Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's Up With the Wandering Hummers?

According to the Morning Sun, a newspaper in Mt. Pleasant, MI, a rufous hummingbird was seen this week in that part of Michigan. That's pretty amazing since rufous hummers usually hang out between Washington and Alaska. The sighting was documented by a hummingbird researcher.

For the second year in a row, an Allen's hummer was at a feeder near Knoxville, TN, in October. This was verifiable because last year the little bird was banded while in Tennessee. Allen's hummers have a very small, narrow, breeding range along the cloud-shrouded Pacific coast from southern Oregon to southern California. They have both a migratory race that winters in a small area in central Mexico and a non-migratory race that winters in California. So why is this bird in Tennessee?

In the last two months more than 60 western stray hummers have been found in Pennsylvania according to the Lehigh Valley website. Most sightings have been rufous hummingbirds that breed from the Pacific Northwest up into Alaska but there have also been three surprise species, all three of which have been found in the southeastern part of the state. A Calliope was in a backyard near Philadelphia, then on Nov. 10 a black-chinned hummingbird spent one day in a yard north of Levittown, and this week there is an Allen's in a yard near Pipersville in Bucks County.

Is it that there is a shuffling or ranges within the hummingbird world? All of these areas are in the normal ruby-throated hummingbird summer habitat. Or are we just becoming more aware of hummers? Imagine the thrill of seeing a "foreign" species in your yard outside the regular "season". What fun!

Hummingbird fact for today: Never say ALWAYS or NEVER when talking about hummingbirds!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Home Again Home Again

We are finally home again! Now we have to unpack and put away EVERYTHING - from the inventory we made while at Silver Dollar City to all the tools and supplies we had to take to make inventory to all the clothes and housewares we had to take to live away from home for 7 weeks.

We are SO greatful to Laura Koerbel for taking good care of Ozzy and Izzie, bringing in the mail, and being a neighbor and friend who goes above and beyond the call!

Two holiday shopping shows yet to do. Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield is Nov. 10-11. Then State Fair Community College in Sedalia on Dec. 1. But already we're submitting applications and hoping to get into the shows we'd like to do.

We WILL be back at the Hummingbird Festival in Sedona, AZ, the first weekend in August!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Silver Dollar City - Just One More Week

We've been at this for six weeks now, and there's one week left. Must confess, we're ready for it to be over. Yes, we meet a lot of awfully nice people who are genuinely interested in learning all they can about hummingbirds, who enjoy their hummers throughout the summer, and who appreciate the work we put into making our art. BUT there are also some really inconsiderate, mis-informed, know-it-all's out there. For instance, the question of the day today was, "Do you know where you get your stoppers?" Well, of course we do. We are the ones who get them. And no, we're not going to tell you where we get them because you just bought a house with "at least 100 bottles in the basement" that you think you can turn into feeders if only we will provide you with the information so that you can. A photographer friend loves this question, "Were you there when you took these pictures?" And another artist friend loses it with this question, "Can I ask you a dumb question?" Sure. Go ahead. We're here to please.

Went home about a month ago and our hummer population was down from over three dozen to just two individuals. Then when we went home last, no sign of hummer activity at all. They are off to warmer surroundings for the winter and lordy how we miss them!

Spending time with other artists, we have been able to add quite a few pieces to our hummingbird art collection. One artist, who did his first ever hummer painting for us, joked that in a few years the BOMH artists at Silver Dollar City would be the BOMH Hummingbird Artists. So much talent in Missouri and thank goodness we have the opportunity to own some of their fantastic pieces! And thank goodness they are willing to accommodate our hummingbird "jones".

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummers do NOT fly south on the backs of geese. Geese don't go to the same locales and fly way too high for hummers to withstand the altitude. Hummers fly individually, just above tree-top level so they can feed along the way.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Best of Missouri Hands at Silver Dollar City

The National Harvest Festival runs September 13 through October 27 at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO (park is closed Mon. and Tues.). Inside the Frisco Barn you will find work by Best of Missouri Hands artists and artisans. Some pieces will be on display as part of the Best of Missouri Art Faire. You will also find working artists, creating their pieces right before your very eyes. Demonstrating craftsmen change throughout the Festival. Check this schedule for specific BOMH artists and the dates you can find them "in residence".

We still have hummers and Baltimore orioles, although the herd seems to be thinning a bit. It appears there are fewer males, and the remaining birds are fattening up for the long journey home. The orioles should be heading south soon, with the hummers following shortly thereafter. It's always a bit sad to look out the window and not see our busy little summer visitors.

Wild Birds Unlimited in Conroe, TX, now has Ozarklake feeders in their inventory. We're hoping to hear from a lot of the WBU stores now that we have been approved as a supplier by the national WBU organization.

Hummingbird fact for today:  Hummingbirds will NOT delay migration if a feeder is present; they are driven by forces more powerful than hunger.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

And even more hummers!

While all the activity is happening at the feeders on the front porch, this activity is happening at the feeders on the studio, about 30 feet down the hill from the porch and facing the opposite direction. It seems to be a good year for hummers around here!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What a Summer!

We've traveled quite a bit this summer. We just returned from a trip that took us through Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Colorado. We saw the effects of this extremely hot and dry summer everywhere we went. Farmers and ranchers are suffering now, and I fear we will all feel the effects later on when we go to the grocery store and when the electric companies raise rates to make up for the high useage with air conditioners running continuously.

This may also explain the heavy, heavy activity we have at the hummingbird feeders - there's simply nothing out there for the birds to eat. Or maybe it's just that our lazy birds prefer the ease of sipping from a feeder. Whatever the cause, the activity is totally amazing. Terrie's nieces stayed at the house while we were gone to keep the feeders filled, and even they (who had never seen a hummer before) are now taken with these amazing creatures. Both girls were able to hand-feed them!

Our first stop was the 30th Annual High Country Arts and Crafts Festival held in Eagle Nest, New Mexico, July 28-29. Sponsored by the Eagle Nest Chamber of Commerce, the High Country Arts and Crafts Festival is a proud tradition of juried talent that brings many area and out-of-state artists to the Moreno Valley area each summer. Located on the Enchanted Circle between Angel Fire and Red River, Eagle Nest is surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and is home to the beautiful Eagle Nest Lake. Each of the more than 70 attending artists selected one piece to be judged in one of the four recognized categories. My multiple-station hummingbird feeder was awarded First Place in the Craft and Fiber Art Category. There was even a cash prize in addition to the blue ribbon!

We toured parts of New Mexico and Colorado before heading on to Sedona, AZ, where The Hummingbird Society hosted the first Sedona Hummingbird Festival. Executive Director Ross Hawkins and an extremely dedicated cast of volunteers did an amazing job of organizing and promoting this festival. We didn't have a chance to attend any of the seminars or presentations since we were a vendor in the Hummingbird Mall, but every report we heard was that this was THE HIGHLIGHT for hummingbird lovers. We're already making plans to attend the 2nd Annual Hummingbird Festival!

A bonus to being in Sedona was that Terrie re-connected with some old high school friends. Even Terrie's mom joined us and it was a thrill for this former Girl Scout leader to see some of her girls all grown up. And in Ozarklake news, our feeders can now be purchased at Dorine Daniels in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, 336 State Route 179, Sedona AZ.

We're doing a local event here at the Lake on Saturday, and then it's on to Trails West in St. Joseph, MO. Shortly after that we'll head off to Silver Dollar City and the National Harvest Festival.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds are the world's second largest family of birds with an estimated 328 species.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Made in Missouri Juried Exhibit

Silver Dollar City (SDC) in Branson, MO, has a strong commitment to Missouri artists and artisans. Each fall during the Harvest Festival, a variety of Best of Missouri Hands (BOMH) juried artists are invited to demonstrate their craft during the Festival. I have participated for a number of years and thoroughly enjoy my time at Silver Dollar City.

Cascade in Blue
 Last year, SDC expanded its support of Missouri artists and artisans with its Made in Missouri Exhibit. This special exhibit showcased some of the finest work by BOMH juried artists as determined by judges who selected participating pieces from submitted applications. The 2012 Harvest Festival will once again feature the Made in Missouri Exhibit in the Frisco Barn, with visiting BOMH artisans demonstrating along the perimeter of the Exhibit. There are $5,000 in awards to be given with judging by the leadership of Herschend Family Entertainment, parent company of SDC, the leadership team of SDC and the general public.

I am humbled and honored that my submission, Cascade in Blue, has been accepted to be a part of this year's Made in Missouri Exhibit.
Dates for the Harvest Festival at Silver Dollar City are September 13 - October 27, 2012.
Hummingbird fact for today: To keep their feathers in top shape, hummingbirds will leaf-bathe by fluttering against wet leaves.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hummers, hummers everywhere!

We seem to have a few hummers again this year. Glad we're sitting out shows this month so we can enjoy them.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Handfeeding Hummmingbirds

I make one style of hummingbird feeder that utilizes small nectar tubes. There's a hole in the red rubber cap and the hummer sticks in his bill to get the nectar much as he does at nectar flowers. The small tubes don't hold a lot, but that is good because hopefully it will all get consumed before the nectar starts to go bad. We keep a soup mug of extra filled tubes in the fridge and Terrie just pops in a full one as needed.

The tubes have an added bonus - after the hummers learn that the tubes contain food, they don't much care what is holding them. Pretty much on a daily basis, Terrie will go out and move the tube-feeder so that the hummers can't see it. Then she holds a filled tube in her hand near the spot where the hummers are used to feeding from the tubes. In just a few minutes, she's hand-feeding a hummer! She took this picture herself with her phone as she was feeding them today. This is really getting up close and personal with them!

Hummingbird fact for today: Sedona, AZ, will be the location of the first hummingbird festival by The Hummingbird Society. The festival is the first weekend in August. Check it out!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer

The problem is - it's TOO early to have summer days. Activity at the hummer feeders has slowed considerably, something that usually doesn't happen until June. The only conclusion we can draw is that the females are already on the nest, earlier than normal, and might even be caring for young. If that is so, then there might be two broods this season!

The Hummingbird Society is presenting their first Hummingbird Festival. It will be in Sedona, AZ, the first weekend in June. Check out the information at the festival website and make plans to attend!

We had a great time at DubuqueFest! And of course since we were in Iowa, we had to locate Antique Archeology. The building is MUCH smaller than what it appears on television.

Next weekend is Art in the Park in Columbia, MO. Looks like there will be some great new art and artists in attendance. According to the weather forecast, it SHOULD be a bit cooler than it has been. We always have a good time at this show, meeting up with old friends and making new ones. Hope to see you there!

Hummingbird fact for today: In hot weather, nectar should be replaced every 3-4 days. Hummers will abandon nectar that has begun to ferment.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All the Southern Residents Have Returned

Female Ruby-throated

Male Ruby-throated
The lone male ruby-throated returned early in March. Then there were two males. Then there were 3 (or more) males. They were joined by a lone female. Then another. Then another. As of today, we think there are at least 8 ruby-throateds in the immediate vicinity. They dart about so quickly that it is difficult to get an accurate count. We've been feeding at least two male orchard orioles for a couple of weeks. Yesterday we saw the vivid orange and heard the distinct song of a male Baltimore oriole. This morning we saw two males. And there are assorted female orioles coming to the feeders. All the southern residents have returned so all is right with the world.
In addition to several small bottle feeders, we have 15 tubes of nectar strategically placed around the porch and studio and already the tubes are being emptied within 48 hours. Guess it's time to start buying sugar in the BIG bags. And we've already started on our second big jar of grape jelly for the orioles.

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of speaking about the ruby-throated return migration on the local talk radio station. I actually had some listeners call in with questions!

This coming weekend is Artsfest on Walnut Street in Springfield. This is always a great show, and since it's only about an hour and a half from home, it's not a hard show to do. Come on by and see us!

Hummingbird fact for today: A hummingbird must eat nectar about every 15 minutes throughout the day.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Ruby-throats Arriving Earlier than Normal

While on the road in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, we periodically checked the ruby-throated migration map at http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html. We were amazed to watch as birds were spotted further and further north, including into Canada, in March. The first sighting here at the Lake of the Ozarks is usually around April 15, and yet there was a sighting report nearly a full month earlier than that. As we enjoyed the warm air blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico and watched the weather maps that showed no Artic air blowing down from the north, we speculated that these little birds were taking advantage of the warm air currents to move them along from their southern winter homes. Apparently our suppositions were not that far off the mark. Lanny Chambers, noted Missouri hummingbird bander and expert, gives his explanation for these early hummers on his website at http://www.hummingbirds.net/2012migration.html. His explanation makes a lot of sense as we've seen only a lone male at the feeder so far.

Artscape at the Dallas Arboretum was a fantastic show again this year. Joy and Megan and their crew of volunteers are absolutely super to work with. We hope the recent tornados and storms have not impacted any of them. The Spring Festival at Oak Alley Plantation was impacted by the heavy rains that pounded the area before the Festival. Attendance was down on Saturday as visitors had to be shuttled in to protect the grounds of the plantation. Sunday was much better when parking on the grounds was permitted. The folks who coordinate Art in the Pass in Pass Christian, MS, are the most artist-friendly crew we have experienced. Everything about that show was perfect!

While meandering between shows, we tracked down a couple of locations we've seen on television (VexCon, home of Billy the Exterminator, and Red Jacket Firearms), did some sightseeing in and around New Orleans, and learned first-hand about the impressive seafood industry in the Gulf Coast states.

Next up is the Stillwater, OK, Arts Festival and then we'll help Terrie's mom celebrate her 80th birthday.

Hummingbird fact for today: Since the mother starts incubating the first egg as soon as it's laid, that chick will hatch and fledge earlier than its sibling; it will remain close to the nest until the other chick is ready to fly.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Here We Go -- Again

Spring must be arriving because we're hitting the art show circuit!

This coming weekend is the ArtSmart Conference here at the Lake of the Ozarks. This is the annual "meeting" for all Missouri artists and artisans who are members of, or just want more information about, the Best of Missouri Hands. After that, Terrie and I are presenting a community education class on hummingbirds.

The following weekend we'll be at Artscape at the Dallas Arboretum. From there we'll go the the Spring Festival at Oak Alley Plantation. Then we'll head over to Art in the Pass. In April we'll be at the Stillwater Art Festival.

Sometime during that time span our little hummingbirds will return here to their summertime home and we'll once again be entertained by them. That will be the SURE sign of Spring!

Hummingbird fact for today: Dot the landscape, especially the area near your feeder, with fluttery red ribbons or bows to entice returning hummingbirds to stay in your area for the summer.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

California Road Trip

Yes, we drove from Missouri to California and back again. I was honored to be included in the Southwest Arts Festival in Indio this year. What an amazing array of talent! The art show in Palm Springs was blown away the previous weekend - literally! However, the weather gods smiled on us in Indio and we met some wonderful new customers.

Terrie's mom lives less than an hour from Indio, so of course we hung around in sunny California for a week. Terrie and her mom took a road trip to Los Angeles and sat in on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a taping of Hot in Cleveland AND took the Warner Brothers Studio tour. On the way home we stopped off to see an old school friend of Terrie's and dropped a bunch of money on beads in New Mexico.

Now we are back in c-o-l-d Missouri and getting prepared for the next round of shows in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Looking forward to warmer weather!

Hummingbird fact for today: A female hummer will lay 1-3 eggs. Young will hatch in 13-22 days.