What is this animal that hovers like a hummingbird and eats nectar from plants?

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Offline Quantumcat

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I saw a weird thing flying around the lavander just now it's be cool if someone could tell me what it is. I took a photo but since I am deprived of a digital camera I'll have to wait until they're developped to show you. The thing is grey, the body about the size of half a length or a bit more of my thumb. The wings move so fast they're a blur, and they're grey with a patch of orange around the bottom. It has a short stubby wide black tail/extension of body with little white spots. It has two things sticking out of its head that look like antennae. It has a long beak/nose black that looks like a needle (about the length of two needles I think?) I couldn't see what its feet looked like. It can't be a butterfly, because I'm sure butterflies don't move their wings that fast, and it doesn't land on the flower to feed. (butterflies land to feed don't they?) It has things on its head that look like antennae so I guess it can't be a hummingbird (I'd so love to see one though) and anyway hummingbirds are meant to be bright colours right? It can't be a wasp because its body isn't segmented (all wasps have a segmented body don't they?) So, like, can someone tell me what it is ... oh yeah, and of course its habitat includes france :) south as well as central france because I saw one when I was in Bourges as well ... thanks in advance!!!

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« Last Edit: 24/06/2008 11:34:48 by chris »
 

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Offline Exodus

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I would suggest that what you are describing as seeing is one of the Hummingbird Hawkmoth family (see below)... look it up on the net, i'm sure you'll find plenty of info on it.



Laters.

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Offline chris

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Yes, I'd second that. I saw one whilst I was in south west France. I thought it was a hummingbird at first !

It's a moth.

Chris

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Offline Predator_X

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Exodus is right. Hummingbirds flap their wings about a 100 times a second.
 

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Offline neilep

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Found this superb picture:



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Men are the same as women, just inside out !

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Offline Savanah

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I saw this thing last night. That's what brought me to this website. It was very hummingbird like but I could tell it was an insect, so I just had to find some info. But, why is this the first time I have ever seen this thing?

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Offline neilep

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I saw this thing last night. That's what brought me to this website. It was very hummingbird like but I could tell it was an insect, so I just had to find some info. But, why is this the first time I have ever seen this thing?

WELCOME SAVANAH !!

It's quite and extraordinary beastie isn't it ?...can't say it's the type of thing one sees every day !


Hey !!...now that you're here...hope you're gonna stick around !!!
Men are the same as women, just inside out !

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Offline Karen W.

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It definitely looks like a moth.I agree with Chris! we have tons of hummers here, and that is not a humming bird!

"Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

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Offline dentstudent

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This is absolutely and without shadow of a doubt a hummingbird hawkmoth. We have them here in southern Germany - they are not uncommon at all. It's a great moth too eh?

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Offline Karen W.

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WOW they even named it after a humming bird cool! Are all of them that dull in color?? His wings have some color...

"Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

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Offline Karen W.

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Very cool Stuart! here is wiki's!

Macroglossum stellatarum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Hummingbird hawk moth)

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

 



Scientific classification 
Kingdom:    Animalia
Phylum:    Arthropoda
Class:    Insecta
Order:    Lepidoptera
Family:    Sphingidae
Genus:    Macroglossum
Species:    M. stellatarum
Binomial name
Macroglossum stellatarum
Linnaeus, 1758

The Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) is a species of hawk moth with a long proboscis, and is capable of hovering in place, making an audible humming noise. These two features make it look remarkably like a hummingbird when it feeds on flowers. It flies during the day, especially in bright sunshine, but also at dusk (Herrera, 1992), dawn, and even in the rain, which is unusual for even diurnal hawkmoths (Pittaway, 1993). Its visual abilities have been much studied, and it has been shown to have a relatively good ability to learn colours (Kelber, 1996).


"Life is not measured by the number of Breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

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Offline dentstudent

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I saw this thing last night. That's what brought me to this website. It was very hummingbird like but I could tell it was an insect, so I just had to find some info. But, why is this the first time I have ever seen this thing?

Hi Savanah! Where abouts are you?

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Offline cinderfox

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this is too cool, me and my boyfriends sister saw one of these a couple months ago, and couldn't figure out what it was! we swore no one would belive us, and here it is!
I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, so they've made it all the way over here too!
just thought i'd let you know. :)

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Offline neilep

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this is too cool, me and my boyfriends sister saw one of these a couple months ago, and couldn't figure out what it was! we swore no one would belive us, and here it is!
I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, so they've made it all the way over here too!
just thought i'd let you know. :)

WOW !!!..well cool !!

WELCOME...YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY !!!!!
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Offline rebel123

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Regarding the hummingbird hawkmoth:  I was returning home this evening around 10:45 PM, when I noticed this strange tiny flying creature hovering above some of my flowering plants.  I pulled my car into the driveway turning the wheel to enter my garage.  I immediately stopped my car and walked around the front towards the mulchbed.  I was approximately 3 feet in distance from this little "thing".  It resembled a hummingbird, but upon closer examination I noticed it looked more like a some type of flying insect.  It was really quite creepy.  I tried to take a picture with my cell phone, to no avail.  The "little thing" hung aroud for about 45 seconds before flying off into the darkenss.  The illumination of my front yard lamp post aided in my observation.  I couldn't understand why a hummingbird would be feeding so late in the evening.  I immediately went into the house and told my husband what I had seen.  He was sure it wasn't a hummingbird, so I grabbed my laptop and started investigating.  I'm 99.9% certain the creature I observed was the Hummingbird Hawkmoth. The one I observed closely resembles the night photo on the web site.  The color was quite similiar to the one I saw as well.  How facinating! Are they rare?  Have others been spotted in Northern Virginia?  Does anyone know?   [???]  I'm certainly happy to have found this site!  ~Stephanie Rebellino, Gainesville, Va

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Offline Andrew K Fletcher

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We used to have a visit every year from one of these amazing creatures. It used to feed on the lavender and fly around us, observing us as much as we were observing it. The moth appeared to look directly into your eyes as it hovered about. It visited us for about 3 days and then vanished until the next year, obviously a different moth but amazing thet the same species would visit us every year for 3 days. We saw another one while in a cafe garden in Buckfasteligh making 4 spotted in all. Probably the most amazing flying insect I have observed except for another master of the sky which as yet has not been identified.
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Offline Alan McDougall

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Yes other than a humming bird only this bat can hover
The Truth remains the Truth regardless of our beliefs or opinions the Truth is always the Truth even if we know it or do not know it (The Truth remains the Truth)

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Offline dalou

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I'm sure that I have seen the same creature in Kentucky just the other day (July 14, 7:15pm), only it was an bright green body. It was hovering, moving from flower to flower gathering nectar. I called for my daughter to witness it as well, so it was there for at least five minutes. I was able to get within 1.5 to 2 feet of it. Aside from the green body, its antenna were black and it almost to have tail feathers that were black as well.

If it is a moth, what a great imitation.

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Offline AllenG

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Yes other than a humming bird only this bat can hover
A kingfisher can hover as well.


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Offline Meerkat

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Hi All -
Found this site when I, too, saw a nectar eating insect on my honeysuckle vines around dusk each night.  I get hummers and butterflies during the day but only see this moth at dusk. Did a google search and came up with your site saying it is a Humminbird Hawkmoth - cool.   Mine seems a little different than the other photos posted but I live in the northern panhandle of Idaho so maybe this is a variation.  Can't figure out how to size down my photos of it.  When I tried to upload them to this post I get an error message saying my file size is too large.  Anyone know how to do this?

Meerkat

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Offline opus

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Last year I saw one in Tesco's, fluttering round the cereals!

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Offline lvstealth

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Kingsport, TN (northeast Tennessee, about one mile from Virginia)

Wednesday, 11 August, 2010 @ about 1:30 pm

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Offline imatfaal

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Great picture Ivstealth
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

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Offline Otrere

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I just came googled this bizarre looking thing as we spotted one in our garden last night - first time ever I've seen one!  And I found the answer on here straight away!  Thanks all!  :)

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Offline chegissing

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I saw a bright green (black and gold banding on tail) hummingbird hawkmoth in northern michigan yesterday...had at first thought it was a baby hummingbird but on closer inspection saw that although it moved like a hummingbird, it was shaped a bit like a crayfish! I learned what it was here on your site, thanks!

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Offline banging door

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You are all WRONG. This was a real bird.bigger than the hovering moth that if you live in France as I do we all are used to seeing. This is a bird ,about the size and colour of a large wren or a small sparrow. No bits sticking out from the head. A long beak, fast beating wings,and moved from side to side, as a humming bird would.It was definately not an insect.!!

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Offline rosy

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Er... yeah. Hi, Banging Door. Good to meet you too.

All of who are wrong about what? You're a first time poster, so presumably they're not all wrong about something you've seen... because presumably you haven't told us about that yet. All the people in this thread seem fairly sure that what they've seen was a hummingbird hawkmoth (and do note that all but two of the posts in this thread are over a year old..).

So I'm at a loss to understand why you've suddenly arrived here and got all shouty! Perhaps you'd like to explain?

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Offline Don_1

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Banging door has me more than a little confused, Rosy. He/she has me utterly baffled!

If you live in France, Banging door, you will most certainly not see Hummingbirds in the wild, since they are native to the Americas only. And before you suggest that they have migrated to Europe, Hummingbirds do not migrate. In fact, Hummingbirds are known to be reluctant to fly over open ground at all.

I can absolutely assure you, what everyone has been describing here has been a species of Hummingbird Hawkmoth. Those seen in southern Europe, and as far north as the Midlands in Britain, are an African species and are well documented.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline banging door

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Hello Don. Hello Rosie. Hello all of you whom I have blusteringly offended.(shout) I AM VERY VERY SORRY You are quite right to be confused,but my friend Pete (oh dear, it was not even me ) was all excited because he had seen this hovering bird drinking in the nectar from the flowers of some 'belle de nuit'plants  in my garden, in SW France, and asked me if I knew what it was and did Humming birds come here. We have a lot of migrating birds pass this way, and we both discussed it.He said it was not a moth as that was the first thing I asked him.Pete was bought up in the contry side and knows his birds by sight and sound, much more so than me.So he swears it was not the moth the previous people have seen.When I suggested we Google it I came up with this site and I'm really glad to say 'hello'We both have seen the bird fly by again, my camera is poised,and I really hope it stays around.So-- does any one have ideas about it?

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Offline Don_1

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Your apology is graciously accepted, Banging door.

As I wrote in my previous post, Hummingbirds are native to the Americas and are not a migratory bird. It has recently been discovered that a gap of 100m between tree growth is a barrier to hummingbirds. They will not fly over such distances without cover. There are certainly no hummingbirds native to Europe and I suspect any escapee from a zoo or private aviary would not last long in the European climate.

The Hummingbird Hawk Moth often seen in Europe, is an African native which has been gradually spreading north over the past 20 years or so. Although it is a moth, it is not nocturnal and bares very little resemblance to any other moth. In fact, it looks far more like a large bumble bee than a moth, but with the characteristic flight and feeding habits of a Hummingbird. The plant you have seen it feeding on is just the right flower shape for its liking. Short to medium length tubular flowers.

The wings are more like those of a bee than the large fluttering and powdery wings of a moth.

Altogether, the fact that it is a hawk moth rather puts people in a quandary, because it doesn't look like a moth, doesn't act like a moth and fly's by daylight, but a moth it is.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline jnjamiedan

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I live in Michigan. I didn't know we had hummingbird hawkmoths here but we do. The first time I seen one was last year. They are really interesting to watch.
« Last Edit: 17/09/2011 15:38:49 by jnjamiedan »

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Offline axelz

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i live in northwestern colorado at about 7500 feet elevation. we always have lots of hummingbirds, but for the last few years i've noticed these moths in the evenings getting nectar from the flowers. they're pretty neat! now i know what they are! yeah!

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Offline OregonQuilter

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I live in northeastern Oregon and saw one of these about a half hour ago.  It stayed drinking from my hummingbird feeder for a long time.  Long enough for me to run in the house and get my camera.  It then continued to drink while I took several photos.  I was totally freaked out.  We are big into birdwatching and have many feeders of all types around our second story deck, but this was the first time I'd ever seen this creature.  It allowed me to hold my camera inches-maybe 3 and didn't even get scared when the flash went off.  When I Googled it this site came up.  thanks to all you folks who shared thier stories.

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Offline Don_1

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Glad we could be of assistance to you axelz & OregonQuilter.

The weather here in the UK has been a tad on the soggy side of late. I would venture into the garden if I only had some waterwings. That is, once I get over this bout of trenchfoot!

I should be surprised if we see any of these moths this far north this year, in fact, right now, bee keepers are warning of a shortage of honey this year, if the weather doesn't perk up a bit very soon.

Since I don't invisage seeing any of these moths for some time, how about posting a picture or two OregonQuilter?
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline OregonQuilter

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I would love to share my photos, how do I post them?

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Offline OregonQuilter

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I figured it out, but don't have the software to get it under 128kb and still be able to view it. I would be happy to send the full photo via email if anyone is interested.

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Offline Don_1

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Have you considered setting up an account with Flickr? Its easy way to share photos and allows you to restrict who can see what.



This was taken from my Flickr account.

Click on the image to see larger.
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Offline RD

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... I figured it out, but don't have the software to get it under 128kb ...

http://luci.criosweb.ro/riot/ [many other tools are available to resize images].

NB: the maximum image width for this forum is 800 pixels, as well as the 128Kb size limit,
        a jpeg of 30Kb-60Kb us usually sufficient for a good quality reproduction here.
« Last Edit: 21/06/2012 14:20:00 by RD »

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Offline OregonQuilter

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I took your advice and opened a Flickr account.  Go to www.flickr.com/photos/beckfitz/

Thanks for the advice, Don_1.

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Offline jhanson

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Seems I'm always late to the party; I just saw my first Hummingbird Hawkmoth today, and I'll be 62 years old next week!  I had no idea that such a moth existed.  I'm thrilled that a group of them chose to visit my garden!  Without this wonderful site, I wouldn't have been sure what they were without a lot more digging; I could see moth-like antennae, but I didn't expect a wing structure like that, nor did I expect a group of moths dining in the bright sun!

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Offline Don_1

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..... I just saw my first Hummingbird Hawkmoth today, and I'll be 62 years old next week!


Welcome to the forum & happy birthday for next week.

You can keep these interesting moths coming back to your garden by ensuring a good supply of the right flowers. Small tubular flowers are favourite, such as Verbena.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline jhanson

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Thanks, Don_1.  My botany knowledge is really underfunded!  I believe what I have in my garden is Blue Salvia that looks very similar to Verbena.  I have several pictures, but haven't reduced them yet to post.

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Offline Geezer

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Hummingbirds are native to the Americas and are not a migratory bird.

Sorry to disagree guvn'r, but the ones around here all scarper PDQ at the first sign of Winter. Actually, the little characters migrate some fairly amazing distances.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline Don_1

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Begging your pardon Mr Geezer, sir.

Yes, there are a half dozen or so humming birds which do migrate within the Americas, but none migrate to Europe or anywhere else outside of the Americas.

Those which do migrate, do so alone, not in flocks and tend to fly low. This is probably to keep an eye out for any chance to feed. Though one species, the Ruby Throated, is known to cross the Gulf of Mexico and some even cross the Mojave desert.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline Geezer

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but none migrate to Europe

I can't say as I blame them :)

As I speak, one of them just showed up at my window and made quite a commotion when it found out the feeder was empty!
« Last Edit: 16/07/2012 20:47:07 by Geezer »
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline Don_1

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but none migrate to Europe

I can't say as I blame them :)


I really don't know what you mean by this, he said donning his thermals and oil skins.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.

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Offline marsjefke

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What a great forum!  thank you for providing such timely info.

I too, witnessed my first hummingbird hawkmoth this afternoon here in Ontario Canada.  It hovered over two pots of geraniums on my deck, stopping at each bloom. 

I noticed several comments about the connection to lavender.  This is only the second year I've enjoyed my lovely lavender - perhaps that's why I've never seen them around here before? 

thanks for feeding my curiosity. :)

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Offline Vibes

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I spotted one in Southern Illinois.  Very neat insect and Very neat site you have here.