Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's Hummer Time!

After a cold, dreary winter, we're READY for our hummers to return. We live in that part of the country that only sees Ruby-throated hummers and only in the summer. We saw the first one on April 8. Not a lot around here yet, but this is the week they will be showing up. The BirdCam is set out daily so that we don't miss the fun as they repopulate our yard.

Now is a good time to get your feeders all cleaned up and ready to use. Nectar must be changed out regularly, every 5 days or so this time of year. The mix is 1 part of cane sugar to 4 parts of water. You can boil the water if you have chemically-treated water, and then add the sugar. We have well water so we don't boil it. Prepared nectar will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Do NOT use red coloring or the red pre-mix nectar. These pictures were shared by a hummingbird rehabber. It took weeks to get the red off the bird. They will wear themselves out trying to preen the red color off themselves. If you want to help them find your feeder(s), use red ribbon or fake red flowers. Some scientists believe that the red dye is extremely harmful to their internal organs. Since a hummingbird weighs about the same as a dime, even a small amount of dye can do serious damage. You won't see the damage it causes; they will go off and die somewhere else.

You also won't see the damage you cause by letting your nectar get cloudy or moldy. But the fungus that develops on their tongues will eventually prevent them from eating and they will die of starvation. Do NOT use honey, or Kool-Aid, or Jell-o, or beet juice or any of the other wild concoctions I have heard of. Cane sugar and water. That's it. Clean feeders thoroughly before refilling.

Hummingbirds don't need us or our feeders. They can get along fine without us. We put up feeders so we can enjoy watching them. But the first rule is DO NO HARM.

If you will be gone for an extended period and you have no one to tend to your feeders for you, take them down. Hang them back out after you get home and the birds will re-find them. Do NOT leave nectar unattended because it WILL go bad.

Hummingbirds will also check most anything red to see if it is a food source. This includes the emergency release pull on an electric garage door opener. PAINT IT A DIFFERENT COLOR OR COVER IT WITH A DIFFERENT COLOR TAPE. If your garage door has been left open for a while, check for errant hummers before you close it . They will fly in to check out the taillights, the red cooler on the shelf - anything that catches their eye.

If you find yourself on South Padre Island in Texas, visit the Birding and Nature Center. Besides being an absolutely fabulous Center, they carry Ozarklake feeders. The Dickinson and Wait Craft Gallery in Shepherdstown, WV, just received a new shipment of items. And The Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace in Algoma, WI, has some new items. The Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum in Harlingen, TX, carries Ozarklake feeders in the gift shop. And Tar Heel Trading Company in Duck and Corolla, NC, just received a new shipment of feeders.

Hummingbird fact for today: Some species of hummingbirds will travel 1,000 miles to reach their breeding grounds.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's a New Year

The beginning of a new year means just one thing around here - only four and a half months until hummingbird season at Lake of the Ozarks! For now we're feeding and enjoying the winter birds.

We're beginning to get a show schedule worked out for 2015. Of course, we have to wait to get juried in to some we hope to do. In other cases, we're waiting on information from the people organizing some shows we hope to do. The ones we are sure of at this point have been updated in the list to the right.

The season for us will start in February at the Home and Garden Expo in Omaha, NE. We did an art festival in Omaha a number of years ago and sales were fantastic. We're hoping for that same kind of response this time, although the crowd will be different. Hopefully Old Man Winter won't dump a lot of snow or ice so that we can get there and back safely.

We stumbled upon four of the little red Avon strawberry bottles. This is what they look like now. I'm exceptionally pleased with this one. Somewhere out there is a buyer who wants this in their garden or on their patio. We just have to find that special person!

Polar air is moving in. Keeping warm this week will be the big challenge. Guess we'll just have hunker down and play in the copper and glass.

Hummingbird fact for today: Safe nesting material you can provide for hummers includes clean pet hair, short lengths of white or light-colored wool yarn, natural wool fleece, natural cotton or wool batting, and down salvaged from worn-out garments or comforters.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The arrival of Fall means the departure of the hummers

It's been two weeks since we have seen any hummers here. This video was shot on October 1. It's rather sad to look out the window and not see any buzzing activity at the feeders. We went through about 200 pounds of sugar this hummer season, tho', and it was sure fun and entertaining. They are such amazing little creatures!

Now is the time that we have to get the house and yard prepared for winter because by the time we return from our next trip, Old Man Winter will be right around the corner if not already moved in. We're also preparing for two fun festivals in south Texas. We'll be at the Texas Butterfly Festival hosted by the National Butterfly Center in Mission. Butterflies and hummers tend to hang out in the same locations, and this area has some of the best concentrations in the country. Following that we will move up the road to Harlingen and the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. This is one of the biggest birding festivals in the country and a lot of fun. The people in south Texas are very supportive of the snowbirds that descend on the area to escape the northern winter weather.

April and the return of the ruby-throats seems so far away right now, but we can enjoy feeding the winter birds until then. Just hope that we don't "enjoy" too much winter weather *lol*,

Hummingbird fact for today: The brilliant iridescent colors of hummingbirds are are structural colors, not pigment, which means they are reflected by microscopic structural features of the feather surface.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Nearly Fall and We Still Have Hummers!

This is the first year that we have been home consistently through the month of September in quite a long while. So we really have no idea when the ruby-throats leave the Lake of the Ozarks. So far so good! There's even a couple of males hanging around. Yay!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Travels in the West

We just returned from a three-week business/pleasure road trip, and we had a great time. First stop was the annual Hummingbird Festival in Sedona, AZ, sponsored by the International Hummingbird Society. As in the past two years, this Festival is well-run with terrific hummingbird sightings and information. We put out a couple of our feeders at the Festival headquarters, and were delighted to see that the rufous hummingbirds took right to them. And of course we met some wonderful fellow hummingbird lovers.

From there we headed off to the Grand Canyon. Terrie's friend from high school and her husband, Ray and Vicki Gooseman Pena, kept showing up. First we had dinner with them in Sedona. Then we ran into them again at one of the overlook sites for the Grand Canyon. And then we met up with them again at a grill in Williams, AZ. Not sure if we were following them or they were following us!!

Rebecca Romney at Bauman Rare Books
Mark Patton-Hall at Clark County Museum
Dirk Vermin at Pussykat Tattoos
Agnes and the General at ATM
Then on to Las Vegas and we are proud to say that we were able to leave some Ozarklake feeders with some of the people we watch on television: Mark Patton-Hall at the Clark County Museum and Rebecca Romney at Bauman Rare Books, consulting experts on Pawn Stars, Dirk Vermin of Bad Ink, Count's Kustoms, Kelly Dale at Rick's Restorations, and the wonderful crew at ATM. We also took in some shows while we were there: Blue Man Group, Cirque's Zumanity, and Terry Fator. One day the voices in our heads told us to head west, so we drove through Death Valley in August where the temperature was over 120 degrees!

We then went to Yucca Valley, CA, to relax and unwind with Terrie's mom and her husband before heading to the Tucson Birding and Wildlife Festival. Unfortunately that show was very disappointing for us.

While we were gone our very kind neighbor kept our hummingbird feeders going, and we found about 40-50 Ruby-throated hummers buzzing around when we returned home. We're going to kick back at home for a while and enjoy these little guys before they had south for the winter.

Hummingbird fact for today: A Ruby-throat, like other birds preparing to migrate, stores fat as a fuel reserve, thereby augmenting its weight by as much as 100% and increasing potential flying time over open water.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014