My Wee Bird Friends Monday, Aug 23 2021 

Sadly, I believe my resident hummingbirds have left for the season. I haven’t seen any of them for a few days. Last week, a wee one flew around in front of me on the other side of my patio door for several minutes. Perhaps, she was saying good-bye.

One of the greatest joys for me this summer were my hummingbird visits. When the weather was perfect for working outside on my patio, I had a vantage point of view of the hummingbird feeder and butterfly bushes in my little garden that drew the tiny creatures near me. The birds’ fluttering and feeding captivated my attention so much so I felt they’d hypnotized me. I had difficulty looking away to return to my work.

The United States sees only about two dozen of the 325 species of hummingbirds in the world. Most are found in Central and South America and do not regularly migrate.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are common in the United States and the ones who migrate to my area. They fly 500 miles nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico during both their spring and fall migrations. The longest migration of any of these birds is by the rufous hummingbird which flies more than 3,000 miles from Alaska and Canada to Mexico.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds weigh only 3 grams but are mighty with an ability to dart quickly and even fly upside down. Interestingly, hummingbirds rotate their wings in a figure eight beating them approximately 80 times per second.

Hummingbirds are dressed in 1,000 to 1,500 feathers, which is fewer than any other type of bird. They cannot walk or hop. Their feet are tools for scooting sideways while perched, scratching, and preening. They have no sense of smell but extraordinary eyesight.

My winged friends consume approximately one half of their weight in sugar daily. They can feed five to eight times per hour. In addition to nectar, they also feed on insects, spiders, tree sap, and juice from fruits.

Hummingbirds do not suck but rather lick nectar with their fringed, forked tongue and draw the nectar up into their throats. They may lick 10-15 times per second.

The bee hummingbird is the smallest measuring 2.25 inches long. And in spite of their minute size, hummingbirds can be very aggressive attacking jays, crows, and hawks if they enter their territory.

Their average lifespan is three to 12 years.

*See some of my writing tips in my post, Begin With a List.

*Check out my website, Mary K

*Photos: Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Pack a Basket Friday, Aug 15 2014 

Some of the most romantic paintings visible at the Art Institute of Chicago depict picnic scenes without any wind, rain, humidity, or insects to interfere with a perfect day.

From the time I was a child until only about five years ago, my very large extended family gathered for an annual picnic. Around 50 relatives—aunts and uncles, first, second, and third cousins, parents and siblings—gathered to share food, games, and stories. It was all love and fun until the water toss. Then we became a family divided with every man for himself.

The word “picnic” (pique-nique) was seen for the first time in print in the 1692 edition of Tony Willis, Orignines de la Langue Francaise. The word was used to describe a group of people who brought their own wine to a restaurant. It signified everyone contributing toward a meal.

Picnicking became popular after the French Revolution when royal parks were once again opened to the public. From then on, throughout the centuries people have enjoyed a day outdoors and a humble meal brought in a towel or nestled in a basket.

Today’s picnic basket usually consists of a cooler, which is much safer alternative to keeping foods fresh. A few other food-safety precautions include: taking only the amount of food you think you will use, separating raw and cooked foods, keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot, carrying extra water and disposable wipes for clean-ups, and disposing leftovers at the end of the picnic. It isn’t likely the remains will be uncontaminated or bug-free.

The food and activities set the tone of the day. Enjoy a simple meal of peanut butter and jelly or one as sophisticated as caviar and toast points. Fish, toss a Frisbee or ball, play croquet, or lay on the grass and relax to your favorite music.

Don’t let the season pass without packing a lunch and setting out for a park or beach. Shared with friends, family, or a special someone, these are the things that memories are made of.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Summer Festivities Tuesday, Jun 25 2013 


Summer is way-too short in the Midwest so we do our best to soak up all the fun and celebrations it has to offer: swimming, boating, picnics, barbecues, gardening, lawn games, golf, and baseball.

We also gravitate to the many festivals and parades. Swedish Days is one of the largest festivals and parades, if not the largest, in Illinois. This year’s Swedish Day parade in 90 degree weather did not disappoint as it left us sweaty, flushed, mustard-stained and filled to the brim with summer fun. More than 60,000 people lined the streets to watch the marching bands, floats, the Shriners bands and antics, horses, and classic cars.

The six-day annual event runs mid-June and includes carnival rides, craft booths, food and merchandise vendors, concerts, Swedish-focused attractions, and free trolley rides all set in quaint, charming shopping and restaurant district in Geneva, Illinois.


Our to-do list will always be long, so we might as well add the pleasures of summer to that list before the season passes us by. Following are a few Midwest festivals you might want to check out:

June 26 – 30, July 2 – 7: Milwaukee Summerfest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin,

July 3 – 7,Naperville Ribfest, Naperville, IL,

July 14 – 19, Festival of the Lakes, Hammond, Indiana,

July 17 – 20, Festival of the Lakes, Wolf Lake Park, Indiana,

July 19 – 21, Jazz & Rib Fest, Columbus, Ohio,

July 26 – 28, Pierogi Fest, Whiting, Indiana,

August 9 – 11, Bayfront Blues Festival, Duluth, Minnesota,

August 14 – 18, Lake Geneva Venetian Festival, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin,

August 22 – 25, Swiss Wine Festival, Vevay, Indiana,

August 23 – 25, German-American Festival, Oregon, Ohio,

August 29 – September 1, Chicago Jazz Festival,

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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