Saturday, November 12, 2011

Feed the hummers

For this holiday season, I have created four special holiday cards. The back panel includes information about the images featured in my cards. Another blog post includes the greeting from my newest card Holiday Home.

My Solstice Hummers card includes a reminder to keep a hummingbird feeder up if you live on the West Coast or northern Arizona. Anna's hummingbirds – a male is pictured above – live in coastal Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia year-round. No one seems to know why, for sure, although climate change is sending animals to places we haven't seen them before. We have great egrets, which are rare in western Washington, here at the wildlife refuge in winter. Northern cardinals are gradually making their way westward too.

We see two kinds of hummingbirds in western Washington – Anna’s and rufous. Sometimes other varieties whiz through on their migration paths.

Keeping your feeder up in winter will not discourage hummers from migrating. We have many plants that bloom in winter in western Washington. Nectar freezes at 28 degrees F, so bring feeders in at night when it is below freezing.

To make nectar combine1 part white sugar (no honey, fructose, artificial sweeteners, or food coloring) with 4 parts water. Bring to a boil, then take off stove and let nectar cool. Clean feeders with hot water and a brush before filling.

Never use soap. If feeder is very dirty, clean with white vinegar. Change food every 2-5 days in warm weather; every day if it is over 85 degrees. In cold weather, below 40 degrees, change food every 5-7days.

Rufous hummingbirds – a female is pictured inside this card – migrate north to the Pacific Northwest in March and migrate south in September and October.

Cards are 50% off and calendars are 20% off from my supplier through November 20.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gathering of eagles

Occasionally I glimpse one of our local eagle clan crossing the ridge near my home, but not quite as often as last spring and summer. Earlier this month, I spotted a large group of raptors very high in the sky. So high, I wasn't sure if they were bald eagles or other large raptors. Altogether there were 10 large birds, gliding on the thermals and dancing with one another. Too high to be hunting, they were clearly on a mission.

They lingered over my neighborhood just long enough for me to spot them from the window, run to get my camera, and out to the backyard to knock off a few shots. Then they disappeared into the eastern horizon.

When I enlarged one of the images to actual pixels, I could see the characteristic white heads and tails of adult bald eagles on three of the birds. The others appeared to be juveniles of varying ages.

I'm fascinated that raptors that often fight one another to death or serious injury over choice prey, will gather together for what looks very much like social time.

I have observed gatherings of eagles numerous times here. Enough so that I'm convinced they are an extended family, like an orca pod.

My favorite eagle couple is returning regularly to the evergreen grove where they roost during the times they are not nesting and rearing young. I wonder where their kids roost? They are harder to spot in the dark because juveniles are typically three or four years old before they get the white heads, tails and legs.

I have learned so much from the eagle clan this past year. By the end of the year, I hope to have most of those learnings together in a book. In the meantime, my growing visual collection can be found in my online Talons Gallery.