Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Purple Martin Roost

I got word from a reader that the big roost of purple martins in Houston is still active.

The martins gather around sunset at The Fountains shopping center. That's off US 59 in Stafford. There are large power lines behind the shopping center and a pond. The birds gather on the lines and drop over the pond to drink before they gather in the shopping center trees at nightfall.

Take your children and family. Thousands of purple martins gathering at sunset is a sight to see.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Feeding Hummingbird

Reader Question: Should we use hot water to mix the sugar when we make hummingbird solution? You didn't mention it in a recent article. What about adding red food coloring?

We boil the water before adding sugar because it more completely dissolves the sugar and helps keep bacteria from growing in the mixture. Not necessary to boil the water, but we do it. I've mentioned boiling the water in previous articles, but just did not have enough space in the recent story.

Adding food coloring is rather controversial, but here's where I stand.
The red dye (food coloring) is totally useless because the hummers are
attracted to the red ornaments on the feeding portals rather than to the red liquid. Natural (flower) nectar is a clear liquid, not red, and
flower petals that contain the clear nectar are red, yellow or some other bright color. Some people suggest that the red food coloring may cause intestinal harm because it is not digested or absorbed as a nutrient. The jury is still out on that issue, but my thought is why take the chance? The food coloring certainly offers no benefit at best, and if it may harm the birds, I won't chance it.