Water Conservation in the YardWritten by Silvianne Barthe
It is that time of year again. The water companies are sending us notices to reduce watering in our gardens.
What are you doing to help conserve this precious commodity?
Often we don't appreciate something until it's gone! That can really be true with water. Taken for granted when it is plentiful, its importance is truly appreciated in garden once it becomes scarce. If you find yourself in a drought, there are some things you can do to help conserve water and make best use of what you have available.
If you have not already mulched your plants, do it! Mulch will help limit amount of water that evaporates from soil. While organic mulches such as grass clippings or wood chips are preferable since they add organic matter to soil, plastic mulches are useful in limiting evaporation from soil. They can be laid between rows in vegetable garden and will help limit moisture loss; however, they also will limit infiltration.
Place your water where it will do most good. Sprinklers are very inefficient for getting water to roots of your plants. Much of water lands on leaves and evaporates before reaching ground. A slow gentle watering at base of plants, allowing water to soak into soil, will be most efficient.
Attracting and Caring for HummingbirdsWritten by Johann Erickson
The oldest historical mention of hummingbirds likely dates back to Taino Native Americans, who were reportedly first humans to greet Columbus when he landed in America. The Taino believe that hummingbirds are spreaders of life on Earth, and their warriors were known as Colibir, or Hummingbird warriors, because they are a peaceful bird that will defend their territory with heart of an eagle.
How long they have been in America is unknown, but they have delighted bird watchers for many years, with their quick dashes into garden, and shine of sun on brilliant feathers. While there actually are duller colored birds, ruby-throated hummingbird is most commonly recognized for its iridescent feathering, and dazzlig ruby-red throat. The color though, is not all it seems.
Hummingbirds get their unusual coloring from fact that not all feathers are pigmented, or colored. In duller colors, including Rufous Hummingbird, brown hue is actual pigment in feather structure. In ruby-throated variety, light refracting through feather segments, breaking it up much like a prism would. Only certain levels of color will be seen by human eye, and that color will change with every movement of feather, or angle of light striking it.
This is one of features that makes them so charming to watch as they flit around a garden or feeder. Hummingbirds are very fast, traveling at an average 25 miles per hour, with wingbeats of anywhere from 10-15 per second in Giant Hummingbird, up to 80 per minute by Amethyst Woodstar. The ruby-throated hummer falls into middle range, at about 53 beats per second.
To sustain such rapid and prolonged activity, hummingbird’s heart must beat accordingly. For birds that are hot, or sleepy, that can be as low as 50-180 beats per minute, but a heart rate of an amazing 1360 beat per minute has been recorded in a Blue-Throated Hummingbird.
All this activity requires a humming bird to eat almost continually, to fuel activity that will maintain its 105-109F body heat. That means dining as many as 15 times an hour, on high-energy food. In volume, they consume up to eight times their body weight a day. But reduce nectar to a solid by eliminating water, and it would amount to their own bodyweight.
A hummingbird can starve to death in as little as two hours, if still active. That makes rescue of birds trapped in garages or other enclosed areas, imperative within a short time. At night, their “thermal generators” shut down as they rest, and allow their body temperature to drop, so that less energy is used up while they sleep.
If you enjoy watching these delightful little birds, and are also an enthusiastic gardener, why not plant clumps of flowers or bushes, to bring them into your yard? Hummingbirds are creatures of habit, and will develop their own paths to food, checking them frequently and on a daily basis. Once they find out you have goodies, they’ll return over and over. Other hummers will follow, and you may then get to see hummingbird behavior at its worst, as they dive at each other to protect their food sources.