Winged Jewels and Flower Kissers

Hummingbirds

I have always been entranced with Hummingbirds, those iridescent jewels of the air. They dazzle the beholder in their almost seemingly abrupt emergence from nowhere. These tiny creatures are almost magical as they perform feats of the seemingly impossible while seeking out sources of nectar in our gardens and feeders.

It always takes me by surprise every time I see one; darting across the yard, its wings going a mile a minute. I feel the quick energy emitting from its diminutive body. You can never get used to seeing such a spectacle. I am in awe of this tiny life and I cannot take my eyes off it. This sense of wonderment stays with me long after it has darted off again.

There are approximately 320 species of Hummingbird. All are New World birds; existing only in The Americas. Their range extends from Alaska to Chile with the greatest concentration living near the equator.  (See →List of Species of Hummingbirds)

History

Huitzilopochtli The Aztec Hummingbird god

Native Peoples throughout the Americas have been intrigued with Hummingbirds since the beginning. The Taíno People of The Caribbean and Florida, the first people to meet Columbus in the New World believed the Hummingbird was “The spreader of life on Earth”.  Hummingbirds became known as “Doctor birds” a name that is still used today in the West Indies.  Hummingbirds figured prominently in the religion of the Aztecs. Their most powerful god was Huitzilopochtli whose name meant Hummingbird sorcerer that spits fire.  Aztec warriors were thought to be reincarnated as these jeweled birds. Hummers also figure prominently in the lore of the Hopi Indians and the Pueblo Peoples of the arid southwest who believed the bird brought them much-needed rain.

Hummingbirds also impressed the Europeans. Tales of the winged jewels reached Europe through early naturalists such as John Lawson and John James Audubon who observed that “The Hummingbird does not shun mankind as other birds do”.

There is truth to this statement as many can attest to. Hummers are known to be intelligent creatures with excellent memories.

Awesome Aerialists

Hummingbirds are masters of hovering flight: suspending themselves stationary in the air, without the aid of wind or thermal updraft; beating their wings backward and forward at the rate of 20-80 times a second. This accounts for the bird’s namesake “humming” sound. They can instantly accelerate in any direction and even fly upside down.

Winged Jewels and Flower Kissers

Hummingbirds are pollinators and some plants have evolved for bird pollination. They have certain characteristics in common, which either attract birds or deter competitors such as bees or butterflies.

Hummingbird flowers are usually large trumpet-shaped flowers. They mostly have no scent as hummers have no sense of smell.  These birds are specialists and have developed bills for their favorites. These hummingbird flowers are found only in areas where breeding hummers have had enough time to exert selective evolutionary pressure on the plants.  The number and variety of these flowers decrease the farther north one goes.

It has been widely known that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red whether this is entirely true is up for debate. Some have suggested that the birds are blind to the blue end of the spectrum and neglect blue flowers in favor of the more visible red ones. It is known the bees, a competitor for nectar are blind to the red end of the spectrum, adding to this theory.

This has been studied with many concluding that hummers learn from trial and error which flowers offer the best sources of nectar at a given time in the season. They will go to those flowers regardless of color.

Interestingly enough most of the flowers in North America that attract hummingbirds are red. Bringing up the theory of convergent evolution, whereby a variety of plants have adopted the very same solution as in how to attract the beautiful birds.  Red stands out against a backdrop of mostly green serving as a sort of advertisement to migrating hummers so they can quickly determine sources of nectar from unfamiliar plants.

Hummingbird Feeders

Hummingbirds are constantly pushing the envelope and extending their range northward. The proliferation of feeders seems to be the primary reason.  Feeders provide hummers with a rich food source while natural sources are not yet in bloom.

Some biologists view this supplemental feeding with some reservation. Feeders can expose hummers to unnatural predation, disease or other dangers. The feeders need to be kept clean and supplied with the correct sugar solution. There is no need to buy commercial mixes. Hummers get their nutrients from natural sources of nectar and from the insects they eat to supplement their diet.

Rufous hummingbird

Exert from:  Hummingbird.net

Penny Elliston, a licensed hummingbird rehabilitator, wrote about the dangers of relying too heavily on commercial mixes.

“Please, do not put honey, Jell-O, brown sugar, fruit, or red food coloring in your feeder! Honey ferments rapidly when diluted with water and can kill hummingbirds. The effects of red dye have not been not scientifically tested, and it is not necessary to color the water to attract birds to your feeder. Further, there are unverified reports that red dye can cause tumors in hummingbirds; this may or may not be true, but why take the chance?”

The recipe for artificial nectar:

  1. Use one part ordinary white cane sugar to four parts water.
  2. It’s not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don’t come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.
  3. Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

This mixture approximates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds, without being so sweet it attracts too many insects.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Unless you are prepared to keep the feeder clean and supplied with the correct solution please do not use a feeder. Instead consider planting a hummingbird garden.

Hummingbird Gardens 

Hummingbirds need a mix of sun and shade and a source of clean water. Many of the plants that attract them also attract butterflies and beneficial insects.  Please do not use pesticides!  This will harm the birds and kill off the insects they depend on.

It is wise to find out which hummingbirds visit your area and plant accordingly.  Here is a List of plants that feed and attract Hummingbirds to get you started.

Anna’s Hummingbird

With careful observation you will get to know which plants they prefer.  The Anna’s Hummingbird’s that frequent my garden love the pineapple sage that is a stunning feature at this time of year.

The plants that attract Hummers also attract butterflies and beneficial insects. Planting a hummingbird garden is a win-win situation for all.

Conclusion

Hummingbirds, in my opinion are a wonder of nature. They are beautiful as well as strong. They are excellent fliers and never cease to amaze me.  We in the Americas should consider ourselves lucky to have these wonderful birds.  Flower kissers, winged gems, rays of the sun or just plain hummers; whatever you call them, I call these iridescent jewels of the sky SPECTACULAR.

Strawberryindigo.

References and suggested reading:

Welcoming Wildlife to the Garden” © 2004 by Catherine J. Johnson, Susan McDiarmid and Edward R. Turner

“The World of the Hummingbird” © 1999 by Harry Thurston

Hummingbird Images-Copyright free

World of Hummingbirds (Website)

Hummingbirds.net (Website)

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INSPIRATION

Karen H. from Midlife Chronicles was kind enough to bestow unto me…

THE INSPIRING AWARD

This is an honor and a surprise…

THANK YOU KAREN H. 

Karen H. is an inspirational one. In her blog Midlife Chronicles she is navigating midlife with wine, laughter and a twist of wry.  She also is a terrific writer who writes about commonplace events but makes it her own and breathes life into her words.  I highly recommend reading her blog.  Here and here are two posts to get you started.

The rules of this award were not passed down to me but that is quite alright since I’m not much for rules.  I do like to give credit where credit is due and definitely recognition.  In my wanderings around the WordPress universe I have run into many different kinds of blogs and writers.  Most are passionate about what they write, some are quite talented and a few have drawn me in whether it be by superb writing or by the personality of the writer. (or both) It is these that I visit on a regular basis and my list grows slowly but grow it does. New on my list is Marc Marrs’ Brown Eyed Music.

Marc is not only just a writer among other things, he is a songwriter and musican as well.

I have always admired songwriters. They are a rare breed. It takes a unique individual to straddle the two worlds of word and melody. To master these worlds and bring them to a colorful fruition takes a rare talent that most do not possess.

Music is important. It calms and soothes, it entertains and amuses. Music makes us feel the heights of ecstasy and the depths of despair. Music dares us to dream and music inspires.

Marc is following his dreams and that is inspiring to me, that is why I am awarding him THE INSPIRING BLOG AWARD. 

Marc Marrs is versatile and full of surprises.   He also writes movie reviews that are quite good. Stop by his blog Brown Eyed Music.

Give a listen to his Classical Trilogy to hear Middle Earth come to life or read his take on The Man of Steel himself; Superman and see ( and hear too) what I mean.

Wishing you an inspiring day!

Strawberryindigo.

Amuse me

I am big on childish fun. I live for it, so when I got the chance to visit the local amusement park recently, I jumped on it.  Who doesn’t need a little fun and amusement every once in a while?

My daughter still allows me to accompany her to places such as this and amazingly at 14, she doesn’t seem as embarrassed by my presence as she should be.  Maybe this is because I am a totally hip and happening middle-aged woman who is a laugh a minute and loads of fun to hang out with?  Could it be that she is a kind soul who takes pity on her poor fun-starved mother…maybe it’s because I’m springing for junky carnival food and deluxe ride braclets?

Oaks Amusement Park is a quaint old-fashioned little park nestled among the trees in Sellwood, minutes from downtown Portland Oregon.  Built in 1905 its sign proudly proclaims: “This is the place where the fun never ends…..”

This is the place for me!

Our fun started with greasy super bad for you corn dogs, loaded with fat and cholesterol and smothered with happy yellow mustard, accompanied by a nice tall cola, bubbling over with corn syrupy goodness.  We sat in the sun and slurped up our unhealthy booty in silence.   Aspie style, enjoying each others presence but not needing a lot of words.

After having our fill we did a short walkabout around the park. Mentally mapping out our itinerary.

THE SPIDER

We decided since we had just eaten all that junky food we should immediately go on The Spider; a ride that takes you way up in the air and spins you around.

This perhaps may not have been the smartest move…I realised this when we were dangling on top of the ride suspended in mid-air and all I could hear was blood curdling screaming:  My daughter kept repeating over and over “It’s okay Mother, (she calls me Mother to annoy me)  stop screaming. You are making my brain hurt.”  And her brain did hurt and so did mine for the entire ride…

And then we were off to something a bit more my speed so I could relax and get my bearings before the next round.

AHHHHH!!! Not this ride!!!
No Way!! I am a chicken, not THIS one either!
AHHHH…This one is better. 🙂
A very relaxing train ride.
miniature golf waterfall
Little kids roller coaster we were too tall to ride.
Americana at it’s best.
This happy girl makes it all worthwhile.

Occupy The Hilton

I must confess that I have a strong streak of justice running through me coupled with some liberal leanings and a twist of rebellion. I guess I’m just wired that way and at times I am strangely compelled to engage in highly compassionate acts. I am also compelled to “give it to the man” from time to time, so when these pastimes collide,  I reach a sort of nirvana that can stay with me for weeks.

Keeping this in mind, I know it will be of no surprise to you that I have recently joined the occupy movement. Well not actually the occupy movement per se… frankly all those occupyists scare me a bit but they do inspire me. I have taken it upon myself to engage in my own impromptu occupation.

Remember those 1% people, those horrible rich people; the ones who are responsible for all the evil in the world?  Those nameless, faceless masses of corporate conglomeration…

I think they need to be sent a lesson that we the 99% are not taking it anymore and that we are fighting back until the playing field is more level.  And we, well, I will be occupying a symbol of their opulence and greed… and what better place to occupy that than the penthouse suite of the Hilton?

I know you are thinking this plan may be a wee bit on the radical side. I agree but I cannot see any other way to bring attention to my, our cause.  I feel that I could become an inspiration to all the overworked and overlooked huddled masses yearning to breathe free. (Isn’t America great!)

I will have to make the sacrifice and live among those nasty one percenters and I will do so until all my comrades on the street, all the neglected, the poor, the tired and rejected and the rest of humanity (plus some select cats) get to live in the same luxury as we Hilton dwellers.

I will point out at this point that I am willing to make further sacrifices and I am an easy sell-out and not above blatant bribery. Any nicer hotel in the Portland area will do. (imagine the great publicity this hotel would get…hint, hint)

I’m planning on staging a sort of John Lennonish bed-in with signs and reporters minus the Ono (sorry Yoko)  and Amsterdam (sorry me) to protest all the unfairness in the world. I will sing songs of love and peace and do it all in my P.J’s and take naps on the side. (I hear the beds are super comfy)

Of course it won’t be easy. I will have to live off room service and will have to find somewhere to go each day while my suite is being cleaned.  I suppose I will have to use the spa and the pool and watch some pay per view movies…I am prepared for these eventual sacrifices..very prepared.

My list of demands are as follows:

  • 24 hour room service
  • Maid service with nightly tuck down and Andes mints on my pillow.
  • A nice white terry plush robe.
  • Ritzy rich people stuff from the gift shop
  • Giant fruit baskets and exotic root beers from all over he world
  • A wireless connection
  • A superb view of the city
  • Jacuzzi
  • Free coffee and baby soaps
  • Decedent chocolate desserts
  • Complementary newspapers
  • Free domestic calls
  • Laundry service
  • And most importantly; a breakfast buffet with a yummy omelet station……No I mean equality for all and omelets too!

Unlike other protests and protestors, there will be no drum circle, or mobs of angry people blocking the street. There will be a minimum of noise, perhaps some light jazz or classical music playing in the background. There will be no damage inflicted anywhere or mess to clean up; just a few damp towels, empty bottles of bubble bath and the traces of many chocloate desserts left behind.

I do not think I am being unreasonable here. It will be a win-win situation for us all.

Frankly and honestly…At this point I don’t care if it’s a Motel 6 with a private bath and a vending machine outside the door.  What really matters is the principle of the thing.

I need a vacation..I mean, we the people need a vaction and equality too and all that good stuff.

And so this very weekend I will showing up at the Hilton, bags in hand, ready for my protest.  You may join my protest..just show up at the nicest hotel in town with your demands..tell them Strawberryindigo sent you and have your visa card ready…

HAPPY PROTESTING!!!

Strawberryindigo.

Waiting for The Sun

Here in rainy Oregon The Sun has become a reclusive and exclusive celebrity showing its dazzling brilliance only in limited amounts.

Phone calls have not been returned and it’s agent could not be reached for comment. Sources close to the star are suggesting a contract dispute might be behind this unusual behavior.  It is widely known in certain spheres that The Sun has been dissatisfied with working conditions lately: low, really no pay, overworking in one area but underworking in another, no vacation time or health benefits.  The sun has had it some say. But these are just rumors. What we need are cold hard facts.

Experts have been called in and a good number of them blame the clouds, saying it is they who block out the sun.  Many agree and this seems to be the general consensus. But there are some who disagree; a few have blamed the upcoming zombie apocalypse. Some have mentioned it could be the work of terrorists and one obvious lunatic has cited something called “Global Warming” as the cause.

All agree the situation has become dire and the mayor has put together a commission to study this phenomena.

Meanwhile the soggy citizens in the city of Portland are indoors; pressed up against the windows wishing and yearning and Waiting for the Sun.  Moss covered and sullen, NW gardeners are is in dismay; creeping around from bush to bush with a frown–in the city of roses the roses are down battered by pelting rain and blowing wind….have I mentioned that this is early July?

The local meteorologists seem worried and look as guilty as can be, it is as if they are responsible.  They keep telling us that summer is just around the corner, they mention forecasts for sunny days–always five days away.

My son is as pale as a ghost and my daughter is too, they seem to like it that way but they don’t know any better. I suppose I should be grateful, many places in the world would love all this rain and the lush green growth that results from it. (think moss) I am grateful really but I can’t help but think we are getting more than our fair share of moisture and our elusive sun problem is someone else’s elusive rain problem.  Too bad we cannot share the wealth a little…

And so while My fellow Portlanders and I pull out our summer sweaters, put another log on the fire and gaze out the window expectantly for you know who, we will be grateful for what we have–every drop of it.

Happy Summer!!!

Strawberryindigo.

HELLO

Fresh Quotes: JULY (Truth)

T R U T H

“Whenever truth is injured, defend it.”

**Ralph Waldo Emerson (1834)**

“Every truth has two sides: It is well to look at both before we commit ourselves to either.” 

**Aesop ( 6th century B.C.)**

“The truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind.”

**Emily Dickinson (1868)**

“The truth is not always the best basis for happiness… there are people who perish when their eyes are opened.”

** William Stekel (1868-1940)**

“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

“We live in a culture that would absolutely fall apart if the truth were told.”

**R.D. Lang (1987)**

“ONLY CHILDREN, FOOLS, DRUNKARDS AND MADMEN SPEAK THE TRUTH.”

**Anonymous**

“You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

**Jesus ( John 8:32)**

BOO!!!

“Truth sometimes comes out of the devil’s mouth.”

**Thomas Fuller M.D.  (1732)**
“Bring it on!”

I used to say when I was young that truth was the majority vote of that nation that could lick all the others.”

**Oliver Wendell Holmes JR (1918)**
“Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth.”

**Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1889)**

“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”

**Walt Whitman (1855-92)**

A Beautiful Award

 

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?”

 **Lennon-McCartney**
 
 One of my all-time favorite bloggers and people is Cathy and when she graciously nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award  I was very pleased. What a fitting award coming from someone who is such a beautiful person herself.

Thank you Cathy!

Cathy’s site Words and Herbs (I love that name) is a sight to behold. Stunning photos, lovely words and inventive and completely natural yummy recipes.  Cathy is well versed in plant knowledge and lore. Her posts are always informative as well as enjoyable and definitely beautiful. I can’t say enough good things about Cathy and Words and Herbs.
I would highly recommend visiting her site.  It is well worth it.
There are rules that go along with receiving the award but Cathy and I know that some people are put off by them. I count myself among these people. In my humble opinion there are already too many rules in this world and this is supposed to be fun. It supposed to be a networking event; for getting a little recognition for having a good blog, perhaps upping the traffic a bit…
In the wise words of Cathy…”Accepting this award is purely a matter of choice – there is absolutely no obligation!”
 
That being said (whew) what follows are the rules for those that do like them:
~Thank the person who nominated you and link back to them~Nominate 7, 6, or fewer blogs that you enjoy~Notify the nominees by posting a comment on each of their sites with a link back to yours. Write a post to commemorate the event and paste the award image somewhere on your blog for the world to admire.
 
 
 THE WINNERS are…
  A Nature Mom: Encouraging outdoor play and exploring the wonders of nature… every day!   A Nature Mom realises the importance of nature in a child’s life.  There should be more blogs and moms like this. Beautiful all around.
 Mirth and Motivation: Motivate. Elevate. Laugh. Live Positively…  This blog promises and delivers. Beautiful, interesting and motivating for sure.
 
I would reccommend these two beautiful blogs for anyone needing some interesting and uplifting reading.
Happy Blogging!
Strawberryindigo.