Thursday, June 10, 2010

Today in Sycamore Canyon

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Today in Sycamore Canyon the Costa's hummingbirds are back.  I have been seeing males for the most part for the past couple of weeks, but today a female Costa's showed up.  I love feeding hummingbirds but the feeders do present a challenge. Not only do bees tend to hover around them at certain times, but now I am busy fighting ants drawn to the sugary syrup. I used to have a different feeder here on the window under the covered patio over my patio table because hummingbirds like to feed in the shade and this arrangement keeps them dry when it rains.  The other feeder I had was the inversion type where you flip it over to fill it and then invert the bottle for the birds to feed.  The problem is that with the high temperatures we have been having lately the nectar is forced out of the bottle do to the increased pressure when the liquid inside expands, thus dripping all over my table and attracting ants. So, for now I am trying this type of feeder in this location which is a saucer feeder and tends to discourage ants and bees.  However, the Gila woodpeckers may still hang from it to feed which will also cause it to drip and then I will have to think of something else!

Meanwhile, I still have the inversion type of feeders elsewhere in my yard. The ants have also found these and are climbing the shepherds hooks I have them on, as well as the glass window where my window feeder is held on by suction cups.  In my war against the ants I have tried several things.  First I broke down and sprayed a chemical spray after removing all feeders and plants from the area.  I immediately felt guilty for this and washed it all away.  While it killed the ants I could see, it didn’t stop them from coming back later in the day.  Then I tried ant traps. It was all well and good until fresh nectar dripped on the table.  The ants bypassed the bait and went straight for the sugar-water! What now? Well, I changed the feeder as stated above.  I tired spraying the ants with my white vinegar solution I use to clean the windows with.  It killed the ants but didn’t keep them from coming back. So, I am now trying this…

DSC_0042 Vaseline and Vicks Vaporub on the pole…

DSC_0047 and around the edges of the window.  So far they will not cross this and they seem to hate the odor of the vaporub but will it also chase away the birds? I am watching and waiting. I have taken great precautions to make sure that none of this will end up on the wings of the birds which could be disastrous! I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Meanwhile…

DSC_0003 the finches are feeding…

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… as well as this baby curve-billed thrasher being fed by its parent.

 DSC_0012 The Baby Gambel’s Quail are starting to arrive…

 

DSC_0057 …but the parent birds have been digging nests in the cool soil beneath my bougainvillea and other garden plants.  I don’t mind that they do this except it tears up the roots and kills the plants!  I have resorted to placing large rocks beneath the plants just to protect them from the birds!

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My bougainvillea in bloom today.

 DSC_0061 Female Gambel’s Quail digging herself a nest hole beneath the nearby grass and bougainvillea!

DSC_0064 She’s just relaxing and cooling off and apparently eating in bed!

DSC_0041 In the backyard the whirling butterflies (guara) are in bloom…

DSC_0044 And while I was watering my garden I saw a toad disappear into this hole beneath the spigot! I planted Irish moss here to catch the drips of water from the hose.  It seemed a good idea and so far it is growing but apparently a toad has decided it makes a perfect home. I tired to flush it out for a look by filling the hole with water.  No luck…

DSC_0056 …but when I came back later on in the afternoon I noticed the hole plugged up with debris.  Seems the toad shut the door on me!  One question: Since he lives in Irish Moss, does that make him an Irish toad?

Hot, sunny, and windy here in Sycamore Canyon today.  It was 77 degree F when I first got up at 7:30 a.m. but has now risen to 102 degrees F. A few clouds are wafting overhead and the wind has picked up quite a bit.  It is suppose to blow quite fiercely over the next few days and the temperature is suppose to drop into the high 80’s!  That is almost unheard of for June and will be a relief after the triple digit temperatures we have been having as of late.

Today in Sycamore Canyon I am also thinking of fellow blogger, birder, and artist Debby Kaspari. Debby and her husband Mike had their home and studio destroyed last month in an F4 tornado in Oklahoma. Julie Zickefoose has written a fantastic article about it on her blog with links to where you can donate if you are interested. Please take a look and see if you would like to help. Debby and Mike escaped with only their lives and their cat.  Click on the links below to read the amazing stories and see photos for yourself.  Debby, I wish you all the best.  May you start painting again soon for all of us and For the Birds!

The May 10 Tornado

Meet Debby Kaspari

Debby’s Blog: Drawing the Motmot

18 comments:

bobbie said...

Your problems with ants and bees are familiar. So far this year I haven't experienced it. In the past, Lisa also suspected bats of drinking nectar at night. It's always something!

Shelley said...

You're definitely fighting the good fight to protect your feeders! I've done the vaseline thing before too. Loved seeing your quail, nice photos of all your visitors!

denapple said...

You can't blame the quail for wanting a beautifully landscaped home!

kayleen said...

Such a beautiful environment for yourselves and the birds that you and Gil have gradually created. And what a variety of birds you get to observe!

Regarding the ants. Here's an ecologically friendly way to eliminate them. Trace them to their source, then go in the house, put some water in a pot and bring it to a boil, or a near boil, and then go pour it on the source. You won't have ants, at least from that source for awhile..

Warren and Lisa Strobel said...

Yes, we find that we are always fighting back the critters who enjoy the garden and bird seed. Raccoons are our biggest problem. So bold and destructive.

Happy belated anniversary to you and Gus!

Kathiesbirds said...

Bobbie, yes it is and I am still doing battle today. Found one hummingbird feeder covered in bees and another covered in ants. Hosed them both off and brought them inside. It pains my heart to hear and see the hummingbirds looking for their food but there is none to be found! That saucer feeder defeats both bees and ants but the hummingbirds don't seem to like it as much.

Shelly, thank you for your comment. I've used the vaseline to discourage chipmunks on my feeder poles when I lived in Maine. It did help some but after awhile they just climbed up anyways!

Denapple, I guess you can't. I have done all I can to make it attractive to them so I shouldn't complain when they arrive and settle in!

Kayleen, thank you! And, I have used the boiling water method before myself but here my yard is so small and the desert so wide. I don't believe the ants live in my yard so I can't boil away their nest. Believe me, I would if I could!

Warren and Lisa, I have tried to outwit squirrels and chipmunks, bees and ants, and packrats and pigeons, but even though I lived in Maine for awhile I have never had to do battle with Racoons. I hear it can be a royal pain!

And thank you for the anniversary wishes.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Kathie: Really neat photos from around the house, love the baby quail.

Kathiesbirds said...

Thanks Fishing Guy! It's never boring around here!

Doug Taron said...

We have similar issues with ants going to the nectar feeders in our butterfly exhibit. Vaseline is an excellent idea- you don't even need the Vick's Vaporub. Just be sure that the barrier zone is wide enough to deter the ants and remember to re-apply from time to time.

Margarethe Brummermann said...

I'm in the Tucson Mountains and many of your images but also your feeder problems seem very familiar. We use and upside down and an right side up bottle cap to make a little camber around the wire containing oil or vseline. Works ok!
Nice blog, interesting topics.
Here,we are just watching, with interest and dismay, our Gnat catchers raising a cowbird chick. http://arizonabeetlesbugsbirdsandmore.blogspot.com/

Kathiesbirds said...

Doug, thanks for confirming that I am on the right track! This year seems to be worse than the previous years for ants.

Margarethe, interesting innovation! Cowbirds are here in Sycamore Canyon also. Thanks for stopping by!

Celeste said...

Sounds as though the various species of wildlife in your yard are keeping you busy Kathie. I will be interested to hear how the Vicks works out. We have used Vaseline with varying degrees of success, it works for a while but one of the negatives is that you have to keep reapplying it and it can get very messy if it gets wet too. - Good Luck!
(What you need is an ant eater!! :) )

Kathiesbirds said...

Celeste, the Vasoline melts in this heat but it seems to be working. I don't think the ants like the odor of the Vicks. And I had the same idea as YOU about wishing I had an ant eater!

Quiet Paths said...

It's amazing and wonderful that everywhere in your yard a critter is making its home!

Arija said...

Large families always take more effort to keep fed, be they human or adopted bird or other animal. The ants seem to be really a problem. For a short term solution, spay a section of the ant trail with fly spray. It seems to destroy their trail marking scent and they won't use the same trail for quite a while. The other positive is that you can spray low to the ground and since it is a suffocating spray it is not as harmful to other creatures as a surface spray would be. The drawback is that it is only a temporary measure.

Good luck!

Kathiesbirds said...

Quiet Paths, it makes me smile!

Arija, so far the measures I have taken seem to be helping and it hasn't been too bad lately. Thanks for the info though!

dAwN said...

hee hee..the baby Gambels is hysterical...
I have been reading about Debbies home being lost in the tornado...thank goodness they went into the shelter.

Kathiesbirds said...

Dawn, I can't even bear to think what would have happened if they hadn't!