Thom smith naturewatch some 40 years later . give or take the berkshire eagle pittsfield breaking news, sports, weather, traffic sugar vs high fructose corn syrup

Besides being faithful to newspaper deadlines, the most consistent thing I have done during my time writing for the berkshire eagle has been clipping each column for reference. But, could I locate the pilot? So, to the berkshire athenaeum’s local history department I went and was helped every step of the way retrieving a microfilm facsimile by affable don warfield of lenox, who was managing all things past and in need of rescuing. Within minutes, I was reacquainted with the misplaced document that was transferred at light speed to my home computer while a copy was being printed.

The search began after waiting in the checkout line at a local supermarket, when a lady recognized me and asked "are you the eagle’s nature guy?" my initial response was, "well, I write a nature column for the new england newspapers." she then proceeded, as I expected, but with an unexpected question, "how do I keep the hummingbird feeder from freezing solid?" this wasn’t just a question, but one I answered in my very first column in the eagle’s dec. 3, 1979, issue of the berkshire sampler, under the byline, "ask mr.Berkshire county


smith." in essence, my answer, one of the shortest of my columns, "one doesn’t."

In 1979, the only hummingbird in new england, to my knowledge, was the ruby-throated, arriving here in may and departing for the south in september.

Since then, much has changed, and another species, the rufous hummingbird has been added to the list of berkshire birds. It was visiting a feeder and photographed in lanesborough between oct. 11 and dec. 2, 2003. Another was banded (becker) and photographed in pittsfield in early november 2007. And although not a common occurrence, a ruby-throat was coming to a sugar-water feeder in lanesborough between nov 3 and 20, 2006.

In bartlett hendrick’s "birds of berkshire county, 1994: "the ruby-throated is listed having a local season between may 15 and late september, with an early arrival on may 2, and late record of oct. 6. Years later, in 2017, david st. James’ "annotated list of the birds of berkshire county massachusetts" lists an early arrival on april 29, 2000, in windsor.Berkshire sampler and a late date of oct. 12, in addition to previously mentioned dates. I used to suggest having a hummingbird feeder hung and filled by the first weekend in may, today, I suggest a week earlier.

It was hendricks, natural science curator at the berkshire museum, and an our berkshires columnist, who convinced me to type a question-and-answer column and present the idea of a column focusing on the natural world (not just birds), undaunted by problems in and outside the home to ruth bass. She not only followed a list of distinguished berkshire eagle employees who would become sampler (formed in 1966) editors, but became one herself. For long-time readers of the berkshire eagle, berkshire sampler editors, beginning in 1971 with warren fowler, followed by jurgen thomas and arthur (art) myers, who proceeded ruth, were all more than memorable. As for ruth, she has become a friend who continues to grace the pages of this newspaper with her adept observations, and " lives behind snow banks in richmond." her website is www.Ruthbass.Com.Berkshire county

It won’t be long before the coltsfoot and dandelions will be in blossom and the ruby-throated hummingbirds will have returned to buzz your back-yard barbecues, flower beds and, if you are a lucky one, a sugar-water feeder not two feet from your face.

Here in the berkshires and shires of vermont, hummingbirds lay one to three eggs, and have one, sometimes two broods. The nesting period is 18 to 22 days with eggs being incubated 12 to 14 days.

If you want these tiny flying jewels to visit your yard, plant both perennial and annual tubular flowers. Bright colors, particularly red and orange, are attractive and I believe hummingbird feeders have been plentiful enough over the past few years that they may well be on the lookout for them. Make your own sugar-water mix with one-part white granulated (table) sugar to four parts water.

Thom smith welcomes readers’ questions and comments. Email him at naturewatch@live.Com or write him care of the berkshire eagle, 75 S.Berkshire county church st., pittsfield, MA 01201