Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hummingbird Banding on our Porch

It was an exciting afternoon! Veronica, one of two hummingbird banders licensed in Missouri, came by to capture and band some hummers. She banded 19 tiny birds in just under two hours! All but four of them were this year's juvenile males; the other four were this year's juvenile females.

She placed net "cages" over two of the feeders. Each "cage" has a big opening, and the bird flies in to get to the feeder. Their natural inclination is to fly up, so they go to the top of the "cage" and she reaches in and gently gets it. She then places it in a drawstring bag to move it from the feeder to her work table. Then she wraps the bird in a "footie" and weighs it. She sexes it by looking at a specific wing feather. Then she measures the wing and the bill. And she blows air through a straw to look for molting and body fat.

She then gets a teeny tiny little numbered leg band and she gently squeezes that onto the bird's teeny tiny little foot. She offers it some nectar and then lets it fly away.

Feels good to know that we are contributing to hummingbird research and data.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbird banding is like holding magic. Banders are amazingly gentle and careful with the tiny birds, although as intercontinental migrants, hummers are tougher than they look.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Fun Part of the Summer

This part of the summer is undoubtedly the most fun with all the hummingbird activity in full swing and orioles still hanging around. The juveniles of both species are now fledged and joining the parents at the feeders in anticipation of migrating southward.

We had a fantastic July. We headed first to Portland, OR, for the International Master Gardeners Conference. Met a lot of wonderful people and sold a lot of feeders :-) Had dinner one night with Terrie's Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Dick, and spent quality time with Bill's sister Lynn and brother-in-law Tom. The best part about Oregon, however, was stopping at roadside stands and getting fresh-picked cherries - cheap compared to prices here in MO.

We played tourist for the next week and a half. Couldn't pass by the Evergreen Air and Space Museum without going in to see the Spruce Goose. Drove part of the Pacific Coast Highway. Marveled at Yosemite and Kings Canyon and Avenue of the Giants. Found sea lions in San Diego Harbor. Visited our friends Lisa and Gam at Hidden Forest Art Gallery. Panned for gold in Julian. Got re-acquainted with an old Navy buddy of Bill's (and acquainted with his wife). Visited Terrie's mom and stepdad in Yucca Valley.

Then it was on to Sedona, AZ, for the annual Hummingbird Festival sponsored by the International Hummingbird Society.  Met up with old friends and made new friends, all while selling lots of feeders. And once again we laughed with delight as the local Anna's hummers passed over the imported plastic feeders to feed from an Ozarklake feeder. Enjoyed a mini-reunion with two of Terrie's high-school classmates, Vicki and Willa, and their husbands Ray and John respectively.

And then it was home to our bird friends. We have the best neighbors in Steve and Sandy Stock because they take care of the hummers, the orioles, and the kitties while we are out gallivanting. For now, we're just having fun with our hummers. It's almost a full-time job to keep the feeders filled! They're going through two gallons of nectar daily. Thankfully the orioles have cut back on their two pounds of jelly daily :-)

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds cannot walk or hop, though their feet can be used to scoot sideways while they are perched. These birds have evolved smaller feet to be lighter for more efficient flying. They will use their feet for itching and preening, however!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Nest Building and Courtship are in Full Swing

Our little wire suet box that we have stuffed with raw cotton and cat hair is being attacked daily. There's definite signs that "something" is pulling out bits of both cotton and hair to add to the teeny tiny nests that are being built in the area. This material, along with plant parts and spider web to hold it all together, go into the nest, which is usually located in the fork of a downward sloping branch. The tiny nest is about the size of half a walnut. She will cover the outside with bits of gray-green lichen to camouflage it, and line the inside with soft plant down,

We're seeing some mating displays as well. The mating process is quite complex involving several activities in which the female plays an active role. Males attempt to attract females' attention with spectacular courtship flights in which a male flies upward 15m or more and then dives down at top speed, pulling up at the last moment to complete a U-shaped pattern; the pattern is usually repeated several times before the male takes a break. The sound of the male's wings are particularly loud in courtship flight, which may be accompanied by vocal chittering. Eventually, the female selects a male--perhaps one with a particularly energetic display or the one defending a feeding territory that appears especially rich--and mates with him.

After the male mates with the first female, he may mate again with several others. This promiscuous "harem system" works well for the species because there are fewer adult males than females in a typical local population. After mating takes place, the female assumes all parental duties. The male does not help at all in looking after the eggs or their offspring.

Since every bird is on an individual schedule, and a lot of energy is currently being expended, there is heavy feeding activity - especially during a cool rain. The video above was taken yesterday, just about dusk and during a light drizzle/mist. Once Mom lays her two white tiny pea-size eggs, she will visit the feeders less often, as she sits on the nest for 50-55 minutes of each hour. After the eggs hatch, generally 14-16 days, she will feed the chicks a regurgitated slurry of protein (from tiny insects she eats) along with nectar and pollen. Newly hatched hummingbirds are naked and blind. By the third day after hatch, the chicks have doubled their mass, which doubles again by day five and again by day eight--about the time when the young start producing their first noticeable pinfeathers. Chicks are in the nest for almost three weeks--making the total elapsed time from egg-laying to fledging about 5-6 weeks. When the nestlings finally leave the nest, they are completely grown and innately able to begin foraging on their own.

Several pairs of orioles, both Baltimore and orchard, are hitting the jelly feeders daily. They are extremely camera-shy, however, and take off when we try to get pix.

We're working on sending out wholesale orders. This week the Owl House in Saugatuck, MI, received their order, and next week Stewart's Village Gallery in Waxhaw, NC, will have their order. We're also be giving a presentation about hummingbirds at the Lake Bloomers Garden Club next week. Our next show will be at the Green Bay Botanical Garden in Wisconsin the first weekend in June.

Hummingbird fact for today: Occasionally, because of cold, wet weather that kills the eggs or nestlings, or when windy storms blow down a nest, the female Ruby-throated Hummingbird will start the nesting process over again. If she returned from the wintering grounds early enough and linked up quickly with a male, she probably has no problem pulling off a re-nesting attempt, but if she got a late start on her first nest she may not have time to try again--especially in the northern United States and southern Canada where the nesting season is especially short.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Hummer Population is Growing Around Here

We were gone 6 days for the Dogwood Festival in Huntington, WV. Before we left, we had counted 4 males and 3 females at the feeders.Our good neighbor kept the feeders maintained while we were gone. Now that we are home, we are beyond the "counting" phase because there is just no way to keep track of all the visitors now. Yeehaw! Summer will be fun again this year!

Many customers ask us how the copper on our feeders weathers. The patina that copper develops is a protective coating - copper doesn't rust away like steel. The green development depends upon both the alloy in the copper and the air quality. Now that we have cleaner air, the green takes longer to develop. This feeder, which has been in use for about 5 years, is developing some really nice green.

While we were in West Virginia, we went to Blenko Glass in Milton. Exquisite color, skilled craftsmen, and imaginative designs have made Blenko famous in the time-honored craft of hand-blown glass. Unfortunately, they are also one of just a handful of such craftsmen left in WV. Because the glass is handblown, mistakes are sometimes made. What is a "mistake" for Blenko, however, can become a beautiful Ozarklake feeder. And in the near future, we will have some of these gorgeous feeders available for sale!

On another note, once again we are contemplating the pets that have been affected by this rash of storms that traveled through places we are familiar with. The human suffering in places like Canton, TX (tornado), and West Plains, MO (flooding), is unfathomable to most of us and many organizations are helping the human victims. But humans at least understand what has happened. Pets cannot comprehend why they are separated from their families, why they can't find their home, why their world is now topsy-turvy. We have learned that the West Plains Regional Shelter, a no-kill shelter which was already struggling financially, has suffered structural damage from the flooding to add to their problems as they take in pets misplaced by the flood waters. If you are so moved, the address is 1438 Hwy BB, West Plains, MO 65775. It appears, from what we can find online, that Nicholas Pet Haven has taken a prominent role in rescuing and harboring pets misplaced by the Texas tornadoes. Their address is 12903 State Highway 155 S, Tyler, Texas 75703.

To end this on a happier note, here are some pix of the hummers on the front porch today. Note the two females sharing at the one feeder.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds have 1,000-1,500 feathers, the fewest number of feathers of any bird species in the world.

Friday, April 21, 2017

So Nice Hearing Hummers Again

The sights and sounds around here just keep improving!

Male ruby-throats showed up, then male Baltimore orioles, then female ruby-throats, and now a male orchard oriole. Our little flocks are beginning to move back in!

Re-orders are coming in from our retail outlets. So the ruby-throated migration is in full swing with them returning to their breeding areas.

Watch for mating dances - deep, fast swoops back and forth - as he shows off for the lady.

We're going to a new-to-us area next weekend. We'll be in Huntington, WV, at the Big Sandy Arena for the Dogwood Arts & Crafts Festival. We hope to make a stop at our favorite WV glass maker - Blenko in Milton - as well.

As the hummers return, remember to keep the nectar fresh for them. If the feeder isn't empty after 3-5 days, dump it out, clean it, and refill it with fresh nectar. If you want to use pre-packaged nectar, we recommend only EZ Nectar, made from ONLY sugar and water with no additives or preservatives. Enter coupon code ozarklake at checkout for savings!

Hummingbird fact for today: The Aztecs were one of the first known cultures to embrace the beauty and representation of the Hummingbird. They wore talismans that had Hummingbirds on them as a symbol of the vigor of their people.

Friday, April 14, 2017

First Ruby-Throat Has Arrived!

Our first ruby-throat of the season arrived on April 10, 3-6 days sooner than any have ever arrived. So far he seems to be alone, but more will surely show up.

We've been to two shows this spring, one in Fort Smith, AR, and one in Evansville, IN. So despite a slower show season, wholesale orders have kept us hopping, with some new locations ordering. Last week we sent orders to Inspired! Gift Shop in Port Angeles, WA, and to Awakenings in Pleasanton, CA. Now we're working on orders for the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, AR, and Frames of Mind in St. John, VI.

Here's a complete list of retail locations that carry Ozarklake items:
Coronado National Monument Gift Store, Hereford, AZ
Botanical Garden of the Ozarks, Fayetteville, AR
Awakenings, Pleasanton, CA
An Artisan's Marketplace, Plainville, CT
The Secret Shed, Shererville, IN
Alley Gallery, Marion, IA
The Owl House, Saugatuck, MI
The Hermann Mercantile, Hermann, MO
Tar Heel Trading Co., Corolla & Duck, NC
A Bird's Eye View, Littleton, NC
Stewart's Village Gallery, Waxhaw, NC
Blue Heron Gallery, Sunset Beach, NC
When Pigz Fly, Raleigh, NC
Beech Branch Arts & Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN
Rio Grande Valley Arts & Heritage Museum, Harlingen, TX
SPI Birding and Nature Center, South Padre Island, TX
Inspired! Gift Shop, Port Angeles, WA
Dickinson & Wait Craft Gallery, Shepherdstown, WV
Frames of Mind, St. John, VI

Everyone who feed hummers knows that sometimes ants will find your birdfeeder, especially if you're feeding nectar or fruit. They just march right down whatever the feeder is hanging on and march right in to the sweet stuff. Using pesticides, oils, or anything that is sticky is bad for the birds. They can be poisoned with pesticides, all oils can get on their feathers (they're tiny and fast and curious) and affect their flying ability, and something sticky (like inside-out duct tape) can actually entrap the little hummingbirds. 

 So what's the answer??? Ants do not swim! In fact, since they breathe through their skin, they actually suffocate in water. Enter our new AntSentry. Hang the AntSentry from the hook that your feeder was on, hang your feeder from the bottom hook of the AntSentry, fill the copper bowl with water. Ants might march down from the top hook, but the water moat keeps them from marching on down to the feeder. Our AntSentry is handcrafted in the same style as our feeders, but will be a beautiful accessory for any feeder. The solid copper will last a lifetime, and certainly a lot longer than the plastic ant moats you can find in the big box stores. The copper bowl is 2" across, and 1.5" deep. Just watch for evaporation and replenish with water when needed. You can order your here

Hummingbird fact for today: As with most of our migratory birds, hummingbirds apparently evolved to their present forms during the last ice age. They were (and largely still are) tropical birds, but as the great ice sheets retreated from North America, they gradually expanded their ranges to exploit rich temperate food resources and nesting space, filling unoccupied niches in the U.S and southern Canada while evading intense competition in the tropics. Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the summer months in the eastern half of the US and some provinces. Watch the migration map fill in with dates of "first" sightings.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Two More North Carolina Stores Have Ozarklake Feeders

We shipped out orders this week to two stores in North Carolina. How exciting! Both are in summer "tourist" areas and both are near a lake. Gee. Sounds like home here at the Lake of the Ozarks.

A Bird's Eye View in Littleton, NC, had just gotten their order unpacked when a customer walked in and purchased one! The store owner was so excited that she called to tell us about it. Blue Heron Gallery in Sunset Beach, NC, will have their order delivered early next week. We hope they have the same type of response!

These two NC locations join Tar Heel Trading Company in Corolla & Duck, Stewart's Village Gallery in Waxhaw, and When Pigz Fly in Raleigh. So if you're in North Carolina, Ozarklake feeders can be found in all corners of the state!

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds can fly in the rain and, like dogs, shake their heads to dispel drops of water. Unlike dogs, however, a hummingbird shakes its head violently, 132 times per second, and rotating 202 degrees—all while flying and maintaining direction.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Is Winter Over Early?

It is unseasonably warm here. In fact, we pruned the butterfly bushes yesterday in shorts! Just wish that the hummingbird migration depended on weather and not on other factors (like Mother Nature and length of daylight hours, etc.). BUT they should start showing up in about 8 weeks!!!

We're working out our spring show schedule. Hopefully we'll be going to Huntington, WV, and Greenville, SC, after our March trip to Ft. Smith, AR. In July we'll head back to the Sedona Hummingbird Festival, this year by way of Portland, OR, site of the International Master Gardeners Conference this year.

We're VERY EXCITED that Ozarklake feeders are now available in the Visitors Center at Coronado National Memorial! In this very southern area of Arizona, hummingbirds of many species are in residence year-round! The Visitors Center is south of Sierra Vista and west of Bisbee, an area we visited last summer. https://www.nps.gov/coro/index.htm.

We have always recommended that people mix their own nectar from cane sugar and tap water, but we understand that sometimes the convenience of a pre-packaged nectar is needed. We have researched a lot of the nectars on the market and have concluded that the ONLY pre-packaged nectar we recommend using is EZNectar, available at Amazon, in many Wal-Mart stores, and at www.eznectar.com. This nectar is all natural with NO additives. Just sugar and water. So when you want the convenience of pre-packaged nectar, stock up on EZNectar!

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds have been part of our culture for centuries. The Aztecs have noted them in their talisman, and they were beloved and admired for their energy. Warriors believed that if they were true to battle but lost their lives, they would come back as a hummingbird.