A relatively easy way to bring wildlife to your yard or apartment window is to get a hummingbird feeder. There are many styles of feeders available. Ours hangs from a branch in the middle of our vegetable garden, but you can hang them from plant hangers right outside your windows, as well. You can also get ones that stake into the ground or suction cup to windows if you don't have a place for a hanger. A quick Internet search will reveal the hundreds of options available, but I recommend taking a trip to your local garden center to find one. The folks who work there will likely be knowledgeable about local hummingbirds and will be able to help you choose the feeder that's best for you. If you want a fancy hand-blown glass feeder, you can also find those in local gift shops.
Most experts recommend setting feeders up by mid-May here in New England, so you may not get any visitors if you do it now. You never know, though. I only set ours up last weekend and the steady flow of hummers started a day later. If you live in another part of the country or overseas, the feeding times will likely be different than here. In tropical areas you can feed them year-round. At a year-round feeder in Ecuador, a hummer landed on my finger when I stood very still nearby.
Kids love to watch these tiny birds zip around the yard and dip into the feeders to eat. Once hummers start visiting your feeder, your kids will be able to notice patterns in their feeding times. Challenge them to predict when the birds will come. I snapped my photos yesterday by sitting very quietly around the time when I knew the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds would arrive. Sure enough, minutes later, there they were.
If your kids are also inclined, they could start keeping a nature journal in which they record how many hummers they see, when they see them, how long they stay, what flowers they visit etc. (FYI...Hummers are especially drawn to red, tube-shaped flowers. Planting those in your garden will increase your hummingbird visitors. In our yard, cleome, and later trumpet vines, are the big draw). Artistically inclined kids can do their best to draw them. If the birds move too fast to draw, ask kids to draw the hummers' flight patterns using squiggly or dotted lines. Encourage linguistic learners to write poems or descriptions of the birds. More active kids can emulate the hummers quick movements with their bodies or create a dance that represents their movements. Have a musician on your hands? Have him compose a short song that captures the feeling of the hummers' movements. The possibilities are endless. Break out of the traditional school-like kind of responses and have fun!
By watching closely over a period of time, kids can make their own inferences about hummingbird behavior and then supplement their learning with books or articles. I strongly encourage you to let your children explore, observe, and make inferences before you go to "expert" resources. I am a writer, so I value books tremendously, but this blog focuses on "mucking about" to learn things on your own, first, after all! When you are ready for more information, here are some books you might try:
Do any of you have hummingbird feeders? Where do you live? Have they been active this year? Do you know what species you've been seeing? What strategies have you found work for attracting them to your yard? Do you have a book to recommend? Please share.
This weekend, my husband and I went to see Beautiful (the Carol King story) at The Boston Opera House.
It was a cold night, and we planned to walk to dinner and then back to the theater, so I opted to wear this gorgeous cape made by my mom. I don’t wear it often, but it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
Mom made this cape for me at my request many years ago. The inspiration: the cape Tim Curry wore when he played Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers. Sure, he was a bad guy, but his cape was fabulous. I mean, no-one could make an exit like the Cardinal when he whipped that cape around.
We had a wonderful night—delicious dinner, gorgeous theater, and inspiring show. My mom used to play Carol King when I was growing up, but I didn’t know her story.
I was in nearby New Bedford, MA with my kids yesterday for their music lessons. Normally, I go upstairs with them in this wonderful old factory that has been converted to studio spaces, but yesterday was sunny and nearly 60 F (15.5 C) so I opted to stay outside in the sun. Eventually I decided to lie down and this is what I saw. It immediately made me think of Dublin.
I realized that I don’t look at the sky here as much as I did in Dublin. I always watched the rushing clouds and the changing color of the sky. If you’ve been following me long enough, you probably remember the many sky photos I posted.
Why don’t I do that here? I think it’s because the sky is a piece of nature I could always see, no matter where I was in Dublin. I could be surrounded by buildings and look up. Here in Southeast Massachusetts, I’m surrounded by nature. Somehow that has translated to me not looking up as much. I should change that.
When is told my family about this over dinner they all knew what I was talking about before I had even explained it. My daughter commented that we were always looking at the sky between the buildings at Clancy Quay (where we lived). It’s funny how this all became clear to me because I looked up yesterday.
Also, I miss Dublin.
#nature #rurallife #citylife
The weather was spectacular today. After school, my daughter and I took a hike in the woods and had fun taking photos with the setting sun. That’s me in the first photo. I balance-beamed out to the end of that fallen tree. (The ice was not safe). #nofilter #playoutside #nature
From Thursday to Sunday, I was at a writing retreat in Vermont. I find being among other book creators so inspiring that I often lose track of time and forget to go outside. Either I’m engaged in meaningful conversations about books or off on my own writing.
Today, between appointments and other commitments, I claimed a much-needed hour outside to hike, write, and reflect on my weekend.
#amwriting #nofilter #latergram
Just finished Finding Langston by @lclineransome Started bf bed last night. Had to finish this morning. Don’t be fooled by it’s slimness. It packs a whole lot of love and pain and beauty into 104 pages. Passing it to my daughter to read. #KidLit
Bog views from my walk today. #RochesterLife #nature
Went to see @katwrightkatwright @narrowscenter last night. Great show and excellent venue. Added bonus: I got to see @painternik9 show again. It’s a bit surreal to attend a concert and see illustrations from our book hanging in the gallery just outside the concert room. #FlyingDeep #livemusic
It was 20 degrees below zero F with the wind chill in New Hampshire yesterday. That didn’t stop my friend and I from taking a walk or our kids from going sledding and cross country skiing. One friend even snowshoed most of the way up Tenney Mountain. We were all fine once we bundled up. The sleds didn’t fare as well, though.
I’d like to say it’s much warmer back here in southeastern Massachusetts, but it isn’t. Brrrr. (That’s me in the purple coat, by the way).
Want to learn an instrument in the New Year? My son @dantecusolito is accepting students for guitar, ukulele, and bass. He teaches ages 5 through adult. All lessons happen at 88 Hatch St. (Hatch Street Studios) in New Bedford, MA. Please share this with anyone you know who might be interested.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. @southcoastlessons
It’s not all airplanes all the time over here. Sometimes @dantecusolito takes a break from building planes to build a ski bike.
Now if we would only get some snow...