Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Hi Everybody!!
Who let the Sun Dogs out? Haha! I captured one of these dogs for you to see. Shared below is also a Wikipedia page on Sun Dog. Sightings were once rare and considered miracles. In the present day and time, we know many chemicals have been injected into the atmosphere with climate change. Perhaps that is one reason sightings of Sun Dogs are now common. I see many and have photographed them and posted in my albums. They are beautiful to me and a delight to see in the sky. I hope you all will catch a sighting of a Sun Dog. Enjoy!



Sun dog

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sun dogs (or sundogs), mock suns[1] or phantom suns,[2] scientific name parhelia (singular parhelion), are an atmospheric phenomenon that consists of a pair of bright spots on either side on the sun, often co-occurring with a luminous ring known as a 22° halo.[3]
Sun dogs are a member of a large family of halos, created by light interacting with ice crystals in the atmosphere. Sun dogs typically appear as two subtly-colored patches of light to the left and right of the sun, approximately 22° distant and at the same elevation above the horizon as the sun. They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sun dogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low.

Formation and characteristics[edit]

Sundogs are commonly made by the refraction of light from plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus clouds or, during very cold weather, these ice crystals drift in the air at low levels, in which case they are called diamond dust. The crystals act as prisms, bending the light rays passing through them with a minimum deflection of 22°. If the crystals are randomly oriented, a complete ring around the sun is seen — a halo. But often, as the crystals sink through the air, they become vertically aligned, so sunlight is refracted horizontally — in this case, sundogs are seen.
As the sun rises higher, the rays passing through the crystals are increasingly skewed from the horizontal plane. Their angle of deviation increases, and the sundogs move farther from the sun.[4] However, they always stay at the same elevation as the sun.
Sundogs are red-colored at the side nearest the sun. Farther out the colors grade through oranges to blue. However, the colors overlap considerably and so are muted, never pure or saturated. The colors of the sundog finally merge into the white of the parhelic circle (if the latter is visible).
It is possible to predict the forms of sundogs as would be seen on other planets and moons. Mars might have sundogs formed by both water-ice and CO2-ice. On the giant gas planets — JupiterSaturnUranus and Neptune — other crystals form the clouds of ammoniamethane, and other substances that can produce halos with four or more sundogs.[5]

Very bright sundogs in Fargo, North Dakota. Note the halo arcs passing through each sundog.

Jakob Hutter[edit]

Possibly the earliest clear description of a sundog is by Jacob Hutter, who wrote in his Brotherly Faithfulness: Epistles from a Time of Persecution:
My beloved children, I want to tell you that on the day after the departure of our brothers Kuntz and Michel, on a Friday, we saw three suns in the sky for a good long time, about an hour, as well as two rainbows. These had their backs turned toward each other, almost touching in the middle, and their ends pointed away from each other. And this I, Jakob, saw with my own eyes, and many brothers and sisters saw it with me. After a while the two suns and rainbows disappeared, and only the one sun remained. Even though the other two suns were not as bright as the one, they were clearly visible. I feel this was no small miracle…[14]
(please see link for complete article)

...this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek.  See you next time!

Note to my friends following this Blog in real time: 
I am sorry about the interruption once again. After 6 months of computer connection problems, I have finally discovered it was a modem going out. They shipped me a new one and once again I am plugged in to the internet. I am ready to go with the complete hummingbird daily migration photos for 2 months now! There are still about 50 birds here. This has been the best migration I have ever witnessed and I feel I have captured the essence of these precious birds to share with you! b


Monday, September 22, 2014


Hi Everybody!!
Tonight is the night the Fall arrives! At 9:29pm, summer will officially be over as the equinox happens right on time. I have shared info below from the Wikipedia  page on Equinox to answer all your questions. The past week has been incredible with hundreds of hummingbirds. I have been covered up with birds, bees, sugar water, guest birders and photographers witnessing this annual event at Kates Cabin Bird Sanctuary in Texas. I likely have the smallest hummingbird resort, but I have among the most guest hummers enjoying the water park and feeding stations.  (Yes, Mom, you were right:  If I build it, they will come!) Sadly, now right on time, they have gone.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
An equinox occurs twice a year, around 20 March and 22 September. The word itself has several related definitions. The oldest meaning is the day when daytime and night are of approximately equal duration.[2] The word equinox comes from this definition, derived from the Latin aequus(equal) and nox (night). The equinox is not exactly the same as the day when period of daytime and night are of equal length for two reasons. Firstly, sunrise, which begins daytime, occurs when the top of the Sun's disk rises above the eastern horizon. At that instant, the disk's center is still below the horizon. Secondly, Earth's atmosphere refracts sunlight. As a result, an observer sees daylight before the first glimpse of the Sun's disk above the horizon. To avoid this ambiguity, the word equilux is sometimes used to mean a day on which the periods of daylight and night are equal.[3][note 1] Times of sunset and sunrise vary with an observer's location (longitude and latitude), so the dates when day and night are of exactly equal length likewise depend on location.
The other definitions are based on several related simultaneous astronomical events, and refer either to the events themselves or to the days on which they occur. These events are the reason that the period of daytime and night are approximately equal on the day of an equinox.
An equinox occurs when the plane of Earth's Equator passes the center of the Sun. At that instant, the tilt of Earth's axis neither inclines away from nor towards the Sun. The two annual equinoxes are the only times when the subsolar point—the place on Earth's surface where the center of the Sun is exactly overhead—is on the Equator, and, conversely, the Sun is at zenith over the Equator. The subsolar point crosses the equator, moving northward at the March equinox and southward at the September equinox.

During an equinox, the Earth's North and South poles are not tilted toward or away from the Sun, and the duration of daylight is theoretically the same at all points on Earth's surface.
At an equinox, the Sun is at one of the two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator (i.e.declination 0) and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: classically, the vernal point(RA = 00h 00m 00s and longitude = 0°) and the autumnal point (RA = 12h 00m 00s and longitude = 180°).
The equinoxes are the only times when the solar terminator is perpendicular to the Equator. As a result, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are illuminated equally.
UT date and time of
equinoxes and solstices on Earth[1]

Length of equinoctial day and night

Contour plot of the hours of daylight as a function of latitude and day of the year, showing approximately 12 hours of daylight at all latitudes during the equinoxes
On the day of the equinox, the center of the Sun spends a roughly equal amount of time above and below the horizon at every location on the Earth, so night and day are about the same length. The word equinox derives from the Latin words aequus (equal) and nox (night). In reality, the day is longer than the night at an equinox. Day is usually defined as the period when sunlight reaches the ground in the absence of local obstacles. From the Earth, the Sun appears as a disc rather than a point of light, so when the center of the Sun is below the horizon, its upper edge is visible. Furthermore, the atmosphere refracts light, so even when the upper limb of the Sun is 0.4 degrees below the horizon, its rays curve over the horizon to the ground. In sunrise/sunset tables, the assumed semidiameter (apparent radius) of the Sun is 16 minutes of arc and the atmospheric refraction is assumed to be 34 minutes of arc. Their combination means that when the upper limb of Sun is on the visible horizon, its center is 50 minutes of arc below the geometric horizon, which is the intersection with the celestial sphere of a horizontal plane through the eye of the observer. These effects make the day about 14 minutes longer than the night at the Equator and longer still towards the Poles. The real equality of day and night only happens in places far enough from the Equator to have a seasonal difference in day length of at least 7 minutes, actually occurring a few days towards the winter side of each equinox.
Because the Sun is a spherical (rather than a single-point) source of light, the actual crossing of the Sun over the Equator takes approximately 33 hours.[citation needed]
At the equinoxes, the rate of change for the length of daylight and night-time is the greatest. At the poles, the equinox marks the start of the transition from 24 hours of nighttime to 24 hours of daylight (or vice versa). Far north of the Arctic Circle, at LongyearbyenSvalbardNorway, there is an additional 15 minutes more daylight every day about the time of the Spring equinox, whereas in Singapore (which is just one degree of latitude north of the Equator), the amount of daylight in each daytime varies by just a few seconds.[citation needed]

Link to Photo Album Gallery:
The Last Sunset of Summer

The Hummingbird Migration 2014
Good news: I had a feeling yesterday they were getting ready to go on to Mexico. I shot 10001 pics yesterday, the best day! I have averaged 500 pics a day since Sept 1, 2014. I tried to capture all parts of the migration and all positions of birds. At one point, there were over 400 tiny birds here! I will be editing and posting these pics for quite a while! Stay tuned!

...this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek.  See you next time! Happy Fall for All!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Hi Everybody!!
Some of the new people to birding may want to know how to feed the hummingbirds. Shared below is a Wikipedia page with the details. Every year I add new feeders as more birds come in. I estimate there are between 250 and 300 outside today. The adult males arrived about 10 days before the females and young began coming in.  With all the new birds, there are still only 10 of the breeder males. They definitely run the show! Your photostudy is highlights from 8-19 (before the females came in). Enjoy!

Highlights of August 19, 2014
(Please go to album links for complete daily photostudy throughout the migration).

juvenile male flies to feeder where he hovers in place.


Adult Male Ruby-Throated Hummer



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Diet and specializations for food gathering[edit]

Green violetear at a flower.
Hummingbird in Copiap√≥, Chile
Hummingbirds drink nectar, a sweet liquid inside certain flowers. Like bees, they are able to assess the amount of sugar in the nectar they eat; they normally reject flower types that produce nectar that is less than 10% sugar and prefer those whose sugar content is higher. Nectar is a mixture of glucosefructose, and sucrose, and is a poor source of nutrients, so hummingbirds meet their needs for proteinamino acidsvitaminsminerals, etc. by preying on insects and spiders.[58]
Hummingbird bill shapes vary dramatically, as an adaptation for specialized feeding. Some species, such as hermits (Phaethornis spp.) have bills that are long allowing them to probe deep into flowers that have a long corolla. Thornbills have short, sharp bills adapted for feeding from flowers with short corollas and piercing the bases of longer ones. The sicklebills' extremely decurved bills are adapted to extracting nectar from the curved corollas of flowers in the familyGesneriaceae. The bill of the fiery-tailed awlbill has an upturned tip, as in the avocets. The male tooth-billed hummingbird has barracuda-like spikes at the tip of its long, straight bill.
The two halves of a hummingbird's bill have a pronounced overlap, with the lower half (mandible) fitting tightly inside the upper half (maxilla). When hummingbirds feed on nectar, the bill is usually opened only slightly, allowing the tongue to dart out and into the interior of flowers.
Hummingbirds drink with their tongue by rapidly lapping nectar. Their tongues have tubes which run down their lengths and help the hummingbirds drink the nectar. While it had been believed that capillary action was what drew nectar into these tubes, high-speed photography has revealed that the tubes open down their sides as the tongue goes into the nectar, and then close around the nectar, trapping it so it can be pulled back into the beak.[59][60] Consequently, tongue flexibility enables accessing, transporting and unloading nectar.[61]
Hummingbirds do not spend all day flying, as the energy cost would be prohibitive; the majority of their activity consists simply of sitting or perching. Hummingbirds eat many small meals and consume approximately half their weight in pure sugar (twice their weight in nectar, if the nectar is 25% sugar) each day.[62] Hummingbirds digest their food rapidly due to their small size and high metabolism; a mean retention time (MRT) of less than an hour has been reported.[63] Hummingbirds spend an average of 10–15% of their time feeding and 75–80% sitting and digesting.
Because they starve so easily, hummingbirds are highly attuned to food sources. Some species, including many found in North America, are territorial and will try to guard food sources (such as a feeder) against other hummingbirds, attempting to ensure a future food supply for itself.

Feeders and artificial nectar[edit]

Hummingbirds will either hover or perch to feed; red feeders are preferred, but colored liquid is not necessary.
In the wild, hummingbirds visit flowers for food, extracting nectar, which is 55% sucrose, 24% glucose and 21% fructose.[64] Hummingbirds will also take sugar-water from bird feeders. Such feeders allow people to observe and enjoy hummingbirds up close while providing the birds with a reliable source of energy, especially when flower blossoms are less abundant. A negative aspect of artificial feeders, however, is that the birds may seek less flower nectar for food, and so reduce the amount of pollination their feeding naturally provides.[65]
White granulated sugar is the best sweetener to use in hummingbird feeders. A ratio of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water (20% sugar) is a common recipe,[66]although hummingbirds will defend feeders more aggressively when sugar content is at 35%, indicating preference for nectar with higher sweetness and sugar content.[67] Boiling and then cooling this mixture before use has been recommended to help deter the growth of bacteria and fungi. Powdered sugars contain corn starch as an anti-caking agent which can contribute to premature fermentation of the solution. Brown, turbinado, and "raw" sugars contain iron, which can be deadly to hummingbirds if consumed over long periods.[68] Honey is made by bees from the nectar of flowers, but it is not good to use in feeders because when it is diluted with water, microorganisms easily grow in it, causing it to spoil rapidly.[69][70][71]
Red food dye is often added to homemade solutions, however is not necessary and may be harmful to the birds. Commercial products sold as "instant nectar" or "hummingbird food" may also contain preservatives and/or artificial flavors as well as dyes. The long-term effects of these additives on hummingbirds have not been studied.[72] Although some commercial products contain small amounts of nutritional additives, hummingbirds obtain all necessary nutrients from the insects they eat. This renders the added nutrients unnecessary in most situations.[54]

Hummingbirds hovering at an artificial nectar feeder
Other animals also visit hummingbird feeders. Bees, wasps, and ants are attracted to the sugar-water and may crawl into the feeder, where they may become trapped and drown. Orioleswoodpeckersbananaquits, and other larger animals are known to drink from hummingbird feeders, sometimes tipping them and draining the liquid.[73] In the southwestern United States, two species of nectar-drinking bats (Leptonycteris yerbabuenae andChoeronycteris mexicana) visit hummingbird feeders to supplement their natural diet of nectar and pollen from saguaro cacti and agaves.[74]


A color plate illustration from Ernst Haeckel's Kunstformen der Natur(1899), showing a variety of hummingbirds.
In traditional taxonomy, hummingbirds are placed in the order Apodiformes, which also contains the swifts. However, some taxonomists have separated them into their own order, Trochiliformes. Hummingbirds' wing bones are hollow and fragile, making fossilization difficult and leaving their evolutionary history poorly documented. Though scientists theorize that hummingbirds originated in South America, where there is the greatest species diversity, possible ancestors of extant hummingbirds may have lived in parts of Europe to what is southern Russia today.[7]
There are between 325 and 340 species of hummingbird, depending on taxonomic viewpoint, divided into two subfamilies, the hermits (subfamilyPhaethornithinae, 34 species in six genera), and the typical hummingbirds (subfamily Trochilinae, all the others). However, recent phylogenetic analyses suggest that this division is slightly inaccurate, and that there are nine major clades of hummingbirds: the topazes and jacobins, the hermits, themangoes, the coquettes, the brilliants, the giant hummingbird (Patagona gigas), the mountain-gems, the bees, and the emeralds.[8] The topazes and jacobins combined have the oldest split with the rest of the hummingbirds. The hummingbird family has the second greatest number of species of any bird family on Earth (after the tyrant flycatchers).
Fossil hummingbirds are known from the Pleistocene of Brazil and the Bahamas; however, neither has yet been scientifically described, and there are fossils and subfossils of a few extant species known. Until recently, older fossils had not been securely identifiable as those of hummingbirds.
In 2004, Dr Gerald Mayr of the Senckenberg Museum in Frankfurt am Main identified two 30-million-year-old hummingbird fossils and published his results in the journal Science.[9] The fossils of this primitive hummingbird species, named Eurotrochilus inexpectatus ("unexpected European hummingbird"), had been sitting in a museum drawer in Stuttgart; they had been unearthed in a clay pit at Wiesloch–Frauenweiler, south of Heidelberg,Germany, and, because it was assumed that hummingbirds never occurred outside the Americas, were not recognized to be hummingbirds until Mayr took a closer look at them.
Fossils of birds not clearly assignable to either hummingbirds or a related, extinct family, the Jungornithidae, have been found at the Messel pit and in theCaucasus, dating from 40–35 mya; this indicates that the split between these two lineages indeed occurred at that date. The areas where these early fossils have been found had a climate quite similar to that of the northern Caribbean or southernmost China during that time. The biggest remaining mystery at the present time is what happened to hummingbirds in the roughly 25 million years between the primitive Eurotrochilus and the modern fossils. The astounding morphological adaptations, the decrease in size, and the dispersal to the Americas and extinction in Eurasia all occurred during this timespan. DNA-DNA hybridization results[10] suggest that the main radiation of South American hummingbirds took place at least partly in the Miocene, some 12 to 13 million years ago, during the uplifting of the northern Andes.
In 2013, a 50-million-year-old fossil bird unearthed in Wyoming was found to be a predecessor to both hummingbirds and swifts before the groups diverged.[11]

guarding his feeder!

...this is brendasue signing off from Rainbow Creek.  See you next time! Have a "Hummer Day"!!