Thursday, May 1, 2014
May Day is my day for putting out the hummingbird feeder. In years past, I could mark my calendar for arrival of my first Ruby-throated Hummingbird: May 1. Living now in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, I can't yet accurately predict the arrival date of my first guests. UPDATE: (Am posting this on May 2.) Yesterday, only a couple hours after I hung the feeder, the first hummer arrived: a female. Minutes later, a male arrived. Since then, they (or others) have returned numerous times.
Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are a joy to see and hear. I love to see the flash of the male's ruby red throat, when he turns it to the sun. I love to listen to the buzz of super fast wings as they hover in the air, or watch their high arcing flight--up and down, up and down, up and down--as if crazy with the joy of life. And if you want to enjoy sensory overload, try putting out more than one feeder. You can't imagine the riotous energy and fun of a dozen or more hummers sharing your backyard.
If you're new to feeding humming birds, here are some helpful tips:
1) You don't need to buy "nectar" sold at stores. Simply dissolve four heaping teaspoons of sugar to one cup of water. However, do purchase a colorful red feeder to attract attention to your feeder. Keep your sugar water fresh, especially in hot weather. Hummingbirds can get a fungus on their tongues from sipping "slimy" days-old sugar water. I make a point to wash my feeder and supply fresh sugar water every three days (more often if the weather is hot).
Some people mistakenly think that hummers subsist entirely on sugar water. In fact, hummers eat small insects for their protein and rely on sugar for their energy.
2) Ants also like sugar water, so you need to discourage them. I recently learned that talc (Johnson's Baby Powder) contains crystals that are too sharp for ants to cross. Sprinkle baby powder (it must contain TALC and NOT cornstarch, which cheaper products may use) at the base of your feeder and ants can't climb up. Of course, when it rains, you need to re-sprinkle the base, but I find the effort and cost well worth it. Otherwise you'll find drowned and drowning ant clogging your feeder.
Until next time . . . Keep birds in your heart (and backyard with feeders!).
Posted by Georgia Anne Butler at 12:00 PM