Posts Tagged ‘mid-Hudson’

A Few Words about Hummingbirds

Saturday, September 2nd, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

For hummingbirds, it’s always feeding time. RJ Photography

For hummingbirds, it’s always feeding time.
RJ Photography

   It seems you can teach an old dog new tricks. I am now a certified hummingbird feeder filler. Well, apprentice.

      More importantly, in the spirit of responsibility that comes with the new title and duties, I feel obliged to give you advance warning to feed and enjoy your hummingbirds now while you may because cooler weather is on the horizon.

     If you live anywhere on the East Coast in the umbrella of the annual hummingbird invasion and occupation, you know that feeding hummingbirds is a pretty big deal. In fact, in the mid-Hudson/Catskills region where I live it’s often the topic of daily conversation.

     So I’m kind of proud of my new designation. And I don’t take it lightly, not with all the whizzing, hovering and humming going on outside our back door.

       The annual visitors and their fledglings have given new dimension to the term feeding frenzy. Now I know why nectar enjoys such an exalted reputation.

        As with many things in my life, I have come to an awareness and appreciation of the hummingbird phenomenon somewhat belatedly. Living in cities for much of that time worked against running into hummingbirds. So did a lack of attention to nature in general.

       But better  belatedly than never … except when you’re feeding.

         There’s nothing like sitting quietly and watching the feeding of half a dozen or so hummingbirds, darting and hovering in, sucking the nectar out of four feeders. Being a novice feeder filler, I actually sat and waited recently to see if my recipe would meet with the birds’ approval, even though I was following a recipe given to me. Basically, sugar and water in the right ratio.

          As I sat watching the hummers jockeying for access to the feeders, one of them flew within about 6 feet of me, stopped, stared me straight in the face and hovered frenetically for about 30 seconds. I was a new feeder and I was getting the once over.

         Judging by the return visits, I think I passed.    

      Watching the feeding is only half the fascination.  What hummingbirds go through every year just to get to our backyard and all the other welcoming feeding places in the Eastern U.S. is an epic tale.

    Regular hummingbird watchers are pretty much aware of it, but I’ll fill in the rest of you cityfolk briefly.

    Ruby-throats, which are the common variety in our area, nest throughout summer and early fall in the eastern United States and southern Canada. They stock up constantly on nectar and bugs to build up the strength for the annual winter migration whence they came from — across the Gulf of Mexico to Mexico and Central America. Some winter in Florida. Go figure.

    They make this round trip every year, flying up to 20 miles a day during daylight hours, when food sources are visible, and an amazing 500 miles at a shot when crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Their average flying speed is between 20 and 30 miles an hour.

     They fly alone and often return to the same source of food on either end. 

      Hummingbirds fly north over the gulf each year for warmer weather and to mate, typically having two fledglings, which the female is left to raise while the male hums around flashing his  his ruby-red throat. When it’s time to go back to Mexico, however, it’s every hummingbird for him or her self.

    And that time will soon be coming in the eastern part of the U.S. as cooler temperatures will find the visitors stocking up on nourishment for the long flight back to their winter home. During that trip, it’s said that a hummingbird’s heart beats up to 1,260 times a minute and its wings flap 15 to 80 times a second. Kind of like me going upstairs.

     In any event, it takes a lot of strength to support that output of energy. For me, that means feeding them well on this end now and  enjoying their company in the waning days of summer while avoiding the news of the day. Like I said, a slow learner.

    Weather and prevailing winds allowing, maybe the birds will return next year, even to an apprentice hummingbird feeder.

(PS: Watch out for the yellowjackets. They love  nectar, too.)

(PPS: Sept. 2 was National Hummingbird Day.)

Can the Public Get to the Public Hearing?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

By Jeffrey Page 

The agency charged with deciding where one or two casinos can be placed in the mid-Hudson is conducting a hearing to find out what the public thinks.

I’m sorry, that was a joke. A look at some of its actions and decisions suggests that the clumsily named New York State Gaming Commission Facility Location Board doesn’t give a hoot in hell about what the public thinks of allowing casinos and their attendant delights – traffic jams, prostitution, street crime, loan sharking, etc. – into our once calm villages and towns.

How could I be so cynical? Here’s how.

The hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 23, will run an absurd 12 hours. Did you ever have to pay close attention to an important matter for 12 hours like the five members of the location board will have to do? Nor have I.

Why just one grindingly long session? The Warwick Advertiser reported that Lee Park, the location board’s PR flack, said it would be more efficient this way, and that one long hearing would be best for the five members of the location board – never mind what would be best for the public. The Advertiser quoted Park this way: “These guys all have full-time jobs. It will be a long day.”

That response might suggest to people just in from Planet Neptune that the five location board members are a bunch of working stiffs who punch a clock every morning and afternoon. But that’s not the case at all.

Here are the five men who’ll be tailoring the future of the mid-Hudson, and therefore will have much to say about your future:

  • The chairman of the location board is Kevin Law, the CEO and president of the Long Island Association, an economic development firm based in Melville.
  • Then there’s Stuart Rabinowitz, the president of Hofstra University – based in Hempstead. He’s also a member of the Long Island Association.
  •  Next there’s Bill Thompson, the former New York City comptroller and now the managing director of the investment banking firm of Siebert, Brandford, Shank, which is based in New York City.
  • Fourth is Dennis Glazer, retired partner of the Davis Polk and Wardwell law firm, which is in New York City.
  • And fifth is Paul Francis, the managing partner of the Cedar Street Group, a venture capital firm located in Larchmont.

Park should rest assured that “these guys,” as he described them, would not be docked a day’s pay if they had to take an extra day or two to conduct the hearing in a fair, sensible manner.

Casinos in the mid-Hudson will change life here forever. So isn’t it odd – or, for that matter, outrageous – that not one member of the location board is a known Orange, Sullivan, or Ulster quantity?

Then there’s the question of where the hearing is to be held. Will it be in Goshen, the Orange County seat? No. How about Monticello, the Sullivan seat? No. Maybe Kingston, the Ulster seat? No.

It is to be staged in Poughkeepsie, across the Hudson in Dutchess County, a city not included on the list of possible casino sites.

Here’s Park’s response to The Warwick Advertiser’s question about the odd placement of the hearing: The location board decided against having the hearing in any of the eligible counties in order to “not show favoritism and to be completely objective.”

Completely objective? When not even one of the three counties is represented on the board?

Where are the mid-Hudson representatives? They rolled snake eyes and are out of it.

If you think the pols need to hear your position on casinos in general or the set-up of the location board in particular, you can reach State Sen. John Bonacic at 344-3311 in Middletown and Sen. Bill Larkin in New Windsor at 567-1270.