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.
I had a book event on Saturday morning, but then I was back to slinging hay bales on my parents’ farm at 4 pm. But hey, (haha... get it...) this is all fodder for a work in progress. #authorlife #rurallife
Some photos from yesterday’s storytime event at @belmontbooks featuring @painternik9 @joshfunkbooks @melissastewartscience & @skortch
Happy Birthday Belmont Books! Thanks for having us.
#booksellers #kidlit #kidlitart
Lovely to be greeted by this sign during my school visit to Rochester Memorial School today. Special thanks to Mrs. Sollauer for having me and to Miss Lisa for making the Dumbo Octopus for me.
I love being with kids to share my book. I always come away wishing I had more time with them.
Side note: a girl who was at @bn_dartmouth tonight got me to tell a story she heard me tell during my school visit at Center School last month. (Hint: it involves a shark). #FlyingDeep
#nonfiction #kidlit #STEAM #STEM
I finally picked up my pre-ordered copy of The Brilliant Deep, a non-fiction picture book by @katemessner I love this cover SO much, I had to take a photo in the sunshine to try to show the shimmery accents. The art throughout the book is stunning.
Kate tells the story of a Ken Nedimyer’s work to save dying coral reefs in clear text that is sure to engage readers. She also uses science words such as spawn and nitrates, which kids will love.
The first page begins with 4 words: “It begins with one.” Those words hooked me right away.
I’ve admired Kate for years, so placing her book beside mine on my book shelf is kinda thrilling.
#nonfiction #kidlit #savetheocean
#RochesterLife 60: Haying Season. It’s that time of year when my dad calls and says, “We’ll be taking in the hay tomorrow afternoon” and we know that means he needs our help. On a good day, no equipment breaks, it’s dry and about 70 degrees F (21 C) and plenty of people turn up to help. Yesterday, we had 2 out of 3: perfect weather and plenty of helpers. A flat tire the day before meant we started late. (You can’t just run out and get a new tire for old equipment...). Since we had plenty of help, Yesterday, I was able to steal a little time to write. I sat down on a haybale and took notes for my WIP. #farmlife #nature #kidlit
#RochesterLife 59: Wildlife in our yard. This varies daily. Today we spotted a turtle. Tomorrow it could be a wild turkey or a fox or any number of animals. #nature #getoutdoors
My teen has wanted a 3-D printer for a looong time, but they’re super expensive. Solution? He bought a kit to build his own.
I find that idea overwhelming, but he’s been smiling all afternoon. #STEM #STEAM
I finally shipped the shrunken cups to the lovely winners of my pre-order campaign give-away.
The five recipients are:
Lisa Goldfeder and
Special thanks to everyone who supported both my book and a local indie, @eight_cousins_books, by placing pre-orders.
#nonfiction #kidlit #childrensbookseller #FlyingDeep
Have you been to @bsb_savoy in Westerly, RI? Check this out. They have 3 of these little fairy doors hidden in the shop that reveal a hidden world behind the wall when opened. It’s hard to get a good photo, but these pics give you a sense of them. What kid wouldn’t love to discover these? This adult sure was excited! #indiebookstore #fairyhouse
I love this photo of a young reader at my event on Sunday at @rjjulia looking through the Alvin view port on loan to me from @woodshole_ocean. This kiddo was so engaged in my presentation. He asked great questions and shared information he knows, too. Potential future Alvin pilot right here. (Please note: his mother gave me permission to share these photos but asked that I not indicate who she is to maintain her child’s privacy. If you happen to recognize this boy, please do not indicate his name). #FlyingDeep #nonfiction #STEAM #KidLit @charlesbridgepublishing