Please Take Care of My Bird


BirdCare3Female rufous hummingbird on hummingbird mint (Agastache rupestris ‘Acapulco Orange’) in my Boise garden

My garden right now is a sensory feast. This morning, I cut the peppermint back from the path and hung bundles of it from the covered arbor in which I’m sitting, and its aroma perfumes the enclosed space as I write.

The colors of every scene and view are dramatic. Red blanketflower glows against a backdrop of purple ninebark leaves. Golden yellow apples dot the ground, echoing paler yellow blossoms on ‘Moonbeam’ coreopsis and evening primrose. Across the courtyard in the mini-prairie, leaning stalks of spent Maximilian sunflower tower above madly blooming white and purple asters threaded with ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod, while airy switchgrass seedheads reflect jewels of light. It is an embarrassment of riches here, and I feel lucky to witness it all.

Birds and squirrels still enliven my yard, twittering and fluttering and scampering, but the last hummingbird left a week ago, adding a note of sadness to this season of goodbyes. I miss the hummingbirds — their squeaky voices, whirring wings, and lively curiosity.

I cut part of my trumpetvine back this morning. Trained as a small tree, it had encroached on half of my driveway, but I waited to be sure the last hummingbird was truly gone before removing any of it. I thought she might be spending these colder nights in its sheltered interior.

I imagine her making her way from Boise down to Mexico, maybe even crossing the Gulf in a nonstop 20-hour flight. Of course, she might also head for New Orleans. Whatever her winter destination, I hope she will have a successful journey there and back.

So if you are in her path, please take care of my bird. Leave your late-blooming nectar sources and your insects; she might need them for fuel. Be sure she can find a safe shelter for the night.

Without other gardeners to help her on her way, we won’t be reunited next year. I’m depending on you! And I’ll do the same for your birds.


  1. Such a sweet story!

    I love hummers, and when I get money to improve the disaster in back of this rented house, I’ll be putting in plants for bees, butterflies, and hummers (other birds will get their food sources, too), so we can help them while enjoying their presence.

  2. I love your bird. Plenty grows in my yard for anyone that stops by. There is water there and bees love the raspberry patch. I like to leave seed pods into the winter for their interest and nutrative value. Guests come by to sample the bounty. My neighbor grows salvia for the hummers. I’m sure gardeners hear the call to look after your bird. May fortune smile upon her travels.

  3. I love the “word painting” of your colorful garden! It is also inspiring–somehow I rarely think of what will bloom in the late summer/early fall when I plant, and that shows in my garden.

  4. There’s been a lot of observational research on hummingbirds over the last decade. They have quite a varied diet.

    I like when you say “My garden right now is a sensory feast” here in October.
    My gardening hasn’t slowed that much yet. Here in the mid-Atlantic,I like to think that gardening is a 10 month project. From starting seed indoors in March to removing fallen twigs and limbs to create a ground haven and mowing fallen leaves on the lawn for next year’s mulch in December, I’m not one to think gardening ends in August. I don’t quite understand why people can’t wait for gardening season to start in April, but then quit in August.

    My July and August planted pollinator friendly plants and other fertilized attractors are going full tilt.

    My hummingbird feeders are still up for the migrators and the fresh fruit table is still loaded with flies, gnats, and ants. Those down south can try this easy tip to help out the birds .

    Ruby says, “yum.”

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