Tales from the Bird Sanctuary: Frantic Hummingbirds

Colorado weather is always unpredictable. There’s a saying, that is you don’t like the weather in Colorado, just wait twenty minutes, and having lived in Colorado for all of my life, I can say that it is usually true. But this year, we had an unseasonal snow storm on May 21-22, and my area was hit hard. We got at least 24 inches of wet, heavy snow, which left me temporarily snowbound, and confused all the plants in my garden, like my rose, day lilies and lilac bushes, which already had new growth showing. The plants weren’t the only ones confused. After all, the previous week, the temperatures were in the seventies. I was a little confused myself. All the birds who visit the bird sanctuary and the hummingbirds, which have been in the area since April 18th this year, were absolutely frantic.

The snow began falling on the evening of the 20th, and the trees were already drooping low by 10 p.m. As I went to shut my generator off, It sounded like the trees were alive with the little twitts of hummingbirds. They should have been all tucked into their nests by that time of night, but for some reason, they were all perched in the tree branches griping about the weather. I believe that many of these tiny birds were just passing through and the snow stranded them, but for whatever reason, I could tell by the sound that there were a lot of them in those trees.

Hummingbirds are migratory and they fly great distances every year from South America all the way up to the northern regions of the United States. It’s really quite amazing how far these tiny travelers commute. What they don’t do is fly in the dark, at least not usually, but on that night, I must have startled one of them, because I actually got buzzed. At 10 o’clock at night, that is unheard of.

The next morning, I awoke to about a foot of snow and everything was covered in white, and at 5:30 in the morning, the hummingbirds were frantically fighting to get nectar from partially frozen feeders.

Hummingbirds consume mass amounts of food in order to maintain their high metabolisms. In situations where the food supplies are limited for some reason, like a surprise snow storm, they can find a perch and go into a torpor state to conserve its energy reserves, but for some reason, these hummingbirds remained frantically feeding all day.

I placed a fresh feeder under the porch where it would be sheltered for them, in order to up their food supplies. But, it was so cold that even that feeder was soon partially frozen. That didn’t stop them from feeding from it though. Below is a video I took from inside my cabin. My front porch was busy like this all day long. If nothing else, they provided good entertainment on a day when I was stuck indoors.

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a M.A. in Publishing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.

She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”); and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, are both available in both digital and print editions at most of your favorite book distributors.

When not writing, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. In addition to creating her own very small publishing house in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. As well as serving as judge for the Western Writers of America and sitting on the editorial team for Western State Colorado University and WordFire Press for the Gilded Glass anthology and editing Weird Tales: The Best of the Early Years 1926-27, under Kevin J. Anderson & Jonathan Maberry.

In her spare time, she is bird watching, or gardening, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

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Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


Tales from the Bird Sanctuary: Spring Preening

Tales from the Bird Sanctuary

It’s hard work running a bird sanctuary. Make no mistake about it. But the rewards are awe inspiring and make it all worth it. I have a plethora of birds which visit the sanctuary of my property each year, and my visitors change with every season. (I wrote about the wide variety of bird visitors and shared images a while back. You can see that post here.) There’s always the regular day-to-day tasks of filling feeders, but this is the time of year when the hummingbirds start arriving and visiting birds expect baths to be available, that adds extra tasks to the sanctuary to-do list.

This week was my spring cleaning, when I spruce up the garden area, clearing away remnants of fall, cleaning out water features, and preparing the area for the coming bird season, because birds need a clean and healthy environment in which to thrive. Contrary to popular beliefs, they are not ‘dirty birds’. In fact, the bird baths and water features are my most popular attractions.

This year, I’m planning to renovate my main water feature, installing a new pump to create a waterfall, which the birds should absolutely love. This requires the old water to be pumped out and the whole thing cleaned out well before installing the new pump.

As I said before, the birds all love running water; any kind of spray or fountain will attract them, especially the hummingbirds. Today, since I was pumping out the water feature, I decided to see if I could attract some hummingbirds with the water, and hung the hose over a tree branch, suspending it above the ground, so that it made a good splash. This is a trick that usually works, and before I knew it I had two hummingbirds flirting with the idea of a spring shower, swooping back and forth near the stream of water coming from the hose.

The force of the water was now making an indentation where it hit the ground, and a small, shallow pool had begun to form, so I put my thumb over the end of the hose, creating a lighter spray. One hummingbird found a shallow spot, and literally sat in the pool and bathed. I had seen them take showers in water streams before, but I didn’t know hummingbirds actually bathed. If I’d had my phone, I could have gotten some excellent photos, but at the time, I didn’t want to take my thumb away from the end of the hose and scare him away with the sudden noise from the hard hit of the water. By the time I did run get my phone, she was long gone. But I was rewarded later with another young hummer, who danced around the flow of the hose as if she were performing a mid- air ballet, which I was able to photograph. She blends in pretty well with the background, so she’s kind of hard to see, so I outlined her in each one.

And it wasn’t only the humming birds who felt the need for a spring preening. The bird baths had a plethora of visitors, including the Robin and the Scrub Jay pictured below at the pedestal bird bath.

This post is my first official installment in the “Tales from the Bird Sanctuary” blog series. I posted a post last month about the bird sanctuary which received favorable response, so I thought my readers might have interest in hearing more about my little bird visitors, so I hope you have enjoyed this. The photos aren’t great. Birds don’t often pose for their photos and the lighting is often off. So, what do you think? Would you like to see more installments in this series? Is it worth it?

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a M.A. in Publishing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you.

She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”); and Where Spirits Linger (“The People Upstairs”). Her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, and her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, are both available in both digital and print editions at most of your favorite book distributors.

When not writing, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. In addition to creating her own very small publishing house in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. As well as serving as judge for the Western Writers of America and sitting on the editorial team for Western State Colorado University and WordFire Press for the Gilded Glass anthology and editing Weird Tales: The Best of the Early Years 1926-27, under Kevin J. Anderson & Jonathan Maberry.

In her spare time, she is bird watching, or gardening, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

______________________________________________________________________

Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.


The Rewards of Running a Bird Sanctuary

Bird Skirmish at the Bird Sanctuary

I started watching the birds which visited my yard about fifteen years ago. My property is densely forested and the early morning chatter in the trees was difficult to ignore, so my gaze would naturally go up to the trees around me, and I was amazed at the number of different types of birds that were dropping by. So, I began to sit out in the yard to write on summer days, and that first summer, I kept a journal of the different birds that I saw,

When winter came around, I bought a bird feeder and some seed. I wasn’t sure how many birds were stick around during the cold months of Colorado winter, but I was pleased to learn that, although many birds migrated south for the winter, birds such as Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Blue Jays were year round residents and the Juncos appeared. When summer roles around, the winter birds clear out and various other species of birds take up summer residence or stop by on their way through.

I even have a group of resident Ravens, originally two pairs until one was taken out by a BB gun by a neighboring child. Now there are only three, but they are always around, and we talk back and forth to each other. (I don’t really speak Raven, but I fake it well.) Watching birds has brought me inspiration, and I have a whole children’s book series, in which the characters are birds and there is a moral lesson to each one, but I haven’t yet been able to publish it for lack of an illustrator. If you’re interested, you can read the story of how I had and lost both illustrator and publisher for the first book in the series, “Heather Hummingbird Makes a New Friend” here.

Little by little, I’ve added feeders and water features, provided habitat conducive to birds and wildlife. I now put out several types of seed feeders as well as suet feeders in the winter, and in the summer I add Hummingbird Feeders, as well as planting a variety of flowers, water features and bird baths in order to create a bird sanctuary. Over the years, I have viewed bird species in the double digit numbers: American Robins, Red Crossbills, Western Bluebirds, Western Tanangers, at least three different types of Hummingbirds, Juncos, Evening Grosbeaks, Cowbirds, Owls, Mountain Doves, Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-Shafted Flickers, I don’t know how many types of Sparrows and Finches, Gray-breasted Blue Jays, Red-tailed Hawks, and even Turkey Vultures. No matter what time of year, the birds who dip into my feeders always appreciate the plentiful bird seed and suet feeders that I put out, and they line up on the tree branches for their turn at the morning baths in the summer.

By this winter, word had gotten out and the bird sanctuary has become a busy place. I put out my Moultrie Digital Game Camera, which is motion activated, for a day and got thousands of photos of birds at one of the feeders. The feeder they are using is a birdbath in warm weather, but I filled it with Sunflower seeds during the cold spell we had recently, and it is obviously quite popular. Among the birds in the photos below are Evening Grosbeaks, Casin’s Finch and several small Sparrows at the feeder.

I get a lot of joy from watching the birds that visit my bird sanctuary. They are so much fun to watch as they wait their turn to grab a bite. Of course, at times they don’t wait. They just jump right in squawking and pecking to get their share whether it’s their turn or not, and mid-air skirmishes are not uncommon. Just the other day I watched as a Gray-breasted Blue Jay swooped in a broke off a very large piece of suet, then he turned to take off with it, making a quick get-away. The piece that he had in beak was so large that it weighed him down and he took an unexpected dive, almost to the ground, before catching himself and swooping off into the trees with his bounty. Blue Jays are known around here to be big bullies, so it was really kind of comical to watch as he struggled due to his own gluttony.

It is true that birds of a feather flock together, as Evening Grosbeaks swarm in on the feeders as a yellow and black mob, temporarily chasing off any little guys and interrupting their meal. The Blue Jays flock in too, but the Grosbeaks are the only ones who won’t back down from them. Juncos gang up on the ground, catching the seed others knock down from above. Birds like Mountain Chickadees, Nuthatches and American Robins, usually visit in smaller family groups, and the bird sanctuary has seen a lot of families raised, but even the Hairy Woodpeckers usually visit in pairs.

It’s been a busy place this winter, but I’m looking forward to the coming of spring and the arrival of a new batch of birds, especially the Hummingbirds, which never fail to keep things buzzing around the bird sanctuary. I always look forward to their spring greetings, as they actually come and say hello, hovering right in front of my face upon arrival as the weather warms. But Hummingbirds are a whole other post. If you’d like to hear about them, comment to let me know, and maybe I’ll write about them later in the year.

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you. She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); and Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”). Her western, Delilah, her paranormal mystery novella and her short story collection, Last Call, are all available in both digital and print editions.

In her spare time, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. She’s also the founder of WordCrafter. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. When not writing or editing, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

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Sign up for the Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Newsletter for and book event news for WordCrafter Press books, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of Kaye Lynne Booth’s paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, just for subscribing.