Thursday, April 29, 2021

Waiting for Cicadas

Brood # 10 of noisy, red-eyed cicadas will emerge any day now in the Washington, DC area.  We went through this before, 17 years ago.  They hatched, they sang loudly day and night,  they mated. They didn't eat and probably never slept. After three weeks, they were worn out. They flew ever more slowly, bumping absent-mindedly into things and people. It was if they were half asleep or dying, which they were. And then they disappeared. Their progeny will emerge 17 years from now, but we won't be around to see it. 

Although many people claim to be grossed out by the mere sight of a cicada, Dilly Dog will be delighted. She was born on an Amish farm seven years ago. During her first few months of life, she seems to have supplemented her diet by digging for moles and voles. When the cicadas arrive, she'll probably think "mice with wings" and feast on them. Fortunately, they're not toxic. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Waiting for Hummingbirds


We put our hummingbird feeders out two days ago, on April 8th.  I make the nectar myself, following an Audubon Society recipe:  

(1) Bring 5 cups of water to a rolling boil.

(2) Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups of granulated sugar. Let it boil for a minute to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. When cool, pour into two 20-ounce mason jars and refrigerate.  

(3) Pour 3/4 to 1 cup of cold sugar water into each feeder, depending on demand. Making 40 ounces at a time provides enough nectar to fill our two feeders twice, with some left over.  

We have two feeders. one in the front yard and one in the back.  I change the nectar twice a week. I bring the feeders with the "old" nectar inside, empty them,  and clean them with hot water and white vinegar. Left alone, they will develop mold and mildew. I put "new" nectar in clean feeders. (We have two sets of feeders.)

The water in the little cup above the feeder is meant to discourage ants, and works quite well. Bees and wasps are another matter. They visit the feeders constantly, so you have to watch out for them when removing a feeder. 

While awaiting the arrival of the feisty hummingbirds (they will get into fights over the feeders throughout the spring and summer), we can see evidence of nesting activity among the seed-eating birds. The male finches have turned bright yellow. A male cardinal will court a female by offering her a sunflower seed.  Male mourning doves waddle purposefully after the ladies, who feign complete indifference.  It's a wonderful circus.