From time to time, many hummingbird fanciers face the task of trying to save the life of a hummingbird that has flown inside a garage or other structure.  If you know what to do and can act quickly, you can save the life of a bird that just seems like it cannot find its way back outside. 

       I have found the best to be ready for such an event is to have what I call a Hummingbird Rescue kit ready at all times.  My kit includes a long-handled butterfly net, telescoping window rod, or paintbrush extension pole, roll of duct tape, a brown paper bag, hummingbird feeder, and small bottle of nectar.

       Late last week, I had to use my kit to rescue a hummingbird from a laundromat.  It seems that one morning around 9:00 a.m. a hummingbird flew into a laundromat.  When I received the call, the bird had been flying about the ceiling of the laundromat for over five hours.  Knowing the bird was tired and hungry—I had to act fast.

       When I arrived and walked into the establishment, I spotted the bird flying about the ceiling some 10 feet above the floor.  The laundromat had two doors, one in front and one at the far end of the facility.  Both of them were left open in hopes the tiny bird would flu out.  However, as usual, the bird flew along the ceiling and never dropped down where it could exit either door. 

       It was obvious that it would be impossible to net the bird with a short-handled net.  My only chance to net it was to tape my butterfly net to the end of a curtain rod. Although a net taped to the curtain rod would allow me to reach the bird flying near the ceiling, the laundromat was so large it would prove next to impossible for me to get close enough to capture the bird in a net.  My best hope of saving the hapless prisoner was to coax it down low enough where it could directly fly out of a door.

       With that in mind, I rolled a metal laundry basket in front to the door on the far end of the laundromat.  I put a small amount of nectar in a hummingbird feeder and hung the feeder from the bar that ran across the basket.  This placed the feeder about four feet above the floor.

       I then walked to the far end of the building, raised my butterfly net above my head, and slowly began walking toward the bird flying high above the dryers.  In response to my approach, the bird flew toward the far end of the building.  When it got about 30 feet from the door and feeder it made a sharp, steady decline and landed on the one of the perches on the feeder and immediately began drinking.  It drank and drank. Even when a worker raised her arms and slowly walked toward the frightened, hungry bird it never stopped feeding. I told the attendant to stop walking when she got about feet from the bird.  By that time, I too was standing closely. The hummingbird continued to feed.

       After allowing, the bird to feed for a while we slowly approached the hummer.  Eventually it rose up, flew out the door, and vanished over the parking lot.  My rescue mission took only a few minutes and was a resounding success.  I wish they were that easy.

       Fortunately, I did not have to use everything I carry in the kit. However, it is always to best to carry everything you might use.

       In a home setting, if a bird refuses to come down and drink at a feeder placed in the opening to a garage, you may have to catch it in your net.  If you do, it is important that you do not squeeze it. Gently hold it in your hand, take it to the door, open your hand and let it fly away. 

       However, if the bird spent a long time in the garage before it is rescued, while gently holding the bird in your hand give it a chance to feed on nectar from a hummer feeder or shallow jar lid.  You will be amazed; often the bird will begin feeding while you are holding it in your hand.  Don’t dip the bill into the liquid. Let me bird feed on its own volition.

       If the bird that is trapped in the garage simply drops to the floor, or has a difficult time flying, place it is a brown paper bag. Fold the top of the bag over just enough to allow air to enter the bag while preventing it from flying away.  Some folks even place a jar lid containing a small amount of nectar in the bag along with the exhausted bird. 

       Place the bag in a cool dark place for a short while. Continue to check on the hummer’s condition.  When it begins to flutter about, or seems very alert, take it out of the bag. Give it a chance to feed and then let it go.


       For generations, it has been an accepted practice to remove dead flowering plants before the onset of autumn.  Nowadays gardeners are beginning to leave the stalks and seed heads of many flowers that have long since bloomed.  They don’t refrain from removing them because they are lazy. Instead, they do it because they have come to realize that the seed heads found on these dry plants are loaded with nutritious seeds.  As such, they are a source of food for a wide variety of birds throughout the fall and winter.  Our native black-eyed Susan and coneflowers are examples of such plants.

       Here are some of the birds that dine on seeds of these garden favorites:  

Black-eyed Susan—American goldfinch, Carolina Chickadee, northern cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, sparrows, and the eastern towhee.

Coneflowers—mourning dove, blue jay, dark-eyed junco, American goldfinch, downy woodpecker, northern cardinal Carolina chickadee, pine siskin and sparrows such as the white-throated, chipping, and song.


        Although most backyard wildlife enthusiasts realize that wildlife needs water, far too often I find that they forget to maintain a birdbath or other water source throughout the entire year.  It is especially important to provide your backyard wildlife with water during the severe heat wave that is holding Georgia in its fiery grip this summer.   

      Birds and other wildlife need a dependable, fresh, and clean source of water.  When it is not available, some birds will travel up to two miles in search of it.  However, other creatures such as many mammals, frogs, salamanders and others cannot travel long distances to reach the much-needed liquid. 

       With this in mind, if you have not already done so, place a container that animals can use for drinking and bathing. It can be a pedestal birdbath, or something as simple as garbage can lid, clay or plastic dish, or pie pan.

MOCKINGBIRD DRINKING WATER; Photo credit: Terry W Johnson

       These artificial ponds need to be no more than 1.5 to 2 inches deep at their deepest point.  It is great if the container has a sloping, rough bottom.  However, if it is deeper, place a gently sloping rock in the middle of the container or cover its bottom with gravel.  This will enable birds of all sizes to use it.

       Then, don’t forget it; keep it full of fresh, clean water at all times.

       If you already have a birdbath but have not regularly maintained it, begin doing so.

       For more information dealing with providing water to backyard wildlife, type in WATER in the Search feature on the right side of the first page of the blog and hit the return button on your computer.  In the blink of an eye, you will be able to access no less than seven columns dealing with this important subject.




       As I sit down to write this blog, the air temperature in my yard is 94ºF and the heat index (feel like temperature) is 115ºF.  When it is this hot day after day, hummingbird fanciers are beginning to wonder if the nectar they are serving the hummers visiting their backyards feeding station is too hot to the birds.

       According to some researchers, hummingbird nectar can indeed get too hot. Their studies suggest that feeding sugar water heated to 102ºF can adversely affect the hummingbird’s delicate metabolic system.

       With that in mind, some experts are recommending that during hot weather hummingbird food should be kept at or just below 100ºF. This can be difficult when each day we are faced with excessive heat. However, if you are concerned that the nectar in your feeders is too hot, you can do a few other things.   

       One approach is to use feeders that feature nectar reservoirs made of heavy glass.  Since glass is an insulator, it will help keep nectar cooler than plastic feeders.    Some folks even wrap their feeders in aluminum foil.  Supposedly, aluminum foil will block UV rays and actually reflect 98% of the sun’s radiant heat and, therefore, keeps nectar from overheating.

       If you have a shady spot in your yard, you can always hang your feeders there.  If this prevents you from watching the feeding activities of the birds swarming around your feeders, you might prefer to employ one of the other options.

       We do not know much about this supposed problem. With that in mind, let me know if you think the temperature of the nectar in your feeder poses to hummingbirds in your yard.  Also, if you try one of these or other means to try to keep nectar cooler, please let me know.




       Some of our most interesting and beautiful backyard residents are animals were rarely see.  A classic example of this is the pandorus sphinx (Eumorpha pandus). 

       Jacob Hubner named this moth a little over 200 years ago (1821). He named the moth after an archer named Pandorus that that fought in the battle of troy.  His name was immortalized by Homer in the Iliad.

       The pandorus sphinx is a large insect (3-4.5”) in length.  It varies in color from green to brown while its wings display a distinctive pattern (see accompanying photo).

The photo was provided by Robyn Tamas.

         Pandorus sphinx moths range across the entire state of Georgia.  Although they seem of do well in urban settings, and suburban yards, their natural habitats include woodlands, human-altered habitats and even pine barrens.

        The moth’s host plants include peppervine, grap and Virginia creeper.

       The adults nectar on a variety of plants.  Interestingly they are often seen nectaring at milkweed blossoms.  One of the best times to see this moth nectaring is at dusk.

       However, most folks see them beneath the outside lights of homes, office buildings, gasoline stations and the like.  However, a good number of them turn up during the daytime on the sides of homes and other buildings.

       Be on the lookout for the interesting pollinator.  If you are lucky enough to spot one, have your cellphone ready as I am sure you will want to photograph it.


       If you live in the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina and would like to take part in a citizen science project that will help you hone your ability to identify pollinators while collecting valuable data concerning the status and abundance of our valuable pollinators; you should take part in the 2023 Great Southeast Pollinator Census.  The count will take place August 18 and 19.

       For more information regarding the census, click on the link Great Southeast Pollinator Census | UGA Cooperative Extension Here you will learn how to participate in the count as well as a list of the neat things you can receive for taking part in this important survey.


        Georgians are well aware of the fact that during the summer the temperature soars into the high 90s and above. However, this year the thermometer seems to be reaching these lofty numbers more often than ever before.  While these temperatures put us under a lot of stress, they are especially harmful to eastern bluebirds trying to nest during these difficult times.

       Bluebirds nest in Georgia from February into September.  During this time, bluebirds can produce up to three broods.

      Consequently, there is a good chance untold numbers of bluebirds are currently trying to nest during these torrid temperatures.

       For many of these birds, one factor that will play a key role as to whether or not these nesting efforts are successful is the color on the exterior of the nest box they are using.  Let me explain.

       The temperature inside a nesting box can reach 120ºF or more.  In addition, these temperatures can 20º higher than the air outside a box.   One way you can moderate the temperature in inside a box is to paint the outside of the box a light color.  Boxes painted white and other light colors absorb less light than those than darker colors such as brown.

       This is critical to the success of the nesting attempt because eggs develop best in temperatures ranging from 96.8 to 104.8º. In addition, bluebird’s eggs and nestlings simply cannot survive when the temperatures rise above 107º.




       A few summers ago, I posted a blog concerning how American goldfinches tore zinnia seed heads apart trying to get to the seeds they contain.

       Recently, in response to this posting, a blogger named Erin posted a possible method that allows goldfinches to eat zinnias seeds without destroying all of the blossoms growing in containers placed on decks.  I thought that anyone experiencing a similar situation might benefit from it too.

       Erin wrote, “Try overplanting your zinnias so there is enough for them to feast on before they get to your deck.  Try planting a border of them near your deck as a “trap” so they will stop before they get to your deck.  Farmers apply this method to their crops as pest control; it can be pretty effective.”

       If you would like to read my original blog, go to the Search Bubble on the right of your screen and type in GOLDFINCHES ARE ATTACKING ZINNIA BLOSSOMS.  Press the return key and the blog should pop up.


         Countless species of animals live in Georgia yards. However, when we think about the animals that inhabit our yards we often focus on large animals such as birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects.  However, there are far smaller creatures such as earthworms, centipedes, mites and the like, that also live out their lives just outside our door.  One of the most fascinating is an earthworm (Diplocardia longa). Like many invertebrates, it does not have an official common name; however, some simply refer it as the Hawkinsville glow worm.  However, what makes this earthworm so special is that it is one of only 37 species of luminescent earthworms known to exist worldwide.

         The reason we associate Diplocardia longa with Hawkinsville. Georgia is an American zoologist named John Penny Moore was the first to document the existence of this earthworm.  His description is based on worms first collected in Hawkinsville, Georgia in 1904.

       This is large earthworm is 11 or more inches in length and has a diameter of 0.20 inches.  The ends of its body are brown while the majority of the worm is colored salmon red.  The body is translucent which allows the animals veins to be visible.  The worm also displays a club-shaped swelling near its tail.

       What sets this earthworm apart from the vast majority of other earthworms is when the critter is disturbed a luminescent slimy substance that glows blue oozes out from its pores on the dorsal side of its body, as well as its mouth and anus.

       Biologists are unsure what role the sticky goo plays in the life of the Hawkinsville glow worm.  However, some zoologists theorize the eerie blue substance scares off potential predators such as moles.

       We know very little about the worm’s abundance, life history, and distribution. About all that is known is you have the best chance of digging one up in the sandy soils found in Georgia’s Coastal Plain.

       While I personally have never heard anyone talk about finding a Hawkinsville glow worm, I suspect that backyard gardeners throughout the region unearth it from time to time.  If you have happened across one of these odd creatures, I would love to hear about your experience.



      Container gardening for wildlife is rapidly gaining popularity throughout the Peach State.  This novel approach to gardening allows folks to combine their love for wildlife and gardening by planting a combination of native and ornamental plants in containers to create mini wildlife habitats that are beneficial to wildlife and enhance the beauty of their yards.  The Carolina wild petunia (Ruellia carolinensis) is a Georgia native plant that does well in containers.

       Although you may not have heard of the Carolina wild petunia, there is a chance that you have seen it.  This is due to the fact this attractive native perennial wildflower grows in natural settings as well as in our yards. However, since it sometimes pops up in lawns, some consider it a weed.


      This plant is definitely far from being a weed.  Although the blooms of this plant look much like the blossoms found on the ornamental petunias we commonly raise in our gardens, the only thing the two plants have in common is the similarity of their flowers. 

       While Carolina wild petunia grows in dry soils, it much prefers to sink its roots in moist loam. It will also grow in soils containing clay.   The plant grows in spots ranging from full shade to sun. As such, it will grow in most garden situations.  Consequently, this plant can be a great addition to practically any container garden.

       The plant grows in areas ranging from full shade to full sun.

       Georgia gardeners should appreciate the fact that it blooms all the way from spring into fall. 

       In addition to being beautiful, Carolina wild petunia also yields pollen and nectar for many pollinators including the ruby-throated hummingbird, and a wide range of butterflies, bees and wasps. 

       It is also a host plant for the common buckeye butterfly.

       Gardeners are successful growing Carolina wild petunia from transplants, stem cuttings, and seeds.  Plants can also be obtained from nurseries that deal in Georgia native plants.

       The Georgia Wildlife Conservation Section and the Garden Club of Georgia are jointly promoting container gardening for wildlife. For a list of the many other wildlife-friendly ornamentals and native plants that can grow in containers to create small habitats that are both beautiful and beneficial to wildlife, email Abbie Young at  You will also receive a copy of an application you can use to apply to have your container garden certified in the Community Wildlife Project’s Container Gardening for Wildlife category.