepilot.com.

hummingbird feeder : Get News Feeds

May 27, 2006

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world's only daily column where the word "hummer" invites intriguing comparisons.

If you've been listening lately, you've probably heard the sounds of some of Summit County's most interesting harbingers of summer. Yes, that's right - the hummingbirds are back. Colorado is blessed with more than ten species of the tiny flyer, and several of these frequent the watering holes set up around our county to attract them.

The Calliope hummingbird is North America's smallest bird and can often be seen with it's delicately designed neck scarf at High Country hot spots. For those unfamiliar with the ways of the hummingbird, it's the Rufous hummingbird that often acts like the big bully - aggressively buzzing other hummers at feeders, even when he's not hungry.

Hummingbirds, or "hummers," as they are known in the birdwatching world, are pretty amazing. Just to go over a few hummer facts: most weigh less than a penny, they're the only bird than can fly upside-down and hover in midair, their hearts beat up to 1360 times a minute (whew! just imagine the wear and tear on their heart-rate monitors!), they take 250 breaths every minute and most of them fly about 1500 miles twice a year during their migrations back and forth to Central America.

No wonder they usually look kind of edgy.

Admiring the first few intrepid hummers at our feeder on the front porch got us to thinking about the other kind of "hummer," and then we started making comparisons.

There are three species of the other Hummer found in Colorado: the H1, the H2 and the H3 - obviously not named by bird fanciers. The H1 no longer breeds and will soon be extinct. The H2 is the most common Hummer found in the High Country, but H3 numbers are increasing.

Scientists have studied the airborne hummers for centuries, but Hummer science dates back only to 1992, when Arnold Schwarzenegger convinced automakers to market the military vehicle to civilian consumers. The California governor reportedly now has eight Hummer specimens in his collection.

In contrast to hummers, Hummers are BIG. The H2 is nearly 16 feet long, seven feet wide and six feet tall. It weighs 6400 pounds. Its fuel consumption, however, is similar to that of a hummer. Hummingbirds need to ingest up to eight times their body weight in fuel every day. Hummers don't need that much, but the most generous estimate of their fuel efficiency is about 13 miles per gallon.

In terms of plumage, an iridescent hummer zooming by can elicit admiration from even the most jaded nature-watcher. Hummers, on the other hand, aren't really anything special color-wise. The H2 comes in seven different hues. We wonder about the colors called "stealth gray" and "victory red," but we'd rather not think about it too much.

Probably the greatest contrast between hummer and Hummer is their respective prices. Hummers are basically free. They show up every year even when we don't mix up a little sugar water for them. The other kind of Hummers are distinctly not free. The soon-to-be-extinct H1 carries a price tag of more that $125,000. The list price of the more modest H2 is only $52,000.

Armed with all this knowledge, we now feel extremely grateful that the little glass apparatus with fake red plastic flowers that dangles on our deck attracts only hummers, not Hummers.


It's Sunday folks, and we're sitting back, trying to picture a hummer behind the wheel of a Hummer.

hummingbird feeder : Spiffing up Wayland with beautiful garden

Thursday, May 25, 2006

As of this writing, anyway, the steady rains became somewhat intermittent. During one of the lulls - and born of an optimism of surviving yet another New England winter - I joined the hordes of shoppers at the various nurseries, garden centers and home improvement outlets in the area searching for plants, pots, hanging ornaments and other accoutrements to bring that long-awaited color to my surroundings.

On a whim, I even ran off to Drumlin Farm to see if they had a hummingbird feeder that I could attach to my kitchen window. They did, and I bought and installed it.

This frenzy of spiffing up reminds me that the town owes a great debt of gratitude to the all-volunteer Wayland Beautification Committee, which will likewise be springing into action as the sun emerges and the temperatures climb.

The Wayland Beautification Committee was founded in 1998 with just one goal in mind - to beautify highly visible areas of the town with garden spaces and trees.

Among their major projects to date have been landscaping and plantings on either side of the entrance to the landfill; improvements at both the front and the rear of the Town Building; gardens on many of the islands in the town's roads, including those at Five Paths and Hooker's Green; and the planting of nearly 50 shade and ornamental trees at schools, playing fields and other highly visible sites.

During the summer, they also place flower-filled barrels around town - at the entrance to the Route 20 shopping area, for example, and at the Cochituate Ball Field and Hannah Williams Park, among others.

The committee is supported by town funds as well as donations. This year's Town Meeting, in fact, approved funding for a drought-tolerant garden at the landfill. Last year, the committee weeded and mulched the area and defined a path with stepping stones. This year, shrubs, perennials and ornamental grasses are to go in. Residents will be invited to walk through the garden and get ideas of their own. Educational materials will also be provided. The committee hopes that the garden will encourage responsible use of water resources.

Town Meeting also approved funding for the design and installation of a garden space at the road island across from Mel's and the Villa Restaurant. The area is currently the site of a World War II memorial and a sign announcing entrance to the Village of Cochituate, as well as overgrown shrubs, trees and assorted plantings.

In addition, the committee sponsors the Keep Wayland Tidy Campaign, which was formed in response to the problem of litter in town. This initiative encourages residents to be aware of litter in public places, to develop strategies to lessen the incidence and effects of litter, and to promote programs to create and maintain a litter-free community.

Membership in the Wayland Beautification Committee is by participation. Any resident with an interest in joining is invited to attend informal planning meetings held on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 8 a.m. in the Town Building.

Currently, an exhibit in the ArtSpace of the Town Building showcases the work of this very dedicated group. The show includes "before" and "after" photos of many of their projects, plans for the garden at the landfill - which look charming - and educational materials about drought-resistant and other plants.

The exhibit, sponsored by the Wayland Cultural Council, is free and open to the public during regular Town Building hours through the end of June.

Susan L. Wagner is the features reporter for The Wayland Town Crier. She can be reached at "slwagner@wcfia.harvard.edu"

hummingbird feeder : In bird world, they're humdingers

The hummingbirds have arrived, flitting from plant to plant, feeder to feeder, nourishing their tiny bodies and those of their offspring.

Their arrival in my yard coincides with the blooming of two of their favorite plants: 'Goldflame' honeysuckle (Lonicera x heckrottii) and our native columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).
The first Spaniards to visit the New World called hummers joyas voladoras or flying jewels. That name applies to the ruby-throated hummingbird, the only one we have east of the Mississippi.
Hummingbirds love red, trumpet shaped flowers, those especially adapted for their long tongues. They also visit many plants with flowers that are not red. Although we think of hummers as nectar-loving birds, they also gobble up mosquitoes and many other insects.
Water is a key element in attracting any bird to your yard. Also, reducing or eliminating the use of pesticides ensures there are plenty of insects to feed the birds and pollinate plants, which makes more flowers.
Here's a brief sampler of easy-to-grow plants they can't resist:
'Black and Blue' salvia (Salvia guaranitica), one of the best hummingbird magnets in the garden. It is sometimes called hummingbird sage. Grown here as a summer annual, it has gorgeous cobalt blue flowers. It gets about 24 inches tall and wide and does best in full sun, although it tolerates light shade. Perfect as the centerpiece of a large container or in the ground. Also can be cut for indoor arrangements.
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) has brilliant red flowers and is another plant we grow as a summer annual. A spectacular new one, 'Golden Delicious,' has yellow foliage. Does best in full sun; tolerates light shade and can be used as a cut flower. Gets about 24 inches tall and wide.
Salvia splendens, a common garden bedding annual with red, white, purple and pink flowers. Does best in full sun to light shade. Ranges in height from 10 to 18 inches.
Geraniums (Pelargonium), especially the red ones that are favorites for window boxes, pots or in the ground planting. Geraniums do best in full sun. Most geraniums are about 15 to 18 inches tall. Great for cutting, too.
Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana), especially the night-blooming types. Hummers will likely be seen on these plants at dawn and dusk. Flowering tobacco does best in full sun to part shade. Ranges in height from 8 to 30 inches.
For more information about attracting hummingbirds to your yard, visit these Web sites:
Hummingbirds.net, www.humming birdnets.net.
The Hummingbird Society, www.hummingbirdsociety.org.
Wild Birds Unlimited, www.wbu.com.
The Hummingbird Web site, www.hummingbirdwebsite.com.
Duncraft, www.duncraft.com.
Capture the jewels

Duncraft, which markets birdfeeders, birdbaths, seed and other related merchandise, has invited people to send in their best photographs of hummingbirds.
Digital photos will be accepted through Wednesday. The winning entry will receive a Horizons Hummingbird Feeder. E-mail photos to info@duncraft.com.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, an Advanced Master Gardener, is a regional director of Garden Writers Association, co-author of "The Indiana Gardener's Guide Revised Edition" and a regular contributor to "Too Many Cooks!" at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays on WICR-FM (88.7). Her column, which emphasizes natural gardening methods, appears each Saturday in Home & Garden. Contact her at Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, P.O. Box 20310, Indianapolis, IN 46220-0310; fax, (317) 251-8545, or e-mail, hoosiergardener@sbcglobal.net.

Copyright 2006 IndyStar.com. All rights reserved

hummingbird feeder : Mullen: If you build it, they will hum

By Holly Mullen
Tribune Columnist

I dragged the 15-year-old to the crafts store with me on Sunday. We went to the ribbon aisle. I picked out spools of scarlet, DayGlo orange and fuchsia.
"Why are you buying ribbon?" he asked.
"I'm going to tie it to the trees to attract hummingbirds," I said.
"You have gone completely insane?" he asked.
He's right, I have. Twenty minutes later, I stood tiptoed on a patio chair, snipping at the grosgrain with scissors, knotting the fluttering ribbons to cherry tree branches and chanting a little mantra: "Come along little hummers, come along."
A friend gave me my first hummingbird feeder a couple of months ago. He tore a page from Bird Watcher's Digest and left it on my desk. Author Kim Marlsen, a teacher in Delaware, Ohio, contributed a piece to the journal that suggested hanging red ribbons to lure migrating hummers from the heavens for a closer look below. Now I am unflinchingly obsessed with these frenetic little creatures. No turning back.
I am in good company. Scores of sites specific to hummingbirds proliferate on the Internet. You can find anything at any time related to these tiny beauties. There are 16 breeds known to move in North America, according to http://www.hummingbirds .net and there is nothing terribly fancy about feeding them.
Basic white cane sugar dissolved in boiling water in a 1:4 ratio will make the nectar they love while they also feast naturally on trumpet vine, bee balm, hummingbird mint, penstemon and other cone-shaped flowers in the red- and orange-hued family.
Sorry to bore you with encyclopedic recitation of arcane hummingbird facts. But as I wrote in this space almost three weeks ago, I've done my crazed best to attract hummers to my little hanging feeder and hadn't seen a one.
Until that is, on Monday, May 15, at 9:31 a.m. Employing my neophyte hummer identification skills, I spotted what I think was a broad-tailed variety flitting about the feeder. Home alone at the time, I couldn't even share the joy with a piercing cry.

Nevertheless, I sputtered "h-h-h-u-m-m-er!" Then I ran to the dry erase board in the kitchen and recorded my find for anyone who cared.
Bob and Myrtle Dowell care. Bob is a Tribune reader who often calls and updates me on the dearth of hummingbird sightings in his West Valley City yard. "My wife wants to know if you've seen any hummingbirds yet," he always says. "Where are they?"
I did see another one the night before buying those ribbons. It was growing dusky outside. The little bird fluttered to the feeder, buzzed and poked around, then flew to a branch five feet up. It sat there, resting, for what seemed forever. And then it split, straight over the neighbor's roof.
On Monday morning, I called Owen Hogle, owner with his wife Sheri of The Wild Bird Center in Holladay. "Owen," I asked, "what's up with the hummer migration this spring? Where are they all?"
In his trademark patient way, Owen told me to chill. "We've only had about half the hummers we expect to show up," he said.
. Owen says they flew up from Mexico in late April as always. It got cold, so they flew a bit south again. Then it got blazing hot and they cut off to the mountains. "There were 200 counted on the deck at Silver Fork Lodge [in Big Cottonwood Canyon last weekend."
OK, now I get it. What we need is patience. At least more than the garden-variety hummingbird.
hmullen@sltrib.com or 801-257-8610

hummingbird feeder : Two bears roam Lino Lakes yards

Updated: 05/26/2006 08:56:05 PM

A pair of bears surprised some Lino Lakes homeowners Friday afternoon, as they roamed around yards near Otter Lake.

The bears were not aggressive, but did seem interested in some bird feeders.

"He broke my hummingbird feeder, then he went and sat on my flowers, then he tried to climb a tree," says Linda Elliot.

Elliot and other neighbors weren’t entirely upset about the bears’ presence, saying the bear in her yard “was cute.”

Lino Lakes police say the bears may have moved on.

One homeowner says a bear statue may have frightened one of them away.

Police say people should be more cautious of the animals than curious.

"If you see the bear, don't approach it," says Sgt. Bill Hammes of the Lino Lakes Police Department. “Certainly don't get between the mother and its cub, because that's when the mother will get very aggressive."

Bear sightings in the Twin Cities have doubled in recent years.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources estimate that 22,00 black bears live in the state.

hummingbird feeder : Ego Feeder

This morning I drove along Van Winkle where it intersects 900 East—the intersection named Best Intersection in Utah, according to City Weekly. As is usual this time of year, ducks and geese are in abundance, drawn to the ponds and creeks that run through that area. Also, as is usual this time of year, mother ducks and mother geese lead their younglings across those busy streets crossing from one water source to another. This morning two mother geese and more than a dozen chicks stopped six lanes of traffic on Van Winkle. Mercifully, they all made it across the street safely.

Soon, though, I’m going to see as I usually do, piles of feathers here and there. Throughout that area of Murray where I live, birds and waterfowl are abundant. Every morning I rise to honking geese and ducks making whoopee. Besides the green space at 9th and Van Winkle, the area is home to fowl-friendly Murray Park and Mick Riley Golf Course. Both Cottonwood Creeks wend their way through town lending food and protection for our feathered friends. There are lots of quail this year, too. The Callipepla californica, or California quail, I presume, known to perch on fences, visit gardens and bear the distinctive forward feather on its head.

Add to the quail, ducks and geese, multiple other birds like finches, robins, sparrows, starlings, flickers, magpies with the occasional small hawk, and it’s like living in an aviary. I only mention all of this because of Holly Mullen. I always read her column. Today she wrote about hummingbirds. A few weeks ago, she wrote about hummingbirds, too, because she hadn’t seen any yet. I e-mailed her that I’d just seen hummingbirds all over Hermosa Beach and not to worry as they’re on the way to Utah. I guess they arrived, because today Holly wrote about recently spotting one, apparently a Selasphorus platycercus, a broad tailed hummingbird. I feel sorry for Holly because she has to resort to a hummingbird feeder to attract those laws-of-physics-defying little buggers. So, Holly, if you ever follow-up on that lunch thing, I’ll bring you some trumpet vine starts and you won’t have to worry about the proper sugar-to-water ratio ever again.

Hummingbirds are nuts for trumpet vines. Outside of them crawling under my roof tiles and down my drain spouts, my own trumpet vines—one red, one yellow—are a yard favorite. When they’re in bloom, hummingbirds abound, along with bees of every kind. Hummingbirds are also nuts for the color red, which is why artificial feeders are always red. So attracted to red are they, that I’ve seen them fly up to a lit cigarette—not that I’d encourage that. And as students of the hummingbird—at least of the broad tailed variety—know, they tend to return to the same nesting tree year after year.

That tendency is called philopatry—need I remind, a Greek word—which roughly means love or fondness for father or homeland. Thus, when the hummingbirds come back to their legacy nest, they whisk over to my yard for a nip of some neighborhood trumpet-vine nectar. I do the same thing. I call it philolephrecauni—my tendency to return to the Leprechaun Inn night after night. I’ve also been known to practice philoportocalla, philobambaros, and philomurphais. As bartenders across the valley know, I’m nearly exclusively a practitioner of philoseagrams.

I’m philo for just about everything. Horses, for instance, the love of which gives us the name of Alexander the Great’s father—Phillip, the horse lover—who allowed his son to tame the wild Bucephalus. Thus, my affection today extends to the great steed Barbaro who snapped his ankle during the Preakness Stakes last weekend. Barbaro may or may not recover, and it’s possible they’ll put him down. If I were put down every time I broke something, I’d be dead about six times already. Last week, I had an X-ray and was told I broke my back once. Mercifully, I didn’t know about it and doubly so, I’m not a horse. I’m philo for lilacs, too. A grandmother thing.

One thing I am not is philoego. I’m rankled by people who fail to tame their egos. There’s nothing wrong in my book with having an ego, not even a large ego; for, lacking an ego, success would be an ideal, not an attainment. It’s the jerks who need full-time ego fulfillment or extravagant ego expression who ruin my day. The guy who climbed up on Delicate Arch comes to mind. The guy who sends troops to war with a half-baked plan comes to mind. The “altruistic” catch-and-release fisherman who wastes precious time posing with his fish comes to mind since the oxygen-starved fish usually dies. The Fox News pundit who measures worth by winning arguments comes to mind. The “clean my birdcage” mayor of Salt Lake City decidedly comes to mind.

Besides Holly’s paean to the colorful hummingbird, the same Salt Lake Tribune announced that Salt Lake City Coucil woman, Nancy Saxton has announced she is running for mayor in 2007. In a hummingbird world, such an announcement might be met with any number of graceful variants by an incumbent. Instead, Saxton was met with a typical Anderson rebuff: “She’s been a terrible City Council member, and she’d be a disastrous mayor,” he told the Tribune, and “all you ever see from Nancy is delay, inaction, indecisiveness and a fundamental meanness.” I concede his authority on “fundamental meanness” for if anyone knows that subject, he’s the guy. Watch—now he’ll run just for spite and to save our city from Nancy. Wanna bet a VO water he doesn’t have a hummingbird feeder?

Send Private Eye comments to john@slweekly.com.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

hummingbird feeder : New Arrivals

Clear and calm nights have allowed a steady progression of migrants to move in and through the area. There have been numerous reports of newly arrived species over the weekend. Hermit Thrushes are moving through en masse, as are White-throated Sparrows. Yellow-rumped Warblers and Palm Warblers are on the move as well, and the next wave of migrant warblers has begun: I had my first Black-throated Green Warbler of the spring on Sunday at Hedgehog Mountain. My 6-mile Pownal Walk this morning produced my first Brown Thrasher, and increased numbers of Chipping Sparrows and Blue-headed Vireos, and about 30 Yellow-rumped Warblers.

The clear and calm nights so conducive to migration is about to give way to a less-than-ideal few days. A large low offshore is going to produce clouds, rain (although we really need it!), and stiff northeasterly winds – not the best for flying north if you weigh less than a nickel! But, since it is already May, some birds will need to proceed despite less than ideal conditions. A similar storm to the one that we are about to see that occurred about this time last year produced unusually high numbers of phalaropes (pelagic wintering and migrating shorebirds) in nearshore waters. Seawatching should be productive for the next few days.

Furthermore, as migrants arrive despite the weather, they are going to be hungry! The cold and wet May of last year produced unusually frequent visits to feeding stations by warblers, Baltimore Orioles, and Scarlet Tanagers for example. When these species do arrive and find cold and wet conditions that minimize natural food sources (insects and nectar), many seek out bird feeders to help with sustenance. Orange halves, dried fruit, grape jelly, live and roasted mealworms, and insect suet are all very popular at this time of year. ONE DAY last May, our fruit and jelly feeder at the store hosted 7 Baltimore Orioles, 3 Orchard Orioles (rare in Maine), and up to 4 Gray Catbirds!

Speaking of new arrivals – the first Ruby-throated Hummingbird reports in Maine were received this weekend! Get those feeders out! And remember, use ONLY PURE SUGAR, in a one part sugar to four parts water solution. Nothing more, nothing less! Red dyes are worthless, and may be harmful to the hummingbirds (they’re also a waste of your money). Honey and molasses should be avoided, as a fungus can develop that can be fatally toxic. Although I minimize refined sugar in my own diet, refined white sugar is all we can use in a hummingbird feeder. White sugar is pure sucrose, which is what a flowering plant makes. Avoid nutritionally and calorically (Is that a word? Well, if the President can make up words, why the heck can’t I!?) worthless dextrose and artificial sweeteners as well. And don’t forget, you need to clean out your hummingbird feeders regularly. Cleaning them every 3 or 4 days reduces the need for scrubbing and soaking, but they need to be cleaned AT LEAST weekly, more often if they are in full sun. A dirty hummingbird feeder with spoiled sugar water in not only unappealing to hummingbirds, but also potentially unhealthy!

Posted by Derek Lovitch at 02:16 PM

hummingbird feeder : Returning hummingbirds inspire study of migration

Saturday, April 22, 2006
Times Staff Writer, patn@htimes.com
Bob and Martha Sargent hung a hummingbird feeder in their backyard in Clay and began to notice some unusual things.

They realized the same birds would come back to their yard, buzzing around the wire they hung the feeder on even if it wasn't up yet.

How, they wondered, did the tiny birds with their BB-sized brains, find their way back to the same yard and same feeder each year?

Finding the answer to that question began what has become a two-decade-long study of hummingbirds and other birds that migrate through and live in Alabama.

In 1994, the Sargents founded the Hummer/Bird Study group, a nonprofit, volunteer organization with more than 2,000 members in 43 states and five countries. The Sargents are licensed by the Bird Banding Laboratory, the government organization that allows the legal banding and tracking of birds.

Each year, the Sargents spend the first two weeks of April at their field station on Fort Morgan, banding hundreds of birds each year on their migratory path north. The project was featured in this month's Alabama edition of Southern Living magazine.

The couple also study hummingbirds in their own backyard. They have 12 feeders up now and will add more, with a total of 60 feeders up by July 4. That's an arbitrary date but one that's in the middle of hummingbird season and easy to remember, Sargent said earlier this week from his home in Clay.

Those feeders bring around 1,000 hummingbirds to the Sargents' yard each year. Of those, about 175 are birds they've banded before and another 800 or so are birds new to the yard - or ones they haven't caught before.

The Sargents put out 155 gallons of sugar water every year to attract the birds, with the biggest number of both fledgling hummers and adult birds coming in July through the middle of August.

From August to mid-September, the birds will begin migrating south for the winter.

© 2006 The Huntsville Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

hummingbird feeder: Dog-and-squirrel show for their own enjoyment

Gary's taking a two-week vacation from his cats. He'll meet you here for your usual morning cup of coffee together on May 23. We'll be printing some of his columns from the past while he's gone. Today's column is from May 17, 1993.

Dear Gary:

As I'm writing this, Artimis, my basset hound, is out baying his fool head off at a fat mother squirrel who is teetering on the back fence and chattering her little fool head off right back at him! This has been going on for days!

Four years ago when we lived in Concord, Artimis used to go through the same performance with a squirrel that lived there. What is it about our dog that seems to drive the squirrels nuts? (hee-hee!)

I'm also concerned about what might happen if mama squirrel accidentally falls off the fence. She comes so close to doing that, sometimes, and Artimis comes completely unglued.

Harriet W., El Cerrito

Dear Harriet:

Ah, yes, the old "squirrel falling off the fence routine." It fools them every time.

Squirrels are very playful critters and a favorite game is teasing dogs from the fence. They'd rather do that than crack nuts. They'll teeter and totter back and forth, lashing their tails, chittering and chattering up a storm ... suddenly slipping and falling ... only to recover mere inches from your berserk doggie's frantic jaws. And then back to square one to start the well-scripted process all over again.

It's not just your dog, it's all dogs (I'll bet a lot of dog owners are nodding their heads in recognition). If the complete truth were to be known, I suspect the dogs are having as much fun with the game as the squirrels are.

I once monitored a similar series of interchanges between my wolf-dog, Angeline, and a crusty old fox squirrel I called Kinky (because he had a kink in his tail).

For a solid week, every morning precisely at 6:30 a.m., all you-know-what would break out in the back yard, and for the next 15 minutes the two of them would bark and chatter and teeter and leap until they were both so exhausted they had to stop. Then they'd trot off in opposite directions, each content in the knowledge that he or she had bested the other.

Then, one morning, Kinky overdid it on the slipping and falling bit and landed right on Angeline's head.

There was a shocked silence, followed by a surprised YIP! And a hysterical SCREAM!, and they both scrambled, loped, skittered and galloped off in opposite directions as fast as their big and little feet would take them.

The next morning, precisely at 6:30 a.m., they were both back at it again.

Dear Gary:

My hummingbirds are giving me a message loud and clear: None of that junk food for me, thank you.

I see them frequently on the lemon tree blossoms and honeysuckle, but not once this year on the hummingbird feeder.

Yesterday, an Allen's hummingbird kept me company while I refilled the seed feeder. He was flitting from flower to flower on the lemon tree. I stood still and was thrilled to have him come within two feet. What a picture he is!

Betty Owiecki, Concord

Dear Betty:

In spring, with flowers blooming everywhere, hummers spend 90 percent of the time dining on natural fare. And who can blame them?

But they should be taking an occasional sip from the feeder. You probably just haven't noticed.

Cleaning your feeder with bleach or green soap will turn them off if you don't rinse thoroughly.

They can be real picky eaters.

Find more Gary in his blog at: blogs.www.contracostatimes.com/gary_bogue; write Gary, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099; old columns at www.contracostatimes.com, click on Columnists; e-mail garybug@infionline.net.

hummingbird feeder: Quilter has cherished handiwork

By Jean Deitz Sexton
May 8, 2006

Some fire departments have Dalmatians; a few have gourmet chefs, but only the Rough and Ready Fire Department is lucky enough to have Lillian Blakely, a quilter and Southern charmer who turns 90 this Wednesday.

Blakely, who has lived in Rough and Ready since 1970, has hand sewn one to two quilts a year for the volunteer fire department, as a member of its auxiliary. The department raffles off the amazing handiwork, valued at $750 and up, as part of its annual fundraising activities.

This talkative, vivacious woman is still quilting, sewing on her modern, Janome Memory Craft 9000, which fellow quilter and friend Nina Wyatt says is a machine coveted by quilters. Blakely has been quilting since she was a young girl, growing up in Cookville, Tenn. She estimates she has made more than a thousand quilts.

"I made nine this winter," said Blakely. "I love it. I do get tired of it by the time I get one done."

Although bowed over and on oxygen 24 hours a day, Blakely always has a quilt project in the works and her eyesight is still good enough to do the minute threadwork in the quilt patterns. "She quilts circles around me," says Wyatt. "What Lillian knows about quilting you don't learn from a book. It comes from the heart."

Blakely is in high spirits as she looks forward to a birthday party with friends and family coming from all over the United States. Her two sons, a stepson, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be among the family members celebrating with her at the modest ranch style home she built with husband Carl Blakely, her fourth husband.

These days, Blakely doesn't get out as much but she has a great view of a very busy hummingbird feeder directly outside the window facing her sewing machine. Her constant companion, 16-year-old Susie, a bright-eyed, bulldog faced Boston Terrier, is at her feet.

At one time Lillian and Carl Blakely had a vineyard on their property, an orchard and a thriving garden. "He would make wine and serve it to us at the fire department auxiliary meetings," she recalls. She has had to curtail gardening but still has a pretty white, wedding bouquet bush and other spring foliage coming to bloom on the property.

Blakely worked at what was Camp Beale, now Beale Air Force base, after World War II, and during the war, she worked as a tank wheel inspector in Detroit. She was also a Singer sewing machine instructor in Marysville. Various husbands took her to different locales but she eventually wound up back in California and married Carl Blakely, who died in 1993 at the age of 97.

An inveterate storyteller, one of Blakely favorite stories is of her early days in Tennessee when she and her first husband, also named Carl, would go barnstorming and charge people $1 a ride in their plane, a red OX5. "I had a little dog Pedro and he parachuted out of the plane. The doggie loved it." Blakely used her sewing skills to make a dog parachute out of heavy muslin, which automatically unfolded when Pedro jumped. "We would laugh all week about what happened on Sunday," said Blakely.

Her sharp sense of humor is still evident. Blakely isn't discounting the idea of husband number five and she's telling those coming to the party, "I won't have another birthday for five years and I expect every one of them to come back."

Blakely earned the title, the Little Old Quilt Maker of Rough and Ready, for her charitable deeds and wants that to be her epitaph. "But I'm not going on that trip yet," she laughs. Bet on it!

Arlene's Tea Room is open for business. Located within Arlene's Pantry bakery in the Penn Valley Shopping Center, Arlene will lend her culinary talents to a full tea service, $16.95, and a light tea, $14.95. Quiche, soup, tea sandwiches, scones and desserts are featured. Open Wednesday-Sunday, three seatings, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and taking reservations for Mother's Day. Call 432-1993.

Penn Valley Rodeo: Don't miss our community's very own rodeo! May 19-21, tickets are available at all Larry & Lena's pizza locations, the Tack Room in Penn Valley, The Driftwood Inn in Smartville, The Farm Store, Penn Valley, Ridge Feed, Grass Valley, Sierra Saddlery in Auburn, Cotton's Cowboy Corral in Marysville and other locations. Call 432-1802.

If you have an interesting person or subject to feature in this column, or a newsworthy item, please e-mail jeans@theunion.com.

hummingbird feeder: Hummingbird arrival

By Barbie Jenkins, barbie@tmnews.com
Friday, April 21, 2006 2:33 PM CDT

QUESTION - Just wanted to let you know that I've had my hummingbird feeder out since the first day of spring. On April 13, I saw the first hummingbird. Thanks for the wonderful service AYS provides to the community. T.T.B., Bedford.

ANSWER - Happy to hear the hummingbirds are back home in southern Indiana.

Long time no see

QUESTION - My husband and I would like to find some old friends we met while at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Ariz., in 1975.

Their names are John and Jennie Shepard. They had two children Mia and Brett.

We have lived in Tennessee for about 23 years. The last time we saw the Shepards was about 20 years ago. A lot has happened since then, and we would really love to find them.

An Internet search referred them to Bedford and Orestes, Ind. However, I was unable to find a telephone number or address. Then someone from the Bedford Historical Society referred me to you. Can you help? Thanks. Faye, Crittenden, Tenn.

ANSWER - Although John and Jennie Shepard could not be found in the local directory, perhaps a reader can lend a hand.

How about it, readers, anyone recognize these Shepards? If so, please let me know. They have some old friends who would like to say hi.

Alternative healing

QUESTION - Where can I find a holistic healer locally? M.G., Bedford.

ANSWER - This AYS list consists of those who practice holistic healing, iridology and naturopath:

Jan Bolin, LPN, N.D., at Roots, Leaves and Berries, 1108 Fifth St., 275-5253; Violet Villano, 140 W. Jefferson St., Orleans, 865-4038; Bobby Nasir, Naturopath, 275-1055. Additionally, there is a list of holistic healers in the Bloomington directory.

Appliance doctor

QUESTION - Will you please add Keith Fowler Appliance to the AYS files? He does appliance service, repair and installation. For more information, call 278-9389 or 276-7279. Thanks. A.B., Bedford.

ANSWER - Sure will. Welcome, Fowler Appliance, to the files.

Desk set recall

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with New Focus Marketing Corp. of Boca Raton, Fla., announced a voluntary recall of about 6,000 computer desk and chair sets because the seat on the chair can break and fall through during use, causing an individual to fall and suffer injuries.

New Focus Marketing has received reports of two injuries involving chairs breaking. Injuries include a consumer who received bruises to the arm and shoulder and another consumer who suffered a minor back injury.

The recalled three piece set includes a desk, computer stand and chair. Model number NF913232 is located on the product's box. The recalled desk and chair sets were sold at Office Depot stores nationwide from June 2005 through August 2005 for about $80 for the set.

Consumers should stop using the chair immediately and contact Office Depot to receive a gift card for the full price of the desk set upon receipt of the chair.

Consumers can contact Office Depot at (800) 944-3340 between 9 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Monday through Friday or log on to the firm's Web site at www.officedepot.com.

Write AYS at P.O. Box 849, Bedford, IN 47421; phone 277-7259 or (800) 782-4405, ext. 7259, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., weekdays; send e-mail to barbie@tmnews.com; or read AYS online at www.tmnews.com and visit the “At Your Service” page. Because of the volume of questions received, AYS cannot respond to every request, although every attempt will be made to do so.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

hummingbird feeder : Spring winds bring birds north to breed

Spring migration is nearing its peak. Now is a great time to see many species of warblers, vireos, flycatchers and other migrating species as they stream into Maine. Most of these species migrate at night and touch down at daybreak. They feed ravenously for a few hours during the early daylight hours and then rest. Many males sing on migration, practicing for the breeding season.

The best time to see the migrants is in the early morning. Late afternoon can also be good as many individuals prepare to continue their migration once the sun goes down.

Weather has a strong influence on migration and on the number of migrants you will see. Watch the weather map for the arrival of a low-pressure system or cyclone. In a cyclone, the winds flow in a counterclockwise direction. That means the winds on the eastern side of the low will be flowing north, encouraging birds to move northward. As the low passes, the winds will switch to the north on the backside of the cyclone and the weather will often turn rainy. Those conditions force the birds to descend from their migration, producing fallouts of birds. It's ironic that on beautiful clear mornings dominated by high pressure the birding can be poor. The migrating birds have happily bypassed you as they continue north. It's the raw, windy mornings that usually reward the birder with the most birds.

Lionel Quirion, who conducts a hawk watch on Bradbury Mountain in Pownal each April, counted 1,170 hawks last month of 10 species. The "big three" were 617 broad-winged hawks, 192 osprey and 172 sharp-shinned hawks.The best counts occurred when the winds were southerly. Northerly winds produced very few migrating raptors.

The spring migration does not produce as many out-of-range rarities as the fall migration, but unexpected birds can pop up anywhere. Many of these birds will be species that overshot their normal breeding grounds. Hooded warblers, Kentucky warblers, worm-eating warblers and summer tanagers fall into this category. On rare occasions, eye-popping rarities like a fork-tailed flycatcher from South America appear in New England.

You can see birds at night during migration. On a clear night, find a dark open area and train your binoculars on the moon. You may be surprised at how many birds you can see flying across the face of the moon. You can easily detect the presence of migrants overhead by sound. Many warblers, thrushes and other songbirds give distinctive chips as they migrate.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will be arriving any day now, if they have not already appeared. Get those hummingbird feeders up soon. You can buy powdered mixes to make sugar water or make your own, using ordinary table sugar. Mix one part of sugar with four parts of water and bring to a boil. Allow the sugar water to cool before putting it in your feeder. I usually make extra sugar water that can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator. There is no need to add red food coloring to the sugar water.

It's a good idea to clean your feeder once every week or two with hot water to ward off fungi. If you are in the market for a hummingbird feeder, be sure to buy one that is easy to clean.

Baltimore orioles are returning to Maine now. These colorful birds have a fondness for citrus fruit. Cut an orange in half and impale each portion on a stick or nail in a conspicuous place. Enjoy the rich piping songs of the orioles. Each male has a distinctive song but the overall timbre and other qualities of the song allow a listener to make the proper auditory identification. Baltimore orioles sing a lot until about the middle of June. Dramatically, the males sing only infrequently once nesting is under way.

HERB WILSON teaches ornithology and other biology courses at Colby College. He welcomes reader comments and questions at: whwilson@colby.edu

hummingbird feeder : Native Delaware: Returning hummingbirds

Do you have your hummingbird feeder up yet? Even though the hummingbirds don't arrive in Delaware until late spring, now is the ideal time to hang up your feeder, according to Dr. Greg Shriver, UD assistant professor of wildlife ecology.

"You want to get the feeder up in advance of the birds' arrival so that yours is the first feeding site they find on their return north, thus increasing the chances that they will take up residence in your yard for the summer," Shriver says.

Warmer states, like Texas and Arizona, enjoy more than a dozen species of hummingbirds, many of which stay year-round. Delaware attracts just one type of hummingbird -- the ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris). And its tenure here is short; it only stays through September, says Shriver. At the first sign of cool weather, it wings its way back to southern Mexico and northern Panama.

few males more easily than the precious egg-laying females. By the time the females travel, there are better and more-developed flowers en route. In autumn, the males continue the pattern by departing about three weeks earlier. This may leave a richer diet for the developing young who stay on with the females, Shriver says.

It's easy to distinguish the male from the female. Both the male and female ruby-throated have a brilliant green back and white chest, but only the male has a red throat. Male juveniles also have yet to develop the distinctive red throat.

The reason many of us go to the trouble of hanging -- and maintaining -- a hummingbird feeder is to see these winged versions of Speedy Gonzales in flight. While just cruising around, the ruby-throated species flies at about 30 mph. However, when escaping a predator, they can zoom up to 50 mph. And in the midst of a dive, they've been clocked at up to 63 mph.

How can be it possible to go so fast? "By flapping your wings like crazy," says Shriver.

Hummingbirds get their name from the buzzing sound that their wings make as they beat in flight. The speed of the wings varies by species. The fastest, the amethyst woodstar, has a wingbeat rate of 80 per second. But the ruby-throated is no slouch, either, with a wingbeat rate of about 53 per second during normal flight, says Shriver.

Just as fascinating as the hummingbird's speed is its ability to stop in mid-air and hover like a helicopter. Plus, they're the only birds who are able to fly in reverse, says Shriver.

As for those 60-mph nose dives, these flying feats are a way that males show off in front of females. They start by soaring in the air, plunging to the ground, and then, just before they hit the dirt, arcing upward again. This flight pattern is a way not only to attract females, but to ward off other males and defend nesting and feeding territories, Shriver says.

If you choose to hang a hummingbird feeder this spring, be prepared for a little bit of upkeep. Feeder syrup should be replaced on a weekly basis. And at least once a month, Shriver says you should clean your feeder with a solution of 1¼8 cup bleach to one gallon of water. But it's worth the hassle, as you'll get to enjoy the company of these captivating fliers all summer long.

Native Delaware is a weekly column by the university's Cooperative Extension on First State plants, animals and weather. Contact Susan Baldwin at 831-1355 or smb@udel.edu; or McDonough at 831-1358 or margomcd@udel.edu.

hummingbird feeder : Sweet smells of success

Fragrant flowers add to garden pleasure

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 05/18/06


Spring is so fragrant! Walk into the Philadelphia Flower Show in early March and the scent of spring hyacinths tells you that spring can't be far away. Daphne leads into spring with its sweet fragrance later that month. Now we anticipate blooming peonies.

The old-fashioned Carolina sweet shrub yields its funny little maroon flowers that Grandma would carry in her hankerchief to enjoy the spicy fragrance.

Of course, there are wonderfully fragrant flowers through the year. Even in winter, the winter-flowering jasmine gives some fragrance.

Asked what her favorite fragrant flowers are, Ottilie Kossack, Dover Township, replied, "Roses, but I recently moved and only have a little garden with shrubs. I want to interplant with perennials. Last year the shrubs crowded them out." I suggested she might use phlox. They are fragrant and attract hummingbirds. "That's a good idea. We went to Garden Week in Virginia and I just bought a hummingbird feeder there," she said.

Joyce Chappell, who gardens in Holmdel, has lots of fragrance in spring. "I have lily-of-the-valley, both pink and white; a dwarf lilac and peonies," she said. Later in the season her garden gives the sweet fragrance of Kaleidoscope mountain laurel, Magnolia grandiflora and cherry laurel.

Among Jean Huesmann's favorites in her Bay Head garden are lavender, rosemary, lilies and lilacs. "I didn't find the Arnold Promise witch hazel you suggested, but I got a lovely Red Imp that flowers in February. And the daphne has a strong, sweet smell," she said.

Many of the deciduous azaleas are sweetly fragrant. The natives and their hybrids thrive in part shade; some of the Exbury hybrids will yield their wonderful fragrance in full sun.

Beginning bloom about the same time as the peonies, sweet bay magnolia vies for prominence with strong, sweet fragrance from its waxy white blooms. Give this native of our swamps a place with high moisture content. I grew mine over a dry well that received the rain from the roof gutters. It grows to about 20 feet. Its cousin, the southern magnolia, with its big waxy leaves, has a lemony fragrance. Where a very large tree would be out of scale, Little Gem would be appropriate. This blooms over several weeks in summer. There are several Daphne species that can give a long season of fragrance. February daphne leads the parade followed by D. odora with its pinkish to white flowers that can be had with the waxy green leaves edged in gold. After that, D. genkwa with lilac-colored bloom covering the bare branches before the deciduous leaves emerge just finishes as Carol Mackie with small, evergreen-variegated leaves and smaller flower clusters finishes the season in May to early June.

Roses follow the peonies. Not all have a fine fragrance so it is well to sniff before you buy. Rose fragrances are classified as tea, spice and sweet. The purple varieties seem to have the strongest fragrance and classic Peace has but a wisp.

The last fall-flowering fragrant plant to flower in my garden is lemon verbena. The foliage has a strong lemony scent and is delicious in iced tea. Tubular, bright red flowers come in fall in time for the hummingbirds to feed before their long flight back south.

When we built our house in Sea Girt the lot across the street was vacant and covered with sassafras and wild Japanese honeysuckle. The fragrance was wonderful, but short lived. It was cleared and a home built there after two years.

From Abelia to Zenobia, there are hundreds of sweet-smelling flowers and foliage coming from tall shade trees through shrubs, herbaceous plants and groundcovers. They may be annual, perennial or biennial. They can be incorporated in the overall landscape design, in beds or borders or in special herb gardens.

To me, fragrance is as important in the garden as color.

Friday, May 19, 2006

hummingbird feeder : Building Your Own Humming Bird Feeder

We all know that taking a beautiful photo of humming birds is hard to obtain, even when they are inside cages. The only thing that you could do is buy a hummingbird feeder to bring these birds into photographic distance. But these ready-made hummingbird feeders are somewhat expensive. Worry no more, because you can make your very own hummingbird feeder for free. All you need to do is recycle used or old prescription vials for making nectar dispensers. Hummingbirds are known to feed on nectars.
The materials needed to make your own hummingbird feeder are clear prescription vials with a fitted cap, a few feet of thin wire or heavy thread and transparent tape or scotch tape. You may also need a sharp pointed metal object like an ice pick.
To start with this project, heat up the ice pick or whatever sharp pointed metal you are using and make a pair of holes on each side of the prescription vial, near the open end where the cap is placed. You have to make sure that they are close but not too close that the holes are covered with the bottom of the cap when it is placed on. The size of the holes should be small enough to keep the liquid inside the container.
Next, round up the thin wire or thread. Secure it by wrapping with the scotch tape or transparent tape on each end of the thread or thin wire to the prescription vial. If you want extra holding capacity, wrap a second piece of transparent tape around the prescription vial.
Basically, that's all you have to do in making hummingbird feeders. It depends on you how many hummingbird feeders you want to make, but if you want to enjoy watching more than just one hummingbird, you can make a number of these feeders and tie them into a mobile and place them in your backyard.
To fill up your hummingbird feeder, remove the cap holding the prescription vial on and fill it up with nectar and replace the cap. Closed tightly, turn the prescription vial upside down as quickly as you can. The feeder's hole should be at the bottom, a small amount of nectar will leak out the feeder's holes, but as soon as the vacuum inside the prescription vial is created, the leakage will stop.
Now we come to making the nectar for the hummingbirds. Basically there are two choices of nectar. First is the nectar mix that is commercially available in a granulated form. Or second, you can make your own nectar from a sugar solution. For the purpose of information, honey is not recommended. Research proves that too much honey is harmful to hummingbirds, since it weakens them and may cause death to these birds.
Just where to hang the feeders? In general, it is good to hang these feeders in any part of the garden where there is no direct exposure to sunlight and where the wind will not be able to shake the feeder. Direct sunlight speeds up fermentation of the nectar inside the feeder. It is recommended to hang the hummingbird feeders near the flowers in the garden to further attract these birds. Now, you can enjoy watching hummingbirds hovering and perching on your own feeder.

Jo Williams has an interest in Pet related products. To access more articles on bird feeder's or for additional information and resources visit this bird feeders related website.

hummingbird feeder: How to Feed Hummingbirds by Hand

This is the technique I used to get our backyard hummingbirds to eat from my hand.
1. Make a hand feeder by removing the top part of a small hummingbird feeder & use only the base that has the perches & feeding holes. Fill this part with the nectar that is usually in the feeder.
2. Wear bright colors such as red or pink, as hummingbirds are most attracted to these colors (a flower print shirt will work well also).
3. Put all your hummingbird feeders inside and stand with your hand feeder in a spot where one of your regular feeders used to be (as they will be looking for their food in that spot already). Keep your hand as steady as possible & don't make any sudden movements.
4. Project happy, loving thoughts to the hummingbirds.
5. HAVE PATIENCE!! It could take weeks of trying before they'll land on your hand feeder. Continue putting up & taking down the regular feeders.
6. Once they've begun eating from your hand feeder & trusting you - try smiling & talking quietly to them.
7. Remember to always be kind & loving with the birds, as it is a great honor that they trust you & allow you to get that close to them.
8. Don't be afraid to try new things like holding a real red or pink flower in your hand or pour some liquid nectar in your cupped hand & see if they'll respond and eat directly from your hand.
Good luck & have fun!

Feel free to reprint this article as long as you keep the article, this caption and author biography in tact with all hyperlinks.©Simone Skorcik ~ LongBraid DesignsProfessional Graphic Artist & Photographerhttp://www.longbraid.com

hummingbird feeder : Attracting Hummingbirds

Attracting hummingbirds to your backyard and garden is much easier than it sounds. These small birds have a special knack for finding their favorite flowers, and a powerful memory for returning to their favorite spots - even after years of visiting! A common mistake is to think that hummingbirds find their feeding ground through a flower's scent, but this is untrue - they have nearly no sense of smell. Instead, they seek out tubular shaped flowers, heavy with nectar, and specific colors, such as red, pink, and orange. This is why hummingbird feeders work so well: they typically are lined with the color red, or other strong colors. A major plus is that hummingbirds are always on the look out for new places to feed. This does not mean that once they find a new feeding ground they will abandon yours - these birds must feed at least every 10 minutes, so the more the better!
To start, try some or all of the following:
- Plant a hummingbird garden. A great part of a hummingbird's diet consists of sugar, which they get from nectar and tree sap. Here are some of the many plants that make a great hummingbird paradise:
--Flowers: Canna, Foxglove, Lupine, Yucca, Coral Bells, Agapanthus, Petunia, Impatiens, Fuschias, Begonia, Honeysuckle
--Trees/Shrubs: Azalea, Red Buckeye, Lantana, Butterfly Bush
--Vines: Honeysuckle, Morning Glory, Trumpet Creeper, Cypress Vine
- Hang a hummingbird feeder. These are very easy to find and affordable. You can buy a special feeder mix, or make your own by boiling 1 part sugar to 4 parts water 2 cups water for two hours. A word of caution: do not use food coloring or any type of dye, honey, or artificial flavors - these will harm the hummingbirds.
- Hummingbirds are very territorial. If possible, we recommend hanging at least two feeders.
- Red is a very attractive color to them. Tying a red ribbon near your feeder will make them curious enough to explore, as well as making the feeder more visible.
- Clean your feeder at least one time per month. Not only will you continue to provide hummingbirds with a great feeding source, but you will keep them coming (they will not feed on spoiled syrup).
- Hummingbirds spend 80% of their time perching. By including possible perching plants or other perching-potential items in your garden, hummingbirds will be more likely to linger and return.
- Bathing in running water is a pleasing hummingbird pastime - they love dripping water. They enjoy misted leaves to bathe in, so adding water misters near plants with wide leaves is a definite attraction.
- Eucalyptus trees are desirable to hummingbirds not only because they provide good perching ground, but also because they use them for nesting material.
- Hummingbirds don't just feed from nectar. Part of their diet is made up of protein that they get from little insects that they eat, particularly fruit flies. Because of this, it is best not to use pesticide in your hummingbird garden, since the birds may feed on infected insects and become ill themselves.
By following some or all of the above suggestions, you should see some hummers very soon. Although, keep in mind that many hummingbirds do migrate, depending on your region, so do not become discouraged if they do not show immediately - there are many online resources outlining migratory and species information, such as www.hummingbirds.net.
Some fun hummingbird facts:
- They take nectar at 13 licks per second
- They can consume up to 2/3 of their body weight daily
- They can flap their wings 60-200 times per second
- Their Heart beats up to 1260 times per second
- They can fly up, down, forward, backward, and sideways
- Some migration routes consist of up to 600 miles in length
- There are 16 different species
- Feet are only used for perching
- They can fly up to 60 miles per hour

Vanina Mangano is co-founder of MYeFlora, an online gardening community. Vanina is a business professional and a passionate gardener who enjoys writing about and participating in nature. Visit her site at http://www.myeflora.com.

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