Saturday, June 4, 2022

Yellow Lady Slippers Sighting, Banding Hummingbirds at Stillwater

Maybe the black flies have taken it in the shorts with all the hot days we’ve had. I put in the garden over the weekend and not once did they take the hoe out of my hand. I did have a few deer flies that wanted to help me and some mosquitoes and no-see-ums that were trying to help.

This is the third year that deer flies have come out before the first of June. Normally, they never boomed me until the beginning of July. When they come out, it usually means the end of black flies. Hopefully all 36 varieties hatched out together on those hot days that warmed up the streams that they hatch out of. Some of the intermittent streams that had eggs may not have even been flowing, which did them in; one can only hope.

I have a pair of Phoebes nesting under my porch. It has only taken them 22 years to find that place to nest. I put up a couple small boards under the front porch roof and Robins found that spot a couple years ago and raised a family. They are back, but nesting in a spruce tree along the driveway. They protect that nest site when the Grackles come to the feeder and get boomed.

No sign of bears yet here, but I did hear of a big bear along South Shore Road getting some bird feeders and cleaning out a pile of aging leftovers. This time of the year, they work the new growth on aspens, as I find broken branches in the Mitchell Pond Trail under these trees. Ants work these leaves, and the bears get both veggies and protein from the top of the tree. They also eat grasses and pond weeds this time of year.

There were lots of people visiting over the weekend. Some may have gotten wet setting up on Friday (May 27) as we got three quarters of an inch of rain. Talking to Terry Perkins while hummer banding Sunday (May 29), he said they got three inches as that storm system passed through. The docks at the Stillwater Reservoir were floating extremely high on the water.

Banding Hummingbirds at Stillwater. Photo by Gary Lee.

The Hummingbird Banding went well on Sunday (May 29) with lots of visitors who got to hold and release one. There were about twenty people waiting for Ted Hicks (the hummer bander) and me when we arrived at 7:30 a.m. at Stillwater. It didn’t take too long to set up the trap and take down most of Marian’s feeders, so the birds would come into the trap. First catch was three and second catch was four of the little birds. This kept Ted busy as he banded and told the new visitors about the birds. He caught up and it was very steady until about 10 a.m., and then it was a hit-and-miss in the trap, as some had learned the system.

We ended up with fifty-six new birds and four recaptures. Two were from last year and one from two years ago. Then (an eye-opener) we got one from 2014, which made that bird nine years old, as it was an after hatch year when caught in August of that year. The longevity record for a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is 9 years and 2 months, so we could break that if we catch that bird again later this year. Some western hummers have been banded and recaught at an age of twelve years.

That rain popped out a few new wildflowers, and my Yellow Lady’s Slippers are looking great again this year. They have been blooming now for over twenty years, as I planted them before the house was built along the driveway on a pile of dirt left over from putting in the underground power line. They love it. I do protect them from the deer, as they seem to like to just pick them and leave them on the ground. I have seen a few Pink Lady’s Slippers out in various places. My May apples have added a few new plants. Last year, the chipmunks ate all the fruit, so I don’t know where the seeds came from. Maybe they came from seeds from previous years.

The loons have already set up territories, and some are already on a nest. If you see a loon on a nest, back off, as there are many predators just waiting to snatch an egg when the parents are off the nest.

These sunny days are great for the butterflies, but that’s another story. See ya.

Photo at top: Yellow Lady’s Slippers. Photo by Gary Lee. 

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Gary lives with his wife, Karen, at Eight Acre Wood in Inlet where he was the Forest Ranger for 35 years, working in the Moose River Wild Forest Recreation Area and West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area. Now retired, Gary works summers for the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, observing, catching and banding loons. The author of a column Daybreak to Twilight in local papers from 1986 to 2019, he now writes his Outdoor Adventures a weekly blog. In 2008, Gary coauthored a book with John M.C. “Mike” Peterson, "Adirondack Birding- 60 Great Places to Find Birds."

2 Responses

  1. Angela says:

    The lady slippers are absolutely gorgeous! Any tips for sourcing them and cultivating? Are they as dependent on the mycorrhizal fungi as the Pink Lady Slipper? We have the pink ones in our woods but no yellow on our property in Warren Co. I have read about treating the soil with dried milk powder but not at all sure if there is any truth to that. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sharon says:

    Wow, I actually didn’t realize that hummingbirds lived that long, thats awesome. What an interesting read, thanks!