Sunday, September 15, 2013

Harmonizing Hummingbird Feed

Ever have the trouble of there being one humming bird that will dominate your hummingbird feeder? You know, the one bird that sits in a nearby tree watching the feeder. As soon as another hummingbird approaches, he swiftly takes aim at the intruding hummingbird. A lot of times this is what happens. There have been other times I've seen the hummingbirds share beautifully, like a ballet in the air, moving in and out, sharing the four feeding spots. Recently I decided to try and do something about the aggressive, selfish hummingbird behavior. It had been a while since I had seen any sharing at all. So this time, before pouring the fresh hummingbird feed into the feeder -- I make it on the stove with 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 cups tap water. Warmed just enough to help melt all the sugar. -- I held the pot between my two hands and thinking in terms of Dr. Emoto's work with examining frozen water crystals. Dr. Emoto would place a word or concept on the outside of the container of water, then freeze it. He then would examine the frozen water crystals under a microscope. He found that words like "peace," "love," or "beauty" would create beautifully symmetric water crystal designs. Water exposed to more negative concepts or feelings would have less symmetric, or distorted designs. So, therefore, my holding of the pot with the hummingbird feed between my hands was an effort to affect the structure, and perhaps the feeling in the water. Surely, hummingbirds are delicate and sensitive creatures, if anyone, they would be affected. I held the pot and thought the words, "harmony," "sharing," "peace," and "cooperation." This way, these positive feelings and emotions would be imbued into the water/feed and then in effect, into the birds themselves. It seemed to certainly work. Almost right away I noticed more than one hummingbird at the feeder. Then at times there would be multiple birds, sometimes four at time at the feeder. I haven't redone the practice again with subsequent feeder refills and it only seems to be slowly wearing off. Perhaps I'll try again and see if there isn't some improvement in their behavior again. In any event, based on my observations, this absolutely affected the hummingbirds behavior in a harmonious and cooperative way.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Problem of Bees at the Hummingbird Feeder

I've been having the problem of too many bees coming to my hummingbird feeder. I find the bees to be non-aggressive, but nevertheless, when the bees become overwhelming they are a nuisance. After all I'm putting the feeder out for the hummingbirds and not the bees. I researched this problem a bit on the internet, but I've found the solutions offered unsatisfactory. Since I have discovered what I consider to be the ideal solution, I am offering it here. As far as I know it is not at all offered by anyone else on the internet or else where.

One of the offered solutions suggest diluting the sugar solution which I'm sure the hummingbirds don't really like. Another solution offered is putting some sort of oil on the feeder, which is objected to because the hummingbirds' delicate wings could be harmed in they come in contact with oil. The final solution is buying a special feeder that prevents the bees from accessing the feed but still allowing the hummingbirds. But I like my feeder, and don't really want to buy a new one. Still others have suggested leaving alternate feed to distract the bees from the feeder.

My solution comes from observing the bees and incidentally making friends with them. One observation is that the bees only come on sunny days. This may have something to do with the fact that the bees navigate by the position of the sun. Also, at least in my case the bees seem to come in the fall and winter, perhaps because there are few flowering plans for them to collect pollen from during those seasons. So, the bee problem is not, to begin with, an everyday problem. Also, I've noticed that even on the sunny days, the bees don't seem to really congregate until late in the afternoon. This maybe due to the positioning of my feeder, which doesn't get direct sunlight until that time. So, what to do on the days that the bees are too populous and need to be dealt with? It is at those times I take the feeder away, gently brushing the bees off.

I'm always very kind to the bees and I've never been stung. Unless in the rare case that you have killer bees (in which case you should call authorities), the bees will allow you to gently brush them off the feeder. I walk with the feeder while brushing them off with my fingertips. Walking with the feeder while I do this seems to disorient them just a bit so that they don't just come back onto the feeder. After making sure all bees are off the feeder, including underneath, I take it inside. There are lots of bees flying a round at this point for a while, hoping the feeder will come back, I suppose. After an hour or so, or at least as it gets closer to sundown, the bees will have most all disappeared. I like to return the feeder before sunset, if I can, to allow the hummingbirds to feed before evening.

You might think that this is not a solution, because you don't want to have to remove the feeder at all. But what I have found is that after a few days of this the bees do not come back in the same numbers again. It is as if the bees, which I believe to be a very intelligent species anyway, learn that if they over-do it, they lose the feeder. They seem to learn that there are limits and don't come back in the same numbers as before. I still allow a small number of bees at the feeder as long as they are not interfering with the hummingbirds much. But I think a few bees are acceptable, and this offers a very balanced solution to the problem. In fact, I feel very happy with the results so far.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Blessing of a Peaceful Home

There is so much to be thankful for when sitting outside, listening to the birds and the gentle wind chimes. The branches of the tress all waving as if to say "Hi, look at me!" They sky is blue with wispy clouds. It is a peaceful day.

I filled the hummingbird feeder up just a few days ago. Already it is more the half empty. I no longer live at the trout farm, by the creek, so I don't have as many hummingbirds here at my new home. But, hummingbirds nevertheless. I wonder if there population will grow as I continue to feed them this summer?

A few days ago there was a leak underground in the back yard. Consequently I had to make adjustments to the water valve of the irrigation system. The valve is located in a water utility box in the ground. When I opened the green the first time I was surprised to see a Black Widow Spider living underneath the cover. I decided it was fine to just let her be there, and after I made my adjustments to the water valve I just closed the lid back up again.

A few more occasions occurred when I had to open the box again. I would do so gently to not disturb the spider, and gently place it back again after making the valve adjustments. Then one day, I went to open the cover and to my surprise there was no spider any longer. But there along the edge of the box was a frog. It was kind of a surprise. Then it made me wonder: Did the frog eat the spider? Or did the spider turn into a frog?

It is truly a blessing to be in our nature sanctuaries. There are events unfolding and stories to be told that we might never see if we are too busy. This is where I like to dwell.

Friday, August 22, 2008

From Feral to Domestic Kitten

A few days ago a little kitten appeared outside my window, visible from where I sit to use my computer. Not a big surprise since I was aware of a litter of kitten being born underneath the house next door. But as months passed by the kittens had either been taken in by the owner or other neighbors, but this one seemed to be left. It looked neglected and underfed. Its fur was ruffled. So, I felt that I had to do something and feed the kitty. I began by offering it some turkey sandwich meat. He was really reluctant as from birth the mother cat and kittens have been scared of people. So, I didn't know how long of a task it would be to coax the kitten inside.

The next day I had gotten some cat food from the grocery store and I took the food on a little saucer outside. I figured I would sit nearby as the kitten came up to eat so it would get used to me. It didn't take too long, just a few minutes he skittishly and cautiously came up to eat. I didn't see much of him for the rest of that day. The next day, sometime around noon I saw the kitten outside again. I was out and had just gotten home. I left my front door open thinking this time I would sit by the door and get the kitten to come closer to the door and eat. I prepared the saucer of food and turned to the door. But to my surprise I saw the kitten come in. I was like "wow!" and decided to sit down a few feet inside the door to feed him. I sat cross legged on the floor with the food just in front of me. This was the closest we had gotten to each other. I remember at one point he look up at me and saw my face close up and was a bit startled. He was still hungry after that serving so I prepared another dish for him. This time I put the food down in the kitchen area to draw him in away from the front door. He came in to eat which gave me the opportunity to close the door. After eating he was a bit upset that he was closed in and complained the way a cat would typically do when wanting to go outside. I decided to keep him in to get him used to being around me. I would have let him back out if it had seemed he was getting too upset, but actually he began to settle in and get more comfortable. I decided to keep him in for the night. Everything was good to bring him in, except I still hadn't made litter box arrangements yet.

That morning I opened the door a bit and picked him up. He didn't want to be held, so ran outside for a bit. But to my surprise he defecated on the lawn and tidily covered it over with his front paws. Then promptly came back in! I was so pleased as the kitten was obviously wanting to be with me, or at least sensing the food and care I could provide. At this point I wasn't clear about what I was going to do about the kitten toileting question. Cats in my family in the past have always gone outside and I though I would like for this kitten to learn to go outside as well. So, we were off to a good start. He began to really settle in and found a safe place to be under the bathroom sink vanity cabinet. The is a perfect hole for the plumbing in the back on the side for him to slip in there. He doesn't like for me to open the cabinet door and check on him, and I allow this to be his private place where he can go and be safe. In the meantime I used feeding times to start petting, touching and even sometimes picking up the kitten. I found he's really very gentle and sweet. Never clawing at me or trying to bite me. His main defense is to run away and hide during the skittish moments. I fixed a towel for him to lay on and be comfortable in his cabinet.

Overnight that night, still not giving enough thought to the litter box, I was woken up with him meowing, obviously needing something. He needed to go outside to defecate so I decided to pick him up and take him outside to the patio. I was hoping he would use a sandy spot next to a tree out there. I put him down, but instead he was freaked out and ran all around the patio. I chased him hoping not to let him get away, but he did. He was gone for the rest of the night. The next day I looked for him when I could and he appeared again later that afternoon. I had to go through the whole process of coaxing him back in again with the food. It took a little while to get him all the way in and so that I could close the door. We did sit for a long while with the door open. He was free to run away but I kept talking to him in a kind and friendly voice, saying it's okay. You can come in. Lots of patience was needed to build enough trust. Eventually he was comfortable with being in. I closed the door. He was a bit upset as before, but soon settled in once again. I fed him plenty of food and he was able to just sleep comfortably without worry whenever he wanted. I think he realized he was onto a good thing. He also spent lots of time observing me.

Again that night, he didn't wake me up meowing, but he made a mess on my meditation mat. The mat is black and I was able to pick it up and clean it off outside, so that wasn't such a bad thing. I went to Target and got all the litter box supplies that day. I had pretty much realized that going outside wasn't the best idea. It was as if I had to start all over again if he was outside for any length of time. And in order to make him a good domesticated cat, I would need to just keep him inside at least for now. Therefore, the litter box is a necessity. I found a pine litter, most are a type of clay, but I really liked the pine (Feline Pine is the brand name). I worried that he wouldn't like it because it wasn't in granules like sand, but long little pellets. He missed once in the bathroom where I put it. But then I put the litter box right on the spot where he went and he has been using it ever since! What a smart kitty!

He's still as skittish as ever when people come by to visit. He is only used to me so far, but then again it has still only been a few weeks. I'm really pleased with the progress the kitten has made so far. I haven't even named him yet. Feeding times have also been times for play and petting and he easily rubs against my legs and presses his forehead against me. He will even roll over on his back and show me his tummy. He's growing fast and filling out a bit now. His fur is less ruffled and his spine is less boney feeling now when I pet him. I wasn't planning on having a cat, but as my friend Linda says, the cat has chosen me. He seems quite happy with his new home, as I am happy to care for my new companion.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Abundant Hummingbirds

Now that I've settle along the creek for a spell my hummingbird feeder is as active as ever. If I stayed on my toes, I could refill the 2+ cup feeder 2-3 times a day. But I'm not always around that much, so they have to go part of the day without. Generally I like to feed them in the evening so that they can have some left over for the morning. Even when empty, there is seemingly a constant parade of hummingbirds coming to see if there is any feed. Yesterday morning they came to the feeder still in my hand before I could get out the door.

No signs of any aggressive hummingbirds now. There is just a free flow of nice ones. I'm grateful.

Summer in oak creek canyon is very nice and close to nature. A walk to go swimming in the creek gives rise to stopping to enjoy some wild blackberries. All the elements are strong and bold in the fullness of summer right now. Abundant air and sun. Water is cold and refreshing. The earth element livens the senses with sights, smells and sounds. Sing a lullaby sweet summer nature elements. I freely escape the otherwise harsh human world into your lovely songs of nature.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Hot Air Pop Corn Popper

I recently bought a "Windmere" hot air popcorn popper that I found used at the local Goodwill. I had been looking for one for a while and found them in short supply at ordinary department stores. It made me wonder, do they make pop corn poppers anymore? So, when I found this used one I decided that was the one.

The hot air popper has the advantage of not using oil and cleanup is almost non-existent. The only problem is that upon first use, despite using the plastic hood that normally would direct the popcorn down into the serving bowl, the popcorn was ending up all over the kitchen. Also, many of the unpopped kernels made it out of the popper early on. Upon subsequent popping attempts I used a cloth napkin fastened at the end of the hood to contain the popping corn and direct it into the bowl. This worked much better.

Of course any health benefit of cooking popcorn dry is mitigated by the drenching of melted butter and salt onto the popcorn. YUM!