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The Shawnee News-Star
Sage gardening advice from the Multi-County Master Gardeners
Hummingbirds ride into Oklahoma on Gulf of Mexico breezes
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About this blog
By Garden of Cross Timbers

Hello, I am Becky Carlberg, gardening enthusiast from Southeast Oklahoma. I have degrees in Biology from Eastern Oklahoma State College and Oklahoma State University. Teaching, research work, and competing in art shows then followed. I earned my ...

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Garden of Cross Timbers

Hello, I am Becky Carlberg, gardening enthusiast from Southeast Oklahoma. I have degrees in Biology from Eastern Oklahoma State College and Oklahoma State University. Teaching, research work, and competing in art shows then followed. I earned my Master’s Degree in Plant Pathology from OSU and continued graduate work on a Doctorate of Botany at the University of Oklahoma.

With my family, we twice had an opportunity to live in Europe. We were in England for five years and then later in Germany for seven years. It was an excellent education for our sons. I returned to gardening, writing and art, became a Master Gardener, as well as an Oklahoma certified Master Naturalist. I am the gardener in charge of the Shawnee Japanese Peace Garden, a member of the Deep Fork Audubon Society, and now call my five acre Backyard Wildlife Habitat and Oklahoma Wildscape outside Shawnee home.

My name is Linda Workman Smith. The first step of my gardening journey began in the hills northwest of Van Buren, Arkansas, where my parents—both from farming families—raised seven children.

This is not to say that I’ve always had a love for gardening although over the years I’ve managed to keep my hands in the dirt. In 2000, my husband’s employment brought us to Shawnee where we settled on two acres west of town. Being unemployed for the first time in many years—and planning to stay that way—I started gardening on a small scale.

I have been a member of the Multi-County Master Gardener Association for several years and thoroughly enjoy being in the organization. I now have many flower beds and I’ve expanded my gardens to include lots of vegetable varieties, several fruit trees, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and grapes. Every year I try to plant something different. I don’t grow a lot of any one thing, but a little bit of lots of things!

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By Garden of Cross Timbers
April 17, 2013 5:28 p.m.



April 17 2013 Blog

Becky Emerson Carlberg

AHHH….SPRINGTIME IN OKLAHOMA.  CLEAN OUT THE CELLAR. 

I started my morning walk with a light rain jacket, t-shirt and hoodie at about 50 degrees.  Within 2 hours the temperature had soared up into the 70’s and my layers were long gone.  The walkways and roads were sweating and all the windows and doors on my house were fogged up.  Humidity and warmth have returned, temporarily.  The Gulf moisture has come riding up on south winds just in time for a little severe weather this afternoon.

The educated guess of the meteorologists is the severe weather will have high tornadic sheer type winds accompanied by large hail. Focus will be along a frontal boundary. Where to put my precious van?  We have no garage, so this time the van has been parked under and between two post oaks.  It was a tight squeeze.  It may take some time to extricate her after the storms!  My theory is perhaps the hail will deflect off of the oak branches before pummeling the vehicle.  Or maybe the oaks will hold Baby in place if the winds get too strong! 

Oh please, I am not going to worry about earthquakes at this time.  My house is located almost equidistant and several miles south between the Jones, Luther tremors and the Chandler tremors.  The last big quake in November of 2011 did quite a bit of damage at our house, sloshing water out of the toilets and aquarium, shaking pictures and glassware off walls and shelves, and adding new textured cracks in our totally tiled humble abode.  Yes, the entire house has floor tiling, and we now have a fissure neatly dividing the house in two sections, radiating right through all the tiles south to north. No, will just focus on the weather right now, and birds.

THE HUMMINGBIRDS ARE HERE!

Just when you saw the weather forecast with another chance at below freezing temps by the end of this week, turn off the I-phone, Nexus or TV.  Walk outside and breathe in the humid air.  The Gulf of Mexico has opened up, sending northward very warm, moist air…..and hummingbirds.  Our Ruby-Throated hummingbirds are now arriving, having flown over 500 miles over the Gulf.  They are hungry and looking to stake out their territories.

I was alerted to this fact during a call from my mother who lives in the southeastern part of the state.  She was sitting in her chair looking out the front window, and here flew up this little hummingbird that began doing circles around the very spot the hummingbird feeder usually hung…...  except no feeder was yet up.  Trying to remember where the feeders had been stored for the winter, she found two feeders, filled them with nectar, and outdoors my mother and the feeders went.  Not expecting to see any activity since the little bird had suffered a bout of disappointment, she was surprised to see the bird immediately back in its familiar place, taking long draws of the sugar solution. Wow, same bird back again.

This little bird, as well as other ruby-throated hummingbirds, left Central and Northern Mexico and flew over the Gulf of Mexico, arriving in places in Texas in March, and just now being seen in Oklahoma.  One report from OKC lists April 7th as the first sighting, but in Wilburton it was April 12th, Guthrie and Mustang April 13th, and Pawnee April 16th, plus dozens of other sightings in Oklahoma.  One place in Illinois has reported a ruby-throat also on the 16th of April.  The websites for Annenberg Learner below have individual maps that show the progression of migration of several species.  Find out about the hummingbirds, monarchs, gray whales, singing frogs, whooping cranes and even sap flow by looking at the separate maps.

This site shows individual maps for many different migrations:  http://www.learner.org/jnorth/maps/Maps.html

This site is the migration map for Ruby-throated hummingbirds:  http://www.learner.org/jnorth/maps/humm_ruby_spring2013.html

SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHERS:

Not only hummingbirds are coming north, but so are the Scissor-tailed flycatchers.  My husband saw a flock of over 100 birds winging it over Garrett’s Lake Road yesterday morning at about 7:30am, flying very high and to the north. Some have stopped off at our house as well as the airport track to stay for the spring and summer.  These birds may have come in from as far south as Panama, Mexico and Texas.  It is our state bird in Oklahoma, even though it is not a year-round resident.

SEA GULLS:

Birds that often ride the high air currents, you tend to hear these guys instead of visually spotting them. They are also flying north to dine on freshly plowed fields.  We just spent a few days at Ocean City, MD, and the sounds of the sea birds there are almost identical to the ones that are now circling northward in the rarified echelons of the atmosphere over my head.  If only I could see and smell the ocean right now.  If I did, I’d say we were in big trouble! The positive side would be I now have beachfront property. Negative side, I would also have a ton of Texans washing up.  Positive side, some IKEA merchandise might be amongst the debris.

HUMMINGBIRD PREPARATIONS:

Locate and clean your feeders.  Mix up some sugar solution (refrigerate the leftover solution):  4 parts water to 1 part table sugar.  Bring water to boil, add sugar, dissolve, cool and use.  It doesn’t have to be red.  Do not ever use honey as it may contain spores and other things that wouldn’t faze us humans, but could be deadly for a little bird with a super high metabolism.  The hummer will feed 5-8 times per hour, and it licks up the nectar with its tongue at a rate of 13 licks/second.  Try that with your tongue. If temps freeze or soar (like during the next few days) change the nectar often. Don’t fret if you can’t get your feeders out just yet.  Hummingbirds also feed on insects.  Now get busy.  Your gardens in Cross Timbers are coming alive with plants and animals and birds and insects.

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