Posts Tagged ‘birds’

I just came back from the gardens on Level D. IMG_3640 While talking with Adele and Jim R. we had the pleasure of seeing a hummer enjoying the flowers in their patch.  It paid NO heed to our presence, although we were but a few feet away.

Hummingbirds are such pleasant participants in our gardening experiences.  To be out there gardening and having them buzzing around your head is a pleasure like no other.

If you see hummers, either regularly or just occasionally, here’s a Hummingbird site that allows you to participate with Audubon in tracking these little guys.

If you would like to feed these delicate creatures, here is a website that will tell you everything about that process.  It is from Louisiana, so it’s a bit out of our area, but the facts are still VERY usable.  Whatever you’d like to know about feeding hummingbirds can be found at this site.  There is also a list of plants with flowers they find irresistible.

The very best thing to do is plant the flowers they like to visit…but feeders are sure to bring them around.  It is just important that you keep the feeders clean, and full.


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Here you can see some mahonia thriving (in February) right outside the front entrance to the Lobby at Horizon House.  HH MahoniaIt is quite pretty.  The yellow flowers produce little, blue berries which the birds love.  (After consuming the seed, those birds are pretty good at moving that mahonia seed around!  It’s likely to pop up just about anywhere.)

I have to say that Mahonia can sometimes be a problem.  This is especially true in raised beds, as we have found here at Horizon House. Within our garden beds down on the D level, there is one bed filled with mahonia that has been allowed to just “run free”.  Since no one has gardened this particular bed, it has just spread, and spread, and spread.  The bed is needing to be dug up, to get rid of all the overgrown mahonia, and it’s roots.

At this point,  the roots (and seed we hope), will be dug up and disposed of, so it doesn’t become a problem again.  I’m sure now that there will be a gardener tending it, that will not happen again, and the bed should be a happy sight!

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Here at Horizon House, we have a Green Roof.  It has somehow “sprung a leak”!  At any rate, there is lots of activity on that roof.  The link above will give you a wonderful explanation from UCDavis.IMG_2856

There are many good reasons for having a Green Roof.  These roofs have been around for centuries, and can still be found in their original form in some European countries in the form of Thatched Roofs.  But, why do we reach back in time to think about constructing Green Roofs again?

  • First and foremost…it absorbs rainwater.  This means the water, instead of dumping right into sewers with all the oil and debris it picks up along the way,   stops first at the green roof.
  • The soil to be found on the roof absorbs the water; filtering the pollutants, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus, etc.
  • The plants then gobble up the nitrogen and phosphorus helping them grow.  Since those are ingredients in plant fertilizer…we don’t have to pay for them.  They are FREE!
  • The water taken up by the plants is put back into the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation, instead of having to go into our sewer systems, etc.
  • INSULATION is a really important part of this equation.  The Green Roof provides as much as 25% cooling in the summer, and 25% warming in winter!
  • A Green Roof also helps insulate the building from sound pollution!
  • That Green Roof will provide a wonderful place for beneficial insects, birds, bees and butterflies to call home.  Our roof, being in the middle of an urban area, provides a welcome place for migrating birds and butterflies to rest!
  • This one surprised me!  It will increase the life span of a roof by as much as 200%!!!!!
  • Lastly, it helps by mitigating urban heat.  Here is a good article I read in the NY TImes about this very issue.  Check out the link!

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Last night as we sat enjoying dinner at the Horizon House Terrace Dining Room, I saw two hummingbirds!  That to me is a true harbinger of SPRING!  “Happy Days are Here Again!”

k4628893But then I looked up “hummingbirds” in Seattle.  It appears that the hummers found here are Anna’s Hummingbirds, AND they can be here ALL winter long.  I guess I haven’t been watching closely.  However, it is not a given that they are the same birds, but could rather be different birds moving through our area in their annual migrations.

Hummingbirds have always been a joy for me.  When I lived in Connecticut, I never saw them.  When I moved to New Hampshire, they seemed to be everywhere.  I watched them from early April until almost November.  I believe they stopped at our feeder on their way south because it was the only thing with color they could find.  They seemed happy to find some sustenance for their long journey.

k6000674At any rate, I was so happy to see them here in Seattle.  I will be FAR more watchful for them.  In New Hampshire we had Ruby Throated Hummingbirds.  Here they are Anna’s Hummingbirds.  I don’t care WHAT they are, I’m happy to see them!

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OK!  I love Seattle!  I love that we are in the city and close to EVERYTHING!  I love that there are many fewer responsibilities!  BUT… I miss my bird-feeders and birds!  We used to watch the birds at the feeders during every meal.  Here, on the 14th floor, that is no longer possible.  I don’t have any way to get a feeder out there.  There are some apartments with very small balconies, but ours is not one of them.  There are birds around.  I see them and hear them.  Being in Seattle, one of the great ports of the world, there are tons of sea gulls.

The state bird of Washington is the American Goldfinch.  Goldfinches were one of the most prolific birds that came to our New Hampshire feeders, but here we haven’t seen any.  How strange is that?

Yesterday, as I sat at the Book Cart in Freeway Park, helping the Seattle Library raise money (all books-$1.-), I noticed a book called “Songbirds in your garden” by John K. Terres.  so, being a sucker for birds I,of course, paid my dollar and took it.  This book was published in 1953, so it’s a pretty old book, with some pretty outdated recommendations and ideas, ie. using DDT to clean out birdhouses!  But. there were also a few kind of fun things in there as well.

There was a section on calling birds,  inducing them to get closer to you.  I will definitely try this when alone in any park from now on!  The easiest one was to suck on the back of your thumb knuckle, making a little squeaking noise (rather like the noise a mouse makes-if you’ve ever heard on of those!).  It’s easy to replicate that squeak and it will definitely attract the birds.  According to Mr. Terres, it will draw the birds out of their cover.  It might also irritate the birds, so be prepared for the occasional bird to treat you with disdain!

I may come back to this topic again, but in the meantime, enjoy calling the birds!

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