10 Incredible Hummingbird Facts

July 16th, 2008

This post was inspired by an email from Don Pratt, who runs a website with some beautiful hummingbird pictures.  It’s really a followup to Birding Depot’s Fun Hummingbird Facts.

Today, a Hummingbird flew up to my window, and hovered in front of me for a few seconds.  It’s always amazing to have such a close encounter with such an amazing bird.  They truly are incredible creatures.  Here are ten reasons why:

1. Hummingbirds only live in North and South America.
2. The Bee Hummingbird of Cuba is the smallest hummingbird.  It weighs less than any U.S. coin, even a dime!  Click here to see how small this bird is.
3. The Giant Hummingbird of South America is the largest hummingbird.  It is a 8 1/2 inches in length – about as large as a Starling!
4. Hummingbirds need to eat constantly.  They can easily starve in as little as two to four hours.  Overnight, hummingbirds don’t require as much energy.  However, they generally have just enough energy to make it to the next meal in the morning.
5. At night, hummingbirds can slow their metabolism and heart rate to save energy.
6. Hummingbirds can fly backwards!
7. It is commonly believed that hummingbirds can’t walk.  In fact, we have the same information on our Fun Hummingbird Facts page.  However, in a recent email with Don Pratt, he writes,”A common misconception. I’ve seen HBs walk on large mandavilla leaves no trouble at all. They simply seldom need to walk.”
8. Hummingbird eggs are tiny – about the size of a pea.
9. Females exclusively care for their eggs.
10. It takes about two and a half weeks for hummingbird eggs to hatch.

Switching from Blogger to WordPress

July 14th, 2008

Yesterday I sat down and tried to start making my blog look a little snazzier.  The default templates in blogger were fine, but I wanted more flexibility.  I was delighted to find templates, backgrounds, clip art, fonts, and more — all available for free on the net.  So, I found a few templates I liked and decided to try them out.  I read several informative articles, so I felt well prepared for the task ahead.

But a curious thing happened.  The menus on Blogger looked nothing like the ones I read about.  I tried cutting and pasting templates in, but they wouldn’t work.  Strange.  For the next two hours, I searched the web in pursuit of an answer.  I never found it — but, I had developed a hunch about this conundrum.  When I clicked on “Customize Design”, blogger spit out, “Blogger Layouts customization is not supported for blogs hosted on non-Blog*Spot servers.”  This was fine and dandy…but I didn’t want to customize a Blogger layout; I wanted to import another template from the web.  Still…I wondered if this was related to my problem.  So, I created a test blog that was not hosted on my server.  Sure enough, the menus that the guides spoke of were there.

So….This left me with a sticky situation.  If I wanted to host my own blog, I could not customize its design.  I finally decided that I was neither willing to forgo customizations, nor was I willing to host my blog on Blogger.  It was time for a change.

Luckily, there is a great alternative!  WordPress.  And here it is!  There were a few hiccups, but pretty soon, my blog was back!  :-)   I’m happy to say that WordPress allowed me to import all my previous blog posts and comments.  I was even able to customize the links that WordPress uses, so all links to my blog should still work!  This is my first attempt at customizing a blog, and credit is certainly due to those who designed the template I started with.  I hope you like it…we’ll see what I can do in the future.

Incredible Hummingbird Video

July 13th, 2008

I found this video and it blew me away. For anyone having trouble attracting hummingbirds, this video will either drive you nuts, or fill you with hope.

I think it’s time for me to put another hummingbird feeder out! :)

Here is some more great hummingbird action from this Hummingbird Haven.

Platform Feeder

July 10th, 2008

My New Feeder!

I’ve had a questionable past with my platform feeder and squirrels, but I think I’ve finally solved my squirrel problem. I originally put up this feeder to encourage Scrub Jays to visit my yard. They are always around my neighborhood, but they don’t seem to want to visit my feeder. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Scrub Jays to visit regularly, but I have found a ton of finches that are eager for Sunflower seeds. Here’s my story:

This feeder hangs from a huge 28 inch branch hook on my Magnolia tree. It is an inexpensive, recycled platform feeder made by Rubicon. I was hoping that the squirrels in my yard wouldn’t be able to reach the feeder because the branch hook was so massive. While I was happy with the branch hook because it allowed me to hang feeders from high, thick branches on a big tree, it certainly didn’t do anything for squirrel protection. After a few stray birds visited the feeder, the squirrels took over for the next month.

Something had to be done! So, I bought a 12″ squirrel baffle. The feeder was 12″ and so I figured a 12″ baffle would be perfect. Apparently, I hadn’t thought this out too well. The baffle was round and the feeder was square, so this left the sides of the feeder exposed. Pretty soon after that, the squirrels were tipping the feeder over using this corner and collecting their bounty below. Sigh….

So, I took the next step, a put out a 20″ squirrel baffle. Then, the moment of truth. A squirrel carefully climbed down the hook and rested on top of the baffle. Ever so slowly, it crept toward the edge of the baffle…and FELL! I felt kind of bad for the squirrel, but my feeder was now for the birds.

The first few days I had this new setup out, the birds avoided it. But then, a stray House Finch sampled the seed, and pretty soon, the feeder was teeming with birds. Here a few pictures I took with my BirdCam.

Sitting Outside Under a Tree

July 8th, 2008

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately sitting under the trees in my backyard. The weather has been perfect – the breeze is blowing; the sun is shinning. Spending time with friends in the shade of our Magnolia tree, I’ve watched as birds have come and gone, sampling sunflower seeds and dining on Nyjer.

Looking up through the canopy at the waiting birds, who will soon swoop down to my feeder, I notice the spots on the belly of a finch. A dove and a bright male house finch dine peacefully next to each other. Strange that these birds could so easily coexist, when just yesterday I watched two female house finches fighting for dominance at my feeder.

My friends have sat under this very same Magnolia tree, with branches and vines from smaller trees dotting the sky, laughing and talking. How nice it is to spend time outside with nothing in particular to do.

Trying to Feed Jays

May 3rd, 2008

I’ve been trying to attract Scrub Jays to my feeders. They don’t seem to like the Squirrel Buster Plus. There are probably two reasons for this: 1) This feeder is a little uncomfortable for such a large bird! The Squirrel Buster Plus can accomodate many birds, but I would think Jays would not enjoy feeding from them. I’ve noticed the Scrub Jays in my yard feeding once or twice from the Squirrel Buster Plus, but they usually avoid it. This is not to say that the Squirrel Buster Plus isn’t a great feeder; the other birds in my yard love it and it really does keep squirrels away. However, it may not be the feeder for my Scrub Jays. 2) Finches. Lots of them! Aggressive finches. I wouldn’t want to hang out with them if I were a Scrub Jay. :)

So, I began looking for an alternative to feed these beautiful birds. I figured a platform feeder would be a good choice because it would give Scrub Jays room to feed comfortably. I tried one out, and sure enough, a Scrub Jay showed up the next day!

My BirdCam caught some wonderful pictures! I’ve uploaded the originals, so they are very detailed. Click on them to enlarge the pictures in my blog post.

But, later in the day, I had a problem. The squirrels started to eye my feeder. I’d used a long branch hook, so I figured the squirrels would at least have a difficult time reaching the feeder. I’d assumed they’d get to it eventually, but I was surprised at how fast they got there! The tray tipped over under the weight of the squirrels, and a whole slew of them had a feast of sunflower seeds! Once it was all gone, this one actually climbed on the feeder hanging on its side to finish the remaining seeds!

The Jay returned. Not much to eat now. :(

So…. How did the squirrels get to my bird feeder? They climbed up the tripod I used for the BirdCam. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll need to pole mount a feeder, use a squirrel baffle, and then use the BirdCam Mounting Arm above the squirrel baffle.

Squirrels are persistent!

Shop By Bird Section & Backyard Flowers and Citrus

April 29th, 2008

Despite my blog absence, I’ve been very busy over the past couple of weeks! Our store just launched a new “Shop By Bird” section. This makes it easy to get all the information you need about the birds you love, and shop for these birds and for yourself. We have six sections, Bluebirds, Cardinals, Clinging Birds, Goldfinches, Hummingbirds, and Orioles. Each bird section has a ton of information available, an informative video, and products categorized by bird for easy shopping. This is a great new feature of our web site, and I’m sure that our customers, blog readers, and other bird lovers will enjoy it! Click here to check it out! If you’re just interested in the information, not our products, click this link instead.

Over the past few weeks I’ve gotten some great shots of my yard. As spring began, my yard bloomed! It is so nice to have some flowers back.

And the citrus came back! Oranges, Lemons, and Limes!

Squirrels are Crafty Animals!

April 7th, 2008

A friend of mine sent me a cute squirrel video! It really is amazing how crafty squirrels can be. When I came home today I enjoyed watching a couple of squirrels as they tried to get to my squirrel-proof feeders. Watching the squirrels in my yard is a hoot!

Click here to check out the video my friend sent me.

More Beach Pictures

April 3rd, 2008

Before I get back to my own backyard, I wanted to share a few more beach pictures. The first one is a shot of a Pelican flying right above the water. I love the reflection! CLick it to see a larger picture.

There are always tons of pigeons at the beach!

As I sat on the breakwall, this bird was right below me. He hung out with me for quite some time. I still can’t figure out what this bird is.

We just sat and enjoyed the view. It is so nice to have the sun back!

Pelican Tries to Eat an Octopus

March 24th, 2008

Spring just began last Thursday, but on Easter Sunday, it felt like Summer! It was over eighty degrees at the beach with almost no wind. Everyone was out and having a good time. So, this meant a parking headache. As much I hate the crowds, living by the beach can be a lot of fun. I saw a lot of great birds, but one incident with a pelican really stood out.

I stopped to admire a pelican that was standing on some rocks right below me. A few other families were also watching this bird. At first, I thought they were simply interested in the pelican. It was a beautiful bird. But, as I watched, I realized that the pelican had a large bulge in its neck.

Suddenly, the pelican rose up and regurgitated something! It almost escaped from its bill…

…but then the pelican snapped its bill shut, preventing the prey from escaping. I was finally able to get a good look at a tentacle. This looked like an octopus!

The pelican struggled to swallow the food, but each time it got stuck in its throat. It was simply too big to go down. As soon as the pelican lost its grip on the octopus, another pelican swooped in and scooped it up. I captured the action above just as the second pelican grabbed the octopus. The first pelican almost looks sad sitting on the rock above.

The second pelican flew to a nearby rock and tried to swallow the food it had stolen. Unfortunately, it had the same problem. I watched for another twenty minutes as the pelican tried to swallow the stolen goods unsuccessfully. It would force the octopus down its throat and then push its beak against its neck in an attempt to keep the food down. As time went on, other pelicans began to gather around, waiting until this bird gave up and they could have a chance at the octopus. If you look behind the bird flapping its wings in the picture above, you will see a daring seagull. It grew impatient and started to nip at the pelican. The pelican was not happy and gave it one bad look before the seagull went back to waiting patiently.