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 (

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rain or Shine; Cherry Alert; Lawsuit

This fellow is probably a young male, even though there's not yet even a hint of red on the throat. There are black dots there, and his general appearance is masculine: short and squat not long and elegant. Very recent photo by Michelle Neacy.

Our policy for confirmed visits is strictly "rain or shine", though if you cancel more than 4 hours ahead we will allow you to try for another slot. If you simply fail to show, you get banned from the sanctuary for this year. By the same token, if you want to visit, keep an eye on the blog for last-minute cancellations. If the forecast is for less than 100% rain probability, it will likely only rain a bit during your visit. Furthermore, rain often provides the best viewing conditions: hummers deal with rain very well, continue to feed, and often come to the front porch (where there are sheltered feeders). You will be dry there, and can shelter in the front cabin if the rain becomes driving, and admire the numerous hummingbird photographs that adorn the walls. These photos have been brought by visitors over the years.

The sanctuary hosts a large number of wild cherry trees (Black Cherry, Prunus serotina; the closely related choke cherry Prunus virginiana, is more shrubby). These are picturesque small trees with fairly sparse foliage which are ideal for the Trumpet Creeper ( Campsis radicans; I'll write more about these beautiful and hummer-friendly plants very soon). These black cherries have pretty white flowers in late spring. However they can be very messy, and this year the fruit are abundant and often fall on the seats underneath. If you sit on them they can leave dark stains, so beware! I try to remove the night's crop from the chairs in the morning , but more may fall. If you do see some on the seat, sample them - they are tart but quite small. Claire and I once collected enough to make jam - probably the best I've ever tasted, but a lot of work. Birds, such as chickadees and cedr waxwing, love these cherries, and of course seedlings pop up everywhere. Do not sit on the ground - you will stain your clothes. And while on this general topic, please do not put your bag etc on the chairs - they are reserved for bottoms! Put them on the deck or, after scrutiny, on the ground. Someone very kindly brought 2 old but fairly sturdy park benches to the sanctuary - please think of us if you are throwing out sturdy old NON-PLASTIC garden furniture.

The ongoing lawsuit by several neighbors seeks to close the sanctuary. The Complaint is a public record, and its primary thrust is that hummingbird sanctuaries are illegal under the Code of the Town of Riverhead. However, the Complaint does not list the applicable section of the Code, and in fact the Code does not (of course) mention hummingbird sanctuaries. Thus the Complaint seems to be founded on a speculative interpretation of the Code, perhaps based on the hypothesis that everything that is not specifically permitted, is prohibited (like brushing one's teeth in one's backyard?).

More specifically the Plaintiffs' lawyer's line of argument might be that a hummingbird sanctuary (if allowed at all) would only be allowed secondary to a primary use, that my property (composed of 2 lots, only one of which is, minimally, developed is zoned for residential use only, and that in order to have a secondary use, there must already be a primary use - specifically, an existing residence. By this argument, someone who owns 2 contiguous lots, one with a residence, the other undeveloped, would not be allowed to have a vegetable garden on the undeveloped lot (and perhaps would not even be allowed to walk onto it) - clearly an absurd theory.
In my next post I will explore this and other aspects of the lawsuit.

Photo by Bob Immoor


  1. Well said! The lawsuit is nuts. I'm sorry you have such awful, bored neighbors.

  2. I just read this .. have not been on here .. Yes you have boring neighbors and it is a shame they are rich .. I once moved away from a neighborhood like that LOL because I was not allowed to have an above ground swimming pool .. just plain silly I am thankful for your piece of paradise .. it is wonderful ... :)