Friday, September 16, 2011


We put out feeders and plant flowers for hummingbirds.  They come.

Female Black-chinned hummingbird on Firebush (Hamelia patens).

Female Black-chinned rests between sips.

This year, the hottest summer in Texas history stressed every living thing. 

Throughout the Hill Country, the only reliable flowers were those in home gardens where water still flowed.  

Honeybees, deprived of nectar, and desperate for energy and moisture to cool their hives, thronged our hummingbird feeders and found small sips around the edges of the yellow bee guards. 

The hummingbirds adapted, thrusting beaks between bees and guards to feed. 
Until waves of migrating orioles dropped in hungry. After they'd eaten the ripe beauty berries behind our house, they pulled bee guards off feeders to sip sugar-water.  

Young Baltimore Oriole maleSee the bees on the guardless port to the left?  And those waiting for him to leave.
The hummingbirds, wary of big pointed beaks, worked harder now for a drink, circling feeders, dodging bees, squeaking for a turn at the energy to power their hundreds-of-miles-flight yet to come.

But guard-less ports spilled pools of nectar and swarms of bees piled the feeders, some ascending through ports into the syrup, forcing me into rescue duty for drunken swimmers,  followed by search-duty for bee guards tossed from impatient beaks.


In late afternoon, Summer Tanagers took possession atop the feeders for easy snatches of errant bees, a tanager's favorite food.

The orioles AND the hummingbirds waited for turns at the feeders.

Soon, the birds will continue south. This notch on the cycle will move out of sight, the passing of time more a passage of being.

Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


  1. Hi Kathleen,
    I really like this posting - pictures and text: very poetic!
    Regards from KC, and have a nice weekend,

  2. I have never had orioles or tanagers in my garden. Both are pretty birds. I am amazed that the orioles pulled the bee guards off the feeders. Those beaks do look strong. Great photos.

  3. I love hummingbirds so much -- they are just about the coolest familiar little birds we have out here, too.

    Great photos!

  4. Hi there,
    I just found your blog. Love your pics. Your bird close ups are great. Look forward to your posts. Chris Las Aventuras Tucson Gardening

  5. Great photos and a lovely, sensitive text dear Kathleen. I love reading about the birds and insects in your Hill Country, so kind of you to help them along on their journey with the flowers that you grow and the nectar feeders.
    I hope you get some relief from the heat now that it is Fall.

    xoxoxo ♡

  6. You have quite a party going on there.
    No Baltimore Orioles here and I've never seen a tanager. The woodpeckers are our problem here.
    We got a sprinkle here yesterday. Hope you got some, too.
    Have a good weekend.
    Stay safe...

  7. Wonderful photos Kathleen. We have record numbers of hummingbirds this year too. I haven't noticed the bees going after the hummingbird feeders, but they seem to adore the milkweed blooms, and the vitex. Haven't seen any orioles or tanagers.

  8. You said those migrating birds go south, where is their final destination. It's good they have stops like your garden where they can have some food on their very long journey.

  9. What a wild and wonderful backyard you have. I'm glad somebody was trying to take care of all the little flying creatures this summer! Any relief from the heat over there in Hill Country yet?

  10. They always come back, no matter what. It's the beauty of God's creation.


  11. Wonderful photo essay - we are getting rain (thankfully) in the mountains of CO while you are suffering from lack of it.

  12. You certainly get a lot of beautiful birds at your feeders. It's sad that their desperation drives some of them there, but lucky for them you are there, and lucky for you too.

  13. We get tons of hummers here, Kathleen and see a couple of Orioles every year on their way through. They're too smart to stay long, lol.

    Great post and pics....this summer was weird for our birding around these parts.

  14. Tanagers! I've never seen one and didn't realize they come so close to San Antonio. I'll have to keep an eye out. Over the weekend, we had a second wave of orioles too. We also had a small yellow bird. I didn't get a good look at it, but from what I did see it looked like and orange crowned warbler, but isn't it too early for them? I'll keep watching your blog and scouting the backyard from new birds headed my way.

  15. Orioles and tanagers. I wish they would swing a little further east and visit our garden. I have plenty for them. Lovely bird photography.

  16. Gorgeous words. Gorgeous photos. Loved this post.

  17. We've seen two orioles, neither on the hummingbird feeder. I keep looking! I put out lavender jalapeno jelly for them after my sister said they were mobbing jelly she had left out. No luck there yet.

  18. Lovely bird pictures! They and the bees are lucky to have you as a friend and guardian. x0 N2


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