Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hummingbirds and Hurricanes

Ruby-throated Hummingbird male.

This morning I helped trap hummingbirds for banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park in east Tennessee where local Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are preparing for migration and others are stopping to feed enroute to their wintering grounds in Central America and Southern Mexico.  At the same time, three hurricanes are churning in the south Atlantic, and as I write, hurricane Irma, originally a category 5 hurricane that has devastated many islands in the Carribean, is barreling down on Florida.
Above, Mark Armstrong demonstrates hummingbird banding at Ijams nature center, with Janie Kading assisting.

Knowing that Ruby-throated hummingbird migration is in full swing, I have wondered how these hurricanes have affected their migration.  I asked my friend and east Tennessee hummingbird expert, Mark Armstrong, to share what he knew about storm affects on migration. He answered with these comments:
"Unfortunately I don’t know much about their [hummingbird] survival in a storm.  I’ve heard of birds making landfall on the fringes of other storms and arriving thin and exhausted.  I’ve also read that migration from an evolutionary standpoint is actually across a broad front and a prolonged period so that some part of the population may be affected by adverse weather the majority will not be and survive.  I also keep thinking about Dr. Buehler’s Golden-winged warblers. They were at their breeding territories, left when tornados were heading their way, some went to the Gulf coast and one went back to Cuba.  Then they returned to breeding territories after the threat passed.  That is amazing and we really don’t know what birds may be perceiving and if they are capable of moving away from a danger like a hurricane.  Any small bird I can’t imagine would survive a direct hit from a storm with extremely high winds."
I, for one, am glad that the local hummingbirds frequenting my yard are hanging around and hope they will wait to leave until the many storm threats pass.
Meanwhile, we had a fun surprise during our banding session this morning at Seven Islands.  You may think that the hummingbird pictured above is a mature male Ruby-throat.  But surprise--this is a juvenile!  Normally, we expect to see juvenile males in their first year with scattered red throat feathers like the one pictured in image three or we might see small clusters of three or four red feathers as their gorget begins forming.
This first year male had an almost fully formed gorget, which Mark described as a rare occurrence in his experience.  Mark has banded over 4000 Ruby-throated hummingbirds since he began banding hummingbirds in 2005.  The juvenile pictured had white tail feather tips and other attributes that are the identifying characteristics of juveniles.
Most of our hummingbirds will leave Tennessee by the end of September with some late individuals departing by the second week of October.  Remember to leave at least one feeder out to feed our wintering hummingbirds that come from the west.  These birds often arrive from October to December.  If you should have a hummingbird at your feeder after November 1st, contact Mark Armstrong at or 865-748-2224.

Photo credit for banding images:  Mark Armstrong
Why do we band hummingbirds?
Mark Armstrong and banding at Seven Islands
Wintering Hummingbirds in Tennessee
Seven Islands State Birding Park

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hummingbirds and Jewelweed

Recognize this watercolor?  It's the hummingbird painting you see in my blog banner!  
Maine's Wild Seed project contacted me earlier in the year to inquire about using one of my hummingbird paintings with their article on Jewelweed's beneficial relationship with hummingbirds. Life gets busy and after we made arrangements, I actually forgot about it! What a delight to see this beautiful spread of my "Hummer and Jewelweed" painting in the latest publication of Wild Seed, Returning Native Plants to the Maine Landscape. 
Maine's Wild Seed project educates people about the important relationships between native plants and animals and how these relationships support each other.  Their magazine is beautiful, a feast for the eyes and informative to read.  They also have tons of helpful information and resources available on their website:  Pay them a visit and plant native plants!

Maine's Wildseed Project
Hummer and Jewelweed prints on my website, Vickie Henderson Art

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Watercolor Nature Journaling Workshop

Join me for a fun day of exploring nature with watercolor on April 8th at the Chota Recreation Center, Tellico Village in Loudon, Tennessee.
Nature journals are the earliest source of information that we have about our natural world.  Holding a journal in one's hand evokes emotion and awe because we innately relate to the sensory details captured in the artists words and images.  The added bonus to creating our own journals?  We see and enjoy more deeply and that comes with calming health benefits!
Join me for a relaxing day of exploring watercolor and nature. We will review helpful sketching techniques, use of values, basic watercolor washes, negative painting, representation of sky, clouds, rocks and trees, and choice of colors for the season. Using all our senses to enhance our observations, we'll leave our traditional artist fears behind and enjoy a day of exploring nature with watercolor.
The workshop is sponsored by the Art Guild of Tellico Village.  Visit this link to sign up!  
For more information about the workshop and the guild visit:  the Art Guild of Tellico Village Workshops
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Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, California--2015

Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014

Bird-banding at Seven Islands State Birding Park--2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Bird-banding at Seven Islands

Bird-banding at Seven Islands
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill!--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane banners and son, John--2014

The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014

The Incredible Muir Woods near Stinson Beach, CA--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Me and Denali--2012

Me and Denali--2012
Photo courtesy of Bob King

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