New birding quiz

Photo by Chris Bosak

Photo by Chris Bosak

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a birding quiz. So here’s another … what is this?

Big hint … it is NOT a bird or a part of bird!!! It is something that birders often come across when out in the woods, however. (That’s another hint.)

Answer coming soon at http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

Answer by leaving a comment, emailing me at bozclark@earthlink.net, or just make the guess in your head and wait for the answer.

Thanks for playing along.

This guy’s not happy about the hummingbird series ending

Photo by Chris Bosak A Tufted Titmouse grabs a sunflower seed from a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Tufted Titmouse grabs a sunflower seed from a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

Yes, yesterday was the last hummingbird photo in the series. This was the reaction of this Tufted Titmouse when it found out the news.

But in all seriousness, I don’t typically feed birds in summer, mostly because by June all I’m getting are squirrels, chipmunks and House Finches. Every so often, though, I put some sunflowers seeds on a platform and see what will show up. It didn’t take long for the titmice, chickadees and nuthatches to show up.

Sixth (and final) hummingbird photo in series; and latest For the Birds column

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird takes off from a perch in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird takes off from a perch in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

This final photo in the hummingbird series comes with a bonus, the latest For the Birds column, which also happens to be about hummingbirds. I hope you enjoyed the series and thanks for checking out http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

Last week, I wrote about the hummingbirds visiting my feeder this summer. Hummingbirds, however, are much too interesting to be limited to one column.

This week, I’ll focus on facts about these tiny dynamos. Fun facts, of course, not just any old boring facts.

Before those facts, let me start with this … I ended my column last week by requesting from readers input about which flowers attract their hummingbirds.

I received an email from Carol, who relayed some interesting information. In addition to the flowers I mentioned in my last column, Carol said at her place pink phlox, gladiolas, perennial sweet peas, coleus flowers and morning glories do the trick.

“My special joy is watching them fly through the sprinkler and seeming to really enjoy their own personal showers. They are really amazing creatures,” Carol wrote.

Marsha wrote to say that petunias and fuchsia hanging in a basket bring the little birds in. She added, however, that neighbor’s feeders are busy, but they tend not to visit hers. Sometimes the bird world is unpredictable, even frustrating.

She also wrote to say she was disappointed that the birds are aggressive toward each other instead of playful. Then she summed up all of nature very succinctly: “Oh well, I guess it can’t be Disney all the time.”

Very well put, Marsha.

Pam from Walpole added trumpet vine and blue lobelia to the list.

Donna, who has a place on Granite Lake, wrote to say her hummingbirds are attracted to a hanging tri-level flower pot arrangement with mellow yellow cuphea.

Stephen sent in a picture of a bird on his hummingbird feeder. It was a downy woodpecker, not a hummingbird. That is not a common occurrence, but not terribly rare either. Woodpeckers, warblers, thrushes and some other species can sometimes be spotted at hummingbird feeders. Remember, Baltimore orioles can be attracted to a nectar feeder as well, but with a different mixture of water and sugar. Hummingbird nectar is four parts water to one part sugar; oriole nectar is less sweet at eight parts water to one part sugar. You may also need a special oriole feeder.

Now for some of those facts I promised — in no particular order.

There are more than 300 hummingbird species, and each one makes different humming noise with its wings. Imagine being so good at birdwatching you tell each one by the humming of its wings. Hey, many birders know the woodpecker species from its knocking, so why not?

Of those more than 300 species, only eight regularly breed in the U.S. — and only one east of the Mississippi River. Most hummingbirds are tropical and do not migrate. They are strictly a Western Hemisphere bird so don’t go to Europe, Asia or Africa and expect to see hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds can flap their wings up to 90 times per second — and even faster during courtship.

Many birds can hover, but hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards.

Hummingbirds double their weight before taking off for their incredible migration over the Gulf of Mexico.

Hummingbirds have tiny feet and far fewer feathers (only about 1,000) than most birds to help them fly easier. By comparison, the Mallard has about 12,000 feathers.

If you started putting ruby-throated hummingbirds on a scale (for whatever reason) you would have to place 150 of them for it to read one pound.

Hummingbirds are aggressive not only toward other hummingbirds but also birds such as hawks, blue jays and crows. In other words, don’t mess with a hummingbird.

 

Fifth photo in hummingbird series

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a thorny branch in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a thorny branch in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

Here’s the fifth photo in the hummingbird series. Here’s another one I got when I was watching the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the thorn bushes at the Dolce Center in Norwalk, Conn. I like the tongue sticking out.

Hummingbird photo number 2

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Updated: Somehow I repeated my first hummingbird photo. Two days into the series and I messed it up already. The photo above is the replacement (the one that should have been there in the first place). Sorry about that. Thanks for the heads up, Wayne.

Here’s is the second of a few posts featuring photos of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The male’s throat is red or black or somewhere in between depending on how the light is hitting it.

Starting a little series of hummingbird photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016.

Here’s is the first of a few posts featuring photos of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. A few birds I write about on a regular basis really seem to resonate with readers and the hummingbird is definitely one of them. So why not feature these little birds with a little photo series? Each day I’ll post a new one. Some from this year, some from year’s past.

 

Latest For the Birds column: Hummingbirds are classic backyard entertainment

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird hovers near a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.), The Keene (NH) Sentinel and several Connecticut weekly newspapers.

..

The smallest of birds often provide the biggest entertainment.

I’m talking about hummingbirds, of course, and they are big, big on personality even if they are small in stature, weighing in at about an eighth of an ounce. Yes, a small fraction of an ounce, which is the smallest American standard of weight. Thank goodness for the metric system so we can put a whole number on this tiny dynamo. Hummingbirds weight about 2 or 3 grams, about the same as a penny. Not a handful of pennies or five pennies — one penny.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

I have been enjoying immensely watching hummingbirds this spring and summer at my backyard feeder and in the garden now that the flowers have bloomed – at least those that the deer didn’t get to. The only problem is that “my” hummingbirds are very territorial. Usually I see only one male at or near the feeder with the occasional female showing up, too. That was especially true this spring. They are not quite as territorial now, but are still very feisty toward other hummingbirds that show up.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the fall as last year the feeder was dominated by one female. She tolerated nothing from other hummingbirds, even those that dared fly over the house in the general vicinity of the feeder. Will the male remain and dominate, or will he fly off and the female dominate? Or will the male stick around and the female push him out? Or will they tolerate each other and share the sugar water, which is my hope. Or … OK, enough ors for now. As I said, we’ll see what happens.

If you don’t have hummingbirds that act like they own the feeders, you have a greater likelihood of seeing hummingbirds in late summer or fall because of simple mathematics. In the spring the adults pass through or settle in our area. In late sum Continue reading

Latest For the Birds column: Birds don’t always look like their field guide photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A young Wood Duck sits on a rock at Woods Pond in Norwalk, Conn., Julyh 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A young Wood Duck sits on a rock at Woods Pond in Norwalk, Conn., Julyh 2016.

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.), The Keene (NH) Sentinel and several Connecticut weekly newspapers.

I’ll kick off this bird column with a baseball reference. Why not?

A Major League manager once said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “These guys aren’t doing what their baseball cards say they can do.” He meant that he had a group of players who had had great seasons in the past, but were underperforming that particular year.

Well, the same can be said for birds in field guides. I have mentioned in previous columns that you can’t always trust field guides, just like you can’t always trust the statistics on the back of a baseball card. Some of the newer guides, such as the ones by Sibley and Crossley, are much more trustworthy. The Peterson Continue reading