Every year around the middle of March, the hummingbirds return like the swallows to Capistrano. March is really too early many years because of our late freezes. One year almost the entire group of early arrivers froze.
With temperatures in the high 30’s the second of May this year, it was a close call. This is taken through a window to show how they cluster to a feeder. Each day I fill four feeders. I’ve found that if I put more feeders out, then more birds come. So four a day is all I want to manage. Then when we leave town for a few days, we hang 15 – 18 feeders.
Two feeders are visible from the kitchen sink, so it’s easy to be reminded when they’re empty.
It’s well known that hummingbirds hover and are the only birds that can fly backwards. But a surprising fact, at least to me, was that they only live in the western hemisphere from southeastern Alaska to southern Chile. Most live in the tropical areas within that range.
In all of the years we’ve had hummers, I’ve never been able to find one of their nests. I know they’re tiny, but many of the trees they rest in here are rather short. Near one feeder, a favorite perch is a Yaupon Holly. From there, they can view the feeder and other birds.
They use sticky spider webs to hold their nests together. The stretchiness of the natural materials also allows the nest to increase in size as the nestlings grow.
By summertime, we will have 60 or more birds consistently in our yard. We do have some plants to provide nectar. But they can lick feeders dry in hours. They use their tongues to lap up the sugar water.
Filling feeders also involves scrubbing the bottles and the holding containers that screw on. I’ve tried different kinds of brushes. The ones on long handles with curved brushes work the best.
The birds also consume spiders and other insects and feed digested insects, regurgitated, to their babies.
Hummers can keep a group of adults and children mesmerized with their fighting, zipping through the air, and other antics. It’s all about getting the nectar or sugar water, even if you have to poke a fellow in the back with your beak to get him to move out of the way.
“Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.” Joseph Wood Krutch