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.

_______________________________________________________________________________

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.


Where do you find inspiration?

Many of you may know that I started my writing career as the Southern Colorado Literature Examiner for Examiner.com, but what you might not know, is that I was also a content writer for Demand Studios. And I wrote D.I.Y. gardening articles, because I have always been an avid gardener, so it was an area I was knowledgable in. It’s been many years since I wrote gardening articles, but I still enjoy gardening and landscaping. I find it to be relaxing, soothing – a time when I can contemplate in my mind and find inspiration while engaged in the physical labors of hauling, digging, pulling and planting. So, when I get bogged down or stressed out, I go out and work in the garden to mellow out and regain my center.

Looking out over my yard today, I am taken aback with what I have accomplished over the years. For the first years that I had this beautiful mountain property, there wasn’t much except the natural forest, as far as landscaping goes. I started out by creating a quartz rock garden with a few Irises, which I had transplanted from my old home in Canon City and a few old metal wash pans with rocks placed in them for the birds to bathe in. I added to quartz to that garden for many years, but didn’t do much else as the focus was on getting a cabin built.

I still add quartz to that rock garden; it’s an ongoing process. But I have also collected and added rocks to create paths and what has turned out to be a huge landscaping project. You see, gardening doesn’t just provide inspiration in my writing endeavors, it inspires me in the design of my garden.

It began when I buried a cut-off water tank with the idea of creating a water garden. Then, I buried an old bathtub in the gully running down to the ‘water garden’ and bolted a trellis over it. That first year, I planted mixed flower seeds and Morning Glories to grow up the trellis. I began placing flat rocks around the edges of the bathtub to create an area where I could sit and maintainence the flowers planted in the bathtub easily.

Bathtub Garden Bed

While staying in place due to the pandemic, I had a lot of time on my hands, but not a lot of money, so I set about making my yard into a bird sanctuary – a place where all types of birds, especially Hummingbirds, would be attracted. I have always put out feeders and provided birdbaths in the quartz rock garden, and I’ve always had a good amount of avian visitors to my garden, but last summer was absolutely crazy. In addition to the multitude of Rufus and Allen’s Hummingbirds, I counted over thirty different bird breeds visiting, with more than twenty different bird families nesting for extended stays – Robins, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chick-a-dees, Flickers, Blue Jays, Grosbeaks, to name a few. I went on rock collecting excursions around my property and I began to expand my rock work extensively, and I planted sixty-five Gladiola bulbs and a Butterfly Bush. When the Glads came into bloom, my yard was aburst with color. They were gorgeous. The Hummingbirds thought so, too.

I made a lot of progress last summer and into the fall, and the work continues. It seems to be an ongoing process. I don’t know if it will ever be completely finished, because I seem to always be inspired in new and different ways. This year, the rock work has all come together well, and I added a couple more Butterfly Bushes, Westeria, Daylillies, and a Rose. The quartz rock garden had Iris blooms in both yellow and purple. I planted a wild flower patch near the ‘water garden’ opposite the Pussy Willow, and added a larger trellis and three tier grecian urn planter. I threw some mixed flower seeds and Love Lies Bleeding in with the Glads in the bathtub garden, which has now turned into a small forest in which I can no longer find the Gladiolas. I didn’t know that Love Lies Bleeding could grow so tall and I planted it everywhere, but it certainly makes my yard look spectacular.

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Why do I do it?

Reciting from Delilah for the Birds

Living in a rural area in the Colorado mountains provides a unique set of obstacles to be dealt with, including a forty-five mile commute, one way, on winding mountain roads which can be treacherous in winter weather conditions and clogged with tourist traffic in the summer that can turn a forty-five minute drive into and hour and a half. It can be nerve wrecking and even hair raising at times. And the wear and tear on my vehicles – proper maintenence and tires, etc… – due to all the mileage I put on them gets downright expensive!

I hate that commute and for several years now I’ve been asking myself why I do this live in this remote place. Three years ago, I hit black ice and rolled my car over on its side, totaling the car and raising my insurance, even though I had broken no traffic laws or violated the rules of the road. I hadn’t been driving too fast or being reckless. It was simply the road conditions that caused me to wreck. The cop almost landed on his derierre when he approached to issue me the ticket because the road was a sheer sheet of ice.

But it’s not just the commute. There are other unique difficulties that come with living off-grid, like hauling water and keeping generators and solar systems functioning, and chopping wood for winter fuel. Only in such remote locations does one have an internet outage during the writing conference that your hosting, causing you to have to stay at a hotel and miss one full day of events, as it happened during this year’s WordCrafter virtual writing conference. It can be tough when you don’t have the simple ammenities that many people take for granted.

Yesterday, as I was driving home from work, I saw something that reminded me of why I live where I live, in spite of the need to do that often treacherous and all too frustrating commute. As I turned off the highway and headed up the dirt road that I live off of, I came around a corner and saw a patch of brown, almost hidden in the meadow grasses below a heavily forested hill. At first I thought it might be a cow or perhaps a horse, as the folks who live just over the hill keep livestock, but it didn’t stand tall enough above the grasses to be of the equine or bovine persuasions. I slowed down to get a better look, and the sound of my car must have drawn the as yet unidentified animal’s attention, causing it to look up and allowing me a good look, as well.

I hit my brakes and then threw my car into reverse, backing to a spot off the road, where I had a fairly decent view of a large brown bear which was now watching me to see what I was up to. The bear watched me for a couple of minutes, as I dug in my computer case for my Kindle, the only device with a camera that I had available. Then, he must have decided I didn’t pose much of a threat and went back to whatever he had been doing in the grass before I came along. The grass still hid him partially, but I was able to snap several photos of him before he lost interest and decided to head back over the hill. I had a much better view as he ambled away, so I slid out of my car and walked to the back of the car to snap a few more shots. He looked back to see what I was doing, but didn’t seem to concerned, as he turned and continued on his way.

That’s why I do it. That is why I make the commute, and why I make lists and keep things stocked up, so I don’t end up making extra trips, and do all of the other things that are kind of a pain, but are necessary to accomodate my chosen lifestyle. That’s why I work so hard to grow a following and make money from my writing and publishing skills, so I won’t have to make that commute anymore.

Because living where I live, I get to see things like that big brown bear and many other kinds of wildlife that city dwellers miss out on. The bear I saw yesterday was only one of many wildlife sightings that living here has offered me. Many are just glimpses, such as the two foxes playing in a drainage pipe at the side of the road, or the bobcat running through the trees, but on a few occasions, I’ve even been afforded the opportunity to capture them in photos and created the wonderful images I’m sharing here today.

The flora and fauna surrounding my Colorado mountain home are what makes it all worth it. Beside road side wildlife, my mountain home offers opportunities to view and often, photograph many species of birds and plant life. Beautiful wild flowers and and magnificent bird photos inhabit my photo library, where the images of a small fraction of all the magnificent species to which I have been witness to, have been captured. Many encounters that I wasn’t able to capture through the lens have instead inspired poetry or found their way into stories that I’ve written, or other writings.

All of this serves to remind me of the reasons why I do what I do, and live where I live, strengthening my resolve to keep doing what I’m doing. My motto has always been “Endeavor to Perservere”, or keep on keeping on, and that’s just what I’m going to do, but now I remember why I’m doing it.

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