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Gardens of Hope

A garden growing in support of others needing respite and hope

The Return of the Warblers

Posted on June 07, 2014 by Bruce MacNaughton


When spring arrives and things start to warm up there one thing that I really listened for and that the sound of Warblers singing in the morning outside my window. Every year I hear a variety of their songs as they scoot around looking for a mate and a nest site to raise their young. Lots of them just pass through and I'll hear them for a while before they move on but one or two will stay for the summer and I will hear them every morning. Last year it was a Black-throated Green Warbler. He sang to me every morning for the entire summer. This year it's another Warbler; the Ovenbird. I hear him every morning calling for a mate and I'm pretty sure he has impressed one, at least, with a perfect nesting sight.

Warblers are my favorite bird to photograph. They are very small and very fast, making them a challenge to capture in a photo but it's such a thrill when I do. We have a large variety of Warblers that nest on Prince Edward Island. Most years more than 20 are reported to the PEI Birders List, with the most popular ones being the Yellow Warbler, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, and the Common Yellow-throat.

Next time you're out around a stream or pond where there is some low brush or shrubs, listen for the Yellow Warbler's song. The mnemonic for the Yellow Warbler is "Sweet, sweet, I'm so sweet". And they are indeed sweet.

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Hummingbirds In Sight

Posted on May 28, 2014 by Ron Arvidson


Our spring migration is well underway and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are arriving on the Island.  For me the Hummingbirds arrive shortly after the first flowers begin to bloom.  I usually look for them when I see the first forsythia start to bloom.  Another notice for me to start to look for them is shortly after the Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have arrived.  While Hummingbirds are dependent on nectar from flower as a source of food, in spring, when flowers are fewer, they will also access the Sapsucker wells for sap.  The Sapsucker wells also attract insects which provide food for Hummingbirds as well as other small birds like Kinglets, Chickadees and Warblers.

If you are planning to attract Hummingbirds to your yard, you can place feeders strategically throughout your yard and flower beds.  There are a variety of Hummingbird feeders available from any number of stores and shops.  I prefer those that do not hold to much so that they can be refreshed regularly and are easy to clean.  For the first couple of feedings, I usually put out a mix that is three parts water to one part white sugar.  I feel that this with the extra sugar it will attract the hummers to stay around as well as provide extra energy to withstand the cooler nights.  Once feeding is established, I change to the regular syrup of  four parts water to one part water.  There is no need to add any source of red dye to your syrup as the birds are attracted by the color of the feeder and there are some who feel that the dyes may harm the Hummingbirds

You also should provide Hummingbirds with a variety of flowers in your yard if you wish to have them stay around for the summer.  They tend to be attracted to the tubular flowers from Daffodils, Honeysuckle and Morning Glory.  A variety of trees and shrubs will provide roosts, protection and nest areas.  Hummingbirds usually choose a protected sight in a forked brand to build a nest of moss, lichen and spider silk as well as other fine materials.  The nest are around four to five centimetres in diameter and will expand to accommodate the growing chicks.

Hummingbirds are a delight to have around throughout the season and are very entertaining to watch.  Sometimes the aerobatics becomes quite intense as the young fledge and there can be some aggressive displays.  As fall approaches, they will migrate when the time is right.   However, sometimes it is good to leave your feeders out as during the fall Hummingbirds from areas west of ours sometimes stray outside their normal range and you may get to see a rarity.

Photos and Text by R.E.Arvidson


Welcome Back Birds

Posted on May 11, 2014 by Bruce MacNaughton
It's spring! Yeah! Everyone has a first sign they look for to tell them that spring has finally arrived. For me it's when I hear the White-throated Sparrow. I know they'll soon be skitting around under my bird feeders looking to clean up any stray seeds they find. They do that because there's a shortage of insects and berries at this time of year. Soon they'll be looking for a suitable place to nest which often is under my thick shrubs unless the cat sees what they're up to, and in that case they move to higher ground.
White-throated Sparrows are one of the prettier Sparrows with their bright white throat and yellow lores. Some have white stripes on their head and some have a more buff coloured stripe. Both equally handsome.