Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mother Nature at her Finest

Being from Minnesota, as a child I never saw a hummingbird and if they ever appeared in my home state I was not graced with their presence. So, to finally experience seeing a hummingbird plus having hummingbirds at my porch was a truly wonderful experience.

When we first came to Guanaja to build our home in 1997, our land was completely grown over and almost impassable. We have to clear out a lot of brush before we even reached the spot where we eventually built our home.

Over the months of clearing and building we never heard one bird, which I thought was unusual as I associated an island with the sounds of birds, monkeys (yup, we don't have those either), and strange animals. Instead we were met with silence from the time we started working our land until we moved into our home in October 1999.

Gradually, the birds started arriving. I surmise that they were happy to find an area filled with flowers and cleared for landing! We have the island Ching-Ching (a clever blackbird), wild yellow-napped Amazons flying around the perimeter of our property, buzzards in great numbers, Black Hawks, Pelicans (of course), Egrets, and several other birds I have yet to name.

Finally, we have two species of hummingbirds; the Green Breasted Mango and the Fork-tailed Emerald.

The photo to the left is the Green Breasted Mangoo.

The Green Breasted Mango is the bigger of the two species and much more aggressive and leary of people.
The fork-tailed Emerald is smaller, very curious and friendly. They will fly right up to your face or shirt and flit around observing you. They congregate at the feeder in a more friendly fashion, even to the point of being willing to allow another of their species to drink from the next hole over in the feeder.

We have 50+ birds at our home right now and with 5 feeders needing refilling 3 times a day we go through about 8+ pounds of sugar in 5 days. My husband has been photographing these little darlin's for quite a while now and has gotten some really nice photos as you can see from those I am publishing in my blog.

My husband has a better camera than I and is the better photographer and took most of the photos in this blog, but not wanting to be outdone I took out my camera and decided I had to take a photo of something I never thought I would see.... a hummingbird perched on my husband's finger!
Mike set out a small plastic cup (actually, the top to his shave cream container) and filled it with sugar water and waited to see what the birds would do. Within minutes the little Emerald buzzed around and drank from the cup. It took a few minutes more before the Green Mango bird would approach, but approach and drink they did. He left the cup on the arm of the chair for a couple of days and then decided it was time to sit in the chair to see how they would respond. If they have eyelids, they did not blink because they continued to zero in on the food source.

Next, he picked up the cup and held it in his hand so that his thumb and finger served as a rim. Again, the little Emerald approached and, throwing caution to the wind, drank from the cup. The Green Mango came in also, but not as often. I took a series of photos and finally caught several with the Emerald on his finger. We had his step-daughter and her friend, in turn, hold the cup and they still continued to come and land. I held the cup and was delighted to find this lighter than air little bird perched on my finer. What a thrill, and what a wonderful way to see the detail of this small bird. Their little tongue darts in and out of their beak and they are constantly looking around to check and see that a fellow hummingbird is not going to dive bomb them, as they often do.

If you have hummingbirds I guarantee you a real thrill if you try this method out.


  1. Like I said on HL What a great story! I definitely will try this. Macho Man says Trujillo used to have a lot of birds, but with all the slash and burn clearing and other destruction of the environment, there are not so many now. I would love to sit on my balcony and see hummingbirds.


  2. Nice post, Sharon. And great photographs! I've been trying to get a picture of these little green lizards with blue heads that run around here, but so far I'm not quick enough on the draw. Or maybe I just don't have the patience.

    As a kid growing up in the Bronx, New York City, the only thing I knew about birds was pigeons - dirty, nasty things. The only way we could observe "nature" was to go to the Bronx Zoo or the Botanical Gardens - two areas set aside specifically for that purpose. Even Central Park in Manhattan only had trees and greenspace, not much wildlife (except after dark, but that's another story). It's sad, in a way.

    Moving to Pensacola, Florida was a nice change, but living in Guanaja is like being in your own private nature preserve/aquarium! Our cay, like your property is alive with the smells of tropical flowers and presence of tropical birds, and surrounded by tropical fish in the water. How cool is this place!

  3. Sharon, the "Hummingbird Whisperer".

    What an experience! Don't run out of sugar or they might do an Alfred Hitchcock number on you.

    Yes, you get to play Tippi Hedrons part.