Archive for the ‘Videos’ Category

There’s something about this spring that has me feeling pretty melancholy. Just as our backyard birds are currently experiencing empty nests, I’m right there with them: My third oldest child — and first daughter — has just graduated high school. With two sons already in college, she’ll be doing that, too, in just a few short months. My nest won’t be totally empty, since I’ll have number four at home for quite a while longer, but it’s still a very poignant time watching each one grow up and move on.

Yesterday was orientation day at the college of her choice (Northwest University in Kirkland, WA, where one of my sons also goes), and during a session for the parents, we were shown a video that actually made a few parents cry. Stalwart that I pretend to be, I only got tears in my eyes but laughed at its cuteness. (Reality hit a little harder today.) I think they wanted to make sure we understood that our kids really are “leaving the nest.”

We get it — we really do. Sunrise, sunset. Quickly fly the years, etc., etc. I readily admit that this would not be the best time for me to watch Fiddler on the Roof, as I would probably just end up throwing folded laundry at my television.

Here’s the video we were shown yesterday at Northwest. Whether or not you’ve got birdies of your own leaving the nest (you may even be one), you’ll enjoy this video of Wood Duck fledglings jumping from their cavity nest high in a tree. I’m still amazed that it doesn’t hurt them. I could draw a parallel to that, too, but I’ll stop here.


(A big thank you to Northwest University for showing us parents such great hospitality at orientation. Take good care of our fledglings!)

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At first it was cute, this territorial squabble a very small bee was having with the hummingbirds at the nectar feeder. The bee was clearly enjoying the sweet goodness — probably a little too much, and he gradually began staying at the feeder for longer and longer periods of time.

Eventually, it stopped being cute. The little bugger would chase the hummers away, which was clearly stressing them out. And since hummingbirds need nectar to keep up their energy as they hunt for insects, I was also a bit worried that they would go hungry, or that they might even leave to find a new source of nectar.

When the little bee stopped coming around and was replaced by a nasty yellow jacket, I decided enough was enough and ordered a new feeder with bee guards. And I’m sure it was just in time, as it wouldn’t have been long until that wasp told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on and so on. The feeder would have been covered with those angry insects in short order.

Four Flower Frolic Hummingbird Feeder from Duncraft.

Our new Four Flower Frolic Hummingbird Feeder from Duncraft.

While waiting for the new feeder, I spent some time searching online for some in-the-meantime solutions to the problem. I was shocked to read a post on one blog that suggested leaving out a pan of sugar water to distract the bees and wasps away from the feeder. That “solution” would attract every yellow jacket in the neighborhood to my backyard…where my seven-year-old plays. Not a wise recommendation, to say the least.

Female Anna's hummingbird sitting on her new feeder.

A female Anna's hummingbird sitting pretty on her new feeder.

If you’re dealing with little buzzing and stinging nectar stealers, try a new feeder first, and make sure it has bee guards and is not likely to leak. Our old feeder was built in such a way that the bees (and at night, the moths) could suck nectar out of the bottom of it. Newer feeders are less likely to do so. If this doesn’t work, and the bees and wasps are still able to get to the nectar, try moving it to a new spot for a few days. After a little hunting, the birds will find it, but the bees won’t find it quite as easily, if at all. When I took down the old feeder and replaced it with the new one yesterday, the yellow jacket was visibly angry. Even though the old feeder was sitting on my gardening cart in plain view right below the new one, he didn’t see it and was just intent on making the new one work. After all, THAT one is hanging in THAT spot. Eventually he gave up and flew away.

What’s really fun about all of this is that I’ve captured most of what I’m talking about on video, complete with a catchy song. Outwitting a yellow jacket to the tune of “That’s Life” by Michael Bublé? Win!

(Try to ignore the dirty gutters. They’re next up on the honey-do list!)

Get your new Four Flower Frolic hummingbird feeder from Duncraft by clicking here.

Learn all about the birds in your own backyard! Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds is now available for you to read (and take with you!) on your Kindle, Kindle app, or on your PC or Mac.

Also available at Barnes and Noble for the Nook.

The usual crew of Steller’s Jays showed up today – as they do every morning — to get their daily allotment of peanuts. Minus one…usually there are eight, while today there were only seven. It usually goes like this: One or two will fly into the Japanese maple in the morning and squawk to get my attention. I dutifully obey by stepping out onto my patio with a bag of peanuts to toss to them. They are getting more tame around me and will allow me to stand within 10 feet of where the peanuts land (sometimes closer) and film them while they eat and squabble. Watch for the sneaky spotted towhee toward the end of the video in the bottom half of the frame.

I apologize for how small and skinny the video is. I took it with my phone, so it isn’t the best quality. If you choose “full screen,” you’ll be able to see it much better. One of the best parts of this video is just listening to their chattering and calls.

It’s funny how this worked out today: I was standing outside, having just thrown some peanuts, and no Steller’s Jays were coming. However, there was such a cacophony of sound from all the other birds in the area…dark-eyed juncos, chickadees (black-capped and chestnut-backed), spotted towhees, and more…that I decided to at least take a video just to capture the sound. I’m so glad I chose video and not just the voice recording mode, because as soon as I turned it on, the jays started flying in. It was very cool.

Note: The peanuts I toss to the birds are unsalted peanuts in the shell from the grocery store. If you want to feed peanuts to your Steller’s Jays, too, do make sure they are unsalted, as researchers still aren’t sure what kind of negative effects too much salt may have on birds. Also, peanuts purchased at a feed store may be contaminated with fungus that could make the birds sick.


Learn all about the birds in your own backyard! Birds of the Pacific Northwest: How to Identify 25 of the Most Popular Backyard Birds is now available for you to read (and take with you!) on your Kindle, Kindle app, or on your PC or Mac.

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