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Gardening For Wildlife Newsletter
April 25, 2010

Our prayers go out to the people in the tornado ravaged areas from this past weekend's storms.

(Pied-billed grebe looking straight on and image swimming).

April is winding down (time goes by so fast it seems) and what an extraordinary month it was, weather wise.

Much above normal temperatures most of the time and a lack or rain allowed many of you as well as me to get outside early and often.

Another 'Earth Week' has come and gone too.

'Earth Week' should be a daily thing don't you think?

After all, it is our earthly home and we should be good stewards anyway.


Welcome new readers as we continue to grow and we grow because of you.

You make it possible.

Thank You one and all.

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes this past week.

Well, the rabbit that was busy constructing her nest opted for another location.

It could be there was to much activity, or my scent was nearby.

In a way, I wanted to get some pictures of pink bunnies for you to see.

I get scolded once in a while for keeping my camera out and ready.

But If I didn't have it handy most of he time, I would miss out on some of the pictures i share with you.

Here is another photo taken through a window.

This Common grackle shows a sign of albinism with the white feathers sprinkled through its head.

I have seen this bird twice, but managed a quick photo just the one time.

No matter, it sure caught my eye.

My camera goes with me on most of my walks too.

I saw a chickadee flit by me and into the hole (image below).

The snag and chickadee hole are in an open part of the woods near the creek.

I waited for the bird to pop back out, but I was not accommodated in the least.

We still have Juncos hanging around.

Isn't it nice to see the canary yellow of American goldfinches once again.

True, some are still checkered. but to see the bright colors once again sure is nice.

You may see some bright yellow birds and some that aren't so bright and wonder why.

For many species of birds it takes a couple of years to really get that adult look and color to them.

Goldies are no exceptions.

Your not so bright colored birds are last years fledglings.

Spring migration continues,

On top of the list are the hummingbirds.

Though maps may show they have reached Michigan a couple of weeks ago, (I haven't seen any) it is usually around May 10 for me to spot my first Ruby-throated hummingbird.

This weeks topic is........................

You guessed it,



I don't know a single person that doesn't stop what they are doing to admire a hummingbird.

Within the Trochilidae (Hummingbird Family), there are 339 known species and 116 genera. ( "Genera" is the plural of "genus".)

Hummingbirds occur ONLY in the Western Hemisphere, with almost half the species (163) living in the "equatorial belt" between 10 degrees north and south of the equator.

Not even Hawaii can stake claim to a single hummer, unless it was trapped and released.

Yes, we are truly blessed to have these tiny avian visitors.

According to records, Eight different Species of Hummingbird have visited Canada, Five breeding species and three interlopers.

Hummingbirds of Canada:

Anna's Hummingbird,

Black-chinned Hummingbird,

Calliope Hummingbird,

Rufous Hummingbird,

Ruby-throated Hummingbird,

Costa's Hummingbird, (Rare or Accidental)

Green Violet-ear, (Rare or Accidental)

Broad-billed Hummingbird, (Rare or Accidental)

27 species of hummingbird are known to visit the United States of which, 16 species are known to breed here.

Allen's Hummingbird,

Anna's Hummingbird

Antillean Crested Hummingbird,

Berylline Hummingbird,

Black-chinned Hummingbird,

Black-throated Mango,

Blue-throated Hummingbird,

Broad-billed Hummingbird,

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Buff-bellied Hummingbird,

Calliope Hummingbird

Costa's Hummingbird,

Cinnamon Hummingbird,

Cuban Emerald,

Green Violet-ear,

Green-breasted Mango,

Lucifer Hummingbird,

Magnificent (Rivoli's) Hummingbird,

Plain-capped Starthroat,

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird,

Violet-crowned Hummingbird,

White-eared Hummingbird,

Bahama Woodstar, (Rare or Accidental)

Bumblebee Hummingbird, (Rare or Accidental) Xantus's Hummingbird, (Rare or Accidental)

These records may have changed already.

Arizona and Texas stake claim to 18 different species.

While Rhode Island and North Dakota have but one species and that is the Ruby-throated hummingbird (considered rare in N.D.).

Even Alaska has had visits from five different species (same as Michigan).

58 known species to visit or inhabit the country of Mexico.

The journey north for these diminutive birds is highly anticipated.

Probably no bird is more welcome, or the anticipated arrival of, than hummingbirds.

Everyone stops to look at a hummer.

Some of you living in the West, Southwest and sometimes, even the deep South are fortunate to see hummers most or the year, if not year round.

The rest of us are almost teased for a few short months.

So what is it about these tiny creatures that we almost covet?

Is it their size and knowing they are the smallest warm blooded animal?

Is it their abilities to stop on a dime or fly in any direction?

You may admire the almost pugnacious attitude or personalities.

The beauty of the Male's Gorget or the female's ability to to build a nest, lay egg, incubate and raise the young all by her self.

Why do we almost mourn when we see the last one in late summer or early autumn, and why do we dance for joy when we see the first one of the new season.

Unless you have so many around you that grow used to them, you will stop what you're doing to watch the jewels and then we quickly call or e-mail friends and family to let them know you saw your first hummer of the season.

Hoping you beat them to the first sighting of the year.

Bragging rights I suppose.

So what is it about hummingbirds that captivates you , .

I would like to know and possibly we can share your thoughts with others.

Is it admiration for the long migration most make?

Is it their size and knowing they are the smallest warm blooded animal?

Is it their abilities to stop on a dime or fly in any direction?

You may admire the almost pugnacious attitude or personalities.

The beauty of the Male's Gorget or the female's ability to to build a nest, lay egg, incubate and raise the young all by her self.

Everyone appreciates a smart bird and hummers are very intelligent.

They are able to remember places and individual people from one year to the next.

How can a bird with a brain the size of a pea be all that?

Hummingbirds have the largest brain, relative to size, of all birds.

Brain research also shows some other interesting facts.

The eyes are relatively large--about 4-5mm in diameter--and are set on the side of the head, allowing the hummingbird to see both straight ahead and peripherally.

That's right, they have both monocular and binocular vision.

Hummingbirds also have proportionally the largest hearts of any living animal. 1.75% to 2.5% of body weight.

They have to, pump up to 1200 plus times a minute.

Hummingbirds truly are a special and unique creation that benefit nature and pleasing to us.

Reply with your hummingbird favorite along with:

First name (last optional

City or location

State or province


How do you attract more hummingbirds, or entice even one of them to yard and gardens?

If it were as easy as waving a magic wand, or placing a feeder for them, we would all do it.

Most hummingbirds prefer country living, but that doesn't mean you can't attract them to your suburban yards or even a city yard (I have).

Some species like Anna's hummingbird have welcomed suburbia and the bright colored landscapes.

On the east coast, Ruby-throated hummers do prefer country and open wooded life, but will indeed come to suburb and even city gardens.

My first house with Karen was in the city and we had hummers (Karen's first sighting ever).

In the suburbs we have never lacked hummingbirds as they enjoy our feeders and mass offerings of flowers (many planted just for them).

Without my offerings, I'm sure we wouldn't see them very often.

Face it, not all of us have scores of hummers visiting our feeders and gardens.

Not all of us have natural habitats that bring them in.

Often, you must cultivate the situation.

Yes, offer quality feeders that don't leak or attract pests.

Keep your feeders clean and filled with fresh nectar water.

Location or placement plays a factor too.

Not just for the hummers, but for you as well.

Locate your feeders where you can enjoy them and easy to get at and clean.

Feeders are but one small aspect, don't stop there.

Hummingbirds are wild creatures and still prefer 'Nature's' offerings most of the time.

Plant a hummingbird garden.

Offer a wide variety of attractive, nectar rich flowers just for these avian marvels.

Monarda, Hyssop, Salvia, sages and others.

Even though hummers have great eyesight, you can make a flower bed more attractive to them by mass plantings.

A buffet table is more attractive to birds than a single little plant spaced here and there.

Flowers like zinnias attract tiny insects that become a protein rich meal for your hummingbirds.

Annuals and perennials.

Plant flowering shrubs, vines and possibly a tree.

Not just for flowers, but they offer protection, a place to rest and possibly a nesting sight.

Evergreen plants offer rest and protection as well.

Hummingbirds also enjoy a bath from time to time, offer a mister for them to fly through.

You may even spot one of these yard charmers bathing on a wet leaf (called leafing).

Now, make yourself comfortable.

Sit a spell, maybe wear something red.

Do you have patience?

Sit there holding s feeder and see if one stops to feed.

Get to know your hummers.

Allow them to get to know you as well.

If you don't have room for a flower bed, create a hummingbird container or window box.

Yes, they will find it.

Next week, I will do a bit more on hummingbirds.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

Even if it's a little thing, do something for those who need help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.

Albert Schweitzer

We are privileged to help others.

Have you ever looked at it from that angle?

Smile, you are doing what God wants from his people.

Smile, you feel good about helping another

Smile, you can't help but feel good about yourself when you help others.

Smile, it will come back to you in the right time or moment.

God's Laws.

Even a smile given to a stranger may by just the help a stranger needs at that time.


Smile for yourself and for strangers.

Before long, you will be expecting smiles back.

Until next time my friend.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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