There is something about a mama bird in her nest that makes my heart sing. I wanted to linger, but her comfort outstripped my desire to pull up a chair and just sit there all afternoon. I took a non-flash snapshot with my phone from a distance, then zoomed in when I got home.
On the subject of nests and homes, my older son is home from college for spring break. I’m looking forward to the weekend ahead with all three of my “men” in the house.
By early to mid August, our white Japanese anemone are in full bloom. They line the rock wall, taking on more and more real estate with each passing year. They’re considered non-invasive, but prolific bloomers. I’ll say.
September, 2012 Japanese Anemones Line the Rock Wall
The blooms are generally spent by November and the flower stocks dry up and turn brittle. The entire stem pulls up easily, no pruning required.
Last year we had some late bloomers so I didn’t get around to “trimming” them back.
Then I had surgery.
And the wonderful consequence is this:
Female Anna’s Hummingbird Gathering Nesting Material
I wish the photos were clearer but I had to share. That’s a female Anna’s hummingbird gathering Anemone “fluff” for her nest. She’s been back several times to gather more, along with others nesting mammas in the neighborhood. She plucked at the fluff over and over till her mouth was full, then flew back to the nest. One of the Anna’s appears to be nesting in the orange tree. That’s the direction she goes once her beak is full. Another one gathers, then heads to the neighboring pine tree.
Fluffy Anemone Seed Heads
Earlier in the week I sat still in a chair for half an hour hoping to capture this wonderful event on video. I forgot to close the back door, however, and within minutes, one of the kitties was asleep in my lap.
I could have taken him back inside, but once I was resting there in the warm sun, I found myself “in the zone.” Sitting in my wicker chair in the garden, warm kitty in my lap, watching nature unfold was mesmerizing. Alas, the mama hummingbird didn’t return for her closeups so I had to make do with these blurred pics and the happy memory to go with them.
Oh, and remember what I said about anemones flowering in the fall? Check out this one, flowering away in late February.
Anemone Blooming in February
I wonder if the lack of rain along with weeks of unseasonably warm weather is playing tricks on the flower’s programming?
Hummingbirds flap their wings about 55 times a second! The resulting sound is soothing, like a constant heartbeat. We have three feeders in our garden, in addition to several of their favorite flowers. When the plants are in bloom, the Anna’s Hummingbirds enjoy Salvia (we have four) and Abutilon (we have six).
While taking pictures of my lemons for a different post, I could hear one flapping over head. I took a few shots near one of the feeders, before she flew past me into the shrubs. For the first time, I saw her dip her beak into a spider web. I managed one shot before she flew away.
Anna’s Hummingbird Gathering Spiderweb for her Nest
Did you know that hummingbirds line their nest with spider webs? They also eat soft-bodied insects when they’re feeding their young. The prospect of a nest of hummingbirds nearby has me feeling giddy.
It’s been almost three months since my foot surgery. If you’re new to my blog, you can catch up here. Dr. Sheth said I’m actually “ahead of schedule.” She kindly added that she thought my positive outlook and my commitment to following the healing protocol all worked in my favor. So while I still have some pain and swelling, I have the all-clear for walking again. I’m one happy woman.
It’s been an amazing 24 hours. Our neighbor came to the door last night with news that she’d found a baby hummingbird. She spotted the hummingbird on the sidewalk while walking her dog. They brought the bird home but were unable to contact a rescue group on a Sunday night.
Together we went back to the spot a few blocks over hoping to spot the mama and the nest. Alas, no luck.
So…I brought him home. My boys were pretty excited to have a fledgling hummingbird in our midst and a social one at that. They took turns keeping him warm till I figured out a temporary nest.
My oldest son keeps watch for a while
In the end I used a small Sake cup, which is about the size of the nest mama bird would build. I lined the bottom with cotton, then shredded mohair fibers and made a fluffy nest for the night.
Cozy in his homemade nest
Mike made a batch of sugar-water using the formula we put in our feeders: Four parts clear water, and one part sugar. I offered our tiny guest drops of nectar from the tip of my finger. His tiny tongue lapping sugar-water from my finger was almost imperceptible.
He was mellow and trusting and once resting on my thumb, he didn’t want to let go. I eventually transferred him to his surrogate nest and after one last check, turned out the lights.
I should also mention that I live with three cats so finding a safe spot was critical. We have a laundry room off of the guest washroom, so I set him up in there. We used the ‘clean room’ method of walking into one room and closing the door, then going into the inner room and closing that door. Even then, I covered the nest with a ventilated laundry basket *and* a towel.
I tossed and turned in bed this morning starting at 4:00 am. Eventually I gave in and got up to take a look. There he was, cozy in his nest and looking content. I fed him three more times before leaving to take the boys to school. My friend, Laura offered the great tip of feeding him from the end of a drinking straw. In between feedings I did some research online. I checked in with my friend Ellen who volunteers at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. I’ve been listening to Ellen’s stories for months during our shared Pilates class. I know her to be caring and knowledgeable.
Hummingbirds are not easily rehabilitated and require constant care. They must eat every twenty to thirty minutes from dawn till dusk. Can you imagine? I had two clients today, on different sides of town in addition to carpooling three teenagers to school. It would not be possible to give him the care he needed.
Still waiting for his tail feathers to grow in
After checking in with my client and dropping the teens at school, I drove to the Silicon Valley Wildlife Center one town over. While it was a relief to know the hummingbird was in excellent hands, I was melancholy too. I connected with the tiny creature and felt just a twinge of sadness when I let him go.
The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. Can you see the mature hummingbird flying toward me in the lower right corner?
Here’s a one-minute video from this morning. I’m feeding him with the tip of a coffee stir straw.
I’m finally feeling like myself again after a week and a half of vertigo. It was nice to walk through the garden on this unseasonably warm day.
I met a brave squirrel while crouched taking photos.
He spotted Mouse-the-cat and wandered off, but he really wasn’t in any hurry.
It’s all about me, right?
After refilling the hummingbird feeder, I enjoyed this little darling in flight.
Ana’s Hummingbird lands on the feeder
Hummingbirds need to eat every thirty minutes
The garden show stopper this time of year is the Hardenbergia Violaceae. Who doesn’t like a gorgeous vine that flowers in winter?
Hardenbergia growing along the fence
No need to raise your hand.
I found this lovely description along with a bit of history from San Marcos Growers in Santa Barbara, California:
Hardenbergia Violaceae ‘Happy Wanderer’ (Purple Vine Lilac) requires little water once established. The species is widespread through much of Australia and can be found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania where it grows from along the coast to up in the mountains. It was first described (as Glycine Violaceae) by the Dutch botanist George Voorhelm Schneevoogt in Icones Plantarum Rariorum in 1793 from cultivated plants that were thought to be from seeds collected in the Sydney area in the first few years of that settlement. Glycine is the genus of the related soy bean (Glycine max) and this plant was later combined with Hardenbergia, a name Bentham used in 1837 when describing Hardenbergia ovata. The name for the genus honors Franziska Countess von Hardenberg, sister of the Baron Karl von Hugel, a 19th century Austrian patron of botany who collected plants while on an expedition to Australia in 1833. The specific epithet is in reference to the typical color of the flower. Other common names include Purple Coral Pea, Happy Wanderer, Native Lilac. Because the long, carrot-like root was reportedly used as a substitute for sarsaparilla by Australian aboriginal bushmen, it also has the common names Australian Sarsaparilla and False Sarsaparilla. The Australian aboriginal name for it is Waraburra.
Don’t you love learning new things?
I hope you enjoy your weekend, rain or shine, snow or thaw. I’ll see you next week.
A few months ago I took a beginning birding class from Let’s Go Birding! Although we learned about hummingbirds in the classroom, the field trip the following Saturday covered the gamut. Ever since I’ve enjoyed identifying the birds visiting our garden.
I have a nifty “Quick Guide” to commonly seen local birds to help me out. The illustrated guide gives a brief description of the bird’s size and coloring, along with the time of year they appear in your area. They’ve even provided a tiny box so you can check off the ones you’ve seen. Who can resist a little check box? Not me!
The Ana’s hummingbirds are here year round. We have three feeders to choose from, along with Mexican Sage, Abutilon, Raspberries and a few other flowers they enjoy. During nesting season the females also eat soft spiders and other small insects for protein.
I spotted a Lesser Goldfinch this morning in the triangle garden. This one is enjoying Bachelor Button seeds. I didn’t know before today that Bachelor Buttons and sunflowers are from the same family. They’re both members of the Asteraceae or Compositae family, a favorite of this tiny yellow bird.
Bewick’s Wrens eat the eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults of insects and other small invertebrates. They’ll occasionally eat seeds and fruit. I spied this one over the weekend on the back fence. Dropped fruit means lots of tiny fruit flies, so as soon as I cleared out with my camera, I’m sure a smorgasbord was under way.
So, what do blueberries and birds have in common? Absolutely nothing. I’m just delighted to have my first handful of blueberries flourishing in the garden.