The tiny Hummingbird is having a huge impact on my life today. I revisited an African tale highlighted in my recent blog post, watched a youtube story about Wangari Maathai’s vision for replanting her neck of the woods in Kenya, Africa. Her story, with a hummingbird as the main character and her day to day actions, inspired me to do more, one step at a time.
What does the hummingbird mean to you? This little bird delights us with her flying ability and how she stores food in early fall. These birds seem to migrate south based on shortening daylight. The hummingbird finds its primary nutrition in insects. They especially love baby spiders. Nectar gives them instant energy for their high metabolic needs but the fat, oils, minerals for their overall needs come from insects they find while flying or in the flowers they seek for their nectar. And contrary to local lore, they do not suck nectar through a “straw” but grab the sweet droplet of energy with a tongue.
In my dream work with animal totems, I found that the hummingbird is associated with air (intelligence, higher thought, the ability to see the bigger picture.) They seem to be constantly in motion, rapid wing beats that represent persistence and a feeling of endlessness or infinity. Many cultures in the Americas believed the hummingbird represents rebirth. They also represent joy which can be a fragile thing as we are witnessing today. Spring is here and Hummingbirds will be back in the NE soon.
For a more comprehensive look at Hummingbirds, I suggest this site: World Birds by Garth C. Clifford. I enjoyed his many tips and photos for attracting and supporting these little creatures in our yards.
“Hummingbirds in the U.S. and around the world have the benefit of being garden and backyard favorites. Many people put out hummingbird feeders or grow flowers that attract hummingbirds in the warmer months that allow these birds to refuel during their long migratory journeys. What’s insight is often in mind, and many fans of hummingbirds are doing what they can to keep every backyard, park, and garden a friendly place for these beautiful birds.”(quote from Defenders of Wildlife )
And, here’s a trivia fact: “Percentage-wise, the hummingbird has the largest brain of all birds (4.2% of its total body weight).”
The hummingbird like many species is suffering the loss of habitat. We can provide a suitable habitat by placing flowers and trees, shrubs, and vines that will attract them. Another link from Bird Watching, showcases 28 plants to attract Hummingbirds: flowers, trees, shrubs, and vines listed as possible additions to your garden this year. The site includes zone hardiness for each plant and the best growing conditions. The flowers tend to range from orange to reds with trumpet type shapes.
Persistence, knowing I am enough, and knowing I am doing enough at this moment are great personal, daily reminders. I would like to suggest that we spend a few moments today contemplating this marvelous, tiny creature. Spring is here in New England and soon these delightful birds will be back showing off their shimmering iridescent wings. One more question: do you dream of hummingbirds? What do they mean to you?
I hope Wangari Maathai’s folk tale and her work in creating the Green Belt in Kenya are inspirational and motivational. The isolation we are under gives us time to reflect and be in our yards and with our realtime. I welcome your stories and your sharing. Sending Blessings to all. Judith
I have been hearing the word hope a lot recently. I was so moved by Deepak Chopra’s World Government Summit speech “Hope in the Face of Uncertainty”, that I posted it here on my blog. Shortly after, I came across Caroline Myss’s talk on Hope. “The one thing that makes the unendurable durable is the grace of hope.”
Doug Tallamy, my podcast guest this week, has a new book out. First, I was thrilled that he was able to return to my show as his wisdom, knowledge and experience are needed in the world today. He’s well known in Master Gardener circles as the insect expert. But more than that he reminds us that so many insects are endangered and when they go every critter up the food chain suffers. And we are experiencing some of that today. Doug and I danced around the feeling of gloom and doom. The stats aren’t that positive. We sought to bring hope into the discussion.
His message and research is: our ownership of land, all that surrounds our home, can be put to better use for wildlife. Remember not only are our pollinators suffering but soil decomposers are missing too. So what can we do?
- Look at your lawn. what part can you let go of? Two feet of wildflowers instead of lawn makes a huge difference in your yard and your neighbourhood. If you can take more lawn away, go for it!
- Compost table scraps if you can.
- Plant more…more flowers to attract butterflies, moths, insects that help feed other critters. Nurseries are getting ready to open here in the NE and their spring stock arrives daily. They are a great resource for any questions you might have concerning which flowers/plants could work best for you.
- Don’t forget the trees. One oak tree supports so much wildlife. Can you look into the Arbor Day Foundation? For a small donation, they can send you saplings or buy trees of your choice for your geographic region. Consider buying some for your town.
Speaking for myself, how can I keep hope alive that somehow we are taking actions that will make a difference in the long run?
One garden at the same time can make a difference. Today, look at your yard differently and if you own a business look at the property differently. What can you do to make a difference today? February and March, here in the NE we tend to drool over catalogues and dream of spring. We simply can’t wait to get back into the dirt. Add more wildflowers. They are so easy to manage. Look for a way to plant a tree. Remember, dwarfs, work in small areas.
” You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” (Michelle Obama)
For the sake of our planet and all her species and realms Go. Seize. The. Day. Judith
Description: Doug Tallamy is back! An author and educator, Entomologist, and Wildlife Ecologist. Doug teaches at the University of Delaware. His new book, Nature’s Best Hope, was released in February 2020. No one likes the doom and gloom yet we are facing some very serious ecological issues. Nature has solutions and if we pay attention today, improve our own yards with sustainable plants and growth we can make a difference.
About My Guest: Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 89 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for Garden Design magazine. Doug is a Lifetime Honorary Director of Wild Ones and has won the Garden Club of America, Margaret Douglas Medal, for Conservation, the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, and the 2018 AHS 2018 B.Y. Morrison Communication Award.
Native Plant Finder on the National Wildlife Federation Website.
Transcript: #74 #74 Doug Tallamy
Description: So many of us are concerned about the declining Monarch populations. What can we do to stem the tide of their possible extinction? Montreal Canada Insectarium has an ongoing program, Mission Monarch, that is part of an international research and education effort aimed at saving the migratory populations of this endangered species. Our monarch butterfly populations are severely depleted and struggling. This program encourages citizens to be a part of the documenting process. Why? Listen in as Andre Phillippe describes their mission, how citizens are helping and what can we do to save this precious species.
Go to missionmonarch.org for more details.
About My guest: André-Philippe Drapeau Picard is the coordinator of Mission Monarch, a citizen science program run by the Montréal Insectarium at Espace pour la vie. He completed a masters degree in biology at Laval University, Quebec City, where he studied insects and spiders in peatlands. The Mission Monarch team at the Insectarium collaborates with scientists in NGOs and governments in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to raise awareness and inform actions for monarch conservation.
Insectarium de Montréal | Espace pour la vie
T. 514 872-0659 / F 514 872-0662
L’Insectarium est fermé jusqu’à l’été 2021.
Adresse temp oraire :
Maison de l’arbre | Espace pour la vie
4500, boulevard Rosemont, Montréal, Québec H1X 2B1
Transcript: #70 Andre Philippe Drapeau-Picard
I couldn’t resist this video. The photographer shares his lifetime of work capturing pollinators on film. He reminds us that when we see something that is beautiful and touches our heart we are more apt to care for it. My podcasts seek to remind us that we are nature and what we see in nature is in us, whether looking for a medical cure, protecting pollinators, looking for solutions to climate changes, or social changes. It’s all there if we look more deeply and let nature guide us more. Let’s “get out of our cleverness”, says Janine Benyus, co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute and open our hearts to more compassion for nature’s intelligence. This short film is spectacular and inspiring. Please share and comment. It’s always appreciated.
My podcast guest this week, Vicki Wojcik, program director at the pollinator partnership reminds me that pollinators are losing their habitat. It doesn’t take much to bring them back. “If you plant it they will come.” Pollinators are diverse species that are often specialists and need specific plants to thrive. What new plants are you adding this spring? Do they favor pollinators? Don’t forget to check their regional guide too. I recommend you visit their site for more detailed information.
Enjoy spring. Judith
Description: Pollinators are ecosystems service providers. We know they are hurting from the loss of habitat. When they disappear, become extinct they are gone for good. So many of them are endangered today of becoming extinct. So what can we do? “Build it and they will come!” Vicki reminds us that every garden plot contributes to habitat, food, water, and shelter. Everything basic they need we need too. So, can you help our pollinators and add more flowers, shrubs, trees? I hope so. Check out Pollinator.org for regional planting guides for suggestions.
About My Guest: Vicki’s interest in pollinators was sparked during her undergraduate days with the opportunity to travel to Brazil to participate in a field course in pollinator ecology field research course in Brazil and has continued ever since. Her graduate research focused on understanding how native bees use habitats in cities. This focus on pollinators in human-dominated landscapes has continued throughout her career and has grown to include agricultural lands, industrial lands, and the impacts of climate change. Vicki is currently the Research Director at Pollinator Partnership she oversees the research program, keeping on top of new and emerging pollinator issues.
Transcript: Vicki Wojcik