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 (

Friday, December 26, 2014

Listen to Male Woodstar hummingbird buzzing

I recently bought myself a Christmas present - an external directional microphone which mounts on top of my Canon Vixia G30 videocamera. Yesterday I tried it out for the first time, hoping to pick up the characteristic buzzing sound that the male hummer makes as he visits flowers.  It works! He's not buzzing all the time - I think only when he's either accelerating or hovering in certain ways., andyou have to listen very carefully, using a proper speaker or headset (there's also some background noise)As in my previous movie, he's visiting firecracker - not the same very large clump as before, but a smallerclump that's just outside the back door of our house "Seastar", where I'm staying at the moment.
There are actually 3 houses at Calypso: Seastar, Woodstar and Morningstar - see We move around between the houses depending on whether family or friends are staying with us, but on first arrival here we tend to start in Seastar. All a bit complicated and impractical, but there's logic behind it.
Bear in mind that the bird was about 12 feet away from the microphone, and the buzzing is quite subtle at that distance; I will try to get a much better, closer recording.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Christmas! Hummingbirds are back!

Well, actually it would be better to say that I'm back amongst the hummingbirds, here at our winter home Calypso on the Bahamian out-island Eleuthera. Yesterday I settled down near a very large clump of firecracker (Russellia equisetiformis) where I knew that a male Bahama Woodstar hummingbird (Calliphlox evelyni) often (every 15 minutes or so) visits. Here is one of the videos I took.

The video is 2X slo mo, as usual. You can see his brilliant magenta gorget from time to time as he turns towards the camera. These hummingbirds are endemic to the Bahamas but are very similar in general appearance and behavior to the rubythroat, the color of the gorget being the most strking difference. Firecracker is an excellent hummingbird plant which I sometimes have in Baiting Hollow too - but of course it's tropical and must be brought indoors for the winter.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hyssop mission

Continuing with my stash of videos from the summer, here's another with a backdrop of Long Island Sound. This time the hummingbird is focussing on mexican hyssop, Agastache cana, which has a wonderfully mint-flavored leaf. He's ignoring the white flowered version of Salvia greggii, though this has nectar too.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Alice Dupont with hummer

Here on the front deck Mandevilla "Alice Dupont" climbs up a trellis. If you look carefully in the center you'll see a hummingbird feeding at a partly hidden feeder. These gorgeous flowers are nectarless, though once I saw an inexperienced hummer get his head stuck in one (they explore everything) and had to shake him loose.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Movie from this summer: hummingbird with Long Island Sound

As many visitors know, one of the great joys of summer at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary is to sit on the front deck overlooking Long Island Sound spread out before one, with hummingbirds buzzing through the various Salvias - here the very popular Rosebud Sage, Salvia involucrata "Bethellii".
I'm happy to announce that I fly down to our winter place on the Bahamian Island of Eleuthera this sunday: flight from JFK to Nassau then a quick hop over to Eleuthera. I'll be reporting on hummingbirds down there, and gardening, as soon as I get the internet there working again (but don't hold your breath). Also, lot's more movies from this summer to upload, to help you through the long winter.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Early in the season, and very late.

I'm catching up on videos I've not yet posted on this blog. First here's a short clip from november 4, which shows the hummer that came very late in the season. The bird is feeding at pineapple sage (in the right part of the screen). It's amazing how different everything looks just over a month later: not only no hummingbirds, but no flowers or even leaves!

Next, here's a movie from much earlier in the season (june 4). It shows Coral, the adult female hummer who often visited. This was well before any juvenile hummers showed up, around mid july. She's visiting coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) the best honeysuckle for hummingbirds. 4X slo-mo, and with an added music soundtrack.

As you can see neither of these videos is much good - that's why I did not already post them at the appropriate time. But I decided to post on the blog all the videos that I had previously, rather laboriously, posted to Youtube, before I start using my cache of unposted videos (many from late sept and early october, when hummers were still quite active).

Here's one showing Fred, the resident male hummer (4X slo mo, june 12). He takes off from a twig. Again, not much good. 

 But here's a better one, again with Fred on a twig, but close up (but only a brief hint of the red color of the gorget, which looks black from this angle).

Finally, and apparently out of sequence (but I seem to have uploaded it on july 18) is one from much earlier, when we were still at Calypso, our winter place in the Bahamas. This shows the lakeside walk, with desert rose on limestone plinths to the left, some coconit palms and a bismarck palm (on the right) waving in the trade wind.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Catching Up with old videos

As we ease into winter,  and my University responsabilities tail off, I'm starting to dream of both Calypso, our place in the Bahamas, and also summer at the Baiting Hollow Sanctuary. Over the next few weeks, before we actually arrive back at Calypso (there have been delays and there might be more), I'll be posting various videos from earlier in 2014. I'm going to start by posting here some videos that I had already uploaded to Youtube, but had not included in the blog. First I made a list of all  the vids I posted since may 20, just before we returned from Eleuthera to Long Island. The earliest vids were filmed using an inferior camera (750 p only, and some dust on the lens). So I'll start with some Calypso garden scenes (no hummers) I filmed just before returning to the US.

The first video (above) shows a scene in the back garden, towards one of the lawns. There are various palms, the red leaves are ti plants (colorful tropicals,  Cordyline fruticosa), and on the right you see the large banana-like leaves of Heliconias.

Here (above) you see the superb trunk of a royal palm (Roystonea regia), with the red flowers of hibiscus waving in the background.

Again more palms (foxtail palm, Wodyetia bifurcata, on the left, and a sabal palmetto on the right, with the pink flowers of Pandora vine in the foreground.

Finally, here's me frolicking in the ocean near Calypso.
I hope you feel a bit warmer after viewing these movies!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Late hummer has left

The late hummer at the sanctuary was last seen, only very briefly, on saturday Nov 8. I did not see him on sunday nov 9. Nov 10 - 16 we were in Maine and I have not seen him since our return. The recent deep freeze has killed almost of the remaining flowers, and I do not expect to see any more rubythroats until april 2015. However, a vagrant rufous hummingbird is always a possibility (see my posts at this blog for february 2013).
The above image is by Bob Immoor (summer 2013). The flower is Salvia uliginosa (Bog Sage).

Saturday, November 8, 2014

He's still here!

My late hummer (or possibly another even more recent  arrival) is still here! Yesterday afternoon I only had a short time before dark, the conditions were bad, and I did not see him. But this morning, though busy, I clearly spotted him in the flower bed overlooking the Sound in front of the deck at the front cabin "Seagull Lodge". He was visiting the rosebud salvias there. I'll try to get video, though I've lots of other things to do too.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Update on the sanctuary's late hummingbird

After seeing our unexpected, very late, hummer several times on tuesday, I saw him only once, briefly but unmistakeably, at about noon on wed, after which I had to go to Stony Brook (work and home). I got back here about 4.15 this afternoon, but I did not observe the hummer, and there's a cold wind from the north. I'll be surprised if I see him over the weekend - he's probably safely on his way south. But it was a thrill to see him on tuesday, and to get some video (see my last post). Here's an older photo, by Jimmy Chiu. The hummer's feeding at cardinal flower, which have now largely retreated into the ground.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Very Late Hummer in Baiting Hollow!

I just got back to the sanctuary in Baiting Hollow a few minutes ago (I'm in the process of transporting tropical plants back to Stony Brook ahead of the looming cold weather) and a few seconds ago I saw a hummingbird! I've not seen one for several weeks, and certainly did not expect to see obe again this year. But as soon as I saw the ummistakeable movement in a flower bed near the front cabin, I knew it was a hummer. He/she was feeding on the flowers of rosebud sage (Salvia involucrata), which is still in full flower. I observed him from about 25 feet away for a full minute, and then he sped off down into the western valley - very typical behavior. I took down all my feeders a couple of weeks ago, but there are still lots of flowers everywhere - some more spectacular than all season. I'll put a few feeders back up again, and hopefully he will be back - probably until the next cold front comes through, on thursday. I'll try to get video too and will report back soon. I'm here overnight, busy chopping wood to keep warm (the woodstove gobbles up fuel, especially when the wind is whistling thorugh the cracks (actually, gaps) in the cabin wall and floor.

UPDATE: here are some videos of this very late ruby throat. The first one shows him/her feeding at Salvia "Waverley" - a small white flower. It starts out badly out of focus but I focus better at the end (I'm a little out of practice!).

The second video is better - he's feeding at Rosebud sage, Salvia involucrata.

In the third video he's feeding at pineapple sage (between the 2 feeders, which I just put up). Pineapple sage is a very late bloomer, so they are well matched.

In the last video, he's approaching pineapple sage, and I have him closer up.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I guess all of us on Long Island are now in the same boat: hummerless! (at least until april). I returned to the sanctuary yesterday afternoon and spent several hours outside, but did not see any hummingbirds. Today has of course been wet but despite frequent glances at the flowers on the deck I've seen no action.
So I will have to make do with the videos I stockpiled over the summer. Here's one, in 4X slo-mo, with the bird feeding at rosebud salvia "Bethelli", which has now reached the peak of its height and bloom in the garden.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Salvia "Waverley"

Over the next weeks I'll be showing various sanctuary recent videos of hummingbirds feeding at various flowers. First, here are some showing the excellent hummer plants Salvia "Waverley". This has small white blossoms but nevertheless it provides much nectar. It grows as a perennial bush in California, but here on Long Island it's strictly annual - but nevertheless well worth it for the prolific late-season flowers. Another very similar salvia is the delightfully named "Phyllis's Fancy", which grows even taller.

Monday, October 6, 2014

All Gone!

When I awoke on sunday there was a very strong west wind, it was very cold but bright and sunny, and I had a foreboding that this would be the first hummerless day of the 2014 season. I was busy most of the day, so my failure to see a hummingbird could have just been chance, but when it was warm enough in the midafternoon to just sit outside and watch, I also failed to see a hummingbird. So I fear that indeed yesterday might have indeed been the last day. I will not know for sure because I'll be away much of the week, but I suspect that now the best I can hope for is perhaps the occasional brief sojourn of a straggler. But I'm leaving a few feeders up just in case, and of course there are more good hummer flowers in bloom now than any time so far this year. Here are a couple of videos I took on friday afternoon. Top: 2X slo-mo, bottom 4X slo-mo, both show feeding at pink porterweed.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Update from the sanctuary: still around!

After a busy week I got back to the sanctuary friday afternoon. The weather was beautiful but I was disappointed to see that most of my feeders were still rather full, after 5 nights away. However, I settled down in a sunny spot (it was chilly; has been since I got back in may!) in front of a nice patch of flowers (porterweed, cape honeysuckle, autumn sage and pineapple sage (only now coming to into bloom) and others. I needed to relax and was not really expecting to see hummers - but one came after about a half hour, and I saw him several times in the course of the afternoon, mostly viting various clumps of flower. And twice I saw a fight with a second hummer! So they are still around and I checked all the feeders (many less than I had up in the peak weeks) and cleaned and refilled some.

Then this morning, despite intermittent rain and almost steady fine drizzle, I saw one of them again, and filmed the above video. He starts by feeding on Cape Honeysuckle (orange-red flowers - technically Tecomaria capensis,  a tropical from South Africa, which also attracts hummingbirds at our winter place in the Bahamas). Then he switches to pink porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis), another tropical hummer magnet. At the start of the video you can see the pink flowers of rosebud sage (Salvia involucrata "Bethelli) and towards the end you can see on the left Golden Shrimp Plant (Pachystachys lutea), pineapple sage (S. elegans) and morning glory "Heavenly Blue", which is not a hummer plant.

Tomorrow the wind will be from the west, but if it should edge towards the north, I might lose my last hummers of the season.

Finally here is some video from yesterday (oct 3). Not in focus, I will upload better soon.

Monday, September 29, 2014

still around! how much longer though? ; video

Here's a slo-mo video from earlier in the season. The hummer is feeding at rosebud salvia, but gets interrupted a couple of times by bees.

We still have at least a couple of hummingbirds around at the sanctuary, though activity is definitely tapering off, and I've greatly reduced the number of feeders. It will be interesting to see how much longer they stick around. However, it will be impossible to pin it down to an exact date, first because I'm spending less and less time at the sanctuary, and second because one can never be sure there are no longer infrequent visits. Often one can have a few days of no action, then they reappear for a couple of days (perhaps as laggards arrive from further north, and then scurry further south after a quick rest). Other reports indicate that there are still many sightings in the north of the country, though numbers are diminishing, and numbers on the Gulf Coast are climbing.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

drop of blood; still bickering in the rain and wind

Juvenile males often show one or 2 tiny scarlet throat feathers starting to break through the normal silver gray. This often looks like a drop of blood, viewed from the right angle in good light.  Here's an example in a recent photo taken by Dominick Gerace at a feeder at his yard in Manorville. However he thinks that this guy is not "Junior", who recently left the nest he had been monitoring, but another youngster.

Here at the sanctuary I ventured out today in the rain and wind, and saw 2 hummers fighting despite the late season and difficult conditions. I expect to see hummingbirds well into early october, though in decreasing numbers. Others are also continuing to see activity - check out the recent photos at Friends of the Sanctuary.
To end up with here's a neat older sanctuary photo by Tom Killip that shows a juvie with 4 "drops of blood".

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Still quite active at the sanctuary; Shep Jones

Although we are getting near the end of the hummingbird season on Long Island, over the last few days there continues to be good activity at the sanctuary. Mike Chachkes swung by this morning and nabbed these nice images. The top one shows a hummer feeding at Agastache cana, and the next one at  Rosebud Salvia. There are probably more hummingbird flowers in bloom at the sanctuary than so far this year, and it will be sad when the hummers have all gone south despite the banquet laid before them.  But we are having chilly nights, and once frost arrives Long Island will no longer be a hospitable place for these tropical jewels.

I hear that hummers are still active at many other locations on Long Island. Get out and enjoy the spectacle (and the beautiful weather) while they are still around.Yesterday between my morning and afternoon lectures at the University, I went for a walk at one of my favorite locations on Long Island, Avalon Preserve in Head of the Harbor. The wind was tossing the tops of the huge and ancient trees, and for once there was almost no noise from "landscaping" teams working on the surrounding fancy houses (for me they destroy the sonic landscape).  I particularly love Shep Jones Road, a dirt road which runs right through the Preserve. There are no powerlines or houses, there are many magnificent oaks, and almost no traffic - fortunately the road is quite bad where it joins Harbour Road, discouraging its use as a short cut. I hope it stays bad! If you have never walked Shep Jones I urge you to do so - just beautiful! In the north west wildflower field there is an amazing old red cedar tree - the most magnificent I've ever seen, except for one at Prestwould, at Virginia's southern border.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Visit to Long Island Hummingbird Plants, in Medford

I just got back from a visit to Bill Koller's place in Medford, where he runs Long Island Hummingbird Plants. His front yard garden is now in full splendor, full of hummingbird favorites - and hummingbirds. It's quite amazing to come off the LIE and less than 5 minutes later to be surrounded by zooming hummers and their favorite plants, some of which are ENORMOUS! His Mina lobata is a waterfull of blossom twelve feet high, there are porterweeds, salvias and other goodies galore, and his "Phyllis's Fancy" salvia (a close kin of "Waverley") has grown in 3 months from a 2 inch pot to a gigantic woody bush, like in California. And hummers busy everywhere at these flowers, chasing each other, and taking time outs (often together) on various perches. There's still time to pick up some special plants, have a couple of weeks of action in your yard, then overwinter them inside (or in many cases in the ground) ready for early may when they will be back. If you want to buy plants please make an appointment with Bill, but you can stop by any time and admire the plants and action from the kerb (please, do not venture beyond the public road unless you have an appointment to buy plants). He's located at the very end of a quiet cul de sac (Classic Court) with plenty of space to park and admire at his front yard from the road. Take the LIE to the 112 interaction, go south on 112 past the railroad bridge, turn left (east) on Jamaica and after several stop signs turn right on Paple then immeidiately left into Classic Court. It's a good example of what almost anyone on Long Island can achieve with a bit of effort.

I forgot to take my camera so here's a couple of recent shots from the sanctuary, by Bob Immoor. The first (see top) shows a hummer at Salvia involucrata (Rosebud Salvia) "Bethellii", and the second shows my Gloriosa rothchildseana in bloom (but this year no hummer visits). Lot of activity at the sanctuary yesterday and today, I shot a lot of video but it will be a while before I can sort through it and upload to Youtube. I'll probably wait until all the hummers are gone, which will happen soon

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

hummingbirds active from east to west; hummingbird article draft

Here at the sanctuary there's a lot of hummer activity - I'm sitting in the front cabin grading students' exam papers, and I can hear an almost continuous buzzing from the open window. And I just got a report of good activity in the far west of the Island, in Valley Stream, not far from JFK. Here are a couple of recent videos in Alice Paloma's back yard there (courtesy of Dave Paloma). Alice get visits from males and females throughout the summer, which means they are breeding nearby, possibly in Valley Stream State Park.

  the flower on the left of the feeder is Agastache

I've been asked to write a short (800 word) article for the Pine Barrens Society Newsletter. Here is a draft - I would appreciate any feedback (paul.adams&

Hummingbirds On Long Island

Hummingbirds are a remarkable and very large family of exclusively New World birds, with about 330 different species. They vary in size from the minuscule bee hummingbird of Cuba, the world's smallest bird,  to the Andean giant hummingbird, the size of a cardinal. They "hum" because their wings move very rapidly (typically around 50 beats per second) in a figure 8 pattern, generating lift on both upstroke and down stroke, like hovering insects. This motion is enabled by pivoting the wing at the shoulder joint, as well as other adaptations to the heart, metabolism, chest muscles and feet.  Hovering allows competition with insects for the sugar provided by flower nectar. The unique flight machinery also confers amazing agility and acceleration (up to 10G!).  They often have spectacular colors, generated by tiny prisms in the feathers. 

Only one species breeds in the Northeast US , the ruby-throated hummingbird. It succeeds here because it has evolved a suite of adaptations allowing nonstop crossing of the Gulf of Mexico, avoiding competition with the many western species. The name comes from the iridescent red throat patch (or "gorget") of the adult male, made of about 100 tiny jewel-like feathers. Adult males also have a forked tail, while in females and juveniles the tail-tip is straight and white.  Hatch-year males can already have a few of these rubies. Although the gorget usually appears almost black from the side, in full frontal view and bright light it flashes brilliantly, and entices the females to mate. The suitor performs a "pendulum" dance, repeatedly diving rapidly from a great height down to the perched female, displaying his gorget, then swinging rapidly back up again. He may then switch to a "shuttle display", moving rapidly back and forth in a short horizontal trajectory in front of her. Simplified dances are also sometimes used as aggressive tactics.

Hummingbirds are territorial and pugnacious. Breeding males establish territories of an acre or more, which they defend against all other. They spend their day patrolling this territory and chasing out all but receptive females (which after seduction get chased out too). Breeding females establish smaller nesting territories. But hummingbirds establish small territories even during short stopovers on their migrations, spending hours chasing each other, while adding fat -  a  paper clip weight on a 1 cent body. Flower nectar supplies the necessary energy, but hummers quickly learn to use feeders supplying plain sugar water (20/80 ratio).

While rubythroats remain abundant in the northeast, and throughout most of their summer range east of the Mississipi all the way from Texas to southern Canada, they are no longer common on densely-built Long Island. Some excellent naturalists, such as the late great Paul Stoutenberg, have written that they are now only seen migrating, but they do breed successfully in wooded pockets almost everywhere on the Island, and even in Manhattan. Their small lichen-camouflaged nests can sometimes be spotted by following females. If you see a hummingbird in june, you can be sure it is a breeding resident. But you are more likely to see hummers in early may, or especially in august and september. Adult males arrive first, in late april, and females a week later. Females do all the nest building, incubation and chick care, and sometimes all 3 at once, in separate nests. Nestlings eat mostly insects, for protein, and during nesting  (late may to early august) female visits to flowers and feeders are infrequent. The last task of the season is to lay down fat for the southward migration, and this, combined with doubling of numbers, and the arrival of birds from further north, leads to more visibility.

Good native Long Island plants for hummers include columbine, jewelweed and cardinal flower.  However, nectar-rich exotic flowers in your backyard will increase chances of seeing these amazing birds, though many are not reliably hardy. Salvias such as "black and blue" (S. guaranitica) are easy to grow and deer resistant; see for other recommendations.  Add a few feeders with sugar-water, but keep  clean, fresh and insect-free. 

Although attracting hummingbirds  is more work on Long Island than it would be upstate or in New England, seeing them zoom around  your yard is all the more rewarding, and possible in many more locations than one might suppose. Locations near preserved woodland are best, but people get regular visits well into Nassau County, and you can reliably see hummers in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Alley Pond Park (Queens), at wild stands of cardinal flower. Further east, Bayard Cutting Arboretum, Wertheim Wildlife Refuge, Mashomack (Shelter Island), Avalon (Stony Brook) and almost any wooded area (eg. Manorville) are good. But perhaps the most reliable place to see hummingbirds is the small private sanctuary I maintain in Baiting Hollow, where I allow visitation at specific announced times (see in the month of august. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Update on Lady Di and Junior

Though "Junior" fledged several days ago, he and Lady Di are still spending a lot of time together. Dominick writes: "Lady Di is on the right. She is not feeding Junior as far as I can tell. They will sit with each other on the same branch from time to time. The only proof I have [that they are indeed Lady Di and Junior] is that they spend a lot of time in the nest tree. She chases him off the feeders a lot. He seems to sit at the feeders for more time than is necessary." [added by me]. I think the observation that they are still hanging out together in the nest tree is conclusive.

You can see that Junior's bill is now as long as Mom's. 

Here at the sanctuary we still have plenty of hummers -  more than earlier this month. I'll post some video soon. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

still some hummingbirds around; Cannas; Zephyr Teachout

Photo, by Mark Schaller, shows a hummer feeding at Canna indica. Cannas are mostly sold as showy selections which have the nectar, and much of the grace, bred out of them. The best, in every way, are the old fashioned plants handed on, as tubers, from family or friends (as mine were). Hummers love these beautiful flowers with their tropical-looking leaves. But the tubers must be dug up after the first freeze and stored over the winter.

Hummer numbers dropped here at the end of last week, but started to pick up again on sunday and we still have some around. Yellowjackets are becoming a real problem, not so much for the hummers, which can go to the flowers instead, but me! I had some initial success with homemade yellowjacket traps, made from a plastic water bottle. I cut off the top third, invert it inside the rest of the bottle, with some red plastic and sugar water in the bottom. The inverted top forms a funnel, so the wasps, attracted by the sugar water, enter the narrow part but cannot figure out how to escape. However, after a few days raccoons (or some other nocturnal critter) found the traps on the ground or on the decks, and ran off with them. So now I'm hanging the traps from strings, next to the feeders. Seems to be working for the moment.

I urge you to vote for Zephyr Teachout in the primary: she will literally be a breath of fresh air. Cuomo, like most politicians, is a pawn of big business, and Teachout will go after corruption (for a few years at least).

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Lady Di's chick has fledged!

Lady Di's chick (whom Dominick Gerace, our patient Manorville observer and photographer, dubs Junior) has left the nest! As I expected, he's ended up in the same oak tree that holds the nest, but higher up. Dominick managed to get this photo of the young fellow, locating him by following Lady Di to where he perched. Notice that his beak is still short and stubby, though it will rapidly grow in the next few days, as Lady Di plies him with a nectar-insect slurry. He'll start moving around more and more on his own, and his Mom will encourage him to do so: she's already getting him to go higher in the tree. She's probably impatient to leave on her own southward migration, but first must be sure that Junior is completely independent. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jackpot! Fighting hummers caught in action.

Here's a great new photo by Bob Immoor that captures the characteristic aggressive tail-flaring of 2 fighting hummingbirds. They were squabbling over the yellow flowers of trumpet vine Campsis radicans "Flava" **. It's difficult to photograph one hummer at a flower really well, and 2 in the same frame like this is quite an accomplishment: skill, patience and a bit of luck! I believe the purple blob in the center is an out of focus rosebud salvia blossom.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Today was our last available day this year

The above exquisite photo was taken recently at the sanctuary by Bob Immoor. The hummingbird is feeding at Salvia greggi "Cherry Queen" (**). Notice the golden pollen at the base of the beak.

Our last "open by appointment" session of 2014 was this morning. This afternoon we had a small group of photographers from NYC. We are now closed for the season, though of course old and new friends are welcome to contact me to arrange mutually convenient times to visit, before or after the hummers all leave. Clearly many have already set out on their southward journey to the Gulf Coast and then on to Central America, and numbers have been down for several days now, although we still have at least 3 still around. Everyone has been very cooperative with our new visiting policies, with a few forgivable exceptions.  I thank all my wonderful guests whose visits I have greatly enjoyed: hummingbird enthusiasts are amongst the nicest people around, and I look forward to many more happy seasons in the years to come. I hope now to get back to filming the antics and posing of the remaining birds! Please check out this blog from time to time to see what is going on at the Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

NOW CLOSED! Latest Lady DI photo and videos; sanctuary closing for the season: no more slots left

Here's the latest image from Dominick Gerace of the current hummingbird nest in his back yard Manorville. Lady's Di's chick, without competition from a sibling (the second egg in the nest failed to hatch) has grown phenomenally fast, completely fills the lichen-decorated nest, and will soon be fledging. After fledging I expect the chick will remain near the nest for a few days and Lady Di will continue feeding him/her insects and nectar. These will be perilous days for the chick - let's hope there are no cats around.

Dominick has posted a new vid of Lady Di feeding her chick at his Youtube channel. You can see it here.

 Sorry, our aug 31 slot is now full. will re-open in august next year. I expect hummingbirds will still be here for another month, and old and new friends can of course sometimes visit me by private appointment at mutually convenient times.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The End is Nigh

This spectacular image is by Brad Oliphant. It shows an adult male hummingbird perching on the stem of a bog sage flower. Note the full red throat and the forked tail. Bog sage is a 1 star hummingbird plant that also gets a lot of visits from goldfinches, which love the seeds. The hummer could be Fred, the bellicose male who dominated the sanctuary throughout the summer, but it could equally be a migrating adult who arrived after Fred's departure.
Our last day for visiting will be sunday aug 31 (morning only) but we also still have good availability for the am and pm slots on saturday (see to the right of this post for details about how to request an appointment). Of course I will continue to welcome visits from friends old and new, by appointment only, and hummingbirds will be active until late september. However the sanctuary will be officially closed starting sept 1.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

East Hampton Noise Meeting

Hummer feeding at pink porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis) ***, for sale at LI Hummingbird Plants. Recent photo by Walter Bednarczyk.

Got to the EH Airport noise meeting a bit late (2 hour drive from Stony Brook, room already full to capacity), submitted my name to speak, waited in the overflow annex (with good TV of the proceedings inside), then was admitted inside, and listened to the river of passionate complaints. I was impressed that the entire EH Town Board was carefully and apparently mostly sympathetically listening. At about 8.30 Supervisor Cantwell announced that they were only halfway through the speaker list, and I decided that given the long drive home (after a long working day) I could not stay until 10.30, so I left without speaking. But I will submit written remarks to the board, as I was advised is possible. Thanks to all those involved in this meeting!

Here is roughly what I planned to say:

"Good evening. My name is Paul Adams, I'm from Riverhead, and I'm a biology professor at Stony Brook University. A quarter century ago I was living in Manhattan but decided, for various reasons, to look for the quietest place I could find on Long Island. I was looking for peace, not comfort, practicality or convenience. After a 2 year search I found what I was seeking, at a a price I could (just barely) afford: a small cottage perched on a high bluff overlooking Long Island Sound, surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods and fields and only 2 other summer cottages, 1 mile from the nearest road, 10 miles from the nearest port or harbor, and 20 miles from the nearest airport. But a little over ten years ago the idyll started to fall apart: there were ever increasing numbers of large noisy helicopters and seaplanes flying low overhead or close to shore. In the last couple of years, with the adoption of the "North Shore Route" the helicopters (though not the seaplanes) have mostly moved a bit further out, but are starting to turn inland for their final descent over Mattituck, and because traffic has further increased, the volume of noise is perhaps greater than ever. I implore the Town of East Hampton to get the monster that the airport has become back under control."

Several of the speakers suggested that the existing airport should be closed down and its operation moved to the now privately owned Montauk Airport (which was recently for sale) with suitable controls. A glance at the map shows that if all flights came into Montauk over water, NOBODY would be affected by the noise. This seems to me the obvious solution.

On my evening drive through Southampton, Bridgehampton etc even at 7 pm there was still very heavy traffic creeping west (and this was wednesday!). It's clear that the Hamptons failed to respond to their own success by creating proper road and rail access, which is of course largely why there is so much air traffic (with all its pollution and misery below). On the North Fork there's never anything like this traffic. Surely the Hamptons billionaires could chip in to create rapid European-style rail access to their palaces. If it's not possible on Long Island (so much money and so many people), then it's not possible anywhere in the US. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

visiting soon over; males, old and young; Lady Di update; noise meeting

Best availability: thursday afternoon 3-5.30. We will be closing at the end of the month. We will be probably open for at least 2 slots at the weekend but details are not yet finalized. Meanwhile if you want to visit this year, try to make one of the available (posted) slots (see to the right).

Although we are now in full swing migration, and the adult males are the first to leave, we still have at least one at the sanctuary, photographed yesterday afternoon  by Bridgette Kistinger:

Bridgette also snapped a young male, with a single "drop of blood" on the throat (just one adult gorget feather poking though):

The juvenile males will develop a full set of brilliant red gorget feathers on their wintering grounds in Central America.

Lady Di's chick in Manorville continues to grow rapidly. Here's a nice view showing the chick's stubby beak poking above the top of the nest, and the brilliant green lichen that decorates the nest and blends in with the lichen on the oak twig supporting it.

Here's another view showing the chick completely filling the nest.

Thanks Dominick Gerace for these pictures.

Reminder: there's a very important meeting in East Hampton tonight (LTV Studios, 75 Industrial Rd, Wainscott at 6.30). See the Quiet Skies Facebook page for more info. Big money aviation interests are already mobilizing to intimidate the EH Town Board, many of whom were recently democratically elected to regain local control of their airport. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pink Porter-weed now available! Important helicopter noise meeting wed evening

The fabulous hummingbird magnet Pink Porter-weed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis ***) is now available at Long Island Hummingbird Plants. This plant is even better than "Black and Blue", my number one recommendation, and on a par with rosebud salvia (which I do not recommend solely because it's more difficult to find than B and B). Here's a recent picture taken at the sanctuary by Kerry Harrison:

It's a tropical and won't survive the winter outside, but it's a tough plant (after all, it's a weed) and will survive neglect indoors over the winter. It's very difficult to find, and you should seize this opportunity!

The sanctuary will be closed after aug 31, but we still have good availability for appointments for visiting slots  thur am and pm, and fri pm.

There will be a very important meeting about helicopter (and other aircraft) noise created by commuter traffic from Manhattan to East Hampton Airport (KHTO) on wed evening (aug 27) , starting at 6.30, at the LTV studios at 75 Industrial Road, Wainscott, E. Hampton. The East Hampton Town Board will be hearing public comments about the noise problem, anf they probably have more control over possible solutions than anyone else.

This problem affects almost everyone on Long Island to some degree. However it's particularly important for the BH Hummingbird Sanctuary: the noise from these flights stops normal conversation and makes it impossible to hear the subtle buzzing and chirping of the hummingbirds. It's gotten steadily worse over the last ten years, as the Hamptons and Manhattan have each become the exclusive domain of the rich, who can afford the astronomical cost of these polluting flights. The rational and decent solution to the traffic problems on the south fork is to improve the roads and railroad, not to inflict harassment and stress on tens of thousands of people who had sought the peace and quiet of the east end, and who do not live in or near East Hampton. But of course the US no longer invests in infrastructure or indeed its future, merely in corporate welfare and military adventures.

I know it's a long drive out to Wainscott but if you can possibly do it wed evening and speak about the noise problem, either at the sanctuary or at your own home, I would be very grateful. This might be our one chance to convince the EH Town Board to do the right thing. I chose the land on which the sanctuary sits for the extreme quiet that existed there 23 years ago, never thinking that a location so far from everything could become the target of noise bombardment by people commuting between Manhattan and KHTO, rather than via the obvious direct over-Atlantic route, but via LI Sound and the North Fork. It's difficult to beleive that something so crazy could come to pass, but it has, and this tear alone helicopter traffic (the worst but not the only offender) has increased by 60% compared to last year. If this continues I will have to leave Baiting Hollow, once an oasis of calm.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Helicopter Noise Meeting; Lady Di's Chick growing fast; flowering maple vid with attack

There will be a very important meeting about helicopter (and other aircraft) noise created by commuter traffic from Manhattan to East Hampton Airport (KHTO) on wed evening (aug 27) , starting at 6.30, at the LTV studios at 75 Industrial Road, Wainscott, E. Hampton. The East Hampton Town Board will be hearing public comments about the noise problem, anf they probably have more control over possible solutions than anyone else.

This problem affects almost everyone on Long Island to some degree. However it's particularly important for the BH Hummingbird Sanctuary: the noise from these flights stops normal conversation and makes it impossible to hear the subtle buzzing and chirping of the hummingbirds. It's gotten steadily worse over the last ten years, as the Hamptons and Manhattan have each become the exclusive domain of the rich, who can afford the astronomical cost of these polluting flights. The rational and decent solution to the traffic problems on the south fork is to improve the roads and railroad, not to inflict harassment and stress on tens of thousands of people who had sought the peace and quiet of the east end, and who do not live in or near East Hampton. But of course the US no longer invests in infrastructure or indeed its future, merely in corporate welfare and military adventures.

I know it's a long drive out to Wainscott but if you can possibly do it wed evening and speak about the noise problem, either at the sanctuary or at your own home, I would be very grateful. This might be our one chance to convince the EH Town Board to do the right thing. I chose the land on which the sanctuary sits for the extreme quiet that existed there 23 years ago, never thinking that a location so far from everything could become the target of noise bombardment by people commuting between Manhattan and KHTO, rather than via the obvious direct over-Atlantic route, but via LI Sound and the North Fork. It's difficult to beleive that something so crazy could come to pass, but it has, and this tear alone helicopter traffic (the worst but not the only offender) has increased by 60% compared to last year. If this continues I will have to leave Baiting Hollow, once an oasis of calm.

Here are a couple of new pictures of the nest in Manorville. The first shows that the baby now almost fills the nest (the remaining egg still unhatched), and the second shows Lady Di feeding it. Note that the chick's beak is short and stubby, unlike the adult's. Thanks Dominick!

Here at the sanctuary there's good availability aug 25 pm, aug 26 pm, aug 27 pm and some at other posted times

And here's a recent movie (4X slo-mo) showing a hummer feeding at a bell-like Abutilon blossom, and then, near the end, being attacked by another hummer. Even in slo mo it all happens extremely fast, but you can see how the attacker flares his tail in warning.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Autumn Sage

It's cool once again - too cool for me - and thoughts turn to the looming fall. So today I''ll focus on autumn sage, Salvia greggii **. This grows naturally in dry, rocky, soil, southwest Texas and northern Mexico, but it does surprisingly well on Long Island, especially if it has good drainage. It often comes through the winter, and I now have had a small bush for 15 years, growing in a crack in a south-facing sheltered concrete slab. Here's a recent photo, by Greg Olanoff.

Typically it's red or pink, but there are a lot of varieties around, including the pretty "Hot Lips", with a a red-lipped white flower.
Crushing a leaf unleashes a wonderful aromatic smell. Salvias generally have aromatic smells, attractive to humans but unpalatable to deer, and it's this feature that makes my hummingbird garden here in woods infested with deer possible. Here's Salvia guaranitica *** (the commonly-available selection "Black and Blue") again (see yesterday's post) in another great photo by Greg Olanoff.

To end up here's another cute photo from Greg. Note the golden pollen at the base of the bill.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hummingbird/Salvia article in today's NY Times

Best upcoming availability: sunday aug 24 pm

There's a nice article in today's  NY Times by Anne Raver, about salvias and hummingbirds. She features my number one recommendation Salvia guaranitica "Black and Blue".

The photo below is by Mia Globoschutz (16 years old) and shows "Purple Majesty", a hybrid of S. guaranitica and S. gesniflora.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

visiting procedure reminder; new photos

Just a quick reminder of our visiting rules, which almost everyone is obeying (thanks!).
1. You must have a confirmed appointment with a corresponding waiver issued by me (paul.adams*
2. Further instructions will be sent with your confirmation.
3. Request appointments only for posted "visiting slots" - see to the right of this post.

More slots will open soon but we close sept 1 (though private visits by old and new friends might still be possible).

Photo by Sheldon Pollack, aug 18. The flower is the salvia "Purple Majesty" **, which is a hybrid of S. guarantica and S. gesniflora.

Photo by Wei Tang, aug 15. Yellow trumpet vine (**)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lady Di report

Photo from yesterday by Huzhong Cai. The flower of the trumpet creeper is quite deep and the hummers often perch on the lip and thrust their whole head in to feed.

Lady Di's chick continues to grow, and the remaining egg remains unhatched, as I expected. Photo by Dominick Gerace from yesterday.

Monday, August 18, 2014

good availability; Cuphea

Today's photo was taken 2 days ago at the sanctuary by Dan De Mato ( It shows a hummer feeding at Cuphea ignis "David Verity" (**), often known as cigar plant or firecracker (though many others also bear this name).

We have good upcomingavailability wed pm, thur am and pm. More slots will be posted very soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

only 1 egg has hatched; upcoming availability

It turns out that unfortunately only one of the eggs in Lady Di's nest has hatched. This new photo shows that what looked like a beginning hole on the second egg, back on aug 13, was in fact just a piece of debris: the egg is still intact and may now fail to hatch. Possibly the recent heavy rain prevented normal hatching. Anyway the remaining hatchling is growing well, and it will be interesting to see how Lady Di deals with the unhatched egg. I think she will just ignore it.

The best upcoming availability is for tues pm, wed pm and thur (see "Visiting Slots" to right of this post).

Here's a recent sanctuary photo, by Kathy Baca, showing a juvenile male (2 dark spots on the throat).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lady Di Feeding her brand new young; petition; updated availability

Lady Di is a female hummingbird raising a new and late brood 12 feet up an oak tree in Manorville. The first egg hatched aug 12 and the second a day later. Dominick, the photographer, had to sit 20 feet away from the nest - any closer and she would just buzz him until he left. You can see Lady Di delicately feeding her tiny hatchlings. She's giving them a regurgitated mix of insects and nectar. The chicks will now rapidly grow, and she will be kept busy catching insects. But for the moment while they are still tiny she spends a lot of time just sitting on them, keeping them cosy.

Don't forget to sign the petition to Riverhead Town to keep the sanctuary going.

Best slot availability: monday and tuesday pm

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lady Di's eggs have hatched! Availability

I'm happy to announce that Lady Di's eggs have successfully hatched, and the family and nest are doing great. Lady Di is a female hummingbird whose raising a new, late-season, brood in Manorville, 12 feet high in an oak tree. She's now feeding them. The first egg hatched yesterday (aug 12) and the second today. Here's a photo of the tiny baby and the second egg which is just beginning to hatch. Thanks to Dominick Gerace for this interesting image. More to follow tomorrow, including video. In the mean time check out my images and videos at this blog starting feb 10 this year.

Best upcoming availability is for monday pm (see to the right of this post for visiting instructions). No availability tuesday morning, new slots later next week will be posted soon.

good rain; clubs and groups

This recent picture is by Wei Tang. The flower on the right is the yellow form of trumpet creeper (or trumpet vine, Campsis radicans).

We got good rain early this morning, which should taper off in time for our morning "slot"; those with appointments for this morning should try to come, because I think hummers will be active, and I cannot guarantee appointments for later slots. But I will re-assess the situation in an hour or two - look for updates of this post. Let's hope that Lady Di and her nest in Manorville came through the rain ok.

Yesterday we had organized visits from 2 garden clubs: the Riverhead GC in the morning and the Nathan Hale (Huntington area) in the afternoon. Everyone saw plenty of hummers and enjoyed the flowers and views. If you are a member of an organized group (garden/bird/photography clubs) you can make an appointment for a visit outside of our posted "slot" times). The group leader should contact me by email (paul.adams*