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Hummer School and Migration
September 22, 2014

'Grilled Steak and Onions'.

I'm talking potato chips of course.

With all the new flavors and what not floating around this year, I'm sure you tasted a few different ones and have your favorite too.

Well, these chips are spot on.

Yes siree bob.......

One awesome chip, and addictive.

'Good Stuff Maynard'.

Enough about potato chips.

Pictured is the Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii), A native wildflower that blooms this time of year.

This is the only Gentiana I have seen in my life, and it grows wild near the creek in the local woods.

The buds never open, and are only pollinated by the strong Bumblebee.

Some species are rare and endangered.

Continue with fall clean up, making sure all diseased plants and debris end up in the trash, not your compost or gardens.

While the weather is still nice, how about getting all of your nest boxes cleaned and sanitized this week.

Feel free to put them back up, as some birds may use them as a roosting box or place to get out of the elements.

If you are going to paint them, use a neutral, or earth tone color.

More of a natural look.

Not only are bright colors (red, yellow, etc.) stick out like a sore thumb, they also broadcast to predators.

Northern regions, time is running out on new and transplanting.

You want to plant while soil temperatures are still warm enough to promote new and strong root growth.

New root growth not only feeds the existing plant, but helps to store energy and strengthen the crown too.

Established roots systems help deter upheaval from frost and freeze conditions

Upheaval pushes the plants crown above the surface and most likely will result in your plants demise.

A light root enhancing feeding won't hurt either.

If you wait too long, your plants will suffer and probably not survive a rough winter.

My friends in the south, you still have plenty of time, but why put off what you can do now?

The first day of fall is here :-(

Yup, autumn is officially here.

With that, I will try this once again.

Reader participation.......

Do you have any fall favorites you would like to share.

Something about fall that you really enjoy or look forward to.

It may be the cool crisp air.

Pumpkins and hay rides.

Apples and apple cider.

Autumn bloomers like mums, pansies of native plants like Cimicifuga (pictured).

Return this back to me with:

Your First name (last is optional)

Your location (city or town you live in or near).

State or province (other country).

A sentence or paragraph will do on what you enjoy about fall.

Don't let me down now.

Your favs will be published over the next couple of weeks.

Last week I wrote on some of the things birds must learn before migration and the rigors of winter set in.

Today, I will touch a bit on the very special birds that hum and buzz around our gardens.

The diminutive and unique hummingbird.

Yes, the jewel of our gardens.

For our Asian friends and other readers scattered about, hummingbirds are unique to the Western Hemisphere.


Hummingbird school is more instinct (God given) than taught.

Records show that baby hummers are quiet during feeding.

Unlike other birds, from day one, the babies squawk and parents may make a sound or two.

As Robins, Jays, and other birds grow, the loader the cry.

For all hummingbirds, mother and babies remain silent.

If you are new to hummingbirds, the father is a non factor.

The male mates with a female, and looks for another.

The female does everything else totally on her own.

That's nest building, nesting sitting, feeding and care for the young (2 eggs, never more than 2).

I digress.

once the eggs hatch, all is quiet.

No squeaks.

Not a squawk.

Not even a peep.

Complete quiet.

Stealth Mode.

Predators can't hone in on sounds.

Hummingbirds fledging is usually sudden.

It also takes about a week or two longer than other backyard birds.

Weather plays a factor, and you must remember, baby hummers rely 100% on their mother to care for their needs.

That's an awful big task for a single bird (single parents can relate).

After several days of hanging on tight and exercising its wings, the little bird lets go and flies short distance from the nest.

These little birds are still dependent on mom for a short time, but instinct allows for them to tongue flick everything within reach.

As flight capabilities improve, the young hummers begin to forage on it own.

However, the dependency on mom is still there and the young hummers let out a high pitched squeak.

After a few short lessons on where to find food, the fledgling hummingbird is left to fend for itself.

Few skills are taught, as they now become competition for food (or so the adults see it that way).

Read on a Hummingbird's Brian.

This especially holds true with Ruby-throated hummingbirds as they will chase off their own fledglings from a territory.

I see this take place in late summer and early fall every year.

(This is also why it is wise to have feeders on opposite sides of your home, and stragically placed amongst your flowers beds.)

Around here, the first part of September the hummers are in a feeding frenzy.

They must pack on weight.

A whole lot of weight.

Hummers need to double their weight before they can venture south.

Picture this for a moment.....

You weigh 150 pounds, and you must double that an a month's time.

This is why every September, I increase the sugar water from 4 parts water to 1 part sugar, to 3 parts water and 1 part sugar.

Feeders have to be cleaned a day sooner, but it is well worth it for me to see the birds gorge and plump up.

At the same time, it is sad to know they will be gone (on the most part) by next week.

The most amazing thing about hummingbirds.....................

The 'God' given gift of migration that hummingbirds have.

Instinctively juvenile hummingbirds know to pack on the weight in late summer and early fall.

When the time is right, they head south.

Without a parent or flocks to teach or follow.

No one to teach them what to do, or where to go.

Nothing but Creation's built in know hows, and GPS.

Juvenile hummers will take off on their own (usually after the adults have left).

Feel Free to Read Hummingbird Migration.

If they survive the rigors of migration, most will successfully make it to the species wintering habitat.

Some hummers called vagrants, will end up in far away places (Rufous hummers are regularly spotted on the east coast during the winter).

Others fall short of the long trip and winter in Florida, Arizona and other warmer climates.

Anna's hummer, simple moves to the mild temperatures of the Pacific Coast for the winter.

I might add, that keeping your feeders up will not deter migration.

In fact, your feeders often make a difference in the survival of migrating hummingbirds.

I encourage you to leave feeders up a couple more weeks after your last visual.

You never know when a late passer through will stop by (it happens).

If the little birds survive and make the return trip, they will return to the same location.

Many times, the exact same yard.

And the cycle continues.

Amazing creatures, our birds.

Our 'Creator' really blessed us when he made birds.

It is up to you and me to be good stewards for all of wildlife and our planet.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it".

Pablo Picasso

We are meant to learn, to answer challenges and to take some risks.

So often we don't know where to turn.

Here is an answer for you from the Bible.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened".

Matthew 7:7,8

"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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