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 (

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Open Today (Wednesday) am, pm; Mimosa blight


Open today am (9.30-12.30) and pm (3-5.30). See Directions to the right of this post.
We will be open tomorrow thur aug 1 both am and pm. Friday we will open either am or pm, depending on the weather: rather than opening am we might instead open pm - check blog.

Yesterday afternoon was the first opening of the season, and despite the late and unexpected announcement we had about 15 visitors. The weather was as good as it gets, and we were treated to a period of sustained hummer activity, with repeated dramatic chases in and out the treetops and sometimes just a few feet away. One youngster seems to have selected a dead mimosa tree as a perch from which to defend a small patch of flowers and a single feeder, and resolutely attacked a persistent rival.
Mimosa trees (Albizia julibrissin) are beautiful in flower and foliage and perhaps the best hummingbird tree around (the only rival being the red buckeye Aesculus pavia, which blooms very early). Unfortunately they get a blight and can suddenly die. I planted this one as a very small sapling about 15 years ago and it rapidly became a tall tree, so it's failure to leaf out this year was sad - but at least it's still useful to hummingbirds as a perch. Because of this blight problem they are difficult to find in local nurseries. Fortunately close by I have another somewhat smaller one, which I hope will resist its brother's infection.

The above image was taken yesterday by a visitor, Robin Leuthardt. The hummer is feeding at Salvia involucrata "Mulberry Jam". Here's another of her photos from yesterday, with a Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly, which were also active. Thanks Robin!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Open This Afternoon!


Our first opening of the 2013 season will be this afternoon (tues july 30) from 3 to 5.30. If you have not visited before, please study the directions (and maps) at While it's still early in the season, you should still see hummingbirds, although it might take 15 minutes or so. Remember to be cautious on all paths, and if you have any difficulty walking please follow the main driveway not the woodland path and stay in the upper garden area. First time visitors should ring the bell located at the start of the main viewing area. Hummingbird photography isvery tricky but if you do get a good shot please send it to me (low resolution file only) at for use on this blog.

The weather looks perfect for the next few days!

The photo is a recent one by Jimmy Chiu. The hummer is feeding at coral honeysuckle. Notice how the flower arises form the middle of the leaf - very unusual!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Opening Dates/Times


The photo is another superb recent one by Rick Mei. The hummingbird is feeding at Salvia involucrata "Mulberry Jam".
We will open for the first time this season tomorrow afternoon (tues july 30) at 3 pm, until 5.30.
We will then open the following dates times (am = 9.30-12.30, pm = 3-5.30):
wed july 31 am,pm
thur aug 1 am,pm
fri aug 2 am OR pm (see blog) but not both
sat aug 3 am, pm
sun aug 3 am.
WE ALWAYS CLOSE 12.30-3; there are several excellent local restaurants, as well as vineyards and farmstands. If you do visit a local commercial establishment, please mention that you are visiting the hummingbird sanctuary.
We will also open most of the following 3 weeks - please check the blog for details. If possible please come during the week, when you can stay till closing time. If you come at the weekend and the parking lot is busy, please limit the length of your visit. There is no charge (and closely supervised children, but not dogs, are welcome) , though we welcome gifts of good hummingbird plants (e.g. bee balm, cardinal flower) and old but sturdy garden chairs. You visit at your own risk (WE DO NOT CARRY ANY INSURANCE) and the roads and paths are difficult. You should wear proper shoes, this is a nature sanctuary, not the mall!

New visitors must carefully read instructions and directions at, and should ring the bell on arrival and proceed.
Groups of 6 or more can make an appointment for a weekday private visit (email me at padams?, where you correct the ?). You can also email any other question you might have.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Early Opening?

The above photo was taken recently at the sanctuary by Rick Mei (whom I thank). It shows a young hummingbird approaching coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), native to the North-East and an excellent hummingbird-vine. It has been blooming continuously here since may.
There's been a resident adult male hummer at the sanctuary since may. He patrols the entire grounds, but often visits a favorite perch - a dead branch of a wild cherry tree that is right above the deck of the rear cabin. Yesterday a young hummingbird decided to steal his perch while he was away. He spent 5 minutes there, until the "owner" returned, when a vigorous attack and chase ensued. While activity is still fairly modest, it's definitely picking up, and I think we will be able to open slightly early - on wed, or possibly even tues afternoon. The weather forecast looks good, but please check this blog before setting off. Remember we are always closed 12.30-3.

Friday, July 26, 2013

We plan to Open Aug 1 and many days thereafter

I'm back at the sanctuary after 10 days of interesting work and garden- (and relative-) visiting in the UK. I'll write a bit about some of these English gardens in a future post (none had hummingbirds of course). While I was away a wonderful small team of dedicated helpers came regularly to water plants and keep the feeders topped up. I thank them all heartily for their time, dedication and patience. Several additional people volunteered to help and I thank them also - probably I will ask all these volunteers for future help.  Specifically, I am hoping that we can remain open this year well into september, when I resume work, and I will need volunteers who know the sanctuary well just to be here during opening hours. Just before leaving I was interviewed by a reporter from Newsday, and apparently an article about us will come out there soon. If you would like to visit the sanctuary please keep an eye on this blog for details of opening dates and times: there will be plenty of opportunities but I cannot promise we will be open every day. And we are ALWAYS closed from 12.30 to 3.

I'm seeing a bit more hummer activity than when I left, but still quiet. Tomorrow I will try to get new photos but in the mean time here are a couple from last year. The first shows a hummer feeding from Rosebay Salvia, a great favorite, with LI Sound in the background.

The next shot shows red and purple Salvia splendens, with an Abyssinian Banana in the background.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mexican flag

The above excellent photo was taken yesterday at the sanctuary by Rick Mei. It shows a hummingbird feeding at Mina lobata, popularly known as "Mexican Flag", or, by me, as "Mexical Toothbrush Vine".

For new readers of this blog, we plan to open to the public aug 1 - details will be posted on this blog.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Opening Aug 1; Hummingbird on a Rose; Thanks

All being well we will open aug 1 for the first time this season - see this blog for details.

Hummers don't visit rose flowers, because they lack nectar. However, a young hummer spent about a minute perching on this "Westerland"  climbing rose, which is in a pot on the front deck. You can see a video below - towards the end he feeds on several of the nearby Salvia greggii flowers, ignoring the much bigger "Hyperion" daylily flowers.

Many thanks to all those who have offered to help at the sanctuary. While we have enough volunteers for the moment, please continue to volunteer, and I will add your name to my list of possible future helpers.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bee Balm; Volunteers?

The beautiful image below was taken by Melissa Hahn at her hummingbird garden in a wooded part of Wading River. She has a male hummingbird patrolling her yard, and visits from a couple of females. She also has an excellent camera, which she knows how to use! In the picture the male is feeding at bee balm, an excellent hummingbird plants. However, for some reason (too dry?) is does not do well at the sanctuary. Maybe I should try again.

I appear to have at least 2 juveniles, who are vying over the flowers in front of the front cabin, and an adult male, who seems to have ceded that area to them, and often perches near the rear cabin. And it's still very early in the season!

Several kind people have volunteered to help with feeders and watering, but because there's always lots to do, I'm hoping for a few more volunteers (if you have never visited before you would need to come out here in the next few days to see what's involved). Please email me ( if you would like to help.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Volunteers Needed!

Activity is definitely increasing, and I am starting to see some juveniles (and a couple of juvie-juvie chases). I think these were born locally, because it's very unlikely that juveniles would already be migrating from further north. Here's a couple of not very good photos (with my $100 Walmart camera) I took this evening. The first shows a bird approaching coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens), which is a superb hummer vine that flowers early (late may) and keeps blooming through the summer.

The next shows a hummer approaching Salvia guarantica.

And in the third image, the hummer is visiting Salvia greggii, with S guarantica nearby.

And now, to business. We are going away for a few days in the second half of july and need help at the sanctuary with a couple of chores: (1) replenishing empty feeders (2) watering plants, especially in pots. Even if you can only visit once, it will help, though you would also need to visit during the coming week, for instructions etc. If you can help out, please send me an email (paul.adams&, where you must substitute @ for &). I think there will be quite a bit of activity in later july, and you can certainly bring your camera, and enjoy the birds, as long as you do a bit to help. You will also enjoy a magnificent display of crocosmia "Lucifer" and "Hyperion" day lilies.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Where to Get Hummingbird Plants

Here's a picture I took last year.  It shows a hummer approaching a red Salvia greggii blossom, with bog sage and Salvia "Van Houttei" in the background, and LI Sound behind.

Perhaps the best source for hummingbird plants on Long Island is a small specialist outlet called, appropriately, Long Island Hummingbird Plants.  They are conveniently located near exit 64 of the LIE, in a very nice part of Medford, at the end of a quiet cul de sac. I visited them recently, and saw that they still have an excellent selection of the best hummer-plants, including S. involucrata, S. guaranitica, Stachytarpheta mutabilis (pink porterweed), Mina lobata and cardinal vines, and Odontonema (firespike). The owner, Bill, is enthusiastic, knowledgeable and helpful. He also has feeders, and, most important, feeder cleaning tools. You will also see a lot of superb hummer-friendly plants growing well. He gets lots of visits from avian clients, mostly in august and september, proving that almost anywhere on LI you can attract these remarkable birds.
I''ll end up with another video, taken recently at the sanctuary. It shows the resident male on his favorite perch. Note the forked tail and the dark chin-gorget. He is constantly on the look-out for intruders. Near the end of the video (at 1.04) he briefly opens his beak, probably to emit a warning squeak. It's too high-frequency for me to hear, but listen careful to the soundtrack and let me know if you here something. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Stolen Pictures

My title does not refer to art heists, like the one at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum. It refers instead to the following image, which I have stolen from the wonderful blog "A Long Island Summer in Pictures". It was taken at the sanctuary last year. You can see a lot of other excellent photos at the blog (look for the december 5 2012 post to see more taken at the sanctuary. The blog is written by an excellent artist - you can see a lot more of her work here. The hummer is feeding at Salvia involucrata, and the blues flowers are S. uliginosa.

I post this stolen image (thanks, Judi, and apologies) because I seem not to have seen the sun here for weeks - it has been very wet, as you know, and the few sunny days we mostly spent in Cape Elizabeth, Maine (where we got to visit the private Cushing Island, in Casco Bay).
The next picture is anticlimactic,  but was taken this year at the sanctuary. It shows the female hummer who is occasionally visiting.

Today I went to Homeside Florist (on Route 25 just east of Riverhead) and purchased a couple of nice shrimp plants and a firespike (Odontonema stricta). I have a second firespike that survived the winter inside at our Stony Brook house. Firespike was a great success with the hummers last year. Homeside did have numerous blue porterweeds, Stachytarpheta indica, but this is much less good than the purple and pink porterweeds S. franzii and mutabilis, which I could not find at the Peconic River Herb Farm either.