Gifts, apparel, and accessories now on HummingbirdHQ at Zazzle.com September 15 2016
We're excited to be able to offer a wide variety of NEW gifts, apparel, and accessories through our store, HummingbirdHQ on Zazzle.com! We're taking the beautiful artwork of artist Janet Weight Reed and making them available on items that you can customize.
We'll be updating the blog with the latest items and designs. If you've never been to Zazzle.com, please check it out.
Here are some of our latest designs:
It's hot outside - give your hummingbirds a fountain! August 07 2014
Of course, we all know that hummingbirds will love nectar and need it to survive. But just like all living things, hummingbirds need plain water, too. For drinking, for bathing, for cooling off - just like us! The proof is in the pictures and videos below. Enjoy, and scroll down for an easy and inexpensive DIY fountain.
DIY Fountain Idea
|Start with any kind of bowl, flower pot, or deep dish that is durable enough to be used outdoors. Just remember that it has to hold water, so terra cotta or porous cement won't work. But glazed, resin, or plastic containers should work.|
|Place a small pond pump in the fountain container. You'll want to place the cord at what will be the back of the fountain, or creatively disguise it with a plant, etc.|
|Place a sponge filter over the pump intake to keep dirt, rocks, or other particles from getting into the pump and breaking it or clogging it up. This sponge filter may need to be rinsed every once in a while to keep it clean (which helps keep the fountain water clean). You may even wish to place an aquarium charcoal filter cartridge near the intake of the pump.|
|Cover the pump and sponge filter with some kind of decorative media (pebbles, rocks, smooth glass pebbles). This will make it look nicer, keep the sponge filter over the pump intake, keep the pump in place, and keep foreign objects (and bugs!) out of the pump intake.|
|Place more decorative items such as larger rocks, figurines, etc. as preferred.|
|Fill the vessel with water (all the way!), plug in your pump, and enjoy! Remember to keep the vessel full of water so the pump doesn't run dry.|
This is very good news for bees, hummingbirds, and all pollinators! Hopefully other big box retailers will follow suit.
The topic of bee colony collapse disorder and its link to a class of pesticide known as neonicotinoids (or neonics) has been in the news quite a bit recently. This recent article contains some very good information about how toxic these pesticides are to all kinds of critters, hummingbirds included.
The article mentions that most garden centers and many growers actually treat their plants with neonicotinoids before they are sold to the consumer. This means that many plants purchased at big box retailers such as Lowe's, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart already have a harmful pesticide on them or they were grown from seed treated with it. And it can take years for the pesticide to break down (into sometimes even more harmful substances).
In fact, the Pesticide Research Institute and Friends of the Earth, a non-profit environmental group, just released their comprehensive report on June 25, 2014, with some disturbing results. The 65-page report confirms that over half of the test subject plants purchased at Lowe's, Home Depot, and Wal-Mart contained neocicotinoids that kill bees and birds.
So even if you never spray a thing in your own yard, you (and thousands of other well-intentioned gardeners) could actually be contributing to the plight of the pollinators.
What can you do? Buy organic or pesticide-free certified plants to help ensure that your garden or yard provides a healthy haven for pollinators.
Here is a list of retailers that have pledged not to sell plants that have been treated with neonicotiniods.
This is an important issue for all pollinators. I'll be posting more about it as I review the report more carefully.
I'm not sure if it gets any better than relaxing on a patio, overlooking a beautiful ocean, with hummingbird zooming all about. I took this video on a vacation in Bonaire. There were many hummingbirds in the yard and there was a lounge chair seated very close to one of the plants that had the red flowers upon which they would perch and feed. I sat in the chair for about five minutes, iPhone at the ready, to get this video. The iPhone video camera wasn't fast enough for the hummingbird's wings, so it looks kind of like a CGI hummingbird! I wanted to find out more about what kind of hummingbird this was, so I was able to stop the video to identify it.
Bonaire is a small island that is part of the Netherland Antilles, located just 50 miles off the coast of Venezuela. Only two species of hummingbirds are on Bonaire. The largest, seen in the video, is the Ruby Topaz, (Chrysolampis mosquitus) with rufous on the tail of both adults and a male with a splendid, fiery-red gorget and glistening orange-red crown. The other is the smaller, Common Emerald (Chlorostilbon mellisugus), which can be found at many sites where flowers are conspicuous, but neither come readily to hummingbird feeders.
Here are some still shots taken from the video.
In honor of the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil today, I thought I'd dedicate this post to the hummingbirds in Brazil. They have a few more species that we get in the US and Canada.
Currently, Wikipedia lists 81 species of the family Trochilidae, which comprise hummingbirds and a subfamily of hermits (subfamily Phaethornithinae, comprising 30–40 species). Of the 81 combined species of hummingbirds and hermits listed on Wikipedia, 75 are classified with a conservation of "Least Concern" whereas six are classified with some level of endangerment, with Near Endangered being the most severe on the IUCN Red List.
Here is a sampling of birds from Brazil. Some regularly inhabit cities for visitors to see, whereas most require a trip into the wild!
This relatively large hummingbird measures 6"-6.5" with nearly half of that length making up the bird's tail. It can weigh up to 9 grams (.3 ounces) and is common in semi-open habitats, including parks and gardens in large cities. It is aggressive and will defend rich food sources from other nectivores, and due to its size will often dominate other hummingbird species (and they've been known to dive-bomb much larger birds to protect a territory, particularly during the nesting season).
This tiny hummingbird is an uncommon but widespread species that inhabits open country, gardens, and cultivated areas. Weighing in at only 2.3 grams (.08 ounces) and measuring only 2.6" in length, these tiny birds are relatively tame and approachable. They feed on nectar and various small invertebrates and due to their small size often resemble a large bee as they move from flower to flower.
The Frilled Coquette is found only in Brazil and isn't likely to be seen by many tourists, as its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest. It is one of the smallest birds alive, weighing in at just 2.1 grams (.074 ounces) and only up to 2.8" in length!
This hummingbird is common and found in south-eastern Brazil. Its habitat includes forest, woodland, parks and gardens. It reaches up to 4.1" in length.
This relatively large hummingbird (length of 5.1" for females and 5.5" for males) is regularly seen at feeders, with its natural habitat being forest edge, second growth, gardens and parks in eastern Brazil. They are very territorial and will protect their food source vigorously!
This hummingbird is found only in Brazil and is becoming rare due to habitat loss. It is listed as a Near Endangered species on the IUCN Red List. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland, so it is unlikely that any visitors will see this little treasure. They weigh 3-4 grams and reach a length of 3.9".
Hooded Visorbearer(Augastes lumachella)
Another hummingbird that is classified as Near Endangered due to habitat loss, the Hooded Visorbearer is also found only in Brazil. It inhabits subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland. They typically weigh 4 grams (.14 ounces) and reach a length of about 4" for males, 3.5" for females.
About PAR·A·SOL Hummingbird Feeders... June 11 2014
My first inventory purchase for HummingbirdHQ.com was from PAR·A·SOL, so I thought I'd share why I selected them.
First, they passed the "mom test". Which means that as soon as I saw them, I wanted to buy one for my mom as a gift. I've been on the lookout for unique hummingbird feeders and gifts for my mom for over 30 years, so I know something special when I see it!
Second, their feeders are handcrafted in Mexico by artisans using recycled glass. This means that each one is unique and the quality is amazing. The glass is beautiful and heavy, just as one would expect. Each item "in-person" exceeded my expectations from what I saw online before receiving my order (and I hope that everyone that orders one has the same experience).
In addition to being beautiful, their hummingbird feeders are functional. Most of them are top-feeders, meaning that you don't have to worry about them dripping. Their Bee Proof Flower Feeding Tubes are patented, as are the Gondolas used in some of their designs.
PAR·A·SOL began in 1997 when Alfredo García-Lucio and Jim McKeever could not find the perfect birdfeeder for their garden. They were looking for a unique feeder that combined beautiful design, quality materials and superior function.
The company is committed to quality craftsmanship, materials, and design and is now an industry leader.
I can personally attest to the quality of their products and the service that I've received.
The Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration of 2014 June 06 2014
This is a neat map that shows the 2014 migration northward of the Ruby-throated hummingbirds into the US and Canada. Hopefully most of them survived the late freezes and storms we had this year. I saw one in our backyard in the middle of April and I think we had a couple of cold snaps after that.
Screen shots are below, but do visit the link as the FAQs are interesting as well! http://www.hummingbirds.net/map.html
What flowers attract hummingbirds the best? June 05 2014
My last post was dedicated to explaining why hummingbirds prefer red flowers. When I went to buy my flowers for spring planting, I was in the early stages of launching HummingbirdHQ.com so I found myself buying lots of flowers with tags that indicated they attracted hummingbirds with hopes of attracting more to my own backyard.
Of the dozens of flowers you can plant to help attract more birds to your garden, here are some of the best.
|Bleeding Hearts - a perennial in zones 2-11, this plant grows 24-36 inches tall and does best in lightly shaded locations. The delicate blooms are white or pink and the plants can be divided to transplant.|
|Bee Balm - a perennial in zones 4-9, it is also called bergamot, horsemint and monarda, and thrives best in full sun and will grow 12-36 inches high.|
|Columbine - a perennial in zones 3-8, this plant does best in partial shade and comes in many colors, including white, pink, purple, and even yellow. Most varieties have two colors, as the one pictured. It can grow up to 20 inches tall.|
|Lupine - this perennial in zones 9-10 is an early bloomer and ideal for spring migrating hummingbirds. It is drought-tolerant and does best in full sun. The Texas Bluebonnet is a type of Lupine that can only grow in areas with very hot weather.|
|Salvia - a perennial in zones 4-11, the flowers on this relative of mint can range from pink to red to purple to blue. Tall stalks of flowers make it ideal for the back of flower beds. It does best in full sun and will come back larger each year.|
|Trumpet Creeper - a perennial in zones 4-10 and also known as the trumpet vine, this hardy plant climbs just about anything and can easily overtake an area without pruning (we had one that almost pulled down a portion of our fence and also tried to take hold of the vents under our eaves). It thrives in sun to partial shade.|
|Zinnia - this annual comes in many colors and grows best in full sun. It's compact size makes it ideal for containers and it will bloom into fall, making it an ideal flower for hungry migrating birds.|
|Petunia - this inexpensive annual comes in all colors and does best in full sun. The abundant flowers provide plenty of nectar for hungry hummers.|
|Butterfly Bush - this perennial in zones 5-10 with its thick elongated flowers attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It is a drought-tolerant plant that does best in full sun and will grow into a large shrub over time.|
|Cardinal Flower - a perennial in zones 2-9, it is also called lobelia and grows best in moist, well-drailed soil, growing up to 48 inches tall.|
|Scarlet Honeysuckle Vine - this perennial in zones 4-9 produces scores of fragrant blooms and does best in full sun. It climbs just about anything and can become invasive.|
|Summer Phlox - this perennial in zones 4-9 produces fabulous fragrant blooms and comes in more than 100 varieties. The plants can grow 36-40 inches tall, with flower panicles from 6-9 inches long and 6-8 inches wide. It does best in sun with some mid- late-afternoon shade.|
Plan your gardens, yards, and containers to include plenty of these flowers, and soon your yard will be humming!
Why do hummingbirds prefer red flowers? June 03 2014
We've all been trained to think of red flowers and feeders to attract hummingbirds. The reason that hummingbirds tend to feed from red flowers is two-fold (at least), and another amazing example of how nature provides different things to different plants, animals, and insects.
Hummingbirds can see all colors, and can actually see near UV (meaning beyond violet in the spectrum of light, remember your "ROY G BIV" from school with the order of the light spectrum colors?). So this is why the colors on the ends of the spectrum like red, orange, and violet stand out more to hummingbirds than other animals.
Another contributing factor to hummingbird's preference for these colors is that they are hard for bees and other pollinating insects to see. Bees, wasps, and other pollinating insects prefer yellow flowers. Thus they may contain more nectar due to a lack of competition as a food resource. If you have a hummingbird feeder with yellow feeding ports or yellow on them, either remove the yellow or paint them red to help keep the bees away. And if the bees have learned that your hummingbird feeder is a great source for nectar (regardless of color), consider using bee-proof ports (like the bee-proof Flower Feeding Tubes for Parasol feeders).
Additionally, hummingbirds prefer nectar that is 15-25% sucrose that is typically produced by hummingbird-pollinated flowers versus those that are bee- and insect-pollinated, which contain nectar made from fructose and glucose (sugars preferred by insects). This is why the ingredients for hummingbird nectar are water and sugar in a 4:1 ratio (for approximately 21% sucrose content).