Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crane Magic--Three Crane Species at Hiwassee

Several months ago I added the Blogger sidebar widget "most popular posts" and set it to show most popular posts in the past thirty days.  From time to time, I check it to see what people are most interested in and which posts are taking the top four positions. I'm happy to report that presently CRANES are dominating that interest, hands down!
Sandhill Crane Displaying, watercolor by Vickie Henderson

The Asian Hooded Crane appeared at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and was first reported on Dec 13th; my post on this crane has been in the top position ever since it went up on the 14th.  What is more exciting are the updates provided by Charles Murray, a long-time resident of the Birchwood, TN, community, who visits the Hiwassee refuge frequently and reports activities via the TN-bird list serve.  Below is his report from today, December 26th:

"...assists from a coyote and a bald eagle stirred up the sandhill cranes this afternoon and brought the hooded crane into view at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge.  It had not been seen earlier in the day.  A record number of visitors, at least 131, were present, and four more states were added--Illinois, Maine, Minnesota and Missouri.  Twenty-eight states have been noted to date.  Fourteen different states were represented today alone.  The total number of visitors since the hooded crane was first sighted at HWR on December 13 is now AT LEAST 779!  A juvenile whooping crane was still present, along with at least a few thousand sandhill cranes and at least two bald eagles.  Several large and small flocks of ducks flew over or were in the slough at HWR as well."
---Charles Murray, Birchwood, TN

An awesome tribute to cranes!
Sandhill Cranes Landing, watercolor by Vickie Henderson (one of my favorite postures as they float in to land)

The second most popular post, having been in that position for the past several months, is my Whooping Crane Family post entitled, Happy Reunion.  The post shows my observations of a whooping crane chick reuniting with its parents after an International Crane Foundation health check and actually shows the female parent feeding the chick while the chick swims.  I attribute this post's popularity to the fact that Operation Migration is still making it's way south with the ultralight migration Whooping Crane Class of 2011, having faced one of the most difficult fall migrations thus far with lengthy weather delays.  The crew is currently on holiday break and will resume the migration again in January.  The migration's current stop-over site is in Franklin County, Alabama.
Thousands of people follow the progress of this migration, among them many students studying migration in their science classes.  The adult whooping cranes in view at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge are largely present due to ultralight migration re-introduction efforts over the past ten years.  The juveniles present, and a few of the adults were re-introduced through the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership's Direct Autumn Release Program.  This program allows captive-reared juvenile whooping cranes to find their southerly migration route by following other cranes on their first migration journey.
Third in popular ranking and appearing in just the past week, my post, Sandhill Crane Hunting in Tennessee? Multiple Factors Say NO", originally posted in November of 2010. This post expresses my opinion about the sandhill crane hunting proposal in Tennessee which was successfully defeated when our Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission voted in January of 2011 to defer the proposed hunting season for two more years allowing more time to study the issue.  But why has that post inched its way to the top three rankings now?  My question was answered when I realized the highly opposed and unpopular Kentucky Sandhill crane hunting season is currently underway.

The season opened on December 17th and will continue through January 15th or until the 400 bird quota limit is reached.  Many states are now holding sandhill crane festivals to celebrate the staging and wintering of thousands of migrating sandhill cranes and more people are becoming aware of Kentucky's hunting season.
Though Kentucky has succeeded in offering a sandhill crane hunting season, the price of that victory remains to be seen.  Loss of public good-will and eco-tourism dollars may be the costly consequences of ignoring public opinion and input.  And that input was received not only from Kentucky citizens, but citizens all over the country, particularly those in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway states and Canada.  We all share the same migrating population of eastern sandhill cranes.    

Below, in the links section, you will find two insightful newspaper articles recently published in Louisville, KY and Tampa Bay, FL.  One an opinion letter, the other an article about reactions to hunting sandhill cranes, they highlight events occurring in many states as communities and state parks capitalize on the wildlife viewing opportunity provided by staging sandhill cranes, offering not only a thrilling opportunity for family education and entertainment, but an opportunity to promote conservation while bringing millions of dollars into the state's economy.  (see article links below).
The Asian hooded crane at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge has given people all over the USA, and visitors from Russia and Equador, the rare opportunity to view three crane species in the wild in one place in North America, and this is possible because the refuge is a major staging area for migrating sandhill cranes and whooping cranes in the east.  In Tennessee we have been celebrating the recovery of the Eastern Population of Greater Sandhill Cranes and the return of the endangered Whooping crane for many years.

The 21st annual Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival, a free event for the public, will be taking place January 14th and 15th, 2012 at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and Birchwood Tennessee.  If food remains prevalent for the cranes and the winter remains as moderate as we've had thus far, you can bet we will still have three exciting crane species present for visitors to enjoy and celebrate!
Hardshell Gourd Basket by Vickie Henderson, featuring sandhill cranes and one whooping crane.

Links and Resources:

Hiwassee's Hooded Crane on NPR with video
Nashville Tennessean article Dec 29th:  Rare Crane Draws Birders from 32 states.

Make your plans to attend the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival
Directions to Birchwood and the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
Hooded Crane is Season's Gift by Marcia Davis
Times Free Press--Rare Hooded Crane Seen

Sandhill crane and Whooping crane gourd art baskets in my online shop

Top Crane Posts on this blog:
Hooded Crane at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in TN
Whooping Crane Family--Happy Reunion!
Sandhill Crane Hunting in Tennesseee?  Multiple Factors Say No!

Shooting Sandhill Cranes?  Not in our backyard!  Tampa Bay Times Dec 31st
Tampa Bay Times--Migratory Sandhill Cranes to be Hunted in Kentucky Dec 24th
Louisville Courier Journal--pg 2, Promote Eco-tourism

Kentucky Coalition for Sandhill Cranes
Petition site:  No Hunting for Sandhill Cranes in the East with more than 3060 signatures.
All my blog posts opposing the hunting of eastern sandhill cranes

Whooping Crane Reintroduction links:
Operation Migration's Ultralight-led whooping crane migration--In the Field
Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership--Direct Autumn Release Program
International Crane Foundation
My Whooping Crane Family Series

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eastern Bluebird Family Pays a Visit

The female eastern bluebird that nested in the nest box during the 2011 breeding season paid me a visit this morning and brought her juveniles along.  I could not be more delighted than when this family pays a visit.  The parent female is indistinguishable from her daughter in plumage, but I can recognize her behavior. 
Above you see her staring at me from the nest box.  She had just checked the mealworm feeder and found it empty.  There is a message in that look.
When the family arrives, they flutter up to gazebo shelves to take a look around from up high before approaching the feeder.  Sometimes they arrive chattering, but this morning they were silent.  I just happened to be outside.  On this occasion, the parent female identified herself by what she did next.  She flew to the shepherd's hook closer to where I was standing and wing waved.  Can you imagine what pleasure that gives me?!
I gladly went inside to get mealworms and suet.  I put both out from time to time and the titmice and wrens happily check the feeder every morning and empty it of all contents, including the cornmeal crumbs.  The bluebirds scattered when I walked to the feeder, so after adding food, I whistled.  Never worry that you can't whistle very well.  Your whistle will be recognizable and birds will associate it with you and the food you bring.  
Above you see the female feeding and I believe the other two are her juveniles.  The male typically joins her inside the feeder.    
Along with the bluebirds, I had dark-eyed juncos and white-throated sparrows visiting, in addition to the titmice, chickadees, red-bellies and downies.  And the sweet little yellow-rumped warbler that likes to hang around made an appearance today.  I rarely catch him/her in an image, so I was doubly delighted when she paused long enough to allow this one.
A bluebird, titmouse, cardinal and robin are all featured in my Autumn Birds note card set, a boxed set of 4 x 5 blank cards featuring new watercolor images of some favorite birds in autumn settings.  Creating these cards and working with a printer has been a fun project and I am excited about the beautiful results.  
Visit my cards online at my Vickie Henderson Art website.  If you are near the Knoxville area, you can also find them at Knoxville's Wild Birds Unlimited.

Links and Resources:

Recommended for quality printing:  High Resolutions

The Hooded Crane is still at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge near Dayton TN.  Visit my post about this unusual crane appearance.  And check out the young birders in the Chattanooga Times Free Press article on the crane.

Visit my bluebird family posts about the fun experience I had watching this family during the 2011 nesting season.  You will also enjoy seeing the gazebo and the fun action that happens around it from time to time that I call "magic"

In 2009 I followed the nesting season of a pair of red-shouldered hawks.  Watch for my Red-shouldered Hawk sketchbook to be in print soon!  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hooded Crane at Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in Tennessee

A Hooded Crane has been identified foraging with sandhill cranes at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge in east Tennessee.  This crane species breeds in southeastern Russian and northern China, and a large percentage of these birds winter on the Japanese island of Kyushu.  
Photo credit:  Walter Sturgeon.  Hooded cranes wintering in Japan.  Birds with brownish heads are immature birds.  Hooded cranes have a red bare-skin patch on the top of their head covered in fine black bristles.  

This is only the third account of this crane species being present in North America.  In 2010, a hooded crane was identified in Idaho, and earlier this year in April, a hooded crane appeared in Nebraska.  It is not known whether these bird sightings are related.
Hooded cranes.  Photo credit:  Walter Sturgeon

The roads and fields of the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge are closed to visitors during the winter months providing refuge for many wintering birds and other wildlife.  Sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, bald eagles, the hooded crane, and many other birds species can be viewed from the observation platform which remains available for public viewing (see link below).
The Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge is a great place to see thousands of staging cranes during the winter months, including the North America's endangered whooping crane. Mark your calendar now with the dates of the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival, January 14th and 15th in Birchwood, Tennessee.  Many exhibits and programs, and spotting scopes and interpreters will be available to enhance your crane viewing experience.

Links and Resources:
Ann Paine's article on the hooded crane in Nashville's Tennessean
Rare Asian Crane report Dec 22nd, Chattanoogan.com
International Crane Foundation on Hooded Cranes
Details on the Tennessee Sandhill Crane Festival
Directions to the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge
Visit my sandhill crane art:  Sandhill Cranes Landing and A Peek at my Current Project

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Special Visit with a Brown Creeper

I have been thinking lately about all the things I'm grateful for, a feeling that started long before the Thanksgiving holiday arrived.  The feeling was helped along by the fact that my laptop screen shattered internally into a million colored lines a couple of weeks ago. This, of course, is not a disaster in the relative world of disasters, not even in the world of computer disasters, but as you may know, it can make you feel temporarily blinded.  All digital creative work comes to a screeching halt.  
Within a few days, a friend brought me an external screen to use temporarily while I decided what I should do to remedy the problem.  This amazed me.  Not the friend's instant generosity, but how gently and swiftly a solution arrived.  Instead of feeling distress over this unexpected turn of events, all I could feel was gratitude.

And while looking at the image above, that same feeling came over me again.  I enjoyed about twenty minutes with this brown creeper at eye-level, and each time I thought she/he had flown away, back she came, no intention of leaving, simply re-positioning herself for better foraging.  And if that wasn't gift enough, take a closer look at the image.  Notice not only the exquisite camouflaging patterns in the creeper's plumage, but the gorgeous aqua blue lichen, the darker green moss along side it, and those same muted colors glowing from the background light beyond.
All of this captured in the image quite by accident.  I was simply being very still, intent on following this little bird with my camera for as long as she would allow it.  When I saw this image, I instantly wanted to paint it.  It says so much about nature's simple beauty and the hidden wisdom that it holds.  A tiny little brown bird, so cleverly blending into the cracks and crevices of a tree's bark with its perfect shape and plumage patterns.  Blink your eyes, and she disappears, even when you know she's still right there.
The brown creeper is similar to woodpeckers in that it uses its tail for a brace, spiraling up and around the tree's trunk foraging for insects using it's slender decurved bill like a pair of tweezers.  Unlike nuthatches, creepers can only move forward up the tree, not down, facing downward, as nuthatches are able to do.  This is part of the reason I kept thinking she was flying away.  When she wanted to move down the trunk, she fluttered up from her current position and back down again, landing just where she needed to be.
We are fortunate to have these visitors in the winter months in the Tennessee Valley. They breed in higher elevations in Tennessee and in the northeast, and wander during winter months to warmer climates.  Considered solitary in the winter months, according to Sibley's Guide to Bird Life and Behavior, they also may travel in mixed flocks.  And small groups of creepers may congregate to roost in tree crevices at night, maximizing their warmth.  Can you imagine that?  A whole group of cuddling brown creepers!
And if that mental image isn't charming enough, my Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Tennessee describes the creeper as building its nest behind a slab of bark on a dead tree and laying eggs that are often arranged in the shape of a wreath.  The young fledge in 13-16 days.  "After fledging, the brood roosts in a tight circle with their heads inward."
The deeper we look, the more we discover the fascinating in nature.  And to have these wonders all around us, wherever we are, is a certain reason to feel thankful.

Earlier in the week someone said to me, "being thankful is good for you".  Wondering about her observation, I inquired further.  She responded, "Thankfulness is directly related to happiness.  The more thankful you are, the happier you feel."  Helpful words to remember every day of the year.

Links and resources:
You may also enjoy reading my November article for Wild Birds Unlimited:  An Intimate Visit with a Brown Creeper.  To see the bird-related illustration project I'm currently working on, visit:  A Peek at One of My Art Projects at Vickie's Sketchbook.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hummingbird Alert in the East

Generally in the eastern United States, Ruby-throated hummingbirds have left the area by the first of November.  Even though a few late Ruby-throats have been reported since that time, what is remarkable is the number of other hummingbird species currently being reported and banded in the eastern United States since the month began.  
The following report was provided to the Tennessee List-serve today by Mark Armstrong, our regional hummingbird bander in east Tennessee:

"On November 19 I banded a young male Allen's hummingbird at a home near Russellville, Hamblen Co. [TN]....It has been a banner year for wintering hummingbirds this year.  In the eastern TN area I cover I have banded 5 Rufous hummingbirds, the Allen's, a late Ruby-throat and I had a return Rufous that I banded last year.  The Rufous that I've banded have been in Johnson City, south Knoxville, and 3 in Tellico Village, Loudon Co. The late Ruby-throat was in Monterrey, Putnam Co. but it has quit coming to the feeder. The return bird is in Oak Ridge, Anderson Co.  My winter hummer season usually starts around Thanksgiving so it has been an early start and I'm sure more will come.  I'm not the only one seeing a lot of hummingbirds.  Other banders [in] the eastern US are getting record numbers of Rufous as well as Calliope, Broad-tailed, Allen's and Anna's.  If anyone has thought about leaving a feeder out this would be the year to try it."

His ending comment says it all. I refreshed my feeder right after reading his report. We don't have the encouragement of frequent visitors or seeing the feeder nectar go down during the fall and winter months, but it is important to keep the nectar fresh. This time of year, nectar should be changed at least once a week, sooner during warm spells and when the feeder is frequented by woodpeckers.

The above image was taken in September of a juvenile Ruby-throated hummingbird.
Visit this link to see one of the Rufous hummingbirds that was banded in Tennessee recently.

Friday, November 4, 2011

More Fall Excitement

Have you seen the movie Bambi?  Remember the scene when all the birds and animals of the forest gather around to see the new baby?  That's what it feels like while I'm sitting on my patio sometimes, like a magical scene from Bambi. Of course, the birds and animals aren't gathered around me.  They're coming to the sunflower seed and suet feeders despite my presence.  That's actually my favorite interaction, the opportunity to watch them at close range as though I'm invisible.
I didn't have seed and suet feeders out while hummingbirds were migrating earlier in September and October, allowing plenty of space for nectar feeders.  But when the last hummer departed, the quiet and stillness around the patio was too much!  So I hung suet and sunflower seeds one morning and sat outside just to watch and enjoy.  And I was rewarded, Bambi style.

I had not expected the feeder to attract so much attention after so many days of absence, but when seeds are offered, action happens.  The number of chickadees and titmice arriving all at once in a very short time was surprising.  It was also nice to think that some of these foraging chickadees might be the youngsters that fledged from my nest box this past spring.
And then there are the mammals, the chipmunks and squirrels that come around.  I became annoyed with the squirrels in October as I watched them visit the holly bush over and over again, as many as three at a time, stripping it of green berries, sometimes tearing the tip of the limb off to carry away a whole clump.  A day ago, I saw a small cluster of berries that had actually been allowed to turn red.  It's at the end of a long limb at the top and probably hard to reach.  While European holly berries are not a primary food choice for our birds, last winter these clumps of red berries attracted many species, allowing me to enjoy them on our coldest, snowy days in January and February.  But the berries have all been harvested already.  There will be no holly berries this winter to attract birds.  Once that was settled and done, I managed to feel peace again with the squirrels. After all, they have to eat too.
Above you see another character that comes around frequently, especially when the seeds are out.  He/she has given me several laugh-out-loud moments.  Once, she came around the corner of the house, and upon seeing me, bolted in another direction.  I thought she was running away to hide, but instead, she scurried up the leg of the bird bath and perched there taking a long drink.

Another time, I noticed her out of the corner of my eye, and turned my head to get a better look.  Here she came, in my direction, cheeks bulging with food to the max, and an enormous acorn clutched in her mouth.  She was so comical I laughed out loud, which of course, sent her into hiding behind a plant container.  Not too long after that, she reappeared, and continued her path, scampering under my chair as she rounded the corner heading for her burrow.
Among the other birds that visited the sunflower seeds and suet, was this white-breasted nuthatch, above and below.  Ever since I noticed a titmouse holding a dogwood berry with its feet while eating it, I have been fascinated with bird's feet and how they use them.  At the banding station, I also discovered how beautiful they can be, with even their foot pads colorfully matching plumage.  Each bird species has its own unique feet, perfectly designed in size, shape and color to suit the bird's foraging habits and habitat.  The white-breasted nuthatch has enormous and powerful feet attached to that little body!  And these feet are well adapted to clinging and climbing tree trunks as it forages and hides seeds for later consumption.  When I saw the image below, I had the impression of this nuthatch sliding in on roller skates!
In addition to the size of his feet, notice that hefty claw in the back.
I'm currently in the midst of several art projects with very close deadlines, keeping me both close to home and very busy.  And this is good news.  I love creating.  Below, a preview of one of my paintings in a collection called, Autumn Birds.  I'll share more about these projects as I get them completed.
This is also my favorite time of year, a wonderful season to take a break from time to time, just to step outside on these beautiful autumn days and take in the changing colors and the sounds and sights of foraging birds.
Nature in all her beauty!

Links and Resources:

To see a tufted titmouse holding a dogwood berry visit:  It's busy under that Dogwood
More posts on bird feet:  A Nashville Warbler from Head to Toe and Bird Banding and Matters of the Heart.
More autumn posts.
In Time out for Woodpeckers find a red-bellied woodpecker foraging among fall dogwood leaves.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Last Look at Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration

Since my last post was about wintering hummingbirds and the presence of a Rufous hummingbird in east Tennessee, I thought I would take the opportunity to show you some of the juvenile images I took of young hummingbirds as they were migrating through on a grey day in late September.
I say young, only because their behavior was not typical of mature birds.  For example, at any one time there might be two to three hummers perched in the holly on various branches, some exhibiting guarding behaviors, others clearly just trying for a turn at the feeder without too much harassment.  As I've watched hummingbirds guard feeders throughout the season, I noticed that mature birds seldom tolerate another hummingbird in their chosen perch area once the intruder is detected.  These little ones seemed oblivious and tentative.  And watching them at close range was delightful.

So this post is a photo essay, paying tribute to hummingbirds and showing some of my favorite images from a morning with a very young appearing group of hummers.  Of course, hummingbirds are beautiful anyway and easy to fall in love with.  The garden and patio have seemed far too quiet without all that wing-buzzing and chirping going on.

Next post, I'll show you how I remedied all that quiet!

Links and resources:

Learn more about how bird banding helps us learn about hummingbirds.  
Visit the Hummingbird Study Group to learn more about hummingbird species.
Contacts for reporting sightings of hummingbirds during winter months in the east: Bob and Martha Sargent, Rubythroat@aol.com or 205-681-2888
Posts about Ruby-throated hummingbirds on this blog.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Rufous Hummingbird in East Tennessee

I receive emails from our Tennessee bird club's list service so I can see what kind of bird activity is going on around the state.  This is especially fun during migration season and the winter months.  Though, I seldom travel to the places where unusual birds are sighted, it does give me opportunity to get to know the birds that are in my area of the state--in this case a rare for our area Rufous hummingbird.
Photo by:  Katherine Noblet, Johnson City, TN

Rufous hummingbirds do not breed or winter in the east, however, in recent years we are seeing them more frequently.  The Rufous hummingbird pictured above is currently visiting Katherine Noblet's yard in Johnson City, TN in Carter County.  That is about two hours northeast of where I live in Knoxville, in the Tennessee valley near the Smoky Mountains.  But it certainly stirs excitement and anticipation.  This is motivation and a reminder to everyone to leave a feeder out and stay alert for both late Ruby-throats and other migrating hummingbird species that you might otherwise not expect.  

Besides visiting the nectar feeder, Katherine reports that the Rufous visitor is feeding on pineapple sage and skip laurel blooms.    

Links and resources:

Visit this link to learn about how bird banding has helped us find out more about hummingbird migration.  Some migration patterns are changing.

The range map to the left is from Cornell's web page on the Rufous hummingbird.  Visit the link to learn more about this species and its habits.

You may also want to visit the Hummingbird Study Group for more information about this species and other hummingbirds.

Report sightings of hummingbirds in the east after November 1st to Bob and Martha Sargent, Rubythroat@aol.com or 205-681-2888.  In east Tennessee, report sightings to Mark Armstrong, 865-748-2224.

For more of my posts on our eastern breeding Ruby-throated hummingbirds click the link.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Excitement of Fall

I love fall. I love the crisp air, the changing leaves, the migrating birds passing through. And I love my patio and my bird bath. The patio with the deck overhead provides a sheltered place for me to relax and take everything in, even when its raining. And I never know what I might see. Sunday, for example, the unexpected.
Already seated, I had looked down at something, then up again to find a male bluebird drinking from the birdbath right in front of me.  I caught my breath, feeling so excited to see a bluebird so close again.  My resident bluebirds hatched their second brood in late summer.  When the juveniles fledged, the parents only brought them back to the feeder area a couple of times, then they were gone.  I mean, completely gone.
Without the need to protect their nesting territory for another nesting attempt, they had no reason to stay once the second brood juveniles fledged. This movement to different hunting grounds is an important survival behavior. The longer the bluebird family stayed in the nesting area, the more likely predators would detect the inexperienced fledglings.    
The male flew up to a low branch and perched for a while, partially concealed by the leaves. I picked up my camera thinking he might return for another drink, but instead, his companion, a female, landed on the birdbath and drank.  What a pleasure.  It may seem like such a simple thing, but there are few things more beautiful or peaceful than sharing an intimate moment with a bird as it goes about its ordinary daily activities, seemingly undisturbed by your presence.  (All the Eastern bluebird images you see here are of the female.)  
And bluebirds are so quiet when they approach.  They land with no fuss, no scolding, utter silence.  And just as quietly, the female departed, joined in flight by the male as they flew in the direction of the front yard.  They did not visit the mealworm feeder even though it had mealworms in it.  I added them earlier when I first heard a bluebird singing near the yard.  Maybe this pair was not familiar with mealworm feeders or maybe food is too plentiful this time of year for the feeder to draw their interest.  But that's okay.  The mealworms are not wasted.  Most of the time, the titmice empty the feeder.  Sunday, Carolina wrens also shared in the feast.  It was while watching the Carolina wren at the feeder, that I spotted the hummingbird that also visited that morning.    
A shy visitor, female or juvenile, she came back to the feeders several times but did not linger very long during any one visit. I was glad I happened to see her since she was the first hummingbird I've seen since Oct 9th. There are fewer and fewer hummers coming through now, generally late juveniles and late nesting females.  It's easy to miss them and mistakenly think all the Ruby-throated hummingbirds have departed.  This sighting on the16th of October is actually the latest date I've recorded a hummingbird in my yard in east TN in the fall.  But even after November 1st, it is a good idea to leave at least one feeder out through the winter months.  Other species of hummers have been documented in the east in the winter, and there are even a few records of Ruby-throats. In all, fourteen species have been documented in the eastern United states: Ruby-throated, Black-chinned, Rufous, Allen's, Broad-tailed, Anna's, Costa's, Calliope, Buff-bellied, White-eared, Green Violet-ear, Magnificent, Broad-billed and Green-breasted Mango.  If you see a hummingbird after November 1st, contact Bob and Martha Sargent at Rubythroat@aol.com or 205-681-2888.
I certainly don't need three feeders out this time of year, but I think of them as welcome flags, along with the flowers that are still blooming, advertising an oasis for thirsty, late travelers.  Below, a female Rose-breasted grosbeak that visited my sunflower feeder a week ago.  She is just passing through, on her way to the West Indies, Mexico or South America to spend her winter. Many migrants are passing through our yards this time of year, both seen and unseen.  
Fall is a beautiful, exciting time of year!

Next post: Fall color and more fun around the bird bath.

Links and Resources:
Blog posts on the bluebird family that nested in my yard during the 2010 breeding season.
Visit these links to see juvenile bluebirds enjoying a bath and my experience with feeding mealworms.

Learn more about how bird banding helps us learn about hummingbirds.  
Visit the Hummingbird Study Group to learn more about hummingbird species.
Contacts for reporting sightings of hummingbirds during winter months in the east: Bob and Martha Sargent, Rubythroat@aol.com or 205-681-2888
Posts about Ruby-throated hummingbirds on this blog.
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Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014
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Me and Denali--2012

Me and Denali--2012
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For the Love of It...

...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.
Sendivogius (1750)

Your Uncapped Creativity...

Your Uncapped Creativity...
"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action; and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. You must keep that channel open. It is not for you to determine how good it is, nor how valuable. Nor how it compares with other expressions. It is for you to keep it yours, clearly and directly." ----the great dancer, Martha Graham