Monday, April 16, 2018

It’s Hummingbird Season!


In my part of the United States, we get one type of hummingbird during summer migration. These ruby throated flying jewels are a joy to behold. I put out my feeder last Friday hoping they will start coming around, if only on their way to more northern climes.
Wish I Could Take Credit for this Image
So today I decided to share a few tips about feeding hummingbirds. No doubt many interested folks already know these, but educating one person is worth the effort.

First, you don’t need to buy expensive hummingbird food. And the fluid doesn’t need to be dyed red. Most feeders take care of that.

Simply mix four parts bottled or filtered water with one part table (white processed) sugar. Do not, under any circumstances, use powdered sugar as it often contains a small amount of anti-caking agent. That is not any better for a tiny bird than the chlorine in my tap water.

I don’t think I need tell anyone not to use artificial sweetener. ~grin~ These flyers need lots of calories.

As for the type of feeder, I prefer the ones with a central water reservoir to deter ants. As shown below, it is also easy to clean. The entire red top with perch lifts off the clear round bottom portion. And the hook unscrews, so the top and bottom units can go into the dishwasher at the end of the season.

Like Many Bird Species, Females and Juveniles Lack the Bright Coloration
And cleanliness is important. You don’t want mold growing on the sugar. And don’t be like me and let the sugar water dry up. ~shakes head~ Check the feeder every three to five days, more often in hot weather, and use a tiny bristle brush for scouring the four feeder ports.

If insects gross you out, be warned that you will find determined critters have made their way down into the ports. I almost always discover little drowned bugs or see them bedraggled and floundering. Never having been bitten or stung in the process, with a gentle pour over the nearby grass I always hope survivors recover.

Meanwhile, I like to mix up a good sized batch of ‘nectar’ and keep it in my refrigerator between fillings. Four cups water and a cup of sugar goes a long way. Oh, and you don’t need to heat the water. Sugar granules dissolve just fine with simple stirring of even the coldest fluid. If you do make it ahead of time, just give a quick stir before pouring out another serving.

Attracting them has been easy for me. There are all kinds of annual and perennial plants that help with this; I’ll let you look them up for your region if interested. And while these birds are territorial, I often get to enjoy their acrobatic aerial confrontations. You can imagine just how adorable I found a nest one autumn. Too bad I missed the hatchlings and nobody returned to that spot since.
Amazing Photography, No?
You can actually sit or stand quite close to the feeder, too, if you’re patient and still. Some folks manage to get them to land on a hat or sleeve. There are even feeder ‘hats’ you can wear.

As for me, I found their buzzing by my head startled me, as I’m usually writing or reading if I sit outside, so my shepherd’s pole supporting the feeder is about ten feet from my patio chair. And believe me, I still hear them buzzing in for a landing to enjoy their presence.

Did you know hummingbirds catch insects while in flight for protein? The potential for them catching mosquitoes is just one more reason to adore them.

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14 comments:

  1. I love hummers! I moved here in this house about 26 yrs ago. I would say for the last 20 I have had some come around and hang around all summer. I have only had a couple at one time but my brother has a mess load. I love watching them, hearing them and photographing them. I also read many yrs ago that they have a route they follow daily after they stop from migration. They will follow that route all day every day. That is one reason why you will not see them stop and stay for long. They will travel from this yard to this yard and then that yard and it might be hours before they show at your place again. They are amazing.

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    1. They do follow routines, it seems, from all I've read and seen. And the little beauties are amazing. ~grin~ Happy Birding!

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  2. I love hummingbirds. We feed them year around. A few in the winter, but in June, July and August it's all we can do to keep them in sugar water. We have six large feeders and they will be empty in about three days.

    Have a fabulous day and week, Darla. ♥

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  3. It seems like everyone has one of those feeders nowadays. They are popular birds.

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  4. Excellent tips. I didn't know it doesn't have to be heated, that will save me a lot of time. Ours won't be here until May. My hubby is really good about keeping it clean, he has a tiny brush for it.

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    1. Thank you for the kind word. I'm thrilled to save you time and so happy your husband is so dedicated. Best wishes to all your furred, feathered, and human loved ones!

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    1. I bet you get quite a few in your part of the country, too. ~hugs~ Hope you see lots this coming season!

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  6. That's amazing information about feeding hummingbirds. You certainly educated one person - me!

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    1. I'm so glad! Be well. And thank you for visiting.

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  7. That picture is amazing! I wish I could take credit for it too :-)

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