Sunday, August 17, 2014

All God's Creatures

It is a busy time in the garden in August.
Butterflies flutter by from flower to flower.
Monarch butterfly

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hummingbirds and feeders

A young, female Ruby-throated hummingbird preparing to land on a feeder.
Season after season, the return of hummingbirds to our feeders and flowers thrills me.
I never tire of their dashing and flitting and will always be captivated by these tiny birds with iridescent plumage. 

Much to my disappointment, I never have lots of hummers at one time drinking at the feeders.  Only on occasion have there been two at the same time.  My birds are quite territorial and if a hummingbird flies toward the feeder while another is there, it will dart and both will zip away. 

Oh, but the excitement, when outside, and I hear the hum of their powerful wings over my shoulder or catch a glimpse of one as it flits behind me! 

Making a simple sugar mixture to keep the feeders full ensures we will enjoy hummingbirds throughout the season.  We have three feeders and make fresh nectar once a week if the temperatures are low and twice a week if we are having very hot/humid days.

I have always done this on the stove but just began using the microwave. Either way, it takes less than 10 minutes to make.
To Make Hummingbird Nectar

1 Pour 1 part white sugar into microwavable container or saucepan.
2 Add 4 parts water; stir.
3 Heat in microwave (about 5 minutes on high power) or on stove top just to boiling and sugar is dissolved.
4 Allow liquid to cool completely before filling clean feeders.

Nectar can be stored in refrigerator for 1 week.
Keep feeders filled with fresh nectar as fermented and cloudy nectar can be harmful.
There is no need to add red dye to the nectar to attract hummingbirds and may be harmful to the birds.
Hummingbirds feed 5-8 times an hour

When to set out the feeders:
I live in zone 6b (southern New Jersey) and we have the Ruby Throat-ed Hummingbirds. I set my feeders out April 1st each year and have seen hummers at the feeder as early as April 8th. To check the arrival date of Ruby-throated hummingbirds where you live, visit Hummingbirds.net for a map of 2014 migration.

As the end of the season begins approaching, around late August, we notice many more hummers and they begin looking chubby as they beef-up for the up-coming southern migration. I have read to keep feeders up, clean and filled at least two weeks after you see your last hummingbird in order to help stragglers.  I have seen hummingbirds, although infrequent, as late as October.

Hummingbirds are big eaters!  Because their metabolism is so fast they need to eat frequently to prevent starving.  It is very important that the nectar feeders be clean.
  • Once or twice each week, bring the feeders to the kitchen sink
  • Open (each is a little different in design) and pour out and remaining nectar.
  • Rinse under running water and using an old toothbrush or small bottle brush, wash/scrub away all traces of mold and dirt.  Do not use soap. 
  • Flush well with water.
  • Refill with cool, fresh nectar
  • Reassemble feeder container and hang again
As you can see, we have three different feeders.  We see hummers at all of the feeders but I think they enjoy the ones with a perch best.  The inverted bottle design is hard to clean and the round flat one is the easiest.

Since I seem to be most often in the kitchen (surprise, huh?), this feeder is at the back of the house and right outside the window over the sink.  We have only dappled, afternoon sun here and lots of trees so the hummingbirds freely flit from feeder to tree and back again.  

We have another feeder hanging on the front porch and I can see it as I sit at my computer.  The hummers will even visit while we are sitting on the porch chairs.

The third feeder isn't far from the porch, hanging in the bottom branches of a tree and they frequent this more secluded spot as well.

In addition to nectar from a feeder, hummingbirds eat tiny insects and visit tubular-shaped flowers, using their long, tapered bill to obtain nectar from the center.
There are many flowers you can plant in your yard to attract hummingbirds.
Here are some we have growing that hummingbirds frequent.  By far, the plant that is the biggest draw is the trumpet vine, however, be aware it can be intrusive by sending up many unwanted shoots  

Phlox, petunia, butterfly bush (Buddlija),
impatiens, hosta, trumpet vine,
morning glories, azalea, honeysuckle 
For more hummingbird loving plants, visit Birds & Blooms 
 The two birds on the right in the above photo are males as evident by the bright, red band around the throat called a gorget.   The dots on the throat of the bird on the left indicates it is not yet an adult. 
Notice the feet as the bird perches on the feeder.  Hummingbirds have very tiny legs and feet and cannot walk.
It won't be too much longer and our visitors will begin their long trek southward.
But I will be waiting for them again next spring!

Monday, August 11, 2014

love...

the following photos were taken by a talented young photographer named Rebecca and posted on her blog
She shared a very sweet post (and many more photos) about this family.
It warmed this mama's heart


Sunday, August 10, 2014

In the Garden

In the Garden
Words: Charles Austin Miles (1912)

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
Refrain:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to School Ideas

It's that time again, for little ones, medium ones and big ones to be thinking of school!
And moms too! Here are some yummy suggestions for breakfast, lunchbox, after-school, snack-time and even a cute craft to welcome in the new school year.

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