BASICS: This is a blog about my summer life at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary, at my winter garden, Calypso, in the Bahamas, and aspects of life in general.
The sanctuary is ONLY open certain, very limited, dates/times, starting july 20, and ending sept 15, and ONLY by specific private appointment, at particular, available "slot" times posted at this blog. No visits of any type without a confirmed appointment (

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Calypso garden clips

More gray cold wet weather so to cheer me up (and I hope you) here are some garden scenes from our winter place in the Bahamas, "Calypso"

This is the view I see when I wake from my afternoon nap.

Finally, for those wondering where the hummingbirds are, here is a century plant bloom (30 feet high), with a hummingbird and bananaquits enjoying the feast.

Monday, May 22, 2017

More Fred Clips; McKee Gardens

Here are a few more videos of Fred perching from the same session as my last post.

The day before we visited Mepkin Abbey, we went to 2 Florida gardens, Heathcote (Fort Pierce) and McKee (Vero Beach), both of which we had visited during previous NY-Fort Lauderdale trips. Here are a somne videos from McKee Botanical Garden. How I wish I were back at McKee on this cold, wet gray day in Baiting Hollow!


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fred and Coralita - mating dance

Yesterday (saturday) evening I sat near the bluff-edge feeder where I had often seen a female hummingbird. However, when she arrived she actually visited the large coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens, an excellent native north-eastern  American vine) which climbs up the northeastern corner of the front cabin. Because of her liking for this vine, I am calling her Coralita. Shortly after I saw Fred, the resident male hummingbird, visiting this feeder repeatedly, and perching in the vicinity, perhaps hoping for a date (or more) with Coralita. One of the perches was part way down the bluff itself, and here is a long video of him preening, bill-cleaning, chirping and scrutinizing his surroundings.You can see some dull red flashes from his gorget, but he was in shadow and the angle was not ideal. The soundtrack is other birds singing and the waves on the beach below.

Then after a while Coralita came to the feeder, and quite quickly Fred intervened. I could not quite see what happened next but within a few seconds I saw that Fred was performing a mating dance just below me, presumably for her benefit, though I could not see where she was. Here's Coralita snacking on coral honeysuckle, and then another video of Fred, with a clear red flash at the end when he quits his perch.

Next, Coralita visits the bluffside feeder (perhaps best played back at 0.25 speed - use the Youtube cogwheel) - and just as she leaves Fred arrives (not shown).

Shortly after, Fred does his mating dance. The video shows only the last segment of the dance, and it's difficult to follow, until you watch carefully the upper left and right corners, where Fred briefly swings above the level of the vegetation. He then plunges down to the center middle of the frame and swings rapidly up to the other top corner. Presumably the object of his affections is located somewhere in the plant tangle at the bottom center of the frame. He's almost impossible to see as he moves rapidly across the vegetation. You can try running the vid at 0.25 speed, though he's still streaking near the dance nadir! The female judges the male largely based on the speed and accuracy of the dance.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Initial Hummingbird Videos at the Sanctuary; Visiting

Here are a couple of rather poor clips showing the adult male (I presume it's "Fred", from previous years - though it could be "Son of Fred") in residence at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary. The top one shows him perching at the tip of a dead black pine tree, located part way down the eastern slope of the western valley. From this spot he gets an excellent view of this valley (though since it's quite far away and not on my property) I do not get an excellent view of him. He spends most of his time scrutinizing his territory for either intruders or potential mates. But sometimes he very briefly visits one of my feeders. The second video shows him perching on a branch just above a feeder.

We will be open to visitors (by appointment only) certain days during the period july 20 - sept 15. Details of available dates and how to obtain an appointment will be posted in july at this blog. Please note no appointments can be made until the exact available dates are posted. Do not request an appointment until available dates are announced. This will be the last summer I open the sanctuary to the public, because the settlement of the lawsuit (brought by a neighbor) to which I agreed stipulates that public visitation will cease after sept 15 2017. However I will of course continue to welcome visits by friends and personal guests.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Back at the sanctuary - 2 hummingbirds sighted; Mepkin Abbey

I'm back at the sanctuary, and have already sighted 2 hummingbirds - a male and a female. The male is perching a lot near a feeder between the 2 cabins, and the female is dashing briefly to a feeder on the edge of the bluff - very typical behaviors at this time of year. I will try to get video but in the mean time here are some clips I recently filmed during our visit to the garden at Mepkin Abbey, on the Cooper river north of Charleston. It's a Trappist (= silent) monastery and suitably quiet, as you can appreciate on the soundtrack.
I can't believe it's nearly 2 months since my last post, my only excuse is the rather limited bandwidth in Eleuthera and then during our weeklong drive north from Fort Lauderdale to Stony Brook, via Wilmington N.C.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Foot in Mouth

Here's a close-up video of a hummer (Bahama Woodstar at Calypso) preening, and using his foot to try to remove the pollen from his bill.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Drone at Calypso

My stepson Noah is visiting Calypso and brought with him (together with the appropriate permit!) his Phantom 2 Drone with GoPro camera. Here's an example of the results - still rather wobbly, because no gimbal.

The drone first flies down our driveway and then turns left onto the sandy track that goes through our property. It then swings back to show our house "SeaStar" and slowly starts to climb to reveal Calypso Pond behind the house, and the sun setting in the west. It then turns clockwise to show the ocean and, as it swings to the east, our little cottage "Morningstar" and, well beyond,  a cluster of neighboring houses beyond the eastern edge of our property.  Continuing to turn clockwise, it shows Seastar again. Noah is just getting the hang of droning but it shows the general layout.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bahama Woodstar Adult Male Close-Up

Filmed march 8.
Yesterday I also saw a female hummingbird poking at Thumbelina's old nest remnants - she appeared to be taking fragments of the old nest, presumably to incorporate into a new nest somewhere. I will hunt for it.

The last I heard of the 2 Aquebogue rufouses was on feb 22, when they were doing very well - in part thanks to the live fruit-flies the homeowner is releasing in her yard, to provide protein snacks. And ruby-throats are already on the gulf coast (see They will be back on Long Island in less than 2 months - you should get your feeders out by tax day.
Sorry I've not been posting recently - we have been happily busy with a succession of visitors. But I will now try to post more regularly.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

North Fork Rufous Update; Calypso views

I'm happy to report that the 2 rufous hummingbirds that have adopted a North Fork backyard as their winter residence are doing fine. The devoted and tireless homeowner has been releasing live fruit-flies on warmer days, to provide the protein they need. At some point they will presumably head back across the country to their west coast breeding grounds, but the time is not yet ripe yet.
Here at Calypso I've been battling a nasty cold which has left me unable to do much, except enjoy sitting in the park-like grounds. Here are a few videos I shot yesterday showing some of the great variety of palms I have grown over the 25 years we've been coming here.

Here you see (from left to right) a purple Ti plant, a sabal palmetto, a Veitchia arecina, a Royal Palm, a Foxtail palm, a white banana-like Strelitizia nicolai and a pink oleander.

The second video shows the same group of palms etc on the left, and a bottle palm on the right, with a zoom to an oleander blossom.

A triangle palm in the foreground of the next clip.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Blue Boy

The adult male Bahama Woodstar hummingbird has a purple throat gorget, but in the gray light of a cool wet day like today, it looks almost blue. This guy is guarding a feeder just outside our window.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Empty Nest Syndrome

Yesterday we got an inch of rain and I was not able to look at the nest; I filmed this from inside:

This morning, dry and sunny, I found the nest to be empty. I'm pretty sure that the two chicks fledged yesterday, or possibly very early this morning. The nest did look a bit squished but as I wrote in my last post, it was already somewhat flattened the day before the rain.
Very likely the 2 chicks, still only able to fly very short distances, are hanging out somewhere in the immense (100 feet wide) of their densely-foliaged tropical almond tree. I did spot what appeared to be a young hummer high up in the canopy,at the end of a bare twig, but he was gone by the time I came back with my camera.
In the meantime here's a vid from last summer in Baiting Hollow, showing a male hummer at a feeder with Long Island Sound in the background.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Thumbelina's chicks almost ready to fledge

Everything seems to have happened very fast though it's already 5 weeks since I first spotted the nest. The chicks are now both poking their heads well out of the nest and looking around alertly. The nest itself has expanded in diameter and flattened somewhat. Tomorrow rain and wind is predicted but I think they will in any case soon fledge. Here are a couple of clip from this morning.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Hibiscus Blossoms; Quogue Stabbing; will Trump stop the carnage?

Here at Calypso pink hibiscus are flowering:

Thumbelina continues her feeding/stabbing of her rapidly growing chicks. This aggressive style of feeding is characteristic of all hummingbirds - here's the same behavior at the ruby-throat nest in Quogue I filmed during the summer.  

Perhaps this is the "carnage" Trump will stop? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Monday, January 16, 2017

Thumbelina's chicks are growing fast

Thumbelina has been very busy ferrying food (mostly half-digested insects) to her 2 chicks, which are now sufficiently big that their beaks poke well above the nest when she is feeding them (though it sometimes seems as if she's stabbing them!). It's still fairly windy so the nest sometimes swings out of view.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thumbelina's eggs have hatched; North Fork Rufouses faring well

Thumbelina's nest has been whipping around in a strong north wind for several days and I've been unable to film, or even properly observe, her nest. However clearly she's been hanging in for dear life and has kept her eggs warm, because this morning I observed her feeding the chicks for the first time. You cannot see the feeding very clearly from this video, shot during a brief period of relative calm, partly because her back is to the camera, but she's clearly standing on the rim of the nest and apparently "stabbing" the nest interior with her beak - exactly the normal feeding behavior. Although it will continue windy for several days, it will shift more to the east, from which direction the nest should be more sheltered, so I should be able to put back in place my observation tower (a step-ladder) which was knocked over in the wind, and get better video. It's 2 weeks since I first observed the nest, which was essentially complete, and the youngsters have hatched right on schedule, despite the howling north wind of the last few days.

Conditions are far tougher in the North Fork yard that's currently hosting 2 rufous hummingbirds - the temperature the last 2 nights has been down to 12 degrees - but thanks to the valiant efforts of the homeowner, running 3 heated feeders, a heated roost, and a supply of freshly released fruit-flies (for needed protein) both seem to be doing fine! Here's a link to an interesting earlier account of these 2 rufouses.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

More nest videos

Although I'm calling the female Woodstar hummingbird who's nesting just outside our living room here on the Bahamian island Eleuthera "Thumbelina" (following a suggestion by Donna DeSousa), her name could equally well be Patience. That is certainly the virtue personified by an incubating mother-bird! Here are some videos from yesterday showing Thumbelina on her neat little nest, viewed from 3 different angles. They were all filmed at about 10.30, when rays of sunshine happen to hit the nest despite the thick surrounding foliage. The first video shows the view from the step ladder I've positioned about 8 feet from the nest, so I can get a horizontal view. The camera zooms out to show the location of the nest in the tree.

The second video is also from this angle, and shows her flicking out her tongue.

Here's the same nest on the same date/time, viewed from another angle:

and finally from a third angle - 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Does Fake News Invade the Hummingbird World?

There's apparently a new Attenborough-narrated Nature series running on the UK BBC called "Planet Earth II" - a sequel to the 2006 "Planet Earth" series. I'm not sure if this new series is available on US TV. According to Morning News USA some viewers feel the new hummingbird footage is so extraordinary it might not be real but created by "CGI" - "Computer Generated Imagery". Judge for yourself: