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Young Hummingbirds On the Loose!

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Summer. I love it. But I really, really love August, a month that doesn't get much respect because people remember it as too hot, too humid, too something or other. Here's how I see August. Everything is still growing and blooming as hard as it can. Baby birds have fledged, by and large, and are absolutely everywhere, at least on my ridgetop in southeast Ohio. Wherever I walk, I'm scolded by parent birds, who are telling me they have young ones hidden nearby. I hear a strange continuous rustling in pine needles and follow the sound to a male hooded warbler, puffed up, tail dragging, skittering slowly over the forest floor as he leads my eyes inexorably away from his nest. It is SO cool. To enjoy August, all you have to do is stop complaining and show up.


This is a typical move by a juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird. Young flight muscles tire easily, so they're always looking for a place to stand while learning to ply the flowers for nectar. You will not see an adult rubythroat busting a move like this.

They vie for privileges at the crocosmia blossoms with spicebush swallowtails. Crocosmia "Lucifer" is native to Africa, and is naturalized in places like Costa Rica and Scotland, my goodness. While it spreads in my beds, I haven't seen it popping up in other places in my yard or in southern Ohio. It grows from a bulb, but you don't have to lift it in the winter. Just leave it right where it is! For whatever reason, mine just went NUTS this summer of 2021. It was a gift from my friend Bonnie many years ago, but this year it took center stage, delighting the hummingbirds and swallowtails and me.

The young hummingbirds stop frequently to rest and preen.



I love being in on the intimate moments when they're acting like birds instead of insect helicopters.

Sometimes, when the sunlight is bright and clear and striking the flowers just below my studio window, I get some acceptable photos. Like this one:

And this one, which is one of the better hummingbird photos I've taken. The trick is having sufficient light and fast enough shutter speed to freeze those wings.The brighter it is out there, the more likely you are to be happy with your shot.

I absolutely love the video game thrill of keeping my lens on a rapidly moving hummingbird. Or warbler, for that matter.

Pretty little glittering scrap of life, lighting up my world.

 I'm very grateful that the stem borers that attacked and killed my cardinalflowers last summer are nowhere to be seen this summer. This hardy native has thrown seed children all over the bed where it first started, and marched up along the north side of the house. I've aided the dispersal, transplanting many seedlings up into the front yard beds, which is now aflame with crimson blossoms and the little green sprites who feed on them. It is most satisfying. I've also given lots of cardinalflower seedlings to local friends, who very much appreciate these Ohio-tested natives adapted to our conditions. The trick in growing and propagating cardinalflower is not to deadhead it. Let it go to seed and disperse, then lay the ripe seedheads on bare soil where you want it to come up. Don't mulch a cardinalflower bed! you'll inhibit recruitment of seedlings. Do keep it moist. Be generous with water, especially in dry spells. 
Super tall stalks appreciate support, and hummingbirds love to perch on the rungs of tomato cages, too. Win-win. 
This is how the original bed, which I've had going for at least 20 years, looked in 2017. Borers killed these plants, but new ones have spring up and will soon be as tall and beautiful as the originals. In the meantime, the crocosmia has spread like mad, and I'll have to take some of it out to make room for more cardinalflower. A great problem to have!

Feeders are fine, as long as you keep them absolutely spotless and free of mold and bacteria. But there's nothing like watching hummingbirds feed the way they were designed to, at the plants they evolved with. Plant it and they will come!



LOVE ME some hummingbirds!

Love to watch hummers. My idea of the perfect zoom meeting. It seems to be a very good year for them here in Southern Ohio. I had 8 zooming around at one time yesterday and I'm filling 3 feeders every day. I switched to organic sugar in the feeders this year and wonder if that is attracting more?

However do you get your Crocosmia to stand up? Mine lounges all over the plants around it. And I should say that these are not Lucifer, which is as scarlet as your Cardinal flower. Close as I can figure it may be masoniorum, which, as you know, is a beautiful orange red. Love your profusion of color!

"Pretty little glittering scrap of life, lighting up my world." I love this sentence.

I just love that first picture. I try to raise milkweed plants annually around here to help feed them little Boogers. But,I also have a feeder for em too.

A Guy From Indiana

Such beautiful pictures! Thank you!

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