Sunday, February 24, 2013

I "heart" hummingbirds!

Many people might find it hard to believe there are hummingbirds nesting and raising babies in Canada in the wintertime, but there is a population of Anna's hummingbirds that overwinters on southern Vancouver Island. For years I've kept feeders in my garden and have had the pleasure of watching them year round.

Here's a photograh I took several years ago, and yes, that's snow you can see in the background!

This year the weather has been milder, but not without its challenges. For the past week, a male Anna's has spent long periods of time perched on the largest feeder in my yard. I've never seen this behavior before and at first I thought he might be injured or sick, but he seems fine and now I believe he's just being territorial! I've started calling him Tuff because he often displays white tufts of underfeathers near both wings, and because he has happily turned out to be tougher than I thought!

Here's Tuff at the feeder.

And here's Tuff in the California lilac.

For even better photographs of hummingbirds, I've started following Hummingbirds Up Close on Facebook and visiting the Hummingbirds Up Close website. If you "heart" hummingbirds, you'll love these sites! Both have beautiful photograhs as well as truly amazing videos of hummingbirds building nests, incubating their eggs and caring for their babies.

While I'm talking about hummingbirds, I feel it's important to offer a few tips to those who might consider setting up feeders in their own gardens. Please do not add red coloring to the nectar. The birds will be attracted to the red plastic on the feeder, and the chemicals in the food coloring aren't good for them. Please do clean your feeder once a week and refill it with fresh nectar. This will prevent toxic mold that's lethal to hummingbirds from growing in the feeder. Make your own hummingbird nectar by dissolving white sugar in water. In the summer I use a ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. In winter, when they need more energy, I mix a ratio of 1 part sugar to 3 parts water.

If nesting birds have you longing for springtime, I hope you'll consider entering my February contest because I'm giving away this adorable cupcake holder filled with yet-to-be-determined goodies!

To enter the draw, simply go to my website, subscribe to my newsletter AND send me an email telling me your favorite first sign of spring! Only newsletter subscribers are eligible, and the winner will be announced in the next issue.

I'm also thrilled to share the cover of Daddy, Unexpectedly, my next Harlequin American Romance (May 2013). I have loved all my covers but I especially love this one because the hero is very much as I imagined him as I was writing this story. Swoon!

This is the third and final book in my Ready Set Sold series about three women who own a Seattle-based real estate business. If anyone would like autographed bookplates for these three books (The Christmas Secret, The Daddy Project, and Daddy, Unexpectedly, please send me an email with your address and I'll pop them in the mail to you!

Happy reading!

Unitl next time,
Maggie's Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2013)
Daddy, Unexpectedly (Harlequin American Romance, May 2013)


Leigh Duncan said...

We almost never see hummingbirds in our corner of Central Florida, but when hubby and I visited a B&B in West Virginia a few years ago, they were everywhere! The owners hung feeders under the eves of a long, front porch. In the mornings, we'd watch the birds flit about the feeders while we drank our coffee. Such amazing little birds!

Lee McKenzie said...

I find all birds fascinating, hummingbirds especially! I love having them visit my garden, although it does mean I spend far too much time gazing out the window :)

Rachel said...

I too have hummingbirds all winter, but because I don't have a feeder, my sightings are not as consistent as yours, Lee.

Last winter, as I got rid of the cast and stitches from a broken arm (ouch) and my dad (who lives in the in-law suite) recovered from some guy-surgery, a couple of hummingbirds really started hanging out in the yard. When I did a bit of research, it turns out that hummingbirds are connected to healing in local Coast Salish tradition. So now I think they're doubly cool!

Lee McKenzie said...

Rachel, thank you for sharing that! Doubly cool, indeed!

linda s said...

We winter chickadees and junkos at our birdfeeder. And when the feed is running low, they fly around our heads to remind us to refill it. I am not reliable enough to feed hummingbirds. I do love them though.

Lee McKenzie said...

Isn't it nice to needed to be needed, Linda? lol

I must confess to being very devoted to my hummingbirds. On the rare occasions when the mercury dips below freezing overnight, I get up extra early and defrost the feeder before the hummers are up and out for the day.