Hummingbirds

My husband and I put out hummingbird feeders every year, usually around March or April, or when we first see them flying around. We always admire how incredibly fast those little birds can fly and the noise they make as they whiz on past, flapping their wings 10-15 times per second. They are fascinating to watch! This time of year, as summer gently transitions to Fall, the hummingbirds are in a hurry to make final preparations and ‘fuel up’ before their long trip southward.

Hummingbirds will begin to migrate in August (from the northern states) toward Mexico and Central America, when they sense the days beginning to shorten and when their main source of food (insects) begin to lessen as the temperatures drop. During their migration southward, they may stop and feed, and there can be many birds at one feeder, known as the ‘feeding fury’. Hanging a few more feeders for these little creatures, so they can drink and store all the energy possible, is helpful.

By the way, red food coloring is not necessary to add to their sugar water. In fact, there are some reports that the red dye is bad for the hummingbird. Regardless, it is not necessary, because they are attracted to the red color of the feeders, not the food. Hummingbird feed is a simple solution of one part sugar to four parts water, which is similar to the composition of the nectar in flowers. Be sure to boil the water before adding the sugar, and then let the mixture cool completely. Store any unused nectar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Did you know that not all hummingbirds migrate? Some of the rarest types of hummingbirds will stay around in the colder months, so leaving a feeder or two hanging and filled for them is not a bad idea and you may get to see some really rare species! In fact, there are nine different species of hummingbirds that typically remain in the state of Georgia during the colder/winter months, including the ruby throated, broad billed, and rufous types.

You may have seen hummingbirds chasing each other and fighting over the bird feeders. These birds are one of the most territorial birds in the bird family and are notorious for fighting amongst themselves and trying to claim food sources. My husband and I shake our heads, wondering why they can’t just get along, because there are usually at least four places to perch on each of our feeders.

In fact, hummingbirds can get quite aggressive when it comes to battle, and begin by watching (because they have excellent eyesight) and then attempting to chase away their enemies, fluffing up their feathers to look larger. If that doesn’t work, they can quickly move on to using their claws and beaks to defend their food and territory. Once they have claimed a desirable territory, they mate with as many females as possible and then keep other males away while the females have and raise their young.

Hummingbirds are quite an interesting breed! We see them year after year; some years we see more of them than others, and we keep their feeders clean and filled each summer (but may now begin to keep at least one hanging and filled in the winter). They are tiny but they are mighty, and are fearless in their quest for survival!

 

 

 

Big Dog Little Dogs

When Robert and I took a trip to the beautiful mountainous area near Asheville, North Carolina to visit some good friends several weeks ago, we weren’t sure how well our dog, a Husky/Shepherd mix named Neko, would get along with the Parrish’s little Shih Tzu dogs. Neko is not always the most social butterfly when it comes to being around other dogs, especially those bigger than she is, so we weren’t sure what to expect. To our pleasant surprise, the pups played really well together! They chased each other, ‘play growled’, stole each other’s toys, and wore themselves out each day with all the fun they had! This was wonderful because Neko, having the high energy breeds mixed in her, needs daily stimulation and regular exercise; our kitties at home can attest to that!

Speaking of play growling, did you know dogs have several types of growls, with some indicating more aggression than others? People that regularly interact with dogs can tell the difference in the types of growls, especially when those growls are combined with the dog’s body language and stance. When excited and having fun, as our three pups were doing, their growling indicates excitement and happiness and a genuine desire to play. This growling was also matched with wagging tails and a few downward doggy bows that would make even the most experienced yoga professional jealous. 🙂

The fun picked up right where it left off when Mike and Caroline came to visit us recently, bringing their furbabies, Ruthie and Bilbeau, with them! Since Shih Tzu’s are well-known for their lively personality and active nature, they were excellent playmates for Neko, and once again the chasing and toy stealing games were on. Neko was quite the hostess, allowing the little pups to chew on her bones and toys and take over her ‘space’, although, at one point, we did catch her with a pretty pitiful look on her face, as if to say ‘why is all my stuff now their stuff??’.

Shih Tzu’s typically reach only up to eleven inches in height and up to sixteen pounds in weight; the perfect lap dogs. Neko did not feel threatened or uncomfortable at all and, in fact, had a healthy respect for the little ones. This is interesting, because it is not uncommon for bigger dogs to attack smaller ones (known as Big Dog Little Dog or BDLD) and, unfortunately, can sometimes lead to aggression and fighting. 

Did you know dogs can measure each other up, size-wise, simply by listening to each other growl? This is quite a complex cognitive talent and only recently discovered by researchers. 

Some other types of growling include:

          • Pleasure growling – meant as a request for attention, for example, when being petted.
          • Frustration growling – this usually occurs when a dog would like to meet or investigate another dog or person, for example, but is restrained or for whatever reason cannot. The growling is an indication of frustration at being restrained and is typically not meant as aggression. 
          • Threat growling – this is more difficult for the untrained eye to detect but is a way for the dog to try and maximize the distance between him/her and the perceived threat, whether another dog, person, or an object, like a bone. The mouth is usually closed, the body usually stiff, and the growl is usually a low sound. The situation can quickly escalate to an aggressive state if not managed.

We look forward to our next chance to get together with our good friends and their precious babies!

A special Thank You to Mike and Caroline Parrish, for their support in getting this blog written. Mike and Caroline own Treehouses of Serenity in Asheville,  North Carolina (https://www.treehousesofserenity.com/). If you’re looking for rest and relaxation in a custom built treehouse, enjoying the stunning views of the North Carolina mountains, you must check this place out!

Julie’s Goats

We, at Odds & Ends Professional Pet Care have the awesome job of taking care of our clients pets and home while they are away, whether for just a few hours, a few days, or longer. While our awesome team of Pet Care Professionals take care of mostly dogs and cats, we do also take care of horses, chickens, birds, turtles, and donkeys, to name just a few. 

Recently we had the privilege of caring for a client that has several pets, including dogs, cats, and a set of four goats (also called a ‘trip’) These goats have a ton of personality and are so much fun to interact with! It’s a good feeling to drive up to this client’s house and see the goats either coming in from the pasture (when it’s not too hot outside) or from their little barn (when it is too hot), just to say ‘hello’ and get their neck and head scratches (and, of course, something to eat!)! These four goats (named Waffles, Myrtle, Chicken, and Big Mama) all get very excited when it’s time to eat, although they prefer mostly grass in the summer months. By the way, goats will put just about anything in their mouths and it may look like they are eating it, but they are really just being curious and tasting/smelling/checking out the objects they are unsure of.

Did you know that there are over 200 species of goats in existence and that they can vary in size from between 75 lbs. up to 250 lbs., depending upon their breed?

Some other fun facts about goats:

  • The ‘fainting goat’ which is known as the Myotonic breed of goat, doesn’t actually faint, as the nickname implies. When this breed of goat is frightened, it’s muscles freeze (because of their genetics) and they fall over. They are fully conscious while in this state and are not in any pain. Their muscles recover quickly and they are back on their feet once more. As a general rule of thumb, however, it is not a good idea to purposely scare a goat.
  • Goats have rectangular pupils instead of circular ones, such as humans have. This allows them to see between 320 and 340 degrees around them (nearly all the way!) and also to see quite well in the dark. But, because their pupils are not round, goats have to shift their head position to be able to see things that are upward or downward.
  • Goats love grass and other vegetation (no meat) and are known as herbivores.
  • Most goats have horns and many goats have beards, whether male or female! All four of the goats we recently cared for have both horns and beards, even though they are all female. 

Goats, with their quirky and silly personalities, along with their interesting background and traits, make them a true joy to care for during every opportunity we have to do so!

We love caring for the pets we are entrusted with and take our jobs very seriously! At Odds & Ends, LLC, our wonderful clients and their furry, finned, scaled, and hooved babies are always provided with exceptional service by compassionate and professional pet sitters. 

If you are interested in learning more about our services, our pet sitters, or job opportunities, please visit our website for more information and schedule your next pet care visit!

Many thanks to our wonderful client, Julie, for making this article possible! Julie has her own business, making wooden door hangers, custom name signs, and craft shapes, among other beautiful items. You can find out more about Julie and her business at https://www.julieswoodcrafts.com/