Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Return of the Hummers/Where in the World is Kathiesbirds?

Female Costa's hummingbird

The Hummingbirds have returned to Sycamore Canyon. I have seen increased activity around my yard starting about 2 to 3 weeks ago. I've since put up my hummingbird feeders and have started a virtual hummingbird war. The flying jewels zip by on a regular basis now with some birds guarding the feeders for themselves. Migrants are passing through and I have noticed a few Black-chinned males and females as well as one Broad-billed female.

Male Costa's Hummingbird

Costa's hummingbirds are our main species here in Sycamore Canyon and they will be establishing territories in preparation for their January through June breeding and nesting. Anna's Hummingbirds are also possible. Due to this increased activity I have been trying to learn to identify the different female species of hummingbirds, which can be quite a challenge. In this vein I have taken out some Hummingbird guides from the library in an attempt to be more accurate in my ID's. I am reading and studying Stokes Beginner's Guide to Hummingbirds and Hummingbirds of North America by Steve N. G. Howell.

Male Black-chinned Hummingbird

Female Black-chinned Hummingbird

Hummingbird Nectar: To make your own hummingbird nectar combine 1 cup of sugar to 4 cups of filtered or bottled water and bring to a boil. Cool and fill nectar feeders. Do not add food color or use honey or artificial sweeteners to make the nectar as honey will mold and artificial sweeteners offer no energy or nutrition to these high energy birds. Remember to change the feeders every 3 days in warm to hot weather to prevent mold or spoilage. Clean feeders with hot water and white vinegar and rinse well. Do not use soap. If you are having a hard time attracting hummers to your feeders initially you can make a stronger solution by mixing 1 cup sugar with 3 cups of water until the birds find it. Refrigerate any unused solution.

Hummingbird wars

Feeder Placement: It is best to place your feeders in a shady location if possible. I have one of my feeders suspended from a hook attached by suction cups to my north window over my kitchen sink where I can enjoy viewing them easily. The other is suspended from the hand of my ballerina sculpture on my back patio where it is shaded by the patio roof as the sun travels west across the sky. This brings the hummingbirds in close where I can see them, but I could also suspend a feeder from one of the trees in my yard if I so desired.

Male Costa's Hummingbird reflecting purple light from its gorget.

Where in the World is Kathiesbirds? I've been trying to find balance in my life as I struggle to spend time with my husband, blog, clean house, get exercise, go birding and make prickly pear jelly. Posts on all these subjects are soon to follow but I have missed out on visiting my fellow bloggers and want to devote some time to catching up with other blogs. I have not posted Kathie's Poet Tree in a few weeks due to the lack of time, which I know many others of you can identify with. I'm still playing catch-up from this summer's vacation as new and exciting things continue to happen around here. The remnants of Tropical Storm Julio have drenched the area and I listened to the persistent sound of rain during the night. This morning the temperature was 67 degrees Fahrenheit when I awoke at 6:30 a.m. and I threw wide the windows to let the rain-washed freshness into the house. Though the rain has stopped for the moment it is expected to start up again this afternoon. Out my windows I can see the storm clouds boiling up over the Catalinas, the Rincons and the Santa Ritas Mountains and filling the valley below.

Storm Clouds boil over Mt. Wrightston in the Santa Ritas

Today's Photography is by Gus and Kathie. We were passing the camera back and forth when the hummers were here and I honestly can't remember who took which photos. The photo of the Santa Ritas is by Kathie. All photos taken with the Nikon D80 and the 70 to 300 mm lens.


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I can only immagine the amount of time you put in on I and the Bird- it was fabulous! So you take the time you need to catch up. Your photos of the male Costa's hummer brought back wonderful memories of our visit to Phoenix two springs ago. I was astounded at the beauty of those little purple gems.

Kathie Brown said...

Lynne, me too!

Shelley said...

Your hummingbird photos were all gorgeous!

Texas Travelers said...

Great post.

Fabulous photographs.

My 'hummer' fix for the day.

Thanks for the visit.
Come anytime,
Troy and Martha

PS: Send some rain this way.

bobbie said...

There are just so many hours in a day and no one can do it ALL. Just deal with one thing at a time, and don't worry about what you can't handle.

That little female up top looks really angry. I wouldn't want to get in her way. You have such a variety. We get only Ruby Thoats.

bobbie said...

I forgot - I noticed you say the nectar should be l to 3. I was always told 1 to 4, which is what we always use.

Jackie said...

Very pretty pictures. I get many migrating hummingbirds in my area this time of year, thousands of them stop by to feed in my trees, or on my feeders, then head to the desert. I wondered where all those birds are going to spend the winter, and I guess some might be in your area, given the species you mention.

Ruth said...

Lovely pictures. This is a busy time of year...lots of time to catch up with blogging later.

Kathie Brown said...

Thanks shellmo, Troy and Martha!

bobbie, you are right. It is what I meant to say but apparently I was in too much of a hurry to go visit everyone. I've fixed that information plus capatilized all the words at the beginning of sentences that I misssed! I had to go offline for awhile as yet another thunerstorm rolled through.

Hello zahkee. Yes, it is different down here. I quit seeing hummers somewhere around April but now they are returning to me! I am so happy to see them back but so many species to identify! Oh my! It's not like New England where I could just say, "Oh, there goes another ruby-throat! But I am not complaining. I love them all!

Ruth, thank you for your reassurance.

TR Ryan said...

Take your time. Your splendid, best-ever, IATB was well worth any wait we must endure to get back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Its surreal to read blogs lamenting the disappearance of hummers and the packing up and putting away of their feeders for another year and then another celebrating the anticipation their imminent arrival the same week. I'm thinking I'd like to be part of your world where hummers arrive in the fall and stay until spring. Your livin' well!

Deborah Godin said...

As someone with 2 blogs and all the other life stuff on the go, I know how hard it can be to fit all the pieces together; hope you find the right balance for you! I'm relatively new to this blog, but I'm a big fan. You always have such incredible shots, and interesting, informative writing. I love the female Costas at the very top. Reminds me a little of the cute "cranky blue bird!"

Kathie Brown said...

T.r., thank you so much. Living down here I feel like I am living in an upside down opposite world from the whole northern reaches of the U.S.A. While everyone else is preparing for winter I will be looking forward to the best weather of the season. You're welcome to move down here anytime you want to. No ice storms and the unpleasant humidity of July and August is offset by the awesome thunderstorms and sunsets of the Monsoon! You are right, I am living well.

deborah, I love that shot of the female Costa's also. I think Gus may have captured that one. Thanks for your encourgement. I am glad you like my blog. I enjoy yours also and I am so glad that Bobbie directed me to you!

Pappy said...

Hummers are so entertaining to watch. We watched some in Houston, TX this past weekend. I noticed ours were knocking on the windows to let us know they are back and the feeders need to be put out. Pappy

kjpweb said...

Don't worry! Take your time and follow your own schedule. Your not being paid doing this, ya know! So you post, when you post!
At a certain point it will become a mute endeavor to follow up on every comment and visit every site in your reader. It's just no humanly possible. So I myself try to apply myself evenly...
I wish to see that many Hummingbirds some time!
Cheers, Klaus

Amila Salgado said...

You are very lucky to be visited by such lovely avian jewels. They are simply amazing birds!

Mary C said...

Kathie, even though our flying jewels are mostly Anna's, we do get the occasional visitor. And recently my daughter, Red, also purchased the Hummingbirds of North America. That book is excellent, and seems to cover just about everything one needs to know when trying to ID these beauties. We not only struggle to ID the females, but also now and then the males when we know they are not Anna's. It's fun to learn though.

And you deserve a "rest" from blogging! We'll all be here when you "catch up." ;o)

Rambling Woods said...

Good hummer info and I like to see species that I don't see here...Migration has started.