May 042011

It is definitely a time of change for the critters around me. Lots showing up, although some are late.

The Northern Pygmy Owl is happily calling out to claim it’s territory. I was so lucky to the day I was able to put a sound to this Owl, and be educated that is was a Northern Pygmy Owl. Now I know instantly when I hear it, and I can picture who is calling and why. Sometime I think there might be more than one calling, but maybe it is just moving around. Still, it is a cool and welcome regular companion.

The House Wren showed up again, as have the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

The main notable missing character is the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. Not only did no scouts show earlier this year, but despite me hearing them down on the flat lands (and hearing reports from others) I’ve yet to see them at my place. Given that I normally see hummers in Coal Creek Canyon in April, and then lots in May, this is a strange start to the season for hummingbirds.

At least the Turkey (from the noisy gobbles of the males, and the furtive sneaking of the females) seem hard at work nesting, and the weather seems to be working in their favor this year. Last year was not a good year for reproduction (the weather timing worked against the turkey’s style) so hopefully this year will make up for it.

Change is definitely in the air, and it is fun to watch the critters going about their business.

Apr 162011

I couldn’t believe it. April 15th is my hummingbird arrival day, or has typically been for the last decade (plus or minus a day), and here I am sitting at a computer unprepared, not really even looking or listening. Yes, I put the main “hummingbird welcome mat” out two weeks ago, just in case, but I’d not gotten feeders near my office. What was I thinking? How would I see/hear the birds without them?

Hummers coming...

Folks who know me and live in Coal Creek Canyon know I typically report the first hummingbird of the season. I’ve done it for many years. It is not that I kid myself that others haven’t seen one, but more that I am the only one daft enough to broadcast it to the canyon. I do it primarily for fun (mine), but also with the more serious message of “clean those hummingbird feeders” (and get ready to enjoy the influx.)

The scouts (ahead of the pack) arrive first. One or two usually stop and rest here a day or so. They typically move on, and the masses arrive by the start of May, but they deserve to be noticed, noted as first of season and to grab a snack for the journey. The period between these visitors feel long, but knowing the gangs of little critters will be back soon enough is enough to keep me listening for the overhead buzz.

I get my feeders out early in the hopes of getting more than my fair share of birds who chose to make a territory here. I get my hummingbird sticks out at the same time, that this becomes a more mellow neighborhood.

Today, once alert to the need for HEO, I placed two feeders outside my office windows. The benefits of working from home include having a ‘corner office’, and so I positioned the feeder such that they aren’t visible to each other (through the room.) I placed a hummer stick high on the one, hoping to draw a male in to it (and so he’d not see the other.) For me, the females (who are likely working their small bodies hard enough to produce eggs and raise chicks) don’t needed the aggression from the males, and deserve to drink in peace. There is no science behind these sticks (there is about keeping multiple feeder out of sight from each other) but I do my best to keep feeders available for females to sneak to.

So … now I feel ready/able to encounter those scouts, to give them a new fresh snack from a clean feeder. They might be a day or so late due the foot of snow we just received, but if they do come (and don’t bypass us) then all the more reason to give them a warm welcome.

Are your humming bird feeders out? clean? fresh?

Apr 302009
Hummer on a Stick

Hummer on a Stick

Reduce hummer stress: place feeders around your property out of sight of each other.

Hummingbird males (at least our broad-tailed hummingbird males) like sticks.

They like a vantage point to oversee their territory, to dominate all in sight. They terrorize any males that come into range (even if merely flying by) and hound any poor females stopping on a feeder to grab a rest and a bite (ok slurp.) These sticks are what they need in order to be mini masters of their domain.

So, don’t create a vantage stick? Don’t support this little megalomaniac? Maybe, but they’ll be little the same little bleeder anyway, just from a nearby branch or a bush.

If you put up the stick and attract them to it, at least you get some say in the matter. You can locate it such that he cannot see another feeder hidden around the corner of the house allowing those nesting females a break.

Literally within minutes of me putting this stick up we had a settler. He gave himself a good stretch and made himself at home.



See more hummer encounters on WildObs: Wildlife from you, for you and around you.