I was shocked recently to look out the kitchen window and see a tall (4+ ft.?) Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) in our backyard! Moving very, very slowly, it gradually made its way toward our water feature.
It was extra special last week to see a bright splash of blue in the backyard and to realize it was a male Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). It’s a new member of our backyard bird list that we’ve kept since replanting the backyard with native plants in 2006. We’re now up to 66 different species.
We’ve had a snowy weekend in the Bluegrass with about 10 inches of ‘white stuff,’ and it’s been good to stay indoors and enjoy our backyard birds. It’s got to be a challenging time for these small feathered creatures, considering the cold temperatures and difficulty finding food. We do what we can to help by providing water, safflower, sunflower, millet seeds, and suet.
We see a wide variety of birds and enjoy all of them. The water and food we provide seem small payment for the winter entertainment we receive.
During a recent visit to Natural Bridge State Park, Harry and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ruby-throated hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) as they darted in and out, stopping briefly to drink at feeders. It was like watching a continuous aerial ballet.
Here’s a few fun facts –
- Hummingbirds are the tiniest birds in the world.
- They are the only birds that can fly both forward and backward; they can also hover in mid-air, fly sideways and upside down.
- They pollinate plants by getting pollen on their head and neck while gathering nectar from blossoms.
- Most Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly 500 miles nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico during their spring and fall migrations.
We don’t have a feeder in the yard, however we regularly see one or more hummingbirds nectaring on various blossoms, especially red ones. These birds are indeed amazing, and I’m always thrilled to see them.
Our record-breaking 17½ inches of snow and below-zero temperatures last week created a less-than-ideal setting for a picnic on the patio.