Thursday, December 19, 2013

Free Seattle Christmas Fun

Looking for some free things to do in Seattle in December?   There are an amazing number of freebies to help get everyone into the holiday spirit.  Here are some of my favorites:

1. Stroll around the streets near Westlake Center and enjoy the Christmas tree and all of the lights on the street trees

2.  Check out the fabulous train and village in the window at Macy's on the corner of 4th and Stewart Street

3.  Go see the fantastic gingerbread houses at the Seattle Sheraton.  If you'd like to see more photos, visit  The Seattle Gingerbread Village

4.  Don't miss the Seattle Christmas Parade!  Check the schedule for where the ships can be seen each night at: The Seattle Christmas Ship Festival

 5.  Take a  walk throught the Pike Place Market - lots of decorations, street musicians and a festive atmosphere.

6.  Visit the Seattle Center - lights and decorations and lots of  free activites.  Here is a link to the schedule: Seattle Center Winterfest 

6.  Not quite free, but visit Westlake Park and take a ride on the Carousel.  A small donation is requested.

7.  A new thing to do at Westlake Park this year, is to get your photo taken in the Snow globe.  Of course if you want a professional photo taken, there is a charge, but if you bring along a friend to take your own photo it is free!

Of course there are lots of other things to do, although some are not free.  For more ideas, visit my page: Christmas in Seattle on Hubpages.

If you are planning a holiday season visit to Seattle and need information to choose a hotel, I recommend reading the ratings and reviews on Trip Advisor and check out the deals on
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Hummingbird's in Winter

As anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows, we've had about a week of what is considered cold weather around here with the high temperatures for the last couple of days not even getting above freezing.  Some people may not realize that although most hummingbirds migrate south for the winter, we have one species of hummingbird, the Anna's hummingbird that lives around the Puget Sound area year round.  They eat insects as well as nectar so usually manage to ok finding food since there are some winter blooming flowers and it is usually warm enough that there are a few bugs around.  Not so, this week and because of the low temperatures they need more food that usual to stay warm.
Male Anna's Hummingbird - a year round resident of the Puget Sound area
The nectar in my hummingbird feeder was freezing even during the day and I had up to 3 hungry hummers at a time buzzing it.  I kept bringing it inside to warm it back up and would look out my kitchen window to find them looking in at me as if to say "hey lady, where's our food?"

An old friend who used to be my neighbor also feeds the hummers and shared her trick for keeping the nectar from freezing and also provide the birds with a little warmth.  She clamps a utility light above her feeder.  Since I lack imagination, but am a great copycat, I adopted her idea and it works like a charm.  (Thank you, Sue!)
Here is a photo of my set-up:

Keeping my hummingbird nectar thawed

If you look closely at the photo you can see the blur of male hummingbird to the right side of the feeder.  Since taking the photo, we made some adjustments to the length of the wire holding the feeder to shorten it up and keep it closer to the heat of the lamp.  Another tip I read somewhere was that it is ok to increase the amount of sugar in the nectar to 3 parts water to one part sugar.  (Normally it is 4 parts water to one part sugar).  The birds can use a little extra energy boost in the cold weather and the added sugar helps to lower the freezing temperature.  Remember to always just use regular granulated sugar - NO HONEY, NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS!  There is also no need to add red food coloring - as you can see, the hummers find the red feeding ports and don't need the food coloring.  No one knows for sure if the food coloring could be potentially harmful, so why use it?

Here's another photo of a happy hummer looking at me:

Male Anna's Hummingbird at a Hummingbird Feeder

As long as we're talking about hummingbird feeders, the one in the photo is the same model as the one below.   And the type of light I've used to keep it warm is just an inexpensive utility lamp like the one below:

It is the model I prefer and I think the hummers like it, too.  They seem to the perches as you can see the hummingbird in the photo is using one.  I like them because most of it is glass (other than the bottom with the feeding ports) instead of plastic so they don't get discolored or leach any unhealthy chemicals into the nectar.  I usually just run my feeders through the dishwasher, after inspecting the inside to make sure there isn't any mold.  This is also a good size - the feeder should be cleaned and fresh nectar added at least once a week - so usually my nectar runs out before it gets stale which makes it easy for me to remember to always replace it frequently.

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