When I was younger, my sisters and I would spend some time in the summers at a family friend’s ranch. He had acres and acres of land with sheep and we spent many hours racing ATVs all over his property and baa-ing at the lambs. But the best part about visiting, were the hummingbirds.
I used to think he had some kind of magical hummingbird food, because right outside the kitchen window every morning, dozens and dozens of jeweled breasted hummingbirds swooped and twirled and then settled on a perch to drink the sugar water. TOGETHER. At my parents’ house, there was always one jerk hummingbird who would chase everyone else away from the feeder and spent most of his time perched in the neighbor’s tree watching to make sure no one else drank his precious sugar water.
During a family visit, my mom spent many many many hours staring out the window at the hummingbirds. She’s a little obsessed with hummingbirds, so you know, I come by my obsession honestly. Finally, on one of our last mornings there, she asked him if he ever had any hummingbirds that would chase the others away. He said, “Yep. And you know how I take care of that?”
My mom got really wide eyed, because, YES, she did want to know how to get rid of jerk hummingbirds.
“I shoot ’em.” He said. And then he turned back to making fried eggs.
Last summer, Chad and I tried coaxing hummingbirds, any hummingbirds, into our yard with no success. We were so unsuccessful that we forgot about the hummingbird feeder and left it out all winter. When I finally brought it inside, it was filled with black mold and nothing I did would get it clean. So I had to throw it away.
When we were out collecting bird feeders for our backyard bird diner, I stumbled upon a section of hummingbird feeders. There was one that just had a lid, a bottom, and a hook. It was perfect.
We bought a copper weather shield, so that they would have some shade and protection from the rain (because, you know, it rains SUPER often here) but also because supposedly hummingbirds like copper colored things. Then we started a very long game of musical feeder.
First it was attached to the bird diner, but we read that the hummingbirds might be a little too anxious to eat with all those other bigger birds swooping in and out. Then we moved the feeder by the water feature, but I think that was still too close to the bird diner that was getting more and more popular by the day. Finally, we bought some butterfly bushes and move the hummingbird feeder to it’s final home.
It took weeks of putting out hummingbird food, moving the hummingbird feeder around, throwing away week old hummingbird food, cleaning it out, and starting over again. Finally I spotted a little hummingbird drinking out of the feeder. And every once in awhile he would fly up to the transoms and peek in at us, as if to say, “Look you guys, I’m here, you can come watch me eat now!”
A few weeks later I started to notice that said hummingbird was chasing other hummingbirds away. I wasn’t about to purchase a gun and shoot the little guy. So I set out for a better solution. And the solution was: more hummingbird feeders. They are little, they are smart, and they are fast; but they don’t have time for watch all the feeders. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So we purchased another feeder, the same one, but without the weather shield, and set it up on the front porch, just out of sight of the other feeder. It worked and we started noticing different sizes, shapes, and colors of hummingbirds. But we also happened to put out the second feeder just as some breeds of hummingbirds were migrating through our neck of the woods.
So, like all other facts vs perception scenarios… I can’t really say. But if Chad asks, I’m sticking with my more hummingbird feeders story.
This guy is my favorite. I call him Chub-Chub.
Of course, two hummingbird feeders weren’t enough. So we bought one more (as of this writing) that attaches to the kitchen window and I can visit with my hummingbird friends while I’m in the kitchen. The little brown tailed guy that comes around the kitchen the most often doesn’t like to be photographed. Seriously. He looks in at me and if I have a camera he flies away. If I don’t have a camera, he stays and drinks. Jerk.
But there’s this other guy, he lets me take photos. Sadly, he doesn’t have a name… yet.
I’ve learned so many fun facts about hummingbirds this summer in my quest to attract them, like this little gem:
A hummingbird must consume approximately 1/2 of its weight in sugar daily, and the average hummingbird feeds 5-8 times per hour. In addition to nectar, these birds also eat many small insects and spiders, and may also sip tree sap or juice from broken fruits.
YES. That’s right. My new best friends EAT SPIDERS. And I thought I couldn’t love them more.
To make sure that I’m never out of hummingbird food for my friends, I’ve started making two quarts at a time. That way if they drink everything in the feeder before the Friday morning change out, I have some on hand to re-fill. And I don’t put it off because of the chore of making the hummingbird food… which is seriously the easiest thing in the world. And do NOT buy that red kool-aid powder looking stuff from the hardware store. And don’t put red dye in the hummingbird feeder! Bad, bad humans!
All you need is sugar, water, and a pot. And a heat source. Ok, and if you don’t want to be changing it every 5 days in the summer, you should get some Feeder Fresh.
Boil 1 part sugar, 4 parts water, until it just starts to bubble. Then let it cool. And then add the Feeder Fresh. And then fill your feeders. Also fill your jars of food so you only have to do this simple simple SIMPLE thing once or twice a month.
Your new hummingbird friends will thank you.