Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Watch the Birdie 3/07

If you are a birder, you feed the birds. You provide food unfailingly through the Winter when foraging is hard on our resident birds. Add to those the many migratory song birds and other types that visit your area in the Spring, raise their young and leave for tropical parts of the hemisphere to greet you again come the next Spring. Hummingbirds are certainly one of the better known species to do this. They arrive here at my home (and East Tennessee in general) about the first week of April. They know exactly who had food for them last year as they will appear hovering in front of your living room or kitchen windows as a succinct reminder to get cracking..make the nectar or sugar water and git 'er done and the sooner the better. I hustle to the stove after making a batch (I always cook for them..I don't buy the artificial stuff. It's worth the trouble to me). AND it does NOT have to be dyed red. Mine drink clear sugar water and thank me for it. Cook it up...let it cool while getting out the feeder(s) and then..ta dah...Spring is officially here with the arrival of my Ruby Throated Hummingbirds.

It's important, especially as the weather warms, to change that sugar water every 4 days or so, or it will spoil. And you don't want the hummingbirds to get sick or contract a fungus from the nasty clouded spoiled sugar water or nectar) Ratio for their food is as follows: 4:1 regards sugar (that's the 1) and water (the 4 = 4 cups of water..bring just to a boil and take off the stove. Cool sufficiently to pour into glass jars you saved JUST for this purpose...cap and put in the fridge for use when you have to change the sugar water).

Know that they are very territorial and while a little hummer family will eat at the same time at a given feeder...others are not welcome... and the males or the females either one will fight the usurpers. So, don't let it bother you. They are simply doing what comes natural. Best results with yet another feeder will be found if you separate the feeders, for example, one in the back of the house..one in the front.

There are always exceptions that prove the rule so I expect someone is reading this saying "HA! Shows what SHE knows! I have (fill in the blank) feeders all lined up and the hummingbirds don't mind a bit!!!" That's fine. You can take my advice or do it your way. Long as they get fed...that'll be great.

Before ending this, I may as well address the myth that Hummingbirds hitch a ride on boats or sillier, other larger birds, you name it, on their way home from your place to over the Gulf of Mexico onward to Mexico and Central America where they winter. Nope. They fly straight through. They spend the last 6 weeks or so at your place and others where they can get food and fatten up. They go from the weight of one postage stamp to TWO postage stamps!!! You can actually see that they have fattened up. They need to as the energy expended trying to get back to their home is tremendous. They'd have a hard time making it otherwise. They need that added fuel in their tiny perfect jeweled bodies. My last hummingbirds, just 2, stayed till the first week of October when they usually leave the first to the middle of September. I was concerned. But they left finally and I wished them God speed and told them I could hardly wait to see their beautiful selves once again. I'll be ready.


  1. I enjoyed this informative post. I love those little hummers and when I was growing up, all I saw was a larger size, don't know if they are still in that area or not.

  2. you wrote somethings I didn't know about hummingbirds. I like them because they drive the woodpeckers away! All the homes have holes from those little tyrants! Thanks Carole =].

  3. Carole,I enjoyed reading about your Hummers.It just amazes me how something so small could fly such a long distance,and survive. God sure knew what He was doing when He created all his critters, great and small. :) They are lucky to have people like you who so diligently cook for them. :)
    Hope all is well.
    Hugs, Dianne :)