October 31, 2005


Halloween Bird Hat, 1999

October 28, 2005

Flying High

photos by Mary Predny

The last time I saw my little hummingbird before she left for warmer climates, I was standing on the porch, watching her from a distance while I toyed with the settings on my camera. She flew right up to me and hovered within arms reach, casually checking me out. She gave me just enough time to focus and shoot before she took off. Our brief intimate encounter was one of the most thrilling moments of my summer. I was wearing a red sweater that day, and I have heard that hummingbirds are attracted to the color red.

There are some awesome slow-motion quicktime movies of hovering hummingbirds here and here (see the wingbeat rate -wing motion section).

October 27, 2005

Stalking the Wild Hummer

I spent a great deal of time this summer perfecting my wildlife stalking techniques - hiding in the shadows of the sunflowers, standing perfectly still, slooooowly and silently creeping closer and closer to get the best angle on the various eager feasters that came to the Scratch House garden. Most of the butterflies, particularly the black swallowtails, ignored me and went about their business with the zinnias. The birds that came for the sunflower seeds - goldfinches, tufted titmice, and chickadees - were more challenging subjects. Even when I was able to sneak close to the garden as they fed, the reflection of light off my camera lens would give me away and put them to flight. I should probably invest in a good telephoto lens, but for now I am addicted to the thrill of the chase and the adrenaline rush that comes with every close shot.

At first the hummingbird was shy and would hover at a distance when I got close, but she eventually got used to me and even seemed to enjoy the attention. I felt like paparazzo, madly clicking away as she made her way from flower to flower. When I turned my attention to focusing on a goldfinch that was perched on a tall sunflower nearby, ecstatic that I had managed to get within 5 feet of the bird with a good clear shot, my little hummingbird came over and hovered right in front of the camera - long enough to distract me from the bird, but not long enough for me to refocus on her. The resulting picture was a blur of nothing, but it was still one of the most exciting shots of the summer.

The Cornell University Lab of Ornithology has a great recording of hummingbird chipping and wings humming.

October 26, 2005

Sitting Pretty

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are the most common species in the eastern U.S. They range from southern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in summer, and winter in Mexico, Central America, and the Carribean. Scientists believe that some hummers cross the Gulf of Mexico -a 500-mile trip- in one 20-hour non-stop flight during migration.

This shot shows more of the iridescent green color

October 25, 2005

Archilochus colubris

Here she is feeding on a cardinal climber vine (an Ipomoea species, related to morning glory, sweet potato, and moonflower). These guys are also fond of the zinnias, nasturtiums, and jewelweed that grow all around the Scratch House. If you want to attract hummingbirds (and butterflies) to your garden, they go for a variety of tube-shaped flowers.

October 24, 2005

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

photos by Mary Predny

Since I am an old-fashioned 35mm girl, I am just now getting back all my September hummingbird shots. This is either a female or a juvenile, both of which lack the distinct ruby throat of the male. The males were hanging out more in the early summer months - they migrate before the females and juveniles.

October 19, 2005

Armory Art Gallery Alumni Show

The Armory Art Gallery in Blacksburg, Virginia will be having an alumni show from October 25th through November 27th. Alumni featured in the show include Christine Miller, Eric Fitzpatrick, Suzanne Solis-Filon, Dara Hartman, David Eichelberger, Josh Manning, Chris Prout, Brian Sieveking, Leslie Roberts Gregg, and our very own Joe Kelley.

An opening reception for the show will be held on Tuesday, October 25th, from 4 to 6pm at the Armory Gallery on 201 Draper Road in Blacksburg. Gallery hours are 12-5pm Tuesday through Friday, and 12-4pm on Saturdays. For more information about the show and accessibility accomodations, please call (540) 231-5547.

October 15, 2005

Crazy Heart

Radiant Heart

photo by Mary Predny

October 12, 2005

Black&Blue Heart

October 10, 2005

Angel Heart

Devil Heart

October 06, 2005

National Folk Festival

The National Folk Festival will be going on this weekend, October 7-9th, on the banks of the beautiful James River in historic downtown Richmond, Virginia. Joe Kelley, Suzy Nees, and several additional resident artists of the Jacksonville Center in Floyd, Virginia, will have work on display at the Folk Art Tent in the 10,000 Villages Marketplace, in cooperation with Around the Mountain, a newly-formed non-profit organization that coordinates the handcraft and artisans of Virginia’s Appalachian region.

"The National Folk Festival celebrates the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional craft, storytelling, and food. This event is a large-scale FREE three day event. The festival features over 25 of the nation's finest performing groups and crafts people, seven stages of continuous music and dance, craft exhibits and demonstrations, a Folk Arts Marketplace, children's area and delicious regional and ethnic foods. "