Posts Tagged ‘Hummingbirds’

Summer has gone and the Autumn is filled with harvesting the abundant fruit our young orchard has provided this year.  The peach trees suffered broken branches from the weight of the fruit and will need to be trimmed after the first frost.  The asian pear trees also were heavy with fruit but luckily the branches did not succumb to their heavy loads.

I have a neighbour who helped harvest the fruit in exchange of plenty of it for her own canning.  The surplus we distributed among friends, to everyone’s delight.

Sammy is enjoying the Asian pear harvest

The dogs happily participated in gathering the fallen fruit and all of them were eating their fill.  I was astounded to see how many pears each of them ate without any ill effect.  Even our Berner girl Sophia, who is famous for her touchy digestion, did not experience a stomach upset.

Sophia contemplating another pear while Lilly looks on

Now, all that is left to harvest are the Bartlet pears and the apple trees.  It will be a pleasure to accomplish that task in the coming week with mild weather and temperatures near 70 degrees.

Our own Hummingbirds left a few weeks ago, but there is still activity at the feeders as migrating Hummers stop to replenish their flight weight.  Only yesterday three more arrived from far North, settling in for a few days to enjoy the abundance offered by blooming prairie flowers and our freshly cooked sugar-water.

It is always bitter-sweet to watch these tiny travellers arrive in dire need of an abundant foodsource and see them settle in for a week or more until their flight weight is restored and they are able to continue the dangerous journey to South America where the lucky ones will spend the winter.

All to soon, the last of them will be gone, the feeders will be put away and winter will come.

Hummingbirds all a-flutter during courtship: How fluttering feathers can generate courtship sounds.

Hummingbirds catch flying bugs with the help of fast-closing beaks.

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We woke to a forty degree rise in temperature at sunrise this morning and there will be no outing for the dogs today.  The hummingbird feeders are replenished and the Orioles have found equilibrium in their ravenous consumption of grape jelly and sugar-water.

A sad thing happened yesterday when we found a dead Hummer girl whose entire beak was wedged through the screening under the porch.   We where shocked to find her there, because the spot she hit is a very secluded part of the screened in area under the porch.  As you know, Sontheim is a place “where hummingbirds play” and every effort is made to provide a safe environment for our beloved visitors.  However, sometimes unexpectedly, things go wrong.

When the same tragic hummingbird death occurred last summer on precisely the same spot, we thought it was just an awful fluke and would not likely repeat, but this second death questioned the wisdom of keeping the screens in place.  So, early this morning, we took the screens down.  Of course, that means that my office door will have to be kept shut to keep out the bugs and Felix, our inquisitive cat, will lose his favorite out-door play area where he enjoys an occasional romp with the dogs.  Poor Felix will have to be restricted to the indoors.

A few days ago Lilly and Sam enjoyed the yummy Spring grass on our morning walk through the meadows.While Sophia found the perfect spot for a roll after the walk.


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After a slow start, Orioles have returned to Sontheim in such large numbers that it feels like an invasion of hooligans at a soccer game.  There must be thirty of them, primarily males, who seem to enjoy making quite a racket as they compete at the feeding stations.  It is such a boisterous group that even the large woodpeckers are afraid of them.

On the other hand, our returning hummingbirds can be counted on one hand.  To date only three boys and two girls have been identified, and even though we are at the end of the migratory season, we are still hoping that more of them will find their way back to our little patch of paradise.

This year our orchard has been slow to bloom and I have watched with interest that the native pollinators are out in force.  There are many more of the mostly tiny insects buzzing from blossom to blossom then I have ever noticed before; but alas, not one honeybee has been spotted this spring. 

Such changes and more are happening all across our planet and it seems inevitable that human activity will continue to degrade our natural word.   It would be wise for every one of us to remember that mother nature can easily thrive without the presence of the human race, but that human beings cannot survive without a functioning natural world. 

With that in mind let me share the work of two extraordinary people whose love of our beautiful world inspires and informs.  Enjoy!!!

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After weeks of cold, wet and unrelenting storms — Spring arrived yesterday in the form of a calm day in the mid 60s. 

I prepared a hummingbird feeder to hang in front of the kitchen window to make sure that any traveling hummingbird would find a libation upon arriving at Sontheim.  And sure enough, by mid-day a ruby-throated male appeared as if by magic.  He must be one of our returning hummers because he knew exactly were to find the feeder. 

My heart leapt with joy as I watched a  tiny green bird zoom around the corner of the house and instantly settle on the feeder’s perch  were he drank deeply.  Even though I missed his evening feedings, he appeared like clockwork this morning and has been visiting ever since.

Now the watch is on for the rest of the boys to arrive and eventually the girls, who should not be far behind.  More feeders are waiting to be filled with sugar-water and the Shepard hooks are ready to receive them.

Sadly this year has brought no Orioles and only a few flocks of Pelicans were passing overhead.  In years past the Orioles would arrive in force while great flocks of Pelicans sailed Northwest along the Mississippi river.  But not this year, not this Spring that follows the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.  But that is another story to be told, another issue to be considered as we all participate in the destruction of our planet earth.

Yesterday, while millions of people watched, another kind of Spring unfolded in England.   There was joy in the streets of London as onlookers watched a royal pair make their way to and from Westminster Abby.  They watched in fascination as two young people took their vows to become husband and wife.  But more importantly, they saw their fairytale turn real.  And even ardent anti-royalists voiced their opinion that Prince William and his Kate would be acceptable to take the English throne rather than the One who is next in line.

Even though royalty leaves me cold, I watched with interest and found that the lavish affair was conducted with restraint.  And even more, the young couple conducted themselves with grace and dignity. 

As I expected, there are many who regret the money spent and others who criticize the list of invitees.  On the other hand, I was not surprised to witness the yearning for the renewal of their ancient institution that was evident in the crowds.  And with a little bit of luck the English will see their beloved monarchy modernize over time.

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Blueberry Wine?

A funny thing happened at the grocery store yesterday. 

I was unloading my purchase at the checkout, which included four pints of blueberries and four ten pound bags of sugar, when I noticed the old couple behind me starting to wink and grin.  How odd I thought at first, but when their obvious amusement did not diminish I turned to tell them about my hungry humming birds.  They were astonished to hear about the number of Hummers at my house and told me that seeing the blueberries with the sugar they had assumed that I was preparing to cook up some good old moonshine.

That was just too funny. 

I asked them if they had a recipe and sheepishly they told me that it was illegal to make the stuff.

How is that for  a chuckle?

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