Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Yard is Not Exciting Without Hummers

This time of year it seems like something is lacking. Oh, that's right. The hummers and orioles are gone. We don't have to keep nectar made, have tons of sugar on hand, buy oranges and grape jelly, or fill feeders daily. So this time of year we start putting out suet, and sunflower seed, and mixed bird seed, and thistle seed - and we get to see many different kinds of birds in the yard. The little goldfinches haven't developed their bright yellow winter color yet, but the cardinals are bright red so there's a little color at the feeders. And of course the several varieties of woodpecker add a splash of color. But it's just not the same as having hummers buzzing around all day, flitting around the porch and deck.

We've got just two more shows this year. We'll be at Fall into Art in Columbia, MO, Nov. 14-15. A lot of Best of Missouri Hands Juried Artists will be exhibiting and selling unique one-of-a-kind items for holiday shoppers. The weather promises to be mild, too, so get out and go shopping! The last time we did this show in 2013, it was cold as heck! We're looking forward to a great show with lots of shoppers and getting a chance to see lots of artist friends.

Then on the Friday after Thanksgiving we're doing a new show here at the Lake of the Ozarks, the Handmade Holiday Market. It's hosted by the Lake Studio for the Arts in Sunrise Beach. One day only, so if you're in the area, don't miss this opportunity to find some create gifts handmade right here at the Lake.

Don't despair if you're not in Missouri. You can still find something for every bird-lover on your shopping list in our Ozarklake Shop. We will ship! And we'll even include a gift card and ship directly to your gift recipient if you want us to.

Hummingbird fact for today:  Each species of hummingbird makes a different humming sound, determined by the number of wing beats per second.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ruby-throated Season Coming to a Close

Now that we're into September, the ruby-throated migration is in full swing. Males head for their southern territory first, leaving females and juveniles better access to feeding resources in the breeding territories. All the hummers try to double their body weight in preparation for the long journey back to the semi-tropics. Then the females will head home. Last to leave will be the ones born this summer. Amazingly, the birds fly individually. Adult hummers do not show the new birds where to go - they just follow their instincts. Leaving feeders up will NOT delay the migration. In fact, leaving feeders up will provide much needed energy for the migrating birds that are passing through from further north. Most of the ruby-throats will be completely out of Missouri by mid-October. but there's a chance to spot a straggler or two even later.

Here at the Lake of the Ozarks, there is a least one male still hanging around. Feeder activity has definitely slowed down though. Surprisingly. we still are seeing Baltimore orioles, although we haven't noticed any orchard orioles for a few days. The orioles usually depart earlier than the hummingbirds.

We had another fantastic summer of hummers. There must have been 50-70 hanging around at the height of the season. They are such fun to watch! Keeping up with the feeders is a daily chore, but a chore with wonderful rewards.

We want to thank the Board Members and all of the very special volunteers who work so hard to make the Sedona Hummingbird Festival THE premier hummingbird festival in the US. For us, it's a time to reconnect with friends who share our passion. We love seeing the fabulous and creative hummingbird art by our fellow vendors, and of course we always come home with more to add to our collection. It doesn't hurt that the festival is always a successful show for us. This year we again put out some Ozarklake feeders, and the Arizona hummers loved them as much as our Missouri hummers do! Thanks to Laura Osteen for these amazing pictures.

We're been homebodies since the Hummingbird Festival in Sedona. But later this month we will head out to Council Bluffs, IA, for the International Master Gardener Conference. Right after that we will head to the Wings and Wildflowers Festival in Leesburg, FL. And since we have grandkids living in St. Petersburg, we'll be hanging around in sunny Florida for a few days before returning to Missouri and awaiting the arrival of Old Man Winter,

Hummingbird fact for today: Cats, both domestic and feral, are probably the most common predator of hummingbirds. Cats should be indoor pets! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

It's Time for the Sedona Hummingbird Festival

We kind of hated to leave home because there are so many hummingbirds and they are such fun, but off we go to Sedona, AZ. This is THE PREMIER hummingbird festival and one that every hummer-lover should attend at least one. While we're at the Festival, our Etsy shop is "on vacation".

As noted above, we have TONS of hummers buzzing around constantly now. The newly-hatched ones have left the nest and the Moms have brought them all to the feeders. It's been so darn hot that they must think they are at home in the tropical habitat. This video was taken on a rainy day and they were feeding like crazy.

Thank goodness for our neighbor Steve who will keep the feeders full while we are gone. He also keeps the jelly feeders filled for the orioles. We have a bumper crop of those this year, too. Not sure exactly how many Orchard and Baltimore males and females we have in the area, but they too had a bumper crop of babies!

Another shipment of Ozarklake feeders went out to the Birding and Nature Center in South Padre Island, TX, as well as to Alley Gallery in Marion, IA. We're excited to be a part of the re-invention of downtown Marion, IA, This is good news for sure!

Hummingbird fact for today: Some hummingbirds are so small, they have been known to be caught by dragonflies and praying mantis, trapped in spider’s webs, snatched by frogs and stuck on thistles.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wonderful Anniversary, Birthday, Sales Trip

We headed west. Stayed in Colorado Springs for a couple of days. Rode the cog railway to the almost-top of Pike's Peak. Snow and wind gusts kept us from reaching the top. Went to the Garden of the Gods. Visited the Air Force Academy. Then we headed off to Wyoming. Found a dinosaur center before we headed to Yellowstone.

Spent two days going through Yellowstone. What am amazing place! So much varied geology and ecology. Saw bears and bison and elk oh my! And pronghorn and geysers and so much more! Discovered a bear and wolf rehab/discovery center in West Yellowstone.

After "vending" at the Western Field Ornithologists Conference in Billings, we headed down to Devil's Tower before we got serious about getting home. While traveling we celebrated Terrie's birthday and our 14th wedding anniversary. Terrific time!

The owner of The Front Range Birding Company of Littleton, CO, saw our feeders at the WFO Conference and took some home to put in his store! Stop by and see them if you are in the Littleton area.

While we were away, our neighbor kept up with the hummingbird and oriole feeders for us. He obviously did a good job, because we still have lots of hummers and orioles hanging around. Now we can look forward to the Hummingbird Festival in Sedona, AZ.

Hummingbird fact for today: Some hummingbirds are so small, they have been known to be caught by dragonflies and praying mantis, trapped in spider’s webs, snatched by frogs and stuck on thistles.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

This is So Much Fun!

May 2, 2015, Lake of the Ozarks, our front porch. Courting season. The nectar is fresh and not boiled, there are no red feeders, no red nectar, no natural or fake flowers, no red ribbons, no red fountain (it's copper), no red plastic imported feeders, and no drips from the bottle feeders. Soon the females will abandon the feeders (for the most part) to lay and hatch their little brood of 1 or 2. After hatch, she will feed them a diet of mostly digested bugs. When the fledglings leave the nest, they will be almost as big as mom and ALL of them will be at the feeders :-)

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Gang's All Here

After seeing just a couple of males several days apart mid-April, it is now apparent that the charm of hummingbirds that left here last fall has returned. We've counted at least 4 males feeding at the same time, and countless females. Today I happened to catch one of the males wooing the ladies with his big sweeping U-shaped flights back and forth in front of her. The nesting material we put out is being pulled and plucked, so the mama's are getting their nests ready. The crowd on the front porch feeders is such that Terrie's already started hand-feeding every evening.

We also had quite a surprise when a male orchard oriole showed up on April 17. We had no oranges, but Terrie got the grape jelly out for him, which seemed to make him happy. So luckily the jelly was already out when a male Baltimore Oriole showed up 5 days later! Usually it's May 1 before we see any orioles. Terrie was beside herself! Still no signs of female orioles, but they will be here.

There's a new store opening in Delmar, NY, and Ozarklake feeders will be featured in it! Merriman and Pfister's Marketplace is so new that there website isn't finished. We're honored they chose our items for the new store. Ozarks Classic Crafts Mall in Hardy, AR, just got a new shipment of Ozarklake feeders, too.

The Illiana Pond and Garden Expo in Crown Point, IN, was a new venue for us. Thanks to all who visited our booth and made it a successful show for us! Next week we're off to The Biggest Week in American Birding on the shores of Lake Erie in Northwest, OH. It was a good show for us last year and we're hoping it's better this year.

Hummingbird tip for today: Female hummingbirds head for the breeding grounds about three weeks after the males when more flowers are blooming and producing nectar. In promiscuous species such as hummingbirds, which do not form pair bonds at all, breeding females are more valuable than males and a reliable food supply reduces their risk. 

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.