BASICS: "Hummingbirds.....where is the person, I ask, who, on observing this glittering fragment of the rainbow, would not pause, admire, and turn his mind with reverence..." (J. J. Audubon).
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.
This private sanctuary is now permanently closed to the general public, as a result of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor. Only my friends and personal guests may visit (

Monday, September 10, 2012

Still quite a few hummingbirds! Rescue!

Closed for the season.

This morning in Baiting Hollow was superb: quite a few hummers still around (despite the north wind), no helicopters or other noise, other than the slap of waves on the beach far below, crisp sunny weather, blue sea and just the right amount of puffy white clouds overhead. The flowers are now at their peak. But of course, I had to go to work.....!

We have had good (though not very good) hummer numbers over the last few days, including saturday when we were open but few came to visit. Understandably people are now thinking of other things. So now we will be closed until next august. But I will continue to report on the hummingbird situation, as long as they are around, and as long as I still have good pictures (taken by you all this year: thanks) to post.

Just as I was about to leave, I noticed a hummingbird inside the rear cabin, and had to rescue him. I am more used to a hummer inside the front cabin, since I leave both doors open there and they often take a short-cut through them. On average I have to rescue one there once every season: they fly in (often as part of a chase) but cannot immediately find their way out. They then try to escape through the high, light-colored ceiling. But a hummer in the rear cabin has only happened once before. So I had to get the step-ladder, and try to corner the bird using a broom. Luckily I was able to push him gently with the broom behind one of the books perched up on the high window (it's there to discourage birds from colliding with the high window), and then, using the step-ladder,  reach in and (very gently) grab him. He relaxed immediately in my hand, and I took him outside, and opened my palm. After a second he flew off unharmed, as they always do. Of course it's like holding ..... air.

The picture is by Joe Mure, and shows a hummer enjoying the sea view.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

open this sat afternoon 3-5.30, probably for the last time; 3 blood-drops

OK, we will open this afternoon 3-5.30, but this will probably be our last time this season. There are some hummingbirds around, and I think the big storms will hold off till tonight. Tomorrow the strong wind will shift to the northwest and numbers will be down, and probably not recover much. There is a (rather noisy) event at the 4H camp, so please be extra careful driving on Terry Farm Rd.
The photo, by Patrice Ellert, shows a young male feeding on rosebud salvia. Note the 3 "blood drops" on his throat - the first tiny feathers of the ruby gorget that gives the species (technically Archilocus colubris) its name. He will develop a full set on his wintering grounds in Central America. The only other member of the Archilocus genus (i.e. the rubby-throat's closest relative) is the black-chinned hummingbird, Archilocus alexandri. It looks very similar, but breeds in the west.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Closed today (fri); possibly open at the weekend

We are closed today but might open for a morning or afternoon this weekend.

The photo is by Rick Mei.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

closed today, thur and fri; "chirping", swallow spectacle

We are closed today (wed), tomorrow and friday. There are still some hummingbirds around and we might open at the weekend if the conditions are favorable.
Many of you (but not I) have heard the "chirping" sound that hummers use to communicate with each other (often to say "get out of my flowers"). Note that I say "sound" not "noise": someone recently asked me about the noises they make, and I replied that only humans make noise, and birds make sounds. The chirping is rather high frequency, so I cannot hear it. On this link (at the very useful website of NY Stare bird song recordings made by my Stony Brook  University colleague Tony Phillips) you can listen to the chirping (but again I can barely hear it). A much louder sound is recorded here:

So I don't know what to beleive: my ears or my lying eyes.

Yesterday evening between 6 and 7 there were thousands of swallows mostly moving west (though a few were circling, or going briefly east), and all seemed to be catching insects as they flew). The were over the bluff and slightly over the Sound, both above and belwo me. They did not have forked tails so were not barn swallows, and were probably tree or cliff swallows. Over a 1 hour period I sat mesmerized by the spectacle; tens of thousands must have passed over that period.

Today's photo is by Linda Sullivan. The hummer is feeding at rosebay sage.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

closed today (tues); pollen crown

We are closed today, and will not open again before the weekend (and possibly not at all). however, I will be posting more information and pictures, and possibly a few sneak open times, over the next couple of weeks. Keep reading, and keep emailing me your photos! Hummingbird numbers are well down, and perhaps the southward migration is early this year, just at the spring migration was (hummers arrived on Long Island already in march; late april is typical). However yesterday our sparse visitors all saw several birds, with several 2-hummer-chases, and one 3-hummer one.
The photo is by Mark Schaller. The hummer is feeding at Salvia guaranitica, or Anise Sage, a four star hummingbird plants, and perhaps the best for LI gardens. Notice the dab of pollen on his head.  Most flowers deposit pollen on the beak but cardinal flower (another 4-star plant) has evolved to be specifically pollinated by hummingbirds, and as the bird inserts his bill, the anther snaps down and places pollen on the top of the head. You will often see hummers at the sanctuary wth this "golden crown".
Here is a nice image, by Laura Eppig, of a hummer at cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).

Monday, September 3, 2012

Open today (mon) 3-5.30; 10 FAQs; S van Houttei

We are open this afternoon (Labor day) 3-5.30, to all-comers. Please no bell ringing today.  Activity is still low (though we did see some 3-hummer chases yesterday, and 2 hummer chases this morning), and I suspect the season is ending early.

While we do not charge entry or even accept donations (except garden chairs and plants),  if you want to contribute to knowledge and welfare of eastern hummingbirds, consider, and its associate Hilton Pond is a private sanctuary in South Carolina (absolutely no connection to us), and Operation Rubythroat is based there and focusses on the ruby-throated hummingbird (research, education etc). Buy one of their splendid tee-shirts. Their newsletter is very well done and this week presents the 10 most commonly asked hummingbird questions, with clear and reliable answers.

Today's photo, by Sandra Jantzen, features the wonderful Salvia splendens "van Houttei".
S. splendens is a Brazilian shrub that is the progenitor of all the common showy miniature red annual salvias that decorate garage forecourts etc. The common feature is that the bracts surrounding the flower base and the flower itself are the same color - in the case of the species and most of its cultivars, red. But intense selection has resulted in nectarless, compact and highly floriferous descendants. van Houttei was an early dutch horticulturalist who made a very early selection, which still has lots of nectar, and has been rediscovered (so many of the older varieties are superior to the newer, commercialized, ones). The flowers and bracts are both burgundy-purple. Of course this causes confusion for inexperienced hummingbirds, who struggle to learn that only the long protruded flower-tube (see photo) has nectar - lots of it!
I find it does best in semishaded areas with richer soil, where I plant it with its red cousin S. splendens "Louie's Delight". It does take time to start flowering properly, after an initial early bloom, but is rather gorgeous. I get both from Beds and Borders.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Open today (sunday) with limits; no bell; Grand Prize

We are open today 3-5.30 only to those who have not yet visited this season. The day started very quiet but activity did pick up later in the morning.  It's the weekend, so please do not ring the bell. Yesterday hummingbird activity was again rather low, although we did see some 3-bird chases, and all those who were a bit patient had several sightings, some quite prolonged. When activity is low, it's best to sit, anywhere you prefer, enjoy the view and atmosphere, keep an eye out, and they will materialize. They spend a lot of time perching, to conserve energy and build fat reserves for the long journey south, and are then quite difficult to spot. But they are not resting, instead constantly scrutinizing their patch of flowers to detect an interloper, who they will immediately attack. They are like toddlers with toys: they will not share! You will also often see them chasing each other  at high speed through the tree tops, sometimes with incredible bursts of acceleration (up to 9G).
Directions and info are to the right of this post. If you are sure on your feet, please take the Woodland Path, starting at the yellow minibridge, but if you have any difficulty walking follow the driveway to the right (east) of the minibridge. If you (or one of your party) have great difficulty walking, email me (via to request permission to park in the closer small parking area.
We welcome any nice images you take (please try to include a hummer somewhere!) ; submission is taken as permission to post on the blog, with acknowledgements.
Today's image is by John Ward, part of the wonderful nature photography group NWPLI that came earlier in the season. You see a hummer at rosebud sage (Salvia involucrata), with bog sage in the background. At the end of the season I will select a Grand Prize winner from all the posted submissions; the reward will be your own personal private afternoon or morning at the sanctuary next season!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Open today (sat) with limits; no bell; trumpet creeper

We are open today 9.30 to 12.30 to all-comers and 3-5.30 only to those who have not yet visited this season. No bell-ringing today please - it's the weekend. Yesterday activity was rather low, though everyone saw hummingbirds, usually several. I'm beginning to wonder whether, just as the season started early, it will end early. The wind will shift to the north today, making matters worse. We will probably be open tomorrow, but only to "newbies" (but check this blog). We should be open monday (newbies) and tuesday (all-comers), and then will only open a few more sporadic mornings or afternoons before completely closing for the season.
Today's first photo is again by Michelle Neacy, and shows trumpet creeper (or trumpet vine) flowers. At first glance there is no hummer but then one spots him half hidden behind a leaf. He appears to be exploring the base of a flower, rather than the opening. I often seen this, and it seems that many hummers find the flower itself a bit too long, despite the fact their tongue can reach much further than the tip of the beak. There are often holes at the base made by nectar-robbing orioles. Although trumpet creeper is a good hummingbird plant, I do not rate it as highly as many others, and only give it 2 stars. A better vine (***) is coral honeysuckle: less invasive, far longer blooming, and more nectar. Here is a photo, by Joe Mure.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Open today fri am/pm; garage sales; monarchs

We will be open today 3-5.30. However, hummer activity is quite low. Yesterday afternoon was fairly busy but I think everyone saw quite a bit of hummingbird activity. I enjoyed seeing old friends, and new friends bearing small gifts. Most needed are old but sturdy garden seats (plastic is fine). If you happen to spot something at a garage sale at a low price, think of us. You are welcome to drop such items off in the back (main) parking lot, even when we are not open - we will find them!
Parking is of course very limited, and located quite far from the main viewing areas; if any member of your party has great difficulty walking, please email me (see and I will authorize you to park in the much closer accessory ("by permission only") lot.
I'm afraid today's picture (by Michelle Neacy) is another insect one (don't worry, plenty more hummer images to come), but I could not resist these graceful flowers decorated with a monarch. Monarchs are apparently (according to Wikipedia) the only butterfly that makes a bird-like southern/northern migration, but unlike birds this is done over several generations. The final destination of the eastern monarchs is a small area of pine-oak forest just 60 miles north of Mexico City! - about the same distance from Baiting Hollow to NY City.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Open Today (thur) am/pm; hummingbird moths

We are open today 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30. We always close 12.30-3. Yesterday  started with a strong northwest wind and almost no hummingbird activity, but later in the morning activity picked up again. The wind has greatly dropped but is now more in the north (and it is rather chilly), so I expect low activity to start with. Perhaps it will again improves as the day advances. I expect tomorrow to be a good day, especially in the  afternoon.
The photo, by Doug MacLean, shows a "hummingbird moth", also known as a common clearwing moth, Hemaris thysbe (see this Mass Audubon article: hummingbird moth; I thank John Turner for the definitive identification). It looks like a cross between a bee and a hummingbird (but is completely different from the bee hummingbird, the world's smallest bird). But there are various other types of hummingbird moth, such as the sphinx hummingbird moth (or whitelined sphinx), which looks quite different, but also has hummingbird-like behavior. I mostly see the clearwing moth during the day, and the sphinx moth at dusk. Some people tell me they get hummingbirds, but only after sunset. I have to tell them these are moths not hummers (which disappear at sunset). Others tell me they see only "very tiny" hummingbirds during the day, but they may be seeing moths instead.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

open today (wed) 9.30-12.30 only; adult male

We will be open this morning 9.30-12.30 but I expect rather low levels of hummingbird activity because the wind is now squarely in the north and quite strong, so most birds will be moving southwards. We will probably be open thursday both am and pm, but pm will probably be better as the wind moves back to the west and then southwest. We are always closed 12.30 - 3 pm, and if you tell your friends about us please make that fact clear, and insist that they go to the blog for info before coming out -yesterday someone rudely interrupted my vital nap!

It's possible we will be open on a few sporadic occasions after Sept 4, but don't count on it.

The photo, by Fung Wan Kwong, shows an adult male. He has lost some throat feathers, and is probably molting (they acquire a new set each year, mostly during their tropical winter) but he might also have suffered wear after a summer of combat.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Open today (tues) and tomorrow am; golden crown

We will be open today from 9.30-12.30 and 3 to 5.30 and tomorrow (morning only, from 9.30 - 12.30). However, there is now a srong northwest wind (later shifting north) which triggers southward departure, and viewing conditions are not favorable. I expect new birds to gradually arrive in the north, so thur may be better (and we will probably open for a few more days before our definitive closure for the season).
The photo is by Chris Corradino ( Note the little patch of golden pollen on the bird's forehead. Hummingbirds are very efficient pollinators, and for some plants (such as Cardinal Flower) the main one.

Monday, August 27, 2012

closed today (monday); probably open tues pm.

We are closed today and tomorrow morning, but we hope to open tuesday afternoon - check this blog for confirmation.
Yesterday the northwest wind brought a quiet morning, but activity started to pick up later in the afternoon. We were honored, and pleasantly surprised, to see John Turner and his family here. John is a pre-eminent Long Island naturalist, who wrote "The Other Island", perhaps the best guide to the natural communities and rhythms of our beautiful but abused island.  He also runs, which organizes birding outings, mostly on Long Island. I was excited to learn that he is writing a new guide to natural Long Island, which should fill the urgent need for a comprehensive survey of the remaining fragmented and scattered (but often magnificent) natural places on the Island. There is no better way to recharge one's batteries and refresh the soul than immersion in Nature, where everything is spontaneous, harmonious, beautiful and......quiet.
The image, showing a hummingbird at bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, is by Charleen Turner.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Open today (sunday) am/pm; few hummers, no bell; heli rally

We will be open both 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30 today sunday. However, hummingbird activity is low, because the wind is strongly in the north east, triggering southward departure. Do not ring the bell today. Please wear sensible shoes, suitable for steep trails and rough ground. You enter the property AT YOUR OWN RISK. Children are welcome and encouraged, but please watch them closely.
Directions etc can be found to the right of this post. There are 2 main viewing areas at the sanctuary, the Upper and Lower gardens. The latter is accessed by a steep narrow path, and has many steep trails; if you have any difficulty walking (or inappropriate shoes) please take the main driveway approach to the viewing gardens, and stay in the upper garden. But if you are secure on your feet cross the yellow minibridge and follow the Woodland Path (where you might also say hummingbirds). Doing this minimizes impact on neighbors and qualifies you to descend to the lower gardens, which are less crowded. Note that hummers can be seen equally well in both gardens. Those who have great difficulty walking can request permission to park in our "handicap" area, much closer to the viewing gardens.
Reminder: if you tell your friends about us, make sure that they consult the blog before coming out.
There's an antinoise rally at East Hampton airport this afternoon (4.30-6.30) - of course those who live off the south fork would have to helicopter in, which rather defeats the purpose of the rally. I attended an EH airport noise meeting in Southampton on thursday evening, and outward traffic was still backed up all the way to Bridgehampton even at 7 pm. Like all the previous meetings, lots of angry residents and lots of polite, verbose but totally ineffective (and mostly clueless) politicians. See for more info on this important issue so vital to the continued operation of the sanctuary.

Today's photo is by Greg Olanoff. It shows a hummingbird dining at rosebud salvia (S. involucrata), a great favorite, with bog sage and Long Island Sound in the background.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Open today (sat) but only newbies; bell, shoes and binoculars

We will be open today both 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30 BUT ONLY TO THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET VISITED THIS SEASON (of your group the majority should be "newbies"). For directions, info etc see to the  right of this post. Tomorrow we will probably open to those who have never ever visited. Our parking is very limited, so please if the lot is full please return later - you could explore the new nature preserve at the Sound Ave end of Terry Farm Rd, or the stores at Baiting Hollow Commons (500 feet from the bottom of Terry Farm) or the nearby farmstands, vineyards etc.
Please do not ring the bell today. And remember to wear sensible shoes - all our paths are steep and narrow, and safety is paramount. While hummingbirds can come very close  and you do not need binoculars, a compact pair is quite useful for observing their interesting behavior while perched in a tree.
The photo, by Patrice Ellert, shows a hummer vainly exploring the colored bracts of a rosebud salvia. They have to learn to feed from flowers, since the shapes are very variable and often confusing, and young hummers spend a lot of time exploring and testing.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Open today fri am/pm; painted ladies

We are open today friday 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30. We will be open tomorrow (and probably sunday)  but only to "newbies" - those that have not yet visited this year. We will also open tues pm and probably thur and fri next week. But we are starting to wind down (though there are still plenty of hummingbirds around). Check this blog for details.

Today's photo, by Michelle Neacy, shows a butterfly for a change - the "painted lady", Vanessa cardui, on butterfly bush (Buddleia). This is the "regular" painted lady, which can be found worldwide. At first glance they look like half-size monarchs. There is also an American painted lady, V. virginiensis. The most obvious difference is on the paler "underneath" or ventral, wing: the former has 4 small eyespots, the latter 2 large ones. The American is found in small but fairly constant numbers but the "regular" occurrs more irregularly, and this year they are in great abundance everywhere (including here and almost certainly your yard).
We also get many other butterflies, drawn by the nectiferous plants that attract hummers. However, butterflies very rarely go to sugar-water feeders, and hummers don't much visit  plants that butterflies love, even butterfly bush itself. I see that on my plant rating page on the website I give butterfly bush 2 stars (out of a possible 5) but now I would tend to downrate it to 1 star. The only thing that gets 5 stars is the "bottomless" plastic feeder (as long as it's kept clear, insect-free and full of fresh "nectar").
Amongst the spectacular large butterflies you will see here are momarchs, the very similar viceroys, and the tiger, spicebush and black swallowtails (which include the largest of all butterflies). I will feature these in later posts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Open today am/pm; article about us; heli meeting; coral honeysuckle,

We will be open today both 9.30 to 12.30 and 3 to 5.30. We will almost certainly open tomorrow, and also at the weekend (though possibly only to newbies). We will be closed monday next week, probably open tues pm, closed wed, and probably open thur, fri and very early september. We will then be open less and less, and probably not at all after mid september.
There's a nice, and nicely written, blog article about us at an interesting local gardening blog here; see also our link list to the right.
Many of you have noticed the noisy helicopter traffic here, mostly commuting from Manhattan to East Hampton. It makes normal outdoor conversation difficult or impossible, let alone enjoyment of the subtle sounds of the birds.  A study by East Hampton a few years back revealed the obvious: that the noise annoyance could easily be limited to just a few people (mostly those causing the noise) by routing traffic down the Atlantic Ocean and into the airport via Georgica Pond and then over industrial land. Instead the traffic was routed down the North Shore and then over the North Fork and Southampton, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. There will be an IMPORTANT MEETING tonight at 7 with congressman Tim Bishop at the Bridgehampton Community Center. It would be great if any of you can go to express your annoyance with these incredibly arrogant insensitive fat cats roaring over our heads.
Today's picture, by Richard Matteson, shows a hummingbird at coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, a 3-star hummer native northeastern perennial plant. It is blooming when hummers arrive on may 1, and keeps blooming throughout their season. It's a hummingbird garden MUST.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Open today wed am and pm; firespike in slo mo

We are open today (wed) 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30. We will be open tomorrow also, am and pm. Looks like a beautiful day - why not combine your visit with one to the new Butterfly Exhibit next to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead? It's only 5 minutes away. Let us know who has more butterflies! -and tell them the Hummingbird Sanctuary sent you.
I show another Linda Sullivan photo of a hummer at firespike (Odontonema strictum), And here is a link to a youtube slo mo video that a visitor made of a hummer at this same  firespike:
I'll post more slo-mo video links soon.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Open today tuesday am,pm; open tomorrow am

We are open today aug 21 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30. We will be open tomorrow morning, and probably also in the afternoon (check the blog).
A reminder about some simple rules:
1. Park only in the marked lot (at the end of Terry Farm Rd) only; squeeze in but don't block others. If it's full, please return later.
2. If you are a good walker with good shoes, enter via the yellow minibridge and woodland path; if not take the main driveway (to the left of the yellow bridge).
3. Only if your party has never visited before ring the bell (mounted at the top of a high wood post) clearly before you proceed.
4. Remain in the upper garden unless you took the woodland path, and take great care on all paths, lawns and decks.
The picture is by Grace Scalzo.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Open most of this week; cardinal flower

We hope to open most of this week - check the blog for details and confirmation. We will then gradually wind down.
We will be open this monday afternoon, 3-5.30 only, to all-comers. Once again, we appreciate it if you recommend us to your friends but please direct them to this blog (e.g. via for all info. Almost everyone respects our times and rules, but there are a (very) few exceptions, and as a 1-man, private, free operation some limits are essential.
The recent photo, by Ken Eddy, shows a hummer at cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). This is a magnificent Long Island native perennial that grows naturally along stream banks, pond edges etc. Wherever it grows naturally there are hummingbirds around, because they are the main pollinator. The anther deposits a dab of pollen on the bird's forehead as the hummer inserts his bill, and you will often see birds at the sanctuary with a golden head smudge.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Open today (sun) 3-5.30 but only newbies; tongue

We are open this sunday afternoon (3-5.30) BUT ONLY TO THOSE THAT HAVE NOT YET VISITED THIS YEAR: no repeat visitors please. This is because parking is very limited (and rather muddy at the moment). If you want to re-visit please try to come during the week. We will be open most of next week (see blog for details), and then will gradually start winding down the season.
IF YOU DO VISIT, AND YOU TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT US, PLEASE ENSURE THAT they go to the blog (e.g. via to get opening info etc. DO NOT try to describe where we are and when we are open: ONLY THE BLOG lists open times. Thanks!
The recent photo, by Charleen Turner, shows the hummer tongue - the white thread protruding from the tip of the beak. The tongue is actually twice as long as the bill itself. It's not a tube (like a straw) and the hummer laps up the nectar like a cat. The nectar then flows up the tongue by capillary action, like a wick.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Open This Sat Afternoon after all! Dancing Hummer

It looks as though the rain clouds are moving east and though it will be a bit wet the hummers are active and we will be open this afternoon after all! Please be extra careful on slippery decks, paths and slopes. If it rains you can shelter under the front porch or in the front cabin.
We will definitely be closed sunday am, and likely open sunday pm (but check this blog).
The picture, of a dancing hummer feeding at bog sage (Salvia uliginosa), is a very recent one by Greg Olanoff.

Closed today (sat); blood drop

We are closed today: while the hummingbirds are quite active in the lighter rain periods, the viewing conditions are not ideal and I doubt that many will want to make the trek here and huddle in inadequate shelter. We will be closed sunday morning but may open sunday afternoon.
The photo, by Charleen Turner, shows a young male hummer feeding at rosebud salvia, with bog sage in the background (the blue flowers). Look carefully (click on the image) and you will see the "drop of blood" - a single red gorget feather dead center at the base of the throat.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Open today fri am and pm; Agastache; sunset too!

We are open today am (9.30-12.30) and pm (3-5.30). We WILL also open for sunset, from 7 to 8 only. We are closed 12.30-3 and 5.30-7.
The photo, by Mike Ronan, shows a hummingbird at Licorice Mint, Agastache rupestris. This is a wonderful perennial agastache (Hyssop) that hummers love and also has the enjoyable scent suggested by its name. It's located in the galvanized tub at the northeast corner of the front (soundfront) deck. Even on this tub and exposed position it survived the admittedly mild window. Brush your hand against the delicate silvery foliage and then sniff!
The commonest perennial agastache, A. foeniculum, Anise Hyssop, with dull violet-blue flowers, is easier to grow but not visited by hummers. You will see them dotted around the sanctuary, as they self-seed.
For the sunset hour, you may bring a bottle of wine but only on condition it be freely shared with all those present - plastic cups provided. No food please!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Open Tomorrow (fri) am and pm; kama sutra

We'll be open tomorrow (fri) both 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30. Here's another rosebud salvia picture, this one by Linda Sullivan. Hummers can approach a flower from all sorts of different angles, and even fly backwards or upside down.

Open Today (thur) am and pm; bract facts

We are open today (thur aug 16) 9.30-12.30 and 3 to 5.30. The weather has "improved", at least for us, but not for hummingbird viewing: yesterday, during cloud and intermittent rain, they were very active, but today, as expected, it seems initially much quieter. The wind has shifted to the northwest, and this triggers early morning departure to the south, on the long annual trek to Central America. I hope that activity will gradually increase as new hummers arrive from the north.
The photo, by Fung Wan Kwong, shows a bird at Salvia involucrata "Bethellii". While this is no more popular than S. guaranitica, it tends to stick up higher and the bird is  more visible. These two salvias are the backbone of my garden; I get them from Beds and Borders. The botanical name "involucrata" comes from the word "involucre", which is the set of "bracts" (modified leaves) that encase the base of the petals. Here the bracts are a slightly darker pink than the petals themselves, but on many flowers they are green A spectacular example of bracts is the flower of Bougainvillea, shown in the following  image, taken some years ago at the sanctuary by Hal Lindstrom. The true flower is the white structure the hummer is probing. Note however that bougainvillea is not a good hummer plant - very little nectar! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Closed this wed morning; open pm

We are closed this morning (wed aug 15) but will be open this afternoon from 3 to 5.30.
We will probably be open tomorrow both am and pm. Remember we are always closed for lunch (12.30 - 3): for directions and lunch suggestions click here.

The image is by Jimmy Chiu, and shows a hummer feeding at purple porterweed (Stachytarpheta franzii). Porterweed is tropical and comes is purple, pink (S. mutabilis) and blue species. Both purple and pink are excellent hummingbird magnets, with the pink being perhaps the best. Though the flowers are open and rather small, they seem to be loaded with nectar. However they can be difficult to find!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Open this morning (tues aug 14 9.30-12.30); gorgeous gorgets

We are open this tuesday morning (9.30-12.30) but not this afternoon. We will probably be open both am and pm on wednesday but please check the blog for confirmation.

On sunday morning a group of photographers from "Nature and Wildlife Photographers of Long Island" (NWPLI) came for their second visit this year. After a quiet start hummers became active and I think everyone got good pictures, some of which I will be posting in the next few days. I start with this nice full-frontal image of an adult male, taken by Laura Eppig. You can see the characteristic brilliant red throat "gorget", and the forked tail, and the tiny feet, clinging to what looks like a rope but is just a piece of string. The gorget is made up of numerous tiny feathers, which the male can protrude like a ruff. The gorget's color is generated by iridescence not pigment, and therefore only looks red from the front. From the side it looks black. However, though the gorget is small, it can generate a highly visible red flash from a distance as the male turns in sunlight. The male turns his gorget towards the female he is courting as he approaches the nadir of his U mating dance (see my post of July 11); the female judges the perfection of this dance. Note that juvenile (i.e. hatch-year) males will only acquire their full gorget on their central american wintering grounds, though some already have one or more individual gorget feathers. One can sometimes use the distinctive pattern of these, which look like drops of blood, to identify particular individuals.
The NWPLI photographers are highly skilled and if you are interested in bird photography you should consider joining this group. They have been coming to the sanctuary for at least 8 years. However, we normally allow tripods only on scheduled private group visits, not on public open days.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Open this afternoon (monday); Purple Majesty

We will be open today (i.e. monday aug 13) from 3 to 5.30 only. Yesterday afternoon was very busy (apparently the photo I posted on friday appeared in Newsday with a link to the sanctuary - a mixed blessing!) and some people got lost on the way. So I've added a permanent "Directions" tab to the blog (just to the right of this post), which includes a link to a Google map. I will gradually add tabs with useful general information, though will remain the main source.

We will probably open tuesday am but NOT pm, but please check the blog.

The image, by David Maclean, shows a hummer feeding at salvia "Purple Majesty". This is a cross between S. guaranitica and S gesneraeflora, the latter having red flowers. It can grow to 6 feet and is a hummer magnet, but unfortunately in my garden it tends to develop a local stem weakness and suddenly buckles over.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Open this afternoon (sunday) 3-5.30; cardinal vine

We will be open this sunday afternoon from 3 to 5.30. We will also be open tomorrow (monday aug 13) afternoon only and tuesday morning.
The photo, by Pat Seidler, shows a hummer at cardinal vine (Ipomoea multifida). It's a type of morning glory, though the flowers are small, red and tubular (always a good sign). Hummingbirds love it (3 star rating, out of a maximum of 4 stars) and though strictly annual it's very easy to grow from seed, which forms profusely (and which I'm happy to give you if you bring a small empty glassine envelope). It easily climbs 15 feet in 2 months! Cypress vine (I. quamoclit) is very similar except with much finer, very delicate, leaves. I grow these intermingled with the much showier pink mandevilla ("Alice Dupont"), which has no nectar. In general the showier the flower the less the nectar.
Reminder: directions, instructions, and info (including detailed plant info with ratings) is at

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Open this afternoon (saturday); young male

We will be open this afternoon (saturday) 3-5.30 and probably tomorrow afternoon (check the blog) but NOT this morning or sunday morning.  Hummingbird activity is still rather low, though there are several around.
The picture shows a patch of the flowers at the front deck, overlooking the Sound, with a young male approaching rosebud salvia. You can see a small dark spot just below the neck, which is an early feather of the future adult male "gorget" (the "ruby-throat" which gives the species, Archilocus colubris, its common name. The gorget, and this single feather, look black from the side but flashes brilliant red (especially in sun) from the front. The photo is by David Micelotta (

Friday, August 10, 2012

Closed Today (friday); Salvia uliginosa

Hummer activity is low again this morning and the weather unsettled so we will not open today. But we may open saturday afternoon if there are birds around - please check this blog.
Today's image, by Charleen Turner, again shows bog sage, Salvia uliginosa. Despite the doubly ugly name (uliginosa? bog?) the tall thin pale blue spires of this salvia waving against the backdrop of the sea and murmuring with bees is beautiful even without hummingbirds. For another great shot of this view, see this safe link:
And here is the same view in the spring, when the wild cherries are in bloom:


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Open Today (Thur) 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30; Rosebud Salvia

We are open today (thursday) am (i.e. from 9.30 to 12.30) and pm (3-5.30). Closed 12.30 - 3 so for lunch try the Lobster Roll near the south end of Terry Farm Road, and visit their new Tasting Room.
I've given up predicting activity levels - it seems to vary hour to hour, but there will be hummers around, though you may have to be patient. See for info, directions and instructions.

The image, by Bill Stamatis, shows a hummer feeding at Rosebud Salvia (S. involucrata). In previous posts I have referred to this incorrectly as Rosebay salvia). It's called "rosebud" because of the unusual pink knob at the end of the flower stalk. This gradually opens to release more flowers. It's a wonderful hummingbird plant - as good as Anise Sage (often sold as the cultivar "Black and Blue"). It comes mainly in 2 varieties, "Mulberry Jam", which is shorter than "Bethellii" (which I beleive to be closer to the species). The former flowers earlier, but the hummers like the tall spikes of the latter. One can often observe that a hummer will linger for several second at each individual flower, a sure sign of abundant nectar.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Open tomorrow am and pm; Fuchsia

We will be open tomorrow (thursday) 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30 Please remember we are ALWAYS closed for lunch etc (from 12.30 to 3). There are several excellent local restaurants (e.g. Lobster Roll Northside; The Cooperage Inn; Stonewalls; and many in Riverhead or Wading River) and you could also visit the nearby wonderful Calverton Ponds nature preserve or some of the local vineyards and farmstands.

The image, by Rick Mei, shows a hummer at a fuchsia plant, in a hanging basket. I overhastily wrote earlier that this photo showed bleeding heart vine, but of course this has the colors reversed: white outside and red inside

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Open today (tuesday) AFTERNOON ONLY; cardinal flower

It has turned cooler and there is little hummer activity this morning. The inactivity reflects not the coolness (there are hummingbirds in the Andes which remain active in freezing temperatures) but the shift in the wind direction, to the north. This triggers southward migration. But activity might pick up in the afternoon, as the wind shifts to east then south, and we will be OPEN FROM 3 to 5.30.
The photo is by John Heidecker, and shows a bird at cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis. This is a superb native Long Island flower, typically found growing wild along stream banks. It is mainly pollinated by hummingbirds, and wherever you see it growing naturally there are hummers around. It's difficult to grow at the sanctuary because it is very dry here (steep slopes, wind, sand) but we have a few nice specimens. Avoid cultivars and hybrids (mostly with great blue lobelia, L syphilitica) that are not true red with green leaves. These do not have adequate nectar.

Monday, August 6, 2012


This superb image is by Fung Wan Kwong, from Hong Kong, who travels all over the world photographing birds. It shows a hummer feeding at bog sage, with Long Island Sound in the background. Thanks Mr Fung!

We will be open this afternoon (Monday) 3-5.30, and probably tomorrow. See for directions and important information.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Closed Today; Salvia greggii

We are closed today (private groups are visiting: please contact me, via, if you would like to reserve time for your photography/birding/plant/kid group). I hope to be open monday afternoon, and much of the rest of the week, but please check this blog for confirmation.
The photo, by Mike Chachkes, shows a hummingbird at Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) "Cherry Queen". Actually, it's probably a hybrid between "Furman's Red" S. greggii and S. blepharopylla (you can also see one of these at the sanctuary). Though not really a perennial it is often winter-hardy in a sheltered, well-drained location, and many of mine came back through the mild winter. It starts to bloom when hummers arrive in early may and keeps going till frost. However, it does tend to sprawl. And the flowers are a brilliant red.
There are many variations and cultivars of S. greggii, all excellent hummer plants. However, the brilliant red of Cherry Queen does seem to attract their attention!
Thanks to Mike and to all those who are sending me great pictures taken at the sanctuary.
I hope to post the best of them in the coming days.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Activity has picked up. Open this afternoon; Pentas

Activity yesterday was disappointing, but nevertheless we will open this (saturday) afternoon (3-5.30 only) as promised. UPDATE: activity was low this morning but has now (4 pm) picked up. We are CLOSED this morning and all sunday. Let's hope activity picks up over the weekend in which case we will open several days next week (see this blog for detail).

The recent photo, by Linda Sullivan, shows a hummer feeding at Star of Egypt (Pentas). This is not the best hummer plant but showy, easy to grow, though strictly annual.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Open This Morning (Fri) BUT NOT THIS AFTERNOON

We are open today (friday) BUT ONLY THIS MORNING (9.30-12.30). CLOSED THIS AFTERNOON - please respect.

We will be open tomorrow, saturday, afternoon, but NOT saturday am or sunday.

The recent photo is by Rick Mei, who came out from Brooklyn.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Closed this afternoon, open tomorrow am; Firespike

 We won't open this afternoon because after a good morning activity seems to have dropped.. We will open tomorrow morning and possibly saturday afternoon (closed sat morning and sunday). We will be open most of next week.
The photo, by Linda Sullivan, was taken yesterday, which was a good day. It shows Firespike, Odontonema stricta, an excellent tropical hummer plant. Mixed sun/shade. Lots of nectar in each narrow tube!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Open Today am and pm; nice adult male pic

We are open today 9.30-12.30 and 3 to 5.30. So far hummer activity is good. I will add to this post later today to report on the situation. The image, by Tom Pfeifer, shows an adult male feeding at Salvia guarantica (anise sage).
First time visitors should study the directions and instructions at

UPDATE: hummer activity was good this morning. Of course this afternoon could be different. Bear in mind that activity continues, or even increases, during intermittent rain, and there is shelter on the front porch or in the front cabin.
Most likely we will also be open thur and friday.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Open this afternoon, tomorrow and wednesday. Scheduling.

We will be open today (monday) from 3 to 5.30, and tuesday and wednesday (both 9.30-12.30 and 3-5.30). We are always closed 12.30-3.

Above is another nice recent photo by Linda Sullivan, with the bird feeding at "Cherry Queen" autumn sage (a cultivar of Salvia greggii). While this is sold as an annual on Long Island, it will often survive if given excellent drainage. Indeed, I have one that is now 10 years old and a small bush! Note that while it is a vivid red, and often draws a bird's initial attention, they will always prefer the flower with more nectar, red or not. So plant a mix of red and "big guns" such as S guarantica. 

Overhead it is a war-zone - but I'm talking helicopters and seaplanes, not hummers. 

As the header of the blog states, open days are announced on a rolling  basis, for example yesterday's and today's afternoon openings were announced in yesterday's blog posting. Today's post lists further openings. As we get more into the higher activity season, open dates will be posted further in advance. Please keep an eye on the current post on the blog. 
I've learned over the years that setting a fixed calendar early on can be a mistake: hummer activity and weather vary greatly, and this is a 1-man show and emergencies crop up. Furthermore, we also host private groups at nonpublic times and this way I can schedule these quite late. Rest assured we will be open many dates/times throughout august!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Open Today (sunday) 3-5.30 Rain or Shine

Yesterday was just too wet, even though the rain didn't deter the hummingbirds. But this morning I've seen several multibird chases and we will open, rain or shine, from 3 to 5.30 this afternoon. If it rains you can take shelter under the front porch or in the front cabin. We will also open tomorrow (monday) again only from 3 to 5.30. We also plan to be open most of the remainder of the week (mornings and/or afternoons) unless birds disappear or prolonged storms arrive. Details will be posted on this blog.

The picture, by Linda Sullivan, was taken on friday. It shows a hummer (probably a juvenile, possibly an adult female - note white tip to the tail) at Salvia guaranitica (often sold as the cultivar "Black and Blue"). If you visit and take a nice picture please send it to me (file no bigger than 250K; see for info, directions, rules etc) and I might post it on this blog. But remember, no tripods allowed on public open days!

Saturday, July 28, 2012


We will decide whether to open this afternoon later when the weather/hummer situation is clearer. We opened yesterday morning but it was rather disappointing. Nevertheless Linda Sullivan got some nice pictures, one of which is shown here:

It shows a hummer feeding at Rosebay Salvia (S. involucrata "Bethelli) - you can see very well the wing just before it sweeps back.
In the afternoon, when we closed, of course activity picked up quite well. Please be patient - we will be open lots of days throughout august.

We also admit private groups at previously agreed times - please contact me at padamsyouknowwhatnotesdotsunysbdotedu. During such private times (9.30 to 12.30 or 3 to 5.30) we are closed to the public. At weekends the group should be at least 15 (carpooling); during the week the group should be at least 8.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Open Today 9.30-12.30 only

The photo was taken yesterday at the sanctuary by Melissa Hahn and shows a hummer approaching flowers of yellow trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans "Flava").

Activity has decreased compared to a week ago, but everyone yesterday saw a hummingbird (a busload of kids in the morning and 4 cars of "public" visitors in the evening - despite iffy weather. We will be open today in the morning only (9.30 to 12.30). If activity does not increase we will not open at the weekend.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Reminder: Open Today from 3 to 5.30! Porterweed

We open, for the first time this year, today July 26 from 3 to 5.30. We will also be open tomorrow july 27 from 9.30 to 12.30 only. We might be open saturday afternoon and/or sunday: please check this blog for confirmation. See for directions.

The photo was taken by Tom Pfeifer at the Sanctuary. The bird is feeding at purple porterweed (Stachytarpheta franzii), a great magnet (but tropical).