RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Hummingbirds

Excerpts from a Hummingbird Book I Wrote

 

Several years ago after spending countless hours (years) with my Little Winged Ones and reading anything I could get my hands on for information and then taking notes as I surveyed, scrutinized, examined and study them from every aspect one could… I decided to write a little book about the Little Winged Ones. 

I actually wrote the book backwards, doing the conclusion with all the information about them from migration to habitats, the flowers they liked, what kind of water sources they liked to you name it.  I was writing down everything that I saw, heard and read.  I found it quite exhilarating… as much so as the little hummingbirds themselves. 

I am now doing the illustrations for the little book.  I am having a blast doing each one.  I do not care how long it takes me, the time I put into the little book is very precious to me.  In the end whether I sale one copy or give them away it means little to the measure of pleasure they have given me.

The title of the little book is Midnight Nectar… this comes from a special part of this poem that I wrote… the hummingbird characters and personalities are what help set the title.  I do hope that each one of you enjoys the excerpts from the poem and a little from the books conclusions of as much information that I thought a reader would want and could enjoy, for those that asked for me to share sorry it took me so long….

 

Midnight Nectar  

The Little Winged Ones

 

 

I watch in wonderment at the little wings ones, the hummingbird’s flight of play.  Flashing the colors of their gorget, they cast beams of color like a prism in sunrays.  You see them flitting here and there, their iridescence feathers glowing, bright, shimmering, and radiating a mixture of colors as they dart from place to place…

 

The sight of each little winged ones impressive plumage is eye-catching as they put it on display.  All their colors of rufus, greens and blues, purple, and even copper are all blended and fused to see as they captivate.   Gold and orange, and reds dispersed in many different hues its contrast the identity enabler and too by their size and shapes…

 

They flash each their metallic colors as they put on a show, which is entertaining, sometimes comical as they engage with one another in as many ways.  They make musical notes from the exhilarated speed of their little wings with a constant whirling and hovering here, and their flights of speed so swift , look and see it is high, ever so high over there, each  its own everywhere…

 

Watch as the little winged ones ascend high out of sight then rapidly plummets with a “peep” as it promptly levels off just above the ground, then flies away, bright and smart and oh so quick on their uptake.  Amazing acts these little winged ones, what a show as they try to assert, contend, and outperform on a dare, which one will succeed, they are all very competitive…

All this takes lots of nectar the sweet juices is their food, their fuel.  Sit and watch as they linger at their chosen flowers all of pure raw flavor.   Sipping nectar for their flights and their games of play, watch it now as it makes the chase; it tags, and then it quickly flies away…

 

The hummingbirds I write about are those that spend spring, summer and the part of autumn here in the Pacific Northwest.  Four species that call our home theirs for part of the year are the Anna’s, Allen’s, Rufus, and the littlest of all the Calliope’s.  A few of the Anna’s Hummingbirds live here at Hummingbird Hollow year round.  They are very adaptive at surviving the winters that can get very cold, here in Washington State where the temperature can sometimes be in the 20’s degrees and at times a lot colder.  To survive the night, they fluff up their feathers and adjust their thermostats, decreasing their body temperatures by half and reducing their heart rate which can range can be up to 1260 beats per minute.  Their high body temperature of…

 

I observed for the first time several years ago a new, performance that was put on by a hummingbird during the hottest part of the summer.  The lawns were all golden brown from lack of rain.  While I was relaxing in the shade, I watched a hummingbird land on a slight slope where the wild grass was dried and the blades were all laying one on top of another on the ground.  The hummingbird landed and then commenced to lie down and settled on its belly in the dried grass as it spread it wings wide on both sides.  It laid there sunning itself for a long period time.  I was not only surprised but it intrigued me so.  I had never to date read anything on this behavior.  I thought maybe it was a fluke, but again I was thrilled to watch and scrutinize this same behavior on several occasions over the years after the fact of what seems to be a routine occurrence…

The little hummers never bore me, quite the opposite.  My interest and need to know more has never diminished, if anything I am like a sponge and try to gather and saturate my mind with as much information as I can.   I never tire of watching and studying them; I am thrilled beyond words at their courage to face anything head on.    They entertained me with all their antics and their pure stamina, with their staying power to weather any storm, and their determination in all of their actions.  They have never let me down.  This information is from the four species that live here at Hummingbird Hallow…

Hummingbirds need twice their weight in water every day.  They will drink the dew collected in leaves, or on grass and flowers.  Customary water sources such as birdbaths and in ground mini ponds and Koi Gardens will have to be specially adapted for the needs of the hummingbirds.  The hummingbirds and songbirds require very shallow water for drinking and bathing.  They do not like more than an inch and would prefer even less than that.  The birdbaths and such that we provide for other birds will need to be adapted for the little birds use.  You can add rocks, or you can lay a layer of sand for the correct water depth needed, even too use some small pebbles so they can enjoy and make use of your different water sources.   If need they will use the birdbaths and such but on a limited basic, by letting the tips of their wings dip in the water as they drop down and whiz across the water.   They two will dip their bills in for a quick drink.  Keep the birdbaths clean and give them fresh water every day during the hot summer months.  Here in the northwest even though we get lots of rain, I clean the birdbaths every day.  You want them sterile, you do not want them to pass on any disease(s) to each other and too there are many other birds that use the same water sources.  If you decide to put out feeders for the birds, be sure to keep them sterile, keep nectar fresh and put out only enough seeds for a few hours, we add to the feeders we use a couple of times a day.   Do not use any chemicals of any kind at any time… 

They love to play in the mist from water fountains. They will all join in and chase after one another and the mist drops.  There is much enjoyment to be had if you just take the time to watch them in all their energetic and enthusiastic high-spirited flights of play.  Always chasing one another, raindrops, water mist from fountains, even water from lawn and garden hoses (they love it when you are watering and do not mind that you are right there holding the hose.)  Remember to watch them playing chase with the snowflakes in the wintertime.  They seem never to exhaust their energies in whatever, they find to amuse themselves…

I hope you enjoyed the excerpts that I have chosen.  The book has not been edited at this point, if anyone knows a good book editor let me know… I need one bad….

(All of the photos I picked for this post are of Female Rufus Hummingbirds.)

Taco Pizza

First I have an update to my last post… Hummingbirds!  I was stating that the Rufus Hummingbirds were late in arriving this year.  While I was having my first morning cup of tea I was watching the feeder and a bright little male Rufus Hummingbird arrived and shortly after he was followed by a female Rufus Hummingbird.  They made repeated trips to the feeder all morning.  It has been a long haul for them coming all the way from South America.  It sure was good to see them!  Before long we will have lots of hummers… the Anna Hummingbirds were not too happy with the new arrivals… but they will get use to them pretty quick.  I will give them a few days to get use to the area again and get settled in before I start pointing my camera in their direction!

Now for the pizza… When my children were young Friday night was usually reserved as  Pizza night.  They loved pizza, and Taco Pizza was their favorite, mine too.  I do not know why we have not had taco pizza in a very long time… I cannot even remember the last time we had it!  T says he has never had Taco Pizza and I have been with him for fourteen years! 

I have to admit at this point in time I have a little secret that I do not tell too many people.  I like Taco Bell Taco Sauce.  Not much else at Taco Bell makes me want to eat there, but I do like their sauce.  I noticed at Amazon the other day when I was looking for some things I needed to buy they had Taco Bell Taco Sauce by the bottle, you had to buy two, but hey… maybe I will make Taco Pizza more than once every fourteen years!

While there I decided to see if they sell Santa Fe Instant dried beans… Santa Fe Bean Company makes the best instant dried beans and has a variety of beans including black beans, pinto beans, southwestern style beans and I think there is one more.  I was introduced to the dried beans several years ago and they are delicious.  The store we usually shop at quit stocking them, we have not said anything… maybe if we spoke up they would restock… but I now know where I can buy the instant dried beans!  I could not make any better beans from scratch!   I do not normally go with instant anything but the taste and texture of these beans is incredible.  They are so good and Amazon did sell them (and at a better price)… you had to buy at least eight packages… but that was okay I love these beans, they are that good, I would give them a high hummingbird score!  They make a nice side dish with so many different meals.

The pizza dough was from Central Market; they have ready-made pizza and sell their dough too!  It is very easy to use and makes it so much quicker to make your own pizza.   There are many good recipes out there for making pizza dough if you want to make your own.  Besides when you are basically for the time being a one-armed person… you take all the help you can get! Once I have the dough spread onto the pan I spread the dough with a layer of the Santa Fe beans I have already made per package directions (you can use canned refried beans or make your own they do not have to be instant beans.)   I spread half of the pizza with seasoned cooked ground turkey meat (when cooking I added some onions and when cooked I add some taco seasoning, chopped fresh parsley and then mixed well.)  Next you will spread on some Mozzarella Cheese.  Bake in 475˚ oven, placing rack on the lowest position for 9-14 minutes… when the crust is golden brown it is done.  Watch it carefully, you do not want to over-cook and let it get dried out!

Once you have your pizza out of the oven you cover with thin sliced avocados, some thin sliced lettuce, thin sliced red onions, and diced tomatoes, then throw on a few black olives.  I put some sour cream and taco sauce into squeeze bottles and put the finishing touches on the pizza.  It was now ready to eat.

T said the pizza was really good and would like to have it again… I do not know why it took me so many years to revisit one of my favorite pizzas; it was delicious and full of flavor… excellent to the last bite ….

Making a good dent!

 

 

Hummingbirds

Male Rufus taking care of business!

Ninnie being Ninnie – catnap in the sun!

First I thought I would start off with a picture of Ninnie, she has not been corporative at all with me taking her picture of late!   Normally she just ignores me while I point and shoot.  I found her lying on her back in a sunny spot this morning.  She had no idea I had taken her picture, if she did she did not let on… it is something how an animal can pretend to be sleeping when you are talking… their ears gives them away, they move with the voices!  So afraid they might miss something, you just might be talking about them!    She looks so angelic… don’t you think!

Male Rufus

Now I will get back to the subject… hummingbirds.  We have been eagerly awaiting our seasonal hummingbirds.  Normally the Rufus Hummingbirds would have arrived by now.  The Calliopes’’ are always a month or so behind.  I am wondering if they are in the desert!  Will have to call my nephew Mickey who lives in Phoenix and see if they had a higher than normal bloom in the desert this year.  That would explain the non-appearance of the hummingbirds here.  (The Anna’s who winter over do not mind, they are always so up in the air so to speak when the others start arriving!  It does not take long for them to get along and share… most of the time!)

Male Rufus

I have a little story I want to share with you… A few years ago I was in Tucson, Arizona.  It was March and the total opposite weather that we were experiencing here in the Northwest!  Not that unusual to say the least.  Lots of sun it got up into the 80’s and a couple of days in the 90’s.  I had no need for a sweatshirt or sweater.  I had packed for the sun.  I took sundresses, short sleeves, crops and Bermuda shorts along with some sneakers and stylish sandals of course!   For a change my house coat was what took the most space in my suitcase! 

Male Rufus

At lunch time one day I decided to take a long walk along the main business street in downtown Tucson… lots of State and Federal Buildings along the way.  Besides getting in a little exercise and sun… I could people watch something I love to do.  What better time than at lunch time walking among hundreds of folks coming and going on their lunch time.  I experienced something on that walk… it is a point in time I will never forget.

Male Rufus

I think everyone knows that city blocks are pretty long… I had just pasted through one intersection to start the next city block and a male Rufus Hummingbird came right up to my face and was staring at me.  Then he started his excited zee-chupity-chuping, chipping and buzzy notes as he hovered a foot in front of my face.  Whether I stood still or kept moving he stayed with me, flying backwards at the same speed as myself, if I stopped he hovered until I made an advancement… his musical buzzing and just being present had everyone’s attention.  These folks that were so busy in their everyday lives running errands, getting things done on their short lunch hour took the time to come along and watch this colorful little winged one. 

Female Rufus (bad hair day!)

They were as amazed as me at the actions of this hummingbird.  Some that were going in the opposite direction decided to join in and see what this little winged one was up to!   This went on for the full length of this city block.  So much commotion… it is something that something so small and of little consequence to each of their daily routines could make so many people stop their day and take part to just see what he was up to.  He was flashing his colors for all to see.  He had so much to tell me and sometimes I thought he was actually scolding me!  It sounded like it anyway!

Two Female Rufus at feeder

People were asking me if this had happened before, not in the city… my little hummers at home did this all the time.  Someone in the crowd spoke up and said, “It is like he knows her!”  I was thinking the same thing.  Was this one of our seasonal hummers on his track to Hummingbird Hollow and just staying over for a rest and to take in the desert bloom before continuing on? 

I decided to take another walk the next day and ran into a couple of women that called me the Hummingbird lady… they wanted to talk about what they had observed.  We sat down on a park bench and I told them about Hummingbird Hollow and all the little winged ones that call our home theirs for several months out of the year.  I also said the one thing that I did not say aloud the day before, I thought the little winged one was one of ours and wanted to know why I was not at home and was afraid he would not have a feeder of nectar waiting for him when he arrived!  That will never happen….

I think he is telling me to stop watching!

Hummingbirds in Snow

On watch of nectar… Female Anna Hummingbird

Wintry Holiday for the Hummingbirds

I have been told that sometimes when you ask you will receive.  Our moist cold air turned to snow last week…finally; we received over ten inches (some in the Northwest received over twenty inches, in the mountains it was in feet…) of the beautiful white fluff.   I have to say it was beautiful and we were very blessed to be about the only ones that did not lose power during our “winter storm.”  We had very high winds and it was snowing so hard at times it was a white out.   The site was stunning to say the least.

Our storm here in the hollows came and went for several days; the temperature was just a little bitter (and add the wind chill to that) more than what my body can suffer so the little walks I took were very short and only in the first couple of days of the winter blast.

I did get out and about and took a couple of pictures I thought I would share with you, I wanted so badly to take a walk about when we were at the height and depth of the snowstorm but after the few little jaunts I had taken I just could not muster up the needed strength and my bodies temp had plummeted to the point I wondered if it would  return to normal… but I think you will enjoy the pictures of our winter wonderland.  I too took a few pictures of things in my gardens.

My favorite pictures are of course the hummingbirds; I am taken by their pure resilience and stamina when it comes to enduring the freezing weather we get here in the Northwest.  They kept me busy watching them chasing the snowflakes as they drifted to the floor of white.  Buzzing the drifts and taking dives they were very busy just keeping themselves occupied.  Sometimes with the high wind gust I thought they would be carried off just as the snowflakes… wouldn’t it be something to have the fortitude of the little winged ones!

Male Anna Hummingbird

Female Anna Hummingbird

Nectar… Fuel for energy and to keep warm

Nice landing in the snow

Last season’s Robin nest topped off with snow

A Triple Drip!

One Drop in Time

I love old stumps… this one is from 1904

Down our Lane

Looks like white linen… time for tea!

Thick cushions of snow

In the pictures you see of the hummingbirds looking up, they are keeping watch over their nectar juice in the hummingbird feeder (they took turns)… the one thing that keeps them going in the winter’s whiteout….

Little Winged Ones… Hummingbirds In Flight

Female Anna

(Be sure to double-click on the photo(s) and you will see an enlargement and all the details…)

I was sitting out on the back deck this morning.  The sun was so bright and with a hot cup a tea in hand I was feeling pretty good.  The past couple of weeks it finally seems like summer.  More sun than clouds and rain.

As I sat there I was watching the little winged one play.  I wonder what it would be like to have such energy, but I guess if my main diet was nectar I would be overly active too.

Female Anna and a Female Rufus in background

They stole my heart years ago, but living here at what we call Hummingbird Hollow has brought more than just entertainment from the little winged one.  With it came a want to know more about them.  I have spent the last dozen plus years watching, studying and being delighted in all there antics.  I am in the process of doing the illustrations for a book I wrote called Midnight Nectar about the frolics, behaviors and lives of the little winged ones.  I can honestly say there is never a dull moment here.

Female Anna

As I sat there I was spellbound by their aerial feats… I watched a Stellar Blue Jay come through, immediately the hummers gave chase.   They stayed with this blue bird through the apple trees on to the plum trees and then into the thicket and back again.   I am in awe as I watch them take on the bird that is over eleven inches long compared to their two-plus inch length.  Their tenacity is not to be compared to anything that is their size.  I have watched them take on cats, dogs, any bird and us two footers if we get to close to their nests or if their young are just out of the nest.  They are very territorial and if you get within their terrain at any given time they just may let you know you need to leave.

However, if they know you they will come right up and check you out, some of ours look in our windows and watch us.   We have noticed that if their feeder is low on nectar juice they will come and look at us through our windows until we check the feeder.  They will at times watch us through the windows while we are getting a clean feeder, filling it and then meet us where we hang the feeder.  At times they will follow us around the yard.   They love to chat with us, they are very vocal in all ways.  Generally they are easy to live with and are very amicable.

Male Anna

The Stellar Blue Jay is a very noisy bird; they have a lot to say and with such sass.  They have a cheekiness… brazenness that is beyond compare to all winged ones no matter the size.  With their young they are so vociferous, boisterous, bossy and overbearing.  I feel sorry for them.  I think they leave the nest as soon as possible.  It does not take them anytime to be completely on their own and off to a whole new area to live.  That is what I would do!

Male Anna

The Stellar Blue Jay  are a beautiful bird, just a little overbearing at times.  I tried to get a picture of one of them and they knew it and they made it very hard for me to get a good shot in.  They are one of the reasons we do not do many bird feeders, they go through and knock all the seeds out so they can eat all of the sunflower seeds.  They are pretty but have an arrogance that dulls their beauty.

Stellar Blue Jay

The sun was shining through the trees and every time I just got focused, the bird would take flight.

It did not want a picture taken!

This Female Rufus has decided to check me out – eye to eye!

I take hundreds of hummingbird shots.  They are so fleeting it is not an easy task.  I am learning, but to get the lighting right and have the camera set for high-super-sonic speed is a mission and a calling that I will not give up on.  I have so many action shots; hummingbirds are almost always so full of life… highly active.  I have given myself the challenge of taking action shots that are clear and precise and tell the viewer what is going on.  That is not easy… I am going to share some of my ‘action shots’ that I have taken this summer.  I hope you enjoy them and let me know what you think.  I already know I have a long way to go, but I think I have gotten a good start….

Male Anna

Male Rufus – they make it almost impossible to get a picture of them!

Female Rufus

Male Anna

Female Rufus

Female Rufus

Male Anna

Female Rufus

Look… there are two Female Rufus Hummingbirds on the uptake!

Female Rufus

Young Rufus

Rufus Hummingbirds

Rufus Young ~ Hover, Reverse and Backwards Uplift! Amazing Little Winged Ones!

Two young Rufus Hummingbirds

Female Rufus

%d bloggers like this: