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Hummingbird Gardening in the Upper Midwest

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

“In all of nature there is something marvelous”  Aristotle
Hi Everyone,
As our coldest winter temperatures assault us, we wanted to remind you of a very nice upcoming “winter warm up”, The Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin, Friday, February 12-Sunday, February 14, 2016.  We are presenting our “Gardening for Hummingbirds” program this year after taking a hiatus in 2015.  We would love to have you come and join us and rev up your engines for gardening and hummingbirds in 2016.  Here is a link and the details about our program:
Michael and Kathi Rock:  “Gardening for Hummingbirds”
-Saturday, February 13, 2016, 12 noon-1 pm, Mendota 4
-Sunday, February 14, 2016, 11:45 am-12:45 pm, Mendota 3
There is something really magical about this event every year as we enter such an energy-filled space with green and flowering plants after a long winter inside!  We hope that you might consider joining us!!
Additionally, we will be speaking at the following events this spring and early summer:
-Chicago Flower & Garden Show, Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois
Sunday, March 20, 2016, 3:30 p.m.
-Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, Wisconsin
Tuesday, May 3, 2016, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Advance Registration Required---Space is Limited)
-Wildbirds Unlimited, Madison, Wisconsin
Saturday, June 25, 2016, 10 am
Lastly, our 2016 Community Hummingbird Garden Tours at our home are scheduled for:
--Sunday, September 11, 2016, 1-5:30 p.m. (Short Program& Door Prize Drawing at 3 pm)
--Wednesday, September 14, 2016, 3-7 p.m. (Short Program& Door Prize Drawing at 5 pm)
We hope to see you at one or more of these events during 2016!
Preparing for Your 2016 Hummingbird Garden?
-Select Seeds & Antique Flowers Winter Special:  $10 off your order of $50 or more until February 29, 2016 (code is “SELECT10”).  Visit their website at to order.  They offer many hummingbird attracting salvias and Cuphea ‘David Verity’.  They also carry many seeds.
-Flowers By The Sea:  Amazing array of hummingbird attracting salvias and other plants that attract hummingbirds.  Many varieties are rare and not offered anywhere else.  They have the best plants, shipping and customer service out there!!  We highly recommend.  Visit their website at:
-Klein’s Floral, Madison, Wisconsin
To see their listing of amazing annuals for 2016, visit the following link:
--The Bruce Company, Middleton, Wisconsin
-The Flower Factory, Stoughton, Wisconsin (opening April 16, 2016)
Their printed catalog is a wonderful resource and a horticulture lesson in itself!!
---Vincent Gardens:  Specialty online nursery offering flowering plants and shrubs for pollinators
Cost of plants and shipping is extremely reasonable and plants are huge!!

Sunday, September 6, 2015


Hi Everyone,

We hope to see many of you at our upcoming Hummingbird Garden Tours on Wednesday, September 9 from 3-7 p.m. (door prize drawing at 5 p.m.) and/or Sunday, September 13 from 1-5:30 p.m. (door prize drawing at 3 p.m.) at our home in Madison, WI, 5118 Buffalo Trail.

Just a few important updates:

-Hummingbird Banding will only occur at the Sunday, September 13 tour.  Because of circumstances beyond her control, Mickey O'Connor can only band for one of the tours.  Mickey and her crew will be here banding hummingbirds in the morning on Sunday (if you wish to come then, it's OK, but there is no official garden tour being offered until 1 p.m.) and afternoon during the tour.

-Please be aware and warned that our numbers of hummingbirds are way down this year despite our offering them all of the same food and habitat---we sadly cannot explain the reason for this unfortunate trend---we learned many years ago that humans cannot control nature or wildlife.  We cannot guarantee that the same numbers of hummingbirds will be in attendance at our tours. However, we can show you a beautiful, interesting and well-tended garden and the food, door prize drawings, and the camaraderie will all be here.  We will have a hummingbird DVD playing in our sun room and will offer printed information about attracting hummingbirds, etc.  We hope that you will still want to join us.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

-The weather may be cool and perhaps even rainy for one or both of the tours.  This is typical for Wisconsin in September.  The tours will take place rain or shine.  Please dress for the weather and wear practical shoes, especially if it's raining.  If it is a cold day, we will offer hot cider, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate!!

Again, thank you for your wonderful support of us and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Best Wishes,

Kathi and Michael


“Finally, I realized what makes my garden exciting is me. Living in it every day, participating minutely in each small event, I see with doubled and redoubled vision. Where friends notice a solitary hummingbird pricking the salvia flowers, I recall a season's worth of hummingbird battles.”--Janice Emily Bowers (Bowers is a botanist--that is, someone who studies plants. She did not consider herself a gardener until recently. Now, however, her passions are compost; the birds, butterflies, and lizards that inhabit her garden; and the food webs they represent. Bowers's essays evoke the fascination of gardens yet accept the contradictions involved in creating a natural world that is, in fact, unnatural, for her vegetables and riotous flowers are unsuited to life in her desert home. Nonetheless, this is a delightful garden journal that all gardeners, especially those in the Southwest, will appreciate. Bowers is also the author of The Mountains Next Door ( LJ 9/1/91).
- Katharine Galloway Garstka, Intergraph Corp., Huntsville, Ala.
Hi Everyone,
We hope that you are all having a wonderful summer and are enjoying your families, hummingbirds, and your gardens.  It took what seemed like months for summer to arrive in Madison, but it is finally here (now if we could only get a little rain!) Hummingbirds are reaching the end of their breeding season and will soon migrate south to their winter homes and once again we will be missing them.  Every summer /early fall moment with our hummingbirds is special and valuable and we must embrace it now.
One important issue that continues is the difficulty of sending large group e-mails to people.  Many e-mail programs, Yahoo being one, no longer accept these types of group e-mails.  We all understand not wanting to receive annoying spam and junk e-mails, but hopefully, our updates do not fall into those unfavorable categories!!  One of my hesitations in continuing to work on these updates is that most people who are currently on our mailing list may not longer receive them (or, as a separate issue---they do not keep us updated on their new e-mail address and we have no way to look this up and update it in our records.)  We could simply post the updates on our website, but the likelihood that people on our mailing list would regularly visit our website without a reminder of some kind is very remote.  So, the dilemma is, what to do to communicate with people?  Thank you for any ideas you may have on this important topic.  We will be setting up a Facebook page this winter and that may help with this issue a little and invite some new people to join us, but any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.
We are very pleased to announce the dates of our upcoming 2015 HUMMINGBIRD GARDEN TOURS:
-WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 3-7 p.m. (door prize drawing at 5 p.m.)
-SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 1-5:30 p.m. (door prize drawing at 3 p.m.)
Both tours are at our home, 5118 Buffalo Trail in Madison and will occur rain or shine.   Please note that major road construction is being done on Eau Claire Avenue that will not be completed until early October.  You will need to access our home from North Whitney Way---going north, turn right on Door Drive, go one short block and turn left on Green Lake Pass and then right on Buffalo Trail (sometimes one lane on Eau Claire is open to traffic, but there are never any guarantees, so the best way to come is from Whitney Way.  If you are coming west on Regent Street, turn right on Whitney Way and then make an immediate right onto Door Drive.
We hope to see some of you there and are excited to share our hummingbirds and garden with you.  We have been working very hard on our garden this year.  If you have any questions about the Garden Tours, please e-mail me   
With fondest best wishes,
Michael & Kathi
We would like to invite you to our upcoming Hummingbird Garden Tours at our home, 5118 Buffalo Trail in Madison, Wisconsin, 53705.  For those of you who don’t know where we are located, here is information about how to find us:
Please note the issue with Eau Claire Avenue explained above.
It is not necessary to RSVP unless you have a special need or request of some kind (unfortunately, our yard is not wheelchair accessible with the exception of our front garden area).  Please wear comfortable and practical shoes and be aware that there are many bees this year---if you are allergic to bee stings, please be aware and come prepared (any kind of heavy fragrance will attract bees and may cause them to sting you, so avoid wearing fragrance for your own safety and the safety of others! )
Light snacks and beverages will be provided.  If you would like to, please bring something simple to add to the food table (no pork or shellfish please) or a favorite beverage.  You can also bring a small bag of sugar or potting soil, but this is completely optional.
Please note that you must be present to win a door prize.  Door prizes have been generously donated by Wildbirds Unlimited in Middleton, Michael and Kathi Rock, and John and Helena Nolan.  We wish to thank Wildbirds Unlimited for their wonderful and long time generosity and support of our work and we hope that you will patronize their beautiful store for all of your birding and nature inspired gift needs.
The event will be held rain or shine (pray for hummingbirds and dry weather!)
If you have any questions or concerns, please call (608-233-7397) or e-mail ( Kathi.
HUMMINGBIRD BANDING WITH MICKEY O’CONNOR!!  Learn more about Mickey and her banding efforts at:
We are so excited about having Mickey join us again!
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2015, 3:00-7:00 P.M. (HUMMINGBIRD ITEM DOOR PRIZE DRAWING,  generously sponsored in part by Wildbirds Unlimited, Middleton, WI & John & Helena Nolan AT 5 P.M.) & SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2015, 1:00-5:30 P.M. (Hummingbird Item Door Prize Drawing at 3 p.m.!) 
5118 BUFFALO TRAIL (West of the Hilldale Mall & Oscar Rennebohm Park), Madison, WI   53705
Questions only (no need to RSVP) CALL 233-7397 OR E-MAIL KATHI JOHNSON ROCK AT KATHIJR@YAHOO.COM.   Visit our website at  for more information
Hummingbird Species Expected:  Ruby-throated Hummingbird
New Plants in Our Garden This Year
-Cuphea ‘vermillionaire’
-Delphinium ‘Forester’s Hybrids’
-Digiplexis ‘Illumination Flame’
-Digiplexis ‘Illumination Raspberry’
-Duranta erecta
-Lilium henryi
-Lilium lancifolium
-Lilium speciosum rubrum
-Salvia alegria
-Verbena hastata
Returning Hummingbird (and Butterfly!) Favorites
-Agastache (several varieities)
-Azalea (several varieties)
-Buckeye (Dwarf Red and Bottlebrush)
-Buddleia ‘Orange Sceptre’
-Buddleia davidii
-Buddleia lindleyana (Weeping Butterfly Bush)
-Campsis radicans (Trumpet Creeper)
-Canna ‘Robert Kemp’
-Canna indica (several varieties)
-Chelone (White and Pink Turtle’s head)
-Clinopodium coccineum ‘Amber Blush’
-Cuphea ‘David Verity’
-Cuphea schumannii
-Eccremocarpus scaber (Chilean Glory Vine)
-Fuchsia triphylla and magellanica
-Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon)
-Hosta (over 50 varieties!!)
-Impatiens balfouri
-Impatiens capensis
-Impatiens glandulifera
-Ipomoea coccinea (small red morning glory)
-Ligularia ‘The Rocket’
-Lobelia cardinalis
-Manietta cordifolia
-Monarda ‘Jacob Kline’
-Nicotiana glauca
-Nicotiana mutabilis
-Nicotiana from The University of Kentucky
-Penstemon ‘Firebird’
-Ruellia brittoniana 'Purple Showers'
-Rueliia elegans
-Ruellia humilis
-Salvia ‘Amistad’
-Salvia ‘Big Swing’
-Salvia ‘Hot Lips’
-Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’
-Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’
-Salvia ‘Silkie’s Dream’
-Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish’
-Salvia atrocyanea
-Salvia chiapensis
-Salvia coccinea
-Salvia darcyi
-Salvia ‘Ember’s Wish’-Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’
Salvia gachantivana
-Salvia greggii (many varieties)
-Salvia guaranitica (several varieties)
-Salvia involucrata (Rosebud Sage) (several varieties)
-Salvia maraschino
-Salvia microphylla (many varieties)
-Salvia miniata
-Salvia muelleri
-Salvia Mulberry Jam
-Salvia Phyllis Fancy
-Salvia subrotunda
-Salvia Waverly
-Scrophularia marilandica
-Silene regia
-Sinningia (several Varieties)
-Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
-Verbena  bonariensis
-Zauschneria latifolia
-Zinnia elegans
OTHER PLANTS (For us, not the hummingbirds!!)
-Hardy Hibiscus
-Lespedeza  (Bush Clover)
-Salvia glutinosa
We are so excited to announce that a vagrant immature male Rufous hummingbird that was banded by Mickey O’Connor late last summer in Mayville, Wisconsin has returned to the same feeder again as an adult bird.    Typically when Western hummingbirds are documented or banded in the Upper Midwest, they are never seen again and we don’t know what happened to them.  In this case, because of banding, we are able to report that it is the same bird returning to the same location.  These tough little hummingbirds have the longest migration route of any hummingbird (over 2,000 miles as they migrate from Central America and Mexico to Alaska to breed each spring and a few fly east before flying south again in the late summer/early fall) and are one of the most cold-hardy hummingbirds.  For a photo and more details about this amazing story, please click on the link below:
Two feeders that have passed the longevity test in our garden and have the approval of our hummingbirds are:
-Perky Pet Pinch Waist Hummingbird Feeder
-First Nature Hummingbird Feeder
There are many other feeder styles that can be safely and successfully used (although each type has its advantages and disadvantages.)   As a reminder, here is information about how to use hummingbird feeders in your garden:
FEEDER MAINTENANCE & CLEANING (Courtesy of Master Hummingbird Bander, Lanny Chambers,
Here's the recipe for artificial nectar (syrup):
  • Use one part ordinary white cane sugar to four parts water.
  • It's not necessary to boil the water. The microorganisms that cause fermentation don't come from the water; they are transported to the feeder on hummingbird bills.
  • Store unused syrup in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This mixture approximates the average sucrose content (about 21%) of the flowers favored by North American hummingbirds, without being so sweet it attracts too many insects.
Distilled water may be used instead of tapwater. However, some researchers are concerned that distilled water lacks minerals that hummingbirds need, and believe it would be prudent to add a pinch of sodium-free salt, which contain potassium chloride, to feeder solutions made with distilled or demineralized water. This should help bring the salt content of artificial nectar back in line with that of natural nectar and help prevent electrolyte deficiencies. Do not use table salt (sodium chloride). Adding salt is not necessary if well or tap water is used.
Any syrup solution will spoil eventually, regardless of temperature, so strict maintenance is required (see below).
For the sake of completeness: another view of syrup concentration appeared in the May 1993 article by Reed Hainsworth and Larry Wolf, both noted hummingbird researchers. However, it's not clear that the health of the birds was considered, or merely their preferences - like children, hummers may tend to eat more candy than is good for them - and there is still a suspicion that high sugar concentrations can cause liver damage in hummingbirds. When I wrote Dr. Hainsworth asking for a reference to a more rigorously-scientific treatment of his data (i.e., a published paper), his reply dodged the question. Without reflection upon anyone's reputation, I stand by the opinion of the majority of hummingbird researchers, that a 1:4 mixture has been shown to do no harm, and any other formula must remain suspect.
There are some specialized protein-added hummingbird food mixtures (e.g., Nektar Plus) that are useful in laboratory or rehabilitation settings, where no natural food is available, or possibly in emergency winter situations when hummingbirds will die without it. But realize that these mixtures are especially vulnerable to spoiling and in an ordinary feeder setting during warm weather would need to be changed every few hours.
Feeder Maintenance
Hanging a hummingbird feeder means assuming a certain amount of responsibility for the well-being of a fragile and trusting animal. If you are not prepared to follow the rigorous maintenance routine outlined below, perhaps you should consider planting a hummingbird garden, instead.
Experts tell me that hummingbirds will starve rather than consume spoiled feeder syrup, so a dirty feeder isn't likely to cause harm. But it may cost you the pleasure of their company if they abandon your yard for more reliable food sources elsewhere.
Every filling, flush the feeder with hot tap water; a bottle brush can be very helpful. Do not use soap - hummers apparently don't like the taste, but bleach will remove it if you have this problem. Visually inspect the entire feeder for black mold; a bleach soak (see the next paragraph) is the best way to remove mold. Discard any unconsumed sugar water. If the birds are not emptying your feeder between cleanings, it's unnecessary and wasteful to fill it completely. If the sugar solution in your feeder turns cloudy, it's spoiled and needs to be replaced. This can happen in as little as two days.
At least once a month, clean the feeder thoroughly with a solution of 1/4 cup bleach to one gallon of water. Soak the feeder in this solution for one hour, then clean with a bottle brush. Rinse well with running water and refill. Any remaining traces of bleach will be neutralized by reacting with the fresh syrup, and there's no need to air dry before refilling. Bleach is both safe and very effective.
These is evidence that bleach accelerates leaching of BPA (a chemical known to cause genetic damage in mammals) from polycarbonate plastic. No one, as far as I know, has studied its effects on birds. If you are concerned about BPA, use full-strength white vinegar instead of bleach.
When to Take Down the Feeder
Hummingbirds will not delay migration if a feeder is present; they are driven by forces more powerful than hunger. If you live in the southeastern U.S., leaving a feeder up might attract one of the western hummers that visit the region in small numbers every winter. The Pacific coast of the U.S. (and extreme southwestern Canada) has a population of non-migratory Anna's Hummingbirds; if a feeder is maintained over the winter, hummers will visit it year-round. Some other locations near the Mexican border also have winter populations of several hummingbird species. See the About Hummingbirds section for more information.
They will find your feeder, unless you take precautions. Buy a dripless feeder; they really make a difference. Some feeder models feature a built-in ant moat that may be filled with water; don't use oil, since chickadees and other small birds like to drink from ant moats. You can make your own moat by running the hang wire through a hole in a spraycan top (use a dab of silicone sealer or hot glue to seal the hole). But the best defense against ants is to paint the inside bottom of an ant moat with Tanglefoot, a very sticky goo sold at nurseries, and install the moat open side down. This is extremely effective against ants, poses no risk of a bird getting stuck or contaminated, and is low maintenance, since it keeps the goo from being compromised by rain and dust. If you use Tanglefoot, or any other sticky or oily substance, you must be absolutely sure it cannot come into contact with a bird.
I no longer recommend using duct tape or castor oil around suction cups or on hang wires. There's too much chance of a hummer brushing against it during feeder fights.
Bees, Wasps, and Yellowjackets
Bees and wasps are attracted to the color yellow. Since many hummingbird feeders have yellow plastic "flowers" or other parts, try removing such parts or painting them red before hanging your feeder in the spring - once bees learn where food is, they fly right back to the hive to tell all their friends, so avoiding their attention up front works best.
You can buy a feeder with bee guards. However, those tend to be the drippiest feeders available (Perky-Pet "Four Flowers," etc.), and once they start dripping the bee guards are useless, since puddles form in the flowers outside of the bee guards, an easy meal for insects.
Bees tell each other about good nectar sources using pheromones, so it may help to clean the feeder daily with vinegar. It may also help to rub a clove of garlic around the ports. I don't recommend using Pam or other oils or greases on hummingbird feeders.
The only sure defense against bees and wasps is to absolutely deny them access to the syrup. In June 1997 I replaced my Perky-Pet 210-P with a HummZinger, which is inherently wasp-proof because the syrup level is too low for insects to reach, but easily in range of the shortest hummingbird tongue. I also bought a Perky-Pet Oasis feeder, a copy of the HummZinger with several design flaws, but just as effective against bees. Basin feeders are also available from Opus and other companies, and all are effective in denying food to bees and wasps. All are also easy to clean.
If you choose not to try a new feeder and wasps persist, first try moving the feeder, even just a few feet; insects are not very smart, and will assume the food source is gone forever. They may never find it in its new location, while the hummers will barely notice that it was moved. If that doesn't work, take the feeder down for a day, or until you stop seeing wasps looking for it. You'll see hummers looking for it, too, but they won't give up nearly as soon as the wasps. Also, reducing the sugar concentration to 1 part sugar in 5 parts water will make it less attractive to insects, but probably won't make the hummingbirds lose interest.
The feeders you use must be convergence of hummingbirds safely and consistently using them, being easy to clean, and being put up in a place where you can easily see and enjoy them.  Happy Hummingbird feeding!! 
Please contact us with any questions about hummingbird feeders.
Local nurseries in the Upper Midwest often sell Salvia elegans for sale as a hummingbird plant (the leaves also have culinary uses, which is a different reason to grow this plant).  We have tried this plant numerous times and it either does not flower at all or blooms so late that it is no longer useful for hummingbirds (early November!)   This is a wonderful hummingbird plant for hummingbird gardeners living in warmer climates with longer growing seasons and winter hummingbird visits (Florida, Gulf Coast states, Arizona).  We recommend that you skip purchasing this plant (unless you are looking for a houseplant with red flowers in early winter!) and direct your purchases and gardening efforts to long blooming salvias such as Salvias guaranitica or ‘Amistad’ instead.
Mickey O’Connor, hummingbird bander and International Committee member for the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative, will once again be leading a two week bird conservation trip to the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica this winter (January 19-February 1, 2016.)  If you are interested in exploring this phenomenal opportunity to view the amazing birds of Costa Rica (including the same Ruby-throated hummingbirds we see here in Wisconsin---an amazing sight), please e-mail me at and I can send you additional details about the trip and Mickey’s contact information.  The tour group will be limited to 10 persons.  To learn more about the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative and the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica visit or
This wonderful trip will be an unforgettable experience!!
UPDATE:  We recently learned that this trip to Costa Rica is now filled for 2016, but Mickey has made a commitment to lead the trip every winter, so we hope you will consider it for 2017!!
As the horticultural world is finally beginning to realize that many gardeners garden with hummingbirds in mind, hummingbird favorite plants such as Cuphea and “New World” salvias are becoming more available and easy to purchase.  When we reflect back on what it was like to garden for hummingbirds 15 years ago and how obscure these plants were then, we are amazed when we see what plant shopping (both online and locally)  is like today.  We now have many outstanding mail order nurseries that provide superb plants and excellent customer service (Flowers By The Sea,, springs to mind as one shining example) and local nurseries all over the country and even big box stores are offering more hummingbird-attracting plants.  These developments are so positive for all of us and nurseries must be pleased as well, despite the difficulties, uncertainties, and complexities of the plant nursery business.
A few new hybrid forms of older hummingbird plants have recently entered the market and we would like to highlight and discuss those varieties:
-Cuphea ‘vermillionaire’:  For years, Cuphea ‘David Verity’ (hybrid of Cuphea ‘micropetala’ and Cuphea ‘ignea’) was the gold standard cuphea for the hummingbird gardener.  It was very challenging to find and many northern gardeners overwintered their plants inside as best as they could to avoid having to search and reorder for the next season.  Cuphea ignea, the easiest to find cuphea both locally and by mail order, is not ideal for hummingbirds because the flower tubes are too tight for their bills to easily obtain nectar---the creation of Cuphea ‘David Verity’ corrected this problem and was an easy plant to grow and versatile in the garden (its major downfall is how attractive it also is to Japanese Beetles!)
This year, Proven Winners came out with its own cuphea hybrid called ‘vermillionaire’.  It is widely available  in local nurseries and big box stores, and online.  In our opinion, it has a different growth habit than ‘David Verity’---it is a little shorter, with smaller leaves and denser foliage, and the flower tubes seem shorter, but still wider than Cuphea ignea, so hummingbirds can and will use it.  Unfortunately, Japanese Beetles are crazy about this plant, much more so than ‘David Verity.’
We are growing both Cuphea ‘vermillionaire’ and Cuphea ‘David Verity’ this season in very close proximity.  We have found that hummingbirds will visit both, but seem to prefer Cuphea ‘David Verity’.  Given how attractive ‘vermillionaire’ is to Japanese Beetles, we will probably only grow Cuphea ‘David Verity’ next season.  Also, we tended to plant overwintered Cuphea ‘David Verity’ plants in the ground and they grow as tall as 3-4 feet depending on how much sun they receive---we are not sure that ‘Vermillionaire’ would be at all useful outside of a container.
-Salvia ‘Amistad’ (Friendship Sage):  Salvia guarantica ‘Black and Blue’ and Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’ were our best blue and purple salvias for hummingbirds for years.  Both had their downfalls, although hummingbirds loved them.  Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ was on the short side and only flowered well in full sun (other hybrid will be out next year called Salvia ‘Black and Bloom’ which sports many more flowers per plant than ‘Black and Blue’).  Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’ was a large, lanky plant with huge purple flowers that broke off at the drop of a hat and always required staking and often didn’t bloom until mid-summer.  Well, along came Salvia ‘Amistad’ from Rolando Uria in Argentina.  This breathtakingly beautiful plant improved on all of these issues: it flowers vigorously even in some shade, never breaks off or requires staking (we had a seven foot tall overwintered specimen in our garden last season that stood on its own power!), and is full, and lush, and it flowers continuously all season long (late spring to mid-fall).  We love the look of this plant and how carefree it is, but sadly we only see occasional hummingbirds visiting the flowers.  We still grow Salvia guarantica ‘Black and Blue’ (as well as the species Salvia guarantica without the black flower bracts) and Salvia ‘Purple Majesty’ and see more frequent hummingbird visits.  Because we like the look of all three plants and Salvia ‘Amistad’ is so widely available, we will probably still continue to grow all three plants in the future.
To muddy the waters even further, there is another purple Salvia on the market and available in many local nurseries called Salvia ‘Brazilian Purple’---we believe it to be a hybrid of Salvia guarantica and Salvia splendens.  It is a very attractive plant that is easy to grow.  If we find it again locally, we may also grow that one despite only limited hummingbird usage in our garden.
-Salvias ‘Wendy’s Wish’, ‘Ember’s Wish’ and ‘Love and Wishes’:  These chance hybrid salvias from Australia are fairly widely available at better local nurseries and online.  They are attractive, easy to grow and resilient  everblooming salvias and are substitutes for more particular and unreliable bloomers such as Salvia involucrata, Salvia ‘Mulberry Jam’, and Salvia buchananii (which are also more obscure plants that are not easy for the average gardener to locate and purchase).  We sense that Salvia splendens is reflected in these Australian hybrid salvias, but Salvia splendens on its own is not a top tier hummingbird plant while these new hybrid forms do reliably  attract hummingbirds (especially when grown as container plants.)  A portion of the sales of these plants is directed  to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is a laudable goal.  We will continue to grow these new hybrids as well as the other more difficult to obtain plants mentioned above, as we see many hummingbirds choosing them and they are strikingly attractive.
It is always interesting to try a new plant, especially if you can find it at your local nursery, but you must carefully evaluate it for hummingbird value and other factors such as ease of growing, appeal to destructive insects, and a growth habit that is easy to control, and general attractiveness of the plant.
Many people write to us and say that they are very disappointed by the numbers of hummingbirds visiting their garden despite use of well maintained hummingbird feeders and establishment of an extensive hummingbird garden.  The two questions we might ask are:
-Do you live in an urban, suburban or rural location?  If you live in a city or even a suburb, attracting hummingbirds to your garden no matter what you provide will be much more challenging, but not impossible.  Unlike some of the Western hummingbird species (Anna’s is a good example), Ruby-throated hummingbirds are not really “urban” birds and much prefer the privacy and seclusion of a rural or wooded location or at least a small town setting.
-Do you have good mature tree cover and thick shrubbery on your property?  A moving water source is also very helpful.
We often recommend to people just starting out on this journey of hummingbird attracting that they plant trees on their property as a first step  (if they are not already present.)  We were very lucky---when we moved into our home 17 years ago, we actually had too many trees---the prior owners of our home loved trees and there were many volunteer trees and a few that were diseased and had to be removed immediately.
Surprisingly, hummingbirds spend about 75% of their day perching.  Many people believe that most of the hummingbird’s time, especially during the fall migration period, is spent feeding and chasing.  Well, that simply is not true.  At some times of the year, we see hummingbirds perch in our trees (and we have their favorite perching spots memorized by now) and they never feed from a single feeder or flower, but we can see them hawking for insects.  Many insects live in trees and insects are an essential ingredient of a hummingbird’s daily diet.  Hummingbirds can also use trees and thick shrubbery as places to escape from predators.  At night, the birds will roost in a secluded spot high in trees. During nesting season, female Ruby-throated hummingbirds will build their nests in the crook of a downward sloping branch about 25 feet off the ground.  For hummingbirds, trees are everything.  If most of your property is turf grass and garden areas, you sadly just may not see that many hummingbirds (despite your gardening efforts and providing feeders).  It is simply not normal for a Ruby-throated hummingbird to hang out in a garden with no trees for perching (it would be a little like people visiting a home with no furniture for a dinner party)!
If you are one of those unlucky hummingbird gardeners with no or few trees, what do you do?  The answer is quite simple---start planting trees.  Identify fast growing trees with good disease resistance that are hardy in your area and grab your shovel sooner rather than later.  It will also help to find the largest tree specimens available, otherwise you and your hummingbirds may wait many years to enjoy a mature tree.  You may want to check out the following site: (you can click on any state in the U.S. to get recommendations.)
We would recommend that you include at least one pine tree and a Blue Spruce---both of these have been extremely valuable to our hummingbirds and other birds, especially as temperatures drop in the fall and winter.
You might also wish to consider the following trees:
  • Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
  • Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
  • Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
  • Hawthorne (Crataegus)
  • American Holly (Ilex opaca)
  • Juniper---Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Mulberry (Morus rubra)---can be a messy tree, but many people and birds enjoy the fruit!
  • Oak (Quercus)
  • Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
  • Serviceberry (Amelanchier)
  • Cranberry Bush (Viburnum)----choose varieties with red berries.
  • Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum x carnea)---red flowers in spring.
Although it is native and hardy in the Upper Midwest, one tree to NEVER consider planting is the poisonous Black Walnut Tree (we had a squirrel plant a  Black Walnut tree in our yard that we finally removed!)  The roots of a Black Walnut Tree produce a toxic substance called juglone which may make it very difficult or impossible to grow some plants in that area (up to 80 feet away from the Black Walnut Tree).  You may also find huge numbers of volunteer Black Walnut Trees as squirrels “plant” the nuts in your yard.
Your tree selection should reflect your own taste and desires for your property and you can certainly consult with a nursery professional who can even help you get your new trees sited, planted, and established.  Spring or Fall are acceptable times to plant, but fall planting in colder northern areas can be challenging.  Here is an article:
You must make sure that large trees are not planted too close to your home or in areas where they could encroach on a neighbor’s property or home.  You must know the mature width and height of a tree beforehand so you can plant accordingly (which is why professional help is recommended, especially if you have limited space for trees).  You will also want to make sure that new trees receive adequate sun exposure, are not planted too deeply, and are watered regularly and deeply until they are well established.
You may also want to check out the following link about hiring a professional arborist to help you with your tree-related goals:
It is always easier and more fun to think about enhancing our property with feeders and flowers, but our trees and shrubs are extremely valuable foundation elements in our gardens which must be included for success in attracting hummingbirds and other migratory and non-migratory birds.
Fastest Things on Wings, Rescusing Hummingbirds in Hollywood by Terry Masear, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2015. This brand new book brings hummingbird rehabilitation to life in a vivid and interesting way that will even be entertaining and meaningful to a non-hummingbird loving person.  We heard about this book at the recent Sedona Hummingbird Festival and wanted to check it out for ourselves.  A full report will be given in our next update.  Available from and your local bookseller.
Hummingbirds, An In-Depth Look at the Habits & Behaviors of These Colorful, Fascinating Creatures by Erik Hanson, Stackpole Books, 2009.  This extremely detailed, even scholarly, book will entice the person who is passionate about studying hummingbirds. The book includes many beautiful photos and drawings of species in the US and Central and South America.  All of the most vital areas of study of hummingbird behavior and how to attract them to your property are explored in great detail.  A more complete review will be forthcoming.  Available from and perhaps your local library.
REMINDER:  LEAVING YOUR HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS UP UNTIL THANKSGIVING WILL NOT ENCOURAGE BIRDS WHO NEED TO MIGRATE SOUTH TO REMAIN IN YOUR YARD AND YOUR FEEDERS MAY EVEN HELP THEM (we hosted an immature male Ruby-throated hummingbird until November 17 in 2010).  You might even be lucky enough to attract a Rufous hummingbird to your property.  However, the nectar must be kept fresh and the feeders cleaned---if you cannot commit to doing this, you should take the feeders down for the health and safety of hummingbirds.
Michael & Kathi Rock
5118 Buffalo Trail
Madison, WI   53705

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2014 Mid-Winter Update- please join us for the WPT Garden Expo

“If my love could be represented by a blur, it would be the beating of a hummingbird’s wings. Did you know that my love is the only love that can fly backwards?” 
― Jarod KintzA Zebra is the Piano of the Animal Kingdom
Hi Everyone,
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!  We wish all of you a wonderful 2014 filled with beautiful flowers and hummingbirds.  Whatever your traditions or beliefs might be, we hope you enjoyed a fun and festive Holiday season.  For us, it was an extremely busy family time and now we are looking forward to another fantastic year of hummingbirds and gardening.

Given this overwhelming chilly and challenging winter, it’s very difficult to think about hummingbirds and gardening now, but we can assure you that both are not that far away.  The first migrating hummingbirds are typically sighted on the Gulf Coast at the end of February and people in Florida and the Gulf Coast areas are enjoying hummingbirds right now, some of them Ruby-throats!

This winter update will be rather brief, as we need to quickly inform you about upcoming events of a time limited nature:

-WISCONSIN PUBLIC TELEVISION GARDEN EXPO, February 7-9, 2014 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wisconsin.  Our Hummingbird Gardening Program will be presented on Saturday, February 8 at 9:30 a.m. and repeated on Sunday, February 9 at 2 p.m. 
Here is a link to the Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo website for more information about the event:
-CHICAGO FLOWER & GARDEN SHOW, March 15-23, 2014 at the Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois.  Our Hummingbird Gardening Program will be presented on Saturday, March 15 at 2 p.m. 
To learn more about the Chicago Flower and Garden Show, please visit their website at:
-WILDBIRDS UNLIMITED IN MIDDLETON, WISCONSIN:  We will present our program on Saturday, April 12 at 10 a.m.  The program is free, but you must register in advance.  To learn more about the WBU seminars, please visit their webpage at:
This wonderful nursery offers many hummingbird favorites, especially salvias and native plants.  They send large beautiful plants that are expertly packed.  

Check out their hummingbird page (which we helped them put together!)--- 

Any orders placed before February 1, 2014 will receive a 15% discount.  You can also save an additional 25% by ordering some plants in groups of three.  Orders of $250 or more will receive free shipping.  They are one of the few topnotch plant nurseries to offer an early bird discount.  Don’t miss your chance to take advantage of this great opportunity to get your 2014 hummingbird garden started with gorgeous, high quality plants!
Other nurseries that you might want to check out and what they have to offer include:

-FLOWERS BY THE SEA NURSERY: :  The largest and most interesting collection of salvias currently available and their customer service and shipping are phenomenal!  Highly recommended.
-SELECT SEEDS – ANTIQUE FLOWERS: :  Salvia ‘Blue Brazilian Sage’, Cuphea ‘David Verity’, and many other salvias and perennials.  Reliable nursery with very reasonable prices.  They also have many unusual seeds for sale.
-AVANT GARDENS: :  Cuphea ‘David Verity’ and Salvias.  They send some of the largest plants of any mail order nursery!
-ALMOST EDEN PLANTS IN LOUISIANA: :  Special hummingbird plant selection, but their “claim to fame” is Stachytarpheta which is difficult to find anywhere else.
-PLANT DELIGHTS NURSERY, INC.: : Interesting and varied perennials and annuals and many hummingbird plants unavailable anywhere else.  They send very large plants and have one of the best and most interesting printed catalogs out there.
-BLUESTONE PERENNIALS: :  Mostly perennials, but a few tender Salvias such as Salvia guarantica ‘Black and Blue’ and Salvia greggii ‘Wild Thing’.  They used to sell plants in groups of three, but now all plants are singles in a ready to plant, biodegradable pot. They offer some discounts, a spring sale, and coupons.
-VINCENT GARDENS: :  Very small nursery specializing in hummingbird and butterfly plants with many unusual salvias for sale. They send large and beautiful plants and are highly recommended.
-WILDSEED FARMS: :  Seeds only.  Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra), Salvia coccinea, and zinnia.  Larger quantities of seeds are available.

We hope to see you soon at one of our upcoming programs.  Have fun getting ready for spring and your hummingbirds!!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer 2013 Update- garden tour

And the humming-bird that hung Like a jewel up among The tilted honeysuckle horns They mesmerized and swung In the palpitating air, Drowsed with odors strange and rare. And, with whispered laughter, slipped away And let him hanging there.”
- James Whitcomb Riley

In This Issue:

·        Welcome & Our Garden Tour Information

·        Wisconsin Has  A New Hummingbird Bander!!

·        Some Very Sad News

·        New Hummingbird Webcam

·        Learn About The Hummingbirds of Louisiana

·        Help to Save an Arizona Hummingbird Haven

·        Touching Story About a Nesting Ruby-throated Hummingbird

·        Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Bee Balm & Cardinal Flower

·        Read Our Article About Hummingbird Gardening in “A Second Opinion” Magazine

·        2013 Sedona Hummingbird Festival

Hi Everyone,

We hope you are having a wonderful summer and are enjoying your hummingbirds and gardens.  For many people, this enjoyment has unfortunately been diminished a bit because the numbers of hummingbirds in the Midwest have been less this year.    Our numbers of hummingbirds have been about the same, but there are reports from many other people that paint a much different picture.  One thing Michael and I learned early on is that you cannot control nature and wildlife---whether this was caused by our cold and wet spring or some other cyclical variation, we have to enjoy what we have in front of us right now.

In that spirit, we would like to invite you to our upcoming Hummingbird Garden Tours at our home, 5118 Buffalo Trail in Madison, Wisconsin, 53705.  For those of you who don’t know where we are located, here is information about how to find us:

The dates of the tours are:

·        SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2013, 1-5:30 p.m. (Door Prize Drawing at 3 p.m.)

·        WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2013, 3:00-7:30 p.m. (Door Prize Drawing at 5 p.m.)

It is not necessary to RSVP unless you have a special need or request of some kind (unfortunately, our yard is not wheelchair accessible with the exception of our front garden area).  Please wear comfortable and practical shoes and be aware that there are many bees this year---if you are allergic to bee stings, please be aware and come prepared! 

Light snacks and beverages will be provided.  If you would like to, please bring something simple to add to the food table (no pork or shellfish please) or a favorite beverage.  You can also bring a bag of sugar or a small bag of potting soil, but this is completely optional.

Please note that you must be present to win a door prize.  Door prizes have been generously donated by Wildbirds Unlimited in Middleton and Michael and Kathi Rock.  We wish to thank Wildbirds Unlimited for their wonderful and long time generosity and support of our work and we hope that you will patronize their beautiful store for all of your birding and nature inspired gift needs.

The event will be held rain or shine (pray for hummingbirds and dry weather!)

If you have any questions or concerns, please call (608-233-7397) or e-mail ( Kathi.

We are looking forward to seeing many of you at our garden tour and sharing a little slice of our hummingbird paradise with you!

Michael & Kathi





We have a new hummingbird bander in Wisconsin. There has not been a person who is licensed to band hummingbirds living in Wisconsin for quite some time and the majority of Western hummingbirds that show up in Wisconsin in fall and early winter have gone unbanded. Her name is Michelene "Mickey" O'Connor and she is an avian zookeeper at the Milwaukee Zoo and has also worked in wildlife rehabilitation. She recently completed her bander's training with Bob and Martha Sargent, Master Hummingbird Banders (and the best in the business!!). Here is her bio:

Mickey and her assistant met with us in our garden in late August. We have a garden in full swing, but unfortunately not many hummers right now (and most of the hummers we have are using flowers exclusively, which would make them extremely difficult to band). Mickey is very anxious to get some practice in and would like to come to your hummingbird garden with her banding equipment if you live in Wisconsin.   If you are interested, please e-mail me.

We are very excited about Mickey's work as a hummingbird bander in Wisconsin. We are especially pleased that she will be able to study the life cycle of the Ruby-throated hummingbird in the Upper Midwest and that she will hopefully be able to band those special fall and winter birds that show up from the west.

I hope that anyone who can will offer to have Mickey visit their yard and band a few hummingbirds. Who knows, maybe a Ruby-throat that she bands here in Wisconsin will go into a trap of Nancy Newfield's in Louisiana---now, wouldn't that be a thrill!


A great friend of ours and supporter of our work, Ken Wood, passed away on August 16, 2013.  Ken attended our Garden Tour every year to check out all of the unusual salvias in our garden.  He loved nature, dahlias, salvias and hummingbirds.  He did so much throughout his life in birding and nature conservation and we applaud his life’s work and passion and will miss him so much as a friend.  Here is Ken’s obituary:

No life is ever long enough, but dying at age 69 is way too young for such a wonderful man who had so much to do!  Ken, we will miss you so much!  We plan to do a brief tribute to Ken at our upcoming garden tours.


Not seeing many hummingbirds at your house?  Check out this new webcam to get your hummer fix:

This webcam comes from the brother of Lanny Chambers, the hummingbird bander who created and maintains the website with the Ruby-throated Hummingbird Migration Map.


Like Wisconsin, the only breeding hummingbird in Louisiana is the Ruby-throat, but the Gulf Coast of Louisiana is also a hotspot for many beautiful hummingbirds from the West beginning in August.  You can learn about this fascinating new trend in this report:

Hummingbirds such as Rufous, Anna’s, and Green Violet Eared have shown up in Wisconsin in fall and early winter (one more reason to leave your feeders up a little longer!)  If you ever see a hummingbird that looks more brown than green and vocalizes with a chipping sound, please give us a call!


When we took our birding trip to Arizona, we stopped at this magical place.  Many beautiful Violet-crowned Hummingbirds can be enjoyed there.  We want to make sure that it is preserved for future generations.  Here’s how you can help:

Alert: Hummingbird Haven Facing Uncertain Future - Act Now

Several months ago, American Bird Conservancy board member Victor Emanuel
made an impassioned request that American Bird Conservancy help acquire an
American birding landmark that had recently come on the market: Paton's
Birder Haven.

This property, located in Patagonia, Arizona, is the loving project of Wally
and Marion Paton, who for more than 35 years built their property into a
premier Arizona birding site and opened their home to thousands of local,
American, and international birders to see Arizona¹s outstanding hummingbird
diversity. Many visited the site for a chance to get a ³life² Plain-capped
Starthroat, Violet-crowned Hummingbird, or Magnificent Hummingbird for their
North American list.  The property has passed on to the Paton¹s children,
who would like to honor their parents¹ labor of love in making the property
a memorable, welcoming stop for birders visiting Arizona.

In partnership with Tucson Audubon Society and Victor Emanuel Nature Tours,
American Bird Conservancy has entered into a contract with the Paton family
to acquire the property and to maintain the property in perpetuity as a
hummingbird sanctuary open to visitors. We have raised $100,000 of the
needed funding, but urgently need to raise by October 15th the remaining
$200,000. Once acquired, Tucson Audubon Society will assume long-term
ownership and management of the property.

Can you please help by making a donation at
and by FORWARDING this email to as many birders as you can, encouraging them
to click on the link provided and make a donation today? Please post this
request for help on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, websites, and any other outlet
you think will reach birders who have visited Paton¹s or plan to in the
future.  One hundred percent of each tax-deductible donation will be applied
to the acquisition and management needs of this historic property. We truly
need every dollar to succeed.

Thank you very much for your support and help!  Please let me know if you
have any questions or you have a favorite picture from Paton¹s Birder Haven
you would like to share.

Learn more - please give now!

Steve Holmer
Senior Policy Advisor
American Bird Conservancy &
Director, Bird Conservation Alliance
202-234-7181 ext. 216
Skype: sholmerabc



This link was sent to us by a member of the Wisconsin Birding List.  Please enjoy:


A member of the Wisconsin Birding List shared these beautiful images of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Bee Balm and Cardinal Flower.  You just can’t go wrong with these native plants in your hummingbird garden!


This winter, a periodical in Western Wisconsin, “A Second Opinion Magazine”, asked us to write an article about hummingbird gardening from the perspective of health and wellness.  It was a little different for us, but forced us to look on this passion of ours in a whole new way.  Here is the article (and the photo of a hummingbird at zinnia is from our yard):

Take a break with your hummingbirds today and enjoy improved health and a happier life!


Last August we attended the very first Sedona Hummingbird Festival as observers.  This year, we attended the event as program presenters.  This is the longest distance we have ever taken our “Gardening for Hummingbirds” program and it was a special experience.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Festival, here is the website for the event:

The beauty and majesty of Sedona certainly make it an appealing place to hold a Hummingbird Festival.  Who can forget those beautiful red rocks----this very special setting just seems to scream hummingbirds!

The Hummingbird Society, the Sedona-based organization that sponsors this event, has been able to garner community support here in a way they were unable to in Tucson.  While the majority of the attendees were from Arizona and Southern California, 18 different states were represented, which speaks to the quality of the Festival’s offerings.

The activities of the festival include presentations by hummingbird experts from around the world, garden tours of local hummingbird gardens, hummingbird sunrise “breakfasts” at local homes hosting a lot of hummingbirds,  a banding demonstration, a hummingbird conservation lecture, and a hummingbird shopping mall.

Each aspect of the Festival was valuable and interesting in a different way (although we cannot comment on the hummingbird sunrise breakfasts because we decided not to attend those given how early they were and our schedule was extremely hectic with our two presentations---but we can imagine that they were spectacular---maybe next year!)


To attend an event where every activity is solely focused on hummingbirds is like a dream come true.  This festival offered a wide range of different presentations from the most basic (Dr. Ross Hawkins kicking off the Festival on a light-hearted but knowledgeable note speaking about “Why Do We Love ‘Em?”) to the most unusual (self-taught Sri Lankan artist Gamini Ratnavira showing us how he draws and paints hummingbirds.)  We were supremely wowed and fascinated by Jacques Ducros speaking about breeding hummingbirds in his French aviary (this would be illegal in the US) and Karen Krebbs led us through the establishment and development of the hummingbird aviary at Tucson Desert Botanic Garden (who ever realized how intense it can be to care for hummingbirds in captivity).  Photographer Dr. Larry O’Mealie showed us stunning photographs of hummingbirds and their allies from Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and the U.S. (I was as interested in the flowers, or “the resources” as Dr. O’Mealie called them, as I was in the hummingbirds).  Steve Bouricius led us through how he and his wife Debbie band hummingbirds in Palisade, Colorado---although we have heard so much about banding before, we realized what a truly exacting process this is after this program.   We unfortunately did not have time to see the presentations given by James Currie---“Hummingbirds---A Video Journey” (we saw this last year and it was fantastic—see his outstanding work in the Hollywood film about birding, “A Big Year”) or Beth Kingsley Hawkins, “Romancing the Hummingbird:  A Sedona Focus” (we did see her unique program last year and it was sweet and special.) 

Our program, “Gardening for Hummingbirds” featured a blend of what we do in Wisconsin and what we recommend gardeners in the desert southwest can do to attract hummingbirds.  Because we live and garden in the Upper Midwest, it was difficult to make these recommendations, but Kathi spent countless hours of research developing printed handout materials for hummingbird gardening in the desert southwest (if you wish to receive those handouts, please e-mail Kathi) and we also had photographs of hummingbirds at flowers and feeders in Arizona from our many trips there.  We also shared a few door prizes, hummingbird feeders, Salvia coccinea (an annual for hummingbirds that grows anywhere in the country), and Canna indica tubers (also grows anywhere in the country).  While the program had its flaws, it was a well intended effort.  We discovered that there is a great need for hummingbird gardening information for gardeners in the Southwest and that this region of the country presents some unique challenges (intense heat, lack of rainfall, unrelenting sun, difficult soil, etc.) but also some wonderful opportunities (long growing season, continuous sunshine, vast array of plants that can be grown, and, best of all, a non-stop supply of hungry hummingbirds of so many different species.)

Conservation Lecture

Dusti L. Becker, Ph.D., who directs Life Net Nature, a non-profit conservation organization, with her husband, presented a special evening session on “Saving the Esmereldas Woodstar, an Ecuadorian hummingbird at great risk”.  We were amazed by the work Dusti and her organization are doing in the cloud forest of Ecuador (this may sound romantic, but it’s roughing it to the max---the only way you can reach their site is by mule and sleeping accommodations are in tents!)  Their collaborative work with local residents has delivered amazing results in the wonderful work to save this endangered hummingbird.  Again, I was fascinated by the local flowers that this hummingbird visits (Psychotria hazenii was not even on the internet!---And acanthus).  If you are interested in giving a donation to help save this hummingbird, or better yet, joining (for those of you who are adventurous) a trip to visit Ecuador with this organization to work hands on, please visit:

Garden Tours

We were most excited about the Garden Tours of actual hummingbird gardens in the Sedona area.  Interestingly, all of the gardens we were able to visit were developed by gardeners hailing from the East and the Midwest!  Hummingbirds crowded the feeders at every location (for the most part, the plants were ignored).  We were amazed that these gardeners were attempting to grow plants from the East and Midwest regions in Arizona, an area that is the direct opposite in every respect (of course, every garden area and pot received supplemental irrigation)!  While we applauded their ability to do this, we wished that they would have included a few more Southwestern natives that Kathi worked so hard to research on her handout piece for the presentation.  The gardens were beautiful and fascinating though and we even saw Salvia guaranitica at one garden that the gardener, a landscaper by trade, said he bought in Arizona!

Hummingbird Banding Demonstration

Steve and Debbie Bouricious shared their banding expertise for the second year at the Festival.  Last year, they banded at a Sedona shopping mall and only banded few birds.  This year, the banding demonstrations were at peoples’ homes and that made a huge difference.  The site we visited was amazing, set outside of town and well away from people, highways, and traffic.  The homeowner (another transplant from the Midwest!) had a decent hummingbird garden (many agastaches and penstemons) and this was the only place during our visit where we viewed a hummingbird feeding extensively at a flower and not a feeder---the hummer was at Trumpet Creeper.  We saw four species of hummingbirds at the banding location:  Rufous, Black-Chinned, Broad-tailed and Anna’s and Steve explained that they had seen Calliope and were trying to get those birds to enter the trap.  The skill demonstrated by Steve and Debbie was remarkable and they patiently described the detailed process to the many observers.

We enjoyed the second Annual Sedona Hummingbird Festival very much and loved our lodgings at the beautiful Enchantment Resort.  We plan to attend again next year---the 2014 Sedona Hummingbird Festival will be held August 1-3, 2014.  Sedona is a wonderful, special, and stunning place to visit.  To learn more about visiting Arizona and Sedona, check out the following sites:

Sedona and most of Arizona is a fantastic place to view hummingbirds and experience nature at its finest (if you want to see Wisconsin in Arizona though, check out Flagstaff---they have a similar climate to ours and grow many of the same plants)!