BASICS: Long Island gets hummingbirds throughout the summer, but not many. The Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary and Garden may be the best place on the island to see them.
We are ONLY open certain dates/times, typically in august only, and ONLY by specific private appointment, at particular "slot" times posted at this blog. You need a printed, dated SIGNED WAIVER, which will be sent to you to confirm your appointment, along with directions and instructions. We are always closed 12.30-3. You visit AT YOUR OWN RISK - there are steep narrow uneven paths and dilapidated chairs and structures, and parking is limited: carpool if possible. Be careful not to trespass on neighbors, as indicated by ropes and signs. Hand-held cameras only please, except by previous arrangement. There is no admission charge BUT YOU MUST BRING a signed dated liability waiver form. Dated waiver forms are provided only by request, in conjunction with your appointment approval, instructions and directions. Private groups (eg photographers, birders, gardeners) can request their own dedicated session. No visits of any type without a confirmed appointment.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hummer feeding at red powderpuff

One of the prettiest hummingbird plants here at Calypso is red powderpuff (Calliandra hematocephala). The flowers looks rather like those of our Long Island Pink Powderpuff "Albizia julibrissin" which is also attractive to hummers, but are red, and the plant is a bush not a tree. If I sit near this for a few minutes a hummer is sure to soon visit the flowers. In this video initially there's a yellow butterfly on the flower, but it's quickly chased away by the hummer.

Here's another clip, at a different flower, and 4X slo-mo.

From my seat near this bush I can also see this view:

One can see the red flowers of a hibiscus, and on the right the massive trunk of a royal palm. A foxtail palm is in the background.and there are yellow butterflies flitting around. Royal palms are my favorite tree (together with live oaks, which do not grow here) and you will be seeing more of them - I have quite a collection at Calypso. Here's another nearby garden scene, with pink and red hibiscus, white bridal bouquet frangipani, and in the background Casuarina glauca (a suckering type of casuarina that unlike the much more common, and highly invasive,  Casuarina equisetifolia, does not produce the annoying seeds, and is more attractive, with darker, denser foliage.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Last LaLa photo;

This is whatI believe to be the last photo of LaLa, taken on wednesday jan 20 before the blizzard of jan 22/23. It was taken by the MaryLaura Lamont, an expert birder with a particular knowledge of hummingbirds. She confirms that LaLa is no longer around at the sanctuary. My heartfelt thanks to her and everyone else who worked hard to protect LaLa

Friday, January 29, 2016

Feeding Wintering Hummingbirds; RIP LaLa

LaLa at the end of december. Photo by Kent Gomez

I'm a member of an interesting "List Serve" email group that focusses mainly on hummingbirds in the south-east. Chuck Reinsch recently posted there some "Thoughts on Winter Feeding of Hummingbirds" written by Wally Davis. I'm reproducing here these "thoughts" (without their permissions, for which I apologize) because they seem relevant to LaLa's fate. Although Chuck thinks this approach to winter feeding is mistaken, I'm not so sure. I've written before about hummingbirds' need for protein, via insects, and in lieu of living flying insects some dietary protein supplement seems sensible. In any case, I find Wally's thoughts to be well-reasoned and interesting:-

"Many years ago as a graduate student in zoology at UC Berkeley, I studied hummingbird behavior using both wild and captive birds as subjects.  Species I studied included Anna's (Calypte anna), Black-chin (Archilochus alexandri), Allen's (Selasphorus sasin), and Rufous (Selasphorus rufus).  Most of the time I kept my captive hummingbirds in an 8' x 8' by 8' outdoor enclosure sheathed in window screen.

Rather than feed simple sugar syrup, I fed a mixture containing sugar, vitamin drops, protein, and other nutrients.  In addition, I maintained a colony of fruit flies and a couple of times a week would release a large quantity of them into the hummingbird cages.  It was amazing to watch the action when the fruit flies were released.  All of the hummingbirds took to wing and deftly plucked the fruit flies out of the air or any surface they happened to land on.  The fruit flies didn't stand a chance and were quickly devoured.  Using this approach I kept my captive hummingbirds healthy for over a year and even fledged and raised two Allen's hummingbirds which I collected in order to study learned vs. instinctive feeding behavior.

In 1999 I moved to Snohomish, WA where I put up a bird feeder, hung blocks of suet and, of course, hummingbird feeders.  Many Rufous hummingbirds visited from spring to mid-summer and even nested in the shrubs on my property, but I didn't see my first Anna's hummingbird until 2011.  By 2013 they became year-round residents and were breeding on my property.  When the Anna's showed up I maintained a 4:1 sugar syrup all winter.  When temperatures dropped below the mid 20s I kept the food from freezing with a ball of small Christmas lights.  As a few years passed, I observed that there were fewer birds in late winter than in early winter.  Two possible reasons for this are that the birds leave and go somewhere else or they do not survive.  Because little natural food is available in the winter, I believe it is unlikely that the birds leave.  It is important to note that, once you attract hummingbirds for the winter, you must keep it up even if you are out of town or the birds may starve.

Both of my birding books from the 1960s, Peterson's A Field Guide to Western Birds (1961) and Robbins, Bruun and Zim's Birds of North America (1966), placed the north end of the range of the Anna's hummingbird in California.  Since that time they have moved north as residents more than 400 miles.  According to the National Audubon Society, winter feeding and home gardens have probably supported this movement (

While sugar syrup may be fine to attract wild hummingbirds during the summer, it is not a sufficient diet for captive hummingbirds or, in my opinion, wild hummingbirds lured by feeding to stay in cold climates north of their native range.  While normal winter mortality will cause loss of some birds, I believe the winter diet likely contributes to a reduction in overall fitness. In the near absence of insects and spiders, their primary source of protein and other nutrients is largely missing.  Imagine what it would do to our health if we consumed mostly sugar water with just an occasional nutritionally rich food for 3 or 4 months.

In late 2014 I changed my winter feeding program soon after the first frost; a time when I expect the availability of insects and spiders to be greatly reduced.  At first I tried to replicate the formula I used as a graduate student but found the ingredients are no longer available.  One of the ingredients I did use was baby formula and, consequently, reviewed the nutrients in all of the baby formulas I could find.  Eventually I selected Gerber Good Start gentle as my supplement.  A key reason for this choice is that whey protein is the first ingredient.  Most baby formulas on the shelves at my grocery store use soy protein which is of vegetable rather than animal origin.  The formula also contains a good selection of vitamins and other nutrients.

The recipe on the Gerber can calls for "1 unpacked level scoop (8.9g)" per 2 ounces of water.  Given the high quantity of sugar needed to maintain body temperature, I was concerned that feeding at this rate would provide too much protein and, consequently, settled on 1 level scoop per 8 ounces of 4:1 sugar syrup.  The instructions also say that you can refrigerate for up 24 hours and discard unused formula after 1 hour.  While this level of caution may be reasonable for infants, I have not found it to be necessary for hummingbird food.  I typically mix up 8 ounces at a time then put 2 ounces in each of two small feeders placed fairly far apart (hummingbirds don't like to share).  The Anna's hummingbirds which are using my feeders consume this quantity of food in about 3 days.  In cold weather there is no sign of spoilage of the food outside.  After a week in the refrigerator it still tastes and smells as fresh as when it was made up.  As the weather warms up I will probably change the food more often and, when I see insects I will switch back to just sugar water.

At the end of last winter it appeared to me that there were as many Anna's hummingbirds as at the beginning.  This gives me confidence that there isn't a downside to adding baby formula; it also gives me one subjective data point that the formula I use promotes winter survival.  Time will tell whether this pattern continues in the future.  At least I can feel confident that I am providing the hummingbirds with a more nutritious diet then they would otherwise be able to obtain, and they will hopefully be healthier coming out of winter."

Is it possible that LaLa became weakened by lack of protein and would have survived with Wally's formula?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Internet back up. New vids.

After 8 days down, internet is back on here, and I can start shooting new video. There are plenty of the local hummingbirds around (the Bahama Woodstar) and here is one (young male, or a female) visiting the tubular orange-red flowers of the Geiger tree, Cordia sebestena. 2X slo-mo

And here is an adult male perched on the tip of a branch of a frangipani (or plumeria) tree. These trees are leafless at this time of year, and there's a large one just outside our living room window. It will be covered in gorgeous yellow flowers in may. It's a bit blurry because it was filmed through the window screen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Still no LaLa sightings

According to there are now 2 reports that LaLa is not around post-storm.
I still have no regular internet access so other postings will be minimal for the moment.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Final Mme W video; LaLa's fate unknown.

My last video of Mme W, in a lull during heavy rain. The prolonged rain  on jan 2 weakened the attachment of the nest to its branch, which was whipsawing during strong winds that night and then jan 23 (the same weather system as the snow storm in the northeast). The nest fell to the ground that morning, ejecting the 2 immature chicks. Efforts to re-attach the nest to its site were unsuccessful, the nest tipped over in continued heavy winds and the mother abandoned her babies, which have now disappeared.
I have no news of LaLa.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

LaLa ok

Our internet is down so I''ll be very brief. A report from MaryLaura this afternoon is that LaLa is fine and "very vocal"!
Mme W is continuing to feed her 2 chicks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New LaLa photos.

Yesterday I had several reports of LaLa sightings, and John Gluth took these nice photos. As you can see LaLa is still in great shape, though I worry a bit that the very cold weather is making it difficult or impossible for her to find the insects that she needs for protein.

Monday, January 18, 2016

LaLa still around. Mme W still chicksitting; a guest at the feeder

Although LaLa was seen on friday, volunteers on saturday and sunday did not see her. But today Joy Clenaghan went out, unfroze a feeder and saw LaLa! See for details.

Here at Calypso, on the Bahamian Out-Island of Eleuthera, where we spend the winter, Mme W is still sitting on her chicks, though the nest is becoming more cramped for the 3 of them:

And here is a striking visitor to one of our feeders (filmed through the window screen) - a Bahamian green anole Anolis smaragdinus. I used to think these were the same as the american green anole A. carolina but apparently they are quite distinct species (see But in both cases there is ongoing competition with the Bahamian Brown Anole, A. sagrei. It seems that typically the Greens occupy the top half of trees, and the Browns the bottom half! In this case the small tree is a Frangipani (a.k.a. Plumeria) , which has beautiful yellow flowers in late spring. It loses its leaves in the "dry" season (which so far this year has been very wet). 

2X slo mo.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Video of Mme W feeding her chicks

Finally we have a dry day and I was able to film Mme W feeding her recently hatched chicks. However, they are already quite big, and I'm sure that although I first realized the eggs had hatched yesterday, they actually hatched at least the day before. She's still sitting on them a lot, but I waited until she left for a few minutes, knowing she would soon return with a stomach-full of insects. Which she did. As usual she approaches the nest cautiously, first alighting on a nearby branch and surveying the scene. Then, when the coast is clear, she dashes to the nest. I start the camera rolling when I see her leave her preliminary inspection post.

As of yesterday LaLa is also doing fine. Rufous hummingbirds start their northward migration from Mexico in late winter, reaching their breeding grounds in Washington State, British Columbia and South East Alaska in early summer. Relative to their body length this is the longest migration of any bird.  I wonder when LaLa will start her northeastern migration?