Gardener's Grapevine 2012.04.25

Written by David Green.

For the last few weeks Mary Lampe and I have been sewing on Saturdays for our church bazaar. Lampes live on a beautiful piece of property and it overlooks a woods down in a ravine with a lovely little creek running through it that just happens to be our Bean Creek. All sorts of plants, trees and animals are down there and you can see it clearly from their dining room table were we do our prep work for the sewing.

Thursday night I stopped out to go over some things with Mary, and they had put a bird feeder off the back deck, and a sweet little nuthatch kept coming to the feeder. They get a lot of birds at their feeder that we don’t see in town. Birds are an interesting lot. For no more than they eat they sure expend a lot of energy. 

Hummingbirds are a bird that just absolutely fascinates me. Their tiny little wings go so fast they are just a blur and many people don’t even see them. They’re intake to energy expended ratio must be an amazing statistic—if only we could get the car companies to produce a car that used energy so efficiently.

One summer my friend Mary Johnson, my daughter, Jacquie and I were sewing on my side porch and a small creature the size of a bumble bee kept buzzing around Mary’s head. She was getting jumpy, and rightfully so, as she has an extreme bee allergy. Upon closer inspection, I noted it was a juvenile hummingbird and he was attracted to her purple shirt. It was the tiniest bird imaginable.

Hummingbird nests are so small, a lot of people don’t even realize they are there so they miss something truly wondrous. I wonder how a hummingbird sits still long enough to lay eggs and hatch them? If you put out a hummingbird feeder remember they won’t eat at a dirty feeder. Even if it looks clean to you they can tell if there is bacteria and they will shy away from it. Their tolerance to foreign bacteria is not good and they know to stay away. Each time you fill your feeder, clean it and rinse it good, then refill it. Also they like their feeders best in a quiet secluded spot, not directly in the hot sun or a busy populated area. I think that is why we don’t see a lot of variety in birds in town, it’s just too noisy, busy and inconsistent.

I love birds and I enjoy watching the squirrels. It doesn’t matter to me if they get into the birds food. Their antics are well worth the cost of a little extra birdseed. I have noted before that I put out corn kernels for the squirrels. The corn does double duty: first the squirrels eat the germ and leave the rest; then the birds come in and eat the meat in the left-over parts. A squirrel will do most anything to get to a feeder and it’s more fun to watch than the clowns at the circus.

We went to the Henry Ford Museum for a special exhibit on Saturday. When we were outside, a red-winged blackbird came right up to us and chirped that he wanted fed. It was amazing to see a bird within inches of your feet clearly not frightened.

Bird watching appeals to all ages and types of people. It is a hobby that can really bring a lot of laughs and pleasure. Try hanging out a feeder or two and see what happens.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2014