Happy Hummer Season! Welcoming, Helping, and Attracting Hummingbirds In Your Neighborhood

Happy Hummer Season!  Soon the buzzing and whirring sounds of rapidly beating wings and flashes of color will be filling the air in our backyards once again. The hummingbirds return!

My earliest memories of hummingbirds from many years ago recall the stern admonition and warning from my Mother, taking a page from the ‘Mother’s Guide to Eyes & BB Guns’ — “Don’t go anywhere near the hummingbirds or bother them. They’ll poke your eye out with that bill of theirs!” 

This has always seemed out of character with my Mother’s deep love for all things ‘nature’, but she nevertheless firmly stood by it all thru the years. Maybe she knew someone from her past that had an unfortunate run-in with a disgruntled hummingbird. But I tend to doubt it.

Despite the “Eye Poke” warning, we planted a never-ending stream of flowers and butterfly bushes over the years to attract them, and it was always a special time celebrating new arrivals each Spring. It seemed that Summer would not really be Summer without Hummingbirds buzzing around our flower gardens!

Hummingbirds are a joy to observe in the backyard as they hover, flit and fly about, and will very soon be arriving back to summer homes in North America from winter stays in Southern Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and other regions of Central America. Hanging a nectar feeder to greet their arrival in Spring will help immensely as they arrive thirsty and in quick need of nourishment following their long migrations northward.

To find out when to expect the arrival of regional hummingbirds in your area, check out the Audubon Guide.  Residents in the South and along the Gulf shores should expect them first and have feeders out, available, and at the ready. When the tiny hummingbirds arrive after long journeys across the Gulf of Mexico from Central and South America they are famished, exhausted, and in need of quick energy resupply!


Providing a hummingbird feeder in your yard helps to renourish the little hummers quickly and get them off to a healthier start for the coming breeding season after their arduous travels northward, and can be both a source of entertainment and a healthy learning experience for the children in your family as they learn more about nature.

If unprepared in the Spring, not to worry. It is never too late during the season to put your first feeder out for hummingbirds, and extra feeders in the fall are very important for both local birds to prepare for southern migrations and for those passing thru from up north on their way south. It’s never too late to start.

Hummingbirds need to consume several times their body weight in food intake each day and are necessarily always on the lookout for flowering plants to quench their thirst and maintain energy.  Flowering plants for the hummingbirds are much more numerous and available during the summer months, so providing an early supplementary food source with a hummingbird feeder can help them get thru leaner spells in springtime when flowers and natural food sources are not yet as numerous.

There is no need to worry about supplementing their diet with a feeder and distracting hummingbirds from natural food sources, as they will continue to seek out and consume plant nectar, small insects, and tree saps to prepare for the breeding season, and then later feeding their young in the nest. And later still, preparing for fall southern migrations back to their winter homes.


To select the best feeder, choose one that can be easily cleaned on the inside to prevent contamination and illness for the birds, and one that is brightly colored with lots of red to get their attention and attract them to your feeder.

If you have few hummingbirds in your area, completely filling the feeder is not necessary, to not waste the nectar mixture. As the season progresses, filling the feeder to the brim may be more advisable as the birds will be visiting more often to drink and the feeders will probably be even busier with greater numbers in the summer heat and growing families.

If there are a large number of hummers in your area, a larger feeder with a greater number of feeding ports can help to reduce territorial conflicts brought about by the hummingbirds’ natural territoriality and competitiveness to guard the feeding source by allowing more birds to access the feeder. Everyone enjoys a little elbow room.

Feeders can be inexpensive and plain, or very decorative and ornamental.  The hummingbirds only care about the nectar and happily leave design and decor choices to the humans’ personal tastes.  But it is important for any feeder to contain a good deal of bright red coloration.  Hummingbirds are naturally attracted to brightly colored flowers, including yellows, oranges, pinks, and purples, but are drawn to the color red much more than any other color as it signals a food source to the tiny bird, so they naturally associate the color red with food.

Wearing a bright red shirt one hot day last summer, a hummingbird approached and examined me closely before sadly moving on, clearly disappointed after determining that the giant flower he thought he had joyfully discovered was not in fact, a flower.


There is no need to purchase pre-packaged hummingbird food mixes in the store, as a perfect nectar mix can be easily and inexpensively prepared in your home kitchen using only sugar and water as the ingredients.

It is important to prepare the nectar supplement mixture using only Refined White Sugar, as honey can promote dangerous and harmful fungal growth and should never be used. In addition, organic, natural and raw sugars may all contain excessive levels of iron which can be harmful to the birds. Plain, white refined sugar is sucrose, which when mixed with water comes the closest to matching the chemical composition of naturally occurring nectar in the wild.

With a brightly colored red feeder, there is no need to add red food coloring to the nectar mixture, as the chemicals in food coloring can be harmful to the hummingbirds.


To prepare the nectar mixture, simply mix 1/4 Cup of Refined White Sugar in 1 Cup of Boiling Water until the sugar is all dissolved, or a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water if preparing a larger amount. Let the mixture cool and then fill the feeder and hang it outside for the birds. Simple as that.


For best results, hang the feeders preferably about head high so you do not need a ladder to reach it for cleaning and refilling, and also in the shade to keep the nectar from spoiling as quickly as it would in the full sun.  The nectar will serve as a healthy and beneficial supplement to the birds’ natural nectar diet in springtime, and then all summer long as well, providing the birds with an extra and welcome energy boost at the end of long, hot, and dry summer days.


Keeping the feeders freshly filled and available for the birds when fall arrives and having the extra nectar nourishment available will help your little neighborhood hummingbirds restrengthen after the breeding season is finished, boosting energy and helping them to prepare for their long migration back to southern wintering grounds.

Autumn feeders will also provide welcome and needed nourishment to migrating birds passing thru on their way south. Because of the influx and numbers of migrating birds, putting additional hummingbird feeders out in the fall can actually be very helpful in providing needed migration energy for all.

Extra nectar mix may be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to two weeks in a clean glass or plastic container.  If the mix in the feeder becomes cloudy or mucky, it should be discarded and the feeder cleaned.  The feeder should be cleaned regularly every few days, especially during hot weather to keep it free from mold and mildew, as nectar is a food and will spoil. We usually clean ours every other day just to be safe.

Feeders can be cleaned using various sized bottle brushes and by soaking them in a mixture of 1 part plain white vinegar and two parts hot water, then thoroughly rinsing to keep the birds healthy.

If black mold is detected, soaking for an hour in a bleach mixture of 1/4 cup bleach to a gallon of water can be done, followed by a very thorough rinsing. Mold should not be an issue if the feeders are cleaned regularly.

To control and keep away uninvited wasps and bees which may visit hummingbird feeders, avoid choosing a feeder with the color yellow on it, as yellow is known to attract them.  Some feeders have built-in water moats which protect against ants contaminating the nectar, and some have screens over openings which only allow the hummingbird’s long tongue to enter, keeping bees and other insects out.

For additional tips to prevent the problem of unwanted insect visitors,  visit Control All Insects On Nectar Feeders.  In years of feeding hummingbirds with different types of feeders, we have never really had a problem with either mold or uninvited guests.


Hummingbirds can be territorial, especially during breeding season, so there is no harm in hanging out more than one feeder, which may result in even more visitors to your yard.  If possible and for the best results, hang additional feeders out of the line of sight from one to another to attract more birds and to diminish conflicts over territory.

Adding native plants for your regional area and growing them in your garden and yard will also help the hummingbirds by providing natural shelter and food, including a healthy environment for insects. Many are surprised to learn that insects provide an important part of the hummingbird’s diet, especially during the breeding season.

For help in selecting the best native plants for not only hummingbirds but all birds, a great resource to check out is Audubon’s Native Plant Database. Simply enter your zip code to find the recommendations of local experts in your area for your yard. Then you can narrow down the search by the type of birds and/or plants you have in mind.


So, happy Hummer Season!  Little Red Bear and I hope this guide to helping the hummingbirds was helpful, and that both you and your family are able to experience the joys and delights of watching the amazing aerial displays and acrobatics of hummingbirds all summer long. Teaching children about the wonders of Mother Nature can never begin too early, and hummingbirds are fascinating and captivating to watch for all ages.

Likes, Comments, and Shares are always appreciated to help spread the word to others about Mother Nature and helping to make the world a better place for everyone.

Thanks as always for visiting and spending part of your day with us.  Join us in the “Smile & Compliment” club and help brighten someone’s life today!  — Jim (and Red!)


“Kindness is the sunshine in which virtue grows.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

~ Every Day is Earth Day.   Think Globally — Act Locally. ~


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                   “The woods hold not such another gem as the nest of the hummingbird.                   The finding of one is an event.” – John Burroughs


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“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Vincent van Gogh

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the Earth are never alone or weary of life.” – Rachel Carson


 

Getting to Know — Tree Swallows

Tree Swallows are among my favorite birds, always delighting in observing their aerial acrobatics in fast pursuit of insects, rapidly twisting and turning thru the air dashing here, there, and everywhere on late summer afternoons and evenings.

The Tree Swallow (tachycineta bicolor) is one of the most beautiful of the swallow family, with deep-blue, iridescent backs and clean white fronts.  With their steely, bluish-green feathers flashing in the sunlight, Tree Swallows make a most striking appearance and display as they chase thru the air in pursuit of insect food for their families.

Tree Swallows do not build open, free-form nests of dead grass, leaves, sticks and twigs like many birds, but rather only nest inside cavities, such as old woodpecker holes in trees.  With such natural places in limited supply, nesting sites like these are scarce and at a premium in the spring, on a first-come, first-served basis, with intense competition with everyone looking for a home in which to raise a family.  But fortunately, Tree Swallows also adapt readily to nesting boxes.

You can help the Tree Swallows in your neighborhood by putting out nesting boxes in your backyard.  The birds are a great addition to a backyard or field and will reward you, as many birds and bats do, by regularly patrolling and keeping insects under control and at bay all summer long.

The average adult Tree Swallow consumes 2,000 insects each day during the 45 day nesting period, while also catching approximately 6,000 insects per day to feed to their nestlings over their twenty day stay in the nestbox. Overall, this adds up to about 300,000 insects per family over the 45 day span. Since most of their hunting takes place under a height of 39 feet, that is potentially a lot of insects not pestering you in the backyard over the summer.

That is a good return on the purchase, or for a few boards and time invested in building a nest box. And then you and your family will also be able to enjoy observing these beautiful birds going about their business darting and dashing thru the air and raising their young thru the whole season.

For more information on Tree Swallows, please visit the Tree Swallow Nesting Project and Building Nesting Boxes for some easy how-to guides.

Thanks as always for visiting.  If you have stories or experience with these beautiful birds or helping them with nest boxes at your home, please feel free to share with us in the comments.  —  Jim (and Red!)

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Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

 

Birds of Prey– What’s the Hurry?

We most often think as the spring months as being the nesting season for birds.  And it is, for the Cardinals, Sparrows, Robins, Finches and such.  But not for the raptors, birds of prey.  Young raptors, because they are much larger, take a much longer time to grow up and need a head start on the season. So raptors nest in winter.

Remember the images of the nesting Eagles dutifully tending their nest and eggs covered over in the snow?  It takes very dedicated parents to go thru an ordeal like that.  Why the rush?  Why start nesting so early before the weather has changed for the better, we wonder?  Most other birds wait until April or later to arrive at their summer breeding grounds and start to build nests.

Turns out, there’s a very good reason.  It’s all about rodent and other prey animal population control and giving the baby birds of prey an easier start in life.  It takes a long time for large raptors to grow big enough to be independent and hunt on their own.  An early start in the nest allows them the required time to grow and develop, while also insuring that when they are fledged and on their own, there will be a plentiful supply of prey animal babies emerging from their nests and running about at the same time to help make the raptors’ initial hunting forays a little easier and more successful.  Nevertheless, 60% to 70% of Red-tailed Hawks, Owls and other raptors do not survive their first year.  Life is hard for young raptors still trying to figure it out, so being ready early gives them the best chance of survival, while also helping to keep the world from being overrun by mice and other voles.

So while the other birds and small animals are just getting started with nest building and babies now, the raptors are already well on their way to being able to greet them when they emerge later.  The early bird gets the, ummm– baby mouse shall we say.  Birds of Prey have a very important role to play in population control and the grand scheme of things as Mother Nature designed, and early nesting gives them the needed head start to make it all work.

Thanks as always for dropping in to visit! — Jim (and Red!)

Red-tailed Hawk with Mouse

Red-tailed Hawk with Mouse

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Stories Available on Amazon

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Introducing “Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!”

That is how a new story character introduced himself to me several months ago. Out of nowhere, he just popped into my head one morning with a loud “Howdy!” and it has been a fun and interesting time ever since.

Red and I already had more story characters interviewed and on board for the first collection of  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories than we could fit into the first collection, and the stories were already well underway at the time. But then “Howdy!” strode in and made such an impression on both Red and I that we stopped everything right there, and knew we had to go back and make room for him. Fortunately, being a little guy, he doesn’t take up much space.

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

Burrowing Owl- Sneaking A Peek

“Howdy!” is a Burrowing Owl from way out west in the Oklahoma Panhandle and has been thru quite a lot for a little guy. Burrowing Owls inhabit grasslands, rangelands, agricultural areas and other open, dry areas with low vegetation. From their name, they live in a hole in the ground, not up in a tree like other owls. Although capable and willing to dig their own burrows, more frequently they inhabit existing holes abandoned by prairie dogs, skunks, armadillos, tortoises and the like.

 Burrowing Owls via Cornell Lab of Ornithology  (© Ned Harris, AZ, Tucson, June 2009)

Burrowing Owls via Cornell Lab of Ornithology (© Ned Harris, AZ, Tucson, June 2009)

Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls are active during the day, although wisely avoiding the midday heat. But like most owls, they do most of their hunting between the hours of dusk to dawn, taking advantage of their superior night vision and hearing. So “Howdy!” does not sleep a lot.  And he does it all without coffee, caffeine or chocolate, which is truly amazing in itself.

Living in open grasslands as opposed to forests, Burrowing Owls have long legs and short tails which allow them to sprint very quickly across the ground in pursuit of prey. They are small in size, about 11” long, a little larger than an American Robin when fully grown. When agitated, they bob their head up and down, revealing a white chin patch. But I cannot imagine this sweet little guy ever being agitated or angry.

Burrowing Owl in California on top of Burrowing Owl Sign Post  (by Jeff Cartier of Ventura, CA)

Burrowing Owl in California on top of Burrowing Owl Sign Post (by Jeff Cartier of Ventura, CA)

Burrowing Owls have no ear tufts, unlike many other owls. They feature prominent white eyebrow markings, and in color they are brownish, with lighter colored bars on the front and spots on the back.  They have noticeable bright yellow eyes.  No other owls are commonly seen on the ground or so frequently during daylight hours.  Here is a wonderful little video from the Smithsonian Channel if you would like to learn more about “Howdy!” and his Burrowing Owl cousins.

As with many birds and creatures, Burrowing Owls are threatened or endangered in some areas due to loss of habitat as more open nesting areas are plowed under for development and agriculture.

Burrowing Owl- Pinterest- found on tumblr unidentified

This half-pint owl immediately captured our hearts and is featured in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short story collection available on Amazon.  The Kindle version officially releases on Tuesday, June 23rd, and is available for preorder now.  The Paperback print version is available for immediate shipment.

With the stories out now Red wanted to introduce you to his new little friend to let you know a bit more about him, and we’re sure you will recognize him when he enters the stories. Not noted for stimulating conversation, he still makes quite the impression.

“Howdy!”

As always, thanks for stopping by for a visit! – Jim (and Red!)

Order Your Copy of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” on Amazon

"Howdy!" -- the Burrowing Owl

“Howdy!” — the Burrowing Owl

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” — Available in Kindle and Paperback

A New “Little Red Bear” Video!

Since “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection published last week, Red has been so excited he couldn’t sit down. You can find the stories to order on Amazon, available for Kindle and in Paperback.

He finally decided to put all that energy to good use and went out with some other story characters and the backwoods crew and made another video for you, showing the area he calls home and some of his friends and neighbors.  Red apologizes for that Otter near the end, playing around as they do so much of the time.  As Creative Director, Little Red Bear always recommends viewing on full screen with the speakers on for the full nature experience.

Feel free to share with family, friends and neighbors.  Hope you like it.  And check out the page link above or on youtube for other Little Red Bear videos.  If he keeps going, we’re going to have a whole collection pretty soon.

On another topic, we realized something about “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” over the weekend.  Something we had not considered until now.  We’ll be talking more about that in a few days, so please watch for it.  There might be a fight brewing, but we’re hoping not.

Thanks for stopping by! —  Jim (and Red!)

"Hey, y'all.  Do you fellas know where they're showin' the new Little Red Bear video?"

“Hey, y’all. Do you fellas know where they’re showin’ the new Little Red Bear video?”

 

Meet “Whistlin’ Will” the Whip-poor-will

Old forests in the Ozarks Mountain Country, where the Little Red Bear stories take place, are home to Eastern Whip-poor-wills, one of my favorite birds.  Strictly nocturnal and calling all thru the night, they have serenaded me to sleep on camping trips on many occasions.

While you may hear the Whip-poor-wills thru the night, finding them in the daylight hours is very difficult as they are largely inactive, hiding on the ground or roosting in the trees.  Their mottled plumage blends perfectly with the grey/brown leaf litter and forest debris where they live, a natural camouflage.

A medium sized bird, the Eastern Whip-poor-will is a member of the Nightjar family of birds, sometimes referred to as Goatsuckers from ancient tales that they sucked milk from goats.  Also in the nightjar family is the Nighthawk, another nocturnal bird, along with another and one the Whip-poor-will is frequently mistaken for– its close relative the Chuck-will’s-widow, which has a similar but lower, slower call.  Both calls are hauntingly beautiful on an otherwise quiet summer night in the woods.

Whip-poor-wills are mentioned frequently in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories, with “Whistlin’ Will” being one of Red’s friends, singing right behind his cabin on Honey Hill each evening.

Here is a recording for you to listen to the beautiful call of the Whip-poor-will.  Like the recording, they go on and on, tirelessly all thru the night, a calming reassurance that all is right in the woods.  Do you hear the “whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will” call for which they were named?

Sadly, as with many species, their numbers are in decline in several areas as open forests are converted for suburbs and agriculture, and as their primary foods- large moths and beetles- are also on the decline due to development.

More information and sound recordings may be found on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology page, and on the Audubon Society page.

If you would like to read more about Whistlin’ Will in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection, it is available on Amazon for Kindle and in Paperback.  Just click the link below.

Thanks as always for reading and following! — Jim (and Red!)

Order Your Copy of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear”

 

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

Image via American Bird Conservancy, by Jacob Spendelow

 

Available for Preorder Now — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear–The First Holler!”

Ladies and Gentleman, Girls and Boys, Children of All Ages–

Step right up and be ready to be Amazed– be Enchanted– be Mystified– be Amused!

Here Ye, Here Ye! — The big day is here! 

Little Red Bear and I are delighted to announce that the first collection of stories in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear, The First Holler!”  is available for Preorder NOW on Amazon!

AVAILABLE NOW!  OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY!

Calloo-Callay!   Oh Frabjous Day!

Red’s book is ready!  What’s left to say?

The hard work is finished and the stories are written,

Unfortunately, yes, a few folks were bitten.

But not by Red, who’s quite pleasant, you see.

Come meet him yourself, he’s sweet and gentle like me.

We’ve worked long and hard to bring stories to you,

So join us on an adventure and bring the whole crew!

Please tell all your family,  all your friends and your neighbors.

The stories are top notch, just go ask the ‘gators!

We have singing birds, some very worried bunnies,

And lots of bees buzzing, protecting their honeys.

There’s a pair of black bears who sometimes bicker and fuss,

But the stories are “G Rated”, so no one can cuss.

With a fox, and a pig, turtles, beavers and more,

Can’t tell you any others or we’ll spoil what’s in store.

Lots of flowers and trees cover beautiful Honey Hill,

That’s where Red’s cabin is.  Oh, you’re in for a thrill.

So grab up your overalls, old boots and straw hat,

Adventures are waiting, there’s no time left to chat.

The announcement’s right here so you’d be the first to know,

Now off to Amazon thru magical links you can go!

Little Red Bear and friends are anxious to meet you,

So hurry, use the link and that’s all you need do!

Order Your Copy Today!

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

A fun and captivating blend of humor and action/adventure stories featuring Little Red Bear–  a new kind of “Action Hero.” This collection of six short stories, the first in a series, features Little Red Bear, an uncommonly special bear living in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, just a little south of the Sweet Tea Line, with a great number of friends—woodland critters, barnyard animals and human folk alike.

Exciting and heartwarming stories feature colorful, fun and loveable characters with positive themes of friendship, helping others, kindness and overcoming challenges in life; blended with educational information on the ways of nature, the environment, conservation and a love of the outdoors.

Family-friendly reading entertainment told in an old-fashioned, story-telling tradition in a style and pace we just call “Country Comfortable”, the stories are suitable and fun for all age groups.

Younger children will benefit most from having the stories read to them, as they are not written on a beginner reading level and are not picture book type stories.  Little Red Bear is a real bear living in the mountains and backwoods with real story character companions and activities.  These are not your mother’s cuddly little “Winnie the Pooh” stories.  Just sayin’.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” for Kindle will release on June 23rd and is available for preorder on Amazon.  The print version, 302 pages in length, is available on Amazon right now for immediate delivery.  Order your Print Copy today!

On behalf of Red and the whole backwoods crew of characters, thanks as always for following along and supporting us on the journey.  Little Red Bear can’t wait to meet you! —  Jim  (and Red!)

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear”– On Amazon for Kindle & Paperback

"Will someone please read me a story about Little Red Bear?"

“Will someone please read me a story about Little Red Bear?”

 

 

Happy Memorial Day Weekend– Sharing Our Seas & Shores!

Wishing everyone a very Happy and Safe Memorial Day weekend!

If heading to the beach, inland waterways, or anywhere out with nature and wildlife, please remember this is nesting and babies season.  Please teach the kids to keep a respectful distance for their own and the wildlife’s safety not to damage any nests, eggs or babies.  When we are out on the beach, in the woods or on the rivers and streams, we are really guests and visitors in someone else’s home.  Here is a link to a great article and advice from the American Bird Conservancy→ Fish, Swim and Play From 50 Yards Away

Birds- Shorebird at Fort De Soto Park, Tampa  Pinterest uncredited

For more information, please visit the National Audubon Society→  Sharing Our Seas & Shores

Image via National Wildlife Federation, by Jim Gray

Image via National Wildlife Federation, by Jim Gray

Hope everyone has a chance to have a picnic, go hiking or biking, play softball, go fishing, splash in the surf, go boating or swimming this weekend and enjoy the great outdoors, fresh air, exercise and the start of the summer season!  Remember to bring the sunscreen.  Stay safe and please keep an eye out for rip currents, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycles!

Children- Patriotic little girl at the beach

And please pause for a moment to reflect on the real meaning of the weekend.

 “Memorial Day this year is especially important as we are reminded almost daily of the great sacrifices that the men and women of the Armed Services make to defend our way of life.”– Robin Hayes

Little Red Bear always reminds– “Remember when visiting in Mother Nature’s home, leave nothing behind but footprints, take nothing away but memories, and kill nothing but time.”

Have a wonderful weekend and visit back next week for an important update on “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories collection.  Hint- it’s coming very soon!     — Jim (and Red!)

Birds- Little Blue Heron Family at Lowry Park, Pinterest, not photo signature

Little Blue Heron Family, Paul Fernandez Photography

 

Endangered Species Day

Today is “Endangered Species Day”, a day set aside by Congress to bring awareness and attention to the plight of endangered, fragile and threatened species.  Folks of all ages can and are encouraged to learn more about the importance of protecting imperiled species and what they can do through their own actions to help.

For more information and links, please visit The Endangered Species Site.

Here are two other links for great information–

From the Park Advocate Site — Nine Endangered National Park Animals.

Black-footed Ferret in a Colorado conservation center. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Black-footed Ferret in a Colorado conservation center. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

From the wonderful folks at BirdNote, a discussion of Piping Plovers and Golden-cheeked Warblers– BirdNote.

Golden-cheeked Warbler, via BirdNote, photo by Greg Lavaty

Golden-cheeked Warbler, via BirdNote, photo by Greg Lavaty

Please learn more and contact your elected representatives to help support the wildlife and plants struggling so hard to survive faced with oppressive habitat loss, climate change, illegal poaching and other dangers.  And please get the children involved, as it is their future we are talking about, as well.

Thanks as always for stopping by!  — Jim (and Red!)

Introducing “Little Red Bear”– the First Book Trailer Video!

Little Red Bear and I are excited to announce the release of the very first video trailer for the upcoming “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories!

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” is a collection of six short stories about a bear and his many friends living in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country, with the initial collection of stories entitled “The First Holler!” available on Amazon soon for Kindle and Paperback. Fun, family-friendly and entertaining for all age groups, the stories have underlying themes of positivity, nature, kindness, and helping others.  There is always time to stop along the roadside to smell a wildflower and listen to a songbird.  The stories are told at an enjoyably relaxing pace in a style I just call “Country Comfortable.”

Hope you enjoy the video. And if you do, please share with friends and family. Red had so much fun serving as Producer and Creative Director on this first trailer that he has the crew out working on more videos right now. He recommends viewing on full screen with the speakers on, for total immersion in the outdoor experience.

Please keep an eye out for more videos coming soon as we near the book release date, some featuring more information about the book and characters, and some others just for fun. You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks as they say, but perhaps an old man and bear– given enough time and aspirin– can figure out how to make a tolerably presentable video.

Some future videos will feature a number of photos from blog followers and Facebook friends allowing their own images to be shared for the enjoyment of others. As a testament to goodness in the world, every individual approached about sharing photos has agreed enthusiastically without hesitation. As you may expect, while flowers, plants and trees tend to be easier subjects, it’s very difficult sometimes getting a critter to hold still long enough to focus the camera and capture a good likeness, not to mention birds in mid-flight holding their position, not being helicopters as they are.

So Red and I truly appreciate those kindhearted and generous folks permitting us to share their photography work with you as we go along.  (And if we unintentionally step on anyone’s copyright toes, please accept our apologies and just drop us a note if there is something not to be shared before showing up on the front porch with a shotgun.  Or worse– one of those lawyer fellas.)

We both hope you enjoy these little videos as much as we enjoy making them for you.  So here is the first one– “Introducing Little Red Bear.”   Thanks as always for reading and following along! – Jim (and Red!)

Native Plants for Birds & Wildlife

Getting ready to start work on the garden and yard work soon?  Please consider using and decorating with plants, trees and wildflowers native to your geographical region.  Here’s why it is so important– the birds and animals in your area have adapted to native plants over thousands of years and are dependent on them.  Overrunning the landscape with non-native plants, trees and ornamentals can seriously impact the native wildlife’s food chain and resources.

“Because native insects did not evolve with nonnative plants, most of them lack the ability to overcome the plants’ chemical defenses so cannot eat them. Caterpillars, a particularly important food source for birds, are especially picky about what they feed on. Like the famous monarch butterfly larva, which must have milkweed to survive, more than 90 percent of moth and butterfly caterpillars eat only particular native plants or groups of plants.”

— Laura Tangley, National Wildlife Federation article.

And of course, the birds feed on the insects feeding on the plants.  Not only are the insects directly affected, but the pollinators and those that feed on the insects as well, right up the food chain. As more and more imported varieties and ornamentals crowd out native plants, the birds, pollinators and wildlife have an increasingly difficult time. That plant at the nursery might be pretty, but is there another native to the area that might work just as well or better? Check it out.  The birds and wildlife will thank you for it!

For more information and to read the article in entirety → “Chickadees Show Why Birds Need Native Trees”

Thanks as always for reading.    — Jim (and Red!)

Birds- Chickadee, Carolina Chickadee via National Wildlife Federation FB, photo by Doug Tallamy

Carolina Chickadee via the National Wildlife Federation. Photo by Doug Tallamy.

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Birds of Prey– Why the Rush?

Remember the images of the nesting Eagles dutifully tending their nest and eggs covered over in the snow the past few weeks?  It takes very dedicated parents to go thru an ordeal like that.  Why the rush?  Why start nesting so early before the weather has changed for the better, we wonder?  Most other birds wait until April or later to arrive at their summer breeding grounds and start to build nests.

Turns out, there’s a very good reason.  It’s all about rodent and other prey animal population control and giving the baby birds of prey an easier start in life.  It takes a long time for large raptors to grow big enough to be independent and hunt on their own.  An early start in the nest allows them the required time to grow and develop, while also insuring that when they are fledged and on their own, there will be a plentiful supply of prey animal babies emerging from their nests and running about at the same time to help make the raptors’ initial hunting forays a little easier and more successful.

The early bird gets the, ummm– baby mouse shall we say.   Check out today’s BirdNote for more.