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Hummingbirds~


I can’t believe I finally got a photo of a hummingbird’s forked tongue! I have never captured the fork at the end of the tongue because it typically springs open once a hummer inserts her tongue in a flower. But here it is, for us to see!

We have somewhere around 70 or more hummers at The Holler now, so we are getting lots of very bright color. Hummers flash their colors at will, sometimes as warnings when sparring. This guy was caught at dusk, flashing away to keep intruders at bay.


Once a year, at peak swarm, I feed the hummers by hand. I only do it once, for about an hour because I don’t want the hummers to become tame, thinking all humans can be trusted, because unfortunately, as we all know, some humans should not be trusted.
By the way, the white dust you see on this hummer’s beak is pollen.


I saw this photo that went viral awhile ago, where a woman was photographed, with a hummingbird drinking nectar out of her mouth. People loved it, but it bothered me. Did the photographer consider how tiny and wild hummingbirds are? Did he consider how easily this woman’s viral and bacterial load could kill hummingbirds? Did they think about how taming a wild hummingbird, for a photo, through nectar offering, and then withholding, might lead a migrating hummingbird to harm at the hands of humans?

Garden nectar feeder stations have brought seriously declining hummingbird populations back to healthy numbers. Handled responsibly, garden feeders are important for hummingbird population survival. But taming wild birds that migrate, to perform tricks, isn’t helping hummingbird survival.


Taking these photos is very difficult. I have a tripod, but don’t ever use it. Why have a stationary camera in a moving world? Wild animals don’t find this interesting. So, I hold the feeder with my left hand and take the photo with my right. After about 10 minutes this starts to hurt!


Thankfully my son volunteered to hold the feeder.

The Holler hummers do know us and have learned to trust us. As mentioned a few stay year round and others return annually. Wherever they stay when they migrate south for the winter, they survive and thrive. Maybe they hang out in a garden in Central America where a bird lover keeps their feeders going and the hummers happy!


Cheers to you from the incredible, wild, and much-loved, Holler Hummers~

Les chats du toit de Strasbourg~

Strasbourg’s cats live on steep rooftops,

rest on high windowsills,

sleep on chimney tops,

stalk pigeons on ridgelines, and enter and exit their homes via high rooftop windows.
They notice, eventually, the biped with telephoto, and I could see it shocked them, to be watched so quietly, so intently, like they watch everything.

Lucky felines. No bipedal landlubbing for these cool-cats.

They much prefer looking down on mere humans.


Of course, some poor cats have yet to claim their rooftop-aeries,


and have to settle for schlepping down-low with humans.

Cheers to you from all the cool cats~

Egyptian Quackers in Germany~


Is there anything more winsome than newly hatched Egyptian goslings?

Mama is quite a beauty too!

Germany has a wonderful selection of exotic birds swimming in their lakes and rivers.

Egyptian Geese originated in the Nile Valley and Africa, and were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians who first domesticated them.

People bought these geese as ornamental birds and many escaped, establishing feral colonies all over Western Europe.

I saw these beauties swimming in The Neckar River in Heidelberg during my April trip.

Cheers to you from The Holler, and from the hopefully, still-happily paddling geese in Germany~

Hummer’s Mean Home: Part I (Perching)~


Coming home means hanging out with the hummers.

I don’t worry about them when I’m gone.

I just miss them.

My husband, the actual-factual, logical-biostatistician, said incredulously, “They fly up to me like they missed me.”

He’s not used to thinking like this,


but he can’t help noticing such obvious birdy behavior.

Speaking of birdy behavior, we are having a problem this year.

The snoozing little capitalist you see above is dominating two quart-sized feeders and relentlessly attacking and driving all hummers off who try to feed. He spends more time hoarding nectar than feeding and snoozes all the time because he’s exhausted from all his effort. Of course he can’t even begin to drink this much nectar!

You can see him perched on the wire above the feeder, waiting to attack any bird that dares to drink! We have three feeders now spaced far apart to control him, one in a bush that is impossible for him to monitor, but when I shut one of “his” feeders down, he goes to dominate another. We have never had such a greedy little guy and he reigns unchallenged. I hope he’s not learning this behavior from watching humans! 😉


Cheers to you from the harmonious Holler Hummers….(and the one little greedy guy)~

Hummer’s Mean Home: Part II (Flying)~


If you read Part I, you know about the greedy little capitalist. Above is one of his victims with a feather askew from a direct hit!

Here is another escaping his wrath.

The good news is, moving one of the greedy guy’s feeders into the bushes worked, and he is now under control.

Birds are feeding and flying freely once again at The Holler.


We now have three feeders up and about twenty birds actively feeding. This is less than prior years, probably because the persistent drought has ended, and The Holler and all the surrounding orchards are abloom with flowers, giving the hummers lots of dining options.

The orioles and Grosbeaks are here at the feeders too, also in smaller numbers for the same reason.

So once again, peace and harmony reigns at The Holler!


Cheers to you from The Holler’s Harmonious Hummers~

Drifting on Still Water~


“But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful,” WB Yeats

Swans swim,

in synchronized,


silhouettes.


Mama delicately rolls her precious eggs,


to keep them evenly warm,

and plucks her feathers to tuck them in.

Black swan,

slides in singular grace,


while Narcissus is bewitched by his own reflection.
Cheers to you from European swans in springtime~

Saker Falcon~


Saker Falcons live in Austria, Eastern Europe and Asia, including Russia.

They are considered an endangered bird due to rapid population declines in their Asian breeding grounds.

They are a large falcon species,
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that prey mostly on rodents and other birds.

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Sakers often hunt horizontally like Kestrels, not vertically like Peregrines.
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I watched a Saker swoop down on an unsuspecting pigeon, but my presence, in response to the pigeon cries, called off the hunt!
Cheers to you from the remarkable and endangered Saker Falcons~
(Note: These photos were taken in raptor reserves in Europe)