Here’s a hummingbird photo from my morning vigil beside the firecracker bush:
After observing them closely over the past few months, I’ve learned hummingbirds spend more time perched than I thought they did. It’s just that they’re so fast it’s hard to follow them to the perch, and they’re so small that it’s tough to spot them when they aren’t in motion.
I see this young fellow a lot too.
I assume he’s male and of the same species as the bird pictured up top because his few sparkly ascot feathers are of the same hue when they catch the sunlight. Maybe they’re father and son. If so, that doesn’t stop them from chasing each other away from food sources.
In other news, a few minutes ago, I heard voices outside, which is very unusual out here in the middle of nowhere. I went out to investigate, and there was a deputy in his cruiser parked on the dirt road that runs past our house, talking to someone on his radio. I realized it was the first time I’ve seen the law out here, and I’ve lived here nearly two years.
He drove on, so I assume we’re not suspected of any crimes. (Knock wood.) Open thread!
Meth lab check
Sparkly ascots are sparkly.
I’ve had a couple of hummingbirds show up outside my house (we appear to be a bird haven with some 12 species we’ve identified). Well, I want to keep the hummingbirds coming back. Any suggestions on food or treats to lure them? Thanks in advance!
@jackmac: A sugar syrup works fine; there’s no need to spend money on the premade nectar mixes. I use four parts water to one part sugar. Heat up the water, stir in the sugar until it dissolves, cool for a bit and then pour into your feeder.
I was sitting out on my balcony when a hummingbird came by to hover around my potted salvia plant. Then he looked at me in surprise (I swear!) and took off.
Hopefully there are no fugitives in the area. Last week a fugitive from Massachusetts was caught in Wilton Maine which is a town of about 4,000 residents in Franklin County.
This is the week we start to see Hummers, ever so briefly, as they migrate from the mountains down to NM.
@dmsilev: I do the same with my two feeders. Also, it’s important to keep the feeders clean, especially during hot weather. I take mine in and wash and refill them every three or four days.
But the firecracker bush is the big draw for the hummingbirds around here. We also have a honeysuckle vine on the fence and a large firespike bush they like, and they are fond of basil flowers when the herb garden goes to seed.
Yup, 4:1 water:sugar using boiling water to kill any bacteria and I have plenty of customers. This time of year they empty my 1 qt feeder in about a week. I could probably hang two or three and empty them in the same amount of time, because the territorial little things are constantly fighting over the one.
“Hey guys, you do know there are six feeding points you could all use.”
“Screw you, human, this is MY feeder.”
ETA once used powdered sugar in lieu of granulated and they boycotted it. Turns out they add cornstarch to the stuff and the birds want none of that nonsense.
hopefully you are keeping your doors and any outbuildings locked, Betty. The place you live in sounds like a good place for a hideout for at least a while until they go elsewhere.
They’re also better camouflaged than you might think. The bright colors around their head make you think of them as flashy and obvious, but when they’re perched in a tree the green on their backs makes them pretty hard to spot. The easiest way to spot them when they’re perched is to listen for their call and use that to locate them.
I’ve noticed the same general thing about the parrots who live here in Southern California. You think of them as brightly colored, but they’re mostly green, with the other colors on their heads and parts of their wings that don’t show when they’re perched. The parrots are easier to spot since they’re bigger, much louder, and move around more within the trees, but when they’re sitting still and not calling they can be surprisingly hard to spot.
Dorothy A. Winsor
It’s less stressful to see the cops outside when you have a teenager living at home.
Betty C lives in the middle of a Carl Hiaasen book, of course there are fugitives frolicking and lurking and skulking….
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
As noted above, hummingbirds love sugar water in hummingbird bird feeders. Some people tint it red to be more obvious. They also are drawn to lots of flowers (nectar sources obs), especially tubular red flowers, which is where everyone got the idea to tint their sugar water red. They are also drawn to spraying water. I sometimes will be visited when I am hand watering outside.
Beautiful pictures Betty. Well done!
I used to wonder how a bird could just live on nectar and sugar water and then saw a documentary at a bird festival and of course they don’t; they catch and eat (tiny) flying insects for protein.
I have a FB friend getting incredible hummer shots of them on the wing with her Nikon P1000. Absolute clarity of wing. I am dying to buy that camera when I emigrate. Going to concentrate on getting dragonfly shots on the Water Meadows in Sudbury.
I am having an “If you have a mouse a cookie” type of day. We promised Ohio Son a turntable for his birthday, but where to put it?
Several hours ago, I started clearing off the horizontal surface in the family room newly designated for the turntable, but where to put the stuff that was being stored there now?
In that cabinet, obviously. But what about the four shopping bags worth of videotapes currently in the cabinet? Some of them can be given away, if anyone will take them (that will be another task) but No, Not the Monty Python collection! said Ohio Dad.
Then on to finding a spot for the Monty Python tapes. Etc., etc.
The corner is just about done but now there is a group of grocery bags in the foyer of Stuff To Be Given Away.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@trollhattan: Hopefully, Skink is keeping an eye on Camp Cracker
In my experience, two feeders empty faster than one for exactly that reason. A single bird can’t guard two feeders at once, so the others have an easier time feeding. When my feeders got really busy, I was going through two quarts of syrup a day. I did the math, and that would be enough to feed 500 hummingbirds their daily caloric requirement.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
maybe the lack of a trump flag flying overhead is drawing suspicions …..
Almost threw the radio across the room this morning, but I was in my car so it would have been … difficult. NPR story — I think it was “Here and Now” — interviewing a single, out-of-work-since-March father whose unemployment benefits have run out; he’s broke and living with his six-year-old daughter in what he calls “a crappy motel.” New job doesn’t start for two weeks. He’s desperate. Reporter says, “Congress has been unable to agree on another stimulus plan to help people like you. What would you say to them?”
Yeah, right — “Congress has been unable to agree.” Democrats want to give him $600/week; Republicans want to give him squat. So that’s an evenhanded and thorough description.
@trollhattan: Yep, I was gonna add–these tiny little effers will chug that stuff down, so make sure to have a lot of sugar on hand. I couldn’t believe how fast they went through it when I had one at my old place. No outdoor space in my current place, sadly, or else I’d have multiple bird feeders because BIRBS.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@Roger Moore: I was astonished as a kid to realize that scratchy noise I heard was the hummingbird “song”; I had assumed anything as beautiful as a hummingbird would have a beautiful song as well. But I agree, hearing it makes it much easier to find a sitting hummingbird. My first step toward becoming a birdwatcher was hearing their call and looking around for the hummingbird, sitting or flying.
A woman from anywhere:
Oh yes, once I saw a hummingbird in the front yard, and no sooner did it register that, “Wow! There’s a hummingbird!” When it swooped to catch some little black flying thing.
That was two surprises in one, first that there were hummingbirds in my neighborhood and two, that they eat insects. Nature’s bug zappers.
I live in that part of Florida where there are three to five county police cars SCREAMING down a major road every day after 5:30PM, usually in the direction of the dirt roads where the trailer park neighborhoods are.
I do worry that Betty is under investigation for illegal birding photos. Some of these species require signing a consent form first, you naughty human.
Every time I get buzzed by a hummingbird the primitive part of my brain sends out a flashing light, air-horn warning: BUMBLEBEE! Scares the unholy crap out of me. I give the hummers dirty looks, but so far to no effect.
Would you like to read about a friend who died the other day? She didn’t die of the virus rather complications from diabetes but she was quite a figure here in Athens. She and my bride hung out quite a bit and her death, while not unexpected, was a shock.
Splendor in the Grass, Glory in the Flower
Among other things she was a wonderful painter and dog person. When Raven died she did a painting of him on a place where the previous owner had a cat door. I think we may take it up and frame it.
I don’t think Debbie will mind if I extend an invitation to join our scream at NPR in the car club. Membership has its privileges – you may almost crash your car, your neighbors may sheepishly call to see if you are ok after seeing you drive by screaming at no one.
@dmsilev: Thanks! I’ll give that try.
Gin & Tonic
In the woods in my neighborhood (southern New England, mostly second-growth oak and pine forest) there’s a shrub that grows wild, about 4-5 feet in height at most, with small, very sweet-smelling flowers now at mid-summer. I mean the flowers themselves are small, but there’s a bunch on each spike that’s at the top of each stalk. Any clues what this is?
I have five 12 ounce feeders scattered around that I refill every three days now and that’s with a yard full of flowers and flowering vines they love. The 4:1 water:sugar mix is just right. I get a kick out of the dedicated few that begin feeding while the feeder is still in my hand as I hang it up.
I’ve cultivated a colony of hummingbirds. I had at least eight pairs this spring. The chicks left the nest a couple of weeks ago and I often see these younguns perching on twigs. They go through two cups of sugar water a day. There are five at the feeder right now (which is true just about any time during daylight).
Gin & Tonic
@dexwood: Mine will empty a 12-ounce feeder in a day, more or less. But I’ve never had one feed at a feeder while I was hanging it.
@neabinorb: How did you do it, aside from putting out feeders?
Yeah, we think so much of hummingbirds eating nectar that we forget they need protein, too. I assume they need more insects when they’re feeding young.
@Gin & Tonic: You can feel the breeze from their wings. Magical creatures.
@Gin & Tonic: are the flowers white?
yeah, when I was doing it, I put the feeders on opposite sides of the house, so the asshole could not see both at the same time.
There is always an asshole.
It being Florida, I’m guessing those are Ruby Throated, pretty much the only reliable eastern US hummingbird (though I understand that some other species like Rufous or Allen’s have made the trek east of the Rockies and visit LA, MS, AL, and FL).
Being too lazy to look at a field guide, my guess is that the top photo is an adult male Ruby Throated, the second photo is a female, and that they have mated previously, and that is why the male tolerates her for a little while. Males don’t have anything to do with rearing chicks, so they probably don’t recognize their young.
I’m on the West Coast so my primary hummingbird is the Anna’s. I’m lucky to have quite a few visit my backyard flowers, and there is one male that thinks he owns the place. Most of the day he sits in a tall tree watching the flowers, swooping down when another hummer flies in. In the evening he sits on a wire and alternates between preening, feeding, and giving hell to any interlopers. On rare occasions he lets another hummer feed while he watches. I wonder if that is one of his mates?
Sorry Betty, but you write for Balloon juice so the cops certainly suspect you of wrong doing. But I guess they have to get in line with the NSA that certainly tracks us Balloon juciers. We are rabid lefty’s.
@CarolDuhart2: Doing a remake of ‘The Defiant Ones’?
@meander: I assumed they’re ruby-throated, but I figured the one at bottom was a juvie male whose breeding feathers are still coming in. Is that not a thing? The females I’ve seen don’t have colorful feathers on their necks at all. We also see black-chinned hummingbirds occasionally too.
Just One More Canuck
@meander: Chestnut brown canary, ruby throated sparrow?
Yes, definitely remove that fabulous dog portrait on the cat door and hang it somewhere where it can be more easily seen/admired and also, safe from the elements.
Reading the rememberance of your friend — she sounds larger than life, and of an era that is quickly drawing to a close.
Gin & Tonic
@trollhattan: You can use baker’s sugar, though, which is ultra fine but still individual grains. I use it for EVERYTHING.
It dissolves almost instantly.
I’m picturing the cop stopping because he saw an interesting bird above the road, and radioed in to describe it to Officer Birder on the force
My feeder gets 3 or 4 Anna’s hummingbirds, which remain in Oregon all year and count on me to feed them. When they want fresher nectar they will hover two feet from my face and look me in the eye.
I am heartbroken and sad. I found out that my brother and his wife are bhakts. They have changed their avatars to celebrate the travesty of justice unfolding in India right now
Thanks. I used to think that and powdered were the same thing. “Wrong, again.”
In my defense, who ever reads the ingredients of a bag of “sugar?”
@schrodingers_cat: My condolences. One thing the last few years are showing us is that we are finding out the deeper natures of a lot of people whom we thought we knew well. And unfortunately, the deeper nature is ugly.
ETA: I should sometimes that deeper nature is ugly. I have also found out that some people have a deeper well of goodness than I had realized.
@Ohio Mom: Yea, the “Chuck” who is mentioned has lived in Hanoi for years and head ups a mission that supplies prosthetics to amputees there.
@trollhattan: I bought it several years ago because some recipe called for it, and I have not bought any other sugar since then. If you cook or bake or make cocktails or use sugar for anything, it’s the best.
The local Sheriff was called out to Betty’s for either an illegal still or a meth lab.
Say it ain’t so Betty.
I used to hang a feeder from the patio outside my bedroom window, and when it was empty, the hummer who considered it his personal property would come to the window and yell at me to BRING THE FOODS NAOW!
@trollhattan: I have never even thought to look at the ingredients on sugar. Sprinkle a little bit of this stuff on strawberries, and it melts instantly.
I don’t use it on the strawberries I grow, of course!
@japa21: Goodness is in short supply right now, or so it seems.
Chicago Public Schools going ONLINE ONLY to open.
YES YES YES YES YES YES!!
@Mary G: My sister’s hummingbirds do that! It hands right outside the window in the dining room, so you are maybe 3 feet away from the feeder.
She changes hers and refills it every day. One day she brought it in to change it, then dinner was ready without a lot of warning, so she was going to fill and take it out after dinner.
That hummingbird glared at us through the window and didn’t go anywhere until she got up from the table and put the feeder back out.
What are Little Imma’s plans?
Is he going to physical school this semester?
We have very beautiful birds here in Scotland – goldfinches, greenfinches, swallows, swifts, kingfishers, henharriers, sparrowhawks and more – but the hummingbid is not here – and is SO BEAUTIFUL and amazing in its habits. I am in awe and jealous of those can feed and see hummingbirds…
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@Ohio Mom: All the insect eaters amaze me. The coordination needed to catch flying insects! We have a pond and the Black Phoebes sit on the roof and sally out from there catching whatever. I like to think mosquitos.
Of course, now that I think about it, raptors do the same amazing feats, just with bigger prey.
@trollhattan: Betty C lives in the middle of a Carl Hiaasen book, of course there are fugitives frolicking and lurking and skulking….
I think a lot of it has to do with living next to a river with lots of really tall trees, and I start feeding as soon as they return in the spring. I live in west central Indiana in an exurban area. This year I also saw them collecting spider silk for their nests.@Betty Cracker: Love your posts!
@jeffreyw: I like that profile photo of your cat watching you adoringly.
Weird coincidence, it’s the same pose my wife chose when she drew a pencil sketch of our cat and me.
@greenergood: Thinking of putting up a swiftbox at the house
So sorry :(
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@WaterGirl: I had never paid attention to Baker’s/Ultra-Fine sugar, just using regular or powdered as required. Then recently, while watching the Great British Baking Show on PBS, I started to wonder “what is Caster Sugar”? and lo, it is ultra-fine. Learn something every day.
Having recently moved from Tucson to central WA state, we’ve enjoyed hummingbirds in both locations. In Tucson we could photograph nests; here we just argue about the type of hummingbird we can see, rufous, black-chinned, and the dramatic calliope.
Bitsy Kitty is my little honey bunny.
I am greatly annoyed at my lack of hummingbird visitors lately.
@MomSense: Thought you meant hummingbirds, was all set to learn some new ornithology.
@rikyrah: In case Imm won’t be back to the thread, I can report that yesterday (I believe) Rice was opening for in-person classes and that they are headed there this weekend.
Imm will surely correct me if I got any of that wrong!
@A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan): Try it and you’ll never go back. :-)
Schrodingers__cat: What a betrayal! Wonder what got into them?
I have assholes in my family but they have always been assholes so there are no shocking revelations.
@neabinorb: We’re near a river with tall trees too — that must explain the steady stream of hummingbirds! I’m thrilled to pieces to have them as regular guests. We rarely saw them at our old place.
J R in WV
Good friend of ours has a farm in Athens county OH, and does farm and garden big time. Also builds things, partner is jazz clarinetist. She had like a dozen hummer feeders out one summer, and told of working in a garden way away from the hummer’s turf, when she was suddenly surrounded by a cloud of angry, hungry birbs, who herded her back to the kitchen door, where she boiled a really big pot of sugar water for the angry birbs, who were angrily hanging out around the kitchen windows.
She at least pretended to be feeling endangered by the aggressive pointy billed little hornet-sounding birds. Maybe really endangered? Who knows, crazy birbs are crazy!!!
@WaterGirl, @A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan):
Baker’s sugar’s quick-dissolving property is particularly good for iced tea, either directly or (as I prefer) made into a simple syrup and then added to the tea.
University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) just now: A bit of sanity. I hope University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (where I live) follows suit:
It’s not enough, but it’s a start.
@rikyrah: Yay! UIC just announced big freshman seminar classes are on-line only.
Prayers for Little Imma going up.
@rikyrah: I know. I am shaking my head at any school that is opening live this fall.
@rikyrah: Is this a game of chicken in Illinois? The schools all said they would follow the Gov’s guidelines and only open up if we were in Phase 4. But we can’t possibly be in phase 4 anymore because the numbers are consistently going up, right?
The gov probably wants the schools to take responsibility for the decisions, or so I would imagine.
@rikyrah: I know this is personal for you, too, because you have to take public transportation. IF the schools are open you are less safe.
@J R in WV: Ha! Too bad she wasn’t wearing a GoPro on her gardening hat. That would have made an awesome video.
I’m so sorry, SC.
This should win the award for best BJ comment ever.
No truer words were ever written.
@Betty Cracker: Do you garden or bird watch with a GoPro on?
At the very least. There really aren’t any words appropriate enough for this shit.
I have an acquaintance, he worked for me for a while a couple of centuries ago, he’s 80 or thereabouts and keeps a gun for protection on the table next his TV chair. One night he woke up to hear voices in his house and realized that the gun he keeps for protection in case someone breaks in, is in the other room and could easily be used to kill him. Fortunately the intruders heard a noise and ran out before they found it.
How often is it that the gun bought for protection kills an innocent person? I’d bet far more often than the reason it was bought for. The concept of a nation of independent Rambos would be funny if it weren’t so fucking tragic.
The Fat Kate Middleton
@MomSense: Wilton!!? been there many, many times – my sister lives there near the lake (excuse me, pond). She’s a teacher at nearby U of Maine in Farmington.
@Betty Cracker: they build their nests high in trees. I’ve only ever seen one while standing on a ridge with binoculars. The nest was near the top of a sycamore tree on the other side of the stream at the bottom of the ridge.
Domestic short hair tabby
@Gin & Tonic: viburnum , perhaps?
I’ve been playing around with some features of my camera, and the hummingbird feeder offers some opportunities for making animated GIFs of those fascinating critters. Here’s one of the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird who owns the feeder.