Hummer Summer 2013
Brenda S. Brown
I enjoy watching what I imagine as the dance of the Trochilidae
outside my kitchen window on this sweltering and humid early summer morning in
northern Baldwin County. The sun has just made its daily appearance in Georgia
but the hummingbirds are already buzzing around the garnet colored feeder that
they seem to adore. Early mornings and late evenings appear to be their
preferred feeding times.
Hummingbirds are so agile that they can hover while they
anticipate an attack, going up and down and sideways all in a matter of seconds.
Watching them protect their feeding place is amazing and mesmerizing. There
are distinct sounds that they make; we call it chatter but frequently the
chirping sounds more like an argument than friendly conversation.
We only attract several birds each year but it is an especially
active group this time, Emerald, Brownie, Petti and Chatty are battling each
other every time I have a moment to gaze out the window. Once in a while Woody
will join the skirmish but he tends to feed when the others are resting on bare
limbs, in the nearby trees, it is my guess that because he is the most mature
member of the multitude, he chooses to display a calmer disposition.
Perhaps they are exercising to build up their stamina for the
long trip ahead of them. In early autumn they will suddenly depart our yard for
the long trip to perhaps Mexico or Central America where they will spend the
winter months. It is hard to imagine such tiny creatures making such a long
flight but apparently they do. While they winter-over in the tropical weather
zones, I miss watching them and their unique flying skills.
Because these tiny creatures can consume more than their weight
in syrup a day, having enough liquid feed can become a hindrance. You can
purchase an acceptable mixture for the feeders but I make mine using the formula
of 4 cups of water, boiling, and 1 cup of plain white sugar; stir until all the
sweetness melts and let the concoction cool before filling the containers.
It is not necessary to color the liquid; the hummers will find
the feeders and then adopt your yard for the season. It is better to use either
sterilized water or tap water that has boiled for more than two minutes; it aids
in preservation and keeps the mixture from spoiling rapidly. Store any unused
portions in the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before filling
Feeders are fairly inexpensive, especially if you buy them at the
end of the season, and will provide your family with hours of entertainment. It
is recommended that if you have more than one feeder that they are located far
enough away that the birds cannot dominate the feedings, because, given the
opportunity they will keep others from enjoying the sugar-water.
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