Stranger Things: Hummingbird moth

Photo by Chris Bosak
A hummingbird moth sips nectar from a butterfly bush in New England, summer 2019.

I’ve been seeing a lot of photos and videos this summer of these fascinating creatures on Facebook and other social media. Many of the posts include the question: What is this???

No, it’s not a hummingbird, even though it resembles one, creates a humming sound with its wings and hovers around flowers like a hummingbird. It is a hummingbird moth, so named because … well, you can figure that out, I’m sure. Although it’s hard to tell without a side-by-side comparison, hummingbird moths are smaller than hummingbirds. A hummingbird moth is about two inches long and a hummingbird is a bit longer than three inches, but also much more bulky.

Look for hummingbird moths at the same flowers you’d expect to see butterflies and hummingbirds. Butterfly bush is a backyard favorite for hummingbird moths.

A hummingbird moth sips nectar with its long proboscis, a tongue-like sucking organ, which can be double the length of the moth. The photo below shows the proboscis rolled up.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A hummingbird moth sips nectar from a butterfly bush in New England, summer 2019.
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‘Volunteer’ sunflowers brighten up flower box

Toward the end of last summer, I purchased a few coneflower plants at a greatly reduced price from a hardware store. I planted them in a large flower box on my deck and the plants flourished into late fall.

While in bloom, the plants made for a photogenic setting as birds perched on them before heading to a nearby feeder. Once the flowers died and went to seed, the plants were visited frequently by goldfinches, chickadees, titmice and other small birds. I certainly got my money’s worth from the plants. Here are some photos I took of the plants in action.

https://birdsofnewengland.com/tag/coneflower/

https://birdsofnewengland.com/2018/11/13/goldfinch-on-coneflower/

Here’s an icy shot of the tough plants.

https://birdsofnewengland.com/tag/birdsofnewengland-christmas-card/

Since coneflower is a perennial, I was looking forward to many years of similar success from these $2 plants. Unfortunately, the plants did not come back this spring. I never transported them out of the flower box and the winter’s hard freeze killed the roots.

But something else popped up this year — at an even better price. You can’t beat free. Remember I had mentioned the nearby feeders? Well, a few of the sunflower seeds that got knocked or carried into the box sprouted. I noticed them in the spring and recognized the tiny stems as sunflowers. Wouldn’t it be cool if they grew to become full plants, I thought at the time. Fast forward a few months and I have three healthy, flowering sunflowers in that flower box. They are not towering plants by any means, but that’s probably a good thing considering their location.

The birds are already using them as perches. I just saw a chipping sparrow on one a few hours ago. Now I can’t wait until later this summer and fall when birds start picking seeds out of the flowers. You know I’ll be posting plenty of photos when that starts to happen. Talk about getting your money’s worth out of a bag of sunflower seeds.

Has this or something similar happened in your garden? Drop me a line and let me know. You can comment on this site, Facebook (Birds of New England), or email me at chrisbosak26@gmail.com.

A few yard visitors, part II

Photo by Chris Bosak A ruby-throated hummingbird visits fuscia blooms in Danbury, Conn., May 2019.

The ruby-throated hummingbirds came back a bit late this year, to my yard anyway. Last year it was late April. This year it was early May. Regardless, they are back and buzzing around like they own the place.

Love this White-breasted Nuthatch photo

Photo by Chris Bosak White-breasted Nuthatch at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
White-breasted Nuthatch at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Sometimes when photographing birds (or anything for that matter) you never really know what you’ll get. You should always be mindful of the background, but sometimes it’s tough to determine exactly how the photo will look until you take it. Honestly I got kind of lucky with this shot with the jet black background, which really makes the White-breasted Nuthatch standout. I’m not even sure what in the background was so black. Oh well, I’ll take it.

This is the third in a series of photographs celebrating our common backyard feeder birds.

Who doesn’t love chickadees?

Photo by Chris Bosak Black-capped Chickadee at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Black-capped Chickadee at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

I highlight the Black-capped Chickadee as the second in a series of photos of our common backyard birds here in New England. This series of photos will focus on the birds we commonly see at our feeders. Can you ever see enough chickadee photos?

Kicking off a celebration of our common backyard birds

Photo by Chris Bosak A Tufted Titmouse perches on a branch of a fading sunflower before heading to a nearby birdfeeder.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Tufted Titmouse perches on a branch of a fading sunflower before heading to a nearby birdfeeder.

This photo of a Tufted Titmouse is pulling double duty. It accompanied my latest column in The Hour (Norwalk, Ct) and The Keene Sentinel (Keene, NH), which may be found here.

It is also being used on this post to kick off a celebration of our common backyard feeder birds. This is a great time of year for feeding birds as the feeders are active with titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals and other birds. Under the feeder, birds such as White-throated Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos have returned. So to celebrate that, I’ll post a series of photos highlighting some of our more common, but beloved, backyard birds.

Connecticut State of the Birds Report

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon speaks during the press conference to introduce the 2014 Connecticut State of Birds report Monday at Trout Brook Valley conservation area in Easton.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon speaks during the press conference to introduce the 2014 Connecticut State of Birds report Monday at Trout Brook Valley conservation area in Easton.

Habitat, its proper maintenance, and its importance to a variety of birds is the topic of the 2014 Connecticut State of the Birds Report released Monday by Connecticut Audubon Society at an event at Trout Brook Valley.

As usual, the report — this year titled “Connecticut’s Diverse Landscape: Managing Our Habitats for Wildlife” — is full of valuable research and information about a topic regarding birds.

Here’s my story at http://www.thehour.com, click here.