A bluebird kind of day

Here it is Friday, and the rain that has been predicted since Tuesday has yet to materialize.  After several hours of weeding, I took a hydration break, and started watching a bluebird box nearby along the driveway.

I got so sidetracked, that the big pile of grass on the drive, didn’t make it to the compost pile.  Oh course we finally got rain.

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Birding on a rainy weekend

Friday April 13th, I worked on mowing my three acres for the first time.  When the tractor got very low on diesel, I decided to call it a day.  A storm was predicted overnight into Saturday, and Levi was already hiding under the stairs in the garage.   He got a streak of courage come supper time.  While the Hooligans were eating, I sat out in the driveway taking pictures of some of the birds and flowers.  With the rain predicted, the iris blooms would be melted the next day.  The rain started Saturday morning rumbling me out of bed, and lasted until sometime Sunday morning.  We received a total of 3.14 inches during that time.  Saturday as I sat in the garden room eating breakfast, I noticed a forlorn little bird sitting on a tree branch in the monsoon, just looking miserable.  So I grabbed my camera and stood in the doorway taking pictures.   I had three hummingbird feeders up, but with the fighting, I went out in the rain to hang a couple of more.   My koi pond isn’t finished yet, and a bullfrog has moved in.  I’m still trying to figure out how it got there.

 

Sunday turned partly cloudy then sunny, but it was cold, with temperatures in the high forties.  While the Hooligans were eating supper, I was able to get a few pictures between shivers.  I brought in my tomato plants hopefully for the last time.  It’s been so wet, they’ll go into the flower beds this year.

If you want hummingbirds, the welcome wagon needs to be waiting on them when they arrive or else they will travel on.  A combination of sugar water and plants will keep them around.  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says there is absolutely no reason to add red dyes to hummingbird nectar. Natural flower nectar is clear. Hummingbird feeders have colorful parts that attract hummingbird.   The red dye will make the hummingbirds weak and unable to fly.  They eventually will die.   It may also cause tumors of their tongues.  I saw my first ruby-throated on March 26.  Most around right now are adult males.  I finally saw a female Saturday April 14.

Last year I rotated and used twenty feeders.   A good hummingbird feeder recipe that I use:

Boil 4 parts water for 3 minutes

Stir in 1 part pure granulated sugar

Cool to room temperature

Store remaining mix in fridge for 7 to 10 days.  When I first put my feeders up, I’ll use a coffee scoop to make up the sugar water.  As the number of birds increase, I’ll use four cups of water and one cup of sugar.   Do not substitute brown sugar. Do not add red nectar, red dye, honey or anything else.  Boiling water not only kills most bacteria and viruses, it also removes many other microorganisms and some chemicals.

Recommended Feeder Schedule change

70°-84°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 3 days

85°-87°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 2 days

88°F and up: Clean feeder and replace nectar every single day.

More about feeding hummingbirds…

Cloudy nectar indicates bacteria, which is harmful.

Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar.

Black residue indicates mold, which is harmful.

Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar.

There are several flowers and bushes that are known to attract hummingbirds.  Plants include red shades of daylilies, columbine, penstemon, cardinal flower, bee balm, hibiscus, peony, coral bells, Garden phlox, Oriental Poppy, echinacea (cone flowers), yarrow, annual red salvia, coreopsis.  Perennial Black and Blue salvia even though purple also attracts hummers.  I usually have one hanging around mine protecting it like one of the feeders.  For every one hummingbird you see, it is estimated you have six more in your area.  Most of the hummingbirds in our area are the ruby-throated.  They will guard and fight over feeders.

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Whooping cranes

On my third trip to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, I finally was able to see a rare Whooping Crane.  We actually got to see three. One was at the observation building at the refuge (Alabama Birding site #16) and put on a show splashing around and and flying from one side of the slough to the other.

During the last count there was over 30,000 sandhills, a little over twenty whooping cranes.  In addition to a lot of sandhills, we also saw a lot of American Wigeon, Mallards, a few Ring Neck and Northern Shover ducks and some geese.   A harrier hawk hovered around the building so close I had trouble focusing on it with my 400mm lens with a 1.4 extender.

On the way home, we stopped at Mallard Fox WMA (Alabama Birding site #1) and saw a couple of Whooping cranes and a few Great Blue herons.

Please check out my GRIT magazine blog post:

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Wheeler Wildlife Refuge

I retired from ECM Hospital yesterday.  Since it was a nice day with cold coming in soon, I took a trip over to Wheeler Wildlife Refuge.  So far twenty whooping cranes have migrated in.  After seeing photos of the cranes this week, I thought it would be a good day for seeing the rare birds.  However the cranes had other ideas.  They didn’t show up at the observation building all day today or yesterday.

I did see lots and lots of sandhill cranes, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Green-Winged Teal, Snow geese, Ring neck ducks and Greater White-Fronted Goose among others.  On the way home, I swung by Wheeler Dam.

 

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Merry Christmas

My Hooligans Christmas card 2017 

Click on read more for the complete blog post on GRIT magazine.

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Butterflies

 

Some of the end of summer butterflies that have been in my yard the last couple of weeks.  We had a frost last week that has almost finished the zinnias.  They have been a favorite of the butterflies.  The zinnias were also a favorite hiding place for  spiders and praying mantis

The sulfurs seem to favor the pineapple sage.

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Monarch

I’ve had a monarch hanging around my zinnias along the front walk for several days now.  Their numbers have dropped due to removal of their host plant milkweed.  You can help them by planting some in your garden.  I kept a watch on a spider and a preying mantis while it was hanging around.

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Hummingbird migration 2017

Hummingbirds have started their migration to Central America. I have eleven feeders up right now.  It’s like a war zone, I counted twelve hummers around just one of my feeders today.

During migration, instead of using the normal four parts water to one part sugar, I’ve decreased the water to three parts according to what I’ve read on some of the hummingbird sites.  Do not use the red dye stuff. It’s toxic to the little fellars.

Hope you enjoy the vistor’s I had today.

 

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Hummers & flying flowers

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I haven’t been able to post lately. My internet has been sporadic and then my computer was in the shop.

I have eight hummingbird feeders up and it’s still a war zone.

 

Don’t use the red dye stuff as  it’s poisonous.  Use one part sugar o 4 parks hot water.  Mix well, cool and fill feeders.  Replace and clean feeders every 3 to 5 days depending on temperature.  One person told me they had their feeders up and haven’t seen any.  When I asked when was the last time she changed it, oh about three months.   I told her to imagine what sweet tea in the refrigerator that long would taste like.

Butterflies are starting to make their presence.

 

 

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2017 daffodils

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Spring is almost here.  Several of my daffodils are in full bloom right now.

 

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