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.
Today’s basil harvest. From one plant. We have 10 more. 😳 #PestoTonight
It’s been a stellar #gardening year for heat loving plants.
This lovely lady came to visit us with her husband and teen-aged daughter. More than 25 years ago, she was a Rotary Exchange Student who lived with my family. We’ve stayed in touch for all of this time. She has visited a few times since then and my parents attended her wedding. When we lived in Dublin, my family of 4 flew to France to see her family of 5. (On that trip, we also visited a different, lovely French sister, @florence.pit, who lives in Paris). Watching our kids play together was a real joy. It’s always such a pleasure to have her around. #citizensoftheworld
We have friends visiting from France right now so we took a little day trip to #Boston. Here are some pics from @newenglandaquarium. (Yes, I’m always extra happy to see an octopus). #science #ocean
The newest plane by @dantecusolito #STEM #STEAM #FutureEngineer
Some photos taken around my parents’ farm yesterday. The cozy coop in front of the corn makes me smile. My nephew left it there when he visited. The egg is so small because the chicken just started laying- that was her first egg. Also, my dad grows the best corn around. #farmlife #NoFarmsNoFood
I received THE SONG OF SOLOMON as a gift many years ago, back when I was still teaching. It was the night before winter break ended and I decided to read a little before bed. 100 pages later I had to force myself to stop reading and go to sleep. I devoured that book. Next I read BELOVED. Damn, did that book challenge me as a reader. I had to work so hard to understand it. I had to lean in and really concentrate. I was so thankful for that gift- it reminded me what reading must have been like for many of my 4th graders for whom reading was not yet second nature. It made me a better teacher. And what can I say about PARADISE? Another book I had to lean in to understand due to the complex interconnected family trees. Once I was too far in, I wished I had drawn up family trees to help me remember all of the relationships. I’ve been meaning to go back and read that one and make the trees from the beginning. Maybe now is a good time to do that.
RIP Ms. Morrison. The world is a better place for you having been in it.
Our garden is super prolific right now. I’m harvesting zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, jalapeños, sweet basil, Thai basil, and purple basil nearly every day. There are loads of green tomatoes and bell peppers I’m hoping to start harvesting soon. But the zucchini and summer squash...OY! The last picture shows what I harvested THIS MORNING. And we only have one plant of each. We’ve been eating it regularly, and I’ll freeze some, but we can possibly use as much as we’re getting. (This is what happens when you use compost from your parents’ farm!) There are loads of squash blossoms on the plants. Anybody want some? Because we know what those blossoms will soon become... (Seriously local friends... hit me up if you want some squash or blossoms). #organicgardening #gardening #wondersofcompost
With his gourd banjo completed, @dantecusolito decided to make a remote controlled tug boat. Isn’t this thing the cutest? #STEM #STEAM #summertime